Monday, November 25, 2013

BGPG - Counter-Attack At Bereza

“Counter-Attack At Bereza” is the last battle of the 3-part Barbarossa mini-campaign, adapted from the Skirmish Campaigns' scenario book “Russia '41 – Drive on Minsk.” The first two battles in the campaign, left the German side substantially ahead with a cumulative score of 17 to the Russian side's 7, pretty overwhelming. Perhaps the Russians can even it up here. We played on a 6x4 foot table using Battlegroup Panzergrenadier V2 rules with some house rules added in.

Map and Initial Setup
“Counter-Attack At Bereza” is a meeting engagement. On June 24th the advancing German 3rd Panzer Division was met with a determined attack by elements of Russian 205th Motorized Division and remnants of 22nd Tank Division. The terrain is reasonably tank friendly with a low hill and light woods blocking all LOS, and medium high crops that block infantry LOS but are only an LOS hindrance for AFV to AFV fire. All woods are passable to vehicles at half-rate (no Bog Check) and there are two gullies that are Difficult Terrain.

The German initial force enters on Turn 1 at the west board edge with reinforcements on Turn 2 from the north edge within 4 feet of the west edge. The Russian initial force deploys on the table within 12 inches of the east edge, receiving Turn 2 reinforcements on the south edge within 5 feet of the east edge. No units are hidden and the objectives are the same for both sides, awarding 5 VP for control of BOTH buildings (no enemy within 4 inches) at game end (variable ending after Turn 8). VPs are also given for each enemy unit eliminated at 1.5 VP to the Russians for a German casualty and 1 VP to the German for a Russian casualty (German casualties are harder to get!). The total point cost of the units assigned to each side's OOB added up to very close to the same (1205 German, 1245 Russian). Deliberately set almost equal to see if 100% strength each side will yield a relatively balanced meeting engagement.

The Russians have it a bit easier since the east building is easy to grab right away. Their initial forces deploy in the east forest with a platoon of T-26s in the north, the HQ, FOO, & KhT-130 flame-tank in the centre, and an infantry platoon to the south (with a gully and crop to screen their sneaky advance to the centre cottage). The German entry on the board will have panzer forces in the centre and embarked support elements to the north, screened by the forest.

Tim and Brent took the Russians and Rick and I the Germans.

Russian Force (Lt. Polokov and Lt. Timoshenko)

Deployed at Start:
Battlegroup HQ + truck (0 bonus on initiative roll)
FOO (Forward Observing Officer)
Off- Board Artillery (120mm mortar – 1 mission - pre-designated location in T1, T2, or T3)
KhT-130 (1x T-26 flame-thrower/smoke tank)
Light Tank Plt (command T-26, 3x T-26)
Rifle Plt (command, 3x rifle squads, 1x LMG)

Reinforcements - Turn 2:
Tank Group Commander (T-26A)
Light Tank Plt (command T-26, 3x T-26)
Light Tank Plt (command T-26, 3x T-26)

German Force (Lt. Von Lowellenstern and Lt. Chappenstein)

Turn 1 Entry:
Battlegroup HQ + truck (+2 bonus on initiative roll)
FAC + truck
Air Mission (1 Stuka mission)
Med/Light Tank Plt (command Pz35(t), 2x PzIIIG, 2x PzIIC)
Schutzen Plt (command, 2x squad + 2x LMG, 2x SdKfz 251/1 + 2x LMG)

Reinforcements – Turn 2:
Company Commander + Kubel
Mortar Plt (command, 1x 81mm mortar, 1x observer, 1x truck)
Motorized Anti-Tank Plt, 521 Anti-Tank Btl. (command SdKfz 265, 2x PanzerJaeger I)


Turn 1 Initiative G4, R1 - German initiative and move first.

Lt. Von Lowellenstern and I hear numerous tank engines off to the south and there are artillery spotting rounds falling ahead so we decide to deploy and advance with caution. Lt. Von Lowellenstern moves the Panzer Plt east down the centre, ready to react ahead or to the hilltop on our right flank. I move the Schutzen Plt and more vulnerable HQ and FAC into the nearby north woods for use as an artillery observation base and springboard to the centre cottage. End German Orders Phase.

