Sunday, October 27, 2019

On the Northern Shoulder of Kursk with IABSM, Fight #3


Soviet Counterattack on Kastenwald

It's 1430 on 7 July 1943 in western Russia, where the German 292nd Infanterie Division has been caught off guard by forward elements of the Soviet 57th Tank Brigade. The Germans rear echelon troops (supply, maintenance, training company, administrative, military police, walking wounded, etc...) stage into the nearby treeline to mount a hasty defense and their commanders flee in search of reinforcements, which had better hurry as everyone can hear the roar of T-34 engines!

I am playing this game because I have the good fortune of being buddies with Steve of the "Sound Officer's Call" blog (, and he is running a "Firestorm Ponyri" campaign. He is playing some games with his local buddies, but was unable to play all of the games himself; rather than simply 'dice off' for results of campaign fights they were unable to play on the table top, Steve asked if anyone in the blogosphere wanted to help, so here I am.

It's been a little bit of an issue that I literally just sold off a bunch of German late war gear, so I'm a bit understrength, but Steve is working with me to make sure the fights I get match up with the forces I have. This is the first fight I've played, and I hope it wasn't too much a pain for him, I certainly want to keep going! First, I love to play games; second, it's been way too long since I've played any Eastern Front games (maybe eight years or so?); and lastly, I'm a solo gamer that still craves some comradery, so whenever I can help another wargamer out, I'm always quick to jump at it.

Overview, north is up. The objective is the wood at center; there is a healthy hardball unimproved road network running throughout the area, with a small village present in the southwest (bottom left). Other than that it's manmade crop fields interspersed with a few stands of trees and untamed grassland.

This game is a bit smaller than the previous two; the first two were a reinforced German battalion vs a reinforced Soviet company or two.  This one is a Soviet reinforced Company vs a German reinforced platoon, which is actually what the rules are designed for, so went a lot quicker.  Also, there were no off-table reserves in this game, everything started on the table so I could get right at it.  Let me know if it was still a fun read.

Orders of battle:
Ersatz Infantry Platoon (PC and three rifle squads)
Ersatz Weapons Platoon (PC, two MG-42s, two 8.0cm mortars, and two PaK-38 5.0cm anti-tank guns)
Commanding Officer
Ersatz Mechanized Platoon (PC and three rifle squads in 3 Sdkfz 251 halftracks)
Ersatz Panzer Platoon (two Stug IIIG and one Marder PzJgr)
Off Table 120mm Mortar Platoon

Rifle Company (-) two platoons of a PC and three rifle squads)
Weapons Platoon (PC and two Maxim .30-cal MGs, two 50mm mortars, and one 76.2mm 'crash boom' field gun)
Tank Company (-) (two platoons of three T-34s)
Tank Rider Company (-) (two platoons of a PC and three rifle squads)
Off Table 122mm Field Artillery Battery
Off Table 120mm Mortar Battery

I'm playing in 10mm (figures, vehicles, and gear a mix of Pendraken and Minifigs UK) based at one stand=one squad, weapon, or vehicle. I'm playing this game using Too Fat Lardies' "I Ain't Been Shot Mum" rules, simplified a bit in terms of combat, morale, and movement.

Overview, this time with troops.  The German defenders consist of their rifle platoon and weapons platoon dug-in on the west (left) side of Kastenwald (center), while their mobile force is coming from the northeast (top right).  The concept with the mobile force is that the local HQ Battalion Commander ran off to scrape together whatever reinforcements he could find, and this is what he's back with: a 'panzer' platoon of two Stugs and a Marder, and he flagged down three halftracks to carry all the rest of the clerks, bakers, and candlestick makers he could find, which amounts to another platoon of 'infantry.'  The Soviets have their infantry company maneuvering in from the southwest (bottom left), supported by their weapons platoon, while their tank company (with tank riders) are coming in from the northwest (top left).  The goal is to take/hold the wood.

The Soviets southwest, where they have their 1st Rifle Platoon at left (in trees just above the right-hand building), their Weapons Platoon (the 76.2mm gun is next to the right-hand building, the rest of the Wpns Plt is in the field below it), and their 2nd Rifle Platoon is at bottom center.  You can see the understrength Tank Company at top left.

The Soviet tank company, each T-34 carrying members of the Tank Rider Company.  The 1st Platoons are at top, the 2nd Platoons are at bottom.

The Soviet CO is riding the line (far left) between his tanks and infantry.

