Monday, April 16, 2018

Panzergrenadier AAR - Berezovka - July 10/43

The Stalingrad scenarios were great fun for the last two winters but now it feels like time to move on to a bit later in the struggle! Just before we got into all the Stalingrad scenarios we had previously gamed a Winter Storm scenario, Verkhne-Kumskywhich now slides into the timeline at December 1942 about a month after our last Krazny Octyabr scenario.

Lately I have been feeling the urge to to push ahead about 8 months in the timeline and do a Kursk scenario. Perhaps I have been missing tanks running in wide open spaces :-) Naturally one should not fight one's gaming desires so after a little reading on Kursk I became interested an action by Grossdeutschland Divisions near Berezovka that resulted in this scenario very loosely based on a Battlefront WW2 scenario "Grossdeutschland at Kursk" by Eric Feifer.

We continued with our customized set of rules for company/battalion based on the Panzergrenadier series (Deluxe & 2nd Edition) by Dave Brown.  When we use a custom rule in the game log I'll indicate in blue to show where we depart from the original Version 2 or Deluxe rules. With one of our gaming group currently out of action with a long-recovery illness I played the Russian defender while Brent and Tim played the German attackers. This AAR is reported in some detail for those that already play with the BGPG rules or those interested to see how BGPG plays. It's long so bring a coffee! Or if you wish you can just look at the photos to follow the game events!

Berezovka - July 10, 1943

Historical Overview
As part of XLVIII Panzer Corps in the south, after four days of grinding against Russian belts of defences the somewhat depleted Grossdeutschland Division was poised to spring toward Oboyan, the gateway to Kursk. However, their left flank was vulnerable since the 3rd Panzer Division to the west was not making progress in bridging the Pena River due to determined resistance from Russian 6th Tank Corps. Therefore, most of Grossdeutschland Division was ordered to make a 90 degree turn left and attack into the flank of 6th Tank Corps to cut the main road in the hills north of Berezovka that supplied the Russian defenders at the Pena.

References:
Armour & Blood: The Battle of Kursk by Dennis E. Showalter.
Battlefront WW2 scenario "Grossdeutschland at Kursk" by Eric Feifer.

Map And General Scenario Notes:
The table displays Hills 247 and 243 that command the supply road south to Berezovka and shows the starting deployment areas for each side.


The woods and gully are Difficult Terrain. Hedges, fences, stone walls, and crops do not block LOS, and are medium height so -1 Hindrance to fire. Ploughed fields are normal Open terrain. The hills are gentle and the houses are wood (-1). If both target and firing unit are within same woods LOS is 2 inches, otherwise woods block LOS. The attacking Germans (veteran) are deployed visible anywhere within 10" of the east edge with the Russian defenders (regulars) deployed dug-in and hidden west of the red dotted line.

The relative force strengths totalled 2485 points for the Germans and 1870 for the Russians yielding a 615 point advantage to the German attacker and a 1.3 attacker to defender force ratio. However, the main Russian reserves are not available until early/mid-game so without them the Russians have only 945 points on the board at start. Therefore the Germans enjoy a massive superiority at start which slowly decreases over the game. The BGPG Deluxe rulebook calls for a ratio of 1.25 or better with a maximum of 500 extra points to the attacker, so this scenario overall still might be favouring the German. A ratio of 1.25 to 1.5 has worked well in the past for our smaller battles so it is definitely in the ballpark.

A variable game end was used. At end of Turn 9, roll 2d6. If 7 or more, game ends. Turn 10 ends on 6 or more, etc. 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." In this game the Exploit Order Phase can only used for Promotion.

Russian Briefing and Force (Kapitan Chapovich)
6th Tank Corp's 200th Tank Brigade is already heavily engaged with German forces attacking from the east. An enemy force has been detached to attack your position and cut the main supply road south where 90th Guards Rifle Division and elements of 3rd Motorized Corps are holding back the enemy at the Pena River. Your orders are to defend the Hills 247 and 243 and the village. Not One Step Back! You have had time to order your troops to dig in with some light AT Gun support. The importance of maintaining the supply road is such that you may expect limited reserve armour support sometime later. No artillery support is available since they are already committed to the main attack to the east.

