Sunday, January 27, 2008

AAR: SP 139 Oder Dare

Nick Drinkwater

Russian: Nick Drinkwater [ELR 3, SAN 4]
German: John Hyler [ELR 2, SAN 4]

It's February 1945, its been snowing, and some brave Russians have poked their heads across the Oder in a fragile bridgehead, where due to thinning ice, no heavy weapons are available. These guys are going to try and blunt the inevitable German counter-attack the hard way - with machine-guns, ATRs and firepower only. The Germans are a fast, mobile group of mixed 548s and 467s, machine guns and some assault guns stuffed to the gills with HE ammo (all have endless HE rounds by SSR), but of low ammo for each vehicle overall. They have been given two Hetzers and two Stugs (one of the close support versions), all of which are small vehicles and thus tricky to hit.

In contrast, the Russians have a mixed bunch of 458s and 447s, with two MMG, two ATR and some good quality leadership (9-2, 8-1, 7-0) plus two 45LL AT Guns, one of which can be leader-directed at -1 by a Hero by SSR. The Germans are being tasked with getting 20 CVP off a constrained, 12 hex wide exit area at the back of the boards - no points for prisoners (as you would expect) but also vehicles must have main armament functioning and are only worth 3VP themselves.

The action is set on the non-airfield part of Board 14 and Board 44, and consists of centrally dispersed terrain of woods, buildings and orchards, and two more open-areas to left and right. My plan was to interdict John's brittle infantry as much as possible in their opening turn 2 from the front of this terrain and then fall back to the safety afforded by the two hidden guns in the back area of the field for the last stand defense.

Flawed plan, flawed result. My lead three guys at the front of the playing area were swiftly VBMed by three of John's tanks on Turn 1 which caught me completely off-balance - I was expecting him to sit back and paste me with Smoke first, and THEN move the Infantry up under the screen, especially as the vehicles alone could effectively give him over half the exit VP. However, John took a chance that my AT Guns would be well back covering the exit rows and hence that his tanks would be fairly safe, so he saddled up his testicles, and let rip. After some horror rolls, I was a squad and more critically an 8-1 leader dead, as John's deep penetrations by these flying armoured assets into my defense line (allied to a declared No Quarter) meant that my doughty Russian defenders started dropping like flies. I was able to immobilise a Hetzer on one shot, but then in the critical result of the match, John, on a laser thin LOS, hammered my 9-2, MMG, 458 on a K/2-yahtzee-wound-6-DIE-12-fate, sequence and I was now really out of the running.

I continued the now very unequal struggle, but things got worse rapidly when a Stug put a Snakes attack on an overrun of one of my other squads, and I was completely unable to hit it with one of the two AT Guns. I did managed to nail a Stug in the side with the leader-directed AT Gun, and I nailed a couple of other squads when John was a little hasty with some cocky, move in the open, "we thumb our noses at you" stuff at the few Russian survivors, but one of my gun crews was attrited in a welter of hand-grenades and knives, and at the end I was reduced to one out-of-place squad and the now revealed AT Gun which John was now was able to easily drive around and avoid. That was most definitely that.

So, a fast-paced scenario that we finished in three hours...not what was expected, but John pulled off an excellent "In your Face" smash-mouth attack that my Russians had no answer to. I started poorly with nowhere enough preparation time getting it right and thinking about defensive options, and crucially my two MMG were far too forward at the beginning and they did not get an effective attack in all day. The other main problem I had was getting any kind of effective AT attack in on the German armour: the To Kill of normal AP and APDS of the AT Guns was still less than the frontal armour of the Hetzers so it was side-shots only: DI by Gun or ATR was hampered by the small size and normally motion status of the vehicles and it was hard to get an effective shot in. Despite this, I was basically, swiftly dissected by a skillful opponent and we were done. Not one of my better efforts!

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