Tuesday, December 1, 2009

These Germans have proved...troublesome.

Wendell: "It's a mess, ain't it, Sheriff?"

Ed Tom Bell: "If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here."

-- No Country For Old Men (2007)


Once again, as they are wont to do, the Sixth Army took a big chunk out of Uncle Joe's boys. Early on, things were looking up. Rather than drop his Nebelwerfer barrage on the factories, he opted to blast my left flank and follow up behind with a Sturm company. The barrage pretty much obliterated my picket in the F11 and F13 buildings but left intact the conscripts lurking in the factory beyond. Over on the right flank, the trap was sprung: he moved an MG kill stack out into the shellholes, and my hidden 10-2 laid on with his two HMG and eradicated a 9-1 and two 4-6-8s. I'm sure they made their pretty wives proud. My SMG platoon swept into the remains of the Chemist's Shop and, for a while, it was completely in Russian hands.

Then the StuG's showed up.

The squad crewing my Anti Tank gun was broken by a sniper, so there was no real threat in place to oppose the German vehicles. My opponent played them very aggressively, driving them right up to the 9-2 and his cadre of riflemen. Because the IIIBs lack any MG armament, they are especially vulnerable to close combat. However, the squad in place to make the attempt failed to pass his PAATC. I did manage to get an ATR in place to take shots at one StuG's rear target facing, but I couldn't make it count. I had seven shots at the rear facings of vehicles in this game and none of them generated an effect. The StuGs, on the other hand, dominated the eastern flank and allowed the German to capture the entire riverbank. I kept the Commissar's House, however.

This campaign game is turning into an object lesson in exactly why the Russian must prevent a breakthrough along the riverbank.

Over in the factories, the conscripts did okay. Seeing that the German was laying back behind the Manufacturing Hall, I decided to counterattack out of the big O10 factory in an effort to retake some of the Manufacturing Hall and to tie up troops that might otherwise interfere with my assault on the Chemist's Shop. At first, things went swimmingly well, with the 10-2 knocking down German squads in the debris field. However, conscripts cannot really sustain a push, and soon enough they were scampering back to their holes. I did retake all but the northernmost two hexes of the Manufacturing Hall, so I call the effort a success.

The worst outcome of the day actually occurred in the Refit Phase, when the Russian ELR dropped to 2. If any one thing costs me the campaign game it will be this. From now on, my troops are going to melt away into conscripts at an accelerated rate. If my ELR drops to 1, it will be all over.

At the end of the day, there were two very different situations on the West and East sides of the map. In the West, the Germans were right where you would expect them to be at the end of Day One - with a toehold in the Manufacturing Hall and knocking on the door of the L10 factory. In the East, however, they were threatening the Commissar's House, which is The Thing That Must Not Happen. Shaping a defense for Day Three will be a challenge.

Golovkin wiped the blood from his brow. A sniper's bullet had shattered the window through which he had observed the German advance, and the broken glass had peppered his face. The pain was nothing, but the blood was becoming bothersome. A half-dozen grim faced soldiers huddled beside Golovkin in the shell crater, the survivors of the assault on the Chemist's Shop. Some had made it out, after all.

That fact gave Golovkin no comfort. German self-propelled artillery had pushed down the riverbank and threatened the Red House. All thoughts of consolidating the line were dismissed once that happened. Ludinov, fortuitously, had relocated to this most important of buildings in the nick of time.
We still hold it, thought Golovkin, but for how long?

"Comrade Commissar, are you injured?"

Golovkin noticed he was staring, blankly, at his bloody hands. Looking up he spied the nervous young submachinegunner he had spooked before the battle. "No," replied Golovkin, "it is nothing." He could see that the submachinegunner had lost the first two fingers of his right hand.

The submachinegunner was broken. "Comrade, I must go back. My hand..."

"No." Golovkin fixed his gaze on the young soldier. "You forget your duty! You will stay, and you will fight!"

"But Comrade Commissar, I cannot shoot."

Golovkin leaned close. "I can."

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