Flames of War Tournament Late-War Lexington, KY December 13th, 2008

Albright's "Season's Beatings" Late War 1750pt Tournament

 

I wanted to see how well a Udarnry Battalion teamed up with a "God of War" Artillery Battalion would work out.

My force was a follows:

HQ (CO, 2IC, Kommisar, Pioneers (x 5), Flamethrowers (x2)
Udarny Co (9 x R/MG, 4 x SMG, Kommisar)
Udarny Co (9 x R/MG, 4 x SMG)
Scout Platoon (3 x SMG)
IS-2 Co (4 x IS-2, 2 x AAMG)
AAA Co (Cmd Rifle, 2 x 37mm AA Guns, 2 x Trucks)
GoW Bn (Cmd Rifle, FO/Rifle, Staff, 4 x 76mm, 4 x 122mm)

The variation in this list over what I previously ran was that the 6 pack of 120mm Mortars and observer where replaced by the GoW battalion. This required that I drop a company Kommisar to fee up some extra points for that trade. I also replace a half battery of 76mm Regimental gins with the 37mm AAA guns. The 76mm Regt Guns I had just found to be so useless.

Game 1 – Dawn Attack vs. Polish Armoured Company

This tournament had a few more Allied than Axis players and I was matched up against Polish Shermans in Round 1 on a fairly open board. Fortunately the special rules guaranteed two turns of darkness to help get across the board. I deployed one Udarny Co on each flank and had my IS-2 in the open center. The AAA guns where on the far right and they where backed up by the 122mm howitzers while the other half of the GoW Bn was deployed behind the IS-2s in the center.


Initial set up.

My opponent, Jim, deployed an infantry platoon on his right objective, 4 x Sextons in the center. On my left he places three Sherman platoons (3 x Shermans & 1 Firefly each) while on my right he placed a Platoon of Universal Carriers(x3) and M5’s (x3).

Despite facing a tank force I went on the offensive hard on the left trying to take advantage of the darkness to cover my infantry moves. I managed to get my Udarny within Charge and Flamethrower range of one of the Sherman platoons. Unfortunately the flame thrower only produced one bail and with some additional support from the 2IC Sherman my opponent managed to get the 10 hits to stop the charge.


1st Udarny advance on the left.

Meanwhile in the center Fireflies and IS-2s traded shots pointlessly. I could barely hit and he could barely penetrate. Though I did eventually mange to lose my IS-2 command tank. The 76mm guns of the GoW used the Steal Wall rule to add additional long range shots at Shermans.


IS-2 hold the center.

On the right my other Udarny tried to maneuver against the UC’s and M5s while the 122mm guns bombarded the Polish infantry on far left.

After my failure to close the deal on the charge on the left. The Poles massed a 2nd Sherman platoon against my exposed Udarny there and proceeded to hose my lads down with machineguns and then charge them. I chose to fall back from this combat as losses where already high. I was hoping that the IS-2 and 76mm gun fire would stop the Sherman Charge. It did not! They kept coming eventually overrunning the left Udarny Company and contesting my left objective ultimately.

On the right combined fire from 37mm AAA guns and direct fire 122mm shots killed or bailed most of the UCs and M5s. What was left of my right Udarny managed to get in a charge and kill what remained.


By this point we where on the last turn. I had killed the UC and M5 platoons and lost an Udarny Co. I would have lost the game, but I had an “Insurance Policy” on my left. I had my small three stand Scout Platoon in some buildings on the left who where placed with in a contesting move left objective. I felt somewhat bad for my opponent who had overrun Udarny and run a gauntlet of IS-2 and 76mm gun fire to finally contest an objective only to have some shmuck three stand unit emerge to “counter-contest” and deny him victory. But those are the fortunes of war and maybe if he went on the attack earlier it might have played out better for him. As it was, what could have been a 4-3 win for him ended up as a 3-2 tie, with him on the short end.

This game was winnable for me. I’m fairly confident that if my Udarny could have closed the charge on against the far left Sherman platoon that the scales would have tipped my way for the rest of the game. The IS-2’s where disappointing and only accounted for a few Shermans. The GoW Bn never lost a gun. The 76mm guns claimed at least one Sherman and the 122mm Guns helped keep the enemy infantry pinned.