Mission: Maintain at least 1 Russian unit on either Hill 247 or 243 or inside a west village building at the end of the game to win, or cause a German Battlegroup Break Point. Otherwise lose at game end.

Deployment:
On Table at Start (west of red line):
Infantry Elements of 9th Panzer Corps (Regular)
Battlegroup Command
  Infantry Company #1 Command
    Rifle Plt (Command, 3x Rifle Squad)
    Rifle Plt (Command, 3x Rifle Squad)
  Infantry Company #2 Command
    Rifle Plt (Command, 3x Rifle Squad)
    Rifle Plt (Command, 3x Rifle Squad)
  Infantry Company #3 Command
    Rifle Plt (Command, 3x Rifle Squad)
    Rifle Plt (Command, 3x Rifle Squad)
  MMG Teams (2x Maxim MMG Team)
  Anti Tank Plt (Command, 2x45mm AT Guns)

Reserves (enter on west edge):
  Turn 2 - Medium Tank Platoon (Command T-34, 3x T-34)
  Turn 3 - Medium Tank Platoon (Command T-34, 3x T-34)
  Turn 7 - SMG Plt (Command, 2x SMG Squad)

Special Rules: All troops are dug-in and rifle squads have 1x Molotov each. In addition to normal fire a squad can throw a Molotov with a range of 1" which has a armour penetration of 2 vs. top armour. T-34s are Inferior. Prior to the German setup I had deployed my troops as follows in accordance with my orders, realizing that my position is quite untenable without armour support.


Basically I just order one infantry company to dig in an each hill with an MMG each and light AT Gun each for support. The AT guns are positioned behind the hills so they can fire at closer range. The last infantry company is ordered to dig in around the west village.

German Briefing and Force (Hauptmann Millenstein and Hauptmann Pollowitz)
As part of Kampfgruppe Von Strachwitz you are ordered to attack and secure the west village and Hills 247 and 243 that straddle the road south. Most of the Russian 6th Tank Corp's 200th Tank Brigade are being dealt with elsewhere by the rest of the Kampfgruppe but expect the hills to be heavily defended with infantry and Russian armour is still active in the area. You have extensive organic artillery support available, but Stuka support is not available due to weather and the higher priority target of 200th Tank Brigade.

Mission:
Clear both hills and the west village buildings of Russian troops at the end of any game turn to win, or cause a Russian Battlegroup Break Point. Otherwise lose at game end. Battlegroup Breakpoint is 50%.

Deployment:
All Forces On Table at Start (within 10" of east edge):
Elements of Grossdeutschland Division (Veteran)
Battlegroup Command (1x Truck)
  Panzergrenadier Company #1 Command (1x Kubelwagon)
    Panzergrenadier Plt (Command, 3x Rifle/LMG squad, Armoured Transport (4x SdKfz 251/1)
    Panzergrenadier Plt (Command, 3x Rifle/LMG squad, 2x Truck)
  Panzergrenadier Company #2 Command (1x Kubelwagon)
    Panzergrenadier Plt (Command, 3x Rifle/LMG squad, Armoured Transport (4x SdKfz 251/1)
    Panzergrenadier Plt (Command, 3x Rifle/LMG squad, 2x Truck)
  MMG Platoon (Command, 2x MG34 Team, 1x Truck)
  Mortar Plt (Command, 2x 80mm Mortar Team, 1Truck)
  Panzer Company Command (1x Befehlswagen)
    Heavy Panzer Plt (Command PzVD, 1x PzVD)
    Medium Panzer Plt (Command PzIIIL, 3x PzIIIL)
    Assault Gun Plt (Command StuGIIIG, 1x StuGIIIG)
  Offboard Art (F.O., Kubelwagen, 2x Missions - 120mm Mortar)
  Offboard Art (F.O., Truck, 3x Missions -105mm Wespe)
  Offboard Art (F.O., PzBeobWg III, 2x Missions - 150mm Hummel)

Off-Board Artillery: On Turn 1 only all have automatic availability and will Near Miss on 2-7.

