Tuesday, March 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

(copyright by Leaping Horseman Books and Bundesarchiv)

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

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

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

Barrikady Hall 6A - October 19, 1942

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

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

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

Here is a general view:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Russian set-up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the German deployment:

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

Game Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End German Command Phase.

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

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

Exploit Phase: Not used in this scenario.

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

Here is the factory from the west side.

Turn 2 - Russian Initiative and goes first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn 3 - German Initiative and goes first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn 4 - German initiative and goes first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn 5 - German initiative and goes first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next time! - Gary