Friday, 26 April 2019

Chain of Command - Germans vs Russians

Operation Barbarossa, August 1941, somewhere in Russia...

Narrative in white
Game talk in yellow

The might of the German Wermacht is rolling across the Russian steppe in a vast unstoppable blitzkrieg, and our attention turns to a small village somewhere in northern Ukraine.

The edge of the village...

The Germans had paused outside the town and for 6 hours their artillery had reduced the place to ruins.  The people had fled east, but the Red Army was still in their boltholes, ready to fight once the Germans came in.

And come in they did.  

The Russian jump off points (in Red) have been pushed into the village by some excellent German patrol work.
The Germans will be arriving along the blue arrow lines of advance.

Below you'll find the forces we were using.  We had four players, two per side, and I was playing on the Russian side.

We were playing Scenario 3: Attack & Defend, with the Russians on the defence.  In that scenario, the defenders set up their patrols first and the attackers (in this case the Germans) second.  The attackers then get 1d6 free patrol moves, and the Germans rolled '6', so from the off, they were able to get their patrol forward and confine the Russians to the town.  This wasn't too bad as we'd intended to use the buildings as defensive fortifications anyway, but we did set our patrols to try to give us options to counter German flanking moves.  Turns out we were patrolled into the town.  However, our initial positions meant that the Germans were forced to deploy at least one of their three Jumping Off Points on their base edge.

The first actions was on the south flank, as an Infantry section took up position in the woods.  Its MG34 team set up in the building, ready to surpise Ivan if he tried to put up a fight.

The arrow helps denote the facing of the unit where its not clear...

Spotting the Germans, the comrades took up position in the ruins, and immediately called down mortar fire on the Fascists.

Comrades!  the Fascists are here!  Open fire!!

The dear leader takes up a central commanding position.

Mortar fire will do some damage throughout the game.
The opening few phases of the game was an infantry exchange on the southern flank, with the Germans putting a unit on the table to try to push in towards the village.  We countered by deploying an infantry section into one of the buildings, supported by a mortar team.  The Germans had an artillery barrage in place which should have made it difficult for us to do this, but they rolled a "Turn End" result in their first phase so this barrage finished immediately!  the initial exchanges saw a few losses on both sides, but nothing serious or decisive.

It was a ruse!  With the Russians revealing their position, a StuG rumbled up and put a shell into the building.  

Cue ominous squeaky rumbling...

It shattered and began to collapse in flames!   The survivors tumbled out and sprinted forwards in blind panic to seek cover behind a stone wall.

This isn't going to end well...

This was the first big turning point of the game.  With its first shot, the StuG scored 3 sixes on its High Explosive attack (5 dice) which meant the building it hit became unstable!  It would collapse if a Turn End result happened.  We had to decamp the infantry out of there before that happened and had a choice to make; fall back into another building or storm forwards to the wall for cover.  I didn't want to block the deployment area around that Jump Off Point so I decided to head forwards.  I actually intended to try and iverrun one of the German Jump Off Points in the woodland there.  It turned out to be a bad move as the Germans countered the move effectively.

The Germans jumped forwards, and set up enfilade into the hapless Russians who were steadily cut to pieces by the vicious MG34 ("Hitler's Buzzsaw").

Told you...

Chopped to bits, pinned, and then broken, the Russians flee but are cut down to a man before they reach safety.

The Reds respond to the StuG by calling up their T26 armoured support.  The tank traded many shots with the StuG before finally the superior German armour's shells tore through the T26 and forced it to withdraw.

With the StuG on the board, we had to bring out our T26.  Its an uneven match-up as the StuG is overall better.  I think we used the T28 badly in going toe-to-toe, but to a cetain extent this was forced on us by the activation rolls we were getting.  Anyway, for most of the battle these two vehicles duelled with each other getting hits that forced them to respond to each other.  As the game was coming to a conclusion, the StuG finally got the decisive hit, damaging the T28 and forcing it to flee the field.

