Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Panzergrenadier AAR - Barrikady Hall 6A - Oct 19/42

Continuing on with the Stalingrad theme, this scenario takes place a few days after the last scenario, Barrikady Prelude. Today the Germans attempt to secure Hall 6A of the northern Barrikady on their right flank before beginning a major attack just to the north with the Volga as goal. The fight for Hall 6A continues to portray the intense, short range, and hand-to-hand combat that began with the Tractor Factory. The Russian resistance stiffens as they adapt faster to the new "rattenkrieg" that the Germans are only beginning to discover.

I suspect that modelling this type of combat in a game played at the company/battalion level requires more abstraction than when using skirmish level rules. However, I decided to try it with our current "go to" rules. These are a customized set of rules for company/battalion based on the Panzergrenadier series (Deluxe & 2nd Edition), adding in some "special" Stalingrad rules. When we use a custom rule in the game log I'll indicate in blue to show where we depart from the original rules.

The Hall 6A model I made is based on this Bundesarchiv photograph of Hall 6c in the excellent book "Island of Fire" by Jason D. Mark.

(copyright by Leaping Horseman Books and Bundesarchiv)

Using the photo I constructed this 18" x 13" model.


I continued with the 1/8 MDF base & 3/16 foamboard walls. Kitty litter, broken up cork, and match sticks for rubble. I couldn't see a way to show the factory filled with debris and destroyed machinery and still have enough room to insert stands of game pieces, so the interior is mostly bare and the terrain difficulties abstracted with special rules.

This is again a very long AAR so, if you like, you can just skim the pictures to get the idea. However, if you are interested in the details and want to read it all, then grab a coffee and enjoy! :-)

Barrikady Hall 6A - October 19, 1942


Historical Overview
Paulus' next step is a major attack between the Brick Works and the Barrikady Factory to push east right to the Volga. Elements of 24th Panzer will provide the main attack in the centre. As a prerequisite to this attack the neighbouring 305th Infantry Division to the south is ordered to clear Hall 6A and Hall 4 of the northern Barrikady Factory to cover the German right flank during the main attack. The weather is heavy rain.

References:
Island of Fire: The Battle For The Barrikady Gun Factory In Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark
Death of The Leaping Horseman: 24th Panzer Division in Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark

Map And General Scenario Notes
The table represents the area at the north end of the Barrikady Factory and includes some of the Barrikady Factory warehouse outbuildings and Hall 6A with train tracks to the west and burnt-out multi-story worker housing to the east.

Here is a general view:


And here is an overview showing the starting areas for each side:


All of the defending Russian units are deployed Hidden on the south 2/3 of the table (south of yellow line) with the German attacking forces deployed in the north. One Russian minefield is known (thanks to some unfortunate German patrol). The oil drums, the turretless T-34s on the rail car, and train engine/railcars are all immobile obstacles.

This is an infantry slugfest and dogfight so no armour is involved. The relative force strengths were added up using only those forces likely to be involved in the battle. For the German forces this was everything, but the Russian forces were "padded" by the addition of some AT Guns and minefields that were not going to see any action. Using the "usable" forces yielded the German attacker at 1190 and Russian defender at 640. This gave a German advantage of 550 points and an excellent ratio of almost 1.9 to 1 for an attack scenario. However, the Russians have the advantage of defending in close assaults and a much better rally modifier. So, as usual, I just crossed my fingers and went with it, hoping my choice of a variable game end starting at the end of Turn 7 would balance the scenario.

We play on a 5x4 foot table in 15mm with figures based on FoW stands and use modified Panzergrenadier rules: Our guns and tanks are 1:1 and we use the 20mm ranges for firing and activation. We also replace Built Up Area terrain with individual buildings or portions of buildings as "small terrain features."

Scenarios in Stalingrad really need some special rules that modify the basic LOS, terrain effects, and close assault rules. As well the troop quality and motivation levels need some special modifications. These became rather extensive and this scenario will test out the following:

Stalingrad Special Terrain And Movement Rules:
LOS visibility between ground level units is limited to 12 inches due to rain, smoke, and rubble. LOS to/from elevated positions is 48 inches, however, due to the heavy rain and smoke, in this scenario all fire beyond 12 inches is considered to be long range. Shell craters are Hard Cover, Impassable by vehicles, and a -1 DRM Hindrance. The Exploit Order Phase is not used.

I had a choice of leaving the whole factory as one big terrain feature and having units approach and close assault as they discover an enemy unit (including any defenders within 1 inch as per original rules). But since the whole factory will be packed tight with troops for the most part it seemed better to divide the Hall 6A factory into the eight "small terrain feature" areas defined by its internal walls. Using this approach, there is no LOS to/from units inside a factory area from units outside unless they are manning a wall of that area. Inside Hall 6A the LOS between units is limited to only 1/4 inch (about 20 feet) for Defensive Fire purposes to represent the extreme LOS blockages within the factory due to rubble, smoke, and destroyed machinery. All factory areas provide Hard Cover for Direct Fire and +2 Strongpoint for close assaults.

Close assaults include all attacking units that can reach the perimeter wall of the defending area. All defending units within that area participate, but not any friendly units outside and touching the perimeter wall. The maximum stacking within each area is 6 units (max combat group size) but may be further limited to the units that can fit within the area. Even though 6 units may defend an area, attacking Combat Groups are limited to a maximum of one platoon (usually 4 units max) since that is their normal command structure. We also decided to not use the Fall Back option, feeling that the Russians did not have that as an option and that the terrain dictated that close assaults would be too sudden and at at too close a range to do anything but engage.

After a close assault, if an area is captured, the winning troops cannot re-position within 1/4 inch of an adjacent enemy held area wall (the density of units in each area dictates a very short repositioning range just outside of LOS, otherwise the standard 4 inch minimum distance from the enemy for repositioning after a successful close assault would not allow hardly any successful troops into the captured area.) If not all the winning units can fit in a captured area, then some may have to reposition back to an entry area. Losers must continue to withdraw if the area they withdraw to is full and must withdraw to the next adjacent friendly area or outside the factory.

Stalingrad Troop Quality Rules:
Germans: Up to mid-1942 the German forces were generally regular troops, sometimes aggressive. By mid-October '42 in Stalingrad most troops are at best regular troops and no longer aggressive to reflect losses, particularly NCOs and officers and the addition of less experienced replacements. Despite this the attacking forces in Stalingrad pressed very hard to win quickly so here they are allowed to ignore Breakpoint Test suppression retreats and have a Battlegroup Breakpoint at 60%. Fresh units thrown into battle (eg. Pioneers) may still retain their original aggressive characteristics.

Russians: In early war fighting Russian forces were generally inexperienced troops, usually Tenacious. By mid-October '42 in Stalingrad, despite incredible losses, their requirement to adapt to "rattenkrieg" with no option of retreat altered their resistance to effectively a fanatical level. Therefore the Russian ignores any suppression results from a Breakpoint Test. Russians also have a whopping 70% Battlegroup Breakpoint before losing the game. In addition, all units have a unique capabilities to accent their defensive strength: For all dice rolls, Russians are -1 for Phase Activation, +1 for Defensive Fire Activation, -1 for Direct Fire, +1 for Close Assault, +1 for Morale, and +2 for Rally, all relative to 0 as a base. Additionally they do not pay 1 Command Impetus to activate if Out Of Contact.

Some New General BGPG Custom Rules:
- Firing into and out of windows is limited to a 60 Deg Arc-of-Fire.
- If one or more units in a close assault are suppressed, but this is less than 50% suppressed units, then a -1 DRM is applied for each to a maximum of -2 (there was no penalty for <50% of units suppressed).
- An additional +1 DRM modifier is added for each unit in a close assault to a maximum of +4 DRM. We felt that in close assaults the side with multiple units was not being given enough capability to effect a result with a low roll (any net roll <5 was no effect regardless of the number of units). So I added a DRM of +1 for each unit in the melee (max 4) and revised the Close Assault Table to yield results for net rolls from 2-16. The average dice roll of 7 and max dice roll results remain very nearly the same as the original table, but now if multiple units roll low or have negative DRMs at least they can cause a suppression or two.


Russian Briefing and Force (Kapitan Lowellinov, Kapitan Chapovsky)
An attack on Hall 6A of the Barrikady Gun Factory is expected from the north at any time. Since local forces have proven inadequate, Chuikov has ferried Col. Lyudnikov's fresh 138th Rifle Division across the Volga with orders to hold Hall 6A and the Barrikady Factory at all cost. As commander of the 138th's force in Hall 6A and the area nearby you have set your troops into strong defensive positions in depth, applying lessons learned for dug-in protection against the usual pre-bombardment. To underscore the importance of holding Hall 6A, if the German attack is stronger than expected you have been allocated infantry reserves to counterattack with.

