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.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day Four Aftermath, and Day Six Strategy

21 October 1942: Aftermath

Neither of my predictions came true: no attempt was made to take either the Chemist's Shop or the Power Station. The Nebelwerfer barrage landed in I25, and as it is wont to do it wreaked havoc on the poor SMG squads I had set up in the rubble field. The dug-in T34 in I25 survived the initial pounding, but was eventually consumed in flames kindled by the exploding rockets. The German attacks came in two places: down the west board edge and toward the S17 factory.

The pre-registered 120mm artillery targeting C23 was optimally placed. A company of 4-6-7s rushed southward from the C20 building, supported by two Pzkpfw IVF1s entering from A22. As they reached the C23 building, the artillery strike shattered them. My satisfaction was to be short lived, however, because the field phone directing the module promptly malfunctioned after only one fire mission. Fizzle. The initial pounding did slow the Germans down for a turn and kindled a flame in the building, so at least I got something for my 4 CPP. Steady German pressure managed to push the Russians out of the G22 building but no farther. The remainder of the German attack was focused on expanding the western front. I was able to run a few 5-2-7s over to the F32 building and prevent the Germans from reaching the gully.

A cat-and-mouse game played itself out for a few turns in front of the O18 building and the S17 factory. The dummy counters in the rubble field discouraged the Germans in the O10 factory from pushing forward, allowing a few conscript squads to creep over and man the O18 building with actual bodies, and the Russians held that important piece of ground. I managed a limited counter-attack into the R12 area, but all-in-all that sector of the battle ended in stalemate. A commissar managed to kindle a flame in Q19 at the very end of the game providing for a nice 5-hex cluster of blazes with which to clog up the axis of German advance on the following day.

In front of the Chemist's Shop, the 120mm artillery was also well-targeted. I crushed a few 4-6-7s in the wooden buildings/rubble around X7. I managed to get TWO entire fire missions out of this module (LUXURY!), and it burnt down some buildings and wooden rubble, but could have done so much more. I was able to recapture the Y7 pillbox and the AT ditch. A German half-squad made it down to DD0 before being obliterated by mortar fire, securing that hex for future entry purposes.

The perimeter at day's end was thus:

The final CVP tally was German 54, Russian 32. About average. Notably, the Russian SAN was reduced to 2 by a sniper check, and the German ELR dropped to 2 in the Refit Phase (while the Russian ELR held firm at 3). Both sides selected "Idle" for Day Five, so on to Day Six.

23 October 1942:

Retained Forces:

9-0 x 4
7-0 x 3

6-2-8 x 7
4-5-8 x 5
5-2-7 x 10
4-2-6 x 13

HMG x 2
MMG x 1
LMG x 3
Lt MTR x 3

T-34 M41 (Dug In): E25, O22
KV1 M42 (Dug In, MA Disabled): Z9

Purchases 10/22/42 (18 CPP):

Gds Rifle Coy (Reserve; Full) [8 CPP]
Gds Rifle Coy (Reserve; Full) [8 CPP]
80 FPP [2 CPP]

Purchases 10/23/42 (16 CPP):

Militia Coy (Full; On Map) [4 CPP]
Militia Coy (Depleted; On Map) [4 CPP]
AT Gun Battery (Full) [4 CPP]
160 FPP [4 CPP]

The Idle day was a shot in the arm for the Russian - as it undoubtedly was for the German as well. I purchased two Guards Rifle Companies, which gives me a solid core of 4-5-8s with which to defend the non-factory sectors of the map. Those Guards companies also come with a plethora of support weapons, which were running a bit short. Best of all, purchasing two Elite companies led to an increase in the Russian ELR from 3 to 4.

On to the setup...