Lt. Timoshenko moves the FOO up into the building with the HQ moving up behind the building. The remaining Russians stay put. No Rallies so end of Turn 1.

Turn 2 Initiative G8, R6 - German Initiative.

I move the half-tracks, HQ and FAC into the woods where they are joined by reinforcements from the north. The motorized PanzerJaeger I Plt from 521 Anti-Tank Btl, arrives on the east side of the woods to make the east T-26 Plt think twice about advancing. The Mortar Plt, and Company Commander enter into the woods a little further west. All hanging back from the forest edge until after the artillery barrage falls. Meanwhile Lt. Von Lowellenstern moves the Pz Plt further east, mashing the hedge and advancing into the garden. No targets but the tank motors down south are becoming ominously loud. End of German Orders Phase.

The Russian reinforcements arrive and instead of the usual boiling out into the open plain where they can be picked off, Lt. Polokov sneaks a company of eight T-26s and a Tank Group Commander into the forest. Cagey! But they find it very slow going with a low dice roll. The remaining Russians stay put again except the infantry platoon makes a dash for the gully, out of LOS of the Pz Plt. End Russian Orders and with no rallies, also end of Turn 2.

Turn 3 Initiative G3, R3 - German Initiative (German wins tie)

Lt. Von Lowellenstern moves the Pz Plt further up unto the garden and deploys facing south toward the hill and heaviest T-26 threat, not concerned about the faraway east T-26 Plt.

Two of 8 game turns already gone so time to get the Schutzen moving. I move the half-tracks toward the road but remain screened by the forest since the Russian artillery barrage is about to come down somewhere, perhaps right on the road nearby. The C.C., mortar, HQ, and FAC unload and the FAC moves to the forest edge to observe the hill top in case the T-26s try to use that as a hull-down fire base. The PanzerJaegers hold back out of LOS, waiting for the Russian barrage. End German Turn.

Lt. Timoshenko brings the artillery barrage down on the FAC! The barrage covers part of the road too so it is a good thing I held the half-tracks back.

Fortunately the FAC team is only required to retreat suppressed with damage. Almost lost the Stuka mission! End German Orders Phase.

Lt. Timoshenko shuffles the east T-26 Plt south in the forest. The infantry command fails activation with insufficient help from HQ so each squad attempts to activate un-commanded. Two activate and are able to move into the gully. Lt. Polokov right-wheels the entire T-26 company presenting all eight 45mm guns toward the centre cottage. Formidable! They cluster track-to-track unconcerned for air attack. The German side wishes for an FAC in a Storch overhead to call in the Stuka. Eight burning T-26s would bring a smile! End Russian Orders. The German FAC fails to rally, ending Turn 3.

Turn 4 German Initiative.

The PanzerJaegers move up to the woods edge to discourage the east T-26 Plt from venturing out of the trees. The 81mm observer sneaks up to the woods edge and calls in a strike on the Russian east building, hitting and suppressing the FOO under the template.

The Pz Plt holds position since moving east would unleash the battery fire of the T-26 company in the woods. The C.C. moves over to assist the FAC's rally. So now it is time for the half-tracks to make a dash for the centre cottage. I roll snake eyes on activation and lose all CPs! Rats!

The German retains initiative in the Command Confusion dice roll but since there were no more troops to order, the German Orders Phase ends.

For Russian orders, Lt. Polokov brings the T-26 company to the edge of the woods, still holding their RiverDance formation <grin>, unfortunately not able to be spotted by the FAC for a choice Stuka attack.

Lt. Timoshenko consolidates the T-26 Plt in the east and moves one infantry squad into the centre cottage, taking control of the 2nd objective! The rest of the infantry advance into the crop nearby out of sight of the Pz Plt, ending the Russian Orders.

The German FAC rallies but the Russian FOO does not, ending Turn 4.

Not looking good for the German side with the game half over and both objectives already in Russian hands. The T-26 company in the south really is a deterrent to moving the Pz Plt further east since they are now shielded by the hill.

At this point, both Rick and Brent have to leave, so Tim and I finish the game, Tim continuing with Russians and I with the Germans.

