Map and Defender SetupDefending Kobrin is a German attack on a prepared Russian defense. On June 23rd lead units of German 3rd Panzer Division meet a well dug-in blocking force from 205th Motorized Division. Again, the terrain is not tank friendly with streams crossing the map that can only be crossed by vehicles at either the bridge or at fords, and with hills, marshes, and sunflower crops all blocking LOS. The German also has no intelligence about the stream fords, the weight capacity of the bridge, or the location of two hidden anti-personnel minefields, plus there is a heavy bunker to deal with. All woods are impassible to vehicles and there are numerous marshes (Difficult Terrain).
The German force enters at the west board edge and the Russian can deploy entrenched and hidden anywhere except within 12 inches of the German entry edge. The objectives and victory point conditions are secret from each side. The German secret objective is to exit AFVs off the east side of the table (toward Kobrin) for 2 points each by the end of Turn 10, plus get 1 point for each enemy destroyed. If the Russians fail a Battlefield Withdrawal Test the German also gets 1 point for each AFV not yet exited. The Russian secret objective is to prevent any German AFVs exiting the east side plus get 2 points for each enemy destroyed, with highest total points the winner. My initial feeling was that this one could go either way so I wasn't sure if setting these victory point allocations would be reasonable.
Since the Russian deployment was secret, to save set up time I placed Russian units in what I thought were good defensive positions to be used for the game and took a photo of the table before everyone arrived. Then I removed all the Russian units to be placed as they are “discovered”. Here is the Russian defense. The light green is also marsh since I didn't have enough “good” marshes built.
Pretty simple – The stream and marshes protect the south flank so the main German attack is expected to the centre and north. Therefore, the bunker with MMG backed up by a Kommissar (the C.C.) was placed to cover the bridge. One AT Gun and command unit was placed forward in the sunflower crop to cover the ford and also to get nice side shots at any armour crossing the bridge. The second AT Gun was placed with the Battlegroup HQ well back to cover the main road and bridge plus engage any armour that got through on the flanks. And an AT Rifle Team in the swamp for side shots at the bridge. One infantry squad covered the west flank of the AT Gun in the crop and the other squad plus LMG in the centre woods. The anti-personnel minefields were placed in front of the infantry positions. All units were entrenched. An amusing comment during play was “entrenchments in marsh?” Oops! Perhaps think of them as hard cover built above ground and camouflaged?
Tim and Brent took Germans and Rick and I the Russians.
German Force (Lt. Von Pollockstein and Lt. Mueller)
Battlegroup HQ + Truck (+2 bonus on initiative roll)Company Commander + Kubel
Recon Light Tank Plt (2x PzIIC, 1x PzIIC command)
Medium Tank Plt (1x PzIIIG, 1x PzIIIG command,1x PzIVE)
Recon Motorcycle Plt (2x rifle squads+2x LMGs, 1x command)
Russian Force (Lt. Lowellinski and Lt. Chappevich)Battlegroup HQ (no bonus on initiative roll)
Company Commander (Kommissar)
Infantry Plt (2x rifle squads+1x LMG, 1x command)
2x 45mm AT Gun teams
1x MMG team
1x AT Rifle team
2x Anti-Personnel minefields
Turn 1 The Germans won the initiative roll – surprise!
The medium panzers move on first and the PzIV smokes the bridge to block LOS from the MMG bunker (rats!) while the rest of the German force comes up. The motorcycle plt moves straight up the road and is ambushed by the Russian squad + LMG in the woods, the Sustained Fire from the LMG just causing one M/C squad to dismount suppressed. The PzIIs move next and their 20mm autocannons suppress the Russian squad as payback. Then the German HQ moves into the woods and the C.C. moves up in his Kubel.
That ends the German Turn. Since the squad is suppressed and no LOS from the bunker, the Russian just passes with no actions. In the Rally Phase both squads rally.
Turn 2 German Initiative.
The two mounted M/C squads on the road move across the bridge and are completely missed by ambushing Defensive Fire from the highly inaccurate north squad newly revealed in the swamp.
However, the AT Gun down the east road unveils and manages to cause the lead M/C squad to dismount suppressed. The previously dismounted squad moves across the bridge separately coming up behind them, ending the German turn.
In the Russian Orders all fire was ineffective. In the Rally Phase, both the Russian and German squads rally.