Mission: Maintain at least one Russian squad/command in at least one of the 8 main Hall 6A areas at the end of each game turn until the game ends to win, or cause a German Battlegroup Break Point. Otherwise lose.

Special Rules: Russian forces are already deployed Hidden or under blinds as per the map. All units not in buildings/ruins are entrenched. The AT Guns and MMGs may not be moved from the entrenchments or buildings they are in at the start. Ignore the Breakpoint Test. Battlegroup Breakpoint is 70%. No artillery support.

Deployment:
On Table at Start (deployed as per map):
Elements of 138th Division (all Inexperienced except as noted)
Battlegroup Command (Regular)
1st Company Command
Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)
Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)
Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)
Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)
2nd Company Command
Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)
Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)
MMG Teams (2x command, 3x Maxim MMG Team)
Anti-Tank Gun Teams (3x 45mm AT Gun)
Minefields (4x mines)

Reserves: ( from 138th Division - all Inexperienced)
Turn 2 - Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)
Turn 4 - Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad)

One Reserve platoon may be placed on the table under a blind at the end of a friendly Command Phase according to the scheduled arrival time. It must be placed within 6" of any friendly Company Commander or in any friendly factory area even those adjacent to a German held area, or not within 6" of a German unit if not placed in a factory area. No Exploit reserves.

Here is the Russian set-up.


The deployment inside Hall 6A is shown below, however the German will only see blinds for each factory area. There is a light defence of the outer areas with a second stronger line of defence in the internal areas. The MMGs are set to control fire lanes on each side of Hall 6A and outlying platoons positioned to the south and east that can be called upon as needed until reserves arrive. In case the Germans include any marauding panzers (there are none) three 45mm AT guns are dug-in to the south and east.


Contents of each Russian Blind Number within the factory:
Blind 1 - 1 squad (from 6) Blind 5 - 2 squads, command
Blind 2 - 1 squad (from 5) Blind 6 - 2 squads, command, CoCmd
Blind 3 - 1 squad (from 4) Blind 7 - 2 squads, command
Blind 4 - 2 squads, command Blind 8 - 1 squad (from 7)

German Briefing and Force (Hauptmann Pollanstein and Hauptmann Millerein)
In command of 576 Infantry Regiment of 305th Infantry Division, on Oct 19th at you are ordered to attack Hall 6A of the northern Barrikady Factory area from the north and clear it of any enemy. You will attack at dawn and it is expected that your objectives will be met by 0800. Your early success is vital to cover the right flank of the main attack in the north toward the Volga which is scheduled the same morning by the remainder of 305th Infantry Division and 24th Panzer Division. The main attack cannot proceed until Hall 6A is secured. With the scheduled heavy pre-bombardment by artillery and Stukas, plus reports that Hall 6A is lightly held by leftover elements of retreating troops, it is expected that resistance will be light. In the event resistance is stronger than expected you have been allocated reserves to deal with it quickly.

Mission: Clear all 8 main Hall 6A areas of Russian troops at the end of any game turn to win, or cause a Russian Battlegroup Break Point. Otherwise lose at game end.

Special Rules: Ignore the Breakpoint Test. Battlegroup Breakpoint is 60%. The Heavy Weapons platoon may not be moved. No Smoke or Indirect Fire for the Infantry Gun. No artillery support.

Deployment:
On Table at Start (deployed as per map):
Battlegroup Command
Infantry Company #1 Command
Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
Rifle Plt (Command, 4xRifle/LMG squad)
Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
Infantry Company #2 Command
Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
Heavy Weapons Platoon (command, 1x MMG team,
(1x 75mm Inf Gun)

Reserves:
Turn 1 - Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
Turn 3 - Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
Turn 5 - Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)

One Reserve platoon may be placed on the table at the end of a friendly Command Phase according to the scheduled arrival time. It must be placed within 6" of any friendly Company Commander but not in a factory area adjacent to a Russian held area, and not within 6" of a Russian unit if not placed in a factory area. No Exploit reserves.

Here is the German deployment:


The two German companies are set to attack Hall 6A and the artillery pre-bombardment has just ended. The Heavy Weapons platoon has orders to only provide harassing fire and maintain position to protect the flank of the main attack to the east later in the day.

Game Play

Turn 1 - Russian Initiative & force Germans to go first.

German Command Phase:
Hauptmann Pollanstein orders the Heavy Weapon Platoon's commander in the Machine Shop to recon the north end of Building #1 but he sees nothing. The commander then orders the Infantry Gun to fire a shell into the top floor of Building #1 with Area Fire where a pesky Russian MG may be lurking and hopefully force them to keep their heads down. But the fire causes no effect. [Custom Rule: Direct firing artillery and AFVs with gun sizes 75mm and up may Area Fire at a terrain point containing infantry type units using only range/LOS hindrances and will hit on a 7+. The single gun template and On-Board Indirect Fire results table are used for effect.] The nearby MMG then performs a Recon by Fire onto the second floor of distant Building #2, again with no effect.


To open the ground assault on Hall 6A, he orders his blue squad to charge at the double and assault Area 3 in the factory. One Russian defender is revealed under the blind who Defensive Fires from a window and suppresses one German squad. The remaining two squads assault without the commander who can't get there. Two on one against a Strongpoint is always iffy but the Germans triumph, dispersing the Russian squad, but at high cost since one German squad is also dispersed, leaving just one German squad in Area 3. But it is a toehold in Hall 6A!


With Area 3 in German hands, Pollanstein goes for a major assault with both red and green platoons from Warehouses #3 and #4. He declares a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order. [Our group has not used this order before, not realizing how powerful it is!] Both platoons pass activation with help from Command Impetus (needed another 3 Impetus) and both roll high for movement, combining to assault Area 2 of the factory. Since Area 3 is now friendly two squads of the overstrength red platoon move through Area 3 to assault Area 2 while the remainder plus green platoon assaults through the outside wall. Single Russian squads in Areas 1 and 2 both reveal themselves from blinds and Defensive Fire, suppressing one green squad. The massive assault goes in with predictable results, the Russian squad is easily dispersed but acquits himself well by dispersing one German squad and suppressing two others! Now two areas of eight in the factory are in German hands!


Flushed with success Hpt. Pollanstein again issues a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to both the grey platoon in Warehouse #1 and purple platoon in Warehouse #2 to the north. The grey platoon passes activation but the purple platoon fails (the runner slipped in the mud), and the Germans are too low on Command Impetus after spending 4 Impetus on the last assault and 1 more or this one so the purple platoon can't activate. The grey platoon has to assault alone into Area 8. As they advance a hidden Russian MMG in the top floor of Building #1 rolls snake eyes for Command Confusion (on a vodka breakfast?) when trying to activate for Defensive Fire, so the Russians lose 3 Command Impetus. [Custom Rule: Only a double-one roll for any activation attempt causes Command Confusion with a loss of only 3 Command Impetus.] A single Russian squad in Area 8 reveals himself from the blind and Defensive Fires causing one German squad to Disengage back to a shell hole suppressed with damage while the remainder of the German platoon charge into the assault. [Custom Rule: Infantry units also take damage.] The Russian squad is eliminated at a cost of 2 suppressed German squads. Since the assault took place within Area 3 the 2 suppressed Germans units can reposition within Area 3. There are now three factory areas in German hands!


Pollanstein orders the last remaining white platoon west of Warehouse #2 to double time forward and assault Area 4 of the factory. However, only 3 squads are able to make it into the assault (the command couldn't make it). On the way in one Russian squad shoots straight with Defensive Fire causing a Disengage Test for one German squad which rolls nasty low on his morale check and is eliminated! The remaining 2 German squads discover that Area 4 is much more strongly held as lifting the blind reveals three Russian units! These units outnumber the Germans and also roll high eliminating both German squads! The Germans roll low, only suppressing two Russians. So the attack on Area 4 is repulsed with heavy losses! This is some respite for the Russians, winning one of the four assaults this turn.


The Company Commanders move up and, seeing the problem in Area 4, at the end of the German Command Phase Hpt. Pollanstein orders one reserve platoon to deploy at the factory wall just outside of Area 3.


End German Command Phase.

Russian Command Phase:
Kapitan Chapovsky orders the MMG Platoon in Building #1 to fire. The revealed Maxim fires at the German blue squad in the shell hole and misses but acquires it as a target. [Custom Rule: A unit fired on is an Acquired Target by the firing unit with automatic activation to fire at it. Units that are mutual Acquired Targets are engaged and roll dice to see who fires first (Interactive Fire)] Then a newly revealed Maxim on the north wall of Building #1 fires at the Infantry Gun and misses, however acquiring it as a target. The smoke and heavy rain are affecting accuracy.