Turn 5 German Initiative

Time for the Schutzen Plt to move up and assault the cottage objective. To provide some cover for their advance, the mortar attempts to lay smoke on the cottage but misses, with it landing ineffectively to the north. The FAC moves up beside the arty observer and is immediately suppressed again by Defensive Fire from the LMG in the cottage. Angered by this, I back the Pz Plt out of the garden onto the road and blast the cottage with all guns, dispersing the infantry squad there. Now for the half-track dash – Oops! - crappy movement roll and they only get part way. The Schutzen are really having trouble getting going! The C.C. moves up to the FAC for moral support and the rest of the units just hold position, ending German Orders.

Lt Timoshenko begins the Russian turn by moving up the infantry in the crop, advancing one infantry squad to just behind the cottage out of LOS of the Pz Plt. Then he splits the T-26 company and moves one Plt of 4 T-26s toward the hill top, but halts them in the woods behind the crest, just out of LOS. The other T-26 Plt just repositions in place, while the Tank Group Commander eases into the open still behind the hill slope. The T-26 Plt in the east repositions again, and the KhT-130 flame tank moves forward behind the house near the HQ, ending the Russian Orders. The Russian FOO rallies and the German FAC as well but rolling boxcars makes the FAC Battle Hardened!

Turn 6 German Initiative

I move the Pz Plt back into the garden to get close range Defensive Fire on any T-26s that pop up. [in hindsight, this was a mistake because it puts one of the T-26 platoons out-of-arc and gives them close range fire too!] Then the half-tracks move up, but cannot approach near the cottage without triggering Defensive Fire from the T-26s, so they unload part way and the infantry sneaks up further. The 81mm mortar hits the east building again and causes the FOO to retreat. The PanzerJaegers re-position to put the east road in their narrow covered arc. End German Orders.

Lt. Timoshenko's plan for this turn was shattered when he rolled snake eyes on his first activation, losing all CPs!

Making it worse, The German won the Command Confusion roll , ending the Russian Turn. And then in the Rally Phase...

The suppressed FOO rolls snake eyes again! This automatically Disperses him!

This was a short game turn with little action, mostly due to horrible Russian luck.

Turn 7 Initiative: G3, R3 (German wins Initiative on a tie)

I move the Schutzen Plt into the cottage, Defensive Fire suppressing one squad, the rest entering Close Assault on the lone Russian squad just outside. The dice make it a tie, Stubborn Resistance, allowing the Russian to choose to leave the melee and withdraw to the crop unaffected. The Schutzen consolidate in the building, taking back one objective! [we forget to do their Rally Check after Close Combat – but if the Russian withdraws then there is no effect, so actually there is no need for a Rally Check]. The PanzerJaegers hold position and the Pz Plt just swings turrets, changing covered arc, some for the hilltop, some for the open ground at the end of the hill. [in hindsight, I should have pulled the Pz Plt back out of close range allowing their arcs-of-fire to cover both locations and to get out of close range - my only defense is it is late and my brain is slowing...] End German Orders.

Lt Timoshenko activates the south T-26 Plt and runs one tank south along the tree line in LOS of a PzIII for long enough Reaction Time (1 inch when in arc) to enable Defensive Fire. The PzIII smokes the T-26! However, now that the PzIII has fired, the remaining T-26s move up, just peeking around the end of the hill so only the PzIII and a nearby PzII are in LOS. The PzIII had already fired and the PzII is out of arc so does not see the T-26s due to insufficient Reaction Time (4 inches when out of arc). Fire from the three T-26s destroy the PzIII and cause the PzII to retreat! Ouch! Those 45mm guns pack a punch at close range. The other T-26 Plt on the hilltop just holds position, completing their job of drawing attention from the flank attack.

The east T-26 Plt moves up and all fire on the German infantry in the cottage, suppressing one squad. Seeing there are now two suppressed squads in the cottage, Lt. Timoshenko orders the infantry in the crop to Close Assault. With the German command unit the only one unsuppressed there is no Defensive Fire. The Russian wins by two, “They Don't Know They've Lost”, suppressing the German command. Since all German units are now suppressed they must retreat into the crop with damage! [we forget the Russian Rally Check again] The Russians capture the cottage for the 2nd time! Dang!

