Saturday 23 March 2013

2012-12-15 Battlegroup Kursk - West of Oktiabriski Farm

Set Up

This game follows on from the First Charge at Hill 252.2 scenario. The German 2nd battalion 1st SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment are holding the State farm against the Soviet counter attack. In Battlegroup Kursk this is classed as a Platoon sized game.

The 6x6 ft board was set up as per the scenario map in the rule book, or at least near enough to it. The buildings are from Hovels and the shell holes from Magnetic Displays/Coritani ready painted. The road is by Shell Hole Scenic's who have since sold on their scenery range. The fox holes are by Ironclad Miniatures. The hedges are mainly S&A scenics and the trees are various model railway trees.

The Germans can deploy up to 30" in from the short edge opposite the village, so up to the edge of the field (cut up door mat). The Soviets deploy on the table edge.

The battlefield is open fields, with the mats representing tall crops providing cover. The village is the southern edge of Petrovka, the mat fields the north east of Oktlabrski State Farm. To the east of Petrovka along the Soviet deployment edge is marshy ground fronted by woods.

Germans deploy on the left and Soviets the right.
German forces. There are 6 Stug III's in the picture. One is 15mm and one is a  Jagpanzer IV.  In the future a set  from Plastic Soldier Company will be purchased to make up the numbers. The figures are all Britannia Miniatures, including 1 Stug. However I've just spotted a FAA sniper, doing a good job of hiding in clear sight. The vehicles I'd guess are Airfix.

Mother Russia's forces are an eclectic mix of  T34's both 85 and 43 variants by SHQ, Britannia,  Airfix, Dragon, that I know of. The 2 T70 units are mostly not T70's another purchase for Plastic Soldier Company. I think the light tanks are 3 x T26 and 3 Valentines. The infantry are Frontline, FAA(?) and possibly Grubby's.
The objectives are a house in the village, the road junction and the road exit on the German right.

Move 1 - deployment

The Germans deployed first with D6 on ambush orders which went to the PaK 40 AT guns.
German's deployed and Soviet first wave arrives.

German 2/1 SS Pz Gren dug in around the cross roads.

German wire team in the foreground ensuring at least one call for artillery gets through.

Soviet 1st wave looks towards Germans

Soviet tanks ready to move through the village

Soviet 1st wave deplyment

Marsh in the foreground.
View from the German eastern edge.

Pak 40 battery use the protection of the fields to cover the open  ground towards the village.

 Move 1 -  Soviet move

The Soviets started their turn with a 'stal, stal, stal' order and 3 tanks surged forward to be ambushed by the Pak 40's. 3 dead T34's later the Germans were feeling quite smug. 2 of the T34's were carrying infantry which quickly disembarked and became pinned. Soviet retribution was swift as Katyusha rockets arrived pinning 2 guns.

Soviet eastern thrust stopped in its tracks

The western thrust moves cautiously forward.

View from the Soviet western flank
3 dead tanks mean the Soviet take 3 battle rating tokens.

  Move 1 - German move

The German infantry opted to stay safe in their fox holes and with the on board artillery pinned or couldn't see anything it was all down to the off table 105mm howitzers and 120mm mortars. The results being 1 more pinned tank and equally pinned passengers who not surprisingly jumped off.

Red dice mean the units are on ambush fire orders.

Gloriously burning and pinned Soviet vehicles and infantry. You may guess I was the German commander.

View from the village edge to the PaK 40 battery in the crop field.

View from the edge of the village towards the dug in German infantry.

Did I mention the knocked out T34's and pinned infantry.

Overview of the action.

The village objective is the house bottom left.

The German's last action was to take a token and roll a D6 to unpin the guns.

 Move 2 - Soviet move

'Stal, stal, stal' and the 1st wave leapt forward and engaged the German infantry. The rule is the Soviets give the 'stal, stal, stal' order to a group of tanks and throw a D6 to see how many respond  They then move up to 2 moves and fire a HE shot.

3 HE shots and everyone in the fox holes are OK.
Move 2 saw the Soviet 2nd wave hit the table sloshing through the marsh on 'stal, stal. stal' orders which resulted in a flurry of shots pinning a single Pak 40.

Lucky PaK 40 battery. Lucky because 5 shots resulted in 1 pin.

Time to change face and take on the 2nd wave.

1943 and panzerfausts can only be looked forward too, so who wants to charge a tank with antitank grenades?

Soviet 2nd wave viewed from the cross roads

2nd wave advance

Did I mention the knocked out T34s

The cross roads about to be assaulted 
The Soviets take 2 tokens and roll to unpin their infantry.

Move 2 -German move

A timed Stuka strike starts the turn bombing the village and claiming a Soviet infantry command reducing the Soviet officers from 3 to 2. Command which decides how many units move is calculated by rolling 2D6 for a platoon game and adding the number of officers to the total. The Soviets with the worse dice could only ever move 4 units rather than 5.

