My USSR troops were in action again (again mascarading as Greeks). Unlike last time, both these games were tactically much more challenging and a good learning experience.
GAME 1 - Assaulting Hill 593
The battle was set in the mountains during the second battle of Monte Cassino, and the taking of Hill 593. The rules were challenging, as neither side had the option to 'dig in' due to the rocky ground, but would automatically gain bulletproof cover if they went to ground (didn't move or fire).
As the 'assaulting' force, this left me with a significant tactical disadvantage. The Germans would have fortifications, machine gun nests and mortars. If I 'walked in' on this firepower, I'd be annihilated. The Allies teams had taken considerable casulaties at this point. How could I turn the tide?
For this game, I was fighting Kurt. An excellent opponent, but Kurt scratched his list together with minutes to spare, would unfamiliarity breed mistakes - I hoped so.
GAME 2 - Fighting Encirclement in the Swamp
For this game I was going to be playing one of the most experienced players in the local area. Coops has played flames for years and years and amassed a huge number of armies including an epic tonne of Russians, Germans and American Vietnam Vets. He's played in national and regional flames tournaments. I was pretty certain I had a fight on my hands. Coops gripped my arm before the game, and whispered in an undertone. "PLEASE give me a tough game!" ... he'd wiped the board with everyone so far, could I beat him?
For the first time, I was defending! In this battle I had the option of splitting my forces over the bottom left and top right quadrants of the board. Coops then deployed in the bottom right, with his reserves coming in top left, and the objectives he had to take doing likewise.
USSR - Rifles Battalion (800pts)
- Command Team (Commander, 2iC, Commissar) - 30pts
- 45mm Antitank guns (2 bases of guns as a Command Attachment) - 45pts
- Strelkovy Company (8 bases, rifle and machineguns) - 130pts
- Strelkovy Company (16 bases, 7 Submachineguns, 8 R/MG and a Maksim HMG) - 265pts
- Scout Platoon (2 bases) - 100pts
- Heavy Mortar Platoon (8 bases including 6 mortars and a spotter team) - 145pts
- 45mm Antitank guns (5 bases including 4 antitank guns) - 85pts
GAME 1 AXIS - Grenadier Company (800pts)
- Command Team
- Grenadier Platoon (7 bases)
- Grenadier Platoon (7 bases)
- 105mm Howitser Platoon (4 guns, spotter, command and staff)
- Heavy Mortar Platoon (7 bases including 6 mortars)
- 2 HMG nests
- 3 sets of fortification trench lines
Hilly terrain dotted the board. This was my core advantage. The downside was that due to the 'rocky terrain', I couldn't dig in and anything that moved was going to get a pounding. Kurt had learnt from his earlier games and had both a four gun artillery unit AND a six mortar platoon. These could shelter behind a double platoon of grenadiers, trenches and two HMG nests. While grenadiers are only Trained and Confident, ALL my troops are identical. These represent the low water mark of the german reich. Let's hope I can give them hell!
|German Defensive Line|
The Germans didn't largely move all game.
Moving was risky in this game, so I went all out. By running, I could get 100% of the huge platoon behind a large hill on the top. This stopped them being spotted (for arty) or being shot at direct (direct fire rolls double dice against 'running' troops - ouch!) The smaller platoon in the middle did the same trick, hugging terrain.
|Russian flood from behind the hill up the left flank|
|Antitank guns move up behind their bulletproof shields to kill the HMG nests|
4-2 win to the Russians.
GAME 2 - Encirclement in the swamp.
Rolling for the next game (and promising experienced player Coops a tough game), I opted for a defensive position. This would be my first defensive game and a beauty to start with. Against such an old hand, I'd need every advantage I could get. Coops list looked something like this:
Grenadier Company (Confident-Veteran)
- Command HQ and 2iC
- Veteran Rifles with 2 HMG
- Veteran Rifles with 2 HMG
- HMG Platoon (4 HMG and Command)
- Mortar Platoon
That said, as a numerically inferior force - charging out of pre-prepared positions at my lines would be suicide. Even if they make it ... I would simply drown them in double the numbers.
The mass of heavy machine guns, while awesome in defense against an attacking army, would be handicapped by my dug in positions and bullet proof cover.
THE BOARD - SWAMP
In front of them came the two AT guns and and both the infantry batalons. My original plan had be to 'infiltrate' the big infantry company over towards the objectives on the bridge, in order to muck up his plans, but without this, I dug in to weather the artillery.
|My defensive position with the heavy mortars positioned behind the hill|
On the other flank, 4 AT guns lined up. As long as they didn't move, they have bulletproof cover, the scouts in front of them gave them a stalling line. I was hoping that they (and the HMG nest adjacent) would be enough of a disincentive to approach in that direction.
|The Germans attempt to dig in in the face of Soviet firepower|
Over the following 2 turns, the mortar teams exchanged fire, with his mortars forced to target my infantry whilst my mortars rained hell and brimstone down on his mortar teams. By turn 4 only 1 mortar remained, this is mainly because normal mortars are firepower 6, meaning that even if you hit and they fail their saving throw, you still need a 6 to kill! Heavy mortars are firepower 3+. Between the rerolls to hit (see below), the 5+ cover save for the mortar teams (unlike infantries 3+) and the 3+ to overcome their bulletproof cover ... they dropped like flies.
Artillery works in a unique way in that a 'hit' hits everything under a 4" square template. You then roll a skill check (4+ for me, 3+ for Coops vets) to hit them. Six or more arty pieces gets you a reroll to hit. 3-4 and it's straight, 1-2 and you have to reroll every hit. This meant the enemy mortars were completely useless.
|The reserves arrive|
Killing half the team, his embedded and dug in unit pass their pinning test but fail their morale check (4+) and routed. Sometimes fearless is just what it takes.
The first battle was won through some intelligent movement and a mistake by my opponent. The second battle was an uphill struggle (for my opponent). If he'd moved, I'd have killed him. My heavy mortars came into their own and ate his for breakfast. Personally, I can't see how he could have won unless I'd made a serious mistake. I didn't, I gave him a tough game ... and with 2 more turns to turn on the pressure on those Grenadiers contesting - it couldn't really have gone any other way.