Monday, February 7, 2011

(Pyrrhic) Victory!


The day started badly. In the north the 81mm MTR was only able to place one Smoke counter in Z17. As a result, when the 9-2 was moving through hex Y13 the hidden 9-1 and Russian .50 cal HMG opened up from the upper level of CC19 with an 8 FP attack. Snake eyes; everybody dead. Yikes.

However, things quickly started looking up. My reconnaissance revealed a dug-in T70 in W18 and a HIP T-34 in U18. My first salvos of fire pretty much shattered the first line of the Russian defense. I was able to chase the tank out of the S17 factory and clear it of Russian defenders. As the Pioniers ground forward through the factories the sturm troopers pushed down behind them. I avoided activating any Reserve units and severely punished the Russian defenders. Two of the T-34s had been destroyed and the third was Immobilized and tied up in Melee with an 8-1 and an 8-3-8 when my opponent conceded on Turn 6. Two Stukas had just arrived, but they did not get a chance to take part.

This shows the furthest advance of the German forces and the approximate positions of the Russian defenders at the end of the game:

German troops had surrounded the AA25 building and were preparing to destroy everything inside it. There was nothing between the German line and the southeast corner of the map. If the game continued beyond Turn 6 the P33 factory would have been effectively surrounded and cut-off from possible reinforcement. The next campaign game day was going to feature at least one module of Heavy Artillery pounding the P33 factory while kill-stacks manned by 10-3s, 10-2s and 9-2s held off any counterattacks. With this looming the Russian conceded.

Important Factors:

1. Day One Rocket

The entire tone of this campaign game was set by the relative performance of the German and Russian Rocket Modules on Day One. The German Nebelwerfer drifted to the most optimal hex possible, and completely wrecked the Russian defenses in front of the Power Station. This allowed me to assert my armor and blow open the line. Taking the Power Station on Day One is not an easy task, and I was able to do it this time around.

Meanwhile, the Russian Katyusha just missed totally disrupting the entire northern half of my attacking force. Had it drifted in a more fortuitous direction - or, God forbid, drifted to an optimal hex - I would have been in real trouble. As it happened, though, the four points Dade spent on the Katyusha module were more or less wasted. Those points would have served the Russian much better were they spent on a Militia Coy or SMG Coy. Not buying those extra troops, and not extracting a heavy price from the German with the Katyusha, contributed greatly to the manpower shortage the Russian faced throughout the game.

2. Manpower Discrepancy

Usually in Red Barricades the German troops are superior in quality but badly outnumbered. When the German stages an attack, there is usually the threat of a Russian counterattack wherever the German is weakest. This threat helps keep the German honest and limits his options.

In this game I was able to continually maintain a numerical advantage over the Russian. This created a positive feedback loop: the Germans had more troops, which let them concentrate their firepower more effectively, which let them kill more Russians, which maintained the German numerical advantage.

In "normal" Red Barricades games the Russian force grows and grows until it's so huge that the German has no chance of beating it. Somehow I prevented this from happening and was able to win.

3. The Riverbank in CG I

The riverbank (i.e that section of the map east of hexrow U and north of hex coordinate 11, approximately) is a huge weight around the Russian's neck. He can't afford to leave it undefended, but at the same time the German has the option of completely ignoring it. This makes it very hard to invest resources to defend the riverbank, and very hard not to. When I finally took the Chemist's Shop (building W10) it opened the door for my Day Seven flank attack that won the game.

In CG III the riverbank must be addressed by the German, because it contains victory locations. Therefore any resources invested in long-term defense cannot be ignored by the German.

Next time...

Our next foray into the Barricades won't be for a while, but we are considering tackling CG III with some modifications:

  1. Ignore all modifiers to the CPP roll, except for historical modifiers.
  2. Ignore the CG balance provision, which awards negative modifiers to CPP rolls.
  3. Use armor redeployment rule from VotG rather than armor recall.
  4. Replace one or two Pioneer Coys with an equal number of Sturm Coys in the German OB
Our analysis is that the resource management phase of the CG contains a great number of subtle elements that pile up to make a German victory impossible. The modifications above are a starting point for a discussion regarding how to make CG III balanced. Maybe we will figure it out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Live and Let Die

What does it matter to ya?
When you've got a job to do, you gotta do it well.
You gotta give the other fellow Hell!

Day Six: Aftermath

The day went essentially as planned.

In the North, my bold plan to knock out the forward-most T34 M41 failed. However I did achieve my Turn One objective: spur the Russian to move aggressively and expose himself. He drove his tanks into P4 and Q4 in an effort to put pressure on the machine gun nest in N5. When my Sturm Company entered on Turn Two, it caught the Russian completely flat-footed. One tank went down to a DC, the other to an ATMM in CC. With the tanks out of the way, the 5-4-8s pushed their way up the W and X hexrows and captured the Chemist's Shop without many casualties.

In the Center the Russians wilted under the massive firepower arrayed against them. I avoided risky moves (for the most part), using Assault Move and Advance to make my way forward. I knocked off six squads on Turn One and kept the pressure on. I made some headway and destroyed many squads, but the Russians were able to hold on to much of the terrain in this area. The hidden gun popped up at just the right time and prevented my troops from blowing a hole in the line.

In the South, however, I got whacked. I realized going in that I had defended this area lightly and was hoping the reinforcing Rifle Company would be able to shore things up. I did not count on the T34 M43s roaming so far into German territory. Dade drove them all the way down to the E hexrow, which put them in danger of isolation at the day's end. I hit them with about a half-dozen shots from the light mortars but did not generate an effect. I had two or three Streetfighting opportunities but could not cash in on any of them. As a result, the reinforcements were torn up and the original defenders in the P33 factory and the eastern housing complex were decimated.

In addition to all of that, I misplayed my artillery. My plan was to interdict any reinforcements entering from offboard, but I got distracted by the dug-in tanks. I almost scored big when a Flame was created in the rubble next to one of them, but then it extinguished itself. I did get lucky with a Critical Hit and blew up one of the T60s, but overall I would have preferred to disrupt the infantry.

As a result of the ground gained in the South, the Russians won the scenario. It is rare for the Russians to win in October, but I am not too worried. I laid a real hurt on the Russian. The final CVP tally was:

German: 110 CVP
Russian: 63 CVP

Not quite 2:1, but the sheer volume of casualties makes up for that. At the end of Day Six the Germans have a 2:1 manpower advantage over the Russian! I cannot recall any game of Red Barricades in which that has happened - the German is always outnumbered. I really can't explain how I have managed to create this situation. "Dumb luck" is all I got.

Day Seven: October 23, 1942

In the Refit Phase I battle-hardened five 4-6-7 squads and one 7-0 leader. The German ELR remained at 4, despite losing the scenario. German SAN remained at 2. I rolled [5-3=2] for CPP Replenishment and received 18 CPP.

Retained Forces:

1 x 10-3

2 x 10-2

1 x 9-2

1 x 9-1

7 x 8-1
3 x 8-0

1 x 7-0

1 x 6-1

20 x 5-4-8

1 x 2-3-8

13 x 4-6-8

1 x 2-4-8

4 x 4-6-7

1 x 2-4-7

6 x 4-4-7

1 x 2-3-6

1 x 2-2-8

5 x HMG
11 x MMG

7 x LMG

2 x Lt MTR
1 x Lt MTR(r)

1 x DC

1 x 81mm MTR

In addition, there was an isolated pocket containing:

1 x 7-0

1 x 5-4-8

1 x 4-6-7

1 x 2-3-7

1 x LMG

These forces will start play with Ammunition Shortage.