Special Rules: A PzVD Panther moving with Rapid Move or in Difficult Terrain must roll 1D6 for Immobilization. On a 1-2 is Immobilized for the rest of the game. PzVDs have no radio communication (new Panther radios were unreliable at Kursk). The PzBeobWg III is Arty Observer only (dummy main gun) with turret & hull MG for defence only. Grossdeutschland forces are rated veteran and given +1DRM for all actions (activation, fire, close assault, morale, rally) instead of the regular attributes for veterans in the rules.

After the Russians complete their hidden setup, Hauptmanns Millenstein and Pollowitz confer and form an attack plan leading to this German deployment:


Their plan is for a main "Schwerpunkt" to the north where all the foot infantry and loaded 251/1s are stacked, with armour support from the PzIIIs and StuGIIIGs. (Note: In their advances the Grossdeutschland Division liberated three 251/1s that the Russians had previously captured and painted with a red star and these are put to immediate use.) The centre is held mainly by artillery F.O.s, the two Panthers and MMG platoon deployed to hold the south flank.

Game Play

Turn 1 - German Initiative & Force The Russians To Go First

Russian Command Phase:
As Kapitan Chapovich I just pass, not wanting to provoke Defensive Fire. Advance outposts arrive breathless and inform me that a large force of German infantry are close and advancing in the north woods with armoured transports and tanks near them so that is where to call in the artillery now. "They can't miss, comrade!" they say. I regretfully tell them the divisional artillery is busy elsewhere and we are on our own. (Comment: The original scenario did have two offboard 120mm Russian mortar missions but I did not include it. Russian artillery was mostly used in bombardments on fixed enemy defences or pre-bombardment before an attack. As far as I know it it was not generally used for close tactical support during engagements at close range in a swirling fluid battle situation. However, if I did have an off-board fire mission available it would have been a game changer landing on all the massed German infantry in the battle, so perhaps it is best for the game that the Russians did not have artillery!) End Russian Command Phase.

German Command Phase:
Since all German artillery must fire at the beginning of their Command Phase, Hauptmanns Millenstein and Pollowitz order bombardments from all three off-board artillery supports plus fire the on-board 81mm mortars. First the 150mm Hummels pound the west village to soften it up for the assault. Despite the heavy barrage only one squad disengages with little other effects on the dug-in Russians (low dice rolls with the squads ducked way down into their trenches). [House Rule: We take separate rolls for each unit under the template.]


Then the on-board 81mm mortars lay smoke just east of Hill 247 to cover the advance. After that the 120mm mortars and 105mm Wespe fire missions are both centred on Hill 247 and these are far more deadly, wiping out 4 Russian squads and a Maxim MMG, leaving only one lonely Russian squad at the north end to defend against the onslaught! The Russian defence of Hill 247 has already been shattered!


After the dust settles Hauptmanns Millenstein and Pollowitz order the grey halftrack platoon to advance and unload their platoon in the smoke, which then advances boldly toward the tree line just leveled by the artillery. [House Rule: Provided the transport can pay the 6" cost to disembark passengers, infantry that dismount during the transport's move can perform an immediate Tactical Move and Fire Order and may Close Assault.] One remaining Russian squad opens fire and with deadly aim disperses a German squad! The rest close assault resulting in the demise of the Russian squad but he takes another German squad with him (no medal for him since there are no witnesses!).


The PzIII platoon rapid moves to the north west to flank Hill 247, but one PzIII bogs down in the ploughed field and stays put. Seeing no anti-tank fire the recaptured "green" 251/1 platoon moves up to join the PzIIIs and the rest of the infantry on foot in the woods move straight west threatening to also flank Hill 247. The StuGs move up and take up hull down positions behind the stone fence. (Comment: This is one of the tension building fun things about attacking vs a hidden defender, you don't know what is out there! Is there a battery of 76mm or 57mm AT Guns waiting in Camouflaged Ambush?)


To the south the MMG platoon moves into the building and is spotted by a Russian Maxim MMG in the woods which reveals and fires, completely missing either due a bent barrel or a residual vodka effect.


End German Command Phase.

Rally Phase:
The Russian squad in the west village rallies. End Turn 1.

