Other than priming a platoon of Stug G assault guns, there has been very little in the way of painting activity over the weekend. Making up for it however was a decent sized game of Flames at a friends house which pitched a meaty 2500 points of my Fallschirmjäger against an equal amount of Steve’s Russians. It was an unusual three player affair so the German forces were divided between Kev and myself, Kev taking command of the Grenadier Platoon, Heavy Tank Platoon and Fallschirmjäger HMG platoon. I rolled up with the rest of the Fallschirmjäger Kompanie consisting of three combat platoons, supporting assault gun platoon and a 10.5cm artillery battery. We also had limited air support provided by Stuka 87-G; the first time I have actually played aircraft.
With 2500 points to play around with Steve went for Red Bear so his Russians were Confident Trained and proceeded to set up a disturbing number of tanks and infantry. Along his back line he had artillery and heavy mortar platoons screened by two platoons of T34/85, a platoon of SU-100, ISU-152 breakthrough guns, anti-tank platoon, HMG platoon and several infantry platoons. In other words, rather a lot
With only four Tiger I’s and three Stug I knew we would be outnumbered and outgunned by a whopping eighteen 85, 100 and 152mm guns. What we had in our favour however was five platoons of veteran infantry that I knew from experience could put up a good fight once in good cover on the objective. Steve chose the side nearest the town with the greater cover, however this did leave me with the hill which gave one of my spotter teams a nice line of sight down the road and across the two fields. Advancing quickly I got first and second platoons into the fields and behind the hedgerows where they had good cover and more importantly eyes on the advancing tanks. The Stugs went hull down behind the Fallschirmjäger and Kev brought the Tigers up under cover of the ruined church.
Steve opened fire first with a few speculative shots from three of the T34s nearest the junction, but the low profile of the Stugs at long range proved too elusive to hit. The Stugs and one of the Tigers returned fire and scored a kill on the middle T34. Things then took a bad turn for the Russians when the Stuka rolled in on his tanks in the open. With so many targets densely packed, the cannons couldn’t miss and scored kills on two of the SU-100’s and forcing one of the T34 crews to bail out. Next turn the surviving T34s and an SU-100 killed one of my Stugs in no uncertain terms. In the centre I managed to manoeuvre third platoon into the church and eventually they took up position alongside the road behind a fieldstone wall. This was my primary defensive objective. Steve’s second tank platoon advanced up the road, but anticipating this two of Kev’s Tigers swung around the church and drew a bead on the advancing T34s. Two shots, two hits and two burning tanks blocking the road forcing the Russians to rethink their plans. After a couple of turns at the start hopelessly failing to range in smoke, my spotter teams finally go their eye in and were calling down a barrage onto the bunched Russian tanks on the right to great effect. A third SU-100 went up along with another T34. On the road things were in a bit of disarray with two of the T34 attempting to break out from behind the burning hulks Kev had just blocked the road with. Both unluckily failed their difficult terrain check to break through the wall and became bogged down resulting in the sole remaining T34 having to tow one off the road and behind the houses into cover.
On the left flank meanwhile, Kev had advanced the Grenadiers up to the road and dug in his HMG platoon on the hill where it could provide supporting fire. The majority of the Russian infantry was also advancing up the left under cover along with Steve’s deadly ISU-152s. The Fallschirmjäger quickly evacuated the church recognising the danger the 152mm breakthrough guns represented, but Steve had a better target in mind taking out the two Tiger’s with no effort whatsoever.
Things weren’t going as well for the Russians on the right flank however as the Stuka had circled around and came back for another pass, taking out the fourth SU-100 and forcing another T34 crew to bail out. That was enough to break the SU-100 platoon which failed its motivation test, the sole surviving tank retreating from the field. With the main tank threat now from the fields to the north, I raced the two remaining Stug forward to engage the infantry concealed amongst all the burning Russian armour. Kev brought the two surviving Tigers up in support and got embroiled in a duel with the four remaining T34s.
The battle in the centre of the town between the church and housing went back and forth between the Fallschirmjäger 3rd platoon and Russian HMG and anti-tank platoons, neither really making much headway although Steve did whittle 3rd platoon down by a couple of teams with lucky firepower tests rolling 6’s against the bulletproof cover. In the end the Russians lost patience and moved to assault, charging 3rd platoon’s position. Defensive fire scored several hits and unbelievably the Russians failed every single 3+ infantry save, the entire platoon simply gunned down. This was probably the pivotal point of the game as Kev’s Grenadiers were now in a great counter-attacking position further up the road when the first outflanking Russian infantry platoon engaged them out of the woods. The dug-in FJ HMGs on the hill made short work pinning them and reducing the platoon by two teams. The Grenadiers counter attacked the pinned infantry and pushed them back as I ranged artillery down on the three other platoons near the Russian objective. This was enough to inflict a few more casualties and pin those as well leaving them vulnerable to the advancing Grenadiers.
