FB7 Stalingrad Redux

This re-post marked (I guess) the souring of my gaming relationship with one of my opponents. The end of this game left my irritated and annoyed. Which is quite rare for me in ASL. The AAr actually stopped when I got really annoyed. I actually still won the game (last roll thing) but was so peed of I did not go that far.  This actually stayed with me for a while and did not ‘come out in the wash’ , I think, until a later post which I will get into when I get into it. Anyway the game was the latest against my then regular main opponent FargoGamer. It was first posted mid-July 2014. See if you can play the game of guessing why I was annoyed..In fairness to Fargo it was more me not being willing to say ‘no’

For our next game we decided on a large one on a HASL map and went for Festung Budapest’s ‘Stalingrad Redux’. I received the Germans and setup much like the series replay, mainly as I did not know what to do. If I am clueless I often check out other AAR’s to see if I can get any tips about how/what is potentially important though this no doubt will not help improve my own setup capabilities. The Russians in turn seemed to be coming in strong over both the East and South edges of the board.
The Russian’s first turn was hesitant though my opponent quickly ascertained my forward squad was a dummy. An attempted PF check on roadblock dudes against flamethrower tank but did not get one. That then allowed the flamethrower tank to take a shot and with a ten they broke the half squad defenders but also ran out of ammo! Woot – one less worry. My purchases this round were the Mark IV with level 4 ammo restrictions and a sniper increase which promptly paid for itself in my turn when a Russian low odds defensive fire shot against a concealed half squad caused a pin check (passed) but also set the sniper off who then broke the forward Russian squad in CCC9. They will be back soon enough but it helps provide some impetus to slightly slowing the Russian advance.
Purple counter to right all I could find to indicate then Flamethrower had lost fuel. Going to attempt to hold that road next turn and then pull back half the squads.
We stopped there for the week as this is a big scenario and it was taking quite some time for the poor Russian player to move his hordes of units.
On restart we managed another single turn! Not much to report though. The Russians advanced level with the ‘Koronaor Utca’ mainly due to my sneaky concealment squads doing a good job of pretending to be real but did break then kill my half squad on the left plus broke the 6-5-8 pulling out of BBB7 plus my other forward half squad. My sniper broke one of his forward squads in return. On my turn I decided to buy an infantry squad plus machine gun and officer to get more boots on the ground and pulled back my forces leaving only a 4-6-8 SS squad on the road to try and delay some of his units from crossing. He has four turns left now with one turn at least moving forward leaving me three to survive the storm approaching.
On turn 3 the Russian pressure increased dramatically and they seized the AAA8 building. The last Russian reinforcement was another tank and all bar one were clustering to the east. My Panzer IV managed to immobilise the flamethrower tank after two shots though started running out of ammo almost immediately and since it is now stuck in the open it has little chance of surviving the next turn – if by a long shot it does survive I might move it so it can cover the last road out of sight of the horde of approaching Russian tanks. On my turn I tried to assault move my best leader stack medium machine gun out of the way of the many armoured units but did not notice the line of sight from the flamethrower tank plus pinned squad (NOTE there is no line of sight due to the crest but we unfortunately missed this so costing me a forward defensive position). I survived the first but when the tank shot its machine guns the officer broke and the squad pinned. Oops.
Elsewhere I was more successful. Since I could not retreat my forward units I initially laid down a wall of residual fire which broke no less than three Russians (two useless conscripts though) raised a Russian elite to fanatic with a heat of battle and killed a 4-4-7 in close combat. Those two units then shot prepped point blank fire at the stacks next door and managed to break the flamethrower squad. (woot! twice!!) On the west flank a 4-6-7 of the Feldherrnhalle firstly pinned the officer then broke the machine gun squad. My final advance was over the machine gun which I hope to remember to pick up next turn (I then forgot!) and use without worrying about ammo shortage versus any more Russians.
For my purchase I went for more boots on the ground with two 4-6-7 squads who I intend to occupy the AAA3 building with. Thus further spreading victory hexes for the Russians. There are a lot of them piling into the victory area and my panther is starting to look misplaced. When the dummy is revealed I might have to consider moving it to the enemy rear to go tank hunting. As a positive I still have plenty of troops and the Russians still have two squads to worry about almost in their rear now. Stopped for a month as I have a competition to drive too when we would normally play but it is proving an enjoyable game.
Russian hordes starting to press. Not long to go now and the German defences are still strong…