Pionier Coy, On-Map Setup [8-1=7 Full] (6-1=5: 9-2, 8-1, 7-0) 17 CPP

Stukas 1 CPP

Here is the Day Seven perimeter:

German perimeter in Blue (Isolated Pocket in Light Blue), Russian perimeter in Red, No Man's Land in Gray, Russian Reserve set-up limit in Yellow

I think Dade is expecting me to be fed up with his tanks by about now, and he's right. Nevertheless I opted not to purchase any AFV this day and sunk all my points into an on-map Pionier Company. Why do this? Well, I have a 2:1 manpower advantage and there will not be a better opportunity any time soon. In addition, I have GOT to tip the balance in the factories. I'm killing lots of Russians, but not making much headway. Pioniers are the best way to push the Russians back, and the 3 CPP spent to have them pushing from Turn One on (instead of spending 2-3 turns getting into position) is easily worth a platoon of PSW 221s, a battery of AT Guns or a module of Battalion Mortar.

I spent my remaining point on Stukas, in the hope that they enter early and harass Russian reinforcements.

Here is the Russian setup:


I expect that my opponent has purchased three Infantry Companies, and two of those have been set up in Reserve. He has no more Militia Companies to buy, so no purchased companies can set up inside the factory complex without paying an additional 2 CPP. I don't think he can afford to to do this, and expect the third company will enter as reinforcements.

He has clearly spent points on Fortifications, since the T34s are nowhere in sight. I also spy a cleverly-placed AT Ditch in O34 to prevent me from driving more tanks in through the vehicular entrance in P34. He also added another Trench in R32. Altogether that accounts for 43 FPP. I expect Dade purchased 80 FPP (2 CPP). Assuming he bought HIP for the maximum allowable number of squads (10% of 44.5 squad equivalents = 5), that would make an additional 15 FPP (58 total). Throw in a couple of HIP leaders and a few Fortified Buildings and he's at 80.

The Commissar's House is full of Reserve Cloaking counters, and I expect the bulk of whatever company they represent will be set up in this building. I would also expect the Heavy Weapons Platoon to be HIP upstairs somewhere, if not here then in the AA25 building. The approaches to the Commissar's House are suspiciously void of defenders (again).

I know he has a retained artillery module, presumably with pre-registered hexes somewhere over by the P33 factory. He may have purchased more artillery, but I think not. I think he spent his points on quality infantry.

Here are my plans...

In the North:

Three half-squad and a 7-0 leader are tasked with mopping up the Strategic Locations in this corner of the map. There might be a hidden Russian counter-attack force lurking up here, and if so these guys will find it. I expect not, though, and I should be able to take control here.

In the Center (North):

I plan to completely avoid the Reserve units. Right now, I have a 2:1 manpower advantage. Activating Reserve units only reduces this. My objective is to isolate those Russians in the factory complex and destroy them all. As I mentioned previously, I am suspicious of the lack of defending units in hexes X15, X16, X17 and W18. I think that my opponent has set up his maximum allotment of HIP units, and I believe that some are in this building/rubble cluster.

The 81mm Mortar is set up on the roof of the Chemist's Shop and will try to put Smoke in AA18 and Z17. There is a Mild Breeze from the North that will drift the Smoke in front of the Commissar's House. After that, the mortar will spin and try to hammer the entrenched units in U19.

The stack in W14 has an important and probably lethal task. It consists of a 6+1 Leader, 3 x 2-3-7 and 1 x 2-3-6. These units will attempt to discover hidden Russians and draw their fire by entering every location in hexes X15, X16, X17, W18 and V17 on Turn One. If they don't get blasted by the .50 cal HMG from the Commissar's House or by a lurking 6-2-8 in the buildings they will be in good position to interdict reinforcements and prevent routing. If they do stumble into an ambush, better they get whacked than a 5-4-8.

The big stacks in the S17 factory will start shooting. The 8-0 has an 8-3-8 with a Flamethrower in his stack; they will clean up what the 10-2s don't break.

The 9-2 in X11 has two HMG. His job is to move into Y14 and prevent reinforcements from crossing Leninskii Prospekt. A platoon of 4-6-7s will provide flank protection for the machine gun nest.

The isolated units will take control of the buildings around CC10 then help out the 9-2

The remainder of the force will drive south along the V and X hexrows, cutting off the escape routes for the Russian units in the factories.

In the Center (South):

The objective in this area will be "KILL, CRUSH, DESTROY" as on the previous day. The 10-3 and the 9-2 will blast hexes T22 and T24 respectively. There is a good chance both Russian units will break allowing the Pioniers in hex S24 to Assault Move into T23, place a DC to Breach the interior factory wall and hose down the Russians in U23 with a Flamethrower in the Advancing Fire Phase. I am concerned that there may be a hidden T34 in S26. To allay my fears, I will use an 8-1 and 5-4-8 + LMG in R25 to shoot an 8+0 shot into S26. It will reveal the tank with any result (9 or less) and then an 8-3-8 will hit it with a Flamethrower. If nothing is there, the 8-3-8 will Assault Move forward.

The remaining units will simply blast what they can and take what ground is given. I do not plan on making a strong push toward the P33 factory early in this game; I will wait until I have overwhelming force.

In the South:

The light mortars on the rooftops in G33 and G34 will take as many pot-shots at the dug-in T60 in T31 as they can, hoping to get a cheap kill. Everyone else is to hold fast.


Next game is scheduled for Saturday 2/5/11.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pig after pig, cow after cow, village after village, army after army...

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no foolin' around...

Day Five: Aftermath

This battle was much like the last: three yards and a cloud of dust, to coin an Americanism. My plan was to execute a pincer attack, enveloping the Russians in the factories so as to reduce them over time. It didn't go down like that.

The Germans encountered problems immediately. The 80mm artillery did pretty much nothing before the field phone gave out. In the south, the Russian had hidden a few 6-2-8s in exactly the right places to stop my advance in its tracks. I fought through them, and was barely able to get in position in front of the reinforcing Rifle Coy and its supporting tanks. There were Russian infantry squads behind me as well, so as soon as I got into position I had to start a fighting withdrawal from it. The net result is that things stayed essentially the same in the P33 factory: I had the southwest two-thirds and the Russian held the northeast corner.

In the middle of the map the 150mm artillery wandered all over the place, doing very little until late in the game when it landed on the trench complex. In the S17 factory things went very much as before, with the perimeter not changing very much. The 10-3 did manage to blow a normal morale check and leave a pile of machine guns for the Russians. Elsewhere not much happened until my reinforcing Rifle Coy arrived. They were able to force their way into the P21 factory and trade blows with the Russians there. It didn't seem like much was accomplished - the perimeter wasn't advanced very far - but I think I did some damage.

In the north, the Russians tried to push out of the Chemist's Shop into the northeast corner of the S11 factory. They didn't get very far, and the net effect was to create a Berserk 4-6-7 that charged the dug-in KV1 M42 and destroyed it in close combat.

