Monday, December 2, 2013

Evacuate? In Our Moment of Triumph?!

Since FlamesCon in October, Patrick and I have been trying to get a game in and every week, one or both of us have been too busy to scrape out a few hours and get the thing done,...until this weekend!

We decided to test out Patrick's Snapshot list that he has been working on, SS-Kampfgurppe Spindler. For my part, the upcoming release of Desperate Measures had me excited to play a Hero Motostrelkovy Batalon. The points were set at 1575 and neither of us knew what the other was taking.




Patrick's Force

SS-KG Spindler
(Fearless Veteran)
HQ55
add 2x Panzerfaust20
SS-Panzergrenadier Platoon220
add 1x Panzerfaust10
SS-Panzergrenadier Platoon220
add 1x Panzerfaust10
SS-Heavy Platoon (2x HMG)80
add 2x GW34 mortar 65
SS-Anti-tank Gun Platoon (3x PaK40)180
Lt SS-Anti-aircraft Gun Platoon (3x 2cm AA)80
SS-Rocket Launcher Battery (3x 15cm Nebelwerfers)120
Motorised SS-Artillery Battery (3x 10.5cm leFH18)180
Heavy AA Gun Battery
(4x 8.8cm FlaK36)
180
add 4x extra loading crews40
add 3x gunshields15
Sporadic Air Support
(FW-190)
100
Total1575
     versus       Mike's Force

Hero Motostrelkovy
(Confident Trained)

HQ30
Motostrelkovy Company (full)230
add Maksim HMG25
add 3x Panzerfaust30
Motostrelkovy Company (full)230
add Maksim HMG25
add 3x Panzerfaust30
Hero Motorised Artillery Battalion
(8x 76mm ZiS-3 guns)
230
Gds Hero Heavy Tank Company (3x IS-2 obr 1944)450
add 3x .50cal AAMG15
add 3x Tankodesantniki30
Hero Reserve Artillery Battalion (4x 122mm obr 1938)165
add Observer Rifle team15
Hero Anti-aircraft Platoon
(3x DShK AA trucks)
65
Total1570

Patrick's force had 8 platoons, while mine had 6. Like many of his SS lists, Patrick has gone completely trackless. This is not the first time he has done this, and I wasn't suckered in this time! I brought plenty of anti-infantry weapons, but just in case, I loaded up on some looted panzerfausts! Pat is an excellent infantry commander, and no doubt he had a cunning plan up his sleeve for dealing with any tanks I should bring...

The key things to remember with my Motostrelkovy is that they are essentially quasi-veterans, meaning they do everything as Veterans, except for get shot at. This ability of my army drove my inclusion of the Reserve Artillery Battalion, as well as the 8x ZiS-3 guns. The former would use the veteran-status to bombard, while the ZiS guns would use it on occasion, especially when digging in once under 16"/40cm for Volley Fire purposes.

I took the AA as a cheap platoon, but they too get the benefit of the Hero rules, so will KO planes on a 3+, rather than a 4+. Interestingly, they were very nearly useful in our game as Patrick brought some air support. The infantry and IS-2 will benefit the most from this ability once in hand-to-hand combat, so I better make sure they survive to make it in there!


The table was set up as an asymetrical layout with a town on one end and a series of woods on the other. The mission we rolled up was Dust Up, one of my favorites! As a Mechanised Company, my Motostrelkovy were on the attack, not that attacking means much in Dust Up, but it did mean Pat got to choose to set up in the town. Luckily that left me the woods, which I was happy with.


I stuck my 76mm guns, my AA, and the second Motostrelkovy company in reserve, while Pat put his AT guns, his 2cm AA, one SS-Panzergrenadier and the heavy platoon in reserve. Pat defended the village with a reinforced platoon of grenadiers and the two artillery batteries. The 88s took up a hedgehog formation in the middle of the village, gun barrels sticking out every which way!


I set up my 122s in a clearing and packed in a motostrelkovy on the forward objective. The IS-2s mingled with the infantry at a safe distance from each other to guard against a lucky artillery strike. The plan was simply to move forward and smash open a hole and take the closest objective with the IS-2s and motostrelkovy.



The din of battle was upon us, and it was game on! We both rolled a one to start the game. Luckily I had finished deploying first to win the tie but both of us rolling a one was a bad omen!

My strategy was simple: Grab the initiative and don't let go. Pat was running SS-KG Spindler, which has a good ability to more or less guarantee the arrival of his reserves. So I needed to get in quick, before his reserves could come into play.

Turn 1 & Turn 2
The first two turns were mostly quiet as took the initiative and attacked the village with my IS-2s. In a moment of indecision, I left my motostrelkovy behind to set up a perimeter and dig in (on a 3+, thanks to being Heros). I was already worried about Pat's reserves and so I didn't want the infantry to stray too far from the objectives. Besides, they were not going to have an easy run at the village due to Pat's Fearless HMG and MG teams defending there. I needed to soften it up with artillery and IS-2 main guns first.

