Soviet Hammer

Even though I'd already had a game day with Dean on Saturday, Ninjasaurus Rex turned up for a game on Sunday. I'll never get my dissertation written at this rate... We decided on a game of Rapid Fire! and I thought of the Germans attacking a Russian held position would give me the chance to use some of the early war vehicles I have been working on for a while. I just pulled together what I thought would make an interesting mix:

The Germans
3 X Panzer II
3 X Panzer 38(t)
2 X Panzer III (short 50mm) (off table at the start of the game, these would enter on a D6 roll of 6)
5 X SdKfz 251/1
1 X Infantry Battalion in the SdKfz 251 and two Opel Blitz

The Russians
2 X T-70
4 X 45mm Anti-Tank Gun
4 X Anti-Tank Rifles
5 X BT-5 (off board at the start, these would enter on a D6 roll of 6)
2 X T-34/76 Model 1940 (As above)
1 X Infantry Battalion

So I thought this would be a reasonably balanced game but as I have not played games with early war vehicles the strengths of them were unknown to me. Also I don't like to use army points and prefer a realistic game where sides are not matched. I took the Russians and set up with the town hall as the objective for the Germans. I created a perimeter defence mainly of the A/T guns in the smaller buildings and tree line, with the infantry in the town hall itself should any Germans get through. The two T-70s went in the wooded areas to the front and left of the hall.

Then Ninjasaurus set up his attack:

So this is how the game looked to start:

The German halftracks moved into column formation down the road with the three Panzer 38(t) as the vanguard.

Heading down the road past the empty farm, everything seemed to be going well.

Meanwhile the two Panzer IIs faced off with one of the T-70s and a 45mm A/T Gun concealed in the woods.

Strike one to the Russians at the lead Panzer 38(t) was set alight by fire from the T-70 and other concealed A/T guns in the village.

The remaining Panzer 38(t)s failed their morale and fell back into the fields behind the farm building, as the halftracks left the road to get around the blockage and debussed into the other field.

Two Russian A/T rifles firing at the halftracks from the woods had no effect.

Until the other A/T guns took a toll along with some mortar fire from close to the town hall.

The Panzer IIs inched forward but were quickly stopped by anti-tank fire, destroying one and heavily damaging the second (the red marker).

In my first movement turn I fortunately rolled a 6 and brought on the five BT-5s. I moved three of them forward to counter the threat posed by the two Panzer IIIs which had also appeared by fortuitous German dice rolling. In the meantime the German towed 75mm Infantry gun made a dash closer to the action around the town.

The remaining BT-5s headed off to help the defence against the main thrust of the Germans.

My hopes of holding the Panzer IIIs off were quickly shattered as one of the BT-5s burst into flame and the other was lightly damaged. This resulted in them failing their morale and routing off board.

In the centre of the field Russian A/T fire was filling the sky with burning fumes.

The Germans found it hard to advance under the heavy fire, but still pressed on relentlessly.

With their morale intact the remaining two Panzer 38(t)s got back into the action.

But they quickly came under more Russian fire, damaging one along with the remaining Panzer II. The two halftracks burst into flame as well, one of which contained the HQ unit.

Things just got worse and worse for the Germans after this. Infantry casualties started to mount from mortar fire.

The two Panzer IIIs were heavily damaged by the newly arrived T-34s which made them fail their morale roll, in turn resulting in them routing off the board.

The middle of the board seemed to be packed with the burning hulks of German vehicles.

The T34s knocked out the 37mm A/T gun emplaced by the farmhouse, the Opel Blitz towing the 75mm infantry gun was destroyed as it tried to redeploy across the board and the final two halftracks were either destroyed or damaged.

The smoky graveyard.

The heroic Red Army advanced for the final victory!

The game was over, the German infantry failed their morale roll and routed. Not an inevitable result given that they had no armour support as all of it was burning or damaged. My total losses were two 45mm anti-tank guns and two anti-tank rifle teams, the town hall remained in Soviet hands.

When I set the game up I didn't expect to hand the Germans their ass on a plate and thought it would be a tougher battle than it was. I guess that's the power of concealed anti-tank guns! Our unfamiliarity with early war tanks also played a part, but it was great fun, and not just because I won.