Already having a taste of the Tigers, Steve chased them with two of the ISU-152, the third having bailed out due to the artillery barrage. Sensing two easy side shot kills on the exposed Stugs, he rolled to hit and was again incredibly unlucky missing with both shots.
The two Stugs were rapidly becoming my stars of the game and didn’t disappoint in return. Having survived their near obliteration, they made best use of their 12″ move to outflank the Russian aggressors and unload on the side armour. Both hit and Steve failed to stop the inevitable penetrating shots resulting in two burning breakthrough guns and the platoon destroyed. In the town the Tigers were still trading blows with three remaining T34s, who were stubbornly refusing to yield. This went on for a couple more turns before the Russian platoon finally retreated, but not before whittling the Germans down to a single Tiger I.
With the armour more or less neutralised the returning Stuka strafed the artillery taking out two of the guns and the staff team and Kev’s surviving Tiger drew a bead on Steve’s heavy mortar spotter team hiding amongst the burning T34s. The mortars were out of the game, but not before they had inflicted grievous casualties on the Fallschirmjäger 1st platoon all but wiping it out. Second platoon linked up with the survivors in third and between them held the church objective and road. The Grenadiers, once again supported by the HMGs counter-attacked through the woods and effectively started rolling up the Russian line which was pinned and broken by the continuous bombardment from the 10.5cm artillery. As the last couple of platoons melted away, it was obvious the fight was over as the Russians had lost too many platoons and were having to take motivation checks to stay in the game overall. With ‘limited’ tank and artillery support still available and four infantry platoons still operational, the Fallschirmjäger had control of the field and we declared it a victory for the Axis forces.
Overall it was a cracking game and at one stage there was a serious risk the Russians could over-run the German objective at the church winning the game. It was only down to the tenacious defence of the Fallschirmjager third platoon and really unlucky dice rolls by the Russians that enabled Kev and I to clinch it. If the Russians had managed to extract more from their two artillery batteries and the SU-100 platoon it could have been a very different outcome. Very much looking forward to the next engagement which I already have a few ideas for, but that’s going to be for another time.
Last night (Monday) was also our new Deadzone gaming night and sticking with the theme from last week we swapped trial forces to try it out from the other faction perspective. Sadly, the game didn’t go quite as I expected and it was over before it really go started. There are times when games just go like that and there really isn’t anything you can do about it other than shrug and write it off to ‘just one of those things’. It wasn’t anything wrong with the game, or the setup, just a combination of unlucky series of events on my part. What happened you ask? Basically whatever move I made was essentially 100% the wrong one at the time. My very first move was to pick up an item (as that was my mission) at which point Kev played a ‘Booby Trap’. he rolled 4 damage on 4 dice (one was an exploding 8) and my survival roll was 1 success. One dead Commando. After putting my Sniper on overwatch up high my Pyro moved into cover only for Kev’s Enforcer with Burst Laser to move and blaze away at the square I had just moved into which of course had cover (cover counts against in blaze away). With all the natural bonus dice for the weapon plus an extra blaze away card there was no dodging the 7 dice and exploding 8s. From alert to dead in one go, the Pyro joined the first Commando. The third casualty went the same way one round later after a solitary burst of fire and Kev’s Enforcers were stoically refusing to even move out of cover where all three were clustered together on overwatch. Why? Because of course the mission they had taken was to stay alive after scoring 10 VPs. The fact that of course they couldn’t actually score 10 VPs by not moving was neither here nor there so I knew it was going to be a stalemate game with Kev refusing to move from behind the building and me no longer having the units with which to winkle him out.
Down to two soldiers without even a reply it was over before it got started. Not the most engaging of games, but sometimes events just roll that way, so I conceded the game to Kev rather than just play out the card decks for a dozen more turns to eke out a draw. The problem was only really magnified by using such small strike teams, so I’m confident we won’t have a repeat next week when we scale up to full sized teams and unleash The Plague for the first time.
On the painting front, I have two more Enforcer specialists game ready and am well into the detailing on the first Rebel Grogan. There are other bits and pieces floating around, but I’m not going to cover those now and leave it for another night. Suffice to say there’s lots of interesting hobby news grabbing my attention which can all wait for the next update.
Until next time.