Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Highway to Hell, Part 2 - 'O' Group AAR

This past weekend, we continued the "Highway to Hell" scenario that Ted had left set up in his game room. 

We got through 7 turns of a possible 18 in the first part. The Germans had approached Voin with only a single stand lost, but hadn't managed to cause any damage to the Soviet defenders yet.  

John joined us for this game, so he took command of the Soviet T-34 platoons that Ted had brought on at the end of turn 7. 

In response, I called up the German's remaining anti-armor reserves - an 88mm and a platoon of Panzer IVs. 

One T-34 brewed up from the German fire. 

And as was expected, the Soviets concentrated their fire to quickly remove the 88mm from play before it could do any real damage. This had happened in a previous game as well. The iconic artillery piece is something of a fire magnet, and doesn't have a chance if it's not in a well defended position. 

Unfortunately, as the attackers, Steve and I didn't have much of a better choice as to its deployment. If we were playing again, I would maybe try to tow the gun into one of the small forests on the edge of the table, but I wanted the elevated range that the sides of ravine offered. 

In return, another T-34 was knocked out by the Panzer IVs. 

The standoff in front of Voin continued, with the Soviet mortars hammering the infantry platoons in the woods. A shot from one of the Soviet anti-tank guns destroyed a Panzer III. 

After what seemed like an incredible series of dice rolls, the Panzer IVs ran out of luck. There was only a single T-34 left, but the Germans lost a Panzer IV. 

And I lost my last Panzer III from some accurate fire from the Soviet defenders. From four tanks to just one in a couple turns! At least the Soviets were also quickly running out of armor. 

Or so we thought. As Steve moved his tanks forward towards the objective, a pair of BT-7s fired from their ambush position.

The light tanks weren't too much of a threat, however, and return fire from the Panzer IIIs knocked one of the BT-7s out. The second BT-7 didn't last much longer. 

Earlier, Ted had sent one of his company commanders out to try and give the T-34s more orders (CC's have an 18" command range). Not wanting to let such a valuable target go, I sent a platoon of 221's after him. With a 2+ save and my terrible dice rolling, I only managed to suppress the commander and couldn't kill him. While this still led to some 'command crises' events (a fun little guessing game that can result in HQ Order losses. 

At about two-thirds of the way through the scenarios, both sides were relatively battered. Both the Soviets and Germans had at least one FUBAR, reducing their Battalion dice. 

With the long duel between the remaining Panzer IV and T-34 ending with the German tank knocked out, Ted and John decided to focus on the 221 platoon, deploying a couple infantry platoons with attached anti-tank rifles to surround the armored cars. In response, I deployed one of my infantry platoons and returned fire. 

After a couple turns of exchanging fire, the Germans were worst off, losing an infantry stand and one of the 221s. 

And there were more losses on the other side of the battlefield, as the Soviets lost an anti-tank gun and some infantry, and the Germans had an infantry platoon reduced to a single section.

At that point we called it a night at the end of turn 15. The Germans had lost 8 sections and the Soviets had lost 9, so two FUBARs for both sides. In order to win, the Germans would need to remove three more sections from the Soviets in as many turns, otherwise the Soviets would win. 

We decided that the game ended in a draw, with a slight edge to the Soviets. While the Soviets were close to breaking, the German offensive was pretty much blunted, with much of its ability to attack removed with the loss of the tanks. If the Soviet infantry platoons fell back out of range of the German infantry, the Germans would need to advance into the open to try and remove those last sections; a deadly proposition in the face of the still well-defended Voin. 

Still, it was a fun game and a good scenario. I can see how it could have turned out differently in several ways; if Ted's delaying action had worked, or the T-34s or Mark IVs had survived. 

This scenario is, however, much like the basic scenario in the rule book (the "Assault on Cristot"), as it's an attack on a defended set of BUAs. Ted and I chatted about trying out a scenario somewhat inspired by the "Counterattack at Grainville" scenario in the Normandy '44 supplement, with a series of strung out, single BUAs that encourages the defenders to fall back, instead of starting them in a single defended area. We'll see if that's something that can be done. 

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