The Chemist's Shop:

This sector of the map is turning into a moonscape. Many of the buildings have been smashed and burned away, leaving many lines-of-sight that did not exist before. The key additions to this sector are a 2+5+7 Pillbox in AA12 and the trenches added in BB12, CC12. CC11 and DD9. The Pillbox contains a 9-2 and two 4-5-8s with HMG; their job is to repel any attack through the Chemist's Shop toward the Commissar's House. 8AP mines are in Z12, Z13 and AA13 to make close combat with the Pillbox occupants a difficult proposition. If such an attack does not materialize, they will shift through the trenches to CC10 and start gunning up any Germans in sight. A nice feature of this bunker/trench complex is that it occupies blind hexes to an offboard observer in N0, thus heavy German artillery cannot be easily dropped on the fortifications.

I have also placed Roadblocks and an AT Ditch in hexes Y10, Z8 and Z9 respectively to prevent armored vehicles from crashing into the fortifications. On the other side of the Chemist's Shop I have placed 1AT mines in V10, V11 and W11. Any tanks that infiltrate my front lines will hopefully encounter difficulty.

I expect a pummeling of the Chemist's Shop, probably by heavy artillery. The forces set up there are sacrificial. Behind the Chemist's Shop I have placed a 9-0 and 4-5-8 to try and kindle hex X13. This will slow down a German thrust and will possibly clear away some pesky wooden rubble if the flames spread, opening nice lines of sight for the coming days. A 9-1 and two 4-5-8s are HIP on level one of hex X15. I'm a bit worried that this overwatch position is getting used too frequently, which is why I did not put the 9-2 here.

Two newly-purchased AT guns backstop the line in CC13 and Z16.

Down by the riverside, I have once again relied on light mortars to provide a long-range deterrance to any Germans pushing down the riverbank. There are mortars in DD8, DD9, FF8 and FF9. A 5-2-7 with an ATR is hunkered down in the AT Ditch in DD5.

The Factories:

The cluster of Blazes around Q19 clogs up the middle nicely. On the east side, a generous sprinkling of conscript squads should be able to hold off the 5-4-8s that are almost certainly tasked with taking the T17 factory. The two MMG belonging to newly-purchased Militia Companies are set up with a 4-2-6 in T18 and U18. A 4-5-8 is also in each of those hexes along with a commissar and 9-1 leader. The 4-5-8s will take the MMG in the initial Rally phase, then join up with the 9-1 in hex U17 to provide enfilading fire on any German troops in the O10 factory.

On the other side of the Blazes, a 9-0 and two 4-5-8s with LMG are set up in P21 to protect the dug-in tank in O22. Three 4-2-6s and one 4-5-8 are set up behind the 9-0 in case the German pushes hard for the P21 Factory. I want to have something in place to defend it.

The Power Station:

The Power Station is now exposed from the western flank, unprotected by Wire. It cannot hold. I have put 4-2-6s in five hexes of the building, with a 10-0 and two elite squads behind them. The 10-0's job is to Kindle as quickly as possible, then run. The 4-2-6s are a speed bump that will hopefully slow down the German long enough to let the 10-0 do his job.

The 4-2-6s in the G27 factory are also a speed bump, as is the doomed dug-in T-34 in E25. My hope is that the 6-2-8s set up in this area can stiffen the defense enough to hold on to the L24 building and K27 factory. I would not be surprised to see another Nebelwerfer barrage in this area.

The Trap:

I've laid a trap for the German in the F32 and G33 buildings. Three 5-2-7s are HIP in the Cellars of F32, G33 and G34. If the German occupies these buildings, I'm hoping the 9-2 south of the gully (see below) can bust them up. They will then likely rout into one of the Cellars, where they will be eliminated. We'll see if this works.

Seven Dummy counters are set up in the P33 factory to convince the German that he can't make a mad dash for this factory. Not that he would, necessarily, but leaving it completely vacant might entice him to try.

