As I mentioned in my long and tedious soliloquy on situation 3 in the Strategy section, here is my first attempt at a battle report: my solo conduct of situation 3. I am using purely the original PanzerBlitz rules. I use PanzerBlitz assault and the unlimited indirect fire rules, which will be of little consequence here. Instead of the provided Pz IV counters, I am using Pz III from the 1941 expansion plus a Pz IV D or E model with the short 75mm field gun.
I will use a mixture of Photos and Vassel screen shots, so you will see that Vassel will have the original Pz IV counters displayed.
The Russian Set up
Following is the positioning of the Russian forces, using the grid system with the board number quoted first, then the letter and the number of hexes along from left to right (NB: This is using the grid system on the actual board, the VASSEL board does it backwards).
Mortars: 2I7, 2Q4. 76.2mm FG: 3M9, 1P7. 45mm AT: 2U5. 76.2mm AT: 2X7, 1R4 (loaded in truck), 1R9. SMG: 3AA9, 2DD5, 2EE8. Guards: 1X8, 2Q4. Rifle: 3Q5, 3M9, 2P5, 2X7, 2I7, 1R3 (loaded in truck), 1P7, 1R9. Trucks: 1R3 (Rifle loaded), 1R4 (76.2mm AT loaded), 1Q9. Wagons: 2R5, 2U5, 2W7, 2EE8, 2P5, 1X8.
The Russians have used all the considerations outlined in my rant about this scenario in the Strategy section. The field guns and mortars create an unbroken line of fire well behind the MLR. Board 3 is covered with multiple redundancies. The Rifle Coy at 3Q5 can be used to cover the Western side of the town if the FG (field gun) at 3M9 is destroyed. Likewise the Mortar at 2Q4 provides redundancy on that side. The ‘lynchpin’ is the Mortar at 2I7, it is covering a lot of ground. However we can see that if it is destroyed, the two FG can JUST link up, their fields of fire meet at 2M8. Defending this multi layered screen are the AT guns and infantry blocking units. These cover all the road approaches to the MLR. The 45mm AT at Bednost covers the rear of the position, especially the approaches to the mortars on hill 132.
Also, we can see the mobile reserve of one AT and one Rifle Coy. In one turn this can reposition to cover the dead ground east of the 135 feature, or make it all the way to the town at 3R7.
There is one glaring error in the positioning of the defense. We can see that the weak point, or ‘gap’ in the defenses exists from the eastern side of the 132 feature right through to the 135 feature. This area is where the mobile reserve is located, but there is no depth in the defense here. There is only one thin line provided by the fire of the FG at 1P7, linking with the mortar and other FG as previously described. This is perfectly acceptable for the Russian, as long as the approaches to this unit are well defended. It will take time for the Germans to advance to this area and the Russian can reposition other units to cover this units loss.
Consider now the SMG unit at 2EE8, paired with a wagon unit ready to ‘whisk’ it away to another part of the front once the battle develops. Consider now its purpose, to block the Avenue of Advance along the road. On closer inspection you can see it has been placed too far forward. The Germans can bypass this unit immediately on its western side, without any penalties like slopes or gullies, swing onto the road and advance right into the Russian MLR. In fact, in the very first turn the faster half track units can cut the lateral road at 2U7, cutting their defense in two. As I am playing this as I write, we will see how fatal an error the placement of this lowly SMG will become!
It should be back up the road at 2BB9. Here the Germans must bypass the unit by going through a slope hex or along a gully. It will take more than one turn for them to reach the MLR, the Russian will be able to respond to their point of attack rapidly before the main road is cut. The SMG at 2DD5 also fails in its task in the same manner, but as the area behind it is well covered, the error is not as glaring. The Germans can reach the crossroads at 2V6 in the first turn, but this will not cut the road in a dangerous position relative to the ‘gap’ in the defense and they will be at the mercy of the AT guns.
Russian Defensive Line
I have already given away the most dangerous course of action for the Germans, but let us summarize the alternatives. An approach along board 3 must always be considered, as it is easiest to deploy your forces here. However we can see the Russian has really stacked this side, there is multiple redundancy and depth in his defense here. The Germans would have to take on the defenses on the western side of hill 132, as well as taking out the FG on board 3 and mortar on the 129 feature.
