Saturday, February 21, 2015

KG Klink, Poland, Game 15


It's 1630, 18 Sept 1939, and fighting for the Kutno pocket has reached a fever pitch.  All day the Poles have waged desperate battles to break out of the Germans' noose, but the armored counter-thrust by 4th Panzer Division (to include KG Klink) appears to have decisively slammed the door shut.  Regarding the situation at hand, elements of KG Klink's Reconnaissance Company, reinforced with an 80mm mortar, a 37mm anti-tank gun, and two squads of assault engineers, has discovered a Polish infantry force in the village of Piotrowicz (fictional), serving as a bridgehead to hold a ford open (to the north, off table), which is allowing a trickle of Polish troops to escape the pocket on foot (albeit, without their heavy weapons).

2nd Lt Wehner, the acting Reconnaissance Company commander, radioed his findings to KG headquarters, where Lt Col Klink uttered a single word: "Attack!"

The opposing forces, which are pretty evenly matched.

The Germans: led by Recon Co commander, 2nd Lt Wehner (sporting a Wound Badge), 2nd Motorcycle Platoon (led by acting PC Sgt Behrendt, LCpl Wilhelm's 1st Squad (filling in for Behrendt), Sgt Janke's (holder of the Iron Cross 2nd Class) 2nd Squad, and Cpl Zuckert's 3rd Squad), Officer Cadet Distler's Sdkfz 231 armored car (leader of the Armored Reconnaissance Platoon), Cpl Vogel's 80mm mortar team, Sgt Kallenbach's anti-tank gun, and two squads from the attached Assault Engineer Platoon (Sgt Albrecht's 3rd Squad and Sgt Klivens' 4th Squad).

The Poles: a CO, six rifle squads, one Maxim .30 caliber MG, one light armored car (MG only), and one light tank (spoiler alert: he's a real @#$%er!!!).

Overview, north is up, KG Klink entering on road at bottom center, Poles still on blinds (poker chips).  The German objective is to break the Polish position centered on the crossroads at top left, to allow the KG to seal the 'leak' at the ford (off table to top left).

Elements of Recon Company, curiously still mounted despite being relatively close to suspected enemy positions ;)

The defenders revealed!  This photo is looking left to right (west to east), with Germans at top right.  Note the MG at bottom right, and Polish armored car at far left, just visible behind the building.

Looking south to north, with German point element at bottom left, looking at the defenders, with rifle squads spread throughout, and the light tank at far right behind the trees.

Let's get it on!

I don't do very well with rolling firefights for the Germans (a '6'), but I do roll scurries fairly often (rolling '1s' is a specialty of mine), and that's how the game starts, with the Germans on a scurry, which is very, very fortuitous.  If only the rest of the fight went so well...

The 2nd Motorcycle Platoon Commander and his old squad (1st, led by LCpl Wilhelm) have their squads gun their engines and zoom up the road (top left), blowing by the astonished Polish defenders in the building to their right.  They dismount as Off Cad Distler brings his armored car up next to them.  The two assault engineer squads, straddling the road, escort the Recon Company commander nearer the enemy rifle squad in the building, while Sgt Janke and Cpl Zuckert's squads turn off the road, dart right, and dismount, covering the unpacking of the ATG and mortar (bottom right).

The enemy MG is in the far bottom left corner of the table (off camera to bottom left), and I've made a tactical decision to essentially ignore it, figuring my troops are going to move with such speed that the slow-moving enemy MG will never get into position to affect the fight.  But I've already screwed that notion up by dismounting my ATG and mortar so early, which I wouldn't have done if I'd have rolled a 'normal' activation.  The ATG and mortar would have simply sat there while other forces moved forward, then, once there was some forward space to deploy to, I'd have moved the ATG and mortar forward and unlimbered/unpacked it.  But I rolled a scurry, and so I was able to move everyone, so I figured I'd better move it up, and since I'm getting so close to the enemy I'd better unlimber.  Meaning they didn't get very far off their starting point and they're already pretty immobile, and the enemy MG is not far off of being able to bring them under fire...

