SP205 - Mius Mischief

Another re-post (lot going up this week) with a rare ftf played in August 2014

Yesterday I had a rare face to face game against Ian (of WallAdvantage fame). We were going to play a Schwerpunkt Eastern Front scenario set in 1943 with a large force of good quality Russians (including a 9-2 leader!) and six T34s versus a smaller Elite german force including a 75L anti-tank gun, large mortar, two (rising to three Panzer IIIH’s by turn three) and two StuIgs. The Russian objectives are to take control of six or more buildings in five and a half turns over an action pack board.
I decided to push forward centrally and to the left with my tanks broadly on my left and right flanks. From what I could see the mass of Ian’s large concealed counters were on his left flank though at least one of these was an APC…
I can split this report up into three sections so will
Firstly my right flank can be covered (for the entire game). Here I had advanced four squads with an ATR, light machine gun and 8-0 officer into the woods. Their objectives were to screen the forces in the centre and prevent free movement of the large concealed counters in front of them. Once the enemy was pushed back in the centre then they would be expected to pick up the building close to my start point. This plan collapsed fast. Firstly the heavy mortar revealed itself and whilst remaining concealed pummelled two squads to death leaving nothing but a lonely light machine gun lying on the floor. Then a StuIG unconcealed itself on the German far left….and used its 150mm HE gun (on the 30 column…) to pummel another two squads to death leaving nothing but a lonely ATR lying on the floor and also leaving only the 8-0 officer who was sitting in the rear waiting to rally what now appeared to be the corpses of his entire force. Ooops. To add more misery to the flank Ian then sent over a single squad to take out the officer and threaten my centre from behind. Fortunately the officer proved to have more mettle than the rest of his unwillingly exploding troops and he tied up the squad in combat for two turns. When he eventually succumbed I had rallied two more squads from the central force with my 9-2 and moved them over to shore up the flank.
This was not ideal as now almost half my force and 2/3rds of officers were now involved in a flank where there was only a single victory building but needs must when the devil takes a hand. Unfortunately my two squads proved unsuccessful in shooting this elite squad and eventually my two moved into combat and all got locked in melee. Ian had at this point dealt with my central tanks so the StuIG rolled forward and showing a lack of concern for his troops in the best traditions of the Nazi German army fired High Explosive into the melee. A hit was scored but the damage roll was less decent and a 1MC was caused. Both my squads failed his only pinned then in the resultant melee one of my squads casualty reduced. My officer managed to rally them immediately and then watched as incoming fire transformed the half squad into a berserkers – they charged straight back in intending, no doubt, to avenge the stain on their honour only to get cut to shreds with triple point blank fire. Still I had my -2 officer and a full squad so I shot and missed then advanced into combat again. Unsurprisingly now the combat failed to have a result either way and that evil StuIG decided to try again. Ooooo a crit. Followed by a 2MC for all concerned. Perhaps unsurprisingly I failed…again and the adamnite steel Germans once again only pinned. This time the squad finished the job and all my troops died in combat. So all in all the right flank had turned into a bit of a ‘fail’ but as a positive had kept the StuIg from the centre and prevented rout paths being cut earlier.
Next up the left flank push. This was much more successful though once Ian had stopped ordering the dice to do badly for him things got much harder – he was being very kind and providing some very useful advice i.e
“Don’t shoot your main armament first because if your mgs do the job then you won’t need to shoot the ma and this way you are better protected against box cars. Also use both mgs even though the smaller won’t help in this case but could be randomly selected and thus potentially protect the larger”
I roll box cars and in the random selection selected the smaller mg
“See now you can use your MA and will probably roll snake eyes”
I roll snake eyes and break the squad
Ian stopped naming specific rolls after that.
Anyway led by three tanks my left flankers pushed forward aggressively once it was noticed from other areas of the battlefield that at least one of the two large counters this side was the APC. I lost a T34 crossing the bridge and another to the 75L (which was scarily effective with the Germans elite status raising the special ammo chances) but destroyed the Panzer III myself with my last APCR shot (what is it with Russian APCR – they took a metal shell and added a ‘tiny’ bit of more metal? Pathetic increase in to kill numbers….) My infantry chased down and ‘small’ shocked the APC in the grain field which then caused a huge fire but were to gutless to advance into combat and in the end settled for taking a building and trying to help the centre fulfil its objectives. The rest of the infantry on the left was pulled into the centre to try and take out the anti-tank gun which will be covered next.
So to the centre. Here the tank battle was very much give and take. I ‘gave’ Ian kill shots and he ‘took’ my tanks and crews permanently from me. It was not quite as one sided as that but almost. He lost his Main armament on a PzIIIH with an intensive fire shot, I then killed this but lost a further tank to the StuIG (damned heat shot…plus that was my armour leader tank :() and then another to the 75L having an unnoticed LOS threading through the hills. This eventually left my final central tank hiding in the hills waiting for the infantry to provide free movement. This they did mainly due to the left flank looking like it would take most of the victory hexes causing most of the central infantry to move back allowing my much reduced forces to take out first the mortar then the anti-tank gun. There were still strong forces to take out though.
The remains of the battle were very much back and forth. The APC had moved round but proved incapable of hitting anything (lots of elevens) and when it did duded all the resultant shots – hurrah for saboteurs in the german factories, next time lets hope they go for the tank ammo instead. The PzIIIH reinforcement came in and took up a hull down position after I had misplaced my covered arc and then survived two hull hits (as it was hull down) before blowing up my left flan T34. It then proceeded to ‘unleash hell’ against one of my squad in  another victory building. This squad was obviously the intellectual partner of the German squad on my right flank and shrugged of 2mc after 2mc pinning a couple of times but utterly refusing to move out of the line of battle.
In the true centre I had a problem in that I had four buildings and could take one to the central right unopposed but needed one more and the one next to the captured AT gun was in full view of large group of angry Germans. So I drove my T34 into a different one. This took my expected total to six! Unfortunately I had moved to early and Ian is far too good a player not to have covered that eventuality. In his last turn he endeavored to get two squads and an officer to engage my last full squad in close combat at the anti-tank gun – he eventually moved one berserking squad there who then casualty reduced due to triple point blank and were killed in combat. He also managed to get another squad in the target building (after everyone else was pinned trying to get across the road). Finally he moved a squad and a half plus 8-1 officer into combat with the tank which had bogged in the building with his troops all proving happy and thrilled to move into combat (compared to my men’s unwillingness to combat a tin box). This meant he needed a 9…… (5 for squad +1 officer +1 for the officers leadership bonus, +1 for the tank being immobile and finally +1 for ambushing the tank. Ouch tank gone victory hex lost). This meant in my turn it all resolved around the single building next to the captured AT gun. Of the two and a half squads I had surrounding all but one was taken out by defensive fire before I moved one squad in (the one which had first captured then defended the AT gun). No ambush and then the combat roll to win the game. He failed to damage me and I rolled a casualty reduction so failed to seize the building.
End game from the German side. The ‘key’ melee is by the graveyard and the now abandoned anti-tank gun in the middle. The two kevlar squads are in the top left for the Germans and bottom right for the Russians by the blazing grain field

So it all came down to one roll. Ian had fairly consistently out manoeuvred me but had been put under unusually cruel pressure by my own amazing ability to take repeated two MC’s without breaking which had allowed me to get much further forward than I would otherwise managed. As big pluses I learnt some nifty things concerning anti-tank guns, HIP retaining HIP when firing and tank hunting stuff which is always a good reason to play players better than yourself. It was also an enjoyable good game with lots going on (lots of snake eyes on both sides as well which was unusual) and the hours flew by.. Nice scenario.


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