Turn 2 - Russian Initiative And Goes First

Russian Command Phase
Winning Initiative is a bonus and a chance to slow the Germans down since a platoon of four T-34s suddenly show up and must enter anywhere on the west board edge. Careful to stay out of LOS of the Panthers, StuGs and Artillery Observers, the best place for them to enter is at the north end to directly meet the PzIIIs. Hopefully four T-34s can put some serious dents in three PzIIIs. However, one T-34 is immediately smoked by Defensive Fire from a PzIII and a second T-34 is forced to disengage suppressed. The two remaining T-34s, being Inferior, moving, and with the crop hindrance only manage to suppress one PzIII. Rats!


In the west village the squad fails his activation and stays exposed in the open. In the south the Maxim MMG fires on the German MMG platoon again getting hits but the MMG crews shrug off their morale tests. The German roll to see if the smoke disperses results in the smoke staying. [House Rule: After placement each smoke screen is tested at the end of the next enemy Command Phase to see if it dissipates. On a 1D6 Roll of 1-4 the smoke dissipates. On a 5-6 score the smoke stays until the end of the following enemy Command Phase. Smoke is always removed at end of the second enemy Command Phase after placement.] End Russian Command Phase.

German Command Phase
To begin, Hauptmanns Millenstein and Pollowitz order more artillery. First the 81mm mortars place smoke in the centre of the table on the road. Then the 150mm Hummels repeat their bombardment in the west village again. Russian luck still holds there since all troops survive the pounding except the one squad caught in the open that is dispersed and his nearby company commander in a building that fails a disengage test but is able to stay in position suppressed with damage. [House Rule: We play that infantry & guns that must disengage take damage.]


Then the 105mm Wespe artillery comes down on Hill 243 with again the Russian luck holding since only the Company Commander is dispersed and the rest miraculously survive unaffected. Plus another break for the Russians as the 105s roll low and go down to low ammo. The remaining 120mm mortar observer loses radio contact for this turn.


Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz now order the remnants of the first platoon (beige) in the woods on Hill 247 to move slightly up toward the hill top but stay hidden, out of LOS. The red platoon beside the PzIIIs in the open scrambles out of the tank firefight into the same woods and advances up near the hilltop, staying hidden. Then the green platoon (recaptured) halftracks unload their green platoon into the nearby woods and move back out of LOS of the T-34s to a cover position behind the hill. The last foot infantry platoon to the rear refuses to move and just hunkers down for a moment. The PzIII platoon activates and the bogged one in the rear moves toward the action while the foremost two PzIIIs boldly advance around the corner of the woods and are fired on by the two T-34s, but just pings result as the PzIIIs pass their morale tests. The PzIIIs fire was also one miss and one ping, so both sides now have Acquired Targets. [House 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).] It looks like Lady Luck will decide the tank duel next turn since both sides are now locked into a close range firefight!


In the rear the StuGs, sensing a lack of AT threat from the hilltops crash over the stone wall. One easily passes his bog check but the other is slowed to half rate as they advance toward Hill 247. The previously bogged PzIII in the ploughed field advances into the smoke and the grey halftracks move back into their "motor pool" behind the east house.


To the south Millenstein and Pollowitz order the Panthers to move up and fire at the Maxim MMG, luckily for the Russian only forcing it to disengage back into the woods suppressed with damage.


End German Command Phase.

Exploit Phase:
I thought about replacing the eliminated south Company Commander by promoting a platoon commander. This is always a saw-off since this reduces the Battlegroup breakpoints by one. And it causes all activations by platoon commanders in contact with the new less experienced Company Commander to have a -1 DRM [House Rule]. The plus side is that the Russians don't lose a Command Point on Initiative rolls, and generally the Russians are usually in need of those! Plus the platoon would have no platoon command so would need to have one promoted from a squad in the south woods. [House Rule: Replacing a dispersed platoon commander with a squad seems too high a platoon cost, the loss of a squad's full firepower. We play that an eliminated platoon commander is still counted as a casualty for Breakpoint but at promotion time the new platoon commander acquires a "Replacement" marker with -1 DRM to activate and is moved to near a platoon squad. The squad that the new platoon commander and his runner were drawn from is left on the table and takes damage to reflect loss of its strength.] Lots of negative costs to balance against worth keeping about seven more Command Points over the course of the game. I decided to not replace the Company Commander since I suspect I'm going to need every Breakpoint benefit I can get!

