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Monday, January 6, 2014

AAR: Panzer Kampfgruppe vs. Light SP Artillery Regiment

"At daybreak on the third day, look to the west"
 Wait... That's not right...

By Throckmorton

 Yay for the Holidays! Now is the time when, across the nation, nerds come together to play many games, throw handfuls of dice and generally cavort to have a good time in holiday cheer.

Of course, for we Flames of War types, this means getting down into the trenches and fighting it out over the old 6x4.

In my case, I'm playing around with the Panzer Kampfgruppe list from the newest supplement for Flames of War, Desperate Measures. This book covers armored battles in the very latest parts of the war on the Eastern Front as Russia moves, inexorably, towards Berlin and the end of the war.

Today, we bring you a 1750 point battle between the latest, Panzer IV/70 (V) heavy, version of my Panzer Kampfgruppe list versus Ben's IS-2 and SU-122 toting Light Self Propelled Artillery list from Red Bear in a knock down drag out armor on armor slug fest.

Mission: Encounter (Fair Fight, Meeting Engagement Delayed & Scattered Reserves)
Attacker: Ze Germans
Defender: Mother Russia


Terrain brought to you by Battlefront, Conflix, 4Ground, Luke, Throckmorton and Kerr & King

Terrain notes: The tree line/walls surrounding parts of the city (notably near the Orthodox Church) act as a single linear obstacle (we just thought it was prettier this way) that gives concealment and bullet proof cover. The larger hedges act the same way. The trees in the Park (on the bottom right) are single trees and thus must be moved around but provide concealment to those facing opposite. The ruined building at the crossroads and the "Italian" church count as ruins, all other buildings act as normal. 

The mighty German Host, still under construction. 

The Russian Hordes

Have mortar, will travel.

Objectives & Deployment:
I took the city side of the board and placed my first Objective on the road directly opposite center city. 

The other objectives on Ben's side sat in the trees on Ben's right. 

My "home side" objective sits snugly at the back edge of my board. 

Whilst Ben places his on my right, just outside the city. 
The Panzer IV/70's including the 2iC anchor my left. 
The double crewed Werf set up center city in the Park. 

And the Jagdpanthers set up to hold my Right with the 1iC playing swing. 

Ben's IS-2's set up opposite my Jagdpanthers

With the Mortars in the Center

And the AA and Tank Horde on the Right. 
Recce Move Follies:
Seeing the T-34 horde in-front of them, my PaK Puma's go for the better part of valor and try to get out the way but bog out. DOH. 
T-34's crest the hill looking for trouble and open fire on my poor recce. 

The PaK Puma runs for safety but...

His buddy eats steely fury. Scoring first German Blood!

Ben failed to dig in his mortars,  so on the bottom of Turn 1 I smelled blood, and dropped a barrage on them. 

Scoring first Russian Blood!

My Panzer IV/70's open up scoring a total of one hit on the T-34's

Bailing one. 

The Jagdpanthers stormtrooper up to cover the hill where the IS-2's are likely to pop their heads up. 

Turn 2: 
The IS-2's crest the hill and open fire!

Doing exactly squat. 

While the T-34's manage to bail a PZ IV/70 in return fire. 

Sensing an opportunity, the Jagdpanthers open up on the IS-2, getting 2 hits!

Ben botches his saves and 2 of his IS-2's get sent back to Communist Heaven. Ouch.

I'm bad at unbailing things, but my IV/70's start going to work anyways. 

Killing one and bailing one of the T-34's. 

Of course, Ben gets his first reserves on. The Breakthrough Boys end up deploying behind the T-34 horde. 

The T-34's continue their fire

And score a good number of hits but my front armor 9 is proof against any significant damage, and he scores a single bail on the 2iC. 

On my go, I get no reserves but everyone unbails. YAY!

The Jadg's whiff, like it's their job. 

The IV/70's don't do much better...

Killing 1 and bailing 1. Man... this is turning into a righteous slap fight. 

However, my Werfers open up and...

Kill the T-34 platoon commander! No move for you!
Turn 4:

Ben gets more Breakthrough Boys and moves to skirt them around the side of my Jagd's, but can't at the double w/in 8 inches of my big cats. 

Reserve 122's show up on the opposite side as well

And the 4 man platoon joins up with them, hoping to work my flanks. 

The final IS-2 opens up and...

Scores a jagdpanther!

At the bottom of the turn my Hetzers show up in just the right place to hold the flank against the IS-2 and the 122's. WE HERE TO HETZ!

And the IV/70's finally light up the T-34's, killing 2 more and bailing 3 which will force the platoon to make a check. You can see there in the corner Ben at the doubled the 1iC over just in case this happened. 

Hetzers Hetz 2 of the 122's on my Right

And the 1iC sneaks over and snipes the 3rd. 

The T-34's fail their platoon morale. 

And the 1iC fails the re-roll!

Dasvidanya Comrade!

