For our Friday game, I selected ASL Scenario OA18 Parry and Strike by George Kelln. After the claustrophobia of the Norman Bocage, we found ourselves in the rolling hills and plains of Russia in October 1944.
I drew the Russians and established my defense around the German objective...7 2nd level Hills on Board 47. My Russians would consist of 7 x 4-4-7's, 2 officers, an HMG and a 76L Arty. On Turn 2, the Russians would be reinforced by 7 x T-34's and 3 JS II's. Not a bad way to reinforce....except for one small problem...yeah...Germans...always know how to ruin your battle!!!
Big Kansas drew the Germans and would get Panzer Ace Hermann Bix with 4 x Panthers and 10 x 5-4-8's. Some bad mamma-jammas!!!
Having read the AAR posted on Wall Advantage's excellent blog, I was fairly certain that things would not go well for my Russians!
But after the first two turns...both my opponent and I would be shocked by the results of the combat...
For my Russians...Turns 1 and 2 would be decisive in determining how easily my armor reinforcements would enter the game. I had visions of Panthers hull down on the hill plucking away leisurely at my T-34's in the valley.
My opponent's Panthers were relaxed and confident...7 x 4-4-7's with no AT weapons...going to be a nice simple attack!
Leading the German Panzers would be none other than Panzer Ace, Hermman Bix.
This 9-2 Armor Leader would be heard from during our game as he was in the actual event.
I set up my HMG with 9-1 officer in B1 with the plan to create a Fire Lane across the width of the Germans axis of advance. It didn't hurt any squads, but it did force the German Panthers to button up earlier than they had planned, which took away valuable movement points.
My 76L Arty was on the hill HIP in E3 covering the 2nd level hill hexes. I knew it couldn't hurt the Panthers, except from the side/rear and at close range. So they would stay quiet as the Germans advanced towards the hill. This too worked in the Russians favor, as the Germans spread out in the Turn 2 movement to avoid being hit by the 76L Arty, whose position was unknown.
Overall, the German movements on Turn 1 went very well. Some lucky LMG rolls by the Russians did reduce a German 5-4-8 to a half-squad, but not too much other damage was suffered.
The Germans covered the open ground of Board 5 very quickly.
One of the downsides of firing at the advancing infantry was that my Russians lost concealment status against the German armor. 16 factors of MG fire at pointblank range was nothing to sneeze at.
My boys fired back...but the German armor would force them back.
As the Germans pushed my infantry back, they activated the Soviet Sniper. And Sniper Chick would go on to DM a squad and KIA the German 8-0. It never ceases to amaze me at the power the Sniper can have in the game.
I've missed you Sniper Chick!
In an effort to dislodge a concealed Russian stack in J0, Big Kansas fire grouped his two huge kill stacks in the rear. I managed to survive, but the volume of fire meant...we couldn't stay there any longer.
Despite success in folding my left flank, the Germans still nervously scanned the orchards and treelines for any sign of my still hidden 76L Arty. "Wo ist es!?!" murmured the veteran Landsers.
Turn 2...the Germans went for the Gold and surged onto the hill with both infantry and armor. Fortunately, Big Kansas' Landsers had moved CX on Turn 1 and lacked the movement to get up the hill and potentially find my Arty...which laid in wait to deliver a killing blow.
Forward came the Germans....
My gunners held their fire until the German movement phase was over. I didn't want to alter any German movements by revealing the gun too soon. Sweat ran down the faces of my boys as they felt the ground tremble beneath the tread of the Panthers...which were almost close enough to reach out and touch...
Two German Panthers moved to the edge of the hill and looked towards the east, where they could already see the dust kicked up by the approaching Soviet armor.
They were confident though...they were in position and ready to fire.
But then they heard the cry of "Тепер.. знищити їх" from the Ukrainian commander of the 76L Arty.
My 76L Arty roared to life and fired at the Panther in G3...a hit...and destroyed!! Without missing a beat the crew slammed home another shell and went intensive fire at the Panther in F3...a hit...and destroyed!!
In the blink of an eye...the unimaginable had occurred.
In their foxholes...my Russians celebrated...
One of the surprise moves that my opponent made was driving a Panther right through my positions and onto the valley floor. A very aggressive move that would give the Germans control of the only road leading to the hill.
Back on my left, the Germans continued to push my forces back.
The Russian phase of Turn 2 saw my armor come charging on to the map. With the Panthers knocked out on the hill, my armor moved on without challenge. The Panther on the valley floor awaited those tanks that would come up the road.
I elected to position two of my three JS II's overlooking the valley and with clear lines of sight to the victory location hill hexes. Hopefully, their firepower will keep the Germans off the hill.
I charged my T-34's up the road and right at the Panther. He failed to achieve a hit and also missed in intensive fire. Again, I could not believe my luck. My T-34's got behind the Panther and waited for Advancing Fire.
A little bit of luck was very welcomed...
In Advancing Fire, my T-34's engaged the Panther from his rear. Snake eyes...Critical Hit...and seconds later the third of 4 Panthers was knocked out and burning. Both Big Kansas and I stared long and hard at our SKYPE screens at the snake eyes...neither of us could believe that 3 Panthers were knocked out.
The Germans shook off the loss of their Panthers and under Bix's leadership moved up the hill.
Bix also moved his Panther up the road to attack my final concentration of infantry.
In the Russian phase of Turn 3, my Tanks surged onto the backside of the hill while two T-34's went directly at Bix's Panther...big mistake!!! Bix coolly slammed shells into both, destroying them. Diamonds and Swords to his Ritterkreuz!!
Along the south edge, I had one T-34 try to trail break through the A2 woods to try and get behind the Germans. But it bogged...drats!!! My Irish Luck was fading fast.
The situation at the end of three turns. Both sides are ready to grapple for control of the hill...because as Bluto tells us...
And I'm guessing Turn 4 will be filled with Teutonic vengeance in the form of well aimed Panzerfausts!!!
Tune into the thrilling conclusion next week!!!