Sunday, September 27, 2020

Our Saturday Game - LFT Scenario FT88 - Das Untergang


For our first Saturday game of the Fall Season, Dan and I would head to dark days of the Battle for Berlin. Berlin evokes strong images of ruined city filled with desperate people trying to survive the fury of the Third Reich's death spasm. In the fall of 1985, I had the opportunity to visit East and West Berlin. I still remember the train ride across East Germany. On the opposite track there had been a serious derailment with loss of life the we passed as our train sped towards the walled city of West Berlin. At one point, an East German soldier entered our car to check passports. He looked like every stereotypical Hollywood Gestapo Agent you ever imagined. He was a very serious dude and the guy next to me had a shaved head...but his passport showed him with shoulder length hair. All I could think at the moment...was this dude is so screwed. But the guard gave him back his passport and then did once over on mine. 

West Berlin was an amazing city. I really enjoyed exploring it and traveling on the U-Bahns and S-Bahns. Of course in 1985, we couldn't imagine a united Germany or no Berlin Wall. In fact, while we were there, the old 1963 Wall was being replaced with the wall you see above. In the background, you can see the white panels painted to highlight anyone trying to go over the wall. Of course the angle approach the base of the wall and the circular cap would make getting over the wall nearly impossible. 

In this picture, we were standing behind a fence where the the old wall had been removed and the new improved wall was going up. These East German Soldiers were guarding as the workers put up the new wall. It was quite strange to be that close those armed soldiers and to witness the history of that moment.

Checkpoint Charlie...we didn't appreciate then in a mere four more years, this would no longer exist. 

My fellow students and I were in East Berlin to visit some of the museums, which happened to be in the Soviet Zone. As we walked, there were glass cases with WW2 Dioramas at key locations to mark the fighting during the Battle of Berlin. I was the only dude that was interested in those. One of the sad things I saw was that in the streets, directly behind the museums, were still bombed on from the war. 

You have probably realized by now that the Grumble Jones cover page was taken during this trip as I watched the changing of the guard at the Neue Wache. This was another of those amazing moments that I will never forget. In many ways, the East German Army (the NVA - National People's Army) was the direct descendant of the Wehrmacht. It was surreal experience to see soldiers who goose stepped and so closely resembled the Wehrmacht. 

One final memory of Berlin was the night that my classmate, Peter and I decided to head to the Berlin Philharmonic. We didn't have tickets, but went down the Spichern-Strasse station and were waiting the U-Bahn, when an American music student approached us. She had overheard us talking about the Philharmonic. She said, come with me. We left the U-Bahn and hailed a cab. In a few minutes we were at the Philharmonic. Turns out this student's friend was collecting the tickets that night and knew who had not showed up. Peter and I ended up in the 4th row front and center (for free!!!) at amazing classical concert. Berlin...awesome place!

In 1985, the Reichstag was a museum and a great grassy field was out front. It was really awesome for me personally to walk around in that building. 

Peter and I also walked up to the top of the Siegesssaeule (Victory Column). Pretty cool view from up...but Peter's fear of heights hit him hard up the walk down involved a lot of assistance from yours truly.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit Berlin...don't pass it up...well worth your time.

Das Untergang (designed by Philippe Naud) covers the actions of Spanish and Latvian SS as they fought to hold Moritz Platz. Moritz Platz is to the southeast of the Reichtag area. It's a fascinating truth that some of the last Germans troops to fall in Berlin were anything but German. French, Dutch, Norwegians, Latvians and Spaniards would fight fanatically not to save the Third Reich, but because they literally had no alternative. They were dead men in any case. 

Board 45...ugh...I have not had good luck on this board. This is going to be a tough scenario for me....

As the scenario Defender, Dan would command the men of the Unidad Ezquerra (Spanish SS) and SS-Fusilier Batallion 15 (Latvian SS). This force would consist of 5 x 6-5-8's and 5-4-8's led by a 10-2, 2 x 9-1's, and 8-1 with a 1-4-9 Hero, 2 x MMG's, 3 x LMG's, 2 x Panzerschrecks and a DC with a Hetzer joining the fun on Turn 2.

As the attacking Russians, I would command the men of the 9th Rifle Corps. This force would consist of 3 x 6-2-8's, 3 x 3-2-8's, 5 x 5-2-7's, and 10 x 4-4-7's led by a 9-2, and 2 x 8-1's with 2 x MMG's, 2 x LMG's, 2 x ATR's, 3 x Flamethrowers and 3 x DC's with 3 x T-34's, 2 x SU-76's, and 2 x SU-152's.  Seems like a strong force...but....

ROAR has this scenario with 8 Russian and 12 German wins. The ASL Archive has it with 2 Russian and 2 German wins.

And now for Dan's Pre-Game Comments:

"The Spanish and Latvian SS must defend Building 45J4 without setting up initially in the building.  My plan is to set up in the Russians in the face to buy as much time as possible for the defense.  The fortified buildings will be W2, U4, S8 and Q9.  With the HIP PSK in T10 and T0 (Rubble) hexes.  Normally I would deploy the HIP to get more locations but the 20% loss of fire power for the Latvians is not worth it.  So only T0 will have a HS.  The other HS will set up in R4 with the hero who has the DC.  The 10-2 with a squad MMG will set up in P2 for laying a fire lane.  This will split any attack in the middle.  The 9-1 with the Latvian MMG will be in Q9.  The LMG will be in W2 (with the 9-1), U4 and T6 (with the 8-1).  The extra squads will be in R2 and I6.  I6 will move into the victory building in case Russian riders try to run the gauntlet and get into the building early.  Dummy counters will be in N10, V0 and U2.  Hopefully the Russians take too much time and too many losses breaking through the up front defense to have the forces to successfully clear the J4 building of surviving SS."