Jim’s great looking objective.

Game 2 – Modified Hold the Line vs. Aufklarung Ko


The mission in this round was based off of Hold the Line and vs. a “Mech” force I ended up defending. My opponent Tom, had three recce patrols of SdKf 250/9s (x 2 each), a SdKfz 250 Aufklarung platoon, a SdKfz -224 platoon (x 2), Nebelwerfers (x 3), a pair if 88mm guns, a pair of Pak 43s, and a King Tiger.

With all those big AT guns on the board, let alone a King Tiger, I decide that my IS-2s where better off left in reserve in this mission. I added the Scouts and AAA to the reserve as well and so deployed both Udarny Co’s and the GoW Bn as my initial forces.

The board we played on had a good bit more terrain than the previous round. One side some large woods, the other side had a “mountain” on it. There was a town in the center and roads with stone walls that cut the board just about in half. I chose to deploy in the wooded half of the table which I guess was a mistake. It gave my opponent a great position to set up his PAK 43s and his FO. If I had taken it, I would have been able to place one objective on that hill and only had to have concentrated on defending one.


Game board 2.


Main defensive area.

As it was I deployed in two simple lines. One Udarny Co filled from the left edge to where the woods on the right edge extend out to. The other Udarny was in “ambush” but it would be clear to anybody that they only place they could feasibly be was in the woods on the right completing the front line. The GoW Bn had the 76mm guns on the left where they could support the Udarny that where more in the open, the 122mm formed a 2nd line behind the hidden right Udarny where they could bombard over the woods.

My opponent was massed on my left and with the a clear shot all the way into his 88’s and Nebs I could not resist and launched forward with my right Udarny Co. All went well initially but after tearing into the 88’s my opponent brought up some fresh reserves and shifted most of his forces from his main effort to deal with my unexpected surge forward. For my impetuousness I was rewarded with my being Udarny destroyed by massed Armoured Cars and Aufklarung Platoon troops.


Impetuous Udarny move out!

Their loss was not in vain as it totally disrupted my opponent’s plan and by the time he reassembled his forces to push on an objective time was out. I’d like to say that disrupting my opponent’s attack was my plan all along, but I’ve got to admit that I was just going to be bored sitting back in foxholes. So this one ended up as a 5-2 win for me.

Game 3 – Breakthrough vs. Adrian - Sturm Ko

I was very excited to be matched up against Adrian’s Sturm Ko in a defensive battle. It would be an opportunity to play my force against the opponent it was designed to fight. This fight was particularity exciting so it will be covered in greater detail.


Game board 3.

Adrian had two full Sturm Platoons, a Pioneer Platoon with Goliath, a PAK 40 (x 3) platoon, a Stug-III (x 3) platoon, and a Battery of 150mm guns. He also had the Panzerfaust special hero and a half strength mortar platoon.

Adrian deployed with his Pioneers and one Sturm Platoon in quadrant to the front of my deployment zone. Further behind these he placed his mortar platoon. He deployed the 2nd Sturm Platoon and a PAK 40 platoon in the quadrant to the left of my deployment area. His 150mm battery was much further back in the left quadrant. His Stug-IIIs where also much hidden further back in the left quadrant not wanting to have to worry about round one shots from the 122mm guns of the IS-2.


German deployment in the “Left” quadrant.


German deployment in the “Front” quadrant.

Adrian’s deployments really made my deployment area very tight. I had never played breakthrough using my Udarny and with the GoW Bn there was barely an open space left. I thought about putting one Udarny Co into the reserve as the flanking force but decided that I wanted my heavy hitters on the board to start with. So I sent the AAA guns as a “token” flanking force.

The very “tight” Soviet Deployment zone.

There was a large set of woods that allowed me a perfect infiltration route right up to the Pioneers and 1st Sturm Co. So I positioned the Scouts and the 1st Udarny Co (add 1 Flamethrower and 3 Pioneers) to exploit that option. The 2nd Udarny Co (add one Flamethrower and 2 Pioneers) and IS-2s would press on the left quadrant where the Strum Platoon and PAK-40s where. The GoW set up with the 122mm guns in the far rear corner and the 76mm Guns read to roll up on my right to support the 1st Udarny Co’s assault.

