Sunday, October 1, 2017

Twin Objectives: A Tigers at Minsk Battle Report

Last night I played another game of Norm Smith's Tigers at Minsk but using a pre-canned scenario and randomly generated force lists from Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames (Scenario #21 Twin Objectives).

This game saw Red Force (the Soviets) defending 2 objectives with 4 units.  The Blue Force (the Germans) must attack with 6 units.  The Germans must capture the wooded hill to their left and the town to their front.  The added kicker here is that this is Tigers at Minsk and the defenders will have lots of open ground to cover!

Game started at 0800 hours.  (also I used my new Cigar Box Mats hexed grassland mat which I love!)

Play was 9 by 8 hexes.  

I rolled on the force generation table for units and the Soviets wound up with 4 infantry squads and a tank while the Germans ended up with 3 infantry squads, 2 mortars, and a tank.  I gave both forces an HMG to supplement their forces although the game probably would have been just as good without the HMG.

I also added a few more bits of terrain since these rules are a bit more textured and unforgiving than Mr Thomas' 1 Hour Wargames.

The Platoon Leader looks at his watch.  It's 8 o clock in the morning.  Time to get this show on the road!  VORWARTS!
 This is the first time I used on-board mortars and they worked very well, just make sure they're in command and your FO team can see the target!

The Germans initially send 2 squads to capture the hill, knowing there's probably a T-34 lurking about in them.  This would be the first time I use the panzerschreck as well!

Soviets place their T-34 in the woods to counterattack and defend the hill!

Meanwhile the Soviet defenders wait for Fritz to appear from the cornfield.
 The FO spots for the mortars and the German tubes get hot and on-target with the smoke.  Ammo is holding (TaM has a breakdown rule like in Squad Leader where you could run out of ammo) and I have a screen up for the advance!

Note the smoke in the background.

Meanwhile squads on the German left are contemplating what to do with the T-34.  I go to maneuver and DRAT!  The left-most squad is "Out of Command" and cannot do anything this turn...  That T-34 in there will be able to move up now.  Timing-wise this actually worked out in the Germans' favor as you will see.

timing is literally everything in Tigers at Minsk.  The decisions you make, and the timing in which you make them are probably the most important part of the game.

The Soviets move a squad back into the village and naturally the T-34 moves up to engage targets!  The Germans attempt an Opportunity Fire against the T-34 with the Panzerschreck!  They pass the handheld AT weapon test and are able to fire on the lone tank!  It's a HIT!

To calculate AT fire, you take a base "6" and add the weapon's AT rating (the Panzerschreck is a "7") then subtract the target's Armor for your basic Attack score.  In this case, I needed a "6" but with a minus 1 due to the cover the T-34 was in, for a 5 or less.  I roll a "5" and the T-34 is hit!  Rolling on the penetration table the T-34 was destroyed but not burning.  (admittedly I dont have a marker for that status so I just used my brewed up marker anyways).

T-34 moves up and is promptly taken out.

The white bead is my OPPORTUNITY FIRE marker.  
 End of the Soviet turn.  It's 0812 and I rolled doubles!  The Germans get "infiltration" and are allowed a free move without any opportunity fire.  They move the squad that just fired the Panzerschreck.  The Soviet result did not apply to any of their squads.  Time to get this attack moving!


08:18 hours, the Germans have pressed up to the cornfield with a squad, the HMG and the Panzer.  On the left, they attempt to send another squad up to the cornfield to reinforce the situation there and provide a maneuver element to assault the village.  The smoke from the barrage is still holding!  I need to train those mortars on the Soviets in the treeline but the FO cant see anything!

Situation at 8:18am.  The Germans are on the hill, sort of, and are massing to assault the town.

Lots of fire but it's ineffective.  All of it!

Target-rich hex.  Never a good thing!

The Soviets use Opportunity Fire after the Germans occupy the edge of the cornfield and to devastating effect.  2 pinned results, 1 on the HMG and 1 on the Squad.  The Soviet HMG runs out of ammo!
everyone is pinned except the tank.

The Maxim crew trying to figure out the situation...
The pins on both of the German units in the cornfield are still manageable as the German player can roll to unpin them so far.   But things, as they always seem to do, get much worse for the Germans.  Remember that Soviet squad that was moved to the rear?  It's brought back up now at 08:28.  This would actually prove to be a decisive move for the game as the Soviets poured fire into the pinned Germans.

In addition to that, the smoke begins to dissipate now and there is another infantry squad rushing to join their kamaraden in the cornfield.

Soviet turn shooting is deadly and the HMG and the infantry squad are both destroyed.  The Germans take a force morale check and a mortar section beats feet back to the startline as well as the squad covering the objective on the hill.  All that are left are a squad, the command team/FO, and the panzer.

The situation at 0830 hours, a mere 30 minutes ago, the Leutnant had all of his platoon intact!  Note the smoke is dissipating.

Mein Gott!  The smoke is thinning out!