When all the dust settled, the perimeter looked almost unchanged and the casualties were thus:

German: 63 CVP
Russian: 41 CVP

Just about a 3:2 ratio, barely acceptable. However, after the Refit Phase I retained 50.5 squad equivalents while the Russian retained 30.5 squad equivalents. I still have a squad advantage!

Day Six: October 22, 1942

In the Refit Phase I battle hardened five 4-6-7 squads and one 9-2 leader. The German ELR remained at 4; German SAN remained at 2. I rolled [4-4=0] for CPP Replenishment and received 18 CPP.

Retained Forces:

1 x 10-3

1 x 10-2

1 x 9-2

5 x 8-1

1 x 8-1 (wounded)

2 x 8-0

3 x 7-0

22 x 5-4-8

12 x 4-6-8

1 x 2-4-8

10 x 4-6-7

4 x 4-4-7

1 x 2-3-7

2 x 2-2-8
1 x 1-2-7

3 x HMG

8 x MMG

8 x LMG

3 x LtMTR

2 x ATR

1 x DC

1 x 80mm MTR

Sturm Coy [6-2=4 Full] (5-2=3: 10-2, 8-1, 7-0) 9 CPP

Rifle Coy [6-2=4 Full] (6-0=6: 9-1, 8-1, 8-0) 7 CPP

80mm MTR [6-2=4 Plentiful] 2 CPP

Here is the Day Six perimeter:

Russian perimeter in Red, German perimeter in Blue, No Man's Land in Gray, and the Russian Reserve Set-Up Line in Yellow

The Russian set-up looks like this:


My last two attempts at turning the corner on the Russians failed badly. (Why is there a voice in my head saying: "Precisely, Blackadder! That's why Ivan would never expect a third such attack!"). Sorry, but I have to decline. My opponent feels upbeat about his situation, but there are a few factors that I don't think he has considered fully:
  1. The Russian's are against the wall. They simply cannot retreat from the factories, because if they do, I win. They must stand toe-to-toe with my Sturm Troops, and given the superior German leadership and firepower, I think the 5-4-8s will win that fight.
  2. No more on-map setup. I presume that the Russian purchased the last of his available Militia Coy today. That means that going forward, no more units may be set up on-map for free. The extent of the German perimeter has also made it impossible for the Russian to set up in Reserve inside the victory area. From now on, the Russian will have to either pay an extra 2 CPP to set up an Infantry Coy on-map or bring reinforcements on from the board edge.
  3. I have a 20 squad advantage, and since I purchased two companies I will retain that advantage to the next day.
The window is still very much open for the German. I hope to be able to put together one or two good days and win the campaign.

The Russian set up has a few interesting features.

In the South:

I find it odd that Dade would stick at least three squads way off in the corner of the Housing Complex. I think these squads are there to prevent the Germans from encroaching on hex W45, which is a very useful place to enter reinforcing tanks.

I also find it odd that there is very little set up to the east of the P33 factory. In the last game, this is where the Russian ambushed my flanking attack. It seems likely that there are more units hidden here on Day Six. Backstopped by a dug-in T60, it would be a much harder task to attack in this direction.

Also, I know for a fact that there was a retained artillery module most likely aimed at the P33 factory. I haven't seen Dade reach for his large caliber artillery since Day One, and I'm a bit concerned that some 120mm OBA is waiting to land on me.

In the Middle:

I think that most of these units are Conscripts, with a few better-quality units sprinkled around to give them some spine. I know where one Gun is; it's in a Fortified Building hex in S20 and cannot be moved. The other one could be anywhere. I've marked in yellow some of the places that seem likely. The dug-in T60s in the south will be troublesome.

The North:

Once again, Dade has loaded up the Chemist's Shop but has left a wide-open lane to the Commissar's House. I don't know what to make of that, unless he intends to stage another diversionary attack to keep me busy in the P11 factory. The last one didn't pan out so well for the Russian. He appears much too week in the X14 - X19 building cluster, which makes me think another ambush is waiting for me there.

The German Plan:

I aim to avoid repeating my mistake. I am going to stay away from the dug-in tanks and I am not going to expose any flanks. My objective is to beat the Russian bloody.

In the South:

The objective here is to hold what I have and avoid taking chances. The observer for the 80mm OBA is on the rooftop in V40. His task is to interdict Russian reinforcements as they rush toward the P33 factory. I plan on dropping a spotting round in hex CC34 on Turn 1 and then see what happens on Turn 2. If no reinforcements come, then I will drop it on the dug-in tanks. The units south of the gully and those in the factory are going to hunker down and wait for elements of the reinforcing Rifle Coy.

In the Middle:

KILL. CRUSH. DESTROY. There is very little subtlety to this plan: line up my 5-4-8s with my best leaders and start hosing down anything that moves. I am taking a risk by putting the 10-3 on Level 2 in hex P18. From there, he can bring fire to bear on some very important Russian hexes such as R25, R27 and T23 - and, of course, all of the Chemist's Shop. However, this is a likely hex to be preregistered for artillery. I've studiously avoided such overwatch positions so far. Maybe my opponent will not expect me to use it today.

In the North:

The plan here is to try and draw the Russians out of their positions. I've lined up a bunch of squads out in the debris field. I hope to drop Smoke from the 80mm MTR on the tank in V8, then assault move a concealed 5-4-8 next to it. Assuming the 5-4-8 survives defensive fire and makes it's PAATC, I might be able to bag one of the T34s in close combat. If I can get one of them, the other will have to make task checks to move (owing to its lack of a radio). That won't be easy with an Inexperienced Crew. Meanwhile the 9-1 will be directing two MMG from the upper level of N5 and will ideally be able to break some of the units in the U5 area.

I plan on holding the reinforcing Sturm Coy off board until Turn 2. Hopefully the Russian will get aggressive and make a move toward the factories and out of his prepared positions. If I can maintain the element of surprise, my Sturm Coy with its 10-2 leader should be able to take the Chemist's Shop.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Crush Them Like Bugs

Once more into the breach...

(NOTE: This post will be somewhat abbreviated, as I only had a short time to prepare it prior to playing.)


Day Three saw the Germans get their inevitable comeuppance. Russian resistance stiffened, and at long last Uncle Joe's Boys were able to get in their licks. The Rocket landed in R22 and broke it's share of conscripts, but other than that had little effect. The Battalion Mortar observer disabled his field phone with the first roll of the game, so I retained that module (but could have used it to good effect). The tanks took a beating. All in all, it was a grind-forward-one-hex-at-a-time kind of day. The final CVP tally was German: 56, Russian: 60. Ugh. I was able to carve out a toe-hold in the P24 factory and take control of about half of the P33 factory. I actually lost ground in the R17 factory, losing about half of it to a Russian counterattack.

Here is the perimeter after the day's activities:

Blue = German Perimeter; Red = Russian Perimeter; Gray = No Man's Land, Yellow = limit of Russian Reserve unit set-up

Day Four: October 20, 1942

In the Refit Phase I battle hardened one 4-6-7 squad and one 8-0 leader. The German ELR dropped to 3 and the German SAN remained at 2. I rolled [3-2=1] for CPP Replenishment and received 18 CPP.