The Soviet Weapons Platoon of PC, two MGs, two 50mm mortars, and the 76.2mm field gun (top right).

The Weapons Platoon (left) and 2nd Rifle Platoon (bottom right).

The German defenders in the Kastenwald: two platoon commanders, three rifle squads, two MGs, two mortars, and two anti-tank guns, holding on for dear life.

Waiting for these guys, the reinforcements, to show up and save them.

The German CO (top left) is leading up two Stugs and a Marder, as well as three halftracks carrying three squads of REMFs.

The time for battle is upon us!

At the Soviet start line, their 1st Rifle Platoon rushes forward (bottom right, from further left)...

Then opens fire on the German fascist vipers occupying the wood.

Pinning both German anti-tank guns!

The German riflemen return fire...

Putting the Soviet 1st Squad, 1st Platoon 'men down.'  But there's a screeching sound and all eyes turn skyward...

As 122mm HE rounds begin pounding the objective!

The barrage suppresses an ATG and a mortar team, and pins the other mortar team.

And as fire from the Kastenwald slackens because of the artillery barrage, the Soviet commander of 1st Platoon is able to move over and rally his 1st Squad.

Further south (1st Platoon is at top center), the 2nd Platoon leader grabs is 2nd Squad and moves forward (bottom right, from where the other two squads are sitting)...

They halt at a row of bushes and open fire on the objective, but it's ineffective.

The Soviet 50mm mortars (bottom left) commence firing, laying smoke (far right) to mask the advance of their 2nd Platoon (bottom right, with 2st Platoon at far left).

On the German side of Kastenwald, their halftracks begin moving up the road (far left, from bottom left, where the German CO and armor are sitting).

The German rifle platoon PC in Kastenwald (bottom right) orders his riflemen to continue firing on the Soviet 1st Platoon (far left)...

And they put the same squad 'men down' again!

But it would appear that firing on the Soviet 1st Platoon is a bad idea, because...

Every time the Germans fire on the Soviet 1st Platoon, Soviet indirect fire support comes in on them!  120mm mortars pound the German defensive positions in the wood.

Knocking out a German rifle squad and one of the PaKs!

As the Soviet machine guns get into the action, raking the objective, pinning the German rifle platoon commander and one of their machine gun teams.

The Soviet CO moves up to rally his 1st Platoon.

As the lead T-34 for the Soviet 2nd Tank Platoon pushes up (center, from bottom right).

The Communist tank lurches to a halt and fires, launching a 76mm HE round into the wood, but it fails to find flesh.

*This tank moved up and fired on the wood because it failed to spot the German armor, which is off camera to top left.

But the Germans have spotted the Soviet armor, and so the Stug platoon commander moves his vehicle up (right, from bottom left)...

Where orders his driver to halt, and then his gunner sends an armor piercing round at a T-34!

The 75mm round slams into the earth besides the Soviet 1st Tank Platoon, showering the hapless infantry riding on the back deck in large clods of dirt!

But then fire leaps out of the wood as the remaining German ATG fires on the lead Soviet tank...

The T-34 is penetrated and knocked out, the infantry PC and riflemen jumping off, dazed.

The Soviet 'crash boom' (bottom right) sends a 76mm round into the woods, but doesn't hit anything.

The German Wpns Plt commander (center) rallies his remaining ATG crew (though maybe they didn't need it, they just knocked out a T-34, despite being pinned)...

And they (bottom center) fire on another T-34 (top center)...

The round misses its target, but suppresses the infantry riding on it!

While in the northwest, the Soviet 1st Tank Platoon pushes ahead (center bottom, from bottom right)...

Where they engage the German armor (top left).

The German Stug Platoon leader's vehicle goes up in flames as it's hit twice in quick succession by 76mm armor-piercing rounds...

While a third round is just short of the other Stug (top right), suppressing the crew!

A little further south (the German armor is at top right), the German PC in the halftracks pushes up the road (far left, from right), though he has yet to spot any enemy forces.

The German Wps Plt commander rallies his mortar teams.

As his ATG (bottom center) takes another shot at a T-34 (top center)...

But they miss again!  Definitely do better while pinned...

In the southwest, the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon pushes ahead, up to a nearby treeline (center, from bottom center left), wanting to get onto the objective as quick as possible, but wary now with the approach of a German halftrack (top right).

Back in the northeast, the Marder moves up into cover behind a hedge (left, from top right).

Then opens fire on the Soviet 1st Tank Platoon...