Kap. Chapovsky sees the weakness in Area 1's defence and activates Blind #6 (one platoon) in Area 6 to move into Area 1 to reinforce the lone squad there. Since this leaves Area 6 empty, he thinks to move his hidden white platoon in the south around the Tool Shop into Area 6 but they fail activation (didn't hear the order) and the Russians are too low on Impetus. Also feeling the pressure on Areas 5 and 7, Chapovsky activates a hidden platoon in the shell holes on the east side and rapid moves them into the factory using hidden movement under blinds, splitting the platoon up into 1 squad under one blind which continues moving into Area 5 and the remaining 2 squads and command under a second blind into area 7. With no reserves available this turn, Chapovsky crosses his fingers that the Germans don't break through somewhere and claim Area 6 without a fight.


Exploit Phase: Not used in this scenario.

Rally Phase: All suppressed units rally except for 2 German squads, one green squad on the tracks and one blue squad in Area 8. One Russian squad in Area 4 fails. End Turn 1.

Here is the factory from the west side.


Turn 2 - Russian Initiative and goes first

Russian Command Phase:
The MMG platoon in the east fires on the 75mm Infantry Gun but misses. Kap. Chapovsky orders the south platoon to move into the factory but they still do not get the order and Chapovsky does not wish to spend valuable Impetus so they stay put. The single squad in Area 1 fires at the suppressed German squad on the tracks causing a suppression, but the enemy squad is already suppressed so no change. Chapovsky orders a reserve platoon to deploy into Area 6. End Russian Command Phase.

Here are the Russian actions from the opposite side of the factory, viewed from the east.


German Command Phase:
Hauptmann Millerein issues a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to the red and beige platoons to assault Area 4. No Defensive Fire since the Russian squad is suppressed. The Germans assault and win with all Russians eliminated at a cost of only one German unit dispersed and one suppressed. All the German attackers move into Area 4 after reducing that pesky Russian resistance point.


Next, sensing his troops are on a roll, Millerein issues another Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to the green platoon in Area 2 and blue platoon in Area 3 and outside the factory to both assault into Area 1. The Germans roll well causing 3 Russian units to be dispersed and 1 suppressed while the Russians, even with 5 defenders, roll low for only 2 German units dispersed and 2 suppressed. So the 2 remaining Russian units have to retreat back to Area 6. However, the Germans decide to not occupy Area 1 since they feel their force is too weak to hold it against a Russian counterattack. The unknown strength under the remaining Russian blinds is a factor!


The Heavy Weapons platoon MMG and Infantry Gun and the Russian Maxim all exchange fire and all miss. The heavy rain and hard cover continue to make for poor aiming.

Seeing Millerein's success Hauptmann Pollanstein issues a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to the purple platoon in Warehouse #2 and the grey platoon in Area 8 to both assault into Area 7. The grey squad in the shell hole moves into Area 8 but the Maxim holds Defensive Fire, waiting for the bigger purple platoon target. When purple platoon moves out into the open the MMG in Building #1 opens up with accurate Defensive Fire, dispersing one squad and causing a second to disengage back to a shell hole. The remaining two units make it into Area 8 but do not have enough movement to make it into the assault, so they must stay in Area 8.


Therefore the grey platoon, short one squad due to suppression, assaults alone into Area 7 figuring to at least soften it up for a later assault. Area 7 reveals both blinds showing it to be strongly held by 6 Russian defenders! Yikes! Defensive Fire from one Russian squad at the wall misses but the ensuing melee disperses all 3 German attackers while the Russians only suffer 2 dispersed and one suppressed. The Russians repulse another attack and continue to hold Area 7! The second Russian success in close assaults! However, the story could have been much different if purple platoon had rolled higher for movement.


End of German Command Phase. No Reserves available this turn.

Rally Phase:  The Area 6 Russian rallies, All Germans rally except for the blue commander in Area 2, the beige squad in Area 4, and the purple squad in the shell hole by Warehouse #2. End Turn 2.

The Russians are still holding 3 areas and Area 1 one is vacant.

Turn 3 - German Initiative and goes first.

German Command Phase:
Hauptmann Millerein issues a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to the red and beige platoons in Area 4 to assault the now softened up Russians in Area 7. They assault and the 4 remaining Russian defenders are wiped out. The Russians roll low again so only manage to disperse one German attacker and suppress another. Area 7 is now German! Hpt. Pollanstein orders the two depleted platoons in Area 8 to perform a reorganization, consolidating the remnants of grey and purple platoons into one purple platoon. [Custom Rule: At a cost of one Impetus a reorganization of reduced platoons into one platoon can also be done by a commander in Command Phase just before issuing a regular order.] The consolidated purple platoon moves into Area 4 to defend it against a possible Russian counterattack. The Company Commanders move up, one to Area 3 and one to Area 4.


Next, Millerein activates the green platoon with intent to move into Area 1 to occupy it. As the squad on the tracks starts toward the factory a Russian squad is revealed in a shell hole to the south and Defensive Fires suppressing the squad. Without a full strength platoon, green platoon Millerein decides to just have them reconsolidate in Area 2 and occupy the internal wall for potential Defensive Fire opportunities.


Meanwhile, Pollanstein orders the Heavy Weapons platoon to exchange fire with the Russian MMG but everyone misses. The Battalion Commander moves up into Area 4. Hpts. Millerein and Pollanstein decide to bring in more reserves so a German reserve scout platoon is deployed in Area 3 (no one is spared, even scouts!). End German Command Phase.


Russian Command Phase:
Kap. Chapovsky orders the platoon that is currently deployed and hidden in the Tool Shop area to rapid move into Area 1 and, if possible, assault into Area 2. But they don't roll quite enough for movement to enter an assault so just occupy defensive positions in Area 1.


Chapovsky decides the Russian troops in Areas 5 and 6 should remain in defensive positions and under blinds with unknown strength. The MMG platoon in Building #1 exchanges fire with the German Heavy Weapons platoon to no effect. No Russian reserves this turn. End Russian Command Phase.

Rally Phase: All the Germans rally except the green squad on the tracks, a beige squad in Area 7, and the purple squad in the shell hole by Warehouse #2. End Turn 3.

At the end of Turn 3 the Germans control 5 of the 8 factory areas with the Russians clinging to Areas 1, 6 and 5. Here is the situation.


Turn 4 - German initiative and goes first.

German Command Phase:
To continue the battle, Hauptmann Millerein wishes to eliminate the Area 5 Russian salient and issues a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to the red platoon and beige platoon in Area 7 which includes one beige squad in Area 4. They all attack into Area 5 from the east. The defending Russians are not expecting an attack from Area 7 so there are no squads positioned to Defensive Fire. Surprise attack! The blinds reveal 2 Russian squads and a command under one blind and 1 squad under the other. The assault goes in but the Germans barely win this one, with the Russians sustaining losses of 2 dispersed and 2 suppressed, while the Germans have losses of 2 dispersed and one suppressed. Close shave! The Germans occupy Area 5 while the 2 surviving Russians retreat through Area 6 into Area 1 since Area 6 is full.

To further compound the deteriorating Russian position, seeing 2 suppressed Russians now in Area 1, Millerein issues a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to the scout platoon in Area 3 and the green platoon in Area 2 and orders them to assault Area 1. The Germans win this close assault as well causing 4 Russians to disperse and 1 suppression. The Germans sustain a loss of 3 dispersed. The Germans occupy Area 1. Since Area 6 is full, the two surviving Russians (1 suppressed) from Area 1 retreat south to shell holes outside of the factory.


Next, Hpt. Pollanstein orders the purple platoon in Area 4 to move into Area 7 and take over the defence there (no photo). The Company Commanders and Battlegroup Commander move up and make themselves useful by occupying the German factory area positions behind the front line to prevent any Russian reserves appearing in those areas (no photo). The Heavy Weapons platoon again exchanges fire with the MMG with no effect. No German reserves this turn. End German Command Phase.

Russian Command Phase:
The MMG in Building #1 exchanges fire with the German Infantry Gun in the Machine Shop with the Russian getting a lucky hit causing the Infantry Gun to disengage back to the north wall of the Machine Shop.


With only Area 6 still in Russian hands Kap. Chapovsky becomes desperate and decides to counterattack into Area 5, held by slightly weaker German forces. Knowing he has a reserve platoon deploying at the end of the turn, he commits all his remaining force in the factory by issuing a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to his Area 6 troops. The Company Commander himself will lead the assaulting force! He assumes the role of platoon commander and activates the one remaining blue squad there to comprise one Combat Group of 2 units. The blind in Area 6 is revealed to be a purple platoon which activates as the second Combat Group. Both groups assault into Area 5 and the Russians finally roll high, dispersing all 4 German units there! Only two Russians are dispersed on the German roll.