Continued with turn 4. On the Russian turn the Russians rattled the tanks forward to the church after efficiently destroying my panzer IV. My dice were proving extremes either 3’s and 4’s or 11’s and 12’s so I started losing several squads to ammo shortage and my forward two squads both pinned next to enemy troops. On the other hand I effectively routed back about four squads. When one of the tanks arrived by the cathedral/church I revealed my anti tank gun and took a shot and missed. This caused an enormous problem. We had not noticed the crest (which would have meant my forward officer plus machine gun would still have been in the church this turn as opposed to broken or in the open) the previous turn and had missed it again for most of the Russian turn though I had mentioned this mistake to my opponent before we had restarted. In the heat of play we then promptly forgot all about it again. At this point in the turn I noticed it and how much cover it provided to my rear forces basically providing the Russians with free movement (now my flank forces were gone) but allowing me to redeploy safely. We had both had advantages from this mis-read of the map. The Russians had managed to move a lot of infantry up that would otherwise have been opposed by an machine gun with a 9-1 officer and elite squad, the Russian also knew the location of my HIP gun (which otherwise would not have had a line of sight). On my part I had killed a half squad and broken its counterpart that I could not otherwise have seen. My opponent suggested that since we had forgotten it for so long we should just regard it as open ground.
As a rule I don’t like game changing take backs and this went further in changing the rules of the game for the remainder of the game. I could though see my oppos point of view in that his tank movement would have lost him the game that turn as it would have wasted a turn he desperately needed to force my final defences. The problem for the defender was that this opened up the heart of the defence. To explain why I shall attempt to run through some of the tactical possibilities making the assumption that the Russian attack would have continued at this point (you can easily argue that the initial Russian advance would have been on the left or that more Russian infantry would have ran up on the right if the limitations of the position had been noticed but that opens up a sea of possibilities that would prove endless (it is ASL after all)).
So here is a detail of where those three tanks ended up. (the third is on BBB5). With rubble removed for clarity.
You will notice my gun cannot see them and neither can my defending infantry (bar the squad plus officer in the first floor of the building) so both are safe from each other.
Now let us move them closer and look at what they would have to do to get to a position that ‘flattening’ the map via an agreed rule change would equal with concealment removed. I have placed the tank in AAA4 though bypass of AAA3 or bypassing ZZ5/AAA5 would also be possibilities.
Firstly you will see it is now next door to a squad in ZZ4 which could then make two PF checks (followed by two more the following prep) at point blank range.
Next it can also now be seen by two more squads at 2 hex range in ZZ2. A further 8 PF attempts but at admittedly worst odds for hitting. These two squads could also advance in the next turn and make an attempt to bring it into combat
Finally the squad in the building in YY4 now has a range 2 PF attempt though along with a -1 officer so a further 4 shots over this and my next prep fire.
The gun also has a shot as before but for the sake of this discussion we will assume it misses when it reveals s the way it did when the tank was one hex further away.
Now if the Russian manages to survive 16 PF attacks and the anti-tank gun then they can now get a shot into the rear armour of the Panther – if I have forgotten to take a Defensive shot with it so its armour is spun around whereas at the original position the Panther is completely safe to start up and move around the rear of the ruined box to flank the Russian tanks by using the WW6 to UU to eventually YY3 though this would admittedly entail a rear shot possible around the VV6 area though this would be in motion, minimal LOS and with smoke possibilities.
Finally then the Russian tanks would have the ability to cover the entire german victory hex area with their tanks guns but they would have had to work to get it (if their tanks survived the above). As a plan moving those tanks that one hex further is borderline suicide and though it could work is likely to result in two to three dead T34s. To work this flank the Russian instead would need to get their infantry in place before the tanks arrive and that would involve running them into fire with much more risk….
With the map magically flattened they would instead only have to take two 2 hex range potential PF shots and the anti-tank gun and then they could safely pound the entire victory hex area plus threaten the Panther at no further risk.
As it stands I decided to accept my opponent’s proposition as it was a friendly game and I know what it feels like when you lose because you have not noticed or understood something. As far as the AAR goes I felt it should stop here because to continue it would provide an artificial view of what is an excellent scenario. The low ammo and food shortage provides a very different perspective and combining that with a scenario where the Russians have lots of infantry that they have to throw themselves forward over open ground makes an interesting defensive conundrum.


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