The Bread Factory:

Because the German pushed so hard down the west board edge on Day Four, the time to start defending the Bread Factory area has come a bit earlier than usual. Two HIP 5-2-7s are in A40 and B40 to spring a Pinned-and-CX surprise on any Germans advancing out of the gully. Behind them are three 4-5-8s with LMG, two in hex A42 with a 9-0 and one in C42. These are all located in hexes blind to the first level of C33, which is a likely spot for a German overwatch. A 45L ATG is in B44 to try and destroy any tanks moving toward the Bread Factory.

Four more 4-5-8s, some SW, a 9-0 and 7-0 are set up in the first few stone buildings. A 9-2 and two 4-5-8s with HMG are HIP on the first level of J40. Their job is to punish any German squads advancing south down the railway embankment or pushing into the debris field to the north. A 45LL ATG is in L39 to cover the debris field.

This next day will be pivotal. Both of us are loaded for bear and there will be multiple hot spots, fiercely contested. Either side can score a crippling blow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day Four: My Turn

Day Four: 20 October 1942

Having survived the previous day with my ELR intact and with a shortened line, I was feeling pretty good. Rolling up 18 CPP made me feel even better.

Retained Forces:

10-0 x 2


9-0 x 4


6-2-8 x 8

4-5-8 x 3

4-4-7 x 7



4-2-6 x 16

HMG x 2


LMG x 3

Lt MTR x 3




T34 M43 (immobilized T15>S13)

T34 M43

T34 M41 (Dug In E25)

T34 M41 (Dug In I25)

T34 M41 (Dug In O22)

KV1 M42 (MA Disabled; Dug In Z9)

Purchased Forces (18 CPP)

SMG Coy (Reserve, Full) 3 CPP [8-0, 7-0]

SMG Coy (Reserve, Depleted) 3 CPP [8-1]

120mm OBA (Normal) 3 CPP

Preregistered Hex 1 CPP

120mm OBA (Normal) 3 CPP

Preregistered Hex 1 CPP

160 FPP 4 CPP

Immediately upon rolling the 18 CPP, I decided to buy two Medium Artillery modules and fill in the rest as best I could. Ever since the 150mm drubbing I took in our previous game, I've been itching for some kind of payback in kind. I could have purchased two Militia Coys in Reserve, but opted for the higher-morale SMG Coys. The 160 FPP were needed to stiffen defenses around the Power Plant and Chemist's Shop.

My plan is to find the schwerpunkt(s) of his assault(s) and pour on the artillery. There are three potential objectives for the German on which I will focus: the Power Plant (J21), the P18 building and the Chemist's Shop (X9). One observer will go in BB18 (2nd Level) and pre-register hex X7. His objective will be to break up any thrust toward the Chemist's Shop and then to lay waste to any forces occupying the ground lost the day before. If I can miraculously destroy the BB7 pillbox - or better yet, recapture it - I will be ecstatic. The second observer will go in L26 (Rooftop) and pre-register hex C23. His objective will be to pummel any assaulting forces that push toward the Power Plant from the west board edge - which seems likely, given that Germans may now enter anywhere on the west edge from A1 - A22. I wouldn't be surprised if a Sturm Coy, or even a Pionier Coy, charged on from the A22 area into building B23. In a pinch, this observer can also direct fire onto the P18 building and into the rubble field around P19. I have another contingency for an attack up the middle, though (see below).

Over on the riverbank, I expect the Chemist's Shop to be crushed with medium or heavy artillery. Nevertheless, I must defend it with stalwart 6-2-8s and a 10-0 Commissar. It is just too important to give up without a fight. I will backstop the Chemist's Shop with the depleted SMG Coy. Over on the bluff, I wired up Taimyrskaya Street and put a 9-0, 4-5-8 + MMG in a 1+5+7 Pillbox in CC9>AA9 to cover the northern approach to the Chemist's Shop. The mobile T34 M43 is hidden in X12>W11 to cover the approach from the factories. I put an AT Ditch in hex DD5 to prevent an armored thrust/halftrack blitz down the riverbank and backed it up with all three Lt MTRS.

