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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BatRep: EW Japanese vs Russian Heavy Tanks in Breakthrough

By Jeff "SonBae" Flint

My buddy Michael (Link2Edition on the WWPD Forums) and I have been dying to get in another game of Flames of War Early War….this time with my Japanese and his Russian Heavy Tankovy.  Both lists are from the Rising Sun book.

I went with a Fearless Veteran Hohei Chutai backed up by AT Guns and Artillery.  The Type 38 75mm Artillery piece is a great AT gun for this period as well.  AT 8 and Firepower 3+ range 24…YES, Please!

I swapped out 1 Rifle team in each Infantry squad for a Nikihaku team and combat attached 2 HMGs from the HMG platoon to each Infantry platoon.  I have to give these guys some firepower against that infantry blob I see coming my way.  I had to proxy Brit Para 17lbers for the Type 38 Artillery pieces…fair swap, one deadly gun for another.
As you can see, Michael is still building his force.  The tanks are all from Game Models and look pretty good from a foot away…and at $5/tank…whether a BT5 or T35….primed or unprimed…its hard to beat if you want 1-2 foot army.  Any closer inspection and you do notice a lot of little faults in the casting.


We wanted to do a Mongolian battle…with a light table.  I know it will make it tougher on me…in fact it is about the worst thing I can think of…light table facing a Heavy Tank Company, but no guts, no glory.

We rolled up Breakthrough for our mission (one of our favorites) and the Russians are the Attacker.  I am an Always Attack Infantry and Michael was an Always Attack Tank….and Tank attacks Infantry in the tie break.  I chose the corners with the trees.

Initial Deployment:

I have to use mobile reserves, but since I have no vehicles, EVERYTHING goes on the table.  If I put anything in reserve it would take them too long to contest/protect the objectives. My thinking is to double the Infantry Team near the Objectives and be in position ready to dig in and contest on Turn 3.  All the guns with good AT cover the objectives and the Artillery can drop pain on any infantry on the objectives.  In case Michael tries to move in behind my gun line with his tanks and hit them in the rear, I can move the infantry platoon there into the woods to protect.  I love the wood elf rule for Japanese Infantry...double timing through woods and up hills is so nice.  Michael kept his T28s and Infantry in delayed reserve, so they can start appearing near the objectives starting on turn 3.

End of Turn 1:

Well, Michael tried to slip his tanks behind my gun line after all….Infantry double time according to plan to protect the guns and the other platoon towards the objective.  My AT Guns and one Type 38 shoot at the T35s….and only get 2 Bails, which convert to Bogged Down due to the Land Battleship special rules and they can still shoot!  Those guys are freaking tough.

Turn 2 (Top):

BT5s continue forwards to the woods.  One of the T35s remounts and all four manage to take out a Type 94 37mm AT gun. And again his arty fails to range in on the Type 38s facing his T35s (Thank God!)

Turn 2 (Bottom)

I double time one more time towards the objective.  I had a serious tactical decision here.  Do I double time and be on the objective to dig in on my turn 3 risking him actually getting reserves on his turn and hitting me with double the shots…or…do I play it cautiously and only make a normal move this turn in to remove that risk and make another move on my turn 3 to get to the same point a turn later?  Again….No Guts…No Glory.  So...I double timed.

On the other flank….I was able to kill a T35 and bail another.  So he has 1 active and 1 destroyed, so no Morale Check.  I also didn't assault from the woods even though I could have rendered 3 tanks impotent from Defensive Fire by contacting from the woods….I just dug in instead.  The intent being to keep his BT5s  busy a little longer.

Turn 3

And of course Michael rolls a 6 for reserves on his first die roll.  And on come the T28s!  I mean how bad can it really get with only 50 shots  <rolls eyes>

In the main woods, the artillery finally hit and kill a Type 38 75mm field gun…there goes one of my big AT assets.

Back to the objective….Michael gets 27 hits needing 4+ and I lose 9 teams in total, but manage to keep 3 Rifle teams and 2 Nikihaku teams….he goes in for the assault and gets 1 kill. I have the Regimental Banner attached so they automatically pass the Motivation test to counterattack and in they go!

