Double One 2014 - Part Five - Broken Wings

This was the ‘secret’ round with the scenario revealed just before playing with the only info being the enigmatic phrase ‘say hello (human) wave goodbye’ and the fact it was German vs Russian. This has some advantages as people cannot prep (not that I had prepped for anything due to the journey) but has some disadvantages as players may not bring down the correct map. The scenario was ‘Broken Wings’ which I believe is a Special Ops Scenario and my opponent Wayne Baumber. Fortunately he did have the correct map (starter kit S) though several other players did not and some had to play a different scenario though a group of copies were hurriedly printed off.
The scenario is interesting with a strong Russian force having a split objectives of either an early seizure of two buildings against a substandard German defensive force of second liners by turn four or getting more infantry past a specific hex row than the Germans can. The Germans get some strong SS reinforcements but cannot get them into the game early enough to impact the first victory condition so are there more as the ‘count’ the Russians have to beat to win the second so function more as a proxy casualty victory cap.
The other curiosity is twelve points of fortifications for the defender.
Before starting the news sweeping the rooms was that ROAR had the scenario at 9 to 1 in favour of the Germans. Now ten playings is not a lot and quite possibly people have not learnt the best tactic to win with the Russians on this but it did cause everyone to go for the Germans with most (including my game) giving the balance to the Russians (the Germans heavy machine gun drops to a medium).
I won the die roll and had  the Germans. Purchase wise I went for four wires (which I placed to block the small open ground section mid board around the most forward victory building), a fortified building location for a last ditch stand at my Alamo, finally a hidden MMC placement which I put on my HIP AA gun as extra protection along with an actual concealed counter to make the gap appear less ‘obvious’. Apart from a couple of squads and officer in the rear building my other (stronger) HIP gun was again in a wood looking for a flanking shot and the rest of the troops were defending the wood or the forward casualty building. Snow is in play and both sides have winter camouflage.
Setup: The concealed stack on R2 has the fortified building location on the ground floor. The two HIP guns were in V2 and T2 respectively and the hidden MMC was also in V2 covering the wire.
Wayne setup in a mass and has a lot of officers along with no less than two up armoured KV1s and two SVs (nicknamed ‘The Bitch’ by its Russian users giving a good impression of what it must have been like. Apart from anything else it was very lightly armoured for this stage of the war).
My opponent had obviously taken the naming ‘hint’ to heart and started the game with a human wave across the open ground. This proved remarkably successful at wiping out all my forward troops, covering the ground quickly and thus putting me under some extreme time pressure. My light machine gun fire lane pinked away and did nothing at all but I did manage to break an officer and around four squads in the point blank and triple point blank fire as the wave rolled in to its target. This was little consolation for the removal of almost 50% of my order of battle in the first turn as I had now to protect my single remaining building for three full turns with bugger all.
The successful ending of the Russian human wave. You can see the second KV1 has now bogged and would remain there.
The Russian’s luck started stuttering though, which helped. Firstly the wire did a magnificent job of delaying the tanks bogging the first for a turn or two and my suddenly revealed HIP MMC broke another squad who moved next door. The sight of two full squads by the wire was too appealing to Wayne who now advanced an officer plus squad with demolition charge next door. Unfortunately this forced me to reveal my 20 AA gun and turn it (CA change in woods  ) to try and stop the dc. The first attack using the gun as a machine gun missed then sustained fire broke the gun. The demolition charge killed all but one squad who managed to fall back to the location of the other HIP gun.
The first KV1 was now through the wire and it moved forward to prevent my medium machine gun in the last victory building peppering the supporting infantry so  allowing me a rear shot with my other gun which I took, then immediately rolled box cars breaking it. The KV1, now untroubled by any possible hidden artillery, rolled into bypass of the machine gun (my attempt to destroy it in close combat failed as with most of my combats this tournament and the medium machine gun was essentially quiet through the rest of the game scurrying away from tank fire) then the first of ‘the bitches’ also got through the wire and started chucking shells at the fortified building to no avail. The other two tanks got stuck in the wire for almost the entire game with one eventually immobilising. Since they could both shoot the Alamo from there and I had bugger all other infantry this was not so bad.