The grey platoon commander in the shell hole to the south activates himself and moves alone into Area 6 . A second Company Commander reveals himself in a nearby shell hole just to the south and also moves into Area 6 to aid in its defence. As a last action, the only remaining Russian reserve platoon deploys into Area 6 to bring the total Russian defenders there up to 6. End Russian Command Phase.


Rally Phase: All the suppressed units rally except the German purple squad in the shell hole rolls a net 2 and routs so is eliminated. the German squad on the tracks rolls a double-six to rally and become Battle Hardened.

End turn 4. The successful counterattack has given the Russians a bit of breathing room. The loss of Area 5 and more importantly, the loss of a whole German platoon there has weakened the German position somewhat. Will the Germans wait for more reinforcements at the end of Turn 5 before renewing their attack in Turn 6? Meanwhile the body count is rising quickly and both sides are approaching their Battlegroup Breakpoints!

Turn 5 - German initiative and goes first.

German Command Phase:
Knowing a reserve platoon is on the way, Hauptmann Millerein issues a Coordinated Infantry Assault Order to the blue and scout platoons. Blue platoon's commander in Area 2 spends an Impetus to reorganize and acquires the Battle Hardened green squad outside on the tracks to make a 2 unit blue platoon. They and the scout platoon in Area 1 both assault into Area 5, completely wiping out the 4 Russians there and re-capturing Area 5. But the Germans lose 3 dispersed and one suppressed. The suppressed scout commander re-positions back to Area 2.


In the Machine Shop to the east Hauptmann Pollanstein orders the MMG to fire at the Russian Maxim in Building #1 and rolls high to disengage the Russian MMG, which barely lives through a second suppression test. The Maxim retreats back into Building #1.


With only two units defending Area 5 Hauptmann Pollanstein activates the lone white squad in Area 7 to move over into Area 5 to bolster its defence. And then with a separate activation also moves the green commander in Area 7 to Area 5. To further present a solid front line defence the German Company Commanders move up, one moving from Area 3 to Area 2 and one from Area 8 to Area 7. The Germans risk having some Russians sneak into vacant Areas 3 and 8, but they feel the Russian reserves are at an end and take the risk. At the end of their command phase the Germans bring in a reserve platoon to Area 2. End German Command Phase.


Russian Command Phase:
Kapitan Lowellinov and Kapitan Chapovsky confer and decide to just stand firm and wait for the impending German attack. They issue a round of vodka to the Area 6 troops, knowing that for many it will be their last. End Russian Command Phase.

Rally Phase: The German Infantry Gun rallies, The scout platoon commander rallies with a double-six to make him Battle Hardened (+1 in close assaults). The Russian MMG rallies. End Turn 5.

Turn 6 - German initiative and they force the Russians to go first.

Russian Command Phase: Clever of the Germans to force the Russians to go first! Now if the Germans win Area 6 in their Command Phase the Russians can't counterattack and gain an area back. Knowing this, the Russians decide they need a bit of insurance, so they activate the damaged squad in the shell hole outside Hall 6A and move him into Area 1 so the Russians hold 2 factory areas. While he is just cannon fodder, this lone Russian squad does make it a German requirement to use up one more close assault just to get it back. End Russian Command Phase.


German Command Phase:
Pollanstein and Millerein activate the scout platoon commander in Area 2 who reorganizes and acquires the lone white squad in Area 5 nearby. The two units assault into Area 1 eliminating the lone Russian squad at no loss to the Germans except for one suppression. 

It is not looking good for the Russians since they are down to holding only Area 6! But both sides are now dangerously close to their Battlegroup Breakpoints!


Hpts. Millerein and Pollanstein now order the "Big Push" a Coordinated Infantry Assault on Area 6 using the fresh reserve platoon with 4 units from Area 2 attacking through Area 1 and the blue platoon attacking from Area 5 with 2 units, one Battle-Hardened.


The German assault goes in and the Germans score well with a whopping 4 Russians dispersed and 1 suppressed. This pushes the Russians over their Battlegroup Breakpoint which means they immediately lose the game. But wait! Close assaults are simultaneous so the Russians have yet to roll for damage to the German side. It's a nail-biter as the Russians roll and with the 6 defending units in Area 6 they disperse 3 German units! This causes the Germans to also go over their Battlegroup Breakpoint so the Germans immediately lose the game as well! Both sides lose simultaneously!

It somehow seems fitting for a Stalingrad "rattenkrieg" battle!

Historical Aftermath:
The German attack was expected to clear Hall 6A before 0800 to allow the main German attack to the north to commence. This didn't happen and with the unexpected strong Russian resistance the German attack to the north was called off. By the end of the day a strong Russian counterattack re-captured most of Hall 6A. It would be another week before Hall 6A and Hall 4 were finally cleared by 305th Division.

Comments On The Scenario:
Well, the play balance certainly worked out with simultaneous losses by Battlegroup BreakPoint. The scenario portrayed the back and forth battles within Hall 6A. Areas 1 and 5 changed hands three times! Planning for battles for each area became very strategic, almost chess-like. At times during the game I felt it was like playing "Whack-a-Mole" with dice! Since almost all of the combat involved heavy close assaults, there were incredible losses on both sides which was also pretty historical for the "meat grinder" of Stalingrad.

I solved my concern for how to track damage, suppression, and battle hardened status for the dense mass of units inside the factory. Previously we used loose glass beads but they were not suitable for this. So I just cut disks off of a wood dowel, painted them appropriate colours and, when needed, just stuck them onto the unit's base with sticky-tac. Worked great. All said I was pretty happy with the scenario.

Comments On The Panzergrenadier Customized Rules:
Our customized set of rules based on the Panzergrenadier series (Deluxe & 2nd Edition) continues to deliver, even with this high unit density scenario. The choice of factory areas being assigned as "small terrain features" was a good one and worked well for the confined small spaces within the factory model. The Coordinated Infantry Assault Order reigned supreme in this scenario. Without it German attack success would have been much more difficult since the odds for close assaults would have been more even. Our new Close Assault Table worked well, yielding an effect on low dice rolls. The better rally and morale DRMs plus the higher Breakpoint for the Russians was still offset by their inexperience level for activation and firing DRMs. The new Stalingrad special rules for fighting within the factory worked well for modelling "rattenkrieg" combat at the company/battalion level.

Thanks for reading this far! Hope you found it entertaining! Not sure what is up next or when, but it's all good since our gaming universe unfolds as it should. 

See you next time! - Gary

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Panzergrenadier AAR - Barrikady Prelude - Oct 16/42

Hey! Good to be back after a great summer at the cabin. On rainy days I managed to throw together some ruined buildings, a factory, and some modular train tracks so it is Stalingrad time! Here's one of the multi-level buildings...


I continued with the 1/8 MDF base & 3/16 foamboard walls. Kitty litter, broken up cork, and match sticks for rubble. I'm liking the way they turned out.

So after doing bunch of reading on Stalingrad I felt like the continuous and very intense close-range city/factory fighting really began around mid-October when the Tractor Factory fell to the Germans. After that it was one long, bitter dogfight. While there are so many famous battle locations within Stalingrad, I picked the Barrikady Factory area to feature over the next couple of scenarios. This first scenario is called "Barrikady Prelude". We continue to use our customized set of rules based on the Panzergrenadier series (Deluxe & 2nd Edition), adding in some "special" Stalingrad rules. When we use a custom rule I'll indicate in blue to show where we depart from the original rules. 

This turned out to be a very long AAR so, if you like, you can just skim the pictures to get the idea. However, if you are interested in how this rule set plays and want to read it all, then grab a coffee and snack and settle in for a good replay!   :-)

Barrikady Prelude - October 16, 1942

Historical Overview
As part of Paulus' 51st Army Corps, the fresh 14th Panzer and 305th Infantry Divisions have just fought a bitter fight to throw Chuikov's 37th Guards Rifle out of the Tractor Factory, subsequently pushing east right to the Volga. To press their advantage Gruppe Jaenecke's 14th Panzer and 305th Infantry are now immediately ordered to turn and attack south along the Volga into the Barrikady Factory against the (presumably) now weakened Russian flank consisting of shattered elements left from the fighting in the Tractor Factory.

References:
Island of Fire: The Battle For The Barrikady Gun Factory In Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark
Death of The Leaping Horseman: 24th Panzer-Division in Stalingrad by Jason D. Mark

Map And General Scenario Notes

The south part of the map represents the area at the north end of the Barrikady Factory and includes some of the factory outbuildings and warehouses. The train tracks and Tramvaynaya Street divide the factory district to the east from the burnt-out worker housing to the west. Two other ruined and bombed out worker housing ruins lie to the north east, one is multi-story.


