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.

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

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Panzergrenadier AAR - Spartanovka '42

Starting with the first day of Barbarossa our scenarios progressed along chronologically without me thinking about Stalingrad. Now that we arrive at that time period in the war, what about Stalingrad scenarios? Thinking about it now, I realize I have an approach-avoidance problem with Stalingrad. On the plus side are the importance of the battle, and its unique nature. On the minus side is my complete lack of suitable city and factory ruins terrain. 

In the last AAR, Verkhne-Kumsky, I tried to fool myself and "jump past" Stalingrad and go right into Winter Storm. However, this seemed to somehow increase my attraction to gaming in Stalingrad. I found myself buying an OOP card game called "The Hell of Stalingrad" and also playing the board game "Storm over Stalingrad" owned by another in our gaming group. It wasn't enough. 

So after coming face-to-face with the elephant in the room, my lack of suitable terrain, I've decided to make a stab at bunch of city ruins terrain over the summer and try to do some Stalingrad scenarios next fall & winter. 

Here is my first terrain attempt so far, a battle damaged machine shop (1/8 MDF base, 3/16 foamboard walls, and printed roof glued to picture matte. Kitty litter, broken up cork, and match sticks for rubble).

Meanwhile, as a lead up to the main city battles, I decided to jump back to about four months before Winter Storm and do a "light" scenario based on Spartanovka using our customized set of rules based on the Panzergrenadier series (Deluxe & 2nd Edition).

Spartanovka August 24, 1942

Historical Overview
The addition of Wietersheim’s XIV Panzerkorps (16 Pz, 3 Mot Inf, 60 Mot Inf) energized Paulus' AOK 6 offensive providing a breakout across the Don river at Vertiachii and a race to the Volga River. Hube's 16th Panzer Division arrived at the Volga north of Stalingrad on August 23 after eliminating defending AA batteries manned by women on the way. Forward elements began shooting up shipping on the river. However, both the 3rd and 60th Motorized Infantry Divisions were required to be dropped off behind 16th Panzer to maintain a secure supply corridor back to the Don and the Russians were pressuring from the north. Regardless, and expecting light resistance, on August 24th Hube confidently attacked into Spartanovka and the northern outskirts of Stalingrad. Soviet General Yeremenko rushed elements of 10th NKVD infantry and a few T-70s to Spartanovka, supported by T-34 tanks straight from the Tractor Factory production line, some unpainted and without gun sights, manned by factory workers given almost no training.

This scenario is loosely based on the German attack at Spartanovka on August 24th.

Tank Warfare On The Eastern Front 1941-1942 - Robert Forczyk
Stalingrad by V.E. Tarrant

Map And General Scenario Notes
All of the Soviet infantry are deployed Hidden on the table at start with all the German forces in their LOS and visible.

The relative force strengths were added up yielding the German attacker at 1430 and Russian defender 1185. This gave a German advantage of 245 points but a very low ratio of 1.2 for an attack scenario. However, the Russian T-34 crews are of very poor quality. So I just crossed my fingers and went with it, hoping I'd picked an ending game turn that would balance the scenario.

We play Panzergrenadier at 1:1 scale for guns and tanks, use the 20mm ranges for firing and activation, and replace Built Up Area terrain with individual buildings as "small terrain features." We played on a 5x4 table with an initial game length of 7 turns before a variable game ending roll begins.

The woods are Difficult Terrain. The fences are all of medium height, do not block LOS and offer a -1 LOS hindrance or -1 Cover for fire at infantry, guns, and AFVs. The buildings and one warehouse are wooden construction offering -1 Cover except for one of plastered over and whitewashed brick and one warehouse with -2 Hard Cover. The hills have gentle slopes. The Mokraya Mechetka is just a "damp" gully that costs 3 inches to move over and does not require a bog test. 

Here is the game table before deployment.