In the middle, nearly all of the Conscripts went into the S20 factory with orders to hold at all costs. The immobile T34 in T14 is already gone; anything he takes with him is a bonus. The P18 building and the rubble field behind are manned by Dummy "?" counters, hopefully to entice the German into diverting forces away from the S20 factory. Two Conscript squads are in P21 to help protect the dug-in tank nearby. My ace in the hole in this section of the map is the hidden 9-2, 4-5-8 + HMG, 4-5-8 + HMG in M24 (1st level). From this overwatch position he can bring fire to bear on the P18 building, the rubble field in front of it, the western flank of the S20 factory, the approaches to the dug-in tank and the Wire in front of the Power Plant - all while effectively shielded from potential German kill stacks. He can also shift a hex or two and be able to support the defense of Power Plant versus an attack from the C25 building.

The Power Plant, like the Chemist's Shop, is also probably going to be targeted by some kind of nasty large-caliber ordnance. Similarly, it needs to be strongly defended nonetheless. A mix of 4-4-7s and 6-2-8s should suffice, with a 10-0 Commissar to keep them in fighting trim. A screen of 4-4-7s occupies the F- and G-hexrow buildings. Over half of these forces are setting up in the cellars in expectation of big explosions. The Power Plant is backstopped by the full strength SMG Coy, which also is tasked with protecting the dug-in T34 in E25 and shoring up the left flank.

I uploaded my setup on VASL, and Dade was kind enough to post his setup as well - just to give me something to think about:

It looks like he's going balls-out for the Power Plant. Dade mentioned that he had preregistered hex J22 with something (probably rocket). If so, it's going to land a nasty punch.

Should make for some good carnage.

19 October: Aftermath

The day started with a German Nebelwerfer barrage. The rocket strike was targeted at the Chemist's Shop (Preregistered Hex: X8), but it drifted three hexes to AA7 and had a devastating effect on the Russian defenders in the trenches. The German followed up with a platoon of Pzkpfw IIILs entering from the north edge and overrunning the squads in BB1 and BB2. Between the armored hammer and rocket anvil, a company of Russian riflemen was smashed. One of the 9-1s managed to escape, round up a few errant squads, then - in utter folly - climb the cliff in BB8 to engage the Germans who now inhabited the pillbox in BB7. They managed to kill a broken 5-4-8, but did not survive the experience. All in all, a disastrous pummeling. The one saving grace: there was no attempt by the German to put pressure on the Chemist's Shop and it remained intact and in Russian control.

The platoon of T34 M43s came in very handy. Seeing the Pzkpfw IIILs rampaging in the northeast corner and the StuG IIIG lurking in the debris field near T8, the Russian tanks were able to engage their German counterparts and destroy all of them. One T34 was destroyed, and one immobilized, but all in all I call that an equitable trade.

There was some back-and-forth bloodletting in the O10 and L14 factories, but for the most part I tried to keep my conscripts out of harm's way. Eventually, though, they were backed into a corner and had to try and stand their ground.

Over in the west, not much happened. The Germans took the B17 building, and I made a half-hearted attempt to retake it but backed off in the face of withering firepower.

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

The CVP tally was 62 for the German, 42 for the Russian. I'll take it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

It's Gonna Be Messy

Day Three: 19 October 1942

After considerable thought, I decided to select the "Idle" chit for Day Three. After suffering significant casualties the day before, I thought the odds reasonably in favor of the Sixth Army choosing to go Idle themselves. Were I to catch the Germans napping, and hit them with a surprise Night Assault, I might win back some crucial terrain and make Jerry bleed for it all over again. However, knowing my opponent, my thoughts could easily lead me astray. So I chose the safer option, and strengthened my defenses. This proved prudent, as Dade surrendered to his aggressive instincts and chose "Attack".

