Another great evening of gaming at Guardian Games in slightly less smoky Portland, OR. Earlier in the week the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia River Gorge blanketed the city in smoke and ash and even began to approach the eastern suburbs of Portland itself. Fortunately the wind changed direction, though we still drastically need some rain!
We had a total of 3 tables of gaming going on tonight with two Team Yankee games and one V4 FoW game being played. I was playing Scott tonight, who I'd played earlier in the campaign. I finally got the first 50 points or so of my DDR army together, and I mean "together" in the most tenuous sense of the word. I generally leave tracks and wheels off for painting and attach them last, so I had to use a generous helping of blue-tack to hold the force together, but it held!
We played the very new Leipzig Dust Up mission for a change of pace... so without further ado!
When I first read the news I was stunned and simply couldn't believe it. Americans? Near Leipzig? Driving toward Berlin? Impossible! Sind sie verrückt?!?!?!? Do they not understand the depth of our reserves? Well if the Americans want to put their heads in the noose, far be it from me to dissuade them.
Our plan was relatively simple given how dire the situation was - move south and intercept the American spearhead driving northeast. We should expect some support and help from the Dresden sector, including 2nd and 3rd echelon troops. I prefer my T-72 tanks, but additional panzers of any type are welcome.
I can't help wondering if our Soviet friends haven't been so focused on their Maskirovka to the north that someone forgot to close the barn door in the south. Yet our successes on the northern front have been spectacular - Denmark conquered, northern Germany in our control, gaining control of the Netherlands, and the British trapped in a pocket in the Ruhr. If we can squeeze that pocket, the British will effectively be out of the war - no Dunkirk for them this time!
However, the fact that the Americans could launch such an attack gnaws at me. We've been mauling their forces around Frankfurt since the War started. Their forces in the Fulda Gap had to withdraw immediately, where are these reserves coming from, and how did they break through the Hof Corridor? Latest intelligence indicated we'd strongly held that sector.
My own forces consist of my core of T-72 tanks with three short companies. Though we have seen victories in the north, our losses have not yet been made good. Our tanks are good tanks, but it seems our Russian friends keep the very best for themselves, none the less we can make do. My reconnaissance section of BRDM armored cars will provide valuable intelligence on the battle ahead while the Shilka should keep the American Air Force off of our backs.
I'm told when I reach Leipzig I'll be reinforced with a battalion of T-55 tanks, some Spandrel anti-tank armored cars, and a Carnation battery. Hopefully they'll be of some use in the coming battle.
Our scouts report that the approaching American force is a small spearhead unsupported by infantry - which is just as well as our infantry is still mopping up to the north and I've been told there are no Mot-Schützen Bataillon available for this action either. Maybe it's just as well, I've been told our RPGs and other hand-held anti-tank weapons are useless against these new American tanks anyway!
I'm surprised the Americans are committing so much armor, but given there are few lighter vehicles for my forces to attack, I'm therefore forced to overwhelm their tanks with sheer numbers, but our armor is thinner than that of our Soviet friends. I may have to wait for reinforcement to have a chance - I fear a head to head encounter - even with weight of numbers - will go poorly...
As we deploy the horizon appears to be empty - our reconnaissance company has identified a usable road which they believe they can keep open for our reinforcements - accursed American Air Force bombed many of our main roads to rubble making transport difficult! I order one small company of panzers to support the reconnaissance element behind an agricultural field. The Amerikaner wouldn't try to come through those dense woods, would they?
Mein Gott! those American panzers move through the woods like deer! Before I know what is happening, they're on top of 2nd Company and two panzers are knocked out with the remaining one badly shaken! One of our BRDM scout vehicles is also blown into next week by long-range fire. Their gunnery is excellent, and if this level of mobility in the forest is any indication, its no wonder they managed to outflank us with a large contingent in the Hof Corridor! I order both formations to withdraw so we can regroup. The Spandrel platoon has radioed that they are in position, but don't have good shots at this point - I order them to hold!
I order first company into the woods in front of us to cover the approach for any American reinforcements, while the lone remaining tank of 2nd company along with the surviving BRDMs make their way behind a low rise taking them out of visual range for the American guns. They lack the punch of our guns, but we lack the armor our Soviet friends have as well. The Carnation battery manages to damage an enemy panzer, but it is soon back in action.
We now engage in a game of cat and mouse with the enemy tanks, with neither side able to cause any lasting damage to the other. Our artillery manages to range in well, but their shells lack the punch to cause any lasting damage to the enemy panzers. In an effort to keep the artillery off of his back, the American commander orders our observer vehicle targeted, which is destroyed in short order.
American light anti-tank vehicles arrive and begin a run toward the enemy command post to provide static defense. My intelligence reports indicate those vehicles are extremely stealthy and even when they fire a missile at you it may be impossible to zero in on their position. If they reach the enemy command post, they will be a massive thorn in our side.
With reinforcements finally arriving in the form of third company's T-72s, and the Spandrels reporting they have side shots on two enemy panzers, I feel the time is right to start the counterattack in earnest. The Spandrels knock out two enemy tanks, and the T-72 company begins to move around the flank.
With the loss of two panzers, the American advance begins to falter, but not before they finish off second company. Shots at third company, which had worked their way around the flank, but failed to hit any thing, destroyed one tank, but the a second T-72 managed to deflect the shot. At this point the T-55 company finally arrived and we were able to overwhelm the M1 tanks in the forest on the right flank. At this point the company commander and anti-tank unit retired from the battlefield.
Our brave Volksarmee forces achieved a great victory today, yet I can't help wondering if the enemy panzers have such awesome mobility, where else are they slipping through our pickets? Had this advance gone unchecked it could have been a complete disaster. So I await further orders... I will not rest until the imperialist Amerikaner are pushed out of Germany - all of Germany!
I was a little surprised Scott decided to try an almost all tank force - of course that meant my artillery was practically useless, my Shilkas were of limited utility, and my recon force was only really useful for Spearhead... which didn't work out so well initially either. He handled his tanks quite well and was generally able to keep their noses pointed in the right direction. If I hadn't managed to get some side shots on the Abrams knocking out two of them, I think he could have played a delaying game with the six tanks and done a decent job of whittling down my force and at least achieving a draw. Given how fragile the armor is on the Volksarmee tanks, you really have to be cognizant how much return fire you're likely to suffer whenever you poke your nose out! I ended up using more movement orders (blitz & shoot and scoot) this game than ever in the past, and really felt like I had to husband the T-72s especially since they're the only tank that has a chance against the Abrams from the front!
First to Scott for playing a heck of a game. I left myself wide open with deployment and he suitably made me pay for it! In terms of unit effectiveness, the Spandrels pretty much stole the show coming through with two kills and reducing the amazingly accurate fire I was starting to receive. So in honor of their contribution - here's a fun little video showing some BRDM-2 variants - including the Spandrel (okay they're Hungarian, not East German - but it's amazing to see the real thing in action regardless!).