Its looking a bit grim for the Russian at this point! The MMG in the bunker is ineffective from the smoke laid by that pesky PzIV. Those M/C troops may Close Assault the bunker!
Turn 3 German InitiativeThe smoke drifts away so the medium panzer plt immediately moves closer for a better shot, but the PzIIIs both miss the MMG in bunker so the PzIV tries to smoke the bunker again and hits off-target on a 6! Too bad it wasn't a 5 which would have put it out of smoke for the rest of the game. Deviation moves the smoke to the south leaving the MMG clear LOS! While the PzIIIs were moving up both AT Guns open up, the east road AT Gun missing at long range and the newly revealed crop AT Gun getting side shots with Intensive Fire but just suppressing one. The C.C. in his Kubel moves up behind the suppressed PzIII to aid his rally. Two PzIIs now realizing the crop AT Gun has fired, now move up and fire at close range but miss! The third stays stalled in the stream.
Not wanting to Close Assault the bunker without smoke cover, the M/C plt tries to move off the road into the woods. Defensive Fire from the MMG disperses one squad and dismounts and suppresses the command. The last squad escapes into the woods, revealing an adjacent minefield they almost walk into. That ends the German Turn.
On the Russian Turn, the east road AT Gun fires at a PzIII at long range and misses and the crop AT Gun fires and hits the nearest PzIII again causing it to abandon position and withdraw back down the road with damage.
The MMG in the bunker misses the already suppressed M/C command on the road. That ends the Russian Turn. The PzIII and M/C command both rally.
Turn 4 German Initiative. Lt. Lowellinski receives a message by runner from HQ that only one Russian CP is available this turn! (Kapitan Zippy is hitting the vodka again!)
The bunker smoke drifts away. The PzIIs move up and using Intensive Fire the crop AT Gun suppresses one. Fire from the other two PzIIs both miss the AT Gun. Lucky! With the crop AT Gun already fired, the medium tanks move, one PzIII starts to cross the bridge and is missed by long range Defensive Fire from the road AT Gun. The bridge is found to be shaky and requires a 1d6 die roll, on 1 or 2 the bridge will fail, the tank fall in the stream immobilized and damaged with only the MG functional. But the PzIII rolls high and crosses the bridge, taking Defensive Fire in the side from an AT Rifle team in the marsh to the south. They miss! The PzIII then pulls into close range of the bunker, and both PzIIIs fire at the bunker causing the MMG to Retreat. Since the MMG crew is in hard cover they elect to stay inside and be suppressed and damaged. Actually they tried to run out the back door and saw the Kommissar holding a pistol on them and decided it was in their best interest to go back and lay low in the bunker. The PzIV fires at the road AT Gun and misses. The M/C command races across the road into Close Combat with the AT Rifle team in the marsh. Should have been an easy wipeout of the AT Rifle but the German roll is bad and the M/C command is suppressed and forced to withdraw. The AT Rifle crew fail their rally test after winning so they became suppressed also. The remaining M/C squad just holds position in the woods. The C.C. in his Kubel moves up near the PzIII/PzIVs in case one takes suppression, ending the German turn.
On the Russian Orders Phase both AT Guns fail to activate with only one CP available! Sheesh! The AT Gun crews must be on a vodka break! Imagine what a close range Intensive Fire could have done to the two PzIIs bearing down on the crop AT Gun. [Error note: The crop AT Gun is in close range so could have fired Point Blank at the PzIIs in the open without activation. I forgot that rule at the time! Dang!]. On the Rally Phase the MMG in the bunker didn't rally, even with prodding by the revealed Kommissar. The German M/C command and the PzII both rally.
Turn 5 German InitiativeSeeing an opportunity to finish off the crop AT Gun, the PzIIs all fire, but miss! Wahoo! In a bold move they move forward to overrun the AT Gun and this time the Defensive Fire (using Intensive Fire) rolls high, destroying one PzII and retreating the second into the stream. The third PzII crosses the stream and rolls toward the now harmless AT Gun but doesn't have enough movement to reach it. Seeing the fix the PzIIs have got themselves into, the medium panzers activate and the PzIV successfully places smoke on the crop AT Gun. Grrr! The PzIIIs then fire on the suppressed MMG in the bunker yielding an Abandon Position Test but the MMG passes the test with a 12! The M/C squad and command in the woods fire on the Russian squad there hoping to suppress before close combat, but miss. As they move in the Russian squad Defensive Fires and suppresses the M/C squad before it can make contact, so the command stops too, not wanting to go alone. As a last move, the C.C. dismounts the Kubel and starts across the bridge, ending the German turn.