All of the Russian units are deployed Hidden on the south 2/3 of the table with the German forces entering on the north edge. The relative force strengths were added up yielding the German attacker at 1795 and Russian defender 1135. This gave a whopping German advantage of 660 points and a pretty good ratio of 1.6 to 1 for an attack scenario. However, the Russians have the advantage of being completely dug-in, have three artillery missions of Katyusha rockets, and a ground level visibility limit of only 12 inches due to smoke, rubble, and dust. So I just crossed my fingers (again!) and went with it, hoping my pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey choice of a variable game end starting on Turn 10 will hopefully balance the scenario.

We play on a 5x4 foot table in 15mm with figures based in FoW stands and use modified Panzergrenadier rules: Our guns and tanks are 1:1 and we use the 20mm ranges for firing and activation. We also replace Built Up Area terrain with individual buildings or portions of buildings as "small terrain features."

Scenarios in Stalingrad really need some special terrain effects that affect LOS, terrain effects, and Close Assault. As well the troop quality and motivation levels need some special modifications. This scenario will test out the following:

Stalingrad Terrain Rules: No Road or Rapid Advance by armour. Open Ground is normal Terrain. LOS visibility between ground level units is limited to 12 inches due to smoke, dust, and rubble. LOS to/from elevated positions is 48 inches. Shell craters are Hard Cover, Impassable by vehicles, and a Hindrance. LOS between units at the same level inside buildings is limited to 3 inches, provides Hard Cover for Direct Fire and +2 Strongpoint for Close Assaults. Units at higher elevation have +1 DRM when Close Assaulted from below and the usual +1 DRM for Direct Fire down. Movement between floors in multi-level buildings must use the stairwells. The multi-story building is divided into two "small terrain features" for each floor yielding 6 separate areas. Tanks cannot fire at the upper stories of multi-story buildings when they are within close range.

Stalingrad Troop Quality Rules:
Germans: In 1942 most troops were generally regular or veteran troops with aggressive motivation. By mid-October '42 in Stalingrad most troops are rated regular at best with motivation downgraded to confident. This reflects losses, particularly NCOs and officers and the addition of less experienced replacements. Fresh units thrown into battle (eg. Pioneers) may still retain original veteran/aggressive characteristics.

Russians: In early fighting generally inexperienced troops with confident motivation including Tenacious. By mid-October '42 in Stalingrad, despite incredible losses, their requirement to adapt to "rattenkrieg" with no option of retreat altered their resistance to effectively a fanatical level. Therefore the Russian has a 50% Breakpoint Test which starts at 50% and ignores any suppression effects. Russians also have a whopping 80% Battlegroup Breakpoint before losing the game. In addition if they are the Defender, units do not pay Command Impetus to activate if Out Of Contact and have no -1 DRM if uncommanded. For all dice rolls, Russians are -1 for Phase Activation, -1 for Fire, +1 for Defensive Fire Activation, +1 for Close Assault, +1 for Morale, and +2 for Rally, all relative to 0 as a base.

Russian Briefing and Force (Kapitan Lowellovich, Kapitan Chapov)

After the fall of the Tractor Factory, as the highest ranking remaining local commander, Chuikov has ordered you to defend the Barrikady Factory "to the end" from an imminent German attack from the north. You have gathered together meager retreating elements of 37th Guards Rifle and 95th Rifle Divisions. However, recognizing the gravity of the threat, Chuikov has sent you 84th Tank Brigade, an anti-tank gun platoon, and an artillery observer team with radio communication to the east bank batteries. You have issued your defense deployment orders to defend the north end of the factory area and all your troops have dug in overnight. The 84th's tanks are entrenched with only their turrets visible. This morning's German pre-attack artillery bombardment has just ceased without noticeable effect on your entrenched troops but leaving limited ground level visibility. You have issued orders to all your troops to hold their assigned positions at all costs and any attempts to retreat will be treated as disobeying an order! For the Motherland!

Mission: Maintain one Russian squad or command in two of the 5 main buildings/warehouses at the end of the game to win, or cause a German Battlegroup Break Point (>50% casualties). Otherwise lose.

Special Rules: Russian forces are already deployed Hidden as per the map. Tanks/ATGuns are entrenched with only turret/barrel visible (-2 Cover) and may never move except to rotate. All other units not in buildings/ruins are entrenched. Infantry units cannot move from start positions unless forced to retreat after losing when defending in Close Assault (a Disengage result from fire causes Damage and Suppression without retreat).

On Table at Start (deployed as per map):
Elements of 37th and 95th Division (all Inexperienced except as noted)
  Battlegroup Command (Regular)
    1st Company Command
       Rifle Platoon (command, 2x rifle squad, 2x Molotov)
       Rifle Platoon (command, 2x rifle squad, 2x Molotov)
       Rifle Platoon (command, 3x rifle squad, 3x Molotov)
    2nd Company Command
       Rifle Platoon (command, 2x rifle squad, 2x Molotov)
    Sniper Team (1x Sniper Team) (Elite)
    AT Rifle Teams (2x AT Rifle Team)
    MMG Teams (3x Maxim MMG Team)
    Anti-Tank Gun Teams (2x 45mm AT Gun)

    84th Tank Brigade: Inexperienced
       Heavy Armour Plt (Command KV-1, 2x T-34C) *Inferior

    Off-Board Artillery (3x Katyusha Missions, Observer) 
       Observer hidden in water tower with radioman in shell hole below.

Reserves: None.

Here is the Russian set-up.


German Briefing and Force (Hauptmann Pollus and Hauptmann Von Milstein)
In command of 14th Panzer and 305th Infantry, you have been ordered to push south along and east of Tramvaynaya Street, clear the Russian defenses in the outbuildings of the Barrikady Factory of Russian troops, and push on to take control of the main factory complex. Since Russian resistance in the Tractor Factory has been eliminated using up scarce Russian reserves, your objectives are expected to be attainable despite a growing reluctance for Russian defenders to retreat even when their elimination is assured. Your pre-attack artillery bombardment has just ceased, hopefully suppressing the defenders but leaving limited ground level visibility. You have three rifle platoons in reserve.

Mission: Clear Russian infantry units from 4 of 5 buildings/warehouses at the end of any game turn to win, or cause a Russian Battlegroup Break Point (unknown %). Otherwise lose.

Special Rules: No Road Bonus or Rapid Advance by armour.

Deployment: Starting forces within 4 inches of north board edge. Medium and Heavy Armour and Infantry Company #2 must deploy between 12 and 46 inches from west side of north edge. Light Armour and Infantry Company #1 must deploy more than 46 inches from the west side.

On Table at Start:
Elements of 14th Panzer Division and 305th Infantry Division (all Regular except as noted)
  Battlegroup Command (Veteran)
    1st Infantry Company Command
       Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
       Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
    2nd Infantry Company Command
       Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)

    Panzer Command HQ (1x PzI)
       Light Panzer Plt (command PzI, 3x PzIIJ)
       Medium Panzer Plt (command PzIIIL, 3x PzIIIL)
       Heavy Panzer Plt (command PzIVF2, 1x PzIVF2, 2x PzIVD)

Reserves: (Enter with any Exploit Order)
   Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
   Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
   Rifle Plt (Command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)

Here is the German deployment:



Game Play

Turn 1 - German Intitative and moves first

German Turn:
In the west, the PzIIIs slowly grind forward past the shell craters when an AT Rifle shot from somewhere misses from an ambush camouflaged position that is not revealed. So there ARE Russians out there... somewhere! Hauptmann Von Milstein suspects that the multi-story Building #1 must be infested with Russians so he decides to hit it with Area Fire [Custom Rule] from the 75mm PzIVs and Recon By Fire from the PzIII commander.


The heavy blast effect Area Fire from the PzIV 75mms seems to be causing no effect until one shot exposes a Russian platoon commander when he is hit with a Disengage, causing him to be suppressed with Damage without moving [Custom Rule: Infantry units also take Damage]. Aha! If there is a platoon commander in Building #1, then there must be more enemy troops in the building! To the east the PzIIs move up and fire with autocannons at the suppressed platoon commander but all miss, although he is now an Acquired Target. [Custom Rule: A unit fired on is an Acquired Target by the firing unit with automatic activation to Fire at it. Units that are mutual Acquired Targets are engaged and roll dice to see who fires first (interactive fire).]


Also in the east Hpt. Pollus orders his green infantry platoon to advance into the first building ruins but as it makes its way into the ruins a sniper shot rings out and instantly kills their platoon commander! The platoon stops in shock. Then the nearby red platoon cautiously moves up into the ruins, making the south wall without incident. (The blue platoon marked "Expl" was brought on in the later Exploit Phase.) End German turn.