Retained Forces:
3 x 4-5-8
22 x 4-4-7

1 x 2-3-7
1 x 5-2-7
1 x 2-2-7
22 x 4-2-6

1 x 10-0

1 x 9-2
3 x 9-1 (one is Wounded)
3 x 9-0
1 x 8-0
1 x 7-0

2 x HMG
4 x MMG
5 x LMG
2 x ATR
4 x Lt MTR
1 x LMG(g)
1 x ATR(g)

KV1 M42: Dug In (Z9)
T34 M42: Dug In (O22, I25, E25)
SAN: 3

Purchased Forces (16 CPP):
Guards SMG Coy in Reserve (Full) 10-0, 9-0 [6 CPP]

T34 M43 Ptn (Full) [6 CPP]

80 FPP [2 CPP]
80mm Battalion Mortar (Normal) [1 CPP]
Pre-Registered Hex (U11) [1 CPP]

I wanted to have a flexible dimension to my defense, so I purchased the T-34 platoon at full price. If the German overloads one flank or another, the tanks can rush to assist. If a weak point presents itself, the tanks may be able to lead a limited counter-attack.

The Battalion Mortar is pre-registered to strike the staging area for a German assault on the Chemist's Shop. The 9-2 is tucked behind the defense in an overwatch position along with two 4-5-8s toting HMG; their job is to prevent a push up Pribatayinskaya Street.

The majority of the Guards SMG Coy is deployed around the Power Station to protect it and the two dug in tanks nearby. I've eschewed a stiff defense of buildings west of the railway. There just weren't enough squads to make for a decent fight and I had other priorities (see below). A 9-0, 4-4-7 + MMG, 4-4-7 + LMG(g) are in level one of G23 to interdict movement down the A-D hexrows toward building C23.

As always, the conscripts are arrayed in a two-deep line within the big factories. The fact that the O10 Assembly Hall is Gutted will help them survive a bit longer. Their job is to keep the Germans out of P18. As added insurance, the cloaking counter in P18 contains a 9-0, 3 x 6-2-8 and a DC. If activated, they can provide a bit of a counterpunch.

What I think will surprise Dade the most is the way I bolstered the line down by the riverbank.

In past games, I've toyed with the idea of building a bunker complex in this corner of the map. I've always ended up moving the fortifications westward, abutting the pillboxes against the wall surrounding the big debris field. This time, given the position of my first two pillboxes, I thought that hardening this piece of real estate has the potential to cause a few headaches for the German.

I first had to consider how I would cope with the Germans occupying building Z1 and setting up a powerful fire base there. The Wind Force/Direction roll (RB 11.6241) gave me my answer. Drifting smoke just covers both hexes of building Z1. Fully expecting the German to take this building, I placed two conscript squads in the cellars of Z1/Z2. Because of the adjacent wall, no LOS exists to the cellars from W1 or XO. Any fire from adjacent hexes is at +6 and is halved. Any Germans advancing into the building must cross a wall and add +1 MF for Smoke, making for an Advance Vs. Difficult Terrain and resulting in CX status. CX Germans are susceptible to ambush by concealed Conscripts. These facts will make the German second-guess moving into the building, and once they clear it any fire out will be at +3 for Smoke.

Two hexes back from building Z1 I have placed two 1S foxholes holding a 4-4-7 each. Their job is to bottle up the Germans in Z1 and lay down fire on Leninskii Prospekt. Just to the south of the gully I have placed three trenches as the backbone of the defense. On the north end is the 1-3-5 pillbox placed on Day One. It's job is to help contain the advancing Germans in Z1. In the middle is a stone building that I have Fortified. A 9-1 and 4-5-8 + MMG are set up here to cover the X6/X7 approach to the Chemist's Shop and to stave off an attack on the trench complex. In the south, I've added a 1+5-7 pillbox containing a 9-1, 2-3-7 + MMG, 2-2-7 + MMG. They have a good LOS to V9-W8-X8-Y8-Y9 and should prove troublesome to any Germans trying to move on the Chemist's Shop through those hexes. The trenches themselves are manned by 4-4-7s with a LMG and a Lt MTR.