Meanwhile on the northern flank, the Germans brought a second section forwards through the woods, and the Russians countered again; they swarmed up into the outer ruins and give some serious fire into the Germans, stopping their advance.

They're on a mission...

The Russians get the best of the early exchange.
A German light howitzer rolled out of the southern wood and with a single shot, flattened the building!  

The Russians within were killed by the blast, the collapsing building, and as they staggered out shell-shocked and covered in brick dust, they were mown down by German machinegun fire.  The pattern on the southern flank was repeated on the north.

History repeated itself!  This time the German field howitzer rolled 4 sixes on its first shot!  The building collapsed immediately, killing several of the Russian troops within and, here's the killer thing, the Germans get to choose where the Russians exit the building!  Obviously they chose to have the Russians flee out the front into the open before the German firing line.  Devastating.  I think its unlikely to have one building suffer this effect during a game, but two was amazing!  These two single shots caused a lot of damage to the Russian "Force Morale".

As for building collapse rules, we we're sure what happened after that, so we assumed the buildings became piles of rubble.  We decided that these terrain areas were now impassable.  Asking on the forums afterwards, it seems you can reoccupy the ruins but the rules don't mention how.  The best idea I saw was that you can reoccupy the new collapsed rubble area at after a Turn End.  Makes sense!

Red Army morale was collapsing and the Germans were pushing hard; but they didn't have the field yet.

A second line of Russians jumped in and cut the southern German flank to pieces, including killing their platoon commander!  As that shocking news spread through the German lines, their morale became shakey!

The German southern flank is wiped out!
With the game slipping away from us, we brough more troops on and tried to concentrate fire onto German positions that were shaky.  We were looking for wipeouts that would hit the German "Force Morale" too.  If we could get them to below three pionts, the game would be drawn even if we were tactically beaten.  Killing off the troops and leader on the southern flank seemed the baest way to do this, and turn out that it was.

But they'd done enough and as they finished off the Russians ahead of them, the Red Army withdrew to find better ground to defend.

Phew!  An excellent battle, with a surprisingly close finish.  Two more points off the Germans and it would have forced a draw.

Russian morale collapses!
They started on 11
But it was a close run thing.
The Germans weren't far off breaking
They started on 10

The turning points in the battle were the German high explosive shells that amazingly flattened both the buildings they hit!  The chances of this happening are slim but sometimes the dice are with you.  With the Russian front line destroyed by those collapses it opened the battle for a German victory.  

We're loving Chain of Command at the moment and this will become a regular event on our table, for a while at least.

Our forces were constructed from the Operation Barbarossa supplement lists.

Force Rating: Regular +3 (5 Command dice)

Senior Leader (pistol) – Initiative 3
Senior Leader (SMG) – Initiative 3
50mm Mortar (3 crew with rifles) HE only (no smoke)

Squads 1 to 4
Junior Leader with SMG
Team 1: MG34 LMG (3 Crew)
Team 2: 6 Riflemen

Supports (11pts)
StuG III (D) with Junior leader (4pts)  
leIG18 (5 crew with rifles) with Junior Leader (4pts)
Adjutant (1pt)
Pre-game Barrage (2pts) (as it happens these were wasted points as the German's first activation roll ended the turn!)

Force Rating: Regular +4 (5 Command dice)

Senior Leader (pistol) – Initiative 3
Senior Leader (inferior, rifle) – Initiative 2
50mm Mortar (4 crew with rifles) HE only (no smoke)

Squads 1 to 4 (no Teams)
Junior Leader with rifle
DP28 LMG (2 Crew) – magazine LMG
9 Riflemen
1 Rifle grenadier (rifle & rifle grenades)

Supports (5pts)
T26 45mm gun with Junior Leader (4pts)
Minefield (1pt)  (this was the squard "field" by the wall and didn't really affect play)

1 comment:

  1. Great game report! I like the little video clips of the artillery's amazing luck. Better luck next time, Comrades!