With the newest Battlegroup supplement in hand we carved out some time for some late war eastern front action using Spring Awakening and since General Winter was in full effect here we decided on an Operation Konrad scenario. One of the bonuses of the newest Battlegroup supplement is it doesn’t focus solely on the battles in March but includes some background on the Axis attempt to relive of Budapest in January of 1945. To keep things simple and since both side were mostly armor the scenario was a meeting engagement.
The German list was a platoon of Panthers, Panzer IVs, two platoons of infantry and some reconnaissance. Even with official permission I still couldn’t bring myself to include a Tiger II. I am proud to say in all of my WWII gaining history I have only used the Tiger II once. At some point, maybe the next time we game I’ll include one and looking back on this game I could have easily dropped the panzer IVs.
The Russian list was similar in tone, a company of t-34/85s, a company of t-34/76, two platoons of infantry and some reconnaissance. Again, no big cat killers, but 21 tanks. The plan here was to use the T-34s as taxi for the infantry while the 85s blasted the German armor. Daniel decided he like the look of the Soviets so I took the Germans. We quickly placed objectives, mine were advantageous but D put one in the town to make things exciting. I won the initiative roll and moved the 234 and my 250 to grab the first two objectives. The Soviets did the same, taking this first object with a motorcycle recon team and the second with his white scout car.
The early battle went favorably for the Germans; for the first three turns I rolled five for reserves and had the bulk of my army in with the Panthers, Panzer IVs and half tack in by turn 4. The Soviets were much slower with a 1, 2, and 4. He brought in his t-34/85s first but in penny packets they were no match for the Panthers. I was able to destroy the scout car with some 20mm fire from my 250, first kill to me!
My Germans were able to get into position with two Panthers heading toward the town to control my left flank along with the half-tracks and an escort of two Panzer IVs. The other two broke off the road to swing to the right side of the town, bounding forward with the Panzer IV though a series of walls and frozen hedges. The Soviet tanks continued to trickle in in twos and threes, but the volume was picking up. Most headed down the main road into town to join in the gun duel across the town square but a several with the tank riders aboard swung wide and went off road to put some pressure my objectives. This forced me to commit my truck mounted infantry that way to support the objective. D was playing aggressively with his T-34/76s, at one point mentioning ‘you can’t get an Order of the Red Banner from there’.
Knowing that there wasn’t much he could do about the Panthers D focused on destroying the Panzer IV and was quite successful in destroying them all. For my part, when I hit a T-34 it died, but I wasn’t rolling enough 5s and 6s and their numbers were starting to build up and I was starting to run low on ammo. On a good note I was able to seal up my right flank, but it cost me two panzer IVs, and one immobilized Panther and the other had fired his last shot. I had also taken the objective and the infantry were pushing their way across the town square.
My left wasn’t going well, the T-34s had closed range and hitting my tanks hard and I was relying my infantry and Panzerfaust to destroy tanks. Soviet fire was focused on the Panther, keeping them Pinned, and I evenly blew a moral test and one bailed.
With my Panthers contained and no Soviet infantry, in the excitement D had forgot to bring in his infantry, we called the game. He was tracking 45/85 BR and the Germans were at 57/23. As always I am continuously impressed with these rules and how they handle simulating WWII and I was happy with the results. Though D felt like he had lost, he did have a lot of chits I assured him 13 T-34s in the grand scheme of things was nothing to a few Panthers. He had also control of the board since my armor was in bad shape and if he hadn’t forgotten to bring on his infantry he wouldn’t be getting shot to pieces by my infantry.
Other rule sets have more details, APCR vs AP vs HEAT but as a company commander I am going to leave those decisions to my NCO’s. Warwick does include details about AP ammo dropping of over range and you should track ammo. These details adds some more booking keeping but keeps the details between short and long barreled guns and adds an upper limit to a tanks combat power.
The rule set can feel like it involves a lot of dice rolling but it has a purpose. The dice drive the narrative of the game and keep things interesting.
One thing that I have been thinking about is how to handle the T-34 horde? This was the second game with this list, the first being a test game to make sure that the four Panthers weren’t too much for the Soviet side. It’s a bit laughable now, since in both games the T-34s manage to destroy the Panzer IVs and keep the Panthers under control by either pinning them or running them out of ammo. I don’t think keeping at range or moving is the best option; the low probability of hitting means you just run out of ammo. Upgrade one to an Ace?