SHPLANGGG!!!  The German round ricochets off the T-34, suppressing the crew and knocking off the tank riders, with casualties!  The crew works on getting their stuff back together...

But when another round slams into the tank, they've had enough and bail out!

As the remaining two T-34s of 1st Platoon push ahead (top center)...

Again they pull up and fire on the German armor...

They don't spot the Marder (off camera to bottom left), so they both fire on the remaining Stug, though both miss, albeit close enough to shake up the crew.

The Soviet 76mm field gun (bottom right) recalibrates and sends another HE round into the wood, suppressing a German mortar team.

The Soviet 1st Tank Platoon commander (center left) sends another AP round east (top left)...

But they just can't kill the little bastard!

But then the Germans get a ray of hope, as their own 120mm Mortar Platoon gets in the fight, dropping rounds on the Soviet 1st Rifle Platoon...

And it's relatively vicious: a rifle squad is knocked out, another is suppressed, while the last rifle squad and the PC are pinned!

The Soviet smoke dissipates.

But their machine guns (bottom center, with 2nd Rifle Platoon at right top) continue hammering away at the wood.

As the Soviet 120mm mortars come in on the objective again...

The German 2nd Squad is 'men down,' the ATG is suppressed, and a rifle squad and MG are pinned (in addition to the mortar teams already being suppressed and pinned, respectively).

The Soviet MGs (bottom left) continue pouring fire into the objective (top right).

As the two remaining T-34s of the Soviet 2nd Tank Platoon push forward (center, from bottom left, with 1st Tank Platoon at top center), passing the ruined 1st Rifle Platoon.

The two T-34s lay into the German defenders on the objective with their main guns.

Knocking out the last German ATG and suppressing 3rd Squad and the Wpns Plt PC!

In Kastenwald, the German left flank is down to a single MG-42 (left, with yellow bead).  They raise their heads, make their gun ready, sight in, and open fire on the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon (top center)...

Pinning their 1st Squad.

In the Soviet center, the Soviet CO rallies his 1st Platoon commander and his 2nd Squad.

Then moves up to 2nd Tank Platoon and rallies some nearby tank riders.

The sole German mortar team in action (far right) opens fire on the Soviet 2nd Tank Platoon (top left) looking to separate the tanks from their infantry support...

But they only manage to pin a single Soviet rifle squad.

Feeling their oats, the German left-flank MG team (bottom left) continues hosing down the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon (top right)...

And this time the fire is on the money: 1st Squad is mowed down and 3rd Squad is suppressed!

But as 2nd Rifle Platoon is getting manhandled (right), the Soviet MGs (bottom left) continue hammering the objective (top center)...

Knocking out the German left-flank MG team (bottom right) and suppressing the rifle platoon commander (red bead at top center)!

The German right-flank MG team (bottom right) opens fire on the Soviet 2nd Tank Platoon (top left, with 1st Tank Platoon at top right), but they fail to leave an impression on the Soviet tank riders.

In the center, the Soviet commander of 1st Platoon moves over, under heavy fire, and rallies his last pinned squad.

As the German halftracks push west, coming straight up the road (German armor and CO at top right, Soviet 1st Tank Platoon at top left).

Nearing the objective, the German halftrack PC (bottom right) spots the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon (top left, with the German defenders at top right) and opens fire with their MG-42, to no effect.

*Ha, I'm a knucklehead!  I left a stack of craters lying on the table (left)...

The Soviet tank riders on 1st Tank Platoon dismount (top right, not counting the 'men down' squad at bottom left, behind the abandoned T-34).

And immediately begin pushing towards the objective (center, from bottom left).

In the Soviet center, the 2nd Tank Rider Platoon commander rallies his suppressed squad (far left), but the riders at top left continue taking fire and now they're suppressed!

So the PC dashes forward (far right, from bottom left) under heavy fire and kicks their asses all the way back into the fight.

Constantly shelled by 122m guns, 120mm mortars, the 76mm field gun, and Soviet tank guns, raked by Soviet machine gun fire, the Germans are beat up but still handing in there, somehow.  The German rifle platoon commander (red bead at bottom center) stands up to exhort his men to greatness...

And immediately takes a round right in the grape (bottom center)!

*That was my now-patented 'try to self rally and fail on 2D6 so die' rule.

And, as if on cue, Soviet artillery begins dropping on Kastenwald, again.

The fire is accurate and ferocious enough to put casualties on one of the mortar teams and force 3d Squad and the remaining MG team to fall back, suppressed (top right).