Retained Forces:

1 x 9-2 Armor Leader
1 x 9-2
1 x 9-1
4 x 8-1
1 x 8-0
1 x 7-0

10 x 5-4-8
9 x 4-6-8
1 x 2-4-8
5 x 4-6-7
1 x 2-4-7
5 x 4-4-7
4 x 1-2-7
2 x 2-2-8

5 x HMG
7 x MMG
5 x LMG
1 x ATR
2 x Lt MTR
2 x 81mm MTR
1 x LMG(r)
1 x Pzkpfw IIIH [Immobilized: R35-T35; no BMG]
1 x 80mm Battalion Mortar Module

My depleted ELR was of concern. I decided to take an IDLE day, because the "0" Historical Modifier for the Russians meant that they could only purchase two infantry companies. I could also buy two, and thus keep pace with my opponent.


Sturm Coy in Reserve [9-0=8 Depleted] (10-3, 8-1, 7-0; no MMG, no DC, 1 LMG) - 8 CPP
Sturm Coy in Reserve [4-0=4 Full] (8-1, 8-0, 7-0) - 8 CPP
Carry Forward 2 CPP

Day Five: October 21, 1942

Thanks to the purchase of two Elite companies, my ELR recovered to "4" in the Refit Phase. The Immobilization was removed from the Pzkpfw IIIH and I removed a retained LMG to repair the tank's BMG. Of course, the tank was promptly Withdrawn along with the 9-2 Armor Leader. The retained Russian LMG was lost. I rolled [9-1=8] for CPP Replenishment and received 15 CPP.

Retained Forces:

1 x 10-3
1 x 9-2
2 x 9-1
5 x 8-1
3 x 8-0
2 x 7-0

31 x 5-4-8
9 x 4-6-8
1 x 2-4-8
5 x 4-6-7
1 x 2-4-7
5 x 4-4-7
4 x 1-2-7
2 x 2-2-8

5 x HMG
8 x MMG
7 x LMG
1 x ATR
2 x Lt MTR
2 x DC
2 x 81mm MTR
1 x 80mm Battalion Mortar Module


Rifle Coy [4-1=3 Full] (9-2, 8-1, 7-0) - 7 CPP
150 mm Heavy Artillery [8-1=7 Normal] - 6 CPP
Pre-Registered Hex (T22) for Heavy Artillery - 1 CPP
Pre-Registered Hex (T24) for Heavy Artillery - 1 CPP
Pre-Registered Hex (R28) for Battalion Mortar - 1 CPP
+1 SAN (to 3) - 1 CPP

The Plan:

I expect that the Russian will be bringing in some heavy hitters from the east board edge as reinforcements. There will probably be at least one, maybe two platoons of tanks which could either be hidden on-board or entering with infantry. There may also be some large-caliber artillery trained on what Dade presumes my jumping-off points.

My plan is to envelope the remaining pocket of factories, hopefully taking the fight behind the factory complex. Meanwhile, the Heavy Artillery will endeavor to smite those units remaining in the factories. The Rifle Company will rush up the gut to pressure the western approach. The Russian forces do not have the luxury of retreating - they have to stay in the factories or the game is over. If I am wildly successful I will completely isolate the factory complex.

Friday, December 17, 2010

No Time for Mercy

Gonna go in and dig 'em out

Day Two: Aftermath

Again, I am shocked at the gains made by German forces on Day Two. Essentially, I lined up my remaining Sturm Company in front of the L10 and L14 factories, and then blew a hole clean through the Russian lines. The day ended on game turn 7; had it gone to turn 8 I would have had troops inside the Commissar's House. I vastly exceeded my goals for the day, and now have the Russians cornered. But as we all know, an animal is most dangerous when cornered and wounded.

By the numbers, I did enough to keep pace. The CVP tally was thus:

German: 61 CVP
Russian: 30 CVP

I attained the necessary 2:1 CVP ratio. However, 16 CVP came from two destroyed T60 M42 tanks and a captured 45LL ATG. When considering only infantry casualties the score was 45:30, or a more modest 3:2 ratio. Acceptable, but barely so. The running total for the CG is:

German: 103 CVP (78 Infantry, 25 AFV/Guns)
Russian: 65 CVP (41 Infantry, 24 AFV/Guns)

It's interesting that hardware losses are approximately equal, but the Germans have inflicted almost twice as many infantry casualties as the Russian. Dade and I maintain that a 2:1 casualty ratio is necessary for the German to win, and so far this playing is showing that maxim to be true.

Here is a graphic depiction of the Day Two goals and the actual line of furthest advance:

Things started out a bit shaky. In the south, half of my reinforcing Rifle Company rushed across Tramvanaya Street to hexes F26 and F27. The other half secured the cluster of rubble and buildings around B28. The 9-1, his two squads and their MGs managed to link up with the two 1-2-7s and their MMG set up in B27, creating a 30 FP overwatch stack that positioned itself in the upper level of hex C29.

Meanwhile an 8-1 with two squads, supported by a Pzkpfw IIIH, began crossing the open ground toward C33 using armored assault. They made it as far as B32, when a hidden Russian observer dropped 80mm Battalion Mortar on them. Both squads broke, and routed with the leader to A34. Unfortunately, a hidden 6-2-8 lurked there and all three units were lost. Further, the rest of the Rifle Company was dangerously exposed. Disaster loomed.

Not all was lost, however. I had placed a 2-4-7 on the rooftop of the Power Station to make sure any hidden units on factory rooftops would be exposed. There were none. When I saw where the Russian artillery requests were placed, the number of possible locations containing the observer were reduced to only a few. I am usually hesitant to use Area Fire vs. empty hexes as a reconnaissance technique, but this time it paid off. After a few shots I discovered the observer in the upper level of hex F33, then hosed him down with a 30+1 shot from the overwatch stack. That eliminated the artillery threat and allowed the Rifle Company to continue unmolested to the cluster of rubble and buildings around F33 where I rooted out a few more hidden units and captured a 45LL ATG. Once that area was secured, the perimeter was pushed south to the gully and across the debris field toward the Q34 factory.

Around the Power Station, I simply crept forward taking what the Russian was giving me. The reinforcements arriving from the west allowed me to whittle down the defenders and keep them from causing too much trouble. Tanks eliminated two of the dug-in T60 M42s, but I was not present in enough strength to push across the street into the P25 factory.

In the northern factories, things got weird. Dade had deployed mostly dummy counters in the L10 and L14 factories and the Sturm Company had little trouble clearing them. On Turn 1 a Russian sniper killed the 9-1 that set up in J13, putting a bit of a kink in the overall plan (on the day, Russian sniper rolls accounted for 3 of the 5 slain German leaders). The 9-2 and his 36 FP stack of MG needed to be re-positioned to take over for the dead 9-1.

After clearing the first two factories, I was faced with the ugly proposition of crossing the street between the L10/L14 factories and the Q10 factory. The Russians had a MG nest upstairs in N5, sweeping the street, and the bulk of the defenders were lurking in the P-hexrow where I couldn't bring my firepower to bear without moving into a kill zone.

I decided to crack this nut by threatening the Russian MG nest with the 9-2, which caused the Russians to retreat and allowed the squads set up around G6 and H8 to creep forward and pressure the north flank. As I posted in my last entry, I did not expect the tanks to survive the day's fighting, so I brazenly drove the Pzkpfw IIIH through the rubble in N17, through the debris in O17 and on top of a Russian 9-1 with a 4-4-7. About a platoon of 5-4-8s was able to squeeze in behind the tank, and one of them advanced in with it. In the ensuing Close Combat phase the Russians eliminated the 5-4-8, but the tank remained. In following fire phases the tank's machine guns were able to break the 9-1 and his squad, as well as everything else that tried to approach. The Pzkpfw IIIL raced up to support its colleague, and also employed its MG firepower to devastating effect. Germans held the P18 building and the southwest portion of the Q10 factory; this opened the door for the rest of the Sturm Company to surge through the Q10 factory and take the S17 factory.

