Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Counter Attack Orsha - Breakthrough AAR

My final game at Fall In was my only theme-centered game (this year it was "Vehicles of War: Trains, Tracks and Trucks"). The players would be taking command of Soviet and Russian forces during Barbarossa, with both sides clashing during the Orsha Counter-Offensive. 

There were four Soviet players (of which I was one) that controlled a division each, facing off against two German players with two regiments each. 

Our plan was to strike on the left side of the table where we had a distinct advantage in numbers, while the other two divisions would hold back a little longer. 

The Germans had the initiative and began to move out along the roads from town to town. 

Meanwhile, the German player on my side of the table roared forward to engage, leaving the Soviet forces on the backfoot. To prevent them from having an open access to the Soviet rear, the bridge on the nearby stream was blown. 

The Soviets had two problems to deal with: numbers and terrain. 

With so many units on the table, they could only squeeze so many men and machines in an area small enough to engage the Germans, which gave the Germans an advantage with their better stats. The river in front of my division also required an entire turn to cross, apart from the temporary bridge that an engineering unit set up. So when my troops were forced to fall back across the river, it took two turns to bring them back (and that didn't account for disruption markers gained from their poor leadership). 

Seeing that the left flank was stymied and holding on, the other two Soviet commanders charged their divisions forward, engaging the more strung-out German forces. 

A "turn" in Breakthrough represents 8 hours of real-time combat, so every third turn is a night (which I've represented through a vignette filter). Usually this is a good time to halt your advance and rally your units to prepare for the next day. 

Yet again, however, the Soviets were on the back foot. Our opponent had played a night fighting card (Breakthrough uses decks of cards for each national for some additional flavor that gives bonuses), and so could ignore the negatives of fighting at night. And as Soviets, we couldn't change our regiments postures from Attack to Defend, but had to shift to Reorganize first. Which would be fine, if there weren't two relatively fresh German regiments ready to pounce on any Soviet regiment that stopped its attack. 

I was pretty involved over on our side of the table so I wasn't entirely sure of what was going elsewhere. But from the picture, I see a lot more disruption tokens on the Soviet units than I see on the German. 

Notice, however, that the Soviet 17th Division had gotten a regiment of tanks over the river...

The dawn of the new day started with a German offensive directed at the command to my left. Through a series of absolutely incredible dice roles and some nerves of steel, the German attack was foiled by the Soviet player. This forced the Germans to fall back and, over on my side, move into a more defensive position and give me some breathing room. 

Through the open terrain on the other side of the table, the Soviets launched a new attack, forcing the Germans further back.

By the afternoon, both sides were fairly beat up on the Soviet left, and I had brought my reserve infantry regiment over the river to try and take the remaining Germans. 

But the real action was happening in the Center, where the 17th's commander had manage to surround one of the German regiments. Caught between two tank regiments, the Germans crumbled.

While the Germans had given the Soviet forces a beating and formed a decent defensive line, they were now split in half with the Soviets able to concentrate their forces as they wanted. 

We ran out of time here, and the game was declared a minor Soviet victory. Both sides were bloodied, but taking out an enemy regiment had given the Soviets a slight edge. 

Breakthrough was an interesting set of rules, and certainly the large "scale" of battle I've played yet. I think I'd like a second chance with them before solidifying my opinion. I did have a great time during the game, however, and that's what really counts. 

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