Friday, March 20, 2009

Battle Report - Shake and Bäke on the steppes

Last night the Conscripts assembled to play Spearhead CR, a house-modified, map-free version of Spearhead. The scale was 6mm, and the scenario was set in the Spring of 1944, west of the Dnieper river in Ukraine. It was based on the scenario "The Devil's Cauldron", from the scenario book "Where the Iron Crosses Grow."

The scenario featured Schwere Panzer Regiment Bäke, a heavy-duty "fire brigade" fighting to break out of a pocket and escort the remnants of a German infantry divison to "safety". A Russian infantry brigade and Guards tank brigade blocked their path.

It was a great turnout again - Dallas, Mike F and Cam took command of the Panzers, while Bill, Frederick and Mike B beat their ploughshares into swords and rolled with the Russians.

We used the giant 8'x5' table for the scenario, and the conditions hinged on whether the Germans could get a majority of of the infantry division survivors (represented by trucks) from one short end of the table ALL the way to the other side.

It seemed really easy until the German players realized that the trucks don't move very fast...but at least they had an escort party with style. Regiment Bäke consisted of a battalion of Tiger Is, a battalion of Panthers, and a battalion of combat engineers teeming with flamethrowers and other goodies and backed by a "Stuka Zu Fuss". Morale wise, the unit was a solid veteran force, with the Tiger Is in particular being total rock stars.

This being 1944, the Russians enjoyed the quality of quantity - two battalions of infantry, a battalion of motorized infantry, three battalions of T-34s (two of those units equipped with T-34-85s) and attached goodies including a unit of 76mm field guns, Su-85s and KV-85s. As a Guards formation, they even enjoyed a morale rating of "regular" (as opposed to "random").

The Russians were permitted to set the infantry battalions and attachments on the table, and hold everything else as a reserve. The infantry dug into blocking positions along a road and farm that cut from one long edge to the other. The Germans entered from the far short edge and began to trudge across.

Without dwelling on the details, the Russian side opted for an agressive use of their armour, pushing into the middle of the table in a bid to halt the Panzers. Dallas was in control of the Panthers, and although his first few turns were not promising, the gunners eventually remembered to use AT rounds and after a couple of turns the centre of the table was choked with burning Russian tanks and tank destroyers.

Shortly thereafter Cam made a flank entry with the engineers, and BBQ'd most of a Russian infantry battalion.

Morale rolls were tough for the Russians - although they have many "battalions", they tend to be smaller than the German equivalent, and so roll sooner (and more often) for morale. Frederick managed to stay in the fight for a couple of turns, but soon the surviving T-34s and infantry were withdrawing, leaving a big open flank. The Panthers had destroyed/routed the better part of a brigade at the loss of three platoons!

The Russians did bite back - Frederick's brigade commander was declared a Hero of the Soviet Union after single-handedly defeating three engineer platoons in two seperate close assaults, causing enough losses that the German Pioneer battalion had to fall back (tough break on that morale roll Cam)! Also, Mike B's motorcycle recon platoon had an epic adventure, racing around behind Mike F's Tiger I battalion and calling artillery on the German trucks, nearly winning the game. Low point for the Germans had to be Mike F's failure - using TWO platoons of Tiger Is - to knock out the Russian motorcylces...unfortunately for the plucky recon troops, that luck did not hold, and they were obliterated by HE in the next turn.

We ended the game a little after midnight, with victory in sight (although not completely assured) for the Germans. Shorn of most of their armoured support, the Russians looked set to become tread-food. However, the Germans could ill afford to lose anymore of the trucks, so in the end it was a very close game - the Russian players did much better than they felt, with all of those burning T-34s on the table.

Thanks to everyone for coming out, and to Dallas for hosting! Hopefully he will post pictures to the blog very soon.

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