1st Udarny Co's assault!

I really thought that I would have this game wrapped up quickly. My 1st Udarny Company would simply crush the Pioneers who would be assaulted on the first turn and then turn on the 1st Strum platoon. The 2nd Udarny and IS-2s would keep everything else pinned down while the 1st Udarny waltzed up to the objective.

Great plan!,,,but what I really had failed to do was weight my main effort. In fact my supporting effort actually had more combat powers assigned to it. So, after the infiltration move the 1st Udarny Company moved in for the assault. I did not want to draw the 1st Sturm platoon into supporting fire so I veered off to the right a bit and as a consequence reduced how many stands I could bear down on from the Pioneers. My flamethrowers lit off but accounted for only a single kill. The assault bagged enough to put the Pioneers at 50% but they did not need to check morale after Adrian elected to “break off” off from the Combat.

In Adrian’s following turn he rallied up his Pioneers and then used them, their Goliath, and the full nearby Strum Platoons (with a HMG) to just rake my 1st Udarny Co with fire. All stands where hit and a few multiple times. The Kommisar team was destroyed and the Co Commander failed his morale check after the grievous losses. The Battalion commander was too far away to do anything about this debacle and thus what was left of the 1st Udarny Company melted away.

Wow! I had never lost a full Udarny Co in the 1st turn. What was worse was that this was my main effort and now it was GONE! I was pretty shocked that what I thought was “in the bag” had went so poorly. I immediately recognized that all of my Sappers and Flame throwers should have gone to the 1st Udarny Co and they should have assaulted both the 1st Sturm Platoon and Pioneers at the same time throwing in everything I could at the same time including the Scouts! I only had made a half jab when I could have delivered a knock out punch!

While this debacle was happening to the front, my IS-2 and 122mm Arty shelled the 2nd Sturm Platoon and PAK-40s managing to pin both and kill one PAK-40.


So, my 2nd turn came around and there I was with my initial plan smashed and roughly half my infantry combat power eliminated. I decided that I would have shift the 2nd Udarny Co from the left to the front while the IS-2s held my left. On the right, my 76mm Guns managed to use Volley Fire to kill enough Pioneers (now in the open after breaking off from the previous melee). The managed to get a couple of kills and forced morale check on the German pioneers which the failed. Good news as I would have at least one VP! The 122mm howitzer continued to take advantage of being ranged in and just kept pounding the 2nd Sturm Co on the left.


IS-2s advance.

I was now over my turn 1 shock. I had managed to vanquish Adrian’s pioneers; I had the 2nd Udarny coming up to take over the 1st Udarny’s mission. In another turn I’d be set up to assault the 1st Sturm Platoon with the 2nd Udarny supported by Scouts and 76mm guns. Ok, maybe I was back in the fight if only my opponent would cooperate. Adrian however saw what was coming and in his turn he started to fall back with his 1st Sturm Platoon to deny me the kill. He brought up his Stugs to provide some covering fore for their withdraw. Meanwhile his 2nd Strum Platoon and PAK 40 kept their Gone to Ground status while his 150mm guns shelled my IS-2’s and his mortar smoked them.

It was now Turn 3. My AAA guns did not show up on the flank march. Good! They would likley die the turn they arrived and I was not eager for them to come in on the board.

Adrian was certainly showing a lot of skill controlling forces. He had frustrated my plans yet again! So at the start of turn three I switched to yet a new plan. I sent my IS-2s ahead to try use MGs on the withdrawing 1st Strum Platoon. My 2nd Udarny would revert back to the left and keep pressure on the 2nd Sturm Platoon along with my 122mm arty. My Scouts moved up to get an easy assault on a Mortar Observer and then a free occupation of the building that the FO was in. Other than a repositioning of troops not much was obtained in this turn.