The IS-2s hit it off well, knocking out two 8.8s in the village, while the 122s ranged in on the building next to the objective on the second turn.

Patrick managed to bring in a FW190 on his first turn, but the self-defense .50 cals shot down the solo plane.

Turn 3
On turn three, I get a reserve platoon and I selected my 76mm ZiS-3 guns. They arrived on the corner and I moved them forward as close as possible. They knocked out a howitzer while on the move, which was a bonus. However, the remaining 6 guns didn't manage to kill any 88s which returned fire. Luckily one one 76mm gun was lost as Pat and I make a lot of gun saves in one round of shooting! Patrick's nebelwerfers score another kill against the 76s, bringing them down to a six-gun battery.

The IS-2s keep pressing forward as the motostrelkovy went to ground and waited for the village to be softened up by direct IS-2 fire, while the 122s bombarded. Unfortunately, though hit many times, I was unable to actually cause any damage.


Patrick got his reseves in as well, thanks to Spindler's ability to re-roll failed attempts. He brought on his SS-Pak40s and moved them up into cover and took a few unsuccessful potshots at the motostrelkovy. However, his artillery struck the same target and knocked out a few teams, pinning them down temporarily.

Turn 4
The IS-2s kept moving forward, losing no momentum. My plan shifted slightly to bypass the village and overrun Patrick's artillery park with the heavy tanks. I needed the second motostrelkovy, but they were still stuck in reserve. No use crying over spilled milk, so the IS-2s knocked out one of the last two 88s on the move, while a portion of the 76s dealt with the last one and the command team.

Patrick continued to bring in reserves, but his Luftwaffe still did not show up following the first one getting shot down in turn one. Still, he brought in his SS-Panzergrenadiers and SS-Heavy Platoon and moved them up and tactically pinning my motostrelkovy between the two SS infantry platoons. I was alright with that as the motostrelkovy were ready, having established a picket line and set up an HMG pointing toward the new arrivals.


The Nebelwerfers and 10.5s continued to shell the motostrelkovy, taking a team out in the process. I realised that they were being softened up a lot quicker than my target was, so I needed to charge sooner, rather than later.

Turn 5
Finally, the motostrelkovy arrived from reserve. Using the shape of the village, I screened as many German shots as possible and ordered them to move at the double. The IS-2s kept moving up to support the infantry, and after a lot of MG fire, I managed to kill one infantry team in the village with a co-ax MG!

I needed to kill Pat's artillery while they were still not dug in (the ground surrounding his guns was apparently very hard!). So I actually used my 76s to bombard with a double wide template, catching a 10.5 and a rocket launcher and destroying them both. Meanwhile, the 122s kept up its steady barrage of the house in front of the village, knocking out an HMG.

On Pat's turn, he got in his 2cm guns and man-handled them forward into position to shoot at my motostrelkovy defending the objective. With concentrated fire, including 2cm, PaK40, mortars, and Nebelwerfers, he managed to kill another two SMG teams.

Against my motostrelkovy that moved at the double, Pat mustered 10 shots, missing only one. I then promptly failed five infantry saves, gutting the platoon!

Turn 6
I needed to even the odds a bit, because I was quickly losing manpower to Patrick's deadeye shooting. So, when the attacking motostrelkovy failed to unpin from the previous turn's shooting, I dug them in and opened fire with everything I had. 76mm guns and 122mm howizers shelled the buildings, while the IS-2 fired their heavy guns on the now exposed troops. Machine-guns opened fire and even my newly arrived AA MG trucks (dismounted) joined in. Would you believe it, that although well and truly pinned, I didn't score a single kill in all that mayhem!

Patrick didn't waste a moment, as his SS-Panzergrenadiers, AA and PaK40s tore into the other motostrelkovy. I was prepared for the inevitable assault, but naturally I lost a few troops from my counterattacking force.

Unable to pin down his assault with four hits (all saved), Pat's men charged in and wiped out three of my troops. I counterattacked with my small force of four SMG gunners and, thanks to being Hero, killed four of the charging teams. The SS troopers were not as fearless as one would believe and broke off (but stayed to fight on). The Motostrelkovy, now below half-strength, passes its morale to stay and fight on. The platoon still had six teams and the CiC, so I consolidated into the wood near the village and prepared to counterattack the exposed Germans.


Turn 7
My troops finally unpin and charge forward against the village defenders. The IS-2s are also ready, though they are being tailed by a hunting Panzerschrek team! The 76s pave the way for the assault, knocking out three of the infantry defenders with a volley of shells. The 122s fail to kill anything, but they succeed in completing the pin. I sent in the infantry to assault, themselves now down to eight teams. With five shots, Patrick hits four, all of which fail their infantry saves! With my remaining three teams (the last being an HMG), I stormed in and killed several teams, clearing two buildings. However, Patrick's counterattack f the CiC and two teams remaining in the platoons easily sweeps them aside. The last survivor of the motostrelkovy company, the HMG, passes its motivation to stay on the table.