Russian Briefing and Force (Kapitan Milevich, Kapitan Chapovin)
In command of the local northern sector of Stalingrad, you have been ordered to defend Spartanovka from German attack. You have one overstrength platoon of 10th NKVD infantry and a platoon of T-70 tanks for support. More T-34 tanks are on the way fresh from the Tractor Factory, but these will be manned by untrained factory workers. No artillery or air support is available.

Mission: Maintain one Russian infantry unit in any of the 5 village buildings or 2 warehouses at the end of the game to win, or cause a German Battlegroup Break Point (>50% casualties). Otherwise lose.

Special Rules: The Russians are determined to hold at all cost, so despite inexperience all units are 0 DRM for morale and rally checks. In addition they are Stubborn which allows a 60% Battlegroup Break Point instead of the usual 50%. The Russian infantry and T-70 crews are inexperienced but tenacious, so -1 DRM for activation and firing, and 0 DRM for close assault. The T-34 crews are untrained factory workers with -2 DRM for activation and firing, but since they are also tenacious are 0 DRM for close assault. The T-34 crews may not adopt a crest line hull down position (they are lucky to find the brake pedal!).

On Table at Start:
Elements of 10th Mechanized Army (Inexperienced)
  Battlegroup Command (veteran)
  Company Command (regular)
  1st Rifle Platoon (command, 5x rifle squads, 4x Molotov) (regular)

On Turn 1 at entry point #1
  1st Armour Platoon (command T-70, 2x T-70)* (Inexperienced)
On Turn 2 at entry point #2
  #1 Civilian Armour Platoon (command T-34, 4x T-34)* (Civilian)
On Turn 3 at entry points #2 or #3
  #2 Civilian Armour Platoon (command T-34, 4x T-34)* (Civilian)

                                * Classed as Inferior tanks.

Here is the Russian set-up. 

German Briefing and Force (Hauptmann Polikeiner and Hauptmann Lowelein)
General Hube has ordered you to attack Stalingrad by pushing rapidly through Spartanovka to the factory districts beyond. Only light resistance is expected. You have recon troops (armoured car and motorcycle), Schutzen infantry in halftracks, plus medium and heavy armour support. Your small battery of 81mm mortars is all the artillery or air support that is available. The Luftwaffe is busy bombing Stalingrad.

Mission: Clear Russian infantry units from all 5 village buildings and 2 warehouses at the end of the game to win, or cause a Russian Battlegroup Break Point (>60% casualties). Otherwise lose.

Special Rules: German moves first. All units are Aggressive ( +1 DRM to activation, close assault, morale and rally checks).

Enter on north edge of table on Turn 1 according to map above.
Elements of 16th Panzer Division (all units are regular except as noted)
  Battlegroup Command (command Pz35(t) (veteran)
  Company Command ( command Panzerbefehlswagen)
  Motorcycle Recon Plt (command, 3xRifle/LMG squad)
  Schutzen Plt (command, 3x Rifle/LMG squad, 2x SdKfz 251/1, 1x SdKfz 251/10)
  Medium Mortar Plt (command, 2x 81mm mortar team)
  Armoured Car Recon Plt (command SdKfz 222, 3xSdKfz 222)
  1st Medium Panzer Plt (command PzIIIL, 3x PzIIIL)

On Turn 4 (enters on south road)
  1st Heavy Panzer Platoon. (command PzIVG, 1x PzIVG)

Game Play

Turn 1 - German moves first

German Turn:
Confident that Spartanovka is vacant and disdaining any recon attempts the motorcycle recon platoon blasts nonchalantly at full speed down the road into Spartanovka (the platoon leader's motorcycle had previously broke down so he "appropriated" a Kubel). 

They don't disembark at the end of their move, and get shot at by three vodka drenched Russian squads that all miss. 

Then the armoured car platoon advances followed closely by the Battlegroup commander in his Pz35(t) and they shoot up the revealed Russian squads, suppressing one. 

The remaining German forces move onto the table. The main infantry attack to the east is supported by the mortars and armoured cars with the medium armour to the west in a flanking position. So the mortar crews set up on the low hill just in front of them. 

