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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Polish push towards Łowicz, 2000points per side


Polish push towards Łowicz, 2000points per side.
Page 38 in the "September campaign" book.

This battle is the second scenario in the ”Arm wrestling the giant” operation which itself is about the battle of Bzura. The largest battle of the entire September campaign. What started a well placed Polish counterattack ended up with 2 encircled and destroyed Polish armies, remnants would later make their way to Warsaw and the Modlin fortress to join up with the defenders there.

Since we played this scenario as a”standalone” battle we rolled a die to determine the outcome of the previous battle so that we could apply the special scenario conditions. In this case the player who won the previous battle had 50% of his army in reserve, while the player who lost the previous battle had 50% of his army as Delayed and Scattered reserves. The roll resulted in the Polish ending up with the bad reinforcement deal.


This operation can be summed up with the first scenario being a Polish surprise assault on a weak spot in the German lines, the second scenario being an all out battle and the last scenario being a retreat as the German armies surround the Polish forces. In this particular scenario there are 5 objectives,  2 in each deployment zone belonging to the players, and 1 in the middle. The game lasts 7 turns, the player who makes his opponent break wins the battle. If no army breaks then you check to see who has captured most objectives. Even if you lose you still get victory points for the objectives you captured as they count as campaign victory points.
Polish army
Batalion Piechoty 1960points

HQ with 2 mortars 75points
Company A: 2 platoons + AT rifles + Light mortars + HMG platoon
Company B: 1 platoon + AT rifle + Light mortar + HMG platoon
Scout platoon: 1 section + AT rifle
Light artillery platoon (75mm) + spotter
Heavy artillery platoon (155mm howitzers)
2x AT platoons (37mm)
7TP tank platoon (5 tanks)

German army
Schützenkompanie 1975points

2 infantry platoons
sIg33 guns were not really allowed but we threw them in to push the Germans up to 2000 points.
38t platoon of 5 tanks
2x 88mm AA guns with extra crew
1 hmg platoon
1 Mortar platoon (6 mortars)
Priority air support + Stuka Schwerpunkt
Sdkfz 231 (4) platoon

The Polish had 1st turn, I held 2 platoons of infantry, 1 HMG platoon, 1 Scout platoon and the 7TP tanks in reserve. I also used the 155mm howitzers for off table indirect fire as both me and my opponent like to use the artillery that way. (The 75mm were only used for direct fire). So I kind of moved up a bit with my troops as it was damn crowded near the forest and my 75’s. Tried to dig in with everything valuable, but all 3 artillery platoons failed to dig in while my mortars and hmg platoon did so with great enthusiasm. This made me really worried since my opponent had Priority air support and Stuka Schwerpunkt.

I had several concerns, the main was the Stuka bombers, the second was the fast and very deadly armored cars with their RoF 3 and fully capable AT guns which would make short work of any 7TP tank. The enemy 38t tanks were not making me sweat but I knew I would need to knock them out or they would support an attack towards one of my home objectives.
Not having much else to do I called in some artillery support on the enemy motorized infantry, resulting in 2 trucks and the command vehicle blowing up and taking their passengers with them. Killing the 2nd in command

German turn 1 was as I expected “Stuka time”, painful memories of the last time I faced Stukas – wiping out my entire 75mm platoon. This  time they bombed my 75mm platoon but only scored a hit on 2 guns and the commander. And the 75mm’s saved on double 6’s, while the commander was blown to bits! I could not have been happier. Enemy infantry and tanks rumbled forwars covered by the 88mm AA guns firing across the table at the Polish forces. The 88 salvo destroyed one of my 75mm gun teams.

Polish turn 2, I moved forwards with my infantry platoon, trying to secure the entire edge of the forest and preparing myself for tank assault, my spotters fail to range in on the enemy armor so the Howitzers don’t even start their bombardment. You are always let down when you need things the most.  Other than that, the Poles were still waiting for their delayed and scattered reserves. No reason to charge out with the few infantry teams I had to get myself killed.

German turn 2, another Stuka bombing run ending in miraculous Polish gun team saves. My 37mm AT platoon was hit but only lost one single gun team! The 38t tanks had some target practice against the Polish platoon in the forest with their massed MG firepower, killing 6 teams (every team they could see and would have killed more if possible).

Polish third 3, I rolled a success on my delayed reserves, and decided to enter with my 7TP tank platoon, and as a godsend they scattered to enter on the far right edge where I could get some shots on the enemy armored cars. At point I still did not dare to hope they would survive long enough to claim the enemy objective at the far opposite table edge. My howitzer artillery is called in but does nothing against the enemy 38t platoon! Arghhh.. then my 37mm AT platoons is showing off by inflicting 2 hits and destroying 2 38t tanks by itself. What the hell?!
On the opposite side of the table my other 37mm AT platoon hits and destroys one armored car making the remaining car flee off table. My 90point units have so far done more than my 260point unit. Even though that AT5 Firepower 2+ is keeping some fear in the Germans.

German turn 3, Stuka bombers return, dropping bombs on the 37mm AT platoon and some 7TP tanks. Failing o hit my tanks and only killing 1 gun, though sadly the platoon decides to run away. Germans also received reinforcements in form of a mortar platoon this turn. 38t tanks make a move across the road, past the woods where my infantry platoon remnants are hiding, and up on the fields where the tanks start to fire at the polish HMG platoon killing 1 team with their fire, and one other with their assault upon which the Poles fall back a bit.