On the far right, a solitary Polish rifle squad silently spies the oncoming German motorcycle troops, and, once they've gotten nice and close, opens up on Sgt Janke and Cpl Zukert's squads.

Cpl Zuckert's squad (center, white bead) gets 'man down,' while Sgt Janke's squad falls back (far left, red bead).  Then the Poles safely fall back, trading space for time after putting a lickin' on the Germans (far right; they were at center, next to the crater)...

Then, in the center, a Polish rifle squad in the building (not there right now) fires on Sgt Klivens' engineer squad (far right, white bead, with CO), and gets 'man down,' then falls back (far left, just above building).

Then, on the left, the Polish rifle squad in the building (at far left) fires on LCpl Wilhelm's squad (center right, white bead), catching them in the street and getting 'man down.'  What the hell is going on here?   Three shots, three 'man down.'  It doesn't put them out of the fight, but it slows down your advance as you have to spend time (actions) to rally them, and there is a 1 in 6 chance they go out of the fight (and a 1 in 6 chance their status doesn't change and you get further delayed).

Sgt Janke (hero, top) rallies his squad, while the CO helps Sgt Klivens' squad (bottom left) rally, then moves right and rallies Cpl Zuckert's squad (right).

Off Cad Distler moves his armored car up to LCpl Wilhelm's squad (far right) to help them rally, but they remain 'man down.'  Distler then fires his 20mm gun at the enemy in the building at bottom left, forcing them to fall back.  Then Cpl Vogel's 80mm mortar gets going on the patch of trees in the center, but hits absolutely nothing, so Sgt Behrendt moves the HQ squad forward (bottom center, next to telephone pole at wall) and they fire at the mortar's target, forcing the enemy rifle squad to fall back (red bead at center).

Then the Poles get a little bit screwed: they roll a firefight, which means everyone that can see a target can fire, but no one gets to move, so they're two vehicles remain in defilade (armored car behind building on left, light tank behind treeline on right).

The enemy MG (off table to far bottom left) can't really see all that well, but hey, everyone can shoot in a firefight, so they take a shot at the German mortar team (bottom left), no effect.  Off camera to top, Sgt Behrendt's squad traded fire with a Polish rifle squad, no effect, but on the right two Polish rifle squads targeted Cpl Zuckert's squad and put it out of the fight (center, casualty figure).  The German ATG and mortar (bottom left) both returned fire, and all that firepower convinced one of the two enemy squads to fall back (far right, with red bead, other squad just below building at far right).  Nice shootin' boys...  Then the Germans get another scurry.

The Germans made a bold move on the left, with Sgt Behrendt's squad dashing into the enemy building at far left, and the armored car and LCpl Wilhelm's squad followed right behind them.  In the center, the two engineer squads move up (one occupying the building at bottom right, the other to their right), while the enemy CO moved to the center and rallied one of his rifle squads.

On the right, the CO and Sgt Janke's squad moved up (center left), while the mortar team displaced forward (top left, next to trees) to get out of the enemy MG's line of fire.  The enemy squad next to the building (far right) fell back and helped their buddies rally, but only got them up to 'pin.'

The enemy MG moved out of the building they were in (far left), forward to some cover at a crater and hedge (bottom left), where they could then fire on my damn ATG (far right, in field).  I've already run infantry and the armored car up the road to top left, and the engineers into/around the building at center.  I should have never by-passed that damned enemy MG, but I got so excited with that initial scurry...

The Germans get a 'normal' activation and I decide to get a little crazy.  Not to crazy initially: Sgt Behrendt's squad moves into close combat on the far left (no snap fire and serious advantage as enemy is hunkered)...

And wins, which is what got me go a bit crazy.  Why not press our luck?  Behrendt's squad rushes the enemy armored car.  The enemy vehicle commander is surprised by the sudden appearance of German troops on his flank; he slews the turret right and cut loose, but the rounds missed their mark!  Sgt Behrendt' led his men to and atop the enemy vehicle, where desperate fighting with submachine guns, pistols, hand grenades, entrenching tools, and even fists broke out.