The Soviet general makes a note of his ammo used while the Commissar plays with his Ipad

The venerable Stuka does it's worst. By 1943 it is starting to be ourdated.  This particular model is about  32 years old and still has a bit of string on it that used to suspend it from my ceiling as a kid.

Another view of this veteran flying machine.
Next came the artillery and mortars pinning 3 Soviet tanks of the 2nd wave and the recently unpinned 1st wave infantry unit.
White smoke is pinned, black is knocked out.
Artillery over the Germans decided to launch an attack on the T34 closest to the fox holes. Passing their close combat test, and then throwing the right dice for a successful attack the Soviet tank was disabled. The added bonus to this heroics was that this tank turned out to be the Soviet forward HQ with their senior officer. Now the Soviets with the worse dice score could only move 3 units each turn. On average dice it should be 7 plus the surviving officer making that 8 units to activate.

The heroic German squad is on the left.

The heroic squad is the centre of the picture, while their colleagues go on to ambush fire orders.

View of the Soviet start line

German positions

The Soviets take another counter for their destroyed tank. The German take one to unpin their AT gun.

Move 3 - Soviet move

Soviet 3rd wave arrives and revenge was dished out. The 1st wave surviving tanks advanced and machine gunned the fox holes pinning a German MG team. The 3rd wave T70' on the road were given a  'stal,stal, stal' order and move and fire on the heroic tank killing squad and pin it.

1st wave survivors and 3rd wave attack the German infantry
The 2nd wave were ill served by the command dice but 3 tanks moved and destroyed 1 AT gun and pinned the remainder including the artillery observer. Bad news for the Germans as this robbed them of their artillery support which had been vital so far.

2nd waves success
The Soviets took a single token and unpinned their tanks. The Germans also took a token as they no longer held the crossroads without the enemy being within 10".

Move 3 - German move

German reserves began to arrive with a StuG III squadron depolying from the road behind the infantry. They immediately opened fire only managing to pin 1 T34. This meant the infantry squad had to give it a go and were rewarded with a pin and dismounting the Soviet infantry pinned.

German reserves 

Soviet 1st wave infantry debus in to the woods.

Short on Command dice the heroic squad take cover around their destroyed tank.

Third wave Soviet Valentines pretending to be T70's support the 1st wave

More pretend T70's (T26s) take cover behind the destoyed 1st wave  tanks.
The lack of command dice resulted in a German decision to forego artillery this turn and use the dice to allow the AT guns to reproduce the magic of their first turn. Unfortunately this lead to disappointment and forced the German infantry squad to assault the nearest T34. Again disappointment as the tank survived.

The lack of additional smoke on the Soviet forces visibly displays the lack of German success this move.

The only German success this turn was 2 pinned units.

Close up of the T26s pretending to be T70s and surviving 1st wave infantry

View from the marsh woods

Overview end of turn 3.

German tokens end of turn 3

Soviet tokens end of turn 3. They have taken 2 more than the Germans.

Move 4 - Soviet turn

The Soviets focused their attention on the PaK 40 battery. The T34 charged by the German infantry last turn served past them and ran over the western most gun, which survived to everyone's shock. Very good German dice. 

Next the T70s charged the remaining Pak40 but failed to destroy it. 3 T34's are brought up and finally it's pinned. Meanwhile an unengaged colleague moved through the crops to outflank the Germans.

The gun before it was pinned

The German infantry command look on as the T34's and T70's approach

Having been successful in the eastern part of the battlefield in the west a T34 took out a StuG.

StuG stand in Jagpanzer IV pays the price for being in front.

State of play end of Soviet move.

Final act was to take a token to unpin the tanks at the cross roads.

Move 4 - German turn

Now was the time to use the off table 88mm shots. 5 shots later and 2 destroyed T34's. Next the surviving AT guns opened up destroying 1 T70.  3 tokens taken by the Soviets.

I then moved the Forward Observer out of harms way and brought on the last reinforcement, another StuG squadron arrived in the centre of the table.

The infantry squad that had charged the right flank T34 now charged its' tank riders scattering them to the wind. Another Soviet token taken.

The right hand StuG's select their targets, with the infantry now out of the way, and 4 shots later 2 T34's are down. 2 tokens for the Soviets. 5 in total.

The final act was to take a token to unpin the AT gun.

Move 5 - Soviet turn

The Katyusha rocket barrage returned pinning the Forward Observer and  the infantry command squad.

The 2nd and 3rd wave Soviet tanks on the eastern side of the field moved in for the kill and finally finished off the PaK 40 battery. The eastern road exit objective was in their sights.

Nothing was pinned so no tokens needed to be taken.

Move 5 - German turn

The game was close. Despite the success of the 88's the Germans were still outflanked on their right. The Forward Artillery Observer was pinned so that meant no artillery again. The left flank StuG's opened up and took out a T34.

The victors against the infantry on the other hand felt exposed and moved to behind the hedge. The reasons for this was that we'd thought that the Soviets had captured the cross roads, but in fact they hadn't as there were still Germans within 10". However the rule means the Germans had lost the cross roads as there were Soviets within 10". So by moving the German infantry over the objective having destroyed the Soviets within 10"  I believed I'd retaken it. The result the Soviets took a token.