Board 1 is the most difficult for the Russians to cover, especially if the Germans can clear a corridor to the east of the 135 feature. However ‘bush bashing’ to bypass the Guards units will be time consuming, as we have discussed the Germans can attack this board by using the road on Board 2.
So the German Execution will be as follows.
Armour and AT gun elements advance along Road toward junction at 2U7. 50mm AT gun deploy on road facing east to defend against advances of mobile reserve. The rest follow in column, remaining out of view of enemy guns and out of range of CAT attacks.
Here the German has a major decision to make. Some forces need to be left behind to defend the area of the road junction, thus preventing the Soviets from rapidly redeploying his forces, however he also needs to ensure that he has enough firepower to destroy units as he continues his advance.
Secondly, from the track junction he can either continue north and attack the 129 feature; with the aim of destroying the enemy mortars there, or swing east to sweep through the reserves and on to the 135 feature to attack the field gun. The first option will give him the greatest chance of victory, as this mortars loss will be hardest to cover for the Russian. However he then must ensure that he is still able to nullify the reserve element.
Thus the forces would be best split up as follows. The main group should consist of 3 Pz IIIs and the Pz IV, as well as the Coy of infantry in halftracks. The remainder shall deploy around the intersection to cover the roads and the advance of enemy infantry. If possible the mortar and field gun shall be positioned where they can support the main group from long range.
The main group advances with no delay across the hill and via the ford at 2K6 to attack the enemy on the 129 feature. From there, they should break off depending on how the Russian reacts, either take out the field gun on board 3 or attack the mortar on the 129 feature if the Russian moves it to cover the other mortars loss.
Again as we can see, the Germans are up against it!!
The German Avenue of Advance
The Game Proper
The stage is set, the Germans ready themselves in the assembly area, the Russian infantry dig their pits a little deeper.....
Turn 1: German
So the German column advances as described. Attached is a Vassel image grab of the situation at the end of the Germans first turn.
Turn 1: Russian
Keeping in mind that I know what the German intentions are, I will not overreact with the Russians. Units clearly out of the battle load up or begin the weary trudge toward the breach. The reaction force moves to blocking positions along the road. The mortar and Guards unit reposition so the mortar can fire on the Junction at 2U7.
The Rifle Coy in range assaults the armoured column at 1-3 odds to no effect.
Turn 2: German
The Germans push on with their attack, the Coy of Panzer Grenadiers advance rapidly to the ford as do the Coy of Panzers. The mortars and field guns move to take up viable fire positions. The major play is moving the second 50mm AT and a platoon of Pz III into the village of Bednost. This leaves those units exposed to an attack by the 45mm AT and Rifle Coy, however if these units can survive to destroy the AT gun they will hold the town of Bednost and the important crossroads. They will ensure that the Russians on the hilltop cannot freely move and will give the Germans a chance of victory. Worse case is they get destroyed, but even if they get dispersed for a few turns, they will be tying up units.
The Germans boldly attack Bednost in Turn 2.
Turn 2: Russian
The Russians continue to move the outer units towards the centre. At this point they are able to bring a number of units to fire at the exposed German mortars and AT guns with mixed results, getting a few dispersals at 1-1. The important ‘battle of Bednost’ favours the Russians, the AT guns attack fails, but the single Rifle Coy attack is heroically successful against the odds (1-2). They also attack through the forest with their Guards unit from 2Q5, unsuccessfully.
Turn 3: German
The 'Battle of Bednost' turn 2 and turn 3
Ignoring for the moment the drama around Bednost, the Germans strive forward with their attack on hill 129. The Panzer Grenadiers are able to surround the Mortars and Rifle Coy, with the Panzers moving forward to positions of support. Ignoring the dispersals as a hinderance for the moment, they continue to position their support weapons.
The Panzer Grenadier Company attacks Hill 129
Turn 3: Russian
The Russians repeat their attacks, while continuing to move units up. They are able to score a dispersal on the 50mm PAK straddling the road and take the risk of exposing the Rifle Coy there in a CAT, if the Pz in Bednost is not dispersed it could conceivably overrun that unit. The Guards unit is able to advance through the forest to attack the mortars and field guns.