Urban fights are not really my strong suit (keep in mind...not much is!!) and I tend to struggle a bit in these kinds of games. Dan loves urban fights and is really in his element. Dan would have 2 x Squad equivalent HIP units. 

I hate HIP units...really I do...

My first movement would trigger a fire lane from the Spanish 10-2 (representing Ezquerra). This shot would waste an entire stack of 2-1/2 squads. Right off the bat, I was getting clobbered.

My plan was to head up the north end of the map and use the orchards and walls to protect my force to gain access into the victory building. Unfortunately for me, Dan's strongest defense was right where I was going.

My first T-34 went be destroyed by a Panzerfaust...but the shot would halfer the German squad in the process. Dan never hesitates to fire Panzerfausts from buildings. And usually doesn't suffer from doing it.  The remainder of my force moved into position with a bit less drama.

Rolling my SU-152's into place was a critical element of my movements. Sadly, my SU-152's would not hit a single target during the game. In fact, my armor's greatest contribution in this game was occupying Dan's Grenadiers.

Turn 1 had cost me a T-34 and about three squads. 

A look at my Turn 1 penetration.

As Turn 2 began, I had lost yet another T-34 to a Panzerfaust. And then a HIP Panzerschreck dude would take an SU-76. 

As my part of Turn 2 ended, I was down 3 tanks...all of which were burning. Unlike early war scenarios...1945 losses to Panzerfausts and Panzerschrecks almost always result in a burning wreck...31 to Kill will do that... Dan was dominating the armor fight.

Turn 2 - German - Dan began to realign his force to defend the Victory building and his Hezter rolled into the battle.

Another HIP unit would appear in the form of a Spanish Hero with a DC. I would pour fire on him, but couldn't do more than wound him as he placed a DC on one of my SU-152's. I would intensive fire my SU-152 to try and save it...but rolled BOXCARS...well of course I did...seriously sometimes ASL just I did Dan's job for him by recalling my SU-152.  Dan's DC would destroy the I wouldn't have to suffer the indignity of moving it back and off the board. Thanks Dan!!

The fight to break through Dan's initial MLR was tough and I was bleeding armor and infantry in the process...not to mention precious time.

I would lose yet another T-34 as Dan's Panzerschreck team claimed their second tank. I was down to two tanks...and it was just going into Turn 4. UGH!!!

By the middle of Turn 4, I was pretty much in control of the my selected avenue of approach to the Victory Building. My problem was I had suffered substantial armor and infantry losses and was down to only two more movement phases.

My boys were going to have to start taking risky moves to get to the victory location.

Dan's 10-2 had established himself in the victory location. This was the winning moment.

Dan's boys continued to realign in an attempt to protect the victory building. Dan's Hetzer would engage my two remaining tanks. I would get hits on the Hetzer but couldn't penetrate the frontal armor.

In spite of my losses, I had pushed ahead and Dan's defenders were dwindling. One of Dan's struggles throughout the game was passing morale checks. And haven't we all been there with 8 morale troops who can't seem to pass an NMC!?! 

As for our rolls tonight, Dan would roll 1 snake eyes and 3 boxcars. His best rolls were 3's. I would roll 8 snake eyes and 3 boxcars. But again tonight's game would be proof that rolling snakes is no guarantee of winning a scenario.

My boys continued to move hard towards the objective.

My flamethrowers were playing a critical role in burning out Dan's Grenadiers.

Disaster continued to strike my armor. I tried to move my SU-152 towards the victory building and the Hetzer nailed it. Then Dan intensive fired and destroyed my SU-76...I had managed to clear out the Germans in the north take my righteous fury out on Dan's Panzerschreck team. 

Dan and I would have a bunch of close combats. Dan would get the better of most of these.

As I moved towards the victory location, so too did Dan's forces. His Hetzer would move to a perfect spot and keep me from being able to move adjacent to the victory  location. I would take some shots at the Hetzer with a captured Panzerschreck. But I wouldn't get any hits.

My boys would move up and take positions north of the victory building. 

The 3MP rubble was really messing with me and slowing me down.

In the south, I struggle to put away Dan's 9-1, a Hero and Squad with ah LMG. They were controlling the open ground approach to the victory building. I had to try and knock them out of the fight.

Turn 6 - my last desperate moves to gain entrance to the victory location. I would come up short. Dan's 10-2 and Hetzer were perfectly positioned. There was almost now way to take down the remaining Spaniards and Latvians.

I would lose more men in the attempt and then decide that enough was enough. I was beaten. I gave the concession and congratulated Dan on a well-earned victory. He complete wiped out my armor and left me with no real punch to carry the victory building. Overall, it was a fun scenario. I would highly recommend this one!

Dan's boys could celebrate a great win.

And now for Dan's Post-Game Comments:

"The plan worked.  Aided by good shooting by 10-2 and the anti-tank units.  With the Hetzer getting two kills.  The Russians were able to clear the fortified buildings but at a high cost in time and troops.  The SS were able to get three squads into the victory building and the Russians only got in the building during the last turn.  By the end of the last Russian movement the SS still has viable skulking locations in the victory building and Grumble Jones offered his concession.  This scenario is good late war fun and highly recommended for those who like a good street fight.  My thanks to Grumble Jones for a great game."

That's it for now. Dan and I will back next Saturday for a playing of

 ASL Scenario 98 On Silent Wings.

We will see you then!

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