My campaign idea, originally from the abandoned "Summer of Battlegroup" campaign, features linked battles from the German 507th Infantry Regiment of the 292nd Infantry Division (the Pomeranian Division) drive on Ponyri itself and the battles for the town and Hill 253 to the northeast.
I thought Take the High Ground was appropriate for the unit to attempt to capture jumping off points for the bigger attack. This assault is on a fictional hill, but the scenario is still similar to the real thing, with understrength Soviet infantry formations dug-in to slow down the German onslaught while counterattack forces prepare themselves. (as well as exploitation forces to the rear from the famous 653rd Heavy AT)
While I hate using pre-canned forces from a random selector, I did for this battle just to see how things shook out, and ended up with:
3 x Infantry Platoons
2 x Mortar Platoons
1 x Tank Platoon
4 x Infantry Platoons
1 x Mortar Platoon
1 x Tank Platoon
While I winced at the thought of the Germans having 2 mortar assets to draw from, it does technically make sense to give the attackers lots of fire support with which to use in an assault. Plus the Soviets have a mortar platoon of their own to use.
|North to South (reversed from the actual scenario but the Germans came in the from the north) The Armor on the right, and the infantry company on the left. Mortars in the rear with the gear. Hill 128 looms!|
|My "Steven's Balagan" style Crossfire Soviets.|
|Reinforcements ready to go sir!|
|The Germans focus all of their energy on the right most platoon and 2 volleys of mortars are falling on them every turn. They're quickly up to 6 hits. Their first rally attempt fails.|
|German assault shaping up. 3 platoon (unflocked) on the right would take the worst of the punishment from Ivan while 1st and 2nd platoons approach Hill 128 from the northwest.|
|German armor attempts an end-run to outflank the defenders and cut off reinforcements but is it enough?|
|A German infantry company coming straight towards them!|
|Reinforcements arrived just in time as a Soviet platoon bugs out from mortar fire.|
The Soviets chose to move up their infantry to the edge of the hill and keep the fight further away from Hill 128. This was a flawed decision for this situation for a number of reasons. For starters, moving up took precious time and opportunities away from the Soviets to dig in their platoons. They needed to be the sole, remaining force atop Hill 128 at the end of game to win. By moving, they opened themselves up to 3 shots from small arms and mortars and bled themselves out much more quickly.
Additionally, at the edge of the hill, they were easily spotted by German FOs and assailed by the powerful indirect fire that the Germans could bring to bear. I also failed to take into consideration that the Germans were already within small arms and LMG range so they take fire from 2 German platoons while another moves even closer to the hill.
|Taking a page out of Jack's playbook. I used orange pipe cleaner to show the shots!|
|My Zvezda Panzer IVF2s. Love how they turned out even if i didn't paint the running gear!|
|Ivan's sitting pretty for now but lost the opportunity to dig in. That would prove fatal for them.|
|combined mortars and small arms waxes another Russian platoon as the Germans creep closer.|
|Yellow 6. Permanent hits and another platoon lost! Defending at the edge was the wrong call this time!|
|The last reserves are fed into the trenches and foxholes!|
|snazzy new KO'd markers from litko.|
|even when burning i still think they turned out great! :)|
|Gerry makes his move! The Germans have a toe-hold on hill 128 now.|
|Soviet mortars pound them and the T-34 platoon can still see them and begins trading shots with them.|
|Second Platoon would attract the attention of the T-34 platoon!|
|Those Panzer IVs are still burning!|
So, a fun game played and differed from the book in that I played on a full table (6 x 4) not the prescribed 3 x 3. I found the distances to not affect or impact the game too much, and the addition of a few more key terrain pieces also did not dramatically impact game play to the extent that any side had an unfair advantage.
I would like to play this with somewhat more historical forces instead of the 6 unit army lists as I think Alex's rules can handle the additional forces and still come out Ok. This game would have been interesting to play with Crossfire or another company level rules to see how it turned out. The mortars in both Alex's modified rules and with the original One Hour Wargames are extremely powerful and any unit have more than 1 platoon has a distinct advantage over their opponent. Without the additional mortars, I'm not sure the Germans would have been able to take Hill 128.
I'm still looking for "my" rules to use for Company sized actions but Alex's rules fit nicely into the debate, delivering solid, historically plausible results in a very short amount of time. They're also superbly suited to solo play, which I find most of my gaming to be in (despite what you read on this blog).
Still want to give Battlegroup PanzerGrenadier Deluxe a go but until then I'll continue in my quest for the perfect company level rules. Cheers!