Then the KhT-130 flame tank moves west along the road toward the cottage. The two PanzerJaegers spy the flame-tank over the Schutzen Plt hugging the ground in the crop, and both fire with Intensive Fire, completely missing, with one PanzerJaeger I getting Low Ammo negating any future Intensive Fire.

End of Russian Orders. All three units in the Schutzen Plt rally.

An unfavourable turn for the German side. The cottage lost, Schutzen Plt damaged, one PzIII destroyed, and a flame-tank about to toast my infantry!

Turn 8 Initiative: R1, G5 - German Initiative

I activate the Pz Plt first, firing the PzII at the T-26 in LOS, and missing. Two Pzs keep covered arc on the hilltop while the lone PzII that retreated last turn moves up for a shot at the T-26. The T-26 misses Defensive Fire, but the PzII rolls a 12! A Destroyed Test and Lt. Timoshenko rolls snake eyes for Destroyed result! [actually it was an automatic Destroyed result because it was a light AFV, but result was the same anyway]

Before asking the Schutzen Plt to assault again, the 81mm fired on the cottage, causing the squad there to retreat to the crop. Then to keep the KhT-130 flame tank away, the PanzerJaegers fired, one with Intensive Fire which missed so badly it caused Low Ammo. Now both have Low Ammo! However, the regular shot from the second Panzerjaeger hit well, causing the flame-tank to retreat. Now for the critical Schutzen assault. They jump up and run for the cottage, taking Defensive Fire at long range from all four T-26s in the east, all missing! However, Defensive Fire from the squad in the crop suppresses one squad outside, just before it reaches the building. Since the remaining 2 assaulting German units are all damaged, their Close Combat factor is reduced. The German loses by 1 for “They Don't Know They've Lost.” One German unit is suppressed so the squad is chosen, and the command unit fights immediately in another round of Close Combat! The German factor drops due to loss of the support and loss of initial bonus, while the Russian factor stays the same. I need a good roll to throw the Ivans out! However, Lt. Timoshenko rolls high and I roll low for a 5 point crushing difference in favour of the Russians.

The German squad and command are both Dispersed, leaving only the suppressed and damaged Schutzen squad just outside the building. The surviving Russian command passes his Rally Check but does not enter the cottage in his consolidation move. [the German squad below should also have a damage marker]

A devastating blow for German morale! There is not much else to do with the half-tracks without risking deadly Defensive Fire from the T-26s. At this moment a message from the FAC is received at HQ that he has a T-26 in sight (the flame tank) and possibly more T-26s in the trees behind. He asks if he should call in the Stuka attack. HQ screams “Yes!” so the FAC rolls for Air Mission availability and makes it! The primary target is the KhT-130 flame tank with secondary target the T-26 Plt. in the woods behind (AFVs in the open must be chosen before those in cover). The Stuka rolls a 4 and does not acquire the primary target. Last chance is the secondary target, which is the one I really wanted anyway.

The secondary target is the four T-26s all bunched up nicely to fit under a bomb template. But they are in cover so get a -2 DRM. The Stuka rolls an 8 which results in a net 6 for an overshoot by 2 inches + 1d6. I'm praying for a 1 at this point for a small template deviation, but of course it is a 6 which puts the bomb template completely off the T-26 Plt. Rats! A total miss! The cover saves them. End German Orders.

In the Russian Orders Phase Lt. Timoshenko moves the T-26 Plt on the hill up to the crest in LOS but staying hull down. The PanzerJaegers both Defensive Fire at long range and miss. The remaining fire by the Pz Plt only manages to suppress one T-26 on the hill. Poor shooting! The T-26 return fire causes the PzIII to retreat. The 2 remaining tanks in the other T-26 platoon nearby move up onto the hill crest in hull down position and fire on the nearest PzII in the garden also causing it to retreat. The Tank Group Commander moves over behind a wreck to take a shot at the suppressed German squad by the building but misses. Whew!

