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Sunday, June 3, 2012

EW Poles vs Slovaks Hold the Line AAR

Guest post by the inimitable Anatoli from Anatoli's Game Room.

Back to the wonderful world of Early War FoW, sold my DAK army and played two battles of Early War the same day. Got to say that it totally revitalized my interest and liking for the game which had been on a decline during the last weeks of Mid-War desert warfare.

I have also started to order and scout miniatures for an expansion into the 10th Motorized Cavalry brigade which will be my next project once I completely finish my Polish-Lithuanian renaissance army.

I've been playing the Polish Infantry battalion for a long time and found it to be rather difficult to build it in a way that works in both defense and attack. So using my experience and ideas from the last Early War tournament I put together something that I think finally works regardless of whether I meet other infantry armies and am forced to attack - or end up defending.

This is that my army looks like

75 Batalion Piechoty HQ (+2 medium mortars)
285 Piechoty Company (1 platoon + light mortar + HMG platoon)
285 Piechoty Company (1 platoon + light mortar + HMG platoon)
90 Piechoty Anti-tank Gun Platoon
245 Czolgow Platoon (5 7TP tanks)
180 Mounted Kawalerii Company Fearless Veteran
340 Armoured Train (+ armored railcar section, 2 TKS tankettes and 1 FT-17 S.A.37mm)
1500 pts

6 deployments, 9 platoons.

I will keep playing this build to see how it works against various enemy army types since I only met two infantry armies this weekend. I still think both my battles proved the strengths of my list while the weaknesses I often had encountered in the past seemed to have been minimized. I had also pretty much forgotten all about how to play infantry having spent the lest couple of weeks frustrated about inefficient armored warfare.
Anyway, my first battle was against Andreas and his fantastic Early War Slovak army. I have fond memories of a great battle against this army during the last tournament, it was the most balanced and fun game I had that tournament.

Andreas ran with Slovaks based upon the SS list in Early War. He fielded 2 Platoons of infantry, 3 Panzer 35t, a battery of artillery, 2x 88's, Stuka Schwerpunkt.

The scenario was Hold the Line, one of my favorite one's because it actually feels like an authentic scenario - especially in Early War playing with the Poles. I became the defender and fielded my 37mm AT gun dug in inside one of the small woods overlooking the nearby objective near the railroad. I also held both my companies with their HMG platoons in ambush. The train, cavalry and tanks were in delayed reserve.

Turn 1 saw some 88's and artillery trying to take on my AT gun platoon but failed to harm it in any way. German bombers managed to destroy one of my 2 medium mortar positions though. As the Slovak army moved closer during turn 2 I revealed my horde of hiding infantry and machinegun positions covering the entire frontline, concentrating all my machineguns at the right flank to provide devastating fire support. The machine gun platoons managed to almost completely wipe out one of the Slovak infantry platoons.

Enemy tanks attacked my infantry near the objective and inflicted some losses with their MG's and AT guns. Artillery explosions hit the Polish AT gun platoon but the dug in guns survived this without any incidents. On the right flank enemy Stuka planes bombed the Polish HMG position on the hill but only managed to knock out a single team of machineguns.

The Poles kept shooting like crazy, annihilating the Slovak infantry platoon on the right and starting to pick off teams of the second infantry platoon currently in the fields. No Polish reinforcements managed to show up on turn 3 so the infantry was on their own facing the approaching 35t tanks which assaulted but only inflicted a couple of losses while the Poles withdrew their positions further back. Now the 35t tanks were within reach of the 37mm AT guns in the woods and the Poles opened fire at long range at the slightly concealed tanks, inflicting a single bail out which was a bit disappointing.

Slovak tanks and infantry covered by artillery and more Stuka bombers launched another attack which greatly tore up the Polish infantry platoon in the first line of defense, in the vicious close combat the platoon lost every single member except for the Polish commander which decided to leave the battle. The Slovak infantry now held the small forest and had cover from the Polish HMG platoon on the hill. The Polish train arrived and released its small cargo of the FT-17 tank and the two tankettes which soon came under both enemy air bombardment and 35t fire. The artillery car of the train bounced all shots from the enemy tanks and was unharmed by the bombs. The tankettes also miraculously survived while their commander in the FT-17 tanks bailed out.

A counterattack was launched, both AT guns in the woods and the train fired at the 35t tanks, knocking one of them out and bailing another. The second infantry platoon moved up to contest the objective near the railroad.

Enemy 88's scored a hit on the artillery car and blew it up, left smoldering the train remained near the objective while the last enemy tanks was destroyed by an AT gun, and the remaining Polish infantry, AT guns and both tankettes opened fire at the Slovaks infantry in the nearby woods to keep them away. Polish tanks and cavalry both arrived at the same time - very late to the party.

The situation looked under control - so I had a brain fart and pulled my locomotive back dragging the burning wreck of the artillery car back towards my deployment with the intention of making room for the approaching reinforcements and adding extra line of sight for my AT guns. This decision left the objective uncontested - and even though Andreas offered me to change my decision about the train movement I declined and said we should play on and see what happens. Andreas had at this point figured that his company was on the verge of breaking and rolled a company morale check which failed - but then counted his platoons and teams and realized he had 1 team left before the morale check limit was forced upon him. So the confusion towards the end of the battle was shared by both sides. The Slovaks ended up claiming the railroad objective but we both knew that if I had not made that mistake then the freshly arrived reinforcements would have pushed back or destroyed the last remaining Slovak units that could capture any of the objectives.

This battle was great fun and very close up to the very end. I admit my rolls were above average in my favor. I both rolled ridiculous amount of hits and rolled great save rolls throughout the battle. The only thing that seems to keep happening to me is that I hit enemy vehicles with AT guns and penetrate the armor but then fail my firepower rolls. I also think that the Polish armored train worked very well in this tiny form. Not only did it not obscure LoS across half of the table for my own troops, it was also easier to keep out of enemy fire and hide near small woods. The cheap cost (as much as a 75mm artillery battery) is also not going to demoralize you with its demise compared to losing half of your army to the fire of a single 88 which happened to me during the last tournament.

All in all a very welcome return to Early War and playing with my Polish army.

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