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.