This week saw the opening salvoes in the club's Flames of War campaign, 'The End of the Beginning', which I happen to be running. The premise of the campaign is that it begins in late 1942, just after El Alamein, Operation Torch and Stalingrad when the Axis suddenly found themselves on the defensive on all fronts. Three teams of Allies (U.S., British and Soviets) are each competing to reach their objectives (Tunis and Kursk) before the others. Meanwhile, the German players (along with Allied players in German hats) are trying to hold back the Allies until the campaign finishes at the end of December.
This week, I donned my figurative black hat to attempt to stop Pete's Soviets from stealing an early march.
1500pts Mid War Eastern Front.
Grenadierkompanie vs Gvardeyskiy Tankovy
HQ Command + 2 Mortar Stands (attached to Pioniers)
White Pionier Platoon
2 x PaK40
3 x Marder IIIM
Pete's Guard Tanks
6 x T-34
5 x T-34
Armoured Infantry Platoon
Sporadic Air Support
The German forces established their perimeter around the small village containing the objectives, with the Marders and KV-1 on one flank, and the Pioniers and PaK40s on the other.
The massed Soviet armour launched a major assault on one side of the German defensive position (we later discovered that we were playing the scenario incorrectly).
As they advanced, the lost tanks to the Luftwaffe (who thanks to the proximity to their own lines, would spend the rest of the battle clearing the skies of Soviet aircraft), and Half-tracks (including all of their passengers!) to the Marders.
One platoon of T-34's launched an assault against the German lines, but were unable to dislodge the White Pioneers from their entrenchments. When the PaK40 anti-tank guns we finally brought to bear over the top of the hill, the Soviets were made to pay; even losing their command tank.
Another Soviet push saw their infantry advance through the woods towards the enemy. However, sustained fire saw them lose their company command and the attack was halted.
Two attacks had failed, Soviet losses were mounting and the Germans had only taken a handful of casualties. The last platoon launched a death or glory assault into the village.
And in the face of stiff resistance, they managed to push the Grenadiers out of the buildings and were closing on their objective.
Although the objective was still secure, the Germans now took the initiative and climbed from their foxholes to assault the infantry trapped in the woods. The contest was one-sided and the leaderless Soviets were forced to quit the field.
The Germans held their positions with minimal losses (only the Marders and a few stands of infantry) for a 5-2 victory. Whether this is enough to stem the Soviet advance this week remains to be seen, as there was another Eastern Front game in progress as I left.
Next week, I'll be breaking out my Americans for the first time ever. I'll be playing against German tanks (including at least one Tiger) in a place called the Kasserine Pass...I'm optimistic...