Shelter from the Storm
Last Friday I set up another PBI scenario, this one an Eastern Front game. The first storm of winter is on the way and German and Soviet troops are fighting for control of a village. The winners get a warm place to sleep and the losers spend a freezing night outside.
The Germans force was rated veterans and had a pair of panzergrenadier platoons (all LMG teams), a pioneer platoon (with a couple of flamethrowers), a panzer platoon of three PzKw IVE, and a scout car platoon of one SdKfz 223 and one SdKfz 222.
The Soviet force was mostly raw and composed of two companies. One company, initially deployed in town, was composed of 3 infantry platoons, one HMG platoon, and an ant-tank rifle platoon. The other company was off table as reinforcements and composed of two rifle and one SMG platoon. Additional off table reserves included a veteran scout platoon (all SMG teams), a mortar platoon, and two platoons of three M3 Lee tanks each.
I was commanding the Germans while Bob and Ken commanded the Soviets. the Soviets deployed their on-table company well foward, with the HMGs in the center. An AT rifle team was attached to each platoon and the three remaining teams held in reserve in the center of town. The Germans deployed two infantry platoons on their left where there were some woods to cover an advance and the pioneers on the right, where a smaller area of woods could cover an advance. The Panzers were in the center and the armored cars on the extreme left.
The game opened with the Germans advancing on both sides. The two platoons on the left became intermingled and disorganized, but began to focus some effective fire on the Soviets regardless. The tanks in the center used their main guns to good effect and wiped out half the HMG platoon, including their commander. As casualties mounted on the Soviet front line, first one and then the second infantry platoon broke and fled. The platoon on the German right had much more fight in them (and was taking much less fire due to thick woods right up to their positions). The armored cars had skirted past (firing MGs on Soviets teams as they went and established a blocking position to await Soviet reinforcements).
On the German right, the pioneers finally rolled sufficient action points to launch their assaults and went into the Soviet lines with satchel charges and flamethrowers. The Soviet platoon on that flank was forced back and retreated with accumulating losses. Eager to inflict some more casualties and force a break test, I decided to assault the Soviets in a garden square (partial cover) with two of the Panzers. After the dice were thrown, the Panzers found themselves having to make 5+ saves to avoid destruction! Yikes. Maybe I should have read the charts before attempting this plan!. Both Panzers were brewed up, a major blow for the Germans.
Meanwhile, Soviet reinforcements had begun to arrive, beginning with three Lee tanks on the German left. The armored cars retreated, firing the 222’s 20mm gun as they went. The gunner on the armored car must have been a veteran of long service, because he immobilized two Lees with fire from the 20mm autocannon. The infantry on that flank had pushed halfway through town, so I committed the remaining Panzer there to try and destroy the Lees and maintain the momentum. However, the Soviets rolled a very good AP roll and sent a number of shots flying at the Panzer, destroying it utterly. We ran out of gaming time with the Germans controlling a little less than half the town and with the Soviets advancing with another company and the second platoon of tanks. It looked like a cold night for Fritz.
The game went pretty well, although we had a bit too much force for each player. My previous PBI games had been set in the jungles of Burma and with such short sighting distances, there was little actual contact at any given time. This game featured more open terrain and so with more firing moved slower. The haphazard assortment of different mechanisms for each different action (e.g. completely different shooting mechanisms for tanks, small arms, and small mortars) also contributes to slowing the game, at least if you are like us and haven’t played a lot.
Still, everyone had a good time and enjoyed the game.