Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For the Rodina!

I got in a game on Sunday afternoon, my tanks vs. another LGS regular's panzergrenadiers. We played a 1500 point game (which took about 2 or 2.5 hours, with both of us new to the game). I had 9 T-34s (5 of them /85s), 5 Emchas (M4 Shermans), 4 KV-85 heavy tanks with tankodesantniki (tank riders), and a full slot of heavy morters, plus a T-34/85 as my battalion command.

My opponent ran a couple of platoons of panzergrenadiers, a tiger, two StugG assault guns, and a group of medium-scary anti-tank guns (PaK 40s, IIRC). One of the joys of playing the Soviets is you get more of everything than anyone else. One of the downsides is that everyone else's units, especially SS forces like my opponent's, are better at everything than yours.

We played an encounter scenario - half one's force is set aside, and can't begin to show up until turn three (delayed reserve rolls bring in a platoon on every roll of 5+ - you get one die on turn three, two on turn 4, etc.). I put my heavy tanks and shermans in reserve, and deployed my T-34s on the right:


and my morters behind cover on the left, with the observer pushing forward to watch possible lanes of attack:


I'm learning to love these little beasts. They have enough firepower to occasionally take out an enemy unit, but their main benefit is that they outrange german anti-tank guns (which tend to blow through my tanks with distressing ease). This means I can supress my opponent's anti-tank fire, and push my tanks forward into effective attack positions. Like this one, for instance:


You'll note that my opponent's three guns have been reduced to two. He's also rolling to try and unpin his guns every turn (pinned guns have a reduced ROF). That's the morters at work. To the right, you can see the T-34/76 of Dmitri Nicolaivitch, who's posthumous Order of Lenin was well-earned by his heoric sacrifice, blocking LOS to my morters with his destroyed tank. Another advantage of Having Lots - force conservation is less of an issue.

It was around this point that my heavy tanks - the KV-85s, came on the board. The KVs are nice tanks, roughly comparable to a Tiger I in game, but cheaper. Given the way my T-34 tanks were deployed, and the risk that my opponent's armour might come on behind them, I brought the KVs up behind the left flank. Which meant I forgot to take pictures of them in game. Which is why I include this totally gratuitous shot of them arrayed at battalion revue, i.e., the table:


Needless to say, having protected my flank, my opponent's reserve came in on the opposite table edge:


That's a Tiger I and a couple of Stugs sneaking up mid-shot. On the right is one of his grenadier platoons. On the left are the rest of his reserves (which aren't really there, just waiting until they officially can be). At this point, I think it's worth noting I will be sending a special memo to soviet military intelligence about the new night-time camoflage that the Facist invaders seem to be using.

My opponent's tanks failed to do much more than rattle my own tanks' armour a bit. This is the table at the start of the next turn:


You'll note the absence of his AT guns - my morters took out a second, and the tanks themselves finished the job. That rock foromation close to the T-34s is the objective I'm trying to seize, but it's currently being contested by his grenadiers - who are concealed, and dug in, in the woods. This means my tanks have to assault them, as they are more or less impervious to my shooting under those circumstances. I wasn't really thrilled at the prospect, as assaulting infantry under those conditions is unpredictable. My plan was to swing the tanks over to engage his armour, and let the approaching KVs with their tank-rider support take on his grenadiers. It was at this point that my opponent did me a favour, and decided to assault my tanks with his infantry. In the process, we both learned a Valuable Lesson. Remember all that dug in infantry? Here's what was left after he assaulted:


Apparantly, infantry don't assault tanks in the open. His elite grenadiers were cut down by machine gun fire before they ever got to contact (5 hits from defensive fire pins the assaulting platoon, ending the assault before it happened. With 8 tanks firing 4 machine gun shots each, I got 20 hits, and took out all but one stand of his platoon).

His platoon promptly broke, his company commaner failed to rally them, and that left me in sole possesion of the objective - game over.

So far, both of the games I've played have been learning exercises. I've learned to fear german AT fire - hence my concentration on them in the early part of this game. I'm also getting a handle on when my tanks are vulnerable to infantry - out in the open NOT being one of those circumstances. I'll try to get pics of the Shermans and the full force up soon.


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