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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Death in the Motherland

The combat jump into the Russian Steppe went far better than I had hoped.

The Fallschirmjagers took only 10% casualties on landing – far less than the anticipated 25% losses.

That included about 6 stands of various types that landed on or in a river or in other rough terrain.

Mike and I were running the Germans, Louis and Bob ran the Russians.

If not for Mike’s incredible die rolls, I think we would have lost more like 40% on the jump! He rolled like a man possessed, only losing 6 stands total out of approximately 60 stands! Absolutely amazing! And to top it off, he only lost 2 stands from the rough terrain!

Not only did Mike make incredible rolls, it just happened that all but two platoons landed nearly on top of their weapons containers. We started the first turn with all platoons, except two, in command, and with their weapons!

The Sovs weren’t happy about the FJs successful jump. With the Gliders landing and stopping just inches from one of the objectives, and the troops spread out nicely in a pair of lines pointing to both of the objectives, we just had to figure out which one to head to!

Since the Light Arty (GeB76G 7.5cm Mountain guns) landed so close to the one, we chose that one. Mike took that half of the board and made it happen. He quickly moved 1st platoon towards the objective, using the downed gliders as cover. He made it to the cover of a walled farmyard on the second turn. The AOs (Artillery Observers) were also in cover there, looking for targets – and it was certainly a target rich environment!

Across from the farmyard was a Soviet heavy machine gun platoon. Horror of horrors; with around 12 stands of HMGs, the turn they opened up would be murder on anyone in range.

Beside the HMG platoon was a platoon of infantry – with at least two HMGs attached. Again, this was a large formation, and would cause a lot of pain on our side if left alone.

While Mike began moving his troops towards the objective, I began moving troops carefully towards the remaining two containers. This would be 3rd platoon and the 2nd HMG platoon.

1st HMG platoon covered our movement, hammering the Red Infantry platoon, and the Popovs took heavy casualties. Unfortunately, since they had gone first, some of our platoons had already taken casualties as well!

I put an air strike on the Infantry platoon, pinning them. The Light arty dropped rounds on the HMG platoon – to no effect.

On the third turn the Sov HMG platoon hammered 1st platoon, wiping out three or four stands. The Sov infantry platoon fired (RoF 1) into the massed troops nearest them, taking out one stand of HMG from 2nd HMG platoon – who still had not reached their canister, and thus were armed only with pistolas! 2nd HMG platoon went pinned due to the number of hits. We lost one A/T gun and crew as well, pinning that platoon.

Bottom of the third, we started with 2 platoons pinned – the 2nd HMG platoon and the PaK 36 A/T (Anti-tank) platoon. I needed to unpin them, as there were tanks appearing on our far right flank – I needed those doorknockers in place or our flank would fold!

I rolled a 1 and a 2; all I needed was 3s! DOH!

I rolled for air – got it, got two planes and attacked the Popovs HMG platoon, hammering it nearly to death. They went pinned, lost some stands, which greatly reduced their threat. I moved the small anti-tank rifle (2.8cm) towards the oncoming tanks. It would be a paratrooper last stand if I didn’t get the doorknockers in place, as this little gun would only just have a prayer of slowing the tanks. Left by himself to defend the flank, the little critter would get 2 shots and that would probably be all she wrote – and that’s if he survived the first turn of enemy tank fire!

1st HMG platoon fired, as they had since the first turn, on the Popovs infantry platoon, taking it out of play. The last few stands were removed, and if we were lucky, this platoon would not be back!

2nd platoon moved into place, supporting 1st platoon, who were taking a beating from that nasty Popov HMG platoon.

Fourth turn - The Popov HMG platoon fired at a greatly reduced rate of fire but still gave casualties to 2nd platoon. They had also taken out one of the mountain guns in an earlier turn, cutting our fire power from the guns down to 1/4th - and that’s just ugly!

The Popov Rifle platoon failed it’s morale check, so the Kommisar attempted to "motivate" the troops, but was in turn shot. The platoon then scarpered.

The Russian tank company (two platoons of T-26s) were “screaming in from the right flank was still too far away to be a threat, and they kept blowing their fragile engines!

One thing that was helping, in a small way, was the Stump Mortars attached to the Company Headquarters. They were only getting a couple of shots per turn, as most had their view of the enemy blocked by a stand of trees. I spent much of the game figuring out how to un-snooker them, while not blocking line of sight from the 1st HMG platoons stands.

After the destruction of the Russian infantry platoon, I moved 1st HMG platoon up on line to fire into the Russian HMG platoon, which was still a thorn in our sides!

I called for air support and got it. I dropped both attacks onto the tank companies approaching on the right flank, nearly wiping one out. He made his morale check, surprisingly, and they continued to trudge towards our flank.

I was able to unpin the AT and 2nd HMG platoons – 2nd HMG platoon began to look as if they might reach their container prior to the end of the game! Unfortunately the doorknocker AT platoon was down to one gun at this point and would have to roll for morale to accomplish anything for the rest of the game.

Louis rolled for the “human wave” effect for his infantry platoon – and made his roll – the Infantry platoon would re-appear in the same place it had been before it was destroyed at the beginning of the next turn..

Turn 5 – The Russian platoon we had decimated reappeared. Nasty. This could be bad – except there was nothing they could do to us at this point.

See, by now, we were dug in on the objective and there is no way anyone is going to pry us off. The Sovs had no air support and their reserves were arriving too far away and moving too slowly. They weren’t going to be able to make it in time. The best they could hope for would be to cause extensive casualties.

The HMG platoon opened up, with yet further reduced abilities on 1st and 2nd platoons – and did little damage. The reconstituted infantry platoon opened up on 2nd HMG platoon, causing a morale check – which they passed! The little anti-tank gun that could finally moved into position to take on the two platoons of tanks single-handedly.

I rolled for air, got two planes – and lost control of them! Oh no! So this is how it would end? Being bombed off the objective by our own aircraft!?!

Mike said, “We wave them off!”

I had been unaware of this tactic/rule. Very nice. That means that 2nd platoon, sitting hard on the objective would not fire or dig in – but would spend their “shooting” turn waving off our own planes. The second flight also dives in on the objective and the battered remnants of 1st platoon wave them off as well.

End of game. FJs take and hold the objective through to turn 6 – and at this point the Sovs call the game, realizing that though they may cause more casualties, there is no way they can shift us from the objective!

I look forward to fielding my FJs as a ground force in mid/late-war scenarios. They are some tough guys who can even survive most of my lousy die rolls!

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