The Soviet light mortars (bottom left) again begin firing in support of their 2nd Rifle Platoon (right)...

Dropping smoke on the road in order to obscure them from the German halftracks.

But the German halftrack PC pushes up, around the smokescreen.

The halftrack opens fire on the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon with its machine gun, keeping the Communists pinned down...

As the rifle platoon commander dismounts, looking to move towards the objective, where he expects his other two squads to head.  Then it occurs to him that he's not sure why the rifle squad in the halftrack with him didn't dismount when he did...

The halftrack's MG continues spewing lead...

And the entire Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon is suppressed!

On the objective, the defenders are looking pretty sparse, and the ones that are there aren't in very good shape.  The first mortar team decides the Soviets are too close for them to do much with their mortar tube, so they convert to a rifle squad (yellow bead), and they rally the other mortar team (white bead), though there's nothing they can do right now for the Wpns Plt commander (red bead) or the 'men down' 2nd Squad (just visible at bottom left).  3rd Squad and the last MG team are cowering in the woods, off camera to top right.

The Soviet 2nd Tank Rider Platoon commander grabs a squad and leads them forward (center left, from bottom left, with 1st Tank/Tank Rider Platoons at top left), where they open fire on the objective (top right), suppressing the just rallied mortar team.

In the northeast, the last Stug self rallies...

As the Marder (bottom right) fires on 1st Tank Platoon (top right).

The German round slams into the T-34, then shoots straight into the sky, suppressing the enemy crew.

The Soviet Wpns Plt commander (bottom left) orders his light mortars to engage the German halftrack platoon commander (top right), to get him off 2nd Rifle Platoon (top center right)...

But the rounds are off target.

German units in Kastenwald begin rallying back into the fight...

But then a fresh round of Soviet artillery crashes into the woods!

Mortar team 2 is 'men down,' mortar team 1 is suppressed, and the Wpns Plt commander is forced to fall back (top right, with 3rd Squad and the MG team), suppressed!

Just below them, on the road, the German halftracks move up, the lead vehicle popping through the Soviet smokescreen...

Where it (bottom right, with the rifle PC at bottom center and the halftrack PC at bottom left) opens fire on the Soviet Wpns Plt (top left, with their 2nd Rifle Platoon at left), though they don't hit anything.

And the German halftrack PC continues laying into the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon...

Putting their 3rd Squad 'men down,' though the Germans just can't seem to knock the damn plucky Soviet riflemen out!

The Soviet light mortars (bottom left) adjust their fire and open up again on the German halftrack PC (top right), nearly on top of 2nd Rifle Platoon)...

But the rounds are wide of the mark again!

But then the Soviet heavy mortars pound Kastenwald again...

Knocking out 2nd Squad and forcing mortar team 1 to fall back (top right).

In the southwest, the Soviet light mortars remain in place (bottom left) as their PC leads the two MG teams forward (center bottom), looking to find new hunting ground now that the objective is practically empty and the German halftracks are moving up on the right.

On the Soviet left, the 1st Tank Platoon PC (bottom center) opens fire o the German Stug (top left)...

Missing, but pinning the crew.

*Kinda shocking how indecisive the armor action has been, but it's all down to bad cards (not coming out very many times this game) and bad dice rolling.

And as he's firing (top center left), the 2nd Tank Platoon charges right up to the objective (center, from left)!

They open fire with their main guns and MGs at point blank range, but there's really no one left on the objective, they're all cowering deeper in the forest (top center).

Back in the north, the German CO, who's been rather lethargic, moves up and orders the Marder crew to quit screwing around and engage the Soviet tanks!

BAM! The Marder fires...

And WHAM! The Marder misses...

In the Soviet center, the 76mm field gun (bottom right) spots the lead German halftrack (top center) an fires...

The round hits just short, as the nearby German PC (bottom center) soils himself.

Back in the treeline with the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon, their commander rallies, and then he rallies 2nd Squad (the one above him, 3rd is still suppressed at bottom left)!

And then he leads them forward, towards the German halftrack!

They dodge defensive fire from the German machine gun, clamoring up onto the steel beast, firing at point blank range and tossing hand grenades...

Until the German halftrack is knocked out!

Spilling its rifle squad onto the road, suppressed!

And the Soviets waste no time in close assaulting them...

Into oblivion!

The 2nd Rifle Platoon commander, triumphant, then leads his bloodied and exhausted men back into the cover of the treeline (top center left, from bottom right).

