For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I selected yet another of the classic scenarios. After the brutal smack down I suffered during our Hill 621 Scenario, I was eager for a chance at retribution. Like Stannis at Winterfell...I was determined to prove that...yes...I could win with the Russians. Of course the moment I equated myself with Stannis...I should have just conceded the game immediately!!!
In fact...perhaps I should just call this AAR good...cause Stannis suffered less than I did in our Saturday game, as Dan Best once again schooled me in how a handful of Germans, properly led, can decimate a horde of poorly led Russians.
Yes...I was to experience another butt whipping as my Russians were mowed down by Dan's Germans.
So join me now as we walk-through the details of my ass kicking!!! Cause...you will actually learn something from Dan's tactics on how to use machine guns and artillery to best effect. Just ignore anything related to my strategy and tactics...I don't want to be responsible for spreading my disease!!!
So, all my angst aside, our journey back to classic SL was a good one. Both Dan and I had played this scenario many times over the years and both of us had horror stories of hard losses as the Russians. ROAR bears out the difficulties of winning as the Russians...but it can be done. So I was looking forward to giving it a shot. As the Russians, I would command elements of the Russian 169th Infantry Regiment. My force would consist of 16 x 4-4-7's and 16 4-2-6's led by a 9-1, 8-0 and a Commissar 9-0 (selected in place of second 8-0) with an MMG and 3 x LMG's for support.
Russians waving goodbye to family after finding out they would be led by Commissar Grumble Jones.
As the Germans, Dan would be the scenario defender commanding elements of the German 72nd Infantry Regiment. He would have 7 x 4-6-7's led by 2 x 9-1's, 8-1 and an 8-0 with an HMG, MMG, 3 x LMG's and one Module of 80mm Mortar OBA for support. Dan's arty would be the 12th man in our game and seriously contribute to my demise.
Dan's mortars would be Dan's best performing asset in the game!
Now on with the AAR!
The Germans begin the scenario with all units HIP. White circles indicate HIP German units that would soon reveal themselves as my forces made their way towards the village. My attack was heavy with 4-4-7's, and all my MG's on the left side. I was heavy with 4-2-6's on the right flank. The center was a mixture and led by 9-0 Commissar. My initial thinking was use the 4-2-6's on the right to draw fire, the boy in the center were the main attack group and the boys on the right were the heavy support and final assault group. It sounded nice when I thought it up.
The scenario victory conditions, were straightforward. To win, my Russians would have to control all the stone buildings on Board 3. It seemed deceptively easy. 7 German squads...trying to cover three board widths. But then again I was facing a master of defensive machine gun setups...
Yeah...it's like that with Dan and machine guns!!!
As I began moving towards the village, the first sign of doom appeared in the mid-day sky. A single spotting round...a harbinger of doom!!!!
Dan's HMG position revealed itself early on as it hammered away at me from 16 hexes away in the Church Steeple.
Turn 1, my force was still in great shape and moving into position. The 4-2-6's were my biggest headache with their 3 MF's.
On the left, Dan had an 8-1 with a LMG holding the high ground. His first shot missed me.
Despite the initial miss, it was clear that I moving into a potential kill box.
In one of my few successes, my forces on the left were able to move into position to take out the hilltop LMG team.
The first of the German arty began falling in the center, as my main group moved up to the village. Two more machine gun nests revealed themselves. An LMG in the village and the MMG on the right flank. Two fire lanes slowed me down and forced me to make some move corrections.
Going into Turn 3, I was already hurting badly. Several squads were KIA'd and 9 more were broken and/or disrupted. I had not positioned an officer in that area to rally men. This would be a poor decision on my part...but given a 4 and 5 morale for most of the brokies...it might not have mattered much. The "2" ELR for my Russians was a killer throughout the scenario. I can't recall ever having so many disrupted squads on the field.
My assault on the left flank German Machine Gun nest was successful, but in the process I broke an LMG and my MMG. I would go on to lose both after rolling "6"s for the repair. UGH...losing my MMG was a hard blow. Without it, I didn't have anything to fire back at Dan's HMG in the Steeple, which also housed his Arty Observer.
Despite the various setbacks, my main thrust was setting up as planned. My ultimate goal was for my 9-0 Commissar to initiate a human wave assault once we cleared the hill.
In the center, Dan's OBA rained on my human wave parade though as he targeted my Commissar. Meanwhile on the right flank, Dan malf'd his MMG, which gave my boys enough breathing room to move in for the kill.
Even 4-2-6's can be deadly if they get too close.
Without his MMG, Dan's 9-1 on the right was in trouble.
After 3 turns, my forces were somewhat scattered. I had dealt with machine gun nests on both flanks, but that effort had taken force away from the main attack, which was being pummeled by Dan's OBA.
My strongest force was back on the left in the hills. I had to carefully move them down from the hill without being shot down by Dan's HMG in the steeple. This would slow their descent markedly.
Dan's boys were watching my every move from the steeple.
Back on the right, my boys managed to break the other German 9-1 and a 4-6-7 squad.
They would become prisoners.
In order to prepare my human wave assault, I had to begin massing my troops...and Dan's OBA was taking its toll on my boys.
My Commissar...miraculously survived the OBA, which seemed to be tracking him across the battlefield. My Commissar would go on to be my hero of the game.
With my forces depleted, I had little to throw at Dan, but on the right sent what I could.
I began positioning for my strike on the Germans in T3.
And just when I most needed a breather...Dan drew a Red Card and for a brief moment the Arty stopped.
But it came right back the following turn. UGH!!!!
Even though I knew Dan's arty would hit me, I launched my human wave assault.
Dan's boys made ready to receive me.
With a mighty charge we stormed across the road!
Dan's Arty and machine guns ripped into my boys and staggered my assault. My 9-1 survived and went into CC with a German 2-4-7. My Commissar and his boys made it unscathed and went into CC with a 4-6-7.
Dan and I would trade Close Combat victories. The bulk of my force was destroyed, but my Commissar had taken a victory location.
My best and final moment of the scenario.
With the conclusion of Turn 6, I gave the concession and congratulated Dan on another great game and win. My respect for Dan's effective use of his limited resources in this scenario and Hill 621 continues to grow. It's difficult for me to say what is the best avenue of approach for the Russians. With Dan's positions on the hill and in the steeple, there just isn't one single approach that will protect you from the incoming arty.
Despite, my efforts, The Hedgehog of Piepsk felt very much like a replay of Hill 621. As always, my thanks to Dan for yet another great Saturday of ASL and on a solid victory.
Dan's 9-1 in the steeple would receive his Knights Cross for repulsing the Soviet assault at Piepsk.
For our next scenario, Dan and I will stick with the classics and will be playing ASL Scenario B...The Tractor Works. And I will be the Germans this time. So we shall see if my German is better than my Russian!
Already looking forward to it!