To the Azov!

Last week I put on a Flames of War game for a couple of the local guys. They had tinkered with FOW a little, but had not gotten a good feel for the game and were (like many out there) trying to sort through the hype and gripe that surround the game in many historical circles. I had grand plans to put together a historical scenario, but real life intruded. However, one of the advantages of FOW is that you can also easily use the points system and the various pre-made mission to put a game together on the fly. I assembled some historically matched companies for the battle and put together the table for the battle. We decided to have a Soviet Tank Battalion attack a German Grenadier company using the Hold the Line mission. I played the German defenders and Ken and Bob played the attacking Soviets.

The battlefield featured a number of large fields surrounded by hedges around a small village. A stream cut through the German deployment area. Two of the bridges over this stream were chosen as the objectives for the game. I deployed a couple of infantry platoons on the objectives with a couple of observers for the artillery battery supporting the company and a platoon of PaK 38s in ambush. The Soviets put their reconnaissance armored cars on their right and spread their 18 Lend-Lease M3 Lee tanks across the center. Their mortars deployed in their trucks along the road.

The Soviets advanced steadily, bringing their tanks on line along the hedge. The PaK38’s deployed across the stream and begin firing on the Soviet tanks, scoring a couple of early kills. The German defenders hunkered down and hid, hoping to weather the coming 75mm storm until help could arrive. However, the dice were not smiling on the Germans and casualties began mounting rapidly. Ken used the armored car’s well to locate the hidden Germans and point them out to the other Soviets. Eventually the lead German platoon was forced to make a morale test which they promptly failed.

Fortunately for the Germans, the StuG platoon was now moving forward to prevent a Soviet rush on the objective. The StuGs began taking the Soviet tanks under fire and aided by the PaKs and the artillery, began to whittle away at them. The superior armor and gun of the StuGs left the Soviets with only one choice – close the range or die slowly. The Tanks crashed through the hedges and advanced on the assault guns and PaKs. The PaK 38 platoon was whittled away by continuous fire. The Soviets tankers took casualties from the StuGs and were several times forced to make morale tests, but their fearless motivation allowed them to pass each test. The German StuGs tried to fall back to keep the duel at long range, but eventually ran into the stream. At close range, the Soviet guns could penetrate the STuG’s front armor and I proceeded to roll three 1’s out of four hits and lost the StuG platoon. A pair of 7.5 cm light infantry guns were pushed forward and tried in vain to hold the bridge, but could not force a Soviet morale test and I decided that the game was lost.

Bob and Ken had a good time and came away with a better understanding of how the game is played, it’s strengths, and it’s weaknesses. They enjoyed the fast pace and overall feel of the game, so we’ll probably be playing some more historically based FOW scenarios in the future.

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