Two PzIIIs move to the top of the west hill to see if any surprises are waiting on the other side. Nope! This is going to be easy! 

End German turn.

Russian Turn:
The T-70 platoon enters on the east road surprising the motorcycle recon platoon in the open. They shoot, destroying one motorcycle, but the driver and passenger are thrown clear unharmed. The two infantry squads fire again at the motorcycle platoon getting two hits but the aggressive Germans confidently pass their morale checks. [Any hit on a soft vehicle that requires a morale test automatically destroys it so the Russian squad fire that hit the mounted motorcycle should have required the squad to dismount with a further Disengage Test.] 

End Russian turn.

The Russian squad rallies. End Turn 1

Turn 2 - Russian Initiative & moves first

Russian Turn:
The #1 T-34 platoon enters on the centre road and takes the first road east to support the infantry in the village, not wanting to go toe-to-toe with the German armour until the second T-34 platoon arrives. However, one PzIII on the hill spots the side of a T-34 through a gap between the warehouses and fires with a lucky shot, suppressing it. 

The T-70s hold position and all fire and finally get on target dispersing the lead German motorcycle squad! Then the three Russian squads fire destroying one more motorcycle, but again the driver and passenger are thrown clear unharmed. [no photo] End Russian turn.

German Turn:
The mortars immediately lay down a smoke barrage at the village crossroads to protect the motorcycle troops. Two armoured cars move up and fire their nasty autocannons at the Russian squad in the east house near the Volga causing it to disengage. The other two armoured cars fire at the squad in the centre building and miss.

The halftracks move up with the Schutzen platoon and disembark. The SdKfz 251/10 fires the 37mm and causes the squad in the centre building to disengage. The Schutzen platoon now performs a tactical move with one squad moving to the now vacant centre building, triggering defensive fire on the way by the Russian squad in the southwest building, which misses. The remaining two German squads and commander assault the west building discovering one Russian squad in it. The squad can't try to withdraw since he is already activated for defensive fire. However, his defensive fire misses. In the Close Assault, he fights valiantly, dispersing one German squad, but is overcome and disperses. 

The PzIII on the distant hilltop fires again at the side of the suppressed T-34 hitting it again and causing it to disengage with damage! Two more PzIIIs move up to crest line hull down positions on the centre hill and both fire at the side of a second T-34 causing it to disengage and take damage as well! Two T-34s damaged without even seeing the enemy! 

Now the motorcycle platoon activates and the Kubel plus one motorcycle accelerate up the road through the smoke screen to the centre-rear house, disembark, and Close Assault the Russian platoon commander and suppressed squad inside. The two Russian units and one German squad are suppressed so the German wins, requiring the Russians to withdraw. After withdrawal both Russian units pass their subsequent Rally test. The last German squad, already dismounted on the road, moves up into the east house near the Volga and fires at the Russian squad in the open getting a lucky shot and dispersing it! The T-70s defensive fire back at the German squad and all miss. 

End German turn.

All units on both sides rally except for one T-34. Here is the table after Turn 2. 

It is looking bad for the Russians! In two turns the Germans have captured 4 of the 5 buildings, eliminated two Russian squads, and suppressed another squad and a T-34. A determined Close Assault by both enemy infantry platoons may win them at least one warehouse in Turn 3, close to winning the game by capturing objectives! The Russians desperately need to win initiative in Turn 3 so they can get the #1 T-34 platoon into defensive positions quickly and get the #2 T-34 platoon into the action!

Turn 3 - Russian initiative & moves first! The Russian's wish has come true!
[We rolled that the smoke dispersed at the end of the Turn 2 but the smoke should have stayed until the end of Russian Turn 3 and then rolled for dispersion.]

Russian Turn:
The #2 Russian T-34 platoon reinforcements arrive on the centre road and take up defensive positions near the creek. Two face the west hill, the rest face down the road to deter further advance by the enemy infantry and PzIIIs. Come and get us! 