As it turns out, I was wrong about the tanks. All four survived. Here is the path the two tanks in the north followed over the course of the game:

If I go on to win this campaign game, it will be because of those two tanks and their effectiveness on Day Two.

Day Three: October 19, 1942

In the Refit Phase I battle-hardened five 4-6-7 squads and one 8-0 leader. The German ELR remained at 4; German SAN remained at 2. I rolled [5-1=4] for CPP Replenishment and received 17 CPP.

Retained Forces:

1 x 9-2

1 x 9-1

3 x 8-1

3 x 8-0

1 x 9-2 AL

1 x 9-1 AL

8 x 5-4-8
9 x 4-6-8

1 x 2-4-8

12 x 4-6-7

1 x 2-4-7

3 x 4-4-7

4 x 1-2-7

2 x 2-2-8

5 x HMG

6 x MMG

5 x LMG

3 x ATR

2 x LtMTR

2 x LMG(r)

2 x 81mm MTR

1 x Pzkpfw IIIL

3 x Pzkpfw IIIH


Sturm Coy [9-1=8 Full] (9-1, 8-1, 7-0) - 9 CPP

On-Map Setup for Sturm Coy - 3 CPP

Nebelwerfer Module [7-1=6 Normal] - 2 CPP

Pre-Registered Hex for Nebelwerfer - 1 CPP

Battalion Mortar Module [8-1=7 Normal] - 2 CPP

Here is the Day Three perimeter:

German Perimeter in blue, Russian Perimeter in Red, No Man's Land in gray. The Russian Reserve Unit set-up line is in yellow.

One look at the perimeter and I immediately decided to use my second (and last) Nebelwerfer Module, pre-registered on R24. Russian units are guaranteed to be packed into those factories. Since the Russian perimeter takes a sharp turn to the east, it creates fewer opportunities for the barrage to drift somewhere useless. The least helpful direction of drift would be to the south east, but that would end up precisely on top of any Reserve units backstopping the R23 and R27 factories.

The rest of the purchase took more thought. I considered eschewing the Nebelwerfer barrage in favor of purchasing two companies. I thought about buying a Sturm Coy along with a Pzkpfw IVF1 Ptn. However, those options were troubling to me because of the immense distance the reinforcements would have to travel to engage with the Russians. It would not be until turn 3 or 4 that the reinforcements would reach the line, leaving not enough time to use them properly. Any thought of going Idle for the day was absent from my mind - I have the Russian cornered, and allowing Dade to catch his breath and dig in would be a dreadful error. I solved the problem by foregoing the purchase of an AFV platoon and instead spending 3 points to set up the Sturm Coy on-map. I hope that this will give me an element of surprise, because I don't think Dade expects it.

Russian Setup:

Here is what Dade sent:

I was hoping that Dade would dedicate more forces to defending the Chemists Shop and the Commissar's House. However, he has clearly realized that they are of reduced strategic importance now that the Germans are in position to sweep the Russians out of the factory complex.

There do not seem to be enough Russian units set up on-map. I count only 28 non-Reserve stacks. Dade clearly purchased one company in Reserve, and he MUST have purchased a second company. Are they entering from off-board? Very possible. I would not be surprised if he also brought on a mobile platoon of T-34 M43s along with the infantry. It's a gamble, given the possibility of Stukas in the sky, but at this point the Russian has to gamble a bit. A dug-in platoon of HIP T-34s could also provide nasty surprises. Assuming Dade purchased two companies of infantry, the maximum number of HIP Russian squads allowed would be 5. I will have to keep one eye open for nasty ambushes. On Day Two, even when I was being exceedingly careful, I still stumbled into an ambush. I hope I avoid it on Day Three.

The German Plan:

In the south, a picket of half-squads will attempt to consolidate the area around the Bread Factory. If they run into hidden Russians things will go bad for them.

The Sturm Company and the retained Pzkpfw IIIHs are set up to bust into the P34 factory and are tasked with taking it in its entirety. If Dade is bringing on reinforcements from off-map, they will probably head straight for this factory. I expect a fight. The 81mm mortars are set up on the rooftop of the G33 building in order to drop smoke in helpful places. The Battalion Mortar observer is on the rooftop in K30 to provide artillery support.

The Nebelwerfer is preregistered to drop on G34. How it drifts will have a big effect on what the remainder of the German forces do. The general plan is to have the 4-6-8s in the M24 and L26 buildings, along with their fire support stacks, secure the buildings west of the street and push across it when an opportunity presents itself. The 9-2 Armor Leader with his Pzkpfw IIIL is set up in L19 to destroy the dug-in T60 M42 in hex O23 and then support the attack. The retained 5-4-8s in the S17 factory will push southward.

The remaining forces in the P5 and O10 factories are there to make sure that they are really empty. A strong force of hidden 6-2-8s lying in wait could do some real damage.

It is entirely possible, if my luck holds up, that the Germans could win this thing on Day Three.

It’s often said that the dead appear to be sleeping. Not this Russian, frozen in the instant of waking from a horrible nightmare. His last moments had comprised a fevered, clawing scramble through broken glass and jagged metal until machine gun bullets tore him apart. The remains were now inextricably tangled with the twisted frame of the collapsed skylight, head tilted at an impossible angle, eyes fixed glassily on Krankauer.

The sergeant observed, stock-still. That could be him, snatched by the ravenous claws of Stalingrad, but – on this day – it was not. Maybe he and this Russian were more alike than he cared to realize. Maybe the Russian had brought in harvests, made mischief, kissed girls, loved his country. Or maybe he had been an unrepentant criminal and his grisly death the just reward for a poisonous life. Krankauer could never know, so it did not matter.

It took much effort just to reach the body, wedged as it was into the tight interstices of the debris, and Krankauer silently complimented the dead boy for his resolve to escape. A thorough search of the body was even more taxing and in the end a disappointment: no cigarettes. Krankauer wormed his way out of the wreckage and slumped against a concrete wall. So easy to lie down, not move, stop struggling. He doffed his helmet and thought of Oma Anina and the smell of fresh-baked pastry, then let the exhaustion wash over his body. So easy.

“Steh auf!” The prodding of a hobnailed boot brought Krankauer back to consciousness. “Komm mit mir!” The sergeant lurched to his feet. “Jawohl, Herr Leutnant.” Clearly the lieutenant was in command, but Krankauer did not recognize him; a state of affairs becoming all too frequent of late. Surely this lieutenant had important orders for the coming day, for he was already striding off in search of the other platoon leaders. No rest, then. Krankauer replaced his helmet, grabbed his weapon and followed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Into the Factories

Air superiority has its advantages.