Rally Phase:
The PzIII rallies and becomes Battle Hardened! The T-34 and Company Commander in the village both rally. The Maxim MMG in the south woods does not rally. End Turn 2.

Turn 3 - German Initiative And Goes First

German Command Phase
The 150mm Hummels are all out of missions and the Battlegroup observer's radio lost contact with the 105mmm battery so Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz order the 120mm mortars to drop fire on the bridge/gully/crop area to catch any Russians hiding there but there is nothing in the blast zone! The 81mm mortars did not fire.


The two PzIIIs at the rear move up first next to the lead tanks. One is shot at by the lead T-34 which misses. A second T-34 to the rear activates and shoots, also to no effect. The PzIIIs that just moved fire and the lead T-34 is forced to disengage. The two other stationary PzIIIs fire at the T-34 platoon leader and smoke it! The T-34 platoon could not hold back the veteran Grossdeutschland tankers!


Seeing the T-34 threat has diminished the infantry begins their assault. First the remaining squad and commander in the beige platoon advance toward the woods but run into a dug-in hidden Company Commander which disperses the squad with a double-six defensive fire roll! [House Rule: Command units are allowed close assault defensive fire at -2 DRM.] But the the lone German commander close assaults and wins, damaging the Russian Company Commander due to double suppression and forcing him to retreat after which he fails his Rally and disperses due to double damage. [House Rule: Losers of a close assault must pass a Rally test or are suppressed.] Afterwards the German commander repositions toward the woods but cannot quite reach it.


Seeing no resistance the green platoon moves from the hilltop toward the north end of the woods while the Russian 45mm AT Gun holds fire and stays hidden. Then the red platoon advances down the hill, and the Russian AT Gun reveals and Intensive Fires with HE suppressing one squad. A Russian squad in the pigpen also opens up and hits another squad that fails his morale miserably and is dispersed! The remaining squad and command close assault the AT Gun dispersing the gun which suppresses the two German units. The two German units reposition to the centre of the woods. This is a big loss to the Russians since the AT Gun was a last hope to put down one of the PzIIIs! Lastly the German blue platoon moves up to the top of Hill 247, staying hidden in the woods.


Seeing no resistance past Hill 247 Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz order the two StuGs to advance to the hill top, but coincidentally each one runs right into a hidden entrenched Russian squad! The south squad throws a Molotov and with a lucky hit disperses the StuG! The north squad throws a Molotov which suppresses the other StuG! Finally a Russian success against the German armour!


Then the two Panthers open up with their main guns on the Russian squad in the pigpen and the heavy fire suppresses and damages him but he manages to stay in place.


The MMGs in the south try to activate but roll a double one and the Germans lose 3 Command Impetus (no big deal since they are at the end of their turn). [House Rule: Only a double-one roll for any activation attempt causes Command Confusion and a loss of only 3 Command Impetus.] The 150mm Hummel PzBeobWgIII Observer moves back behind the east hill and the company commanders move up. End German Command Phase.

Russian Command Phase
The lone unsuppressed T-34 attempts to become the Command Tank but fails his activation roll and he cannot not use Command Impetus with no platoon leader. Kapitan Chapovich orders the two Russian squads on Hill 247 to close assault the remaining suppressed StuG and one squad assaults from the rear and the other from the flank so the Russians assault first forcing it to disengage with damage back into the crop.


The rest of the Russian units patiently stay hidden. All the smoke disappears. The Turn 1 smoke has to go and the Turn 2 smoke roll disperses it. End Russian Command Phase.

Rally Phase:
The German red platoon commander in the woods rallies but the squad next to him routs on a double one! The StuG rallies. The Russian squads, T-34 and MMG all fail to rally. End Turn 3.