The useful delaying melee can be seen up the board along with the KV1 in bypass. To the south the German reserves are furiously running forward to desperately stave of early defeat at the target building.
I then gained no less than four! strokes of luck .
  • First the Russians attempted to take out my squad and crew north of the victory building in combat with three full squads. I managed to ambush them and killed one single squad bringing the odds down to more reasonable level which he just failed to beat. This combat continued another two player turns holding up a large group of Russians from helping out at the first victory building.
  • The second was that at some point my sniper was initiated and with a ‘one result’ wounded the only unbroken officer in a stack of three broken squads. This again helped prevent pressure on the final building.
  • The third was that my opponent (in a mistake he recognised) human waved again at the last building losing another two broken squads. There was no real need for this as the squad inside was unbroken so they could not have got in anyway.
  • Finally a single second line squad in the fortified location sat there over two turns ignoring a literal hail of shell fire and 18+3’s (the Russians had a neg one officer present) with only a couple of pins to show for it. All this prevented any access into that location. I did manage to get one of the reinforcement halftracks next to the building to try and reduce fire against the target location but my opponent was to canny to fall for that and waited until after the deadline for seizing it had passed before blowing it up. It was only on turn five that the squad finally succumbed and by then it was far too late.
Attention now shifted to the end game. Wayne cleverly parked a KV1 with a good line of sight down the road thus preventing my SS from getting forward positions and making me have to use a combination of smoke and out of sight bypass to slowly move forward or risk losing squads which would ease the Russians own numbers needed to win. I did get my StuG safely facing along the upper road so had some means of threatening the approaching swarming Russians but not as much as I could have done.
Prior to last turn you can see the nastily placed KV1 and how it dominated its road. You can also see my StuG parked to do a similar job. The fortified building has just fallen but as it was turn 5 it was too late for the Soviets.  The blaze marks the late grave of my APC
In the last turn he had enough troops to gain the victory (even with all the other losses and some from the first human wave had not rallied for several turns and will still far away). He did use his forces with excellent appreciation of the simplest and safest way to carry out his win. Firstly he drove one of ‘the bitches’ to block my tanks line of sight and spent some points ensuring I had a good shot which I refused to take as only infantry counted for victory conditions. I eventually remembered he had parked next to some SS with a flamethrower who destroyed it easily causing it to burn out (and thus created smoke which further reduced my tanks ability to control the road). Now to get a squad across the road. The first one moved forward and my tank took its first shot with its main armament. Since I was stopped I needed a five (with the smoke) (if I remember correctly). Instead I rolled my first snake eyes.  No matter the IFT roll was key and for the first time ever I rolled……snake eyes again consecutively. This was luck beyond the call of duty. The squad was instantly strawberry jammed and I still had an intensive fire shot plus the tanks machine guns. Wayne also had two sniper checks which both failed. Plus my opponent no longer had enough infantry to win the game.
Final placements. The lower blaze is one of ‘the Bitches’, deliberately driven to the road for hoped for death and flame (which was achieved). The Russian infantry tried to cross at Q2 and were erased from the face of the earth by the StuG.
So I won. This was a game I should have lost but did not. I could actually have lost to either victory condition but a combination of things made my Germans just hold out and the last double snake eyes was just a fluke so I cannot claim I played well enough for the win. I’ll take it though it is equally not a nice way to lose. In the first half of the game my dice had been average but in the second half and again on average my opponent was out diced (for those key tank IFT damage shots at the fortified building he must have rolled between nine and ten around seven times in a row). When it counted the die came through.
Fun scenario though which I would happily play again. In the post-match talk through we had some discussion that perhaps the Russian would be better placed human waving forward and then maybe screening the second building, sweeping through the woods to the right screened by the tanks and just going for the second victory condition.  I think the early demolition charge usage was a slight mistake as well as it seems included just in case  the Germans take a fortified building and with that it would have been cracked a lot earlier. It is easy to be wise after the event though and I also forgot entirely about the existence of panzerfausts.
The final rolling AAR will hopefully be up tomorrow..


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