Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Game 3, The Rostov crossing

This report is from the third game at the Situation Room. As each game is played, I try to expand the forces used and make the games have different themes. The obvious reason is that it remains challenging to the players, many of whom are regulars, but also to push the "envelope" on the rules.

This game was different in that it was the first time that I had buildings. It would introduce town fighting and demonstraste the ease, or not, of taking towns from the enemy. The town was in the centre of a road and river complex which would make any attack, by either side, in the town difficult.

The forces used were the largest yet, the game could last up to 4 days, but it was becoming clear what would happen after 3 days and the game finished. The game was set in latish 1942, inspired by Manstein's counter attack at Kharkov.

The German side was based on a complete Panzer Corps of 2 Panzer Divs, a Motorised Div and some Corps assets. The assets were a Flak Btn, a Machine gun Btn and some Corps artillery. The Russian side was based on 3 Infantry Divs, the armoured component of 4 Tank Corps with some infantry support, 2 Artillery Divs and army assets consisting of 2 reconaissance Btns and 2 Independent Tank Brigades.

The game was defined as a Russian breakthrough trying to reach the town and control the river crossings, road network, town and be in a position to defend the objectives. The Germans were trying to do the same. Initial set up had the German assets only, deployed anywhere on the battlefield. After this was done the Russians were able to deploy. The Russians had restrictions on the number of formations that could be deployed at any one time and the remaining were off table reserves.
The rest of the German forces, the Panzer Corps itself, had to arrive on the battlefield using the road network and arrival at a particular road was adjudicated on a random basis. Furthermore, only the Motorised Div was available on the first day.

The German setup was done by 2 players, the other 2 players arriving first thing next morning. To create a fog of war, the players deploying were able to order where the Mot Div arrived but the arriving players had to determine where the Pz Divs arrived. They had to do this based on intelligence. This was derived from allowing them to walk into the Situation Room, walk up and down the tables once and also use any cameras they had available. They then left the room and had to plan from this information alone.
For the Russians it was much the same, 2 players did the setup, but 2 arriving players had to determine exactly where the forcers they had been allocated were ordered to go but without any cameras.
The basic result was the Russian deployment had a very heavy infantry right flank and very heavy armoured left flank. The Germans were using a classic pincer movement from the flanks, the Pz Divs doing this hoping that the Russians would have advanced into a "pocket" for them to cut off.

So the game started with the German Flak Btn and MG Btn in and around the town, including a small force on the eastern side of the river. The German plan was to get engineers to bridge or cross troops to reinforce and suck as many russians as possible and close the trap. The Russian paln was to try and eliminate the German right with their armour and hold the centre and right with a gradual infantry advance.
Without going through a blow by blow account, the following are snippets from the game. The next picture could well be titled, "how do I get out of this?"

That's me, not so much scratching my head, but doing an impression of a cow pat. I've arrived with the Motorcycle and most of the Reconaissance Btns from the Mot Div on our far right. Facing me is all of the armour from the equivalent of 4 tank corps!!!!!, or the flies round the cow pat.
I'd eventually lose all the Reconaissance Btn but survive with 2/3 rds of the M/C Btn in a wood and eventually advance again!!!

The ring of steel facing me. My command would end up in the wood in the centre of the picture with all armoured vehicles destroyed. But I had held up virtually all of the Russian armour for over 2 days of gaming.

Elements of the Mot Div reinforce the town from the west, passing 88mm AA guns from the Flak unit that were deployed to cover the bridge approaches.

Rusian infantry on the east bank of the river. Neither side would fight their way over the river, close fighting is difficult and deadly and both sides were "happy" to stay "safe". If you want to take a sizeable town, then you have to plan with adequate support in the form of artillery for suppression of the enemy and smoke to mask your initial assault points. Without this, taking towns is very difficult and the option of screening the town becomes a real choice as it certainly will require fewer of your own men.

A Russian Artillery Div under air attack from a Stuka. The artillery were saved by the judicious placement of an AA Btn that successfully drove off the Stuka.

 This is action from the German left flank. In the foreground, in the wood, is a German Mot Regt from the Mot Div, fighting its way through a Russian Regt. In the background, the other 2 Regts of the Russian Div can be seen. The German advance is attempting to "shepherd" the Russians into a pocket. Later on, to the left of shot, a full German Pz Div would arrive.

This is a closer shot of the previous picture but taken from the Russian side. Eventually, the Russians were forced out of the wood.

Adam lamenting the destruction of a Marder. We learnt quickly not to assign many vehicles to Adam, not unless you liked toast!!!! (his first trick was to advance on Russian infantry with 20mm AA mounted on trucks!!!!).

This is the Pz Div arriving, supported by a Stug Btn and Tiger Coy. It is attempting to drive along the road, southwards. If it can reach the bridge in the distance, it will cut off 2 Russian infantry Divs to its right flank. In its path is the Russian Reserve armour based on 2 Btns of KV 1Cs.

This is a closer shot of the Russian reserve armour. In the background you can see smoke, this defines the battle where German armour attacking northwards is trying to close the trap and cut off all the Russian armour as well.

This is a shot from the western angle looking at the German pincer moving northwards. The game would end shortly after this, it was clear that the Russian infantry would be caught but it was a distinct possibility that the Russian armour may be able to escape. Another day would tell but most players were exhausted by now. So we played ships...........!

Lastly is a mug shot of all the gamers. Anne took the piccy and kept us in supplies throughout our 3 days of gaming. There is 1 newbie, Nick Miles on ther bottom left, Steve's twin brother (top right). Nick was one of the flies that were trying to flatten me into a cow pat!

In the next week or so I will do a new post, specifically on the rules. Some comments have been asking about these, including their availability. I will go through some whys and wherefores including how we use trucks for transport and more importantly the profound affect it has had on games.

Next game up is in October, smaller in scale so more space. Game after that is in Decemebr and it will be big!