Russian Turn:
The artillery observer in the water tower shouts down to his radio man with target coordinates for a Katyusha strike The radio man shakes his head and gives the hand signal for no artillery radio contact. Arrg! The Russians in Building #1 decide to remain hidden instead of provoking heavy Defensive Fire if they expose themselves by firing. The AT Rifle in the shell hole fires at the PzIII again and misses. The suppressed platoon commander rallies himself with a Rally order. End Russian turn.

German Exploit Phase:
Using one Exploit Order Hpt. Pollus promotes a new green platoon commander from the ranks to replace the one lost. [Custom Rule: The original platoon command stand is placed back on the table with a future -1 DRM to activation. The squad that the new platoon commander and his runner were drawn from is left on the table and takes a Damage to reflect loss of its strength.] Another Exploit Order is spent to bring on a reserve infantry blue platoon placing them in the ruins near the Company Commander and in front of the green platoon whose commander was KIA.

Rally Phase: No actions. End Turn1.

Turn 2 - German Initiative and moves first

German Turn:
Hpt. Von Milstein orders the PzIVs to continue peppering Area Fire into Building #1. A lucky shot disperses a hidden Russian squad on the second floor. The PzIII commander fires at Building #1 with Recon by Fire to no effect.


Meanwhile Hpt. Pollus' PzIIs to the east continue to aim all their autocannon fire on the Russian platoon commander on the 3rd floor, finally eliminating him. Seeing two Russian units eliminated from Building #1, both the German red platoon at the west end of the ruined building and the blue platoon at the east end move into the open toward Building #1 and some squads take cover in the shell holes between the buildings. To maintain his hidden status before they get into close range, the Russian sniper fires at a squad but misses. The remaining Russian squad stays hidden on the second floor. The German green platoon to the rear that just promoted their platoon leader rolls snake eyes on activation for Command Confusion! So they stay put and wait for clearer orders. (no photo)

Russian Turn:
The artillery observer radioman smacks the side of his radio in frustration. No reply again! The sniper, remaining squad and AT Rifle Team in Building #1 all hold fire to remain hidden. Kap. Lowellovich orders the Russian AT Rifle in the shell hole to the west to fire at a PzIII, which hits but the shot bounces.

Exploit Phase & Rally Phase: No actions. End Turn 2.

Turn 3 - Russian Initiative and move first.

Russian Turn:
The radioman is crying now and the observer tells him to "suck it up" and keep trying. Only static. The west AT Rifle Team in the shell hole fires at a PzIII and again bounces a shell off the armour. All the remaining troops hold fire to avoid Defensive Fire and therefore remain hidden. End Russian Turn.

German Turn:
The green infantry platoon under a promoted commander at the rear in the ruins rolls very low on activation and Hpt. Pollus wishes to save Impetus Points so the platoon stays stuck where they are. The red platoon at the west end of the ruins moves toward Building #1 but a low movement roll only allows them to get up against Building #1's wall. The sniper fires, revealing himself on the 3rd floor, and hits the red platoon commander causing him to Disengage back to a shell hole. The blue infantry platoon at the eastern end of the ruined building rolls boxcars on activation so adds 6" to their tactical movement! As they move on the double toward Building #1 a Russian squad suddenly reveals itself in the small east building ruins by firing at one German squad in the open causing it to Disengage back to the ruined building. The other two squads and platoon commander make it into the bottom floor of the building finding the east end ground floor of the building clear of Russians. They must be upstairs! With the bonus movement, one squad presses on and is able to climb the stairwell to the second floor suddenly revealing a hidden Russian squad, instantly entering Close Assault.


The Russian squad is dispersed and the German squad is double suppressed causing damage so the Germans barely win the Close Assault. These Russians are tough!


While the infantry charge toward Building #1, the PzIIs advance around the east side of the building and come under Defensive Fire from a hidden 45mm AT Gun which misses. All their autocannon fire at the end of their movement misses as well.


Hpt. Von Milstein orders the PzIIIs to slowly advance south and east. The AT Rifle does not fire since it is now inside close range and wishes to remain hidden until the Russian phase. One PzIII pulls right up next to the AT Rifle Team's shell hole so close they can almost touch it! They will have a deadly accurate shot next phase. The PzIVs and PzIIIs continue their heavy support fire into Building #1, one PzIVD running low on ammo. The sniper on the 3rd floor and an AT Rifle Team on the 2nd floor are revealed but shake off all the hits. (the AT Rifle Team and German squad on the 2nd floor are more than 3" away from each other so cannot see each other). The western infantry beige platoon near the PzIIIs, seeing the difficulty that two platoons of infantry are having to secure Building #1 wheel east and Rapid Advance toward the building, taking up positions in shell holes and behind the track bed. A Russian squad in the ruins south of the Building #1 opens fire on the nearest squad but misses.


Both Company Commands and the Battlegroup Commander move up. End German Turn.

Exploit Phase: No actions. Rally Phase: The German blue squad in the ruined building and the red platoon commander in the shell hole both rally. The German blue squad on the 2nd floor fails.

End Turn 3.

Here is the table at the end of Turn 3. Building #1 still has some annoyingly persistent Russian defenders in the upper floors that are slowing the German advance.


Turn 4 - German Initiative and moves first

German Turn:
Hpt. Pollus has the the Panzer IIs open fire on the AT Gun getting a Disengage result before it can Defensive Fire and it holds position with Damage and suppression. The solitary blue squad back in the ruins activates uncommanded and moves up toward Building #1, is fired on by the Russian squad in the ruins on east side with a miss, and the squad continues into Building #1 and climbs to the 2nd floor. The green platoon in the rear Rapid Advances up the eastern side of the table where a hidden MMG reveals and fires but misses.


To the west, the PzIV platoon activates and the PzIVF2s fire at the sniper on the top floor to no effect. The whole platoon then moves up the tracks in column with the PzIVDs at the rear. The lead PzIVF2 moves into LOS of a hidden dug-in T-34, presenting only it's turret. The T-34 crew must have been having a vodka moment since they miss on their Defensive Fire. Kap. Lowellovich is not impressed. Still out of LOS of the T-34 the PzIVDs Area Fire fire at Building #1's ground floor to no effect.


The PzIIIs activate and the first moves up into LOS of a hidden dug-in KV-1 (yikes!) with only the turret visible which fires hitting the PzIII causing it to Disengage. A second PzIII turns east to avoid the nasty KV-1 and when crossing the tracks comes into the LOS of a hidden 45mm AT Gun, which Defensive Fires and suppresses it. The panzers have finally hit the Russian main anti-tank defenses! The third PzIII also moves east crossing the tracks and fires at the T-34 turret hitting it but it pings. The last PzIII next to the shell hole turns to move and is immediately hit in the side by a solid shot at close range from an Ambush Camouflaged AT Rifle Team which causes it to Disengage with Damage. Kap. Lowellovich smiles at their bravery.


Hpt. Pollus calls upon his infantry to neutralize the pesky Russian AT Rifle Team threatening the panzers flank. He decides to leave the closest beige squad to Building #1 to fire on the Russian squad in the ruins but it fails to activate uncommanded. The remaining two squads and commander of the beige platoon activate and Rapid Advance west to Close Assault the AT Rifle team and easily eliminate it without a scratch on the German squads. Kap. Lowellovich tells his orderly to include a commendation for bravery for the lost team.


Meanwhile the red platoon just outside of Building #1 rolls snake eyes on activation for Command Confusion losing 3 IP [Custom Rule]. Apparently they didn't get the assault order from their nearby damaged platoon command or Company Commander. The remaining squad and commander of blue platoon activate and the squad moves up the stairs to the 3rd floor declaring a Close Assault on the sniper whose Defensive Fires misses. The sniper is automatically eliminated in Close Assault having no place to retreat. That leaves only the AT Rifle Team on the 2nd floor to maintain Russian claim on Building #1.


End German Turn 4.

Russian Turn:
The artillery observer rolls snake eyes when requesting artillery for Command Confusion costing 3 IP which is all the Russians have! The radio operator curses and sends a runner back to Battlegroup Command requesting they forward his coordinates for a future Katyusha strike to Division HQ. Kap. Lowellovich orders the west AT Gun to fire on the PzIII, a previously Acquired Target, but it hits the heavy turret front armour instead of the weak hull side armour so it pings (no photo). The T-34 fires at a PzIII but misses. The KV-1 does not fire since no enemy is in LOS. The AT Gun to the east declines to fire as well as the AT Rifle Team on the 2nd floor since they are both Acquired Targets by numerous enemy, so they fear the heavy Defensive Fire. Kap. Chapov orders the east MMG to fire but it fails activation and the Russians have no Command Impetus left. End Russian Turn.

Exploit Phase: The Germans bring on a reserve grey rifle/LMG platoon on the west side near their Company Commander.



