Brief sojourn en France, part 2.

Quick apologies about taking so long posting this part but a combination of not feeling great and some PC problems have meant it has taken a while….

After a quick change of plan when we were about to set up we decided to go for a late war Soviet vs German game using the same table as the last battle. As we couldn’t decide which direction we preferred to play a dice was rolled and we ended up playing from opposite sides of the table than last time. This was going to be an encounter battle with both forces tasked with exiting off the other side of the table, classic wargame style. So after picking our forces and hatching plans we got to it.

I had at my disposal the following:

  • Heavy Panzer Company (Excellent)
    • 3 x King Tiger
  • Recon Company (Good)
    • 5 x Puma
  • StuG Company (Good)
    • 3 x PzJgrIV
  • Panther Btln (Good)
    • 2 coys @ 3 Panther
    • 1 coy @ 4 Panther
  • PzIV Btln (Good)
    • 2 coys @ 3 PxIVH
    • 1 coy @ 4 PzIVH
  • Armoured PzrGren Btln (Good)
    • Pak 40 75mm ATG (Schlepper)
    • 75mm Inf Gun (Truck)
    • Sdkfz 251/2
    • 3 x Coys
      • 3 Armd PzGrens (Sdkfz 251/1)
      • 1 MG (Sdkfz 251/17)
      • 1 Sdkfz 251/10
      • 1 Sdkfz 251/9 section
  • Motorised PzGren Btln (Good)
    • Pak 40 (Truck)
    • 75mm IG (Truck)
    • 81mm Mortar (Truck)
    • 3 x Coys
      • 3 Motor PzGrens (Trucks)
      • 1 MG (Truck)
  • Off table
    • 150mm & 105mm Battalions

 

Whilst Comrade Jonathan Elliski had:

  • 1 x Recce Armoured Car company (Good)
    • 4 x BA64
  • 1 x Assault Gun Regt (Fair)
    • 4 x SU85
  • 1 x Hvy Tank Regt (Fair)
    • 4 x IS2
  • 2 x Tank brigades
    • 1 x 76mm field gun + truck
    • 2 x 12.7mm AA truck
    • 3 x medium Tank battalions (all were Marginal)
      • 8 x T34/76
        4 x T34/85
    • 1 x Inf battalion (1 was Good/1 was Fair)
      • 6 x SMG inf stands + truck
        3 x SMG stands (desant – attached to tank battalion)
        3 x ATR stand + truck
        1 x 45mm ATG + truck

Off table artillery was:

  • 2 x 76mm battalions (on +1 availability)
    1 x 122mm battalion
    1 x 152mm battalion

 

I clearly had the qualitative advantage this time and was hoping that this would help negate the disparity in numbers.

I split my force into 2 roughly equal Kampfgruppe with the Armoured infantry and Panthers tasked with taking the crossroads on the left and then exploiting forwards along the road, they would be led by 3 of the Puma platoons and supported by the 155mm battalion. The truck borne Infantry supported by the assault guns and led by the remaining 2 Puma platoons would go hell for leather for the town and hold it if possible. Whilst this was happening the PzIV battalion was to head across the middle of the battlefield for the lateral road near the enemy’s startline and then exploit either left or right as the situation dictated. The Tiger company was to take position on the long ridge to the left rear of the town to cover the advance of the Pz IV’s and to act as a reserve. I had also planned to put my troops into battle over a few moves so that I could change plans if needed and also to not show my hand too early.

Jonathan and his red horde won the initiative and took a typically bullish Soviet approach with all of his units hitting the table from the off. He had had a similar idea as me it seemed pushing a Tank Brigade down each of the cross battlefield roads, one headed for the town on my right and one headed for the crossroad on the left. His heavy tanks waddled towards the small wood in the centre but apart from them there was a huge gap between the two forces. Pretty soon our respective recce types clashed with mixed results, on the left I managed to get onto the ridge by the crossroads and cause the Soviets to duck into the wood for cover, on the right I got bounced out of the town and passed a message back to the following infantry to deploy across the road and into the woods and get ready for company! The battle now split into 2 battles on the flanks which were quite close run things.

Over on the left the Soviets quickly abandoned the road and the mass of tanks swung round the right whilst the majority of the infantry and the surviving recce holed up in the wood along the road. I managed to place 2 companies of Panthers into position along the ridge and down by the farm just in time to face this massive onslaught, whilst deploying a company of infantry into the wood on the extreme left as a back-stop position and deploying the battalion heavy weapons in the small copse. The remaining 2 Halftrack companies along with the larger Panther company were swung round towards the ridge across from the swamp to try an outflanking manoeuvre but came up against the SU-85’s Jonathan had left here. The fighting around the farm and crossroads was very intense with the awful Russian troops having a very hard time registering any hits on the defending Germans who were happily content to sit in whatever cover they could find and whittle away at the masses of tanks. I had also won the artillery duel over here too with my gunners far out performing their opposite numbers.

On the right the Soviet infantry quickly took possession of the town and my Infantry had shaken themselves out into a line to try and stop a Soviet breakthrough, hoping to buy enough time for the PanzerJagers and Tigers to come up. Things didn’t look to go too well initially with a FUBAR with one of my barrages coming down on the chaps that called it in causing a complete company of infantry in the woods to become suppressed just as the Soviet tanks and SMG wielding tank riders hit them in a close assault. This caused a hole that looked like it would be enough for the godless Bolsheviks to exploit as the are wont to do but they came acropper through a combination of last ditch defending from the remaining infantry, a timely intervention by the company of JagdPanzer IV’s and an absolutely heroic stand by a platoon of Puma armoured cars that swatted off numerous attempts to destroy it whilst taking out T-34/76’s with gay abandon (again helped greatly by the disparity in troop quality).

In the middle my attempt at inserting the PzIV company into the rear of the Soviets nearly came unstuck as the company of IS-2’s emerged from the wood and started knocking out platoons from long range, however after some judicial use of smoke and scarpering off as quickly as I could I managed to get the survivors out of harms way. About this time my King Tiger company had also taken up its post to cover the rear of the advancing PzIV’s and they seemed to entice the Soviet heavies onto them like giant armoured sirens, surviving a long range salvo and causing one of the Soviet behemoths to brew up in the return fire.

It was at this point in proceedings that Jonathan decided that it was pointless to carry on and risking a meeting with the NKVD was better than trying to bludgeon his way forwards. By now he had lost nearly all his tanks and my PzIV’s and flanking Panther company were about to break into the rear of his survivors on the left, I wouldn’t have been able to retake the town on the right from him as my infantry over here were too weak after their heroic defence but once the Tigers had finished with his heavy tanks there was nowt stopping them from trundling into the rear of that position too. So, another great game came to an end (the amount of FUBARS rolled with our artillery during this game was amazing causing some great moments of fun!) and Jonathan’s new table was well and truly broken in. It was good to play FFT3 in a WW2 setting as I’d only done so once before and they did stand up well, showing that you don’t have to fleece gamers by bringing out rules and stats ad infinitum just to make more money (you know who I mean!), just write one good set of rules and bung all the stats you need into one edition. We did have a chat about some things that might be worth trying out in future games, such as a rolling a df10 for Quality tests as sometimes it just seems pointless trying when you’ve got shite troops and infantry will have more of a chance of sticking around too after they’ve been hit.

Again many, many thanks to Jonathan for a great weeks holiday in his lovely place it was truly fantastic. I’m already looking forward to next years trip and hopefully I will be joined by a couple of others so that we can have a some proper big games.

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