With just a couple of teams remaining in the village, I decided to push into the buildings with my IS-2s and rely on my veteran Tankodesantniki to finish the job. One of the IS-2s bog down going in, but the others pass their 3+ skill test and get in there, grinding up the last survivors, finally.


Meanwhile, my motostrelkovy in the wood move up to SMG the Germans to death, and if need be, assault the survivors. With six SMG gunners, I poured 18 shots into the hapless Germans, and scored five hits against the three remaining teams. Miraculously Pat saved them all. I guess I'll need to assault! With a ROF of five in defensive fire, I charge in, through cover. Needing 4s, Patrick rolls nothing but 5s and 6s, not only pinning my troops down, but killing a couple as well. What, what just happened?! Luckily the company stays in play and retreats to the wood.

In his turn, Patrick unpins his small Pansergrenadiers and sends them back into the wood. I failed to hit anything coming at me with Defensive Fire, and in no time flat, my motostrelkovy not only lost the nerve to keep fighting, it vanished in a failed morale test along with my CIC. Pat consolidated onto the objective.

Turn 8
Now what? My only hope was to break Pat's company morale, since he had lost his CiC and 2iC in previous turns of fighting. My task was a large one. So far I had only eliminated one platoon, the 88s. The SS in the village still had a holdout in an outlying building that was fanatically passing Last Man Standing tests. Pat's two large gun platoons that came on from reserve were too big and spread out to cause enough damage. Pat's small assault force was deep inside the wood I had been defending and could not be seen. The 122s were not going to reach anything or do enough damage. So I decided to go for one more platoon and finish at a 3:4 loss.

The 122s fired in counterbattery at the smoke trails left by Pat's nebelwerfers, but failed to range in on them. The 76s shot at the last remaining 10.5 with six shots, missing five times to hit the unconcealed gun at long rage. Luckily the one that did hit the gun, destroyed it. The IS-2s crashed into the building containing the 10.5's staff team and commander, crushing them under the tank's tracks. After a consolidation move I was contesting the rear objective.

However, that's all I could do. Pat's troops claimed their objective and that was the game. I was a very high intensity game and Pat and I both thought that the Soviets had it in the bag. However all it takes is a couple of wicked bad rolls for infantry saves to ruin your day!

4:3 German Victory!  

My MVP pick for this match was the IS-2s. Making them Hero gives them all of the advantages I needed to keep them running. Their front armour of 11 makes them very hard to kill, as they were effectively Pak40 and 88 proof. The only concern I had was fausts in defensive fire, and these luckily missed.

I would strongly recommend that players not leave home without Tankodesantniki and .50 cal AAMGs as well. Hitting as Veterans in assault means that you're going to kill what's in front of you. I was quite bold crashing into buildings in this game because I knew that the tank itself was only at risk once, and the Tankdesantniki would protect it if things went pear-shaped. They also kept an eye on Pat's troops, making sure he couldn't sneak up on my tanks as I went around the buildings.

Once in the assault the rear-firing machine-guns will help lessen with enemy's hits against your top armor rating of 2 (which itself is a great advantage). All in all, I think that the IS-2 is a fantastic and survivable tank and one perfectly suited toward assault.

An honorable mention should go to the 76mm ZiS guns, as they were surprisingly good for their 230 points. They even dropped a double-wide template at one point! The 3+ firepower was essential for the attack and getting them forward was easy enough. Having eight of them was helpful to soak up casualties, but also to distract Pat's artillery away from my IS-2s and infantry for a few turns.

Thanks for stopping by!

4 comments:

  1. Very good and entertaining report!
    I have been looking over KG Spindler at little again, and am curious about the options to combat attach HMGs, pak40s and 2cm AA guns to combat platoons, making quite large fearsome platoons! Whether they would then become unwieldy , may be mission dependent? Big platoons could also more easily be pinned I guess but hopefully fearless would fix that?

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  2. Great report, excellent presentation!

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  3. Very cool AAR, I don't normally enjoy reading AARs, but I liked this one as in my head I could follow the action.

    Re: Tankodesantniki, don't you find they get pinned on the way in all the time? That was my experience anyway, so they were only any good on the counter-counter charge, and for that I thought they're too expensive.

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    1. Thanks Dave!

      I don't mind them getting pinned down as they are back in action on the counterattack. The trick is, like with infantry assaults, to hit the enemy where they can't bring a lot of firepower to bear.

      In other uses, the tankos are essential for keeping enemy infantry from sneaking up on the tanks, meaning that they can get closer to buildings without forfeiting DF.

      I think of Tankos as a 10-point insurance policy per tank :)

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