In the Russian turn, seeing no enemy except one lonely unsupported PzII in open ground, the squad in the nearby trench goes berserk, grabs their Molotovs, and runs to close assault it. The PzII swings it's out-of-arc turret and blows the squad to vodka heaven (red X). Ouch! Guess that is payback for the PzII.
Then the east road AT Gun fires at the PzIV and misses. The crop AT Gun is blanketed with smoke so can't see anything to shoot at. And the squad in the woods fires at point blank range at the suppressed German M/C squad and misses, ending the Russian turn. In the Rally Phase, the MMG in the bunker rallies along with the M/C squad in the woods, but the PzII in the stream fails. The Russian AT Rifle team fails with a crummy 2 roll and is Dispersed!
The game is taking longer than expected and Brent and Rick have to leave the game at this point but Tim and I decide to see it through. At this point the Russians are holding. Can they hang on?
Turn 6 German InitiativeThe smoke on the crop AT Gun dissipates but the PzIV successfully renews it immediately. The PzIII at the bridge fires at the bunker and misses. The other PzIII fires at the squad in the woods & also misses. The lone PzII, concerned about more possible berserk infantry hidden near the crop AT Gun, decides to wait for support and speeds over to the woods to pump a few 20mm rounds into the Russian squad there at close range, and misses! Then the German M/C squad and command in the woods close assault the Russian squad there again who miss with Defensive Fire. Once more the Russian squad stands its ground and wins the engagement, throwing them back suppressed. The C.C. stays put on the bridge, not wanting to risk the MMG fire, ending the German turn.
The Russian turn goes nowhere with the MMG, road AT Gun, and the squad in the woods all missing their targets. In the Rally phase the PzII in the stream rallies but the German infantry squad doesn't. For whatever reason I forget to snap a photo for the end of Turn 6.
Turn 7 German InitiativeThe smoke on the crop AT Gun holds on for another round (rats!). The medium tanks activate first, with the PzIV successfully placing smoke on the east road AT Gun. Then one PzIII fires on the MMG in the bunker getting a Retreat Test result. And the MMG crew rolls snake eyes on the morale test and is Dispersed! Ouch!
The second PzIII fires on the Russian squad in the woods and rolls high for a Dispersed Test and the squad fails that miserably and is also Dispersed! Double Ouch! The PzIII near the bunker moves around back to threaten the Kommissar. The remaining PzIII and PzIV then try their luck crossing the shaky bridge and both roll high and make it! The C.C. moves into the woods with the M/C squad and command. The PzIIs now combine their movement to close assault the crop AT Gun who cannot Defensive Fire due to the dang smoke.
The Close Assault reveals a hidden command unit adjacent and supporting the AT Gun. However, despite the German low roll, the Russian roll is just as bad so the PzII win handily. The AT Gun is dispersed and the commander is suppressed, retreating through the crop into the eastern woods.
The Russian turn is short with so few units left. The Kommissar makes a run for the stone cottage and is fired on by the PzIII getting a Retreat result which puts the Kommissar in the stone cottage where he was headed, but suppressed and damaged. That ends the Russian Turn. The Kommissar fails to rally, the Russian command in the woods rallies, and also the M/C squad with a 12 roll, earning Battle Hardened status and a Hero figure (+1 to all die rolls). Three Russian units were lost this turn putting the Russian's over 50% losses and triggering a Battlefield Withdrawal Test. Since no German AFVs have exited, the Russians still defend their objective so get a +2 DRM plus another +1 for being Tenacious. They pass the test and go on to Turn 8. Again I forget to take a turn end photo, perhaps mourning the loss of so many good units this turn! It's looking bad for the Russians with the road AT Gun the Last Hope.