The hedge the German squad will move behind.

Another view of the hedge before the squads move.

Last but not least a decision is taken not to unpin the Forward Artillery Observer and the infantry command.

Move 6 - Soviet turn 

The Germans needed to be broken this turn. The Soviet 1st wave infantry, forced to debus in the first turn, fired at long range at the Germans at the cross roads forcing them to be pinned and they needed to be destroyed to win the objective.
The Soviet infantry in the centre pin the Germans behind the hedge.

Next the lead T70 fired at the proven tank killer infantry. A casualty was caused forcing a moral test and a 6 was rolled. Heroic action test was then passed and the Germans charged at their aggressor and claimed a second tank kill. The Soviets draw an aircraft token to play next turn. They were surprisingly smug about that.

The heroic squad take out their 2nd tank.  The pinned squad is hidden behind the hedge.
The eastern T34's swung around the flank while the T70's took out the pesky last remaining PaK.
T34's break left and go for the German right flank and a T70 (really a T26)  finishes off the last PaK 40.

A flanking T34 pins the German mortar. These Germans need to be  removed to claim the objective.

The flank is turned

No joy in destroying the distant StuG

View towards the Soviet right flank
For a change there was no need to take a token.

Move 6 - German turn

The German right hand StuG squadron moved to the right to engage the flanking T34's and the PaK killing T70.  The subsequent shooting resulted in 1 T34 killed and it's tank riders pinned but the T70 escapes harm.
Bang goes the T34 and the tank riders scrabble for cover. The picture was taken at the end of the turn hence the FAO in the kubelwagen is unpinned.

The StuG fails to take out the fake T70. 

The left hand StuG squadron engaged the remaining 1st wave T34 and destroyed it.  Since this was done with the shots from the first StuG it's surviving partner moves to the cross roads to deny the Soviets their objective. The infantry squad who had been doing this were now down to 3 men so could easily disintegrate under further fire.

The heroic German squad tried it's luck once more and attacked the next T70 (Valentine) in the Soviet column bringing their tank tally to 3.

The medal winning German squad takes out there 3rd victim.

Only one more tank in the column to go!

Since there was 1 command dice left the infantry MG dug in on the left fired Area Fire at the woods pinning the Soviet infantry squad lurking there.
The Soviet infantry in the wood on  the left are pinned.

Feeling daring the Germans risked taking a token to  roll a D6 to unpin the Forward Artillery Observer, the infantry squad at the cross roads, infantry command and the 80mm mortar. Good dice meant they were successful.

Move 7 - Soviet turn

Well having survived another the Soviets rolled poor command dice, the impact of losing officers was now being felt. All hope was on the Sturmovik to unleash hell and finish off the stubborn Teutons. The trainee pilot however failed to pin or destroy anything. The Commissar will be having him met when he returns to base!
All air attacks are on the top armour which in Battlegroup Kursk is the rear armour rating. This is not good for the German StuG's.

The T34 fails to hurt or pin the German right flank StuG's. The T34 contesting the eastern road exit also failed to destroy the German mortar team but pinned them again. The remaining T70 (Valentine) in the road column peeled left and fired on the pesky German tank killers. The Germans chose not to take casualties but to fall back pinned. The Soviet player then got to move the squad 10" back towards the nearest cover.

As the last action the Soviets decided not to risk taking any tokens to unpin their 2 infantry squads.

Move 7 - German turn

Wow, another turn surviving. The right flank StuG's fired on the flank of the T70 (represented by a T26) which resulted in successful kill and with that the Soviets drew a token. Thus ended the game as the Soviets had reached their battle rating of 61 and the morale of the Soviets forces broke and they began to withdraw.

Victory to the Germans. I now revealed to the Soviets how close the game was, as hadn't let on that the Germans with only 40 points were themselves close to breaking. The Soviet poor show last turn saved the German day.

All that was left to do was take pictures of the board.


Great game, although I am biased as I was the winning general, but all agreed they'd enjoyed themselves  Throughout the game the Germans enjoyed very good dice and the Soviets the exact opposite, definitely a game to replay. The Germans didn't get to use their artillery as decisively as planned, and the Soviets need to be more careful of their officers.

We didn't get everything right the following points need to be remembered for the next game:
  • Excess scores on destroyed tanks with tank riders converts in to casualties on tank riders
  • Mark on a plan where reinforcements come on. I forgot to do this, but the Soviets had.
  • All of us to keep marking our ammo usage. As the pace of the game sped up this went out the window, but with hindsight the right percentages of AP and HE were used.
  • Ambush orders stay on units until they are used. The Soviet poor dice meant this wouldn't have helped, but could have helped the Germans. Not doing this didn't effect the games outcome.
  • Remember how to take and retake objectives.
  • Look after FAO and officers and make sure they can see to spot.
Would I play this scenario again?