Day One: Aftermath

This was the best opening-day attack that I have ever put together. Overall, the CVP tally looked pretty even: the Russians lost 42 CVP, the Germans lost 35 CVP. However, if one removes those CVP garnered from destroyed vehicles and guns, the totals were thus:

Russian: 33 CVP
German: 11 CVP

That's a 3:1 infantry casualty ratio in favor of the German. Conventional wisdom states that a 2:1 casualty ratio is necessary for the German to keep the Russian on his heels. If I can continue to limit my infantry losses and still get in my licks I should do well. I did lose four tanks, but that does not cause me much concern. Tanks are to be used, and are expected to be destroyed at an alarming rate. This is Stalingrad, after all.

The day started with mixed results. The 80mm Battalion Mortar dropped its Smoke exactly as drawn up. However, I drew a red chit for Battery Access for the Nebelwerfer right off the bat. I had planned for this contingency, so it wasn't a complete disaster, but it did bottle up the Sturm Company for a turn. Without knowing where the barrage would land, I could not risk moving into hexes that might get hit. Here is the situation at the beginning of German Turn Two:

The Rifle Company had managed to take up positions behind the railway berm with minimal casualties, and was preparing to push through the F6 building and toward the H8 building. The PzKpfw IIIL Platoon was required to abandon its plan to support the assault on the B12 building and instead joined the Rifle Company.

The Sturm Company crept forward and took up positions in the wooden buildings and rubble around B8. When the Nebelwerfer barrage landed, it drifted one hex to D12 - an optimal placement. The Sturm Company moved up to the edges of the blast radius and curled around the west side of the B12 building. The reinforcing Rifle Company and PzKpfw IIIH Platoon followed on behind, spreading out as best they could. At this point, my attack was at its most vulnerable - had the Russian been able to drop artillery on the bunched-up German infantry things would have gone to hell.

As it turned out, there was some large-caliber artillery aimed in my direction. That clever bastard Dade waited until I took building F6 to call in his own Rocket barrage, preregistered in hex G5. The barrage drifted one hex to H5, and thus I was able to rout away from it. However, had it drifted to the south or southwest the rocket would have landed on an entire Rifle Company and most of a PzKpfw IIIL Platoon. I was lucky to escape with a few broken units. The barrage did put a stop to my advance in the north.

In the south, the Nebelwerfer chewed up the Russian defenders, removed two Wire counters, rubbled a number of building locations and set a bunch of things on fire. I took building B12 and formed up to make a push for building B17. A dug-in KV1 M42 appeared in E15 and chased my riflemen out of the E hexrow. A 45LL ATG appeared in C17 and claimed a tank moving into A13 - but not until it had removed the Wire placed there. I figured that there would be anti-tank assets in that area of the map, and so I endeavored to use the 80mm OBA to drop Smoke. I had fortuitously preregistered the ATG's hex, but the module was not accurate and the Smoke drifted south. After a few attempts at repositioning it I gave up and decided to take a different tack.

Luckily, fate smiled on my efforts. German Stuka reinforcements showed up - three of them - and one was able to sight the KV1 M42 and hit it directly with a 150mm bomb. After the destruction of the dug-in tank, there were very few Russian units in place to stop my advance. If I could find a way to quickly destroy them before Dade could reposition other defenders, the way to the Power Station would be open. My Sturm Company was poised and ready, and I still had two tanks. Here is the situation (not all units are depicted, just those of prime importance):

I had a powerful stack (4-6-7 + HMG, 4-6-7 + MMG, 5-4-8 + MMG) led by a 9-2 in hex B13 (there was also a burning wreck in this hex, but I omitted it for clarity). Just ahead of this stack I had two PzKpfw IIIH conveniently parked in hexes blind to the ATG. A 5-4-8 was with the lead tank. The Russian had a concealed 4-4-7 in B17, a concealed 45LL ATG + crew in C17 and a concealed 9-0 + 4-4-7 in F17.

First, I moved the tanks along the A hexrow and into bypass to freeze the 4-4-7 and ATG crew:

Both tanks survived CC Reaction Fire, allowing the 5-4-8 and the 9-2 to move up:

The 9-2 was then able to use Spraying Fire in the next DFPh to hit both Russian units with a 30 FP attack. Both of them broke, and the tanks cleaned them up in CC. With nothing to stop them, the Germans pressed on toward the Power Station:

Only one of the tanks survived this sequence of events, but it was the turning point of the game. From this point onward, it was a footrace to the Power Station. I achieved, and exceeded, all of my objectives for the day. The game ended on Turn 7, and the Germans had managed to occupy all of the Power Station and had procured a toe-hold in the factories:

At the end of the day, the perimeter was thus:

The Russian perimeter is in red, the German perimeter is in blue and no man's land is in white. The setup line for Russian units in Reserve is in orange.

Day Two: October 18, 1942

In the Refit Phase, I battle hardened two 4-6-7 squads and one 7-0 leader. The German ELR remained at 4. I rolled [8-2=6] for CPP Replenishment and received 16 CPP to spend.

Retained Forces (SAN 2 ELR 4):

1 x 9-2
2 x 9-1

2 x 8-1

3 x 8-0

1 x 9-1 Armor Leader

3 x 4-6-8

10 x 5-4-8

1 x 2-3-8

17 x 4-6-7

1 x 4-4-7

2 x HMG

3 x MMG

5 x LMG

2 x ATR

2 x LtMTR

1 x DC

Pzkpfw IIIL

Pzkpfw IIIH


Rifle Coy [5-3=2 Full] (6: 9-1, 8-1, 8-0) - 7 CPP

HW Ptn [6-2=4 Full] - 6 CPP
Pzkpfw IIIH Ptn [12-2=10 Depleted] (4-1=3: 9-2 Armor Leader) - 3CPP

I looked at the situation from many angles, and considered a number of options including:
  • Purchasing 150mm Heavy Artillery and hammering the Russian front.
  • Purchasing 150mm Rocket Artillery and hammering the Russian front.
  • Purchasing two modules of smaller artillery in support of an attack into the L27 or L17 factories.
  • Purchasing a combination of artillery and AFV in support of an attack into the L27 factory.
  • Purchasing a pile of AFV and halftracks to push down Tranvanaya Street.
  • Purchasing a HW Platoon and AFV Platoon to support an attack into the L27 and G26 factories.
I opted for the last option above. The Russian starts Day Two with only 15 squads of infantry, which is enough to cover about one-quarter of the front. Dade will probably be purchasing at least two, probably three companies of infantry. Two of those will be Militia, which can set up on-map without additional CPP expenditure. A third will probably be of high quality, a Guards Rifle or Guards SMG Coy, and likely set up in Reserve. I decided not to buy artillery this day, because Russian units can too easily skulk away and leave me no targets. Also, because I am not selecting preregistered hexes I can choose to set up my attack anywhere along the front. Purchasing a Heavy Weapons Platoon provides some long-range firepower and also gives me two 81mm MTRs for Smoke capability. Another platoon of tanks, albeit depleted, with it's 9-2 armor leader should help deal with trouble spots. The Rifle Company can make a cautious attack from off-board. After I see the Russian setup I can devise a plan.

The Russian Setup

This is what the Germans face on Day Two:

I'm glad that I did not purchase an artillery module - there is a paucity of juicy targets to drop it on. Any squads that I could manage to hit would be able to easily advance or rout away. I'm much happier with having the 81mm mortars which can be placed to drop smoke where I absolutely need it and which will be retained for the next day.