Then the #1 T-34 platoon on the east road orders two tanks to move down the road behind the T-70s to support them while the remaining two tanks take up positions between the two warehouses to deter any advancing enemy infantry. The T-34s fire on the German squad and platoon leader in the centre south building and suppress both. The 76mm guns pack a wallop against infantry when they hit with HE! This reduces the immediate threat to the warehouses considerably! 

Then the Russian infantry platoon leader near the warehouse orders his squad in the south-west building to move into the middle of the building to be out of LOS of any enemy. After that the platoon leader tries to move into the warehouse but defensive fire from the German infantry pins him on the spot and suppresses him. 

End of Russian Turn.

German Turn:
The mortars attempt to place smoke in front of the T-70's and T-34s but it drifts east over the Volga. The armoured cars decide to pull back in the face of the heavier 76mm guns of the T-34s. Three make it to safety but one is destroyed by a lucky boxcar roll from T-34 defensive fire!

PG W9 Spartanovka T3 German Smoke & Armoured Car Move.jpg

The SdKfz 251s also pull back behind the hill, out of LOS of the T-34s. Then the PzIII platoon activates with one tank boldly advancing to a crestline hull down position for a shot at a T-34, which misses. The T-34's defensive fire rolls Low Ammo (blue bead)! Meanwhile two other PzIIIs confidently re-position to new crestline hull down positions for shots at another T-34. Both shots hit hard with two disengage results, so the double disengage from different fires forces the T-34 to withdraw off the table for elimination! The remaining PzIII on the distant hilltop just advances closer to the action. 

End German Turn

Rally: All suppressed German and Russian units Rally.

Turn 4 - German Initiative and moves first.
The mortars lay down more smoke in front of the T-70s and T-34s blinding their LOS completely. The squads in the centre-south building and the squad in the east Volga building both fire at the Russian squad and platoon commander in the open near the warehouse and both roll boxcars eliminating both Russian units! Nasty! 

Next the PzIII on the west hill fires with Point Blank Fire at the T-34 and somehow finds a weak point in the sloped front armour and destroys it! The dice are getting hot for the German fire now! 

Flushed with success, the three other PzIIIs in the platoon move up and re-position into crest line hull down positions to target more T-34s. Like shooting fish in a barrel! Two miss their shots but the third suppresses another T-34. The defensive fire all misses. Hull down tanks are hard to hit to begin with but the additional -2 DRM for the civilian gunners makes it much worse! 

To make matters even worse for the Russians, the Germans receive a reinforcement of two PzIVGs on the west road. The PzIVGs race down the road but can't fire because it is a rapid road move, so they just take up firing positions against the T-34s. The T-34s have already defensive fired at other targets. 

Finally the halftracks move further behind the hills to the west and the armoured cars and Battlegroup Commander in his Pz38(t) also move behind the nearby hill out of LOS of the T-34s and T-70s. With the German armour now flanking the Russian position the prudent thing for these lighter armoured vehicles is to hide and not become a casualty leading to the German break point. Let the big boys duke it out! 

End of German Turn.

Russian Turn:
The #1 T-34 platoon near the Volga fails to activate, however one T-34 from the platoon activates uncommanded and pivots to present his stronger front hull to the PzIVGs. Another T-34 between the warehouses activates uncommanded and fires at the squad and platoon commander in the centre south building but misses. Looking to flank the PzIIIs the T-70s move up to the crossroads and two of them fire into the side armour of the PzIII on the hill but both miss. The PzIIIs defensive fire also misses. The third T-70 fires at the German squad in the house and hits but the squad confidently passes his morale check. 

Further west in #2 T-34 platoon, one T-34 activates and fires at the PzIII on the hill but misses. However, the defensive fire brews up the T-34! The long 50s are hot today! 

End of Russian Turn.