Sgt Behrendt's squad was again successful, destroying the enemy vehicle (center left, with enemy squad casualty at bottom left), then rushing into a bombed out house (top left), into a flanking position on an enemy rifle squad (top right).

Off Cadet Distler moves east off-road, firing at enemy infantry and their CO hiding behind a patch of trees (the German engineers are off camera to top right), but the rounds are wide and have no effect...

The Polish CO moves away (top right) from Distler's armored car (bottom left), while an enemy rifle squad moves into the trees (center left) and fires on Sgt Klivens' engineer squad, eliminating them (bottom right, casualty figure; Sgt Albrecht's engineer squad is in the building at bottom center).

Back on the left, the enemy squad Sgt Behrendt was just able to flank has seized the initiative.  They fire, forcing Behrendt's squad to fall back (retreating left, out of the bombed out house), then the enemy riflemen give chase (ending up in the house just vacated by Behrendt).

Then the Germans roll another scurry (I told you, I can roll 1's like a champion).

Sgt Behrendt's squad (top left) rallies, while Distler's armored car gets on the road to come up and assist them and LCpl Wilhelm's squad crosses the road (to the edge of the trees at center left), which has the effect of pushing the two enemy rifle squads in the center to the right (on is at center right in the trees, the other is further right in the building).  Sgt Janke's squad and the CO move left (bottom right).

And then another 'improbable' occurred...

The Polish rifle squad in the bombed out house fired at Sgt Behrendt's squad, pinning it, and the Poles followed up their fusillade by charging the hard-pressed Germans, but they are forced back (opposed roll ended in a tie, so, counting Behrendt's boys as in cover of the wall, the attacker was forced to fall back)!

Then the Poles got sneaky: their light tank (off camera to top right) has been hanging back, out of sight, letting the Germans advance, getting spread out and whittled down.  Now the Poles figure this is the time to get their tank into action, but they need to get the German ATG (center right, in the field next to the truck) out of the way.  So, to clear the way, they have their MG (bottom left) open up.  The MG fire forces the ATG crew to abandon the gun.  Now, I can keep screwing around with rallying the crew and getting it back to the gun, but if I don't get rid of that MG they're just going to keep doing this, at least until their tank comes up and smokes the crew...

So, I need to get some forces re-positioned.  But then the Germans roll a firefight...

Sgt Behrendt's squad (bottom left) fires on the enemy rifle squad that just charged them, getting 'man down,' and then Distler's armored car finishes them off (casualty figure at center, just above the telephone pole).

Sgt Albrecht's engineers (far left, in building), Sgt Janke's squad (just right of the building), and the 80mm mortar (bottom left) all fire on the enemy's central position, forcing two squads to fall back (behind the building at center right).  The CO falls back (off camera to bottom right) and rallies the ATG crew.

And then the Poles bust out the whoopin' stick...

It starts with their piddly-ass rifle squad (center right, on edge of building) opening fire on Sgt Janke's squad and mowing it down (a second casualty figure just right of the building at bottom left).  Then the enemy CO falls back behind their building and rallies both rifle squads back there.  And then the enemy light tank finally makes its appearance (just below their building on the right).  It fires on Ablrecht's engineers (building at bottom left), pinning them.

And then I roll another damned firefight for the Germans!  You know, I really need to move my armored car over to get a shot at the enemy tank, I really need to get the ATG crew back to its gun to take a shot at the enemy tank (which will take two turns, one to re-man the gun and another to fire), and I really need to move the engineers and LCpl Wilhelm's squad close into cover next to the tank to try to close assault it.  I really need to move a bunch of stuff to try to counter the enemy's main offensive capability, but I can't!!!

So my mortar fires, and once again is very ineffective, managing only two pins (yellow beads).

In response, the enemy tank (center right, in field) fires on Albrecht's engineers, forcing them to fall back, out of the building at bottom center and into the street.  The enemy CO rallies a rifle squad, which moves up into the building (top center).