The Guards unit is successful, dispersing the mortars and field guns at 2P7, while the Rifle Coy again disperses with its attack at Bednost.
The Battle of Bednost, Russian Turn 3.
Turn 4: German
The Germans are facing somewhat of a crisis on Hill 132. However if their attack at 129 is quickly resolved, they still have a chance at success. Holding around Bednost is adequate at this time.
Pouring fire from all sides they are able to destroy the Mortar unit at odds of 4-1. They were able to do this without utilising all of their armoured units, which were subsequently diverted to attack 3M9 and the field guns there.
This puts the Germans now in a reasonable position. If they can knock off the field guns then switch the rest of their attack to the main battle around hill 132, the may be a chance yet!
Momentum swings as the mortars on .129 are destroyed
Turn 4: Russian
Again the pattern continues for the Russians. On board 1 they finalise the redeployment of a 76.2mm ATG to 1M3, which helps cover the loss of the mortar. They score another dispersal on the 50mm PAK covering the road. The Rifle Coy defending with the field gun at 3M9 manages to disperse the two platoons of Pz, warding off the destruction of the field gun a turn. The Battle of Bednost is decided crucially in the Russians favour. The 45mm ATG is finally able to get a dispersal, while the Rifle Coy rolls its 3rd consecutive ‘2’, getting a DD result and destroying the Pz III platoon and 50mm PAK.
This could prove to be a major turning point in the battle, the Russians now dominate the 132 feature again. Crucially, the mortar placed on this feature should now be able to move uninhibited to a position where it can help regain the frontline for the Russians.
In the other positions, the Guards failed to disperse the mortar and field guns, likewise the surrounded Rifle Coy on the 129 feature made a failed counter attack against the German infantry.
The Crucible: Russian forces clear Bednost
Turn 5: German
The Germans now begin there withdrawal from hill 129, they must switch their forces to destroy the other long range weapons and at least one Rifle Coy to win.
Two halftracks aiding the 50mm PAK blocking position conduct an over-run of the attacking rifle company, scoring a dispersal. This puts them adjacent to the Russian 76.2mm ATG, but will give the Russians a decision.
The mortars which survived the assault from the Guards unit at 2P7 are able to pick off another Guards unit being transported along the road on board 1.
Turn 5: Russian
The Russian Player must now exploit its advantage on hill 132 and sure up its line to ensure victory.
An early setback is the 76.2mm ATG failing to disperse the two halftracks, finally running out of luck with a roll of 6 at 3-1. This piece will now be exposed to fire in the next turn.
Also now the SMG units have finally made it into battle, they will ensure that Bednost and hill 124 is held.
Except for the Guards again dispersing the mortars, all of the other CATs fail against the German Pz’s and Panzer Grenadiers loaded in halftracks.
Russians move to clear 50mm PAK blocking force
Turn 6: German
The Germans now concentrate on destroying the field gun and attacking the mortars on the 132 feature.
First order of business for what will surely be the last act of the 50mm PAK blocking position is taking out the 76.2mm ATG.
At 4-1 wit a +1 it manages to avoid the dreaded 4-1 6 and destroy them. Hopefully for the Germans this blocking position has served its purpose, holding up the Russians for half the game.
Likewise the two Pz platoons destroy the 76.2mm field gun at 3M9, leaving only infantry and the possibility of the mortars on hill 132 to sure up the line.
The last act of the 50mm PAK
Turn 6: Russian
The Russians in this turn unleash a series of CAT assaults, again with mixed results.
The 50mm PAK finally meets its demise. The Rifle Coy defending the mortars score a key dispersal of the two Pz III platoons threatening the mortars. The Rifle Coy that got over ran by the halftracks gets its own back with a dispersal. The Guards in contact with the mortars risk another attack scoring a dispersal, the Russians must consider diverting this Guards in aid of the mortars back on the western side of the forest.
There is also now the other spare 76.2mm ATG in Bednost loaded on wagons, ready to be ‘rushed’ to fill any gaps in the final turns.
