|2020-01-11||(A) John Gorkowski|| vs ||Bill Stoppel|| Russian win||These short sharp “white knucklers” always stress me out because so much depends on initial set up and first turn play; there’s NO margin for error or time for recovery. If one botches the opening, the handwriting is on the wall. I think Bill and I got our respective set ups “right” (enough), but the festival of violence that ensued settled the matter in two game turns anyway! Like I said, “white knuckler.” |
The Germans set up concealed with 8-0 leader, two squads, and MMG in building 71N4, the three hex stone structure at the center of board 71. They had a squad and a half forward of that in the P4/5 tree line with full view of the orchards. Another half squad in 71O2. One squad stood in the K7 orchard with a Panzerschreck. A squad and a half guarded the western edge of the wooden village in FrFAV3 and FrFAW3. His Jagdpanzer IV tank destroyers (TD) nestled in 71L4 and 71K7.
My Russians deployed something like this. 9-1 with DC and two 6-2-8s in 71S5. One buttoned T-34/85 with 6-2-8 underneath in 71T4. A T-34/85 in 71S1 and another tank in 71S3, both CE. One T-34/85 with rider in FrFO2 and another with rider in FrFO8, both CE. Notably, I spread my forces out more than I like to, but felt doing so availed opportunities for penetration around the FrFA wooden village. I dreaded the prospect of a frontal assault on the key stone building at 71N4, but felt I had to press there if for no other reason than to tie down his troops.
My Russians opened with prep fire from one tank at 71P4 which unconcealed and pinned a German half squad. From there, the T-34 and 6-2-8 in 71T4 moved forward via armored assault to 71O5, practically begging for a panzerfaust attack. Indeed, the concealed German squad in 71P5 produced and fired a faust that brewed up my tank. A loss to be sure, but now we had smoke in just the right place. So, my 9-1 with DC ran up from 71S5 to place the charge against the just-fired German squad which tried subsequent and final fires to no effect. The DC exploded to break and ELR the 4-4-7. The adjacent German 2-3-7 later voluntarily broke and ran away with the (now) 4-3-6 to 71N4. The 6-2-8s then moved forward safely so by the end of the first player turn the 9-1 and a full platoon of sub machine gunners owned the P4/P5 tree mass.
In the center, my T-34 in 71S1 bolted north along the FrFA Q1 to Y1 road to circle back on the German position and stop in 71J4 with a good shot at the back of the German TD in 71L4. Since the German stacks in FrFA V3 and W3 did not faust me, I assumed (incorrectly) that they were fake. Tough call for the Germans, I was adjacent but also moving. So fausting me would have required rolling three or less on one die to have it and then six or less on two dice to hit (if they risked eating the back blast) – very iffy. Anyway, the German TD in 71L4 spun around to face the T-34 and fired with a bunch of pluses to fail APCR, miss with AP, and miss intensive fire. My T-34 in FrFA O2 (with squad on top) then maneuvered to 71R3 to get a rear shot on the just-spun German TD.
Over on my right, the T-34 in FrFA O8 sped north along the FrFA R8 to Y6 road, turned west to reach FrFA X2 where that German “dummy” stack shed concealment to produce and fire a panzerfaust on its second try. Bill decided to eat the back blast which cut his squad in half and broke the leftover. Still, the faust landed a hit, but it went dud with box cars! My tank and squad reach 71I2 and stopped there to threaten the 71G4 stone building.
I split my reinforcements in half with one group going north along each board. Notably, I left an M10 TD in 71DD1, another M10 in FrFA I1, and offloaded motorized infantry in FrFA I2 to guard my flank. One M-10 planted at 71U8 to guard the north-south paved road. Truck borne Russian infantry reached and captured building FrFA W6 with an M-10 close behind in FrFA R7. Bill punished me for a risky truck move when his German MMG in 71N6 shed concealment to kill my transport and its 4-5-8 passenger in 71W7.
During advance fire, my T-34 in 71J4 hit the German TD in 71L4 with APCR and set it alight. So, the first Russian player turn ended with the two sides bloodied and locked in a fist-to-cuffs death spiral.
The Germans answered on their first player turn with disappointing prep fire and a Panther counter attack gone wrong. The German TD in 71K7 spun around to fire at my T-34 in 71J4. After rolling no APCR and missing with AP the TD opted for intensive fire which disabled its main gun for a recall. One Panther entered at FrFA GG1 and raced to 71H6 to set up a flank shot on my T-34 in 71J4. Another Panther rolled in at FrFA U10 to settle in a hull down position at FrFA S9 with sights on my M-10 in FrFA R2. The American-made Wolverine fired into the Panther’s turret with APCR for the kill! That hurt; at this point the Germans were down three AFV, but the Russians only two. Another Panther came in around FrFA G2 to stop on 71E2 with sights on my T-34 in 71I2, but the T-34 succeeded at a motion attempt. The best of the German infantry reinforcements – leader, 8-3-8 with flamethrower, and 5-4-8 with LMG – ran from FrFA GG1 to 71G4 to save that building and set up a thrust for 71N4 while a 5-4-8 with Panzerschreck came in concealed at FrFA S10 to stalk the insolent, Panther-killing Wolverine three hexes away. German troops in 71N4 prep fired to break a 6-2-8 in the adjacent wood and then regained concealment at turn end for a solid defensive position.
During Russian player turn 2, the T-34 and 6-2-8 around 71I2 went south with the T-34 stopping in 71L2 to put sights on the back of the 71N4 building. The 6-2-8s south of that building opted to wait for the advance phase to close on the now concealed Germans who had something like one leader, three squads, and an MMG. At mid-field, a T-34 drove to 71K1 and an M-10 to FrFA V1. The two Russian squads with leader and LMG in the FrFA wooden village traded shots with a weaker German force to retain the FrFA W6 building. The M-10 in FrFA R2 failed smoke pots before starting. As feared, the 5-4-8 in FrFA S9 fired its Panzerschreck to burn the Wolverine.
German player turn 2 proved critical. German troops in 71N4 again broke one 6-2-8 with prep fire. The squad with Panzerschreck in 71H7 ran east to K4 where it could have had a pointblank flank shot on the T-34 in L3, but a Russian 6-2-8 in 71J2 broke him with fire. Then the 5-4-8 with Panzerschreck, now in FrFA S7, fired through a flaming wreck at a T-34 three hexes away, but missed and broke the LATW. The two surviving Panthers on board 71 closed on the T-34 in 71K1 and M-10 to FrFA V1 for scary frontal shots. The Russian AFVs both failed APCR and saw their AP rounds bounce off Panther armor. Buttoned up and moved, the Panthers missed their shots.
This was an ominous development for the Germans. Although the Panthers would almost certainly kill the T-34 and Wolverine during defensive fire in the following player turn, they would first have to face Russian prep fire. No doubt the two Russian AFV, one with ROF 2, and both capable of intensive fire, would try for deliberate immobilization against the big cats and probably cripple one. Not to mention the possibility of flank shots against the Panthers from other Russian AFV closing in from elsewhere. Under this cloud, the German position got much worse when defensive fire by the 6-2-8s in the woods south of 71N4 and the T-34 in L3 just north of the building broke nearly all the German defenders.
The Germans surveyed the scene to see an unfavorable 7 to 2 AFV ratio, firm Russian control of building FrFA W6, imminent Russian capture of building 71N4, and no German threat to 71Y7, the Russian must-have building. With that the Germans yielded.