Adrian’s turn three saw his Stug-III’s drop back way from the advancing IS-2 and getting in position to wipe out my flanking AAA guns when they arrived. His 1st Strum Platoon fell back one more time to where they could overwatch the forward objective.

In turn 4 my 37mm guns rolled on to the board. Obviously lost! They where able to shield themselves from Stug-IIIs using the woods but where in line of site to the German Mortars and a few Sturmgrenadier teams from the 1st Sturm Platoon. My IS-2 continued to shoot at the 1st Strum Platoon and managed to kill a team. My 2nd Udarny had to enter the kill zone inform of the 2nd Strum Platoon and PAK 40’s to get set up for a charge in the next turn while the 122mm howitzers continued to bombard the 2nd Strum Platoon

In the German half of turn 4, the 2nd Strum Platoon, 150mm unleashed a hail of fire that resulted in 7 kills on my 2nd Udarny, but not enough to start checking morale yet. The 2nd Strum Platoon then assaulted the 2nd Udarny which only lost two teams, with the Battalion Commander on hand the Udarny counterattacked and destroyed the entire 2nd Sturm platoon along with the German Co who had joined the 2nd Strum Platoon assault. The 2nd Udarny was now below 50% however, but with some extra encouragement from the Battalion Commander stayed on the field. While this was going on, the German mortars pulled back so as not to be charged by my Scouts on the next turn.

I had already written off the AAA Guns but Adrian was only able to get two Stugs with 6” due to the woods for MG shots. Only two hits where achieved and one saved. The trick that was destroyed also lost its 37mm gun. Then the Strumgreadier teams opened up. They managed to kill the 2nd truck but both the last 37mm gun and the Command Rifle team made their 5+ saves and the following platoon morale check!!! I was amazed that the platoon was not only still in play and not even pinned!

So turn four ended with me having destroyed a 2nd German Platoon securing at least 3VPs for me in the game. I had the IS-2s in coming close to being able to assault the 1st Strum Company which was trying to get dug in to some woods over watching the forward objective. My 2nd Udarny was severely bloodied, but it had dealt with the last major threat in its area.


IS-2’s get within assault range of the forward objective.

As I went into turn 5, time was running short. My 37mm AAA gun and command team where not going to take the rear objective from three Stug-IIIs, my IS-2 (only three tanks available at this point) probably where not going to be able to successfully assault a nearly full up Sturm Platoon and take the forward objective. But I had already killed off two platoons and what was left of the 2nd Udarny Co was in an excellent position to get a flank assault into the PAK-40s. The survival of my 37mm guns now meant that I had a unit behind the withdrawing mortars that could put 5 shots into the mortar platoon’s three teams.

The 37mm Guns where did get enough kills to cause the Mortars to quit the field. The 2nd Undary’s assault succeeded in eliminating the PAK 40. So with the German CO gone and 4 out of 7 platoons eliminated the game ended with the start of the German half of turn 4. Due to my 37mm guns surviving it was a 5-2 win for me, but a really very close game for if the German mortars had made their morale check there would not be time for another turn and I would have lost. This was the most exciting game of the day for me as it swayed back and for so wildly and my opponent Adrian was doing a very good job forcing me to change plans at multiple points. I felt very luck to walk away with a win in this contest!

I ended the day 3-2, 5-2, 5-2 and was in the top four of 20 or so players. Mike Pfanestiel was 1st I believe with his 8th Shtraf Battalion, Mike Pike with an IS-2 Regiment and Andy Cain, a German player, I believe followed Mike in VPs.

I have to say that I felt the GoW was indeed an excellent support option and far better then the heavy mortars I had been using previously. I made continuous use of the “Steel Wall” rule. The 76mm Guns with a 32” range nearly always where involved with direct fire while the 122mm Guns bombarded. I was slightly let down by the 76mm Guns inability to kill Shermans at range in game one, but in game 2 and three they racked up points in destroying all sorts infantry teams and light armored vehicles while big 122’s fired in direct. The GoW Bn only lost a single 76mm gun in all three games as my opponents just could not affoard to mass all fires on the Udarny Companies.

So the Udarny Bn + GoW Bn is a “keeper” based of my experience in this tournament.