Then the Germans get a normal activation, but with a random event: smokescreen, which allows a unit to move without drawing reaction fire, which is perfect for the ATG crew, who quickly re-man their gun.  Now I need to take care of that damned MG; Cpl Vogel's team quickly re-lays the their tube, and they begin dropping 80mm rounds on the enemy machine gun.

And it's glorious: the mortar rounds drive the enemy MG team back, which essentially puts them out of the game.  The Poles really can't afford to use one of their limited activations to rally the MG, then another to move it into firing position, then another to actually fire, in consecutive turns (they can only take one action per turn).

But then my fortunes swing back the other way, just as quickly...

With only one shot the enemy dispatches my anti-tank gun, who never even fired an armor piercing round (they did fire one feeble, 37mm HE round earlier in the game, to no effect)...

The enemy CO rallies a rifle squad, who then moves up (top left) to deny their flank (the German A/C and Sgt Behrendt's squad are over there).

Lt Wehner, the CO (off camera to left) moves to Sgt Albrecht's engineer squad and rallies them, and they rush to cover near the enemy tank (that's them next to the German mortar team at bottom left).

Off Cad Distler's A/C moves up and fires on the enemy rifle squad in the road, forcing them to fall back (top right, with red bead).

Then the Poles roll a firefight; their tank fires on Albrecht's engineer squad and forces them to fall back (top left, behind building), which really sucks as I need them for some close assault on the enemy tank...

Meanwhile the Polish MG rallies, though their CO can't manage to rally the squad in the north, and they fall back again.  Distler's armored car (off camera to top) returns fire, pinning a squad (top right, yellow bead), and the mortar (far left, next to crater and trees) does too, getting man down (far right, white bead).

Then the Germans roll another damned firefight!  I need to move units, dammit!!!  The A/C (top left) fires on the enemy building (top right), missing everything, but the mortar (bottom right) fires their also and puts one rifle squad out of the fight (finally he gets someone).  At bottom center Lt Wehner, the CO, tries to rally Sgt Albrecht's engineers, but only gets them 'up' to pin...

The enemy light tank then rolls over Cpl Vogel's mortar team...

Then turns it's sights on Sgt Albrecht's engineer squad, supported by Lt Wehner.  The two sides clash in a brief but fierce melee which sees the enemy tank knocked out, AND Sgt Albrecht's squad and the German CO eliminated (I rolled a tie, which technically should have resulted in the Germans falling back, but it seemed like divine intervention to show me the fight was finished).

The Germans in the northwest fell back to the south, down the road, consolidating their position in the southwest, capturing the Polish machine gun team.  Meanwhile, the Poles consolidated in the northeast.  Shortly thereafter the remainder of KG Klink arrived, followed hours later by forces from 4th Panzer Division.  Upon seeing the force arrayed against them the Poles melted back north across the river.

Good grief, another ass-whooper of a fight.  Fifteen games in (actually twenty, but fifteen in this campaign) and I still love the ebb and flow, back and forth, ups and downs these rules bring.  One minute you're grinning ear to ear, the next you've got tears in your eyes; I love it!  This is friction without being reduced to a spectator.

Having said that, I am supremely peeved that this was the second time an enemy armored beast has savaged my poor infantry.  It's not that the tank was overly powerful, it's just that I made a mistake in the initial deployment of my ATG, and never could fully recover from that.  So the rules handle armor vs infantry just fine, I just need to handle it a bit better ;)  Tough lessons in the school of hard knocks...