Russian Turn 6
Turn 7: German
Running out of Units now, the Germans attack the Rifle Coy at 3M9 with a direct fire attack via the Panzers and a close assault with two rifle platoons. Both fail to get a dispersal.
Turn 7: Russian
It is a repeat now for the Russians. The Rifle Coy failed to gain a dispersal against the halftracks, whilst the Guards are again successful against the mortars.
The 45mm ATG scores a dispersal against one of the Pz IIIs on the 132 feature, but the Rifle Coy fails in its CAT on the same units.
Turn 8: German
The only change for the Germans here is transferring the Panzer III from hill 132 to help with the battle against the Rifle Coy. The Germans only chance now is to destroy that unit and then throw everything they have at hill 132.
The plucky halftracks once again roll a ‘1’ and disperse the Rifle Coy in an overrun attack, just shows what happens when infantry are caught in the open!!
Turn 8: Russian
The Russians can do little for the surrounded Rifle Coy. They are well placed to move both the Mortar and the limbered 76.2mm ATG into positions to cover board 3 even if the Rifle Coy is destroyed. They are able to once again disperse the Mortars and crucially the lone Pz III threatening the mortars.
Turn 9: German
The Germans are now desperate, they must destroy the Rifle Coy in this turn.
There direct fire attack fails, a roll of ‘5’ at 1-1 does not get the dispersal, the infantry are now no chance of destroying the company with their assault. The halftracks move into a position where they can both attack the mortars (a dispersal at best) and block the road so that the Russian cannot deploy the limbered 76.2mm ATG (for now!).
Final Throws for the Germans
Turn 9: Russian
The Russians now must clear the halftrack blocking force. The 45mm ATG fails to disperse them, so it will be up to the SMG unit slinking along the reverse slopes.
Said unit manages a dispersal, then the remaining Pz III on hill 132 is destroyed by the close assault of the Rifle Coy. A roll of ‘1’ at 1-2 odds is enough with the -2 for CAT.
The Destruction of a Pz III platoon
Turn 10: German
The German direct fire attack again fails on the Rifle Coy, a roll of ‘3’ at 1-1 with the +1 for the woods get them off without a dispersal. Likewise the last remaining unit on hill 132 has a ping at the mortars at 1-2, again to no effect thanks to the +1 for being in woods!
The game is up for the Germans.
Turn 10: Russian
The Russians should have victory. But let us see if they can clear the halftrack block.
They can, in fact their CAT and AT fire clears the two halftracks completely, even if the Germans had destroyed the Rifle Coy, the Russians could have reestablished the line using fire from both the mortars and AT gun.
Final Positions showing Russian unbroken line.
- Last edited Tue Jan 22, 2013 7:02 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:26 am
Excellent replay! Very well done!
Nice AAR. Bryan has done some very good combined attack that would work well with this scenario. Also on the Consimworld discussion for this series there is a link to the Imaginative Strategist and Greg Moore's site with counters for the 1941-1942 corrected according to the writings done on the original design.
Thanks all, wasn't particularly adept at getting images in, would have preferred them much larger.
I agree that the two above mentioned websites are excellent resources, I have all the 1940 and 1941-1942 counters from the original extras provided in The General.
Great to see there is still interest in this excellent game!!
Thanks all, wasn't particularly adept at getting images in, would have preferred them much larger.
Just type "large" or "original" next to the image #
Great replay. I would recommend that, if you correct the German Panzers to 1941 Pz IIIs and IVs, also correct the Russian infantry to a mix of 1940-41 infantry and SMGs. Just my thoughts....
- Last edited Sun Jan 6, 2013 11:15 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Jan 6, 2013 11:14 pm
Thanks for the tips on the images Dave M.
Byron you could be right there, but I also think giving the Germans artillery would have also balanced this out better.
For mind this would replicate the kampfgruppes used by the Panzer Divisions when they were depleted at the end of 1941. The force in this scenario would be the better part of a divisions fighting force, so adding part of the divisional artillery would not be unrealistic. Even one battery of 105mm howitzers would balance this out better, as the kampfgruppe commander would often be given the use of part or all of the divisional artillery to achieve an important objective.
Adding the 32 AF to the German force to help break up the Russian infantry is a good quick fix.