The 1+3+5 pillbox in Y7 contains the wounded 9-1 and a 4-4-7 + LMG. The AT ditch holds a 4-4-7 + Lt MTR. Their jobs are to lay as much interdicting fire as possible on Leninskii Prospekt and go down fighting. If possible, they are to make their way into the Chemist's Shop or back to the trench line. Either is unlikely.

The idea of this defense is the maintain a strong base of operations north of the Z8-CC8 defile. As long as the Russian can set up there in force, any Germans in the Chemist's Shop are threatened. If the German decides to spend the points to erase the fortifications with heavy artillery, then so be it - the line can be recast just north of the defile. Make the German fight for what is essentially worthless terrain. Every turn that he doesn't eradicate the bunker complex is a turn that it becomes stronger and deeper.

Here is a picture of the overall defense:

I've given up trying to predict exactly what my opponent might do. To be honest, it doesn't matter - I've got to plan for multiple contingencies in any case.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Rare Victory

Aftermath: Day Two (October 18, 1942)

I was expecting either a barrage of rockets into the factory complex or the 150mm heavy artillery treatment on the riverbank defenses. Neither materialized, and instead the German pushed eastward from the O6 Manufacturing Hall and brought on a Sturm Company along the northeast board edge. He had purchased a platoon of StugIII G, presumably hoping that their 75L main armament could cope with the dug-in KV1 M42s.

Advancing behind a concentration of smoke, the storm troopers crept toward the Russian defenders. The dummy cloaking counters raised enough doubt with my opponent so that he did not charge forward aggressively. A cat-and-mouse game ensued as the German probed the Russian line. The AP mines in W1 and W2 held up the advance along the board edge, and when the Russian battalion mortar was finally brought to bear the Germans were bottled up. Although I only got one fire mission from the artillery, it proved very effective in halting the advance of German infantry and immobilizing two German AFV.

The German assault was dogged, and on two occasions managed a toe-hold in the Chemist's Shop. In both instances the toe hold was eradicated. Stukas appeared in the skies and destroyed the KV1 M42 in U11. Building X1 was held, as were the pillboxes in Y7 and AA4. However, all of the T60 M42s were destroyed.

Over in the factories a stalemate ensued in the L14 Foundry Hall and the German thrust entered the O10 Assembly Hall. The Russian conscripts in these two factories made frequent use of Sewer Movement to harass the German advance and to cross the street between. The Germans were able to clear the northernmost hexes of the Assembly Hall but made no headway into the Foundry Hall.

Along the west edge, a few platoons of German riflemen pushed forward into building B18 and the F16 Warehouse. This advance was disrupted, and the forces in building B23 pushed back and re-captured building B18.

The most dominating factor in this game was the Russian's blisteringly hot dice. I have never, in my 20 years of playing ASL, ever enjoyed such monstrous luck. In one fire phase, I think I never rolled higher than a 5 and had probably four or five snake eyes. It was uncanny. The dice are the reason for the high German CVP total, not any miscues on the part of my opponent. I prevented the German from capturing 24 stone locations, and won that ever-so-rare Russian scenario victory.

At the end of the day, the perimeter looked thusly:

The dilemma with which I am faced is this: to select the "Attack" Initiative chit, or continue with my defensive effort?

The German must be reeling right now from the casualties absorbed on Day Two. My gut instinct tells me that he will choose the "Idle" chit in order to build up an assault force (possibly including Pioniers) and to open up the west edge entry area to A22 (which would provide a flanking avenue for an attack on the Power Station). Were I to select "Attack", then the Russian side could prosecute a Night Attack - something that we have yet to experience in Red Barricades. For my part, such an attack would consist primarily of Conscripts, which would be very limited at night. One small, overlooked rule from Chapter E: at Night, concealment terrain costs +1 MF to enter. This means that 1st line troops advancing into Rubble, or Conscripts advancing into just about anything, would be Advancing Vs. Difficult Terrain and hence would enter Close Combat with CX and Pinned penalties. Yikes! Were I to elect to make a Night attack, I would have to use a lot of Sewer Movement and focus on surrounding rather than destroying German troops. I'm not sure how that would go down.

