German Rearguard

We decided to play another game of Flames of War, so I put together a scenario based on the FOW Fighting Withdrawal mission. The mission requires the defender to hold his positions for a period of time, while withdrawing platoons from the line at intervals. There were going to be four of us on an 8′ x 5′ table, so I increased the basic force size from the standard scenario, added an extra objective, and tinkered with the timetable of withdrawal to allow more time to cross the wider table (and to account for the ground being covered in snow).

The Soviets attackers consisted of an understrength battalion supported by some HMGs, mortars, the SMG Company , some assault guns, and a Guards Heavy Breakthrough Tank company. The defending German forces consisted of a Grenadier company supported by some HMGs, some infantry guns, a pioneer platoon, an Assault gun platoon, some off-table 10.5 cm artillery, and a battery of 8.8cm AA/AT guns. During set-up the pioneers mined the one bridge over the frozen river. The Germans deployed infantry on the left and center covering two of the objectives and supported them with HMGs, mortars, and the heavy AA platoon. The objective on the Soviet right was covered by just the StuGs and a couple of observers. We decided to send on infantry company to the left supported by mortars and HMGs and send the other infantry company against the StuG platoon on the far right. The SMG company and the armor were to proceed up the middle where they could either attack the center or veer to the right to support the attack on the right.

The Soviet attack got off to a slow start with three vehicles bogging in the snow in the first turn. The remainder of the vehicles meandered through the paths between the woods, which meant that while they were safe from the longer ranged German guns, they were also moving forward slowly and running great risk of more vehicles bogging down. The infantry advancing in the center and on the left of the Soviet line had ample cover and were able to advanced largely unopposed. However, on the far right the infantry company came under artillery fire and went to ground and even the “gentle urging” of the komissar could not get them moving again next turn. Once up and moving, they again were pinned down for a couple of turns by failed motivation tests to unpin. These delays would have severe consequences.

The HMG company moved up and tried to establish firing positions, but were rapidly obliterated. In the center the SMG company began to close on the forward German positions and the small crossroads village. The German commanders deployed the platoon of Pioneers in ambush in and around the village to slow down the SMG company. However, the SMG’s assault went off without trouble and the pioneers were chased out. The SMG company continued to push forward and assault additional units, but was starting to accumulate casualties.

On the left, Bob’s infantry company came out of the woodline with a considerable open space to cross before reaching the Germans occupying an outlying farm. The Germans cut loose with machine guns, mortars, and infantry guns. Bob’s infantry continued to press forward, but were taking heavy casualties along the way. Soon they were below the strength needed to make them hard to pin and any hope of cracking the German right was lost.

The best chance for a Soviet victory was on the extreme right, where the lone StuG platoon guarded an objective. The attack of the SMG company had effectively isolated the StuGs, but the Soviets had to act fast, as the time was fast approaching when the Germans would be able to remove that objective. The Infantry company on that side was pushed forward and those SU-122s not bogged in the snow pushed forward to provide support (by offering alternative targets to the infantry if nothing else). The infantry pushed forward through machine gun fire and caught a break when two of the three StuGs turned to machine gun the SMG company. Unfortunately, the company continued their cowardly streak and refused to charge the assault guns. The objective on that side was removed soon after.

The SMG company continued to break into the German lines, pursuing the stragglers of the pioneer platoon and one grenadier platoon. However, in destroying these two units, the SMG company sustained massive casualties and with no pressure coming from the left, the Germans were easily able to turn their remaining forces to hold off the few survivors.

A fun game that saw the Soviets with a chance (albiet slim) to pull of a victory at the end. We simply misused our armor, allowing it to become dispersed to have any impact on the battle. We should have massed the armor on the Soviet right (the most open area) and simply taken our chances with the StuGs.

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