It looks like Dade has purchased a Militia Company and set it up in a picket line through the L10 and L14 Foundry Halls. He also appears to have purchased two companies in Reserve. My guess is that he has a Rifle Company covering the river and a Guards SMG company covering the southern portion of the line. He has spent at least 2 CPP on fortifications, and 60 FPP are visible in the form of Wire. That means he has spent 20 FPP on other things, most likely Dummies and HIP units. There is an ambush lurking, somewhere. He has also purchased some dug-in tanks. My guess is that they are T-60 M42s rather than T-34s. Does that add up?

4 CPP: Militia Coy
4 CPP: Rifle Coy in Reserve
6 CPP: Guards SMG Coy in Reserve
2 CPP: 80 FPP
2 CPP: T-60 M42 Ptn Dug In

18 CPP Total

Yes, it's possible.

Day Two: The German Plan

Overall, I intend to straighten out my line and protect the Power Station. Right now, it lies in a precarious salient flanked by the large factory to the north. I intend to clear the L10 and L14 factories with my main attack and consolidate its flanks.

The Main Attack

My remaining Sturm Company, along with the battle-hardened 4-6-8s and augmented with the Heavy Weapons Platoon, will push inexorably into the factories from the west. The 9-2 leads a 36 FP stack whose job is to hose down any Russian that dares come within sight. The stacks led by 9-1 leaders muster 27 FP and 24 FP. I intend to carefully move forward, avoiding close combat (and sewer entrances!) and use my overwhelming firepower to break and rout the units in the factories. The tanks will provide support in the north, where there is less debris. They can freeze defenders without offering Streetfighting opportunities and can also Breach interior walls. They will, of course, not survive the day.

The North Flank

I have set up 8 of my retained rifle squads in and around the H8 buildings. Their job is to hold off any probing Russian infantry and, if possible, inch forward and take what the Russian gives me. I will be happy to let them sit in place if the main attack goes well.

The South Flank

The remainder of the retained rifle squads, the 81mm mortars and a portion of the HW Platoon will set up in/around the Power Station, G22 building and C24 building. The reinforcing Rifle Coy and Pzkpfw IIIH Platoon will enter along Yanvarya Street. The objective in the south is to reinforce the Power Station, take what the Russian gives me around the G26 factory and consolidate the line. If things go well, I may make a very cautious advance toward the B34 and G33 building clusters. The mortars are placed to be able to put Smoke in strategic hexes - M21 to hinder fire from the dug-in tanks, and D27 to cover the entrance of my reinforcements.

We plan on playing this out on December 11th. I am confident, but foresee difficulty inflicting enough Russian casualties to keep on pace.

The power station was empty when Krankauer and his men captured it. The massive generator turbines were silent in their concrete stalls. The smell of grease and diesel was overpowering. A number of window panes, haphazardly located, were broken allowing shafts of late afternoon sun to pierce the gloom. Inexplicably, the station was empty and somehow that emptiness was intimidating. Where were the defenders? First and Third Squads had pushed on, but Krankauer called them back. There was precious little daylight left, and he had no idea what lay beyond the station. Better to hunker down and wait for orders.

The night passed quietly, for Stalingrad. Richter had taken a sniper's bullet in the foot and was evacuated, but aside from that there was no action. From his vantage point on the rooftop Krankauer had searched in vain for some sign of the enemy. Nothing stirred in the unnatural silence. A runner arrived with orders for the coming day: take the Foundry Hall. Krankauer felt nothing when he read them, but he had desperately wished for a cigarette afterward. Take the Foundry. Looking at it then, at night, from across the street, it seemed huge and malevolent. He had no desire to inspect it from the inside. They had been lucky on the previous day with their pell-mell advance through minimal resistance. They could not expect the same in the morning.

Krankauer had tried to get some sleep but failed. There had been too much to work over in his mind. Now he crouched with his men in the shadow of the looming factory, motionless amidst the jumbled remnants of smashed machinery and twisted sheets of corrugated metal. There could be a hundred Russians within a stone's throw, lurking in the shadows, waiting for Krankauer to make a mistake. Or none at all; he would see soon enough. Again, he wished for that cigarette. The darkness was suffocating. Abruptly the terror came, a familiar deathly fear, of the sudden eruption of an angry swarm of tracers, of diving to the ground amidst the whumps of enemy grenades and the screams of wounded men. Of Holz, staring up from the shallow grave. Krankauer faltered, then, just for a moment as panic overwhelmed him. A second later his training took hold and he forced himself forward. Good. No one had noticed. The faintest hint of dawn was showing in the east. It was time to move.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Long Road Ahead

September 1942: Soldiers of the German Sixth Army arrive at Stalingrad. Few will depart.

Day One: 17 October 1942

Once again, Dade Cariaga and I have decided to return to Red Barricades, our favorite ASL Historical Module. We have chosen to play Campaign Game I: Into The Factory, because in our opinion the other two campaign games are very unbalanced. Dade was given choice of sides and he chose to take the Russians, leaving the burden of attack with me. As we have done twice in the past, both of us will be chronicling the game by recording our thoughts before and after each Campaign Game Day (go here for Dade's musings).

As a preface to my discussions here, I refer readers to an earlier post in which I discuss some basic truisms relating to Red Barricades campaign games. Dade and I have learned much since November 2009, but the basic points of that post still apply.

The German players has three essential tasks in front of him on Day One:
  1. Secure a jumping-off platform for Day Two
  2. Destroy Russian forces
  3. Minimize losses
Achieving all three is not a simple proposition, with #3 being the most difficult. The German force on Day One is a coiled spring cocked and ready to blast through the Russian defenses. The German will probably be able to take whatever objective (within reason) that he targets. However, the butcher's bill will always be higher than the German would like.

CGI differs from CGIII in three significant ways:
  1. The campaign lasts only twelve days
  2. Fewer units are available for purchase over the course of the game
  3. The victory conditions only require control of locations within the factory complex
Because of these differences, I do not believe it is critical for the German to try and force the riverbank and take the Commissar's House. Given the longer time frame of CGIII and the need to control the entire map, a riverbank attack is almost necessary in that game. But for CGI it is more important to bust into the factories early and keep the pressure on. I cannot afford to spend my efforts fighting over terrain such as the Chemist's Shop (building X10) and the Commissar's House (building BB18) when doing so does not capture victory locations.

I plan to instead make a determined thrust toward the Power Plant (building J21), which is the key to the defense of the southern portion of the complex. It is possible to occupy the Power Plant with German troops on Day One; I've done it exactly once before with a daring halftrack thrust down Tramvanaya Street. I plan on using different methods, and hopefully I can achieve similar results, but my main goal will be to set myself up for a successful Day Two assault.

Order of Battle:

SAN: 3 ELR: 4
Sturm Coy [Full Strength] (9-2, 9-1, 8-0)
Rifle Coy [Full Strength] (9-1, 8-1, 8-0)
Pzkpw IIIL Ptn [Full Strength] (9-1 AL)
80mm Battalion Mortar OBA [Plentiful Ammo]
* Offboard Observer: A8
* Preregistered Hexes: F10, C17

Purchased Forces (15 CPP):

7 CPP - Rifle Coy [Full Strength] (8-1, 7-0)
3 CPP - Pzkpfw IIIH Ptn [Full Strength]
4 CPP - 150mm Rocket OBA [Plentiful Ammo]
* Offboard Observer: A7
* Pre-Registered Hex: E13
1 CPP - Stukas

Preparing to Fight:

Before setting up my forces, I must select which hexes my Offboard Observers will inhabit and which hexes will be Preregistered.

