My mate forgot that he had a Star Wars quiz on May 4th, so we had to delay a day, but here it is game two of our Operation Barbarossa mini-campaign.
The Table and Mission
The setting is the Minsk pocket. Soviet forces have been encircled by German forces and are desperate to break out. We went with the Envelopment mission with the only modification that the attacker (the Soviets) would not get preliminary bombardment. The Germans would be defending from the side of the board flanked by the two hills, the Soviets would be coming on through the fields.
Given the size of the Soviet force, I skipped on force pictures.
Soviet (all inexperienced, also note that I don’t have enough riflemen, so there are a bunch of guys with PPShs and even the rest of the artillery observer crew used to represent them)
2nd Lieutenant with two staff
Commisar with one staff
Four rifle squads, one with 12 men and AT grenades, the other three with 11 men
Two LMG squads, both with 12 men and LMG
82mm Mortar team with spotter
45mm AT gun
1st Lieutenant with one staff (Veteran)
Three Heer squads with eight men each and NCO with SMG (Regular)
Heer pioneer squad with five men and flamethrower (Veteran)
Hanomag halftrack (Inexperienced)
MG42 MMG team (Veteran)
Panzer III J (Regular)
The Germans deployed the Panzer III on the road on the Soviet left; a Heer squad roughly in the centre of the field with the command team behind it; MG42 in the woods in the centre of the field; and a second Heer squad on the road on the Soviet right flank. The last Heer squad, halftrack and pioneers were all kept in reserve.
I nominated two rifle squads, my 45mm AT gun, Maxim MMG, T-26B and 82mm mortar to form my first wave.
Order of Battle
Turn one was a fairly dull affair. My first wave all ran onto the field with the exception of the T-26 which advanced and laid down machine gun fire on the Heer squad on the road. They took a couple of hits and scored a pin, but none were killed. For Germany, the Panzer III took a shot at the 45mm and scored a single wound on it, the MG42 and Heer on the road both went into ambush and the other Heer squad advanced and pick off a couple of Soviet riflemen opposite – who became regular as a result.
Turn two began with the 45mm firing on the Panzer III, scoring a hit but failing to do any damage. The Heer in the forest continued to lay down fire on the Rifle squad, killing a couple more. In response the Soviet command team came on and thanks to their motivation the rifle squad advanced to the fence and returned fire on the Heer. Also on the left flank the Commissar moved up, as did another rifle squad on the far left and an LMG squad in the centre of the field. The mortar failed to range in on the Heer on the road, but the T-26 advanced and fired on them scoring more hits and a couple of kills. The Maxim then also opened fire, stacking on another pin and more losses.
On the far right the last Heer squad ran up the hill while the Soviet riflemen in the field advanced but failed to land any hits on the new squad on the hill. The last LMG squad came on behind the rifle squad on the far right. Meanwhile the halftrack moved onto the left side of the field. Finally the Panzer III with its one pin failed its order test because the German command team was 1” too far away! The final rifle squad came entered on via the road on the Soviet right flank.
Turn three and the 45mm continued to be ineffective against the Panzer III which subsequently unpinned and scored another wound, leaving the 45mm with a single crew member. The 82mm struck home and blew apart four Heer and added another two pins. The little that remained of the unit fled the field – first blood to the Soviets! On the right the Heer on the hill picked off a few riflemen, who in turn added added a pin to the Heer. The LMG squad behind the rifles moved up, as did the Maxim. The T-26 trundled up the road again and fired on the squad on the hill, causing another pin and kill.
Meanwhile in the centre of the field the LMG squad shifted up behind the fence and joined the firefight with the Heer in the forest. The squad in the forest was whittled down and gained a couple of pins resulting in it failing its order test and going down. The Panzer III unpinned but was ineffective against the 45mm. The halftrack moved up and fired on the rifle squad on the right, taking out a man. They passed their order test and moved up. Finally on the right the rifle squad on the road ran up, tripping the ambush from the MG42 and taking some casualties and a crucial pin.
