FOW – Back to the Eastern Front
Things have been pretty hectic lately on the home front (more on that soon), so I’m a little behind on game reports I wanted to make. Now of course the memory of the events is a little fuzzy, so I’m going to try and get the gist of the game down, along with all of the eye candy.
Our most recent FOW game was another Eastern Front game set in Summer of 1944.
I had in mind an idea to allow for uneven forces on each side of the battle. I started out with the Total War scenario from the Flames of War website, which has the useful feature of having each side accumulate victory points during the game for holding objectives. I added a twist in that instead of simply scoring 1 VP for each objective each turn, the players drew from a bucket of chips each turn for each objective they controlled, with the chips representing 1, 2, or 3 VP (present in a 4:2:1 ratio). At the end of the game, the total points on each side were used as a ratio to adjust the final victory points. Each player commanded a company of between 500-1250 points using only combat and weapons platoons (FOW-speak for line platoons of the company and supporting units organic to the company or battalion) and each side got some support platoons as well. This made for some interesting choices, as using more force than needed to get the job done only altered the points ratio and required that you secure even more VP. Finally, each side got to choose a couple of battle tactics from a list. The scenario had a few other tweaks as well, but that is the heart of it.
The battlefield was set up with a mix of large woods, some ridges, a creek, and a town in one corner. The table was divided diagonally and each side allowed to place objectives in their own half, in neutral territory near the center line, and in their opponent’s half of the table. The objectives ended up concentrated toward one end of the table.
The Soviets had two companies – an ISU-152 assault gun company and a motorized infantry company – supported by some more assault guns (ISU-122s) and some T-34/85’s. The Germans had three companies, including a panzerspäh company, a panzer IV company, and a formation from Schwerepanzerregiment Bäke with a platoon of Panthers and a platoon of Tigers. Our commanders chose as our battle tactics two options that allowed us to draw two chips and return one for each objective we controlled in no-man’s land or in enemy territory. The Soviets chose an infiltration option to allow them to move into no man’s land as well as an extra support platoon.
The Soviets started off the game by infiltrating one of their infantry companies forward into the town, seizing an objective in no man’s land. Our German forces were very tank heavy, with only one platoon of mechanized infantry in the entire kampfgruppe, and those were initially positioned on the opposite side of the battlefield from the town. Fortunately, I had added a surprise unit into my Panzer IVH company – a platoon of three PzKw III flamethrower tanks. This proved to be just the right tool for the job, and I was able to move forward and fry the Soviets that had been sent forward ti seize the objective in town, claiming it for our side. The Panzer IV’s continued to pound away at the Soviet infantry in the other buildings, and while I didn’t kill many of them, The presence of 8 tanks roaming the streets kept them from retaking the objective.
On the left, the platoon of Panthers and the two units of ISU-152 engaged in a game-long Mexican stand-off. A minimum number of shots were fired between the two, but they kept each other pinned in place. I think this exchange of positions favored us, as the Panthers represented a smaller fraction of our forces.
In the center, the Tiger platoon and a platoon of StuGs in support trundled up to the bridge in the center of the board and seized the objective there. They then engaged in a series of mostly ineffective duels with Soviet armor in the woodline opposite. Eventually the T-34/85s moved up and with the help of the ISU-152, flattened the StuG platoon. I should have moved those tanks away to do something more useful, but kept them there for one turn too long, resulting in their getting smashed. However, two Tigers in the woodline with the ROF 3 Tiger Ace skill were enough to make the Soviets leary of moving out across the open space in the center.
In the Total War scenario, reconnaissance platoons are able to enter the table from reserve along any edge, including an enemy one, and I kept this feature in the game. Mik’s armored car company soon began spawning platoons of armored cars in the Soviet rear. The first of these ran up a road and came in behind the Soviets guarding an objective on a small hill overlooking the bridge. Two of the 8-rads were smashed when Soviets T-34/85s came trundling up the same road, but the remaining two sortied out and assaulted the Soviets, even though they occupied a steep little hill that required bog tests. The armored cars killed off a couple of Soviet teams, lost an 8-rad, and were finally driven off by a single remaining Katyusha observer. The survivor did manage to run around behind the hill and contest the objective for the rest of the game, denying those VP to the Soviets. Other armored car platoons continued to harass the rear of the Soviet lines, where they didn’t do a lot of damage and were mostly destroyed, but did draw the attention of the Soviet players.
The action continued to be focused on the right, where Tom threw the ISU-122 and a supporting platoon of T-34/76 against the Panzer IVs. One platoon was destroyed and the remainder forced back as the Soviets advanced. A platoon of Hornisse was sent to aid and between those tanks destroyers and the Tigers, able to at least keep the ISU-122 from maneuvering freely for shots against the Panzers.
At this point (probably 8 or so turns into the game) a blinding rainstorm hit the battlefield (aka it was ~11:00 and time to pack up and head home). We tallied each side’s VP chips and came up with 21 for the Germans and 38 for the Soviets. After the arrival of the Soviet reinforcements though, the final force ration was 1.22 in favor of the Germans, so the Soviet total was multiplied by that amount and the German total divided by 1.22, giving a final score of 25 for the Soviets and 31 for the Germans.
I really enjoyed this game and thought the scenario worked pretty well. It allowed for uneven forces without too much thought and effort. We are eager to give it another try soon. The Germans came out on top in this one, but I can easily see how both sides could have done a thing or two to gather in more VP.