The German rifle PC hauls ass up to the two remaining halftracks and orders his men to dismount.

And then moves them into the cover of the nearby wood, apparently not paying attention to the pounding it's been taking.  "Herr Leutnant, why does zis area look like ze surface of ze moon?  And why are so many of our comrades' bodies lying broken and bloodied everywhere?  Are ve sure this is best place to seek shelter?"

"Herr Leutnant, there are Soviet tanks right over there!"  The newly arrived ersatz panzergrenadiers (bottom right) open fire on the tank riders of the Soviet 2nd Platoon...

And they manage to suppress one of the squads.  Not sure what they're going to do about those tanks, though...

The German 120mm mortars make another appearance, coming down on the Soviet 2nd Tank/Tank Rider Platoons!

But all it does is suppress the other set of tank riders and pin the tank crew (top center).

The Soviet 76mm field gun (bottom right) has spotted the idiotic ersatz panzergrenadiers (top center) that foolishly decided to hide on the objective, and then foolishly gave up their position by firing their rifles and machine guns at the Soviet tanks (top left).  The Soviet gunners sight in and fire...

Several rounds slam home, knocking out one of the German squads, suppressing the other, and pinning the PC!  Wow...

And then the Soviet 120mm mortars fall on the ersatz panzergrenadiers!

It's been nothing short of a catastrophe: the last remaining squad is 'men down' (white bead at center), the lead halftrack (bottom center) is suppressed, and the PC falls back behind the last halftrack, suppressed (right)!

And then the smokescreen dissipates.

The Soviet 2nd Tank Rider Platoon commander leads his 2nd Squad up (center, from bottom left), as he dashes right to rally the squad on the back of the tank there, while the 1st Squad (center top) self rallies.

On the objective, the German MG Team is back in the fight, and they move up to get back into position (left).  When they get there they find mortar team 2 still 'men down,' so they try to rally them, but it ain't happening...

After being roughed up earlier by the German 120mm mortars, the Soviet 1st Rifle Platoon finally begins moving up in the Soviet center again (center left, from bottom center).

While the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon commander keeps an eye on the German halftracks (top right) and rallies his 3rd Squad.

Halftrack #3 moves up and covers Halftrack #2 so they can get their stuff back together and get back in the fight.

And they (bottom right) begin laying fire into the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon (top left) again...

But the Soviet riflemen are undaunted, and they charge out there again (center, from bottom left), opening fire on the lightly-armored vehicles and suppressing Halftrack #3!

Back on the objective, the fight is all but finished, the Germans are just too dumb to realize it.  The MG team finally gets the mortar team back into the fight...

And then they (bottom right) open fire on the Soviet 2nd Tank Rider Platoon (top left)...

Knocking 2nd Squad (center) out!

But the Soviet 1st Tank Platoon dismounts have closed on the treeline (top center, from bottom right, next to a T-34 and tank riders from 2nd Platoon, with 1st Tank Platoon off camera to top left), getting into position on the German MG team (top right)...

The Soviets open fire, knocking out the German MG team!

And then the Soviet Platoon Commander leads a squad up onto the objective (center top)...

Into close combat with mortar team 2!

The German mortarmen are slaughtered (left), as the remaining defenders (top right)...

Let fly with shouts of "Kamerad," dropping their weapons and helmets, raising their hands, and marching forward.

2nd Soviet Rifle Platoon moves up (bottom left), compelling the German halftrack crews to surrender as well.

As the German CO, Marder, and Stug beat feet outta there!

Wow, that was a tough one for the Germans, though Soviet sluggishness probably made it a bit closer than it should have been.  Not that the Germans didn't have a chance to pull it out, they just didn't seem interested!  The Marder had enough shots to knock out everyone of the T-34s, he just didn't manage to hit a damn thing!  And I don't think he was ever even actually shot at!  And then the German halftracks and their inability to overcome the Soviet 2nd Rifle Platoon, which their PC had caught out in the open!  Unable to finish them off, they ultimately succumbed to those very same Soviet infantrymen!  I suppose the German Landser on the objective never really had a chance; they just took body blow after body blow from the Soviet off table artillery and 120mm mortars.  Having said that, they were the only ones to knock out a Soviet tank!  But if the German armor and halftrack shooting could have been a little better, they may have just fought the Soviets to a standstill and force them to fall back.

Well, let's see what big Steve has got next for us.  Awaiting my orders ;)