The suppressed T-34 fails to rally. All the mortar smoke dissipates. The Russians are already over their 25% break point and roll a 4 on the break point test resulting in Panic requiring all suppressed units to Rout. So the suppressed T-34 in #2 T-34 platoon is eliminated! 

End Turn 4. The Russian defense is being shredded and the #2 T-34 platoon in the west is caught in a vicious crossfire! Here is the map at the end of turn 4. 

Turn 5 - Russian Initiative & moves first.

Russian Turn:
Two T-70s exchange fire with the PzIII on the hill and despite hits on both sides there is no effect. The last T-70 fires on the German squad in the house and hits hard with a Disperse Test. However the squad rolls boxcars on his morale test so just disengages to the north. The #1 T-34 platoon by the warehouses activates and the west-most T-34 fires at a PzIVG and misses, and the PzIVG's Defensive Fire also misses. Two T-34s fire at the German infantry in the south-centre building, eliminating the squad and suppressing the platoon leader. The loss of the German squad substantially reduces the threat of a close assault on the warehouses! With no other targets in LOS, The remaining two T-34s fire at the mortar platoon commander and miss. 

There are not that many Russian units left to fire! End Russian Turn.

German Turn:
The mortars drop FFE on the two T-34s by the Volga with no effect. Then the armoured car platoon re-positions and all fire at one T-70 at the crossroads. 

The T-70 is suppressed by the heavy fire from the armoured car autocannons. Meanwhile the gun duel between the PzIII and the T-70s continues. The PzIII fires first causing a T-70 to disengage with damage. 

On the west side of the table one PzIVG exchanges fire with the T-34 behind the warehouse with no effect. The other PzIVG moves south on the road for a rear shot at the T-34 on the road but misses. Then the north-most PzIII on the hill crestline fires at the same lonely T-34 left on west road and also misses. The remaining two PzIIIs decide to move, one through the woods, just passing a bog test for half speed so remains inside the woods. The last PzIII moves down off the hilltop through the gully and fires at the last T-34 in the west platoon at point blank range but, hindered by the wreck, the shot has no effect. The T-34's return defensive fire also misses (the -2 for civilian crew, -2 for inferior tank turning turret, -2 for hard cover is a net -6 DRM for the T-34! Sheesh!). 

End German turn.

Rally: The German squad by the Volga house routs! The German platoon commander in the centre building rallies. The T-70 by the Volga building rallies. The damaged T-70 does not rally.

On the Russian's 25% break point test a low roll requires the suppressed and damaged T-70 to fall back 12 inches behind the T-34s.

Turn 6 - German Initiative & move first.

German Turn:
The mortar fires FFE on the T-34s again with no effect but the barrage now includes the damaged T-70 which is destroyed! 

Next the PzIII on the hill and and the T-70 at the crossroads again exchange fire and this time the T-70 is destroyed! 

To the west the two PzIVGs and one PzIII open up destroying the T-34 behind the warehouse and causing the T-34 on the road to disengage with damage. The #2 T-34 platoon is all but wiped out! 

With the Russian armour threat in the west now much reduced, the remaining two PzIIIs now move closer into the action. The one inside the woods emerges and positions near the gully while the other from the hill crest moves into LOS of the last T-70 hiding behind the wreck and fires. Despite good Hard Cover from the destroyed tank, the T-70 is hit and disengages back behind the building. 

The armoured cars re-position with no fire and the halftracks stay put. End of German turn.

Russian Turn: The #1 T-34 platoon fails activation so individual tanks try to activate uncommanded with no success. The Russians are on the ropes now and their only hope is to hang on until the end of Turn 7 and then hope for a dice roll of 8 or more to end the game for a Russian win. However, they are rapidly approaching their 60% Break Point so cannot afford too many more losses! End of Russian Turn.

Rally: The #2 platoon T-34 rallies but the T-70 does not. On the 25% Break Point test a low roll requires the suppressed T-70 behind the Volga house to withdraw 12 inches south toward the T-34s. End turn 6.

Turn 7 - German initiative & move first.