There will be at least a token holding force inside the B12 building, and I know from experience that the entire area around that building could be set up as an elaborate trap. There could be AP/AT minefields, barbed wire, fortified buildings and HIP 5-2-7 squads anywhere in the hexes immediately south of Skulpturnaya Street. It's equally likely that this area will be only lightly defended with one or two squads and some dummies. I'll have to wait and see.

I know that the bulk of the Russian defenses will be set up behind the railway in the F-hexrow buildings and rubble. As the Germans push onto the map, the Russian defenders will try to slide away southward toward the F16 factory, hoping to hold this building as a bulwark against a future attack toward the Power Station and the big K15 factory.

The B17 building may also contain some defenders, perhaps even a hidden machine gun nest on the first level. The upper levels of this building can be used to cover both a board-edge creep down hexrow A and movement down Tramvanaya Street or along the railway berms.

I selected my Pre-Registered hexes as shown in the illustration below.

Rocket artillery cannot be accurate, so I must count on the barrage drifting up to three hexes in any direction. By placing it in hex E13, I guarantee than any drift in direction 1 (north) or direction 4 (south) will be nigh guaranteed to hit something, since I expect hexrow F to be thick with Russian units. Any drift in direction 5 (southwest) or 6 (northwest) is guaranteed to hit the B12 building. Drift in direction 2 (northeast) and direction 3 (southeast) will be less effective, but is only likely to whiff completely if the barrage drifts the full three hexes.

I'm counting on the Rocket OBA to disrupt the Russian defense by breaking/destroying squads, removing fortifications and maybe most importantly by interdicting movement. If I can seal off a whole section of the Russian front and destroy it without allowing other defenders to slide into place it may be possible to blow the front wide open.

I plan to use the 80mm battery primarily for Smoke. I selected hex F10 in order to obscure fire from behind the railway berms and from a potential machine gun nest in the K10 building. I also selected hex C17 to shut down a potential machine gun overwatch in building B17 and also protect the approach for my tanks. The debris in E17 and E20 are excellent spots to hide an AT gun.

Now, to look at the Russian set up and see what I'm up against.

The Russian Setup:

Dade emailed his setup to me. Here it is:

Two things in this setup strike me as odd: the apparent scarcity of fortifications and the number of units committed to the F6 building. Over near the riverbank, Dade has either thinly defended the front (unlikely) or has taken a page from my book (see my last setup from CGIII) and opted to conceal the strength of his line. The arrangement of wire suggests a hidden dug-in tank in W3. Placing what appears to be a kill stack upstairs in the Chemist's Shop strikes me as a deliberate ruse; he's got to know that if I come this way the Chemist's Shop will either be pummeled with heavy artillery or smoked in with battalion mortar. I suspect that he is wanting me to expend my artillery strike on a worthless stack. I also suspect that he may have an artillery observer covering this approach. No matter; I have no plans on attacking in this sector today.

In the middle, he has put forth a standard array of defenders manning the line of buildings/rubble running from the O6 factory to the F6 building. F6 is a troublesome spot to defend. It's easily surrounded and reduced, so I am surprised that there are 3 or 4 squads here. Perhaps some or all are dummies? In the O6 factory he has set up a stack of three squads with SW and a leader. This is clearly a reserve intended to reinforce whatever hot spot flares up. If I go toward the Chemist's Shop they can shift eastward; if I go up the gut they can shift westward.

Over on the west edge, he has committed nearly half of his forces. At first glance, my Pre-Registered hexes appear to be perfectly situated. The Rocket should hit something, and the 80mm Smoke concentration should be able to shut down a significant amount of defensive fire from the units around F10. He appears to be ready to defend B12, which means that a fortuitous drift of the Rocket barrage might undo a planned ambush. I will have to be careful and search for HIP units and minefields as I assault B12. I'm confused by the units in D16, which seem to be sitting out in the open - generally a bad idea anywhere in Stalingrad, but particularly bad when at the point of the German schwerpunkt. Perhaps there is a hidden pillbox there, and Dade chose not to HIP its contents? I'm scratching my head.

Exactly how I approach this attack will depend on where the Rocket lands. The Rifle Coy will push toward the F6 and F8 buildings in any case, with orders to proceed steadily and carefully. Ideally they will be able to capture "The Point" (the F6 building and surrounding rubble) and the rubble field around G10.

However, the Sturm Coy and its supporting Pzkpfw IIIL platoon must tailor their attack to what the Rocket OBA accomplishes. If the Rocket drifts close to the entry hexes, the Sturm Coy must be patient and wait to rush into the barrage area after it lifts. If the Rocket drifts north or south, the Sturm Coy will have to take care of the B12 defenders by themselves and prepare to push beyond. If the Rocket drifts too far east, then it's almost out of play. The idea is to have the Rocket smash as much as it can, then prevent the Russians from reforming the defense. Where ever it lands, it will have a huge impact on movement and rout paths. I suspect an AT gun somewhere in the debris fields near E16 or E19, so the tanks must take care once past B12. The reinforcing Rifle Coy and Pzkpfw IIIH Platoon will follow the Sturm Coy and consolidate what it captures. If the Russian defenses completely cave in (not likely, but possible) I will try and take the Power Plant.

Here is a visual depiction of my plan:

There is nothing left to do now but wait.

Oberfeldwebel Krankauer watched as the men shoveled red clay, broken concrete and pulverized brick over Holz's corpse. At first, in the thick of it, his wounds had not seemed that bad. Holz had used the butt of his rifle to bust out a window pane, hoping to get a better look at the approaches to the trucking depot. There was a bang and a flash, and the tinkle of broken glass settling to the floor, and Holz staggering back from the casement with his hands on his face. Holz was screaming, but there wasn't that much blood. They dragged him back to the aid station and the medics had been optimistic. But Holz stopped breathing sometime during the night, and that was that.

They had come a long way together. Krankauer and Holz had been childhood friends, growing up in the small farming village of Cottenbach just north of Bayreuth. Times had been tough, and both boys had been put to work at an early age tending the fields and bringing in the barley harvest. Despite the long hours and strenuous labor the two had managed to find ample opportunity for adventure, as boys are wont to do. That "misunderstanding" at Fasching and the incident with the motorcar were the stuff of legend to the gymnasium students of Cottenbach. The Party came recruiting in '36 but neither boy had any political inclinations and both were needed on the farm. When war came in '39, well, that was different and the two had joined up together. Another grand adventure.

Krankauer snorted, then hocked an oily gray glob of grit and phlegm onto the ground. "Das wurde alles fur Scheisse!" The haggard sergeant grabbed his submachinegun and turned back toward the bivouac. He pulled out the last of his cigarettes and lit it, smoking as he picked his way through the rubble. The cigarette was dry and sparse, like all Russian cigarettes, but he was grateful for it nonetheless. Dawn was only a few hours away, and he was expected to lead the first wave into the factories. He thought back to September when his company had de-trained at Gumrak, full of bluster and bravado, joking and singing. Nobody was singing now. Something had changed, and the skittish Russians they had chased a thousand miles across the Ukraine had suddenly turned mean when cornered. Nobody wanted to go into that complex, least of all Krankauer, but "want" had nothing to do with it. They would go, and they would fight, and they would win. Win, or join Holz.