Turn 4 - German Initiative And Force The Russians To Go First

Russian Command Phase
Finally the remaining unsuppressed T-34 becomes the platoon leader (Sgt. Orlov) and fires at the only PzIII in LOS but the shot pings with the PzIII's return fire a miss. My four T-34s have had terrible luck against the four PzIIIs only scoring 1 suppression vs suffering two T-34s KIA and one suppressed!


A squad hidden in the west village moves over to the north hedge in the garden to try and stave off the German horde but flashes into LOS of the Panthers so is revealed. Both Panthers fire at it and miss but the squad becomes an acquired target.


An attempted hidden movement by the platoon hidden deep in the south woods fails activation (I wanted to bring them closer to the top of Hill 243). End Russian Command Phase. [Comment: Rats! I forgot to bring on the T-34 platoon reserves this turn which is a BIG missed opportunity.)

German Command Phase.
The 81mm mortars try to place smoke on the top of Hill 247 but the barrage falls a bit short. Then the StuG rolls up the hill and fires on the nearest squad but misses.


Then the lone PzIII in LOS of a T-34 fires first at the new T-34 platoon commander (Sgt. Orlov) and forces him to retreat suppressed.


Seeing only suppressed T-34s left Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz order the green platoon in the woods to split up and the platoon command and one squad to close assault the north suppressed T-34 while the other two squads close assault the other suppressed T-34 command tank (Sgt. Orlov). The northern T-34's net roll is low due to suppression so has no effect on the German attackers. The T-34 loses the exchange and is forced to retreat back into the woods suppressed and damaged. Unfortunately he fails his Bog Test miserably taking a further damage which causes the crew to abandon the tank! The south T-34 (Sgt. Orlov) rolls a double six eliminating one German squad and damaging and suppressing the other! Unfortunately the German assault is too much for his already damaged tank and Sgt. Orlov and crew are dispersed. The remaining green platoon units reposition back into the woods after the assaults.


With the T-34 and AT Gun threats gone in the north the remaining three Panzer IIIs advance south with one positioning on Hill 247 and the other two at the base of the hill. All three fire on the north Russian squad on Hill 247 obtaining hits. The Russian squad fails morale with a nasty 3 roll and is dispersed.


With the Russian defence shattered on the German right flank Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz order the Panthers to move up to command the gap between Hills 247 and 243. A Russian 45mm AT Gun in the south crop decides that a side shot on a Panther at effective range is likely the best chance it will ever see against a Panther so it reveals and Intensive fires but no luck again and the the shot just bounces. The return fire from both Panthers was ineffective (entrenched plus small target).


With the Russians reeling, the German blue platoon hiding in the woods at the top of Hill 247 are ordered to mop up the area. The blue platoon splits up with one squad and the commander circling around east through the smoke to close assault the last Russian squad on Hill 247 (no defensive fire due to smoke). The Russian squad is dispersed and one German squad is suppressed.


The remaining two squads in Blue platoon advance down Hill 247 toward the pigpen, taking fire from a squad in the garden that misses. The two German squads close assault the suppressed and damaged Russian squad dispersing it with no effect on the German squads. They reposition with one going into the nearby pig house and the other the trench in the pigpen.


Down south the MMG platoon in the building decide to move out toward the Panthers to get a better field of vision between the gap between the hills. Two Russian squads on Hill 243 decide they are too juicy a target to ignore and fire at one of them in the open but both miss! The return fire from the MMG crew completely obliterates one squad entrenched on the hill! End German Command Phase.


Rally Phase:
The German green squad in the west forest and the blue squad on Hill 247 both rally. The Russian MMG in the south forest does not rally. The Russians are now over their 25% Breakpoint so need to test, rolling a nasty 3 so all suppressed units must rout! The MMG on Hill 243 routs. End Turn 4.

Turn 5 - German Initiative And Goes First

German Command Phase:
Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz order the Panthers to fire at the 45mm AT Gun which they blast out of existence. Next the MMGs fire at the Russian squad at the north end of Hill 243 causing it to disengage with double suppression, thus dispersing it.


Next the StuG up on the hill repositions and takes a shot at the Russian squad in the garden and forces it to disengage back behind the west building.


