Sunday, November 3, 2019

The First Battle of Ponyri Station: Turn 3 FIRESTORM PONYRI STATION

Wow we finally reached a decision in Turn 3 of the campaign.  Now we can move on to turn 4 when things will really heat up for the Germans.  Coming off of the heels of a crazy and dynamic turn, the Germans and Soviets both saw some very interesting gains as you can see from the map below.

The Soviet gambit into the Kastenwald was wildly successful with no loss of Firestorm resources.  The Germans will have to consider this developing attack into the shoulder of their breakthrough and now with only 2 attack options per turn.  The Soviets also successfully defended Karpunevka from the Germans onslaught!

The Germans captured Shirokoye Bulotev from Ivan, which will also open up attacking options for taking Hill 253 and 1st May.

Today's game was fought using Alex's "UP THE BLUE" rules, themselves a modification of Mr Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames rules.  Each sabot is an infantry platoon.

Ponyri outskirts in the upper right.  Train station up-center.  Alex needed to clear German forces and capture Ponyri
German I Battalion / 508th Infantry Regiment  (stands are platoons)
 The Germans step off onto the attack under the protective cover of 105mm shells whistling overhead.  Meanwhile, dug in Soviets in Ponyri await them.  KV-1s idle in protective cover, awaiting the carefully prepared signal to counterattack!

Soviet company in the train station

We put UP THE BLUE through its paces today with a big urban fight.  Ponyri Village is divided into 3 large sectors, each able to hold a set number of bases (platoons).

KV-1 platoon in a marshalling area.  Mortars are to their right.

Heavy Corps Guns, elite tank killer units, await the German beasts.

Meanwhile Soviet infantry is also awaiting their opportunity to counterattack.

German artillery starts splashing into Ponyri!

The Panzers start to creep up and lob shells into the light anti tank platoon
 The Germans launch a major infantry thrust with 2 x companies worth of ifnantry into the center woods.  This gives them a covered and concealed approach to Ponryi and a jumping off point to assault the closest town sector of the village.  Note the Soviet platoon in the lower left.
Germans advancing into the center woods.  Note the Soviets in lower left.  2 x platoons, a company, are holding onto the town's edge

Another Panzer III platoon enters Ponyri via the road!  

Meanwhile German infantry platoons start laying down a base of fire.  Since they're on the edge of the woods, the Soviets can target the Germans and do so with small arms and mortar fire.  Note the Germans bringing the Ferdinands from Panzer Jaeger Regiment 653!

Germans swarming through the woods!

Meanwhile, the Soviets call out on the radio from Corps HQs "Stal!  Stal!  Stal!"  The counterattack begins!  KV-1s in Ponyri head out to challenge the Panzer IIIs.

A duel!
 Alex brings up Genpanzerte PanzerGrenadiers, part of his Firestorm Resources, to move into the cleared sector of Ponyri.  Alex has a toe-hold in the town and swings over the panzergrenadiers and halftracks to support his assault.  The Soviets in the sector astride them dig in and go "READY", awaiting the Germans who must cross the street to take that sector.

Note the German infantry in the background, massing to take Ponyri.
 The Soviets move up the next KV-1 platoon to make life a little more difficult on the Germans, and to challenge the Ferdinands.  While their guns won't make a big difference, their heavy armor will.

Yellow dice are "order" markers.  Green dice are hits.

Infantry score a permanent hit (hit dice becomes yellow) against the KV-1 platoon along the roadway.  Alex's figure looks on, approvingly at his Landsers' handiwork!

Yellow dice is a permanent hit.  It means they will always shoot at -1 dice for firing and represents significant casualties and disruption.  My scenario was they were caught reloading the ammunition in 2 of their tanks and the crews were mowed down!
 Meanwhile on the right, a Soviet platoon is caught in the open and German indirect fire shreds them.  The go "red" (2 permanent hits!) and will not recover.  I start to shift resources from the fight in the wheatfield over towards Ponryi.  Even a unit from the train station moves up to counterattack.
Note a KV-1 platoon and an infantry platoon in the rubble pile on the left massing to counterattack.  They trade shots with the infantry in the woodline, eventually knocking them out.  The Soviets would seize that wooded area back from the 508th, killing 2 more platoons here!

A massive fight erupts in the center with Soviets charging relentlessly at the woods, the KV-1s providing fire support!  Alex has a huge advantage in firepower but his infantry are his achilles heel.  He can't afford to lose too many infantry units.  The closest wooded sector to Ponyri is turning into a meatgrinder and the Germans pull back to the center sector!
 While the Soviet counter attack in the center is enjoying limited successes, the German thrust into Ponyri is paying off.  German landers are preparing to cut the railway into the village and their armor is supporting.  The Soviets defended far forward and deeper into Ponyri is much more lightly defended.  A classic breakthrough, if Alex can take out that KV-1!

Note the corners touching the boundaries.  That's how Alex figures line of sight into and out of sectors.  These guys can see, and be seen.

KV-1 duel not going so well now, and he's taking fire from multiple platoons and from infantry.  I need to move an infantry platoon over to reinforce but there arent many left!

Coold shot.  Note the KV-1 and the 4 x German platoons to the north. 

The fight in the center.  Alex would eventually lose both of those infantry units in the woods.  Assaulting Ponyri is proving much harder than he thought!

Reinforcements coming in!  Moving up to reinforce the KV-1 platoon who is holding on in the town sector.  Note the Germans straight ahead.  There is a dug-in Soviet platoon to the right holding that town sector.  They never did give it up!

German panzergrenadiers flanking the KV-1 platoon.  Extra firing dice!