Lt. Timoshenko now tries to activate the east T-26 Plt and rolls snake eyes! This removes the only Russian CP available. No record of a Command Confusion roll but my notes indicate the Russian Orders Phase ends without the Rifle Platoon activating, so I presume the German Command Confusion dice roll ends the Russian Orders. In the Rally phase, the flame-tank rallies but the Russian squad and T-26 stay suppressed. The German squad and the PzII rally but the PzIII stays suppressed. This ends Turn 8 with the first Game End Check required, which will end the game on a 1-3 roll for a 1d6. A 3 is rolled to end the game!

Tallying up the score:
The objectives are the same for both sides: 5 VP are awarded to the side that controls both buildings (no enemy within 4 inches) at game end. The Russians only control one building since they did not dislodge the German squad next to the cottage, leaving it contested. Therefore no points either side for objectives. VPs are also awarded for each enemy unit eliminated, 1.5 VP to the Russians for a German casualty, and 1 VP to the German for a Russian casualty (German casualties are harder to get). The Russians have 3 enemy KIA (PzIII, Schutzen command and squad) for 4.5 VP. The Germans have 4 enemy KIA (two T-26s, FOO, rifle squad) for 4 VP. The Russian side wins a Marginal Victory for this battle! When added to the campaign totals, the German has 17+4 = 21 and the Russian 7 + 4.5 = 11.5. An overall German win for the campaign, which was fittingly also the historical result.


1. It seemed like the forces were pretty evenly matched with the outcome decided on tactics and Lady Luck. This supports choosing equal total point cost of the units assigned to each side's OOB (1205 German, 1245 Russian) for a meeting engagement scenario.

2. Direct porting over of all three Skirmish Campaign scenarios played so far is still resulting in games that last too long, around 4 hours each. My target is 2-1/2 to 3 hours. The first 3 turns or so of these scenarios have been mainly just approach moves and could be skipped to shorten the games so hopefully all players can stay to the end. I'll modify the next game with a smaller table space, say 4x4 feet, and define starting positions that will pretty much throw the troops into engagement range right on Turn 1.

3. The number of turns in this game was reduced from 10 to 8 but it still did not shorten the game enough. I'll try the next game with only 6 turns (on a 4x4 table), forcing players to engage quickly to meet their objectives. In “Counter-Attack At Bereza” both the German and Russian sides had sufficient game time to depart from historic tactics undertaken in the Barbarossa “blitzkrieg.” Without significant obvious resistance the Germans deployed early and advanced too slowly instead of bashing full-speed ahead and deploying on the fly. And the Russian armour had time to play cat-and-mouse with the German armour instead of being forced by time to directly engage. Regardless, it was good fun to play this “methodical” game, but I also wonder if the “fun factor” for this scenario would be as high or higher if the German was forced by game tempo to push all forces ahead at max speed, guns blazing (as Brent suggested). Fewer game turns would require the Russian side to adopt a fast response with the T-26s having to crash in fast from the south and east, also with guns blazing - without regard for life & limb. And then see who is left standing at game end.

This battle completes the 3-part campaign in the Skirmish Campaigns “Russia '41 – Drive on Minsk.”  The next WWII miniatures gaming night will be Thursday, December 5th and will be the last one before the Christmas holiday season. No decision yet if we will start a new 3-part campaign or do a stand-alone scenario. I have four Barbarossa early war Skirmish Campaigns books to help me decide <grin>. Tune in around mid-December for the next AAR! - Gary


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Itinerant! I've added a link to your site and see you also like 15mm. As an ex-FoW player, I like the 15mm scale as well, and find myself also reading through the new Chain of Command rulebook and wondering when I'm going to get into playing it. :-)

  2. Another excellent battle report. Strangely enough I was sure the Russians were going to collapse, even though they seemed to have the upper hand for most of the game.

    I agree a smaller board would help. I have played of too larger boards in the past and the first few moves can sometimes easily be dispensed with (depending on the scenario).

    1. Thanks, Shaun. After the slow start the German side ended up reacting rather than controlling, particularly later in the game. The next scenario will be with a smaller board and fewer game turns. Hopefully that will promote action sooner and shorten the game time.


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