Now the PzIII platoon is ordered to advance to the top of Hill 247 for a better LOS to the enemy. However, the lead tank runs smack dab into the last hidden Russian unit on the hill, a platoon commander. Without a Molotov the platoon commander is forced to defend in a close assault and acquits himself well, double suppressing the PzIII requiring it to disengage back down Hill 247. But the Russian platoon commander is dispersed.


Two more of the PzIIIs move up onto Hill 247 and perform Recon By Fire at the west building with nothing revealed while the last PzIII holds back to guard the north west flank. The blue platoon commander and squad move down from Hill 247 and take up positions in the pigpen.


The green platoon in the north woods moves up to near the south edge of the woods, staying hidden, and the nearby Company Commander moves up nearby to support them. The red platoon commander performs a Reorganization and incorporates the beige platoon commander into their platoon, then orders the platoon to move to a jump-off point near the south edge of the woods, staying hidden. The distant Company Commander in the woods on Hill 247 moves up into the woods near red platoon.


Lastly the 81mm mortar battery tries to move closer but rolls a 1 and barely moves. And the Pz Company Commander circles around behind the mortars and onto the road in the centre. End German Command Phase.


Russian Command Phase:
[Comment: I forgot to bring on my reserve T-34 platoon in Turn 4 and the German moves in Turn 4 have wrecked my plan. I had planned to bring them on in the south and rapid move them up behind Hill 243 to discourage the Panthers, StuG and PzIIIs from moving west and south to overrun Hill 243, and also to keep the top of Hill 247 in LOS to discourage the PzIIIs and StuG from perching there. This option is now not available after the Panthers, PzIIIs, and StuG moved up so the T-34s would have to enter into a hail of AT fire all within in German effective range. I thought to bring them on in the north but the gap is choked with wrecked T-34s and a PzIII is aimed right at the entry point. My goal now is to try and prevent more unit losses as the Russians are rapidly getting closer to their Battlegroup Breakpoint and at the same time they should hamper the German infantry from taking over the whole village.]

The T-34s come on and quite cravenly stay behind the west woods in the village with two T-34s in the south guarding the flank and two in the north positioned out of LOS of the Panthers. The two north T-34s blast at the German squad in the building across the road but one rolls low ammo and the other misses.  No more Russians reveal to fire because it would only invite their elimination. Better to wait and defensive fire when they move. End Russian Command Phase.


Rally Phase:
The German PzIII rallies and the Russian squad behind the west building fails to rally. The Russians easily pass their 25% Breakpoint test roll, no problem.

Turn 6 - German Initiative And Force The Russians To Go First

Russian Command Phase:
The two north T-34s again fire at the squad in the building and both get hits but the shrapnel miraculously misses everyone in the German squad! The Russians are getting close enough to their Battlegroup Breakpoint that self preservation is paramount so they decide to just hold position and pass on any further orders, just wait for the Germans to move. End Russian Command Phase.

German Command Phase:
Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz order smoke from the last 105mm mission to land on the westernmost building of the village. Then the 81mm mortars bombard the south building in the village with no effect on any Russians within.


With smoke in place to cover their advance the green platoon in the north woods is ordered to assault the western building but they roll snake eyes on their activation and decide to stay where they are with the Germans losing 3 Command Impetus. Red platoon has more nerve and rapid advances toward the westernmost building but their charge is ambushed in the open by one remaining Russian squad hidden in the garden (I forgot he was there!). He suppresses the platoon commander leading the charge and the other squad can't reach him to participate in close assault so just the recruited biege platoon commander enters close assault with the Russian squad. Lucky with the dice, the German platoon commander is just suppressed and the Russian squad is dispersed.


While the red platoon is busy in the garden, the full strength blue platoon in the pigpen and pighouse is ordered to close assault the nearest portion of the westernmost building. The lone Russian platoon commander hidden there is overwhelmed and eliminated but he gets a good roll and valiantly disperses one German squad and suppresses another before expiring.


After clearing two Russian squads off of Hill 243 Haupts. Millenstein and Pollowitz look to establish a strong MMG firebase there and order them to move onto the hill. One MMG moving up the hillside is ambushed by a still hidden Russian squad that fires with deadly accuracy and disperses it!