Turn 8 German Initiative
The smoke on the road AT Gun dissipates and the PzIV tries to replace it but misses. The PzIII in LOS fires on the AT Gun but misses. Neither the PzIII or PzIV risk moving and incurring Defensive Fire from the AT Gun so stay put. The last PzIII behind the bunker just moves up and fires on the Kommissar in the stone cottage with no effect. The M/C squad, hero, command, and C.C all move to the east end of the woods and fire on the AT Gun getting a Suppression Test. The AT Gun rolls 12! on morale, easily passing and getting an instant return fire as bonus, but misses. One PzII moves near the Russian command in the woods and fires, getting a Dispersed Test. But the Command rolls 11 and just retreats into the woods, suppressed and damaged. The other PzII moves toward the road AT Gun emerging like a raptor suddenly from the sunflowers, unnoticed by the AT Gun crew since their attention is on the PzIII and PzIV bearing down on them on the road (targets suddenly appearing in LOS must move 4 inches in LOS before Defensive Fire is allowed when the AT Gun is out-of-arc, 1 inch in LOS if within firing arc). The PzII fires and rolls 11 and the AT Gun fails morale miserably and Disperses! That ends the German Turn.
The Russian turn is short, actually a pass since only 2 units remain and they are suppressed. Neither one rallies. The Russian again passes the Battlefield Withdrawal Test based on the bonus that no German AFVs have exited yet. (pardon the blurry picture).
Turn 9 German Initiative.
Turn 10 German Initiative
I am prepared to call it and tally the score, but Tim says if the German rolls low on Initiative it could affect the result. Sure enough he rolls a 1 for 3 CP, then needs all of them to augment a lousy activation roll for the PzIIIs & PzIV and roll them off the board toward Kobrin. Then the PzIIs failed activation with no CPs left so they stay put! [Error note: Lt. Mueller could have activated all 5 AFVs using one command unit and exited them all, but we forgot this at the time]. End of German Turn. No Russian turn actions, no units to Rally. But now that the German have exited AFVs off the board, the Russians lose the bonus and fail the Battlefield Withdrawal Test so the game ends before rolling to see if it continues on to Turn 11.
Tallying Up The Score
The original scenario allows the German to earn 2 points for each AFV exited, 1 point for each AFV left on the table and 1 point for each Russian KIA. With 3 exited, 2 on the table and 7 Russian KIAs that is 15 VP. Tim and I both agree this is horribly excessive (I expected way more German AFV losses). So we tinker with the German victory conditions and give 1 point for those exited, none for the ones left on the board and 1 for each KIA. This brings the German VP down to 9. Russians get only 4 points, 2 KIAs for 2 points each and lose the 5 VP bonus for preventing any German AFVs from exiting. Still a hefty German win at 9 to 4! Adding this battle's VP to those of the previous battle, Armour Clash (German 8, Russian 3), gives a Campaign total so far of German 17 to Russian 7. Probably fairly historical I suppose.
1. Despite the big German win, I still feel this one could have gone either way. Tim M. (Lt. Mueller) made an important observation that small skirmish scenarios with few units become more dependent on dice roll luck at critical points so the results can swing wildly either way for any one playing even if the scenario is close to balanced over many playings. As he said, “It's just the nature of the beast with the smaller games. We have to manage our expectations accordingly.” Thinking on that I wonder what the game outcome would have been if the PzIV had lost smoke capability early - no more smoking the AT Guns. Or if the first PzIII collapsed the shaky bridge. Or the AT Guns had another lucky roll. Two or three more tanks could easily have gone down in mid-game, with possibly a Russian win. So in future I'll just try to plan a balanced scenario as best I can and let the dice decide!
2. The total Battlegroup points used for each side are worth considering too. The first scenario “Armour Clash” was a Meeting Engagement. That was German 1050 to Russian 780 points. Defending Kobrin was an Attack/Defend battle with German 915 and Russian 620. I've always felt that for Attack/Defend battle scenarios the attacker's strength should be at least about 1-1/2 times the defender's. Otherwise no “schwerpunkt.” But the German won both these scenarios handily so maybe I should be looking at say 125% for Attack/Defend scenarios and 100% for Meeting Engagements. On the other hand, if the dice in the previous Point 1 went hot for the Russian and caused the PzIV to lose smoke early and collapsed the bridge.... Hmm...
3. The variable game ending and variable effects on the bridge and fords seemed to work OK.
Anyway, the “crew” all thought it was fun to play which is the most important thing. Tune in for the next scenario in the Barbarossa campaign which is planned for Thursday November 21st. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. - Gary