Tally Ho!

Saturday 15 October 2016

Chain of Command Eastern Front Campaign - week 4

Following the success of last week's armoured assault the Axis were once again on the offensive in an Attack vs Defence mission. In this encounter the Finns and Germans were attacking across a valley with low hills on each sides baseline. In the centre of the table a small hamlet clustered around a crossroads.
The table from the Russian side
The view from the Axis side
The patrol phase ended with the Russians in possession of the hamlet and the Axis forces focused on attacking through the corn fields to the right of the crossroads. The game began with the Germans and Finns deploying several infantry teams - the Germans providing a strong base-of-fire and the Finns advancing through the fields. The Russians countered by deploying their KV-1 and several maxim teams around the hamlet.
The Russian monster enters the fray early
The Finns advance
Both the Finns and the Germans deployed their Panzerscrekt teams well forward and engaged the KV-1. The range was long, meaning  it was 10s to hit, but amazingly the Germans scored a strike. Having a high AT value the Panzerscrekt scored 5 hits and the unlucky Russians saved only 1 - so first blood to the Germans as the KV brewed-up.
Oh dear - did nt see that coming
Having eliminated a major threat the Axis forces rapidly deployed most of their remaining infantry and began to engage the Russian's maxims. Perhaps a little intimidated by the German firepower the Russians sought cover and kept their reserves off-table.
Russian maxims under pressure

Germans seize the high-ground

Russians seek shelter behind the crest while the Finns advance 
Close-up of the Finns 
At this point the Russians were struggling, lacking both initiative and firepower they were reluctant to engage the Axis forces as we've spotted that when things settle into a firefight the Axis troops usually win. As I've explained at the end after some debate we decide to allow the Russians an additional senior commander which led to a much more balanced game.
Encouraged by the arrival of the Commissars, the Russians deployed their infantry enmass to counter the Axis advances. The Finnish advance through the corn fields ground to a halt, but on their left the Germans were able to outflank the hamlet and get into a good position on some high ground.
German base of fire - lots of nasty LMGs
German flanking force and a truck
Russian defenders move into position
Russians cling-on in the barn
As darkness fell it was clear that neither side was going to break the other so we agreed on a draw - the Russians had stemmed the tide and prevented a third straight axis win.

Post Match analysis

We actually did this about half way through as we played the game over two evenings. Our struggle was that the Russians were finding it very hard to compete with the Axis forces, the Germans especially. Whilst in theory the additional reinforcement points for the Soviets meant they could buy support options to increase their firepower, they found it hard to activate them.
Overall both sides had about the same number of potential fire dice. For the Germans most of the firepower is in the infantry squads and so fairly easy to activate. For the Russians its mostly in the heavy weapons teams and so much more difficult to activate. We considered a number of options:
1. More support points for the Russians - tricky as they still have an activation issue.
2. More activation dice - this felt wrong as it would put them on a par with elites.
3. Much denser terrain - it would certainly help mitigate the German LMGs.
4. Adding a second senior officer so one can be deployed early to the table. 
We went for option 4 as it allows all the unused "4's" on the activate dice to be used for both infantry squads and weapons teams. You could argue its unrealistic to have lots of leadership at low-levels in the Soviet army but it did seem the least game-breaking way to improve the Russians chances. 

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