The other MMG moves up into a trench on the north end of Hill 243 while the Panthers move south and blast the offending Russian squad out of existence.


Next the PzIIIs activate in two separate groups. The group of two on Hill 247 fail activation with a 3 roll and stay put since there are not enough Command Impetus to help. The second group, one east of Hill 247 and the other at the north end both move into the centre of the village, and Recon By Fire at the south building with no effect. The two Company Commanders in the north woods move up to help rally the suppressed squads in the open near the garden. The Pz Company Commander moves up the road. End German Command Phase.


Rally Phase:
All the German units rally with one squad nearest the westernmost building battle hardened! The Russian squad behind the westernmost building rallies. The Germans have not hit their 25% Breakpoint yet. The Russians pass their 25% Breakpoint test. However, they are dangerously close to their Battlegroup Breakpoint!

Turn 7 - German Initiative And Goes First

The German 81mm mortars fire with FFE on the south building again with no effect.

The green platoon near the garden close assaults the damaged Russian Company Commander in the west building and the damaged squad just outside, dispersing the squad and causing the Company Commander to retreat suppressed across the road behind the stone wall. He fails his rally test and must take another suppression. Since he is already suppressed from the close assault he must take a damage and since he is already damaged he is dispersed! This puts the Russians over their Battlegroup Breakpoint and they immediately lose the game!


Here is the table at game end. The remaining Russian units (including hidden) have a red dot near them.

BGPG Berezovka - T7 Game End 1.jpg

Tallying The Score:
The Russians lost 27 of 44 units (61%) and the Germans lost 9 of 45 units (20%).

Comments On The Scenario:
The German "Schwerpunkt" strategy worked like a charm! However, it was aided by a lack of Russian artillery which, if available to drop a heavy 120mm barrage on the Turn 1 troops in and around the north forest, the game would have been a much tougher endeavour for the Grossdeutschland. It is interesting that this game was mainly decided by infantry! My Russian forward deployment on the hilltops was just easy meat for the Germans. The initial German bombardments on Hill 247 pretty much eliminated the Russian north defence. Better to have used only one screening (read "speed bump") platoon on each hill and the MMGs and had the second platoons positioned to the rear, screened by the hills and in woods if possible. A defence in depth. Also one platoon in the village force could have moved on Turn 1 into the north woods to support an MMG and second platoon's positions there. If deployed close together so able to resist close assaults in platoon-sized groups, it would have made it a much tougher nut to crack for the Germans. As it was my scattered deployment just allowed the Germans to eat up the Russian forces piecemeal so the game ended early. However, this analysis is for the game! I feel the Russian deployment and "hold positions" strategy was probably quite historical plus the Russians rarely used close range tactical artillery during a fluid battle.

I certainly enjoyed the game! After Stalingrad it was refreshing to get into an open country scenario with room to manoeuver forces. I think both sides had about even dice luck overall witht perhaps the Germans a slight edge on some critical rolls. In all a fun game!

Historical Aftermath:
To quote from Armour & Blood by Showalter. "In a model example of battlegroup tactics, Grossdeutschland's reconnaissance battalion, its mechanized panzer grenadiers, and the assault guns seized Hill 247. After three hard hours the panzer regiment led truck-riding panzer grenadiers onto neighbouring Hill 243." 

However, the diversion of Grossdeutschland to the west to aid 3rd Panzer Division was successful for the Soviets since Grossdeutschland would be tied down in the west for the remainder of the Kursk offensive dealing with significant Russian forces in the area and was not able to return east to resume it's advance toward Oboyan.

Comments On The Panzergrenadier Customized Rules:
The +1 DRM for all actions of the veteran Grossdeutschland forces certainly made a difference and highlighted the difference between them and regular troops. We continue to enjoy our customized Panzergrendier rules which we feel moves the game slightly more toward skirmish level.

Thanks for taking the time to look at this AAR! I recently bought the Battlegroup Kursk rules and supplement so perhaps we will give those a whirl next. Not sure when that will be since, even with a foot of snow left, my little cabin at the lake is beginning to whisper at me to come back for the summer!

Until next time...

Gary

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