Rally Phase: The Russian AT Gun rallies. The damaged PzIII rolls a 3 with a -1 due to Damage so it Routs! The PzIII on the rail track rallies. The German blue squad on the 2nd floor fails to rally again. End Turn 4.

Turn 5 - Russian Initiative and moves first

Russian Turn:
The artillery observer up in the water tower yells down to his radioman if he has made radio contact yet with the Katyusha battery. "Nyet" is the reply. Then he asks if the runner is back from HQ. "Nyet" again. The observer just shakes his head. The radioman starts to put a spare battery in his radio, in case that is the problem.

Kap. Chapov orders the east AT Gun to Intensive Fire at a PzII and survives Defensive Fire from the first PzII [Custom Rule: Interactive fire for engaged units], but the following Russian shots just bounce off the enemy's front armour. Unfortunately the rest of the PzII platoon also has the AT Gun as an Acquired Target so their remaining Defensive Fires manage to clobber the AT Gun, dispersing it. The MMG and the nearby squad in the ruins fire on the German green platoon with no effect.


Kap. Lowellovich orders the T-34 to fire at the PzIII it is engaged in a firefight with, but before it can gets its shot off it is taken out by one of the two PzIII's Defensive Fire that rolls boxcars. [Custom Rule: Engaged units in a firefight allow the target of a Direct Fire Order to Defensive Fire with a dice roll to determine who fires first (interactive fire). Untested in high unit density at Close Range we noticed a significant increase in the delivered fire volume from by the attacker per game turn.] 

The AT Gun fires and misses a PzIII.


End Russian Turn.

German Turn:
In the east, the green platoon fails to activate. The PzII platoon fires on the MMG, suppressing it with Damage. The blue platoon repositions within Building #1 south side with the commander moving up to help rally the suppressed squad on on 2nd floor. The Company Commander moves into the building. Hpt. Pollus orders the red platoon to send 2 squads up the stairs to the 2nd floor and Close Assault the AT Rifle Team. The Russians roll double-six and eliminate both German squads! However the AT Rifle Team was also eliminated in the melee! The Russian team must have had a bag of grenades with them and tossed them all at once! However, now Building #1 is captured by the Germans and they can focus their full attention on advancing south!


To the west one PzIII moves up and along with the other two PzIIIs exchange fire with the AT Gun to no effect. The PzIVs move toward Building #1 to fire at the Russian squad in the ruins, suppressing it (suppression marker not shown). Both the grey and beige platoons in the west move east again toward Building #1. The beige squad in the shell hole moves into Building #1.


Exploit Phase: No actions. Rally Phase: The Russian squad in the ruins and German blue squad on 2nd floor both rally. End Turn 5.

Turn 6 - German Initiative and moves first

German Turn:
All the PzIIIs shoot at the AT Gun which Defensive Fires. All to no effect. All the PzIVs fire at the Russian squad in the ruins but miraculously it is untouched! The beige and grey platoons move further east toward Building #1. The beige squad in Building #1 moves slightly more east inside the building to make room for their commander to enter but as he sprints for the building he is is suppressed just outside by fire from the Russian squad. The last beige squad moves up into the shell crater and finally suppresses the Russian squad. The blue platoon comes down from the upper levels of Building #1 and lines up on south wall (one squad stays on 2nd floor south wall). The red platoon fails to activate.


To the east Hpt. Pollus orders the PzIIs to fire at the MMG taking it out due to multiple suppressions. However, the MMG rolls boxcars on one morale test so gets to "last gasp" return fire at a PzII but the bullets just bounce off the armour. The green platoon moves up and fires with  a double-six, dispersing the Russian squad in the ruins! The Russian main line of defense in the east is now shattered!


End German turn.

Russian Turn:
The radioman yells up at the observer "Yes, they are firing now! It's coming!" Finally! Chuikov has heard reports about the size of the German attack and he orders the East Bank artillery to provide priority support! The big template is placed over the western troops and tanks where they are massed. Eight squads and eight panzers in the open. It could be a bloodbath with the +2 DRM for the Katyushas!


Now to roll for accuracy and hope it doesn't deviate too far from these juicy targets. Disaster! Snake eyes for Danger Close! The worst result! The template centre moves to the nearest Russian unit, the squad in the ruins. The template now misses most of the German units and even worse hits the still hidden MMG in the ruins, dispersing it! [Custom Rule: Each unit under the template rolls separately for effect.] The Russian squad is just suppressed. Three German tanks are hit but the shrapnel just bounces off. The only effect on the Germans is to disengage one platoon commander and disperse one squad. The radioman screams into the microphone, "Stop shooting, you are hitting us instead!"


The AT Gun does not fire for fear of the heavy Defensive Fire. End Russian turn.

Exploit Phase: No actions. Rally Phase: Both the Russian squad and German platoon command rally.

End Turn 6

Turn 7 - Russian Initiative and moves first

Russian Turn:
The radioman yells up to the observer that he has radio contact! He slowly reads the strike coordinates and asks the battery to repeat them back. The template is placed in the same spot over the massed tanks and infantry to the west. The rockets fire and land with a vengeance! A double-six on the accuracy roll! This gives +2 to the FFE in addition to the +2 for the Katyushas! Both PzIVDs are destroyed, two PzIIIs are suppressed, the Panzer Company Commander is suppressed, three infantry units caught in the open are dispersed and another three are suppressed! It is chaos for the Germans!


The Russians take no further actions to avoid Defensive Fire. End turn.

German Turn:
In the east, the PzII platoon advances and one shoots at the Russian squad in the ruins near Building #1 but misses. The nearby green platoon fails to activate. In the west, Hpt. Von Milstein orders the two PzIVF2s to advance and both pass their Bog Test as they squeeze over some rubble between the corner of Building #1 and the shell hole. They fire at the Russian squad in the ruins, dispersing it. Seeing the ruins now cleared of enemy infantry Hpt. Pollus orders the blue and red platoons in Building #1 to advance into the ruins. One PzIII fires at the AT Gun and misses while the Defensive Fire fire pings off the heavy front armour.


End German turn.

Exploit Phase: No actions. Rally Phase: The German platoon commander in the shell hole routs! All other units rally except one German squad on the tracks. End Turn 7.

Turn 8 - Russian Initiative and moves first.

Russian Turn:
The radioman is ecstatic! "They will fire again! Where do you want it?" he yells up to the observer who gives coordinates for the ruins where the German infantry is massing. The rockets arrive but deviate and fall too close to the Russian positions, suppressing (and revealing) one Russian squad in Warehouse #3. A Russian platoon commander in a nearby shell hole is not affected so he remains hidden. The two German squads in the ruins are protected by the rubble and the shrapnel bounces off of one PzIVF2, but one German squad caught in the open is dispersed.


No other actions by the Russians except to rotate the KV-1 turret to better cover the warehouses. End turn.

German Turn:
In the east Hpt. Pollus orders the green platoon to Rapid Advance into and past the ruins. One squad encounters a hidden Russian platoon commander in a shell hole causing an immediate Close Assault. Both sides roll boxcars to their mutual destruction!


Now the blue platoon in the ruins south of Building #1 advances and discovers another hidden Russian platoon commander in a shell hole, triggering Close Assault. The Germans roll a double-six again! The Russian platoon commander is dispersed, but manages to suppress a German squad. Another blue squad advances and Close Assaults the suppressed Russian squad in Warehouse #3. Unbeknownst to him the Russian Battlegroup Commander is there too so it will be a tough fight! However, the German squad rolls another double-six! Three double-six rolls in a row! This disperses both the Russian squad and Battlegroup Command! The Russians roll a 3 which has no effect. The loss of the Battlegroup Command causes a -1 DRM to the Initiative roll on future game turns. Ouch! The Russian Company Commander in the western Building #5 assumes Battlegroup Command.

Hpt. Von Milstein orders the two PzIIIs to move up and all three fire at the AT Gun but all miss, as does the Russian Defensive Fire. Under a Tactical Move & Fire Order, both PzIVF2s fire on the AT Gun before moving  toward Machine Shop #2 causing a suppression from one and a disengage with Damage from the other. Since the AT Gun was suppressed twice in the same turn it also takes a second Damage which disperses it.


This is a disaster for the Russians, losing Warehouse #3 and also the AT Gun!

The Germans have now figured out that the Russian artillery observer must be in the water tower. So the PzIIs move up and one takes a Recon By Fire shot at the water tower but misses. The beige platoon promotes a new platoon commander from a squad. After that the beige platoon fails to activate. The lone blue squad on the 2nd floor of Building #1 fails to activate. End Turn.

Exploit Phase: No Actions. Rally Phase: The grey squad on the tracks fails to rally. The blue platoon squad in shell hole near Warehouse #3 rallies. The Germans have now lost enough units to be past their 25% Breakpoint but pass their test roll. The Russians have also lost enough units to require a 50% Breakpoint Test and roll low but the scenario rules allow them to ignore suppression results, so no effect. End Turn 8.