First the squad is knocked out...

then the HMG is knocked out.  German shooting into the woodline fails to hit a single thing.

German squad.  Now you see them...

Now you dont!  Victim of the failed morale check as they too exited off the board.

After seeing the slaughter in the cornfield and the demise of their comrades, one of the mortar sections packs up and runs off.  How is this happening!?!?!?

The entire situation.  The Soviets are still sitting strong.  The German LT is going to call it quits!

The German CO is left with the Panzer and a handful of troops.  He calls the battle.  It's 08:36 hours.

Soviet battle-line.

The village never saw a shot fired!  Note the rocky area next to the village should be marsh-land but I made it impassable rough ground.

The KO'd squad and HMG section on the left and the gutless on the right!
Tough game, this one.  The Germans, who started off magnificently in the early course of the battle, really fell apart after the HMG and rifle squad were pinned down.  A few factors contributed to this I think, and they're worth mentioning.

  • The HMG and the infantry were co-located in the same squad, which is great for Command & Control but really bad for your health!  Had they been more spread out, the Soviets would not have had such an easy time killing them all.  (extra D6 in shooting at a "target rich" squad).

  • The mortars failed to keep pace with the advance.  I was using my command marker, instead of an FO, to call in fires which made it double-challenging to support the infantry.  Had I used a proper FO, things might have gone a bit differently. as they could have advanced with the infantry and suppressed the Ivans in the tree-line.  

  • This is the second game where the Germans advanced into the teeth of unsuppressed Soviets who were waiting for them.  Also in regards to the economy of force mission against the hilltop, I probably should not have used 2 squads against the T-34 as a hedge against failure.  1 would have been sufficient.

All in all, a very satisfying and fun game where real-world tactics pay off in a big way.  The use of smoke greatly aided my advance and my infantry going into an attack against solid defenders paid the ultimate price!

Tigers at Minsk is quickly becoming one of my favorite games to play for WWII.  It scratches the itch for a timely, company level game where you maneuver squads and AFVs on the battlefield and get all of the toys that a Company Commander in WWII had at his disposal.  The random events, time clock, and command emphasis make this a very welcome addition to my rules-stable where, frankly, most of my WWII rules were getting a little stale and even somewhat boring (except Battlegroup.  Not sure that game could ever be boring).

The successful use of the Neil Thomas One Hour Wargames scenario also demonstrates the versatility of these rules and pretty much guarantees an almost infinite amount of scenarios with different force compositions each time.  What's not to love here?!?!

Norm, if you're reading this - we'd love some stats for NW Europe and the Western Desert!  My DAK forces are itching for action!


  1. Great post. These look like the squad leader style rules we've been looking for. Great game.

    1. Cheers Darren. Lots of fun, lots of texture, period feel, and decision making. I'm pretty happy with the game so far.

  2. Hi Steve, once again thanks for demonstrating a TaM game. Follow on modules with vehicle stats for other forces are planned.

    One spot - Target Rich only applies to infantry sections, so not HMG's. (I shall make a note to make that clearer in the text), so in effect, it is actually helpful to stack the two because (1) the enemy would not get the bonus die and (2) the infantry section can suffer the first pin and keep the HMG fresh. The HMG is always going to attract fire, so feel sorry for the poor infantry section that you stack with it.

    You game mat looks really nice. I am increasingly being drawn to the 15mm scale.

    1. Hi Norm, thanks for commenting. Looking forward to other follow-on modules, although I've plenty of Eastern Front fodder to keep me busy playing for awhile.

      Thanks for the clarification. I feel I learn something new each time I play the game. I started building myself a Quick Reference Sheet so I can glean some of these things much quicker for future games.

      Thanks I bought the mat because I find I'm spending more time playing at Hex based miniature games than regular, traditional miniatures games. As you said, it's not quite as fiddly.

      The 15mm minis with 4" hexes is a perfect combination I have found. I experimented with a TaM game where a squad was 2 x stands and it looks even better.

  3. By the way, for anyone interested, I do have some files located on my COMMANDERS website that may interest, in particular are a set of counters that can help with game administration (the yellow signs I use as Out Of Command markers).


    1. Thanks again, Norm. I've already linked to your blog and if you dont mind, I'll link to your COMMANDERS website. So far I've been using beads as markers but I would much rather have nice looking chits to use.

  4. Great AAR of this scenario and comments on Norm's Tigers At Minsk rules. They really are extremely playable and user friendly. Fascinated by your hybrid-cross between a conventional hex map with added terrain associated with figuring gaming. Got to say this is one that is greatly enhanced by Norm's Kallistra terrain and well crafted scenery, especially the items he has produced for urban engagements.

    1. Thanks Mike. I have enjoyed all of the TaM games I've played so far. If I had the time/money/space I'd go for the Kallistra terrain but the Cigar Box mat works fine for my purposes.

      I've seen some of his urban gaming and it looks simply superb. It's always been a dream of mine to create something of an "urban nightmare" terrain board strewn with rubble and destroyed buildings.