German Turn:
The infantry platoon commander re-positions to the centre of his building to get out of LOS of the T-34s. Then the mortars fire and manage to suppress a T-34! Following that the PzIII near the gully (that came out of the woods) fires on the last T-70 and damages it. Since it is already damaged then it is destroyed! The Russians are yelling "Ouch!" and getting very nervous about their 60% Break Point. 

Meanwhile, both PzIVGs fire at the T-34 by the warehouse and once again miss, as does the T-34's defensive fire. So the PzIII in the gully activates and moves up to point blank range in front of the T-34 but misses with his fire, rolling snake eyes for Low Ammo! Another PzIII moves down from the hill, positions right in front the the T-34 and fires, this time suppressing it! The Germans have nothing left to fire and Russians are not over their 60% Break Point! Can the Russians hold on? 

The armoured cars and halftracks do not move. End German turn.

Russian Turn: The three unsuppressed T-34s in #1 T-34 platoon activate. Since LOS is blocked to any enemy tanks, two fire long range at the mortar platoon commander and one at an armoured car but all miss.

Rally: Both T-34s fail to rally! Arg! It all comes down to the Russian 25% Break Point roll test and the game end dice roll! First the 25% Break Point roll test which yields a crappy 5 so both suppressed T-34s are required to withdraw 12 inches. This takes them off the board and both are eliminated! This puts the Russians over their 60% Break Point for an automatic win for the Germans! All the Russians needed was to roll two 8s or better in a row to win. Lady Luck said no. A closer game near the end than expected!

Here is the table at game end. 

Tallying Up The Score:
The Russian side lost 14 units out of 21 (67%) and the German side lost 5 units out of 26 (19%).

Historical Aftermath:
The German attack into Stalingrad met unexpected resistance which slowly increased over August 24th including a strong Soviet counterattack that forced the German 16th Panzer to go over to the defensive and eventually be driven back north of Spartanovka. Surrounded and low on ammo and supplies the 16th Panzer hedge-hogged and waited for rescue.

Comments On The Scenario:
In this scenario a German win is inevitable if the game continues indefinitely since scenarios that are unbalanced always depend on a defined game turn where the game ends and therefore who wins. Early in the game play of this scenario it seemed that the Germans would win their objectives by about Turn 5, but it eventually turned out to be pretty close. One factor that perhaps might have tipped the game more to the Russians favour is if they had managed to roll better on their 25% Break Point tests. They started rolling early in the game at Turn 4 when they rolled a nasty 4 for Panic and then continued to roll low for the next 3 turns with fives and sixes! This caused the elimination of three T-34s and forced two suppressed T-70s to withdraw into open terrain positions.

The Germans made excellent use of crestline hull down positions which combined with the poor civilian gunnery of the T-34s pretty much decided the armour battle at the west end of the table. I think the +1 DRM Aggressive for the Germans and -2 DRM for the Russian civilian tankers modeled the national differences of the battle very well and I am pleased with the way it played out. Our group liked this scenario and it was obvious we all had fun with it.

Comments On The Panzergrenadier Customized Rules:
Our customized set of rules based on the Panzergrenadier series (Deluxe & 2nd Edition) move the game a bit more toward the tactical end of the scale and they continue to serve us well. The revised Anti-Tank Penetration Ratings feel better. And the revised expansion of the AFV Armour Factors to six options (HF,HS,HR,TF,TS,TR) instead of the original two (F,S) definitely feels better. On a 1-4 die roll the shot hits the hull and for a 5-6 hits the turret. As a new tweak in this game we decided to allow German 251/1 halftracks to remain in the game after unloading passengers (as AFVs with an MG) to model the German armoured assault.

Thanks for reading to this point! Hope you enjoyed it. This will be the last miniatures AAR posting until fall since it is time to embrace our short Canadian summer that is fast approaching. But on rainy days I'll have plenty to do - build and paint some Stalingrad terrain!

Until next time! - Gary