2 Nikihaku in the middle, 2 rifle teams and a Sword team on the ends.  What will happen with the Nikihaku's "Human Bullet" special rules?!?!?!?!?!?

I get hits all over the place….each rifle team hits, but their Tank Assault of 2 matches the T28s top armor of 2, so those are of no effect.  The Nikihaku in the middle top gets 4 hits with no "1s" so he survives and then he gets 4 more hits on the re-rolls forced due to the rear MGs on the T28s.  Phew!  Even if I rolled a 1 on the re-roll they would have been safe as the Improvised Munition rule on applies on the initial To Hit roll.  Sadly, the Nikihaku team between the 2 tanks didn't fare as well.  He missed twice with one of those rolls being a "1".  He did pass the Rear MG re-roll and hit twice as he goes up in a blaze of gory glory.  

Michael places 2 Nikihaku hits on the 3 center tanks….and…….

Ba-BOOOOOOOM!!!! One tank goes up in flames and the other 2 in the middle are bailed.  Michael failed his Counterattack and the 2 Bailed tanks are captured.  Michael then has a difficult choice.  

Which tank on the end to save?  

They have to move away from enemy teams, but have to move to stay in command as well.  Being on the edge of the table, as we were, prevented either one or the other tank from staying outside 4 inches of my teams.  So Michael chose to save the tank in the corner as it had a better chance to influence the game.  Tough trade….4 T28s for an Infantry platoon.  I am so glad I put the Regimental Banner with that platoon.  Auto passing counterattack motivation tests kept me in the fight.

Turn 3 (Bottom):

On my turn I charge the BT5s from the woods.  The 3 tanks contacted from cover cannot shoot in Defensive fire.  The remaining tanks still put 5 hits on my guys in Defensive Fire, ending the assault…but wait a minute... NO!!!! I have Banners for the platoons and ignore the first hit when counting for pins (they require 6 hits to pin in other words) and all the teams pass their saves….CHARGE!!!!!!!

And I bail 1 BT5 and kill a second.  The remaining tanks pass their Motivation Test and elect to break off.

And the BT5s head for the objectives.  This is going to get ugly

Turn 4 (Top):

Michael doesn't get any reserves and sends the BT5s for the objectives

The BT5s get in range and assault the infantry wiping out the platoon and only losing 1 tank due to a failed double bail morale test. 

Turn 4 (Bottom):

I manage to kill the last T28 near the objective and move the lone Type 38 gun through the woods to attack the T35s and cover the objectives with no kills.  I start to move the HMGs and infantry from the woods towards the objective to prepare for his infantry coming on automatically next turn.

Turn 5:

Michael brings on the infantry and packs them in tightly around the objective making so I have to shoot a BUNCH of dudes.  He moves the BT5s to the objective near the middle of the table making it so I have clear BOTH objectives and making my task that much harder.

I move the HMGs and infantry up to be in range and hit enough teams to clear the objective if lucky.

The lone Type 38 gun kills the 2 BT5s on the near objective and clears that one!

Now, for the infantry.  I shoot the lone Type 92 70mm gun in bombardment at 10 teams in the middle…followed by the 2 Type 38s.  Both bombardments only kill 2 teams.  

The HMGs shoot and score 6 hits!!!!  But NOOOOOOooooo!!!!!  I moved them up about an inch too far and it let him apply hits to teams off of the objective.  I was able to kill 3 more teams at least.

At the start of Turn 6, Michael was solidly in control of the objective with his Infantry and the victory goes to him….a 4-3 since I killed the T28s and BT5s.

Michael played great as always and this was a great game and a lot of fun.  Those Land Battleships a TOUGH!  A little better shooting there  and grrrrrrr.  Oh well….there is always next time!

SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time gamer and painter and runs a blog at Journey Back To The Table where he posts photos of his work, reviews, BatReps and the “Painting Miniatures Declassified” modeling and painting tutorials.

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