Turn 9 - German Initiative and moves first.

German Turn:
Hpt. Von Milstein gives the PzIII platoon a Tactical Move & Fire Order. The PzIII commander recons Warehouse #4 and discovers a hidden Russian squad. The whole platoon then fires at the squad in Warehouse #4 and one PzIII rolls a double-six, eliminating the squad! The PzIII platoon then moves east to join the PzIVF2s. The nearby blue platoon, seeing the demise of the Russian squad, then advances and one squad moves into Warehouse #4, verifying it is clear of Russians while the platoon commander moves into a shell hole outside.


The beige platoon (along with a red platoon commander who joins beige platoon since he has no squads left to command) moves into the ruins south of Building #1. The PzIIIs have previously moved east after firing on the AT Gun. The PzIVF2s now Area Fire on Machine Shop #2 with no effect so no hidden troops are revealed. Hpt. Pollus orders the PzIIs to surround the Machine Shop #2 and one performs Recon By Fire but cannot spy out any hidden troops within.


The green platoon fails activation as does the blue squad on the 2nd floor of Building #1. End turn.

Russian Turn:
No actions. With three buildings now in German hands the Russian squad and Company Commander in Machine Shop #2 wish to stay hidden and not invoke Defensive Fire. End turn.

Exploit Phase: The purple platoon arrives from Reserves and takes up positions in the shell holes near their Company Commander by the ruins and Building #1.

Rally Phase: The German squad on the tracks does not rally. The Germans roll a 3 on their 25% Breakpoint Test and one suppressed unit routs. The Russians roll an 8 on their 50% Breakpoint Test so they pass. End turn 9.

Turn 10 - German Initiative and they choose the Russians to move first.

Russian Turn:
With all the Katyusha missions used up and with only two units in Machine Shop #2 preventing a German win, the Russians take no actions to avoid Defensive Fire.

German Turn:
Hpt. Von Milstein orders the PzIVs to again Area Fire on the west end of the Machine Shop #2 with no effect so any Russians stay hidden. Hpt. Pollus orders the green platoon to Rapid Advance and declares a Close Assault into Machine Shop #2's west end, surviving Defensive Fire from the newly revealed Russian squad. They enter Close Assault against the Russian squad and a Company Commander that is revealed. The Russians lose the melee with their squad dispersed but the Company Commander survives, retreating suppressed to the remaining east half of Machine Shop #2. Two German squads are suppressed. The Germans now have the west side of the building and the Russians still hold the east side. If the east side falls the game is over! Can the Russians hang on until the end of Turn 10 and hope for a 7 or better on a game end roll?


The purple platoon now Rapid Advances to Close Assault the lone suppressed Russian Company Commander but only two squads are able to reach the east side of Machine Shop #2. The Russians pull a rabbit out of the hat and roll really well and the Germans lose the Close Assault with one German squad dispersed and one suppressed! The Russian Company Commander is only suppressed so takes Damage for being double suppressed in the same player turn.


Hpt. Von Milstein and Hpt. Pollus suddenly see the possibility of the Russian Company Commander actually surviving to the end of Turn 10! Desperation motivates them to have their nearest Company Commander Rapid Advance into Close Assault with the suppressed and damaged Russian Company Commander. And the Germans lose again! Their Company Commander being double suppressed for Damage with no further effect on the Russian Company Commander!


The beige platoon and second German Company Commander move up but neither can move far enough to Close Assault. The intrepid Russian Company Commander has survived three German Close Assaults and provides a chance for the Russians to win the game!

Exploit Phase: No actions. Rally Phase: All German units pass their rally test, except one squad that routs. The Russian Company Commander rallies. The German and Russian sides both pass their Breakpoint Tests. 

The end of Turn 10 triggers a dice roll to see if the game ends. The Russians need a 7 or better to end the game with Russian win! But Lady Luck is not with them since a 6 is rolled so the game continues to Turn 11 (and a pretty much guaranteed German win!). A 6 roll is about as close a shave as possible!

Turn 11 - German initiative and moves first.

German Turn:
The purple platoon Close Assaults the intrepid Russian Company Commander and is again repelled! (no photo). Two purple squads are suppressed and the Russian Company Commander is suppressed. However, then the "heavy" beige platoon with four units Close Assaults and easily disperses the suppressed Russian Company Commander, with one German squad being suppressed. The Russians lose the building. Since the Germans are be in possession of four buildings at the end of Turn 11 they win!

Here is the table at game end.


Tallying Up The Score:
The Russian side lost 21 units out of 28 (75%) and the German side lost 15 units out of 40 (38%).

Historical Aftermath:
Contrary to expectations, Gruppe Jaenecke ran into very tough resistance. A close-range tank battle ensued with dug-in Russian tanks showing only their turrets. Salvos of Katyusha rockets poured down on the attacking tanks and infantry, destroying several panzers and the attack stalled. By mid-day the Germans had lost 17 tanks and the Russians 16. After re-grouping and with most of the Russian tanks destroyed the attack continued with more success, moving into the Barrikady Factory area before nightfall.

Comments On The Scenario:
By sheer good fortune the scenario ended up pretty much balanced and not a blow-out for either side. Our group quite enjoyed it. The Russians had poor luck with the Katyusha mission availability until Turn 6 so at the beginning of Turn 7 the availability roll was lowered to 7 from 8. Given the coordination that the Russians had available from the east bank artillery batteries at Stalingrad I should have made it a 7 from the start. When they finally arrived the Katyusha accuracy rolls were extreme with snake eyes (Danger Close) and boxcars (+2 FFE). Go figure! The Germans rolling double-six three times in a row on Close Assaults was offset by the Russian Company Commander single-handedly repelling three Close Assaults near the game end. For this bravery Kap. Chapov has recommended him (posthumously) for a medal, the "Order of Alexander Nevsky."

The new Stalingrad rules seemed to work well. The more favourable rally and morale rules and the higher Breakpoint for the Russians was still offset by their inexperience and Inferior tanks. The rules for the multi-story building in particular were a pleasant surprise. The difficulty in clearing these buildings was modeled well in this scenario. One problem arose. Using loose coloured beads to track damage, suppression, low ammo, and battle-hardened status does not work inside buildings or in areas with a high density of units. I'm going to have to try some other smaller markers that directly attach to the stand with sticky-tac so they "stick" to the owner.

Comments On The Panzergrenadier Customized Rules
Our customized set of rules based on the Panzergrenadier series (Deluxe & 2nd Edition) continue to serve us well. This Barrikady scenario is the first one using the BGPG rules where we had a very high density of armour/AT Gun units at close range in a sustained firefight. By Turn 6 two new things became apparent. The first was the clutter of markers, mainly the Acquired Target markers that we added as a custom rule. The second was that it became harder for me as moderator to sort out which of the BGPG rules to use at any given point: Point Blank Fire, Return Defensive Fire, Automatic Close Range Defensive Fire, and Automatic Close Assault Defensive Fire. Especially when we added in our custom rules of Automatic Acquired Target/Engaged Fire, and Automatic Acquired Target/Engaged Defensive Fire.

So starting in Turn 7 we tweaked the Fire rules. The main change was to designate all visible units in close range as Acquired Targets of each other if they are in LOS and Arc-of-Fire, regardless if they are in the Open or not. These units do not need to roll to activate which streamlines the above original BGPG rules and eliminates the need for Acquired Target markers at close range.

This Barrikady scenario also confirmed that we very much like our previously added "interactive fire" rules that allow Defensive Fire vs a Fire Order and require a dice roll to determine the order of firing for phasing & target units. We feel it is historically more accurate (and more exciting!). An unknown side effect on game play is this makes Defensive Fire more effective since it can now occur when phasing units issue a Fire Order in addition to vs moving enemy units. When the attacker does apply heavy numerical fire superiority in a local area (schwerpunkt), the defender's Defensive Fire becomes less effective and the attacker's Defensive Fire more effective since the attacker will likely fire first in both cases. From a game perspective it means the defenders, when faced with many enemy units able to fire on them, will likely only Defensive Fire and not issue Fire Orders in their Command Phase to avoid being shredded by enemy Defensive Fire. That means an increased advantage to the attacker which, as a scenario designer, needs to be accounted for with some increase in defender forces (lower the attacker/defender points ratio). Once you try interactive fire it is quite addictive! Regardless we are having fun with all of it so that's the main thing!

Thanks to those of you who have read through the AAR to this point! Hope you enjoyed it! In January (or February) we will entertain the next in this Stalingrad series of scenarios. Not sure of the name yet but it will feature a German attack on the main Barrikady factory area.


See you next time! - Gary