Polish turn 4, reinforcements arrive, at the far left edge. I make it an infantry platoon and move them on the double forwards so that they are in line with my AT platoon. I take the risk of having a bloodbath should the Stukas return but I really need to haul some ass to gain ground at this point. My 7TP platoons destroys the remaining armored car platoon, which opens up a path on the right flank. The Polish offensive in the center of the table was hitting a brick wall as long as those 38t tanks were left roaming unchecked.

German turn 4, Germans received reinforcements again, a HMG platoon and another infantry platoon rolled in with their trucks. They occupy the farmbuldings in the center of the table shielding the center objective from Polish attacks with their mere presence.   This is also the first turn where the Germans don’t get air support, thankfully as there are lots of juicy targets on the board now. The 38t platoon makes short work of what is left of the Polish HMG platoon.

Polish turn 5, reinforcements arrive, HMG platoon and my last infantry platoon. They arrive slightly off center to the right and at the far right flank. My howitzers fail to range in yet again, making the German 88’s free to continue their terror during the next turn. I try to assault the German 38t tanks with my remnants of the infantry platoon but they are decimated once again and the survivors leave the battlefield in a hurry. I start moving my 7TP tanks forward towards the enemy deployment zone but keep them hidden behind terrain and out of sight of the enemy 88’s
On my left flank I move up my infantry platoon to take up position in the small forest and together with the 37mm AT guns they wipe out the German HMG platoon

German turn 5, no air support once again.
The Germans had to make do with what they had on the ground, the 38t tanks moved up towards the hedgerow and opened fire at the AT guns, which were luckily dug in and only lost 1 gun team. German infantry took up position in the forest across from my Polish platoon on the left flank, making any delusions of further advance disappear.

Polish turn 6, the situation at this point was the Germans holding the center objective, well fortified inside some buildings. Me having infantry platoons too far away to advance up there in good order and it would only get me killed. On the left flank German infantry and 38t’s had me locked in place and the 38t’s threatened my left objective. On the right flank my 7TP tanks were moving on the double towards the enemy lines, an opening in their defense would allow me to snatch their objective marker if I wasn’t killed by 88’s or Stuka bombers first.
My 7TP platoon raced ahead once again, and I withdrew my left infantry platoon to shield the AT guns and my left objective instead of going for pot shot exchange with the German infantry across the fields.

German turn 6, no air support this turn either!
German mortar teams abandon their position as they see the Polish 7TP tank platoon approach. German tanks try to move over the hedge, managing to do so with 2 tanks but becoming bogged down with 1. They then open fire at the Polish forces in the fields once again, this time destroying what is left of the last 37mm AT platoon, leaving the Polish infantry to fend for itself. Not much else happens this turn.

Turn 7 (last) Polish turn, the 7TP tanks make a on the double move again claiming the German objective. The Polish infantry on the left flank goes balls to the walls and attack the 38t tanks. First my 2nd in command and a single mortar team attack one bogged down 38t but fail to hit it. The Polish infantry platoon rushed out of the fields and charges the tanks from the front, taking a massive but extremely inaccurate MG defensive fire. Out of 12 MG shots only 2 manage to hit and neither inflict any kills! The Polish infantry surround the2 German tanks but fail to inflict any damage. Luckily for them, the German crews panic and fail their morale check, and being surrounded the platoon is destroyed which secures the Polish objective marker from enemy attempts to capture it.

Turn 7 (last) German turn, the Germans had a few things they could do to thwart the Polish victory. The 88 and IG guns both attacked the Polish tanks but only manage to knock out one out of 5 tanks. And the air support did not arrive this turn either, which means the battle ends a Polish victory.
The Poles holding 3 objectives and the Germans holding 2. If it would have been a campaign the Poles would get 1campaign victory point for their victory, and 1 CVP for each of their objectives. The Germans would also get CVP for their 2 objectives, which in the end means 4-2 to the Poles – and indeed the height of the Polish success at the battle of Bzura just before the tide turned.

It was really fun to play a scenario from my campaign book, and this was also the first game in which we use the campaign book. The scenario  conditions worked really well, and the proposed terrain did likewise.

I also think using the Polish 7TP tanks more as a mobile “grab the objective” unit rather than trying to face the German tanks head on was a much better idea. Having learned from experience I can tell that you don’t want to end up in a situation where you fire at reduced RoF against a full enemy tank platoon which will fire full RoF back the next turn.

My anti tank rifles kept their "worthless" track record, ever since I've  started playing Flames of War I have hit 1 single enemy vehicle with the rifle but never inflicted any damage with it. One time I managed to bail an enemy tank in assault but that's it. As a anti tank weapon they are nothing I as an enemy would worry about. As a Polish player, I include them mostly to boost the platoon strength by one more team. At the same time I can see them being dangerous especially against armor 0 vehicles and halftracks. But so far they have been more of a curiosity than an actual integral part of my tactical planning.

We’ll see which battle we play next time, but I’m already looking forward to it! I think Flames of War works really well for stuff like this, a more casual and at the same time historical approach rather than tournament play. I've read a lot of complaints over the past week about this and that, but I can't say me or my opponents have had any such problems to date.

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