Turn four and the rifle squad on the right broke out into the open, this time firing more effectively on the Heer on the hill. Behind them ran the LMG squad. The Maxim also fired on the Heer on the hill, causing them more strife. In response they were able to fire back at the rifle squad but without great effect. In the centre the MG42 whittled down the central LMG squad. It passed its order test and advanced though. The Heer in the forest then failed their order test and went down.
In better news for Germany the halftrack advanced and then the Pioneer BBQ Funtimes squad hopped out and killed most of what remained of the rifle squad on the far left (after some more hits from the halftrack MG and having failed to go into ambush in response). The 45mm was unable to take out the halftrack and the mortar failed to range in on the pioneers. In all of this the commissar and Soviet command were both running around in the centre of the field to share their motivation. Meanwhile the T-26 advanced again and fired a wild shot on the Panzer III. Finally, more bad news for the Soviets was that the rifle squad on the road failed its order test and went down.
Turn five and the Heer squad on the hill was killed in an assault from the rifle squad. The LMG squad behind ran up behind. In the centre my LMG squad advanced, adding another pin to the Heer in the forest. They managed to pass their order test and in an audacious assault sent the final three men at my six LMG squadmen – and won! Only a single Heer was left however and he was quickly shot by the advancing rifle squad. Meanwhile on the far left the Pioneers took out the 45mm after it failed to take out the halftrack.
Finally the T-26 and Panzer III were ineffective against each other, the Maxim ran up and the MG42 put a pin on the Maxim.
Turn six and the first dice went to Germany and boom went the T-26 – not a good start to the turn for me! Things went from bad to much, much worse though when the MG-42 put a pin on the rifle squad on the right then it and the Maxim all failed their order tests and went down! Thankfully the suqad on the road passed its order test, but it was still a move from the German deployment zone. The pain wasn’t over though because my rifle squad on the road on the left ran up (in a mad dash and hope for a turn seven) only to be assaulted by the two man German command team. Now, error here: I thought there were three men in the team and had my mate roll three dice, scoring three kills while I only scored two, leading to a loss. While we did realise this killed the whole squad, it was late and I was tired and this information didn’t seem to register. That said: there was a Panzer III right next to them, I don’t think the five men that were there would have survived the eight MG42 shots in turn seven!
The mortar didn’t get a chance to shell the pioneers who jumped in the halftrack, but it did missed the halftrack. The command teams ran up the middle in a mad dash to maybe get in a position to score some points for me.
As it turned out there was a turn seven. My rifle squad on the road managed to get into the deployment zone and the two squads on the right both left the field. The Maxim continued to stay flat on the road (it rolled 10 for its order test three turns in a row!). The Commissar and Command team were both killed though. The Commissar fled after his staff member was shot by the Hanomag MG42 while the Lieutenant was shot to pieces by the MG42 and Pioneer rifle fire.
Result and Aftermath
The Germans had taken out 7 Soviet units for 14 victory points while the Soviets had taken out 4 German units (4 points), had one unit in the German deployment zone (2 points) and had run two units off the German table edge (6 points) for a total of 12 victory points. The day went to Germany!
What a great battle. Early on things were very much in my favour. A gutsy assault on the left and the endless burning murder of flamethrower pioneers and their halftrack really set me back. Then the MG42 scored crucial pins that just stopped my advance on the road in its tracks. The Maxim had three turns to pass its order test to get into the German deployment, but failed them all! Luck did over my T-26 too. In hindsight I should have taken two officers with such a horde list, one for the right flank and another for the left, rather than the Commissar. Or at least the Commissar should have been deployed on the right side of the field. I positioned both command teams very poorly too, which led to their deaths and gave away easy victory points. Next time, Germany, next time!
In two weeks we’ll be back for game three. Though I’ve already lost overall I am hopeful for a victory in the defence of Kiev! If I am really motivated I’ll even get a new building together for it… Until then, enjoy!