For our Friday game, I had selected OA22 - After the Disaster. Big Kansas rolled for sides and got the Russians and the role of scenario defender. As the Germans, I was pretty excited with my OOB. Two King Tigers has a way of doing that. And to top that off, I would get 3 Panthers and 5 grenadier laden half-tracks on turn 4 to give me an added boost!
Of course all that firepower was going up against 15 x 4-4-7's entrenched around a Polish hamlet. Additionally, the Russians would start out with 2 x 122L Artys. And to top it all off, they would get 4 x JS-II's on Turn 3. Drats...just when I had started thinking I maybe could win a game...maybe.
I pondered my attack for nearly 2 weeks as we had a break in our play last week. I settled on an attack that would try to tie down the Russian East Flank and turn the Russian West Flank, which is where my Turn 4 Kampfgruppe would enter. My objectives were the two hex house on Board 4 and both Russian 122L Artys. And I would have 6-1/2 turns to make this happen...oh and without losing 39 CVP in the process.
My boys were confident. King Tigers are some bad hombres...
But Big Kansas' 15 squads of 4-4-7's were entrenched and concealed and by this stage of the war...pretty much unafraid of the Germanskis...
At the start of Turn 1, I moved my troops in the same order sequence that I had been rehearsing for days...I tried hard to remember each move.
My carefully choreographed ballet was based on faulty German intelligence. I had been fooled by a large stack on the Russian East...which seemed to me to be the likeliest place for the Russian 9-2 and MMG.
Just as Big Kansas had hoped...I fell for the trick.
Yep...my poor grenadiers were marching straight at the Russian 9-2 and MMG in the center...
Well done...well done...
Now...as my primary attack was coming at the Russian West Flank. I sent a small platoon with my Panzerschreck to the east with two missions. 1) set up for a Panzerschreck shot at any JS-II's that might come by and 2) tie up some Russians on this side of the battlefield.
My attack went in waves. My infantry CX'd through the woods and into the orchard hexes at the NW side of the map. Then my two Stugs (each with riders) swept towards the I8 House. Russian fire knocked off both riders. Then my two King Tigers each made an armored assault with supporting infantry. My 9-1 with a 4-6-8 and MMG didn't make it as once again the Russian fire was successful.
I'll be honest, I was pretty unhappy with my first movement phase. Losing my Stug Riders was a huge blow and losing my 9-1 and MMG was even more painful.
In general, I'm a pretty poor attacker. I only win 25% of the time when I'm the attacker. I'm a much better reactionary player, which an attacker cannot be. The attacking player has to make moves that force the defender to react. So that said, I went with a very aggressive attack, which suffered some setbacks from the start.
Having gotten over my shock at finding the Russian MMG in the center, I settled down and had a fairly good Advancing Fire Phase. Tiger II's are pretty doggone intimidating to say the least.
A look at Big Kansas' defense and 3 of the 4 objectives. The other 122L Arty is further east. All in all a nice defense in depth with the two guns well separated and with good fire lanes. (keep in mind the grain is not in season...so lots of open ground).
In my Turn 2 movement phase, I sent both Stugs charging south at the first of the two Russian 122L Artys. My King Tiger moved to support my infantry assaults in the central woods and along the west edge.
It was during this time that the Germans became aware of deadly Soviet Sniper in the area known simply as "Lady Death".
Her SAN of 4 would hurt me time and again during the first 3-1/2 turns of the game. Many of my grenadiers would fall victim to her unerring shots.
By the end of the evening, Lady Death would account for two full squads.
Her comrades would tease her for not taking out any German officers...
In keeping with my aggressive attack plan I threw my grenadiers into close combat with a 4-2-6 in P9 and then my bold 2-4-8 went after the Russian 9-2 with a pinned 4-4-7. Unbelievably I got the ambush...but then failed to do anything. Big Kansas then rolled a "12"...MELEE...woohooo!!! Locking the 9-2 in Melee had been all that I had hoped for from my 2-4-8.
As the Melee continued, my other grenadiers and King Tiger would fire into the melee, destroying the Russian 4-4-7 and then my brave 2-4-8. The 9-2 would DM and then be eliminated for failure to rout...as NO QUARTER was called by both sides.
Prisoners are so inconvenient anyway...right...??
As my forces struggled in the center, my Stugs had charged like Valkyries at one of the 122L Artys. And it managed to destroy both. The force is strong with Big Kansas!
I hated to lose them...
Oh whatever Brian...
In the NE, the standoff continued as the Russian shell game continued in an effort to hide Dummy stacks from Real ones.
These are not the dummies you are looking for...
In spite of my failed, Stug charge, I continued my efforts to turn the Russian West Flank. Ultimately, I would be successful as my King Tigers and grenadiers successfully coordinated their efforts.
Turn 3...trumpets blared and the Soviet heavy armor came crashing onto the battlefield. The earth trembled as Joe Stalins behemoths plowed the Polish plains...
The Soviet 8-1 Armor Leader...I'd smile too if I was riding high in a Joe Stalin II...wouldn't you??
As the JS-II's rumble onto the field...the Russians celebrate!!!
The German response on Turn 4 was swift. I kept to my aggressive stance and sent a Schwerpunkt straight through the west flank. A risky move to say the least as the Russian 5cm Mortar opened up and the 122L Arty managed to shock one of my Panthers. But no pain...no gain...eh Hans!!!
Grenadiers on a drive by...what could be better!?!
A look at the center where the Russians still held and my grenadiers were bloodied and battered.
In one of the better moves that I made, my 9-1 officer sprinted with his MP40 to take out a DM'd 4-4-7. No quarter was again in effect!
Good job Schmidt!
The charge of the Joe Stalins wasn't all peaches and cream. One of the JS-II's moved towards my Panzerknacker platoon in the NE. Having forgotten about the Panzerschreck in my OOB, Big Kansas stopped one at 4 hex range. In my Turn 4 prep fire phase it managed to shock the big tank.
The battlefield at the conclusion of 3-1/2 turns. The Germans have suffered 21 CVP and edging dangerously close to the 39 CVP cap. Meanwhile the Russians are largely intact and have their Joe Stalins ready to crush the German hopes for victory.
German OP...let's listen in: "Kurt?" "Ja, Franz..." "I think it's going to be a very hard 3 more turns..." "Ja...stimmt das mein Freund...stimmt das..."