The Hetzers know when to move and get out the line of fire from the IS-2. The Jagd, in an overabundance of caution, does the same. 
Turn 5:

The Assault Gun Recce Infantry (the last of Ben's reserves) rolls on and heroically hides. 

While the 122's roll up to the PaK Puma. 

And the larger 122 platoon joins in the heroic hiding for the motherland. 

3 shots, 2 misses and 1 failed firepower later the Breakthrough Boys fail to kill the PaK Puma. 

Ben's mortars do manage to bail a Panzerwerf

On my go, my Wirbles show up mid board. 

And the last 2 recce platoons come on on the left. 

Sweeping around to set up shots on the 122's. 

The 2iC decides to join in the fun. 

While the 1iC and the 2 wirbles head up center table to rush the lightly defended objective opposite. 

And the Hetzers start the slow march to join in the fun center table. 

3 shots, 2 misses and one successful firepower check later I've killed a grand total of one of the freaking 122's. I did nearly as bad as Ben did here! Jeeze, both of our dice really seem to hate us today. 

Turn 6:
The 122's whip around and stare menacingly at the PaK Puma's. 

While the supporting 122 platoon moves up the hill to help take the recce platoons out. 

The soviet recce infantry debuses and heads over to help out on the center Objective. 

After 2 epic gun tank checks both PaK Pumas are left smoking while only the AT 5 little recce boys are left alive. 

Ben drops his mortars on my center assets hoping to slow the advance. 

Doing a fine job by killing one Wirble and bailing the 1iC. 

On my half I know I need to protect my recce platoons as they, the Jagd's and my Wirbles are now all down to 1 team each. So they start to scoot away as the 2iC and a friend move up on the 122's. 

While the other 3 IV/70's start to press forward. 

Unbailed, the 1iC and the remaining Wirble head out of town towards the mortars. 

While the 2iC and buddy kill a 122 and bail another. 

And the other 3 manage to kill a 122 and bail one on the hill opposite. 


The short 122 platoon fails its morale check. 

While the IV/70's re position in stormtrooper to cross the gap and head into open country next turn. 

Turn 7:
The remaining 3 122's back off the hill, but other wise not much action on Ben's half of the turn.  

Sneaky Hetzers! They snuck up on the flank of the IS-2. 

As the 1iC and Wirble head in to the objective guns a-blazin. 
IV/70's crossover on to the road. 

To get a low percentage shot on the 122's hiding by the Objective. 

The Heroic Little Hetzers kill the last IS-2. Now that's what I call hetzing. 

While team "push the center" assaults and moves the Soviets off the objective. 

And those low percentage shots from the IV/70's actually turn in to a kill!
Turn 8:
Ben moves his infantry on up. 

And swings the 122's on over to get shots. 

Scoring the last Wirblewind and killing my first platoon. 

But the infantry fails the check to assault a tank. Stalin will not be pleased. 

My Hetzers move in. and along with my 1iC, machine gun down 3 of the 5 stands in the recce platoon. This will force a check. 

My IV/70's move up to the hill and score another 122, which will also force a check. If Ben fails both of the these he will be under half and his company will break and run. 

The infantry fail
As do the 122's. And with that the company breaks at the top of his turn giving the game to me 5-2. 

Thoughts from Ben: A tough game where the lack of heavy guns in my list really became evident.  First thing I need to remember is when my opponent drops his big tank killing Jagdpanthers do not get frisky and try to counter with your expensive IS-2s. You will lose the fight every time, just assume your opponent will roll better, and counter with the horde of tanks as they will take much longer to kill and are much faster to take advantage of the flanks of a hull mounted opponent.  Essentially, when you are not getting good saves against anything your opponent has, try and reduce the rate of fire of enemy shots coming at you by attacking the smaller platoons with larger ones. 

Equally, my mortars should have targeted weaker units throughout the game rather than attempting to net the lucky Jagdpanther kill. Those Panzerwerfers kept the t34s bailed and should have been silenced sooner.  In a game where you are outgunned you can't afford to make poor choices in targets and even poorer choices of match ups otherwise your opponent will capitalize, as Sean did,  and use their better guns and armor to crush your force with little loses on their force.

Thoughts from Sean: I had the luxury of time here but had to be incredibly mindful of my flanks. Push forward anywhere too quickly and the T-34 horde would be eating through my side armor like a fat kid confronted with a chocolate cream pie: It just won't last. So I took it slow, forced a battle of attrition and made my move late in the game when I knew my numbers, now equal, could work to safeguard my flanks from errant side shots. 

In fact, the one time I failed to do that is when I lost a platoon. The big lesson here is that, when working with a primarily hull mounted army, flanks are everything. If possible, find your anchor and pivot. In my case the Jagdpanthers stayed put until like turn 8 while I began moving up in the Center and Left two or three turns earlier. Also, it didn't much look it like here, but those PaK Pumas are freaking butter. Highly mobile PaK 40's are a force multiplier so don't discount them when building your DM force. 

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