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Monday, August 17, 2015

Patton's Dream, Independence Day Tank Fest

By Mitch Reed, With Jay Mischo 
Photos By Greg Cilia

A while back I wrote an article about playing historical based scenarios with a gaming group here in Northern Virginia.  While work has kept me away from playing on Friday afternoons, I was able to take advantage of the day off prior to July 4th and join these guys for yet another great game.

In my absence I did read the many emails prior to each weeks game; battlefields such as the snowy steppes of Russia to the arid desert of North Africa were some of the many scenarios that were recreated for the group that assembles at the Game Parlor in Chantilly VA at noon every Friday.  While I am sorry I missed these great games, the holiday weekend had a great topic ready for me to play; a "what-if" scenario between the victorious Allies vs. the Soviets in the months following the end of the war in Europe.

The players were instructed to bring 2000 points from any late war American, British, or Soviet briefing. With the Berlin book not yet out, the Soviet forces were taken from Desperate Measures and Red Bear, while the Remagen and Nachtjager books made up the bulk of the allied lists.  The allied players were allowed to use a limited number of German units that would represent the Germans who would carry on the fight with the Soviets after the surrender of Germany.

Having picked up way to many Comet's over the last few months, my list was the Armoured Squadron from Nachtjager.

From Forces at War

I figured where else could I get 10 Comet's on the table, and I wanted to finally use my SAS recce jeeps.

When I showed up I knew this would not be a normal game; with my arrival the game was now a match up of 12 players, 6 Allied and 6 Soviet on a massive 15' x 7' table.

The scenario is best described by Jay;

Background:   In April 1945, Winston Churchill made his “Iron Curtain” speech and was very concerned with the plight of the Poles in the Soviet sphere of influence.  In May, he asked his Chiefs of Staff to consider opening hostilities against the Soviets on July 1.  One-hundred thousand Poles were under arms in the West.  Churchill also saw a manpower pool in German POWs.  The Chiefs of Staff, however, doubted that British infantry would be willing to soldier alongside their former enemies.  They were also concerned that the US facing the possibility of invading Japan would not be happy at the prospects of combat veterans being tied down in Europe and the off-chance of driving the Soviets to an alliance with Japan.  Logistics support through France and the Low Countries would also have to be secured and airfields in Denmark would be required to open the way to the Baltic for the fleet to operate.

The scenario called for the Allies to take a prominent hill to the east of the central town—leveled by Allied bombing during the war and a long way from reconstruction.  On the Allied right flank three American companies faced three Soviet battalions.  On the Allied left, one American and two British companies faced off against another 3 Soviet battalions.

These competitions were important.  The Soviet flank commanders had received competing orders from Stalin.  They were each to arrive at separate hills on the west side of the city.  Laurels would go to the one who controlled his objective first.  Two lesser objectives would go the side that controlled either or both of the small villages flanking the city.  The job of the Allies was to stop the Soviet push and capture a single hill on the other side of the map.

Units were deployed half on and half off in delayed reserve.  The deployment area was 16” on from respective sides of the edge.  The Allies were each allowed one allied German platoon of non-SS troops. Only one player exercised this option and the Germans had to be deployed in reserve.  All units starting on the table-top were required to be pinned down at the start of the game and had to roll to activate the unit. This included tanks and platoons made up of all vehicles.

While the Allies had the same objective, they did have to compete for reinforcements where only one "flank" would be able to get reserves due to the congested roads behind the front. The Soviets had similar issues and each "flank" had to successfully roll for air power in order to get those deadly IL-2 aircraft overhead.

The allies got air power too, here a player plans for strike of Typhoons 

For those who are a fan of  a large tank on tank fight, this game was not to be missed.  With the table so large I can only really speak to what happened with my two team mates and I in any detail.  Our "flank" had my list from above, with my fellow anglophile Pete taking a force of Comets and some Challengers.  Our American team mate Todd took a US tank force with some Pershing tanks.

We faced off against Jay who was teamed with Dennis and Scott; who between them had a host of Soviet hardware.  IS-2s, T-34/85s, ISU-152s, and even a unit of Lend-Lease Grants.  I am sure I am missing a few but take my word for it, they had a LOT of stuff.

What we faced on our Flank on turn 1

All I can say is thank goodness for the great gun on the Comet and for Semi-indirect fire. in a few turns I was able to kill a number of tanks, knocking out an ISU-152 platoon in the first two turns and putting a hurting on the T-34/85s as they made for the city in the center of the table.

Despite the early success, I could not stop the waves of Soviets from reaching the town in some force.  Luckily for us, despite gaining the city, they still had to cross the table to get to their objectives.

This is where our other flanks of American forces, backed up by some German Jagdpanthers stopped the Soviets cold.

Loads of knocked out tanks littered the table

On the other flank, the Soviets seemed to have better luck.  They were able to roll into the rear of Ray's forces and his artillery guns were under fire from Soviet tanks, which is never good.

Yes those are Grant tanks, maybe they were trying to return them? 

Hordes of tanks... 

Through the mess my Comets pushed ahead

After 4 hours the battle ended with no clear winner. The game resulted in neither side controlling nor even threatening its major objective.  Also neither side had lost a company but the Americans lost two Company commanders to the Soviets having lost one which resulted in Jay the Game-master declaring a questionable Bolshevik victory.  Did I mention Jay played on the Soviet side?

We all brought smoke and flame markers, and we needed them by the end! 

Some players try anything to secure a win, the player on the right is actually praying to the dice gods! 

Despite the draw, the game was  a lot of fun with everyone thanking Jay for designing a great and challenging scenario. It was a perfect way to kick off the 4th of July weekend. Once again I recommend stopping by if you are in the area on a Friday afternoon.

The Friday afternoon group; From Left to Right, Dennis, Todd, Victor, Ray, Peter, Bill, Jay (GM), Scott, Tony, the author, Conrad, and Greg (photographer) .... Great players and even greater friends!

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