FOW – PakFront!
Scott and I got together for a FOW game last week. I had been looking at the Kampfgruppe von Sauken scenario that was posted on the Flames of War website and thought that the set up and general game conditions seemed interesting. However, as written the scenario has a major flaw IMO – there are a large number of forces for the table size depicted. There would essentially be zero maneuver room and the game would be a dice-roling contest. Not my cup of tea. So we decided to take the same basic scenario and play it with a much more reasonable force mix. We ended up inverting the attacker and defender with Scott attacking with Soviets and me playing Germans trying to form a hasty PakFront to hold off the Soviet attack.
Scott decided to play a Soviet recon company consisting of a couple of infantry platoons in captured German halftracks, an armored car unit, a T-34/85 unit, a platoon of Spetsnaz, some SU-76 assault guns, and a unit of Katyusha rocket launchers. In the original scenario the defenders were equipped with ample anti-tank guns and so I wanted to get much of the same feel. I made my force using the Sicherungs and Walkürie PDF that Battlefront recently released covering security and replacement troops that were organized in front line units during Operation Bagration. The three platoons of my infantry company were supported by some PaK40 anti-tank guns and a battery of Luftwaffe FlaK36 88mm guns. In reserve I had a unit of Hetzers, a unit of Grille SP infantry guns, and a battery of 12cm mortars.
Scott deployed most of his troops to the right side of the table (from my perspective ) and sent his Spetsnaz forward leading the tank platoon. On the first turn the tanks moved forward, but the small village on that flank blocked the line of fire to my AT guns (still limbered up and moving up the road). That side was going to get very crowded, so Scott sent his armored cars and a platoon of infantry tearing off at double speed to the other side of the table, while his other infantry platoon dismounted and started moving through the woods. In my first turn I decided that there was no point in getting fancy and immediately dismounted the AT and FlaK guns while sending an infantry platoon toward the objective in the center, one toward the village on my right, and one to close the gap on my left. The paK 40s drew first blood, killing a T-34 and making the rest reconsider. Faced with four PaK40s and two FlaK36s and with my infantry platoon likely to be able to reach the village, Scott changed directions with the tanks and infantry and set off through the woods toward the objective. This gave me a little breathing room on my right and I moved the infantry into the village, the PaK40s into a small wooded area in my center, and an infantry platoon onto the objective in the center. A quick look at Scott’s rapidly advancing troops told me I was out of time and so I tried to have the troops in the center and left dig in, but the fresh recruits were not ingrained with the ‘dig or die’ mentality and failed to improve their positions.
Scott’s attack began in earnest on the left, where the infantry dismounted and the tracks swung around to bring their MGs to bear. The couple of teams in the open were destroyed, but the PaKs bagged a couple of halftracks. In the center, the tanks were able roll up close enough to the infantry to unleash their MGs from the woods and a few teams were lost and the platoon pinned down. The infantry in the village on the right started causing trouble for the tanks, threateningto assault a couple bogged in the woods and then killing one with a panzerschreck, so Scott turned on them with the tanks and a platoon of infantry. The troops were taking a beating from tank fire and assaults, but serving a very important function by distracting Scott. He eventually moved up with an infantry platoon and a Spetsnaz unit and assaulted the infantry in the center who had been unable to rally from being pinned. His shooting, artillery, and assault wiped this unit out and he advanced onto the objective with one platoon of infantry.
Fortunately for me, he only consolidated the single platoon onto the objective and I was able to unleash everything I had against the Soviets… ATGs, FlaK 88s, an HMG, and finally an assault by the left infantry platoon, which succeeded in killing off the Soviets around the objective. I consolidated into a defensive position and awaited the next Soviet assault.
During this time Scott’s BA-64 armored car platoon had come racing all the way behind my lines and was approaching the back of the small wooded area concealing my PaK40s. My reserve Hetzers arrived and moved up, killing two fo the four armored cars. However, I could only afford to leave one behind to try and finish off the BA-64s. I got one more before the last one plunged into the woods and assaulted the PaK battery, killing 2 guns and the CO. A bombardment by the katyushas killed another, as well as the company CO. The Spetsnaz assaulted my remaining infantry around the objective and wiped them out.
Once again I had to rely on a an all out storm of fire to try and blast the Soviets from the objective. The Spetsnaz were veterans and harder to hit, but with fewer teams I was still able to kill enough to force a morale test, which Scott fortunately (for me) failed. Another very lucky break came my way, as a bombardment from the 15cm guns on the Grilles knocked out a single T-34/85 and happened to get the unit commander. The tanks could no longer advance! The tables had now turned. I had almost nothing left to directly protect the objective, but Scott was reduced to a single infantry platoon and the tanks were immobilized. The scenario is a timed one and the longer it goes on, the greater the defenders level of victory. Scott had no choice but to throw the remaining infantry forward pell mell, and they were subsequently gutted by another bombardment from the Grilles. At this point we called it since the Soviets had lost all of their infantry and their tanks were immobilixed in front of my Hetzers and FlaK36s.
The scenario made for a fun and interesting game. The attacker must strike fast, since as time goes on his level of victory goes down and eventually switches over to increasing victory levels for the defender. Scotts biggest mistake was in not moving both platoons into range to control the objective after the first assault. had he done that he’d have won a major victory since I could not have blasted them off the point. I tried to advance too far with the wimpy platoon in the middle, leaving them too exposed when they failed to dig in. My right hand infantry platoon wins honors for being a thorn in Scott’s side and drawing away valuable troops from the center.