Germans break through with another panzer platoon.  Note the Soviets fighting it out along the road to the left.  The Germans are firing 

KV-1 comes up to counter attack but it's too little, too late.  The Germans hold 2 out of 3 town sectors in Ponyri and the Soviets have only 1 platoon left!

Wow what a fun game.  Of note, we played this game "freestyle" meaning with no pre-determined Neil Thomas scenario.  This game was based off of objectives and did not have a set turn limit.  I will also say it was very close.  If I would have kept some resources closer together, the counterattack could have happened against the first town sector, and not the woods.  I wouldn't mind playing UtB again but on a gridded surface.  I'd also like to give Norm's "TIGERS AT MINSK" a go, possibly with a modified version of his Stalingrad scenario.

Remember, next week the Soviets get 2 x attack arrows, and the Germans are reduced to 2 x attack arrows.  Also, 2 more major developments.  The Soviets get a bunch more FIRESTORM assets they can draw on now, and I will roll for initiative at the start of the week.  So while the Germans have a toe-hold in Ponyri, they'll have to hold it!

After some slowing down of momentum, it's great to see the campaign back on!


  1. Wow, I had no idea so many pics got took!
    Well, I came prepared for Rapid Fire, but was as pleasantly surprised to have a request to play a work of my composition as Antonio Scalieri would have been. I was glad it did not disappoint, as sometimes happens when one returns to a set of rules one has not used in a while.

    At any rate, I feel like if I'd made a couple more errors, or rolled a few more bad Activation Point rolls, I would not have been able to force the issue. I will have to get the latest updates into the master draft and at least send them to you and Darren.

    Meanwhile, "On to Moscow!"

    1. A hard-fought victory, Alex. It could have gone either way with the small unit actions in the Ponyri sectors, and the titanic clash of infantry, armor, and artillery in the center. If i would have had another infantry platoon in the center perhaps i could have pressed the advantage in the woods. All in all a great afternoon of gaming.

  2. Very enjoyable AAR Steve, good visuals. Two attacks now for the Germans, but there looks to be three necessary objectives, with Tank Hill also looking like a festering German problem.

    1. Cheers, Norm. Tough decisions for the Germans coming up. With only 2 attack arrows per turn now, do you press home your advantage and try to seize the objectives? Stabilize your own lines and deal with the developing Soviet counterattack, or go for thr jugular and strangle the Soviet supply areas?

      You only have 2 attacks per campaign turn, too, so German resources are starting to become scarce, and Soviet strength continues to grow. Soviets get a host of other resources now, too, like heavy armor, more artillery, and aircraft!

  3. Great looking fight, Steve, and the campaign update is looking quite interesting. I gotta say, seems to me the Germans haven't managed to push very far, looks like they're behind schedule, and as you mentioned, it's only going to get harder.

    And then bad news on the home front: I'm not sure of my availability this weekend. Both boys are playing baseball, and the big issue is the older boy's coach put them in a tournament. I should know the schedule by Wednesday, will keep you in the loop.


    1. Thanks Jack. No worries whatsoever! We still will have 3 turns to go. From the start i knew it was going to be a tough one to try and align schedules. If you can do sonething the following week that's great. Keep me posted sir!

    2. Steve,

      Yeah, we'll see what the tournament schedule looks like, I'd really like to get in a game or two for you, if I'm able. I could go back to 5Core Company Command games on a 3' x 3', which are much quicker, though they won't be as visually impressive.

      I shouldn't have any issues after this as the older boy's baseball season is wrapping up with this tournament, plus I'm off next Friday.


  4. One thing to keep in mind Jack is that Steve is pushing for every game to count in some way. We talked last night about using small skirmish size games [either low-point scenarios of bigger games like FoW, BG, et al] or actual skirmish type games like OHSW or Tigers at Minsk, BA, et al count by the side that won getting a small advantage in a bigger scenario. Not a decisive one, but one that does affect the game a bit.

    Example would be if a couple of squads seize a house from the Sovs then the Germans would get to deploy a unit farther onto the table. Another example would be a successful recon mission allows the Sovs to have more accurate preliminary bombardment for their attack, etc.

    Also, if anyone plays out a game and feels like the result was bad due to a rules error, etc, then they can just dice it off anyway, which is what would happen without the attempt.

    So it's definitely worth playing a game, and never a bad idea to play, "no harm, no foul" which is the way to do it right.

    1. Alex there is qlot of potential there for even more offshoot games to be played and the results will still have an impact on the campaign.

      Like a 1HSW game where partisans try to destroy a german held bridge, or blow up a fuel dump. All could affect the outcome of a bigger game. I love that idea.

    2. Alex,

      I'd previously talked with Steve about my way of playing 5Core Company Command, which is essentially playing a battalion-sized attacker vs company-sized defender, with both sides whittled down by supporting fires so that what actually hits the table is a reinforced company with an off-table reserve vs a company (-).

      It makes for some pretty interesting games (in my opinion) and still gets a decent-sized fight on the table.

      So I'd love to keep playing, just not sure if I'll have time this weekend because of 'real-life' commitments.


    3. All good, Jack! You game when you can. No worries - you will have a command coming up when you have the bandwidth to play.

  5. Wehrmacht units falling dangerously behind schedule STOP
    Heavy casualties STOP
    Push on with all speed STOP
    German forces may require the tactical ineptitude...I mean prowess of ..the mysterious French exile known as Le Duc...STOP

    1. You're hired, sir! I am sending out a message to the commanders to send in their orders. Operation Rumyantsev is about to kick off...