If I'm wrong, and the German selects the "Attack" chit as well, then a Dual Attack would result. This could possibly give me no benefit and actually hurt me when the ELR Adjustment portion of the Refit Phase rolls around.

On the other hand, if I select "Idle" then I am choosing the safest path. Sure, the German might get a turn to muster his assault force...but I would be able to build my defense in depth. Casualties in the subsequent day's fighting would be astronomical (probably nearing 80-100 CVP), but I would expect to be able to extract my own pound of flesh.

I will have to consider these options for a bit before deciding.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another Day in Paradise

Aftermath: Day One (17 October 1942)

The Germans prosecuted what my opponent calls a "vanilla" attack - right up the gut toward the factories. All three German companies pushed through the NW corner of the factory complex and succeeded in gaining a toehold in the L10 Foundry Hall. Both sides scored essentially the same number of CVP: Russians 27, Germans 28. The Russians lost both AT guns and an HMG, which was unfortunate. No Russian squads battle-hardened, but the 7-0 leader improved to 8-0. Russian SAN dropped to 3. I was lucky and rolled 18 CPP for reinforcements.

Day Two: (18 October 1942)

Retained Forces:

16 x 4-4-7
1 x 2-3-7
1 x 5-2-7
1 x 2-2-7
3 x 4-2-6
1 x 2-2-6

3 x 9-1 (one of whom is Wounded)

2 x MMG
2 x LMG
1 x ATR
2 x LtMTR
1 x Field Phone
1 x 80mm Battalion Mortar OBA Module
1 x Pre-Registered Hex
3 x T60 M42 Tanks (Dug In)
2 x KV1 M42 Tanks (Dug In)


Militia Coy (Full) [4 CPP] Leaders: 10-0
Militia Coy (Full) [4 CPP] Leaders: 9-0
Rifle Coy (Full; In Reserve) [4 CPP] Leaders: 9-1, 9-0
T-34 M41 Ptn (Full; Dug In) [3 CPP]
120 FPP [3 CPP] 7 x Wire, 3 x HIP Tanks, 6 x HIP Squads, 2 x HIP SMC

Eastern Sector:

The threat to the Chemist's Shop is nearly identical to that it faced on Day One. Now that the German has seen the locations of the pillboxes and hidden dug-in tanks, my chances for laying a trap are diminished. I placed a number of dummy cloaking counters in a forward position around my artillery's pre-registered hex (V3). If anything, I hope that these might at least give pause to the German attackers and perhaps soak up some artillery fire that might better be directed toward the pillboxes or the Chemist's Shop. Behind the cloaking counters I have the dug-in tanks retained from Day One and a smattering of infantry in and around the pillboxes. I have three 4-4-7s and a 9-0 Commissar HIP in the Chemist's Shop, as insurance against disaster. They might still be buried in rubble if the building is zeroed in by German guns.


The two companies of fresh Militia have been given the ugly task of being destroyed in the factories. Whatever squads survive the potential rocket barrage will have to keep the Germans from pushing out toward the Chemist's Shop and prevent them from taking the O18 building. The street running between the O10 Assembly Hall and L10/L14 Foundry Halls will likely be swept by MG fire, so crossing it is to be avoided if at all possible. The Assembly Hall is usually a charnel house for the German, and I hope the trend continues.

Power Plant:

The Power Plant (J21) is the key to the early defense of the southern portion of the complex. The Rifle Coy in Reserve is set up in and around this building, with a few "live" squads on the flanks to slow down the German advance. I've dug-in three HIP T-34s (O22, I25 and E24) to back them up. Hopefully he will deploy his tanks here aggressively and the T-34s will destroy them. I've also placed a 9-1, 4-4-7 + HMG, 4-4-7 + MMG on the first level of C28 to protect the western approach .

Nothing to do now but wait.