-Lt 2nd Lt Wehner (Acting Recon Co Cmdr), Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, recommended for Iron Cross 2nd Class for leading close assault which halted enemy armored attack,WIA, campaign.  Also received Tank Killer Badge.
-Sgt Albrecht (3rd Squad, Eng Plt) Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, recommended for Iron Cross 2nd Class for leading close assault which halted enemy armored attack, KIA. Also received Tank Killer Badge.
-Sgt Behrendt (Acting Plt Cmdr, 2nd M/C Plt), recommended for Iron Cross 2nd Class for leading close assault which eliminated enemy rifle squad and armored car.
-Cpl Zukert (3rd Squad, 2nd M/C Plt) Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, KIA.
-Sgt Klivens (4th Squad, Eng Plt) Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, WIA, campaign.
-Cpl Vogel (Mtr Tm, Schwere Plt) Wound Badge, KIA.
-Sgt Kallenbach (ATG, Schwere Plt), Wound Badge.
-Lost ~60 KIA/WIA, 1 ATG, 1 80mm mortar.
-Caused ~40 KIA/WIA, captured ~5 POW, destroyed one light tank, and one armored car.

Lots of Iron Crosses, which goes hand in hand with lots of casualties.  Another stalemate, if not an all-out whoopin'.  But it was fun!  Lots of folks have been commenting on how hard these fights have been, how tough the enemy has been, but in terms of things not going well, like I should be discouraged.  I'd be more discouraged if I kept walking over the enemy; what fun is that?  The last part of that is that I don't think most folks understand how hard the fighting was in the early war campaigns; by the end of the campaign in Poland, and again in France, the German Army and Air Force was worn down to a nub.  But because their victories were so shockingly fast I think a lot of people think there wasn't tough fighting.  On the battlefield the Germans usually won, with moderate casualties that bagged them huge numbers of prisoners, then moved on to the next fight, where they again suffered moderate casualties, and netted huge numbers of prisoners.

Of course here I'm not focusing, as an example, on the operational-level maneuver by the Germans which bagged two entire Polish armies; I'm focusing on very small scale, desperate fighting as the Poles try to break out.  So it's bloody, and my troops get battered, but we're still winning the campaign.  Just like later in the war when I'll probably still be winning plenty of tabletop battles, but losing the war ;)

One more write-up to close the Poland chapter, stay tuned.



  1. Another great report, really enjoying the ebb and flow in each game. As you say, walk overs aren't that much fun and don't teach you anything. I like games where you have to make decisions and you can see by the end of the game whether they were the right ones or not. Hope the last game was a good one. I think your Polish opponent deserves to make his escape to England and return with 1st Polish armoured for the Normandy campaign.

    Cheers, Andy

    1. Thanks Andy! Regarding the decisions, that's big for me in gaming: I want to have a lot of decision points, and I want them to mean something, even though more often than not it shows what a knucklehead I am ;)

      The last game was indeed a good one, I'll look to get it posted today or tomorrow. And I've got enough problems without having to worry about seeing these guys again! But you never know, they may pop back up, though I didn't really give them any characters, did I? Maybe something to think about in future games.


  2. By the time of 1941, the German commanders were talking about "winning themselves into oblivion" because while they kept winning, they also kept getting worn down.

    A tough fight and a good example that deployment can come back to hurt you :-)

    btw, really enjoying some bits of red on the ruins. So many battlefield tables do the video game thing and just make everything grey and brown.

    Look outside, there's colour!

  3. Ivan,

    Yep, that's exactly what I'm talking about; the campaigns in Poland, France, and early on with Soviet Union were amazing in terms of the speed and incredible losses by the enemy, but for some reason a lot of folks are thinking that meant the Germans weren't suffering too, which was clearly not the case.

    Deployment didn't hurt me nearly as much as if I hadn't gotten that scurry and all my troops were stuck on the road!

    I'm nothing if not colorful ;)


  4. I am still around, just, and 4 days behind...

    Another great report. I like it when you go crazy and push your luck, as you know that is at least one thing we have in common. i found after that rush with Sgt Behrendt in the middle of the game I was following him with special interest. He seemed to do well.

    1. Shaun,

      Good to see you brother, and if you liked Sgt Behrendt's jaunt, you're gonna love the next batrep! I don't want to spoil it for you, but it finally worked! I shouldn't say that, being overly ballsy worked once before, but that was out of pure desperation ;)

      Take care.