Thursday, December 31, 2020


The long-awaited 2021 Painting & Gaming Priorities post has arrived!  (And just in time as it's the last day of the year for 2020.)  Some of you have noted an increase of activity on the blog and for good reason!  Since 2014, my blog posts have trended downward from an impressive 110+ posts in 2014, down to a meager 59 posts in 2019.  This is due to a number of pretty good reasons including the birth of our son in 2016, a 2017 promotion at work resulting in increased responsibilities (less time and energy to do hobby stuff after work), and life in general. 


All good there and no complaints, but one interesting secondary effect of all of this "life living" has been a yearly decrease - since 2014 - of blog posts published.  Those of you who have stuck with blogging your gaming adventures know and understand the work that goes into recording games, photographing games, and then blogging about them, and my intention this year was to blog more than in 2019.  That was before COVID, which took out roughly a quarter's worth of gaming and blogging.  True, I managed some board game activity thanks to Norm's great hex-based rules, but you may as well have "erased" 3 months from the year for me given what was occurring at work.


I know, I know - "Steve - GET ON WITH IT HERE!  What's the point of this?  I want to read about your hobby plans in 2021!"  Well the other day I was blogging about one of the holiday games and I noticed I was at "56" posts for the year with 3 days remaining.  If I managed to post on every remaining day of the year, I'd tie with 2020 for blog posts, effectively ending the downward trend of posts for the year!  

Yes it sounds silly and pyrrhic but to me it's noteworthy.  The first year in the last 6 where I did not trend downwards on blog posts - but rather achieved parity with the previous year.  It's not an improvement, but it's a start.  Every year on this priorities posting, I pledge to blog a bit more, and for the last 6 years I'd fallen short.  Goal achieved?  Not exactly, but we're getting there.


So with that in mind, what is on the horizon for the much-anticipated year of 2021?  Like 2020, we'll sort these into "tiers".  Similar to the 2020 post, I'll highlight almost all of the projects considered (and all of which I have miniatures on-hand for requiring no initial purchases):




  • 10mm Napoleonics Project
  • 10mm Seven Years War Project
  • 10mm World War I Project
  • 10mm Fantasy
  • 10mm American Civil War
  • 15mm Ancients
  • 15mm Seven Years War
  • 15mm Vietnam
  • 15mm World War II
  • 15mm Cold War
  • 15mm American Civil War
  • 15mm American Revolutionary War
  • 15mm Seven Years War
  • 6mm 1/285 World War II
  • 6mm 1/285 Cold War
  • 6mm 1/285 Sci Fi


In 2020 as you all know, I did manage to completely finish/close out the 15mm American Revolutionary War project and I can safely say we can call that project done!  Completely done!  So with that said, what's next?




2020 fell short of giving every project attention.  There's some good reasons for that including COVID, moth-balling my 15mm Cold War stuff (focusing on the 1/285 projects instead) and not starting some other proejcts (World War I).  I have found that prioritizing one project or 2 projects in particular was very effective at giving me focus and so we'll repeat that and here are the upcoming TOP priorities for the new year:


10mm / 15mm Seven Years War Project, which I'm combining into simply "The Seven Years War Project"  This project is ripe for completion and I'm 75% done with painting everything I have for the Seven Years War in 10mm, and 90% done with it in 15mm.  It seems like madness to have 2 x scales, but I play different games with the different scales, and I'm still holding out hope for Borg's SYW Tricorne game.....  

Anyways,  SYW is the top painting priority for 2021 with the goal of painting ALL remaining units.  That shouldn't be too hard.  There are about 12 regiments left unpainted (6 each Prussian and Austrian), 2 to 3 Artillery batteries, and 4 cavalry regiments each in 10mm.  With a bit of grit, I can easily push up that hill as I can finish off a single regiment in couple hours' worth of painting.


In 15mm, there really isn't much at all - I purchased some Prussian and Austrian Heavy Cavalry squadrons to supplement my 15mm games, and for the hell of it, I purchased a few more bags of Old Glory infantry.  I found with the AWI project that the 15mm guys with tricorns were just a blast to paint up.  Anyways, a really easy project to finish if I can find the time.


15mm / 6mm World War II Projects, which I'm combining into simply "The World War II Project".  Last year WWII fell off sharply and this year I'm anxious to get it back on the table alot more.  Later in the post, you'll see my attempt at a "calendar" of upcoming gaming and painting "themes" for the month, that are all tied to the priorities listed here. 

 I've realized that regarding the World War II lead pile, I'll probably never in my lifetime paint all of those figures, but I can come close!  I want to focus more on specialty units this year (Fallschirmjaegers, Volksturm and Volksgrenadiers, American and British paras, etc) and of course I want to get more World War II GAMES on the table!  

Simpler rules will definitely help with that but at a minimum, I want to clear the decks of ALL OF MY GERMAN AND SOVIET VEHICLES!  That's alot of modeling, folks, but I can tell you it's less than in previous years.  Also, in 2022, Battlefront will be releasing their Berlin books (re-releasing?) and I plan on buying them.  2021 will be a preparatory year for completing all of my late, late war Germans and getting ready for the Gotterdammerung!  

There was also the idea that I'd play a bunch of FOW games in 6mm.  Even if I have to go at that solo, I'm going to do it this year.




10mm Napoleonics - with my push for single-based 10mm stands, I want to get about 10 more Austrian and 10 more French 1809 stands completed for a larger games of Blucher, Volley and Bayonet, or other larger-scale games.  I also want to go back to my roots this year with some Peninsular Battles.  It's been literally years since I've played a Peninsula Campaign battle and I think it's definitely time to go "over the hills" in Spain and Portugal.  If anything, my wife who is Portuguese will appreciate the switch.  Looking to play some Blucher games, Commands and Colors games, Black Powder games, and perhaps try out some other tactical Napoleonic rules in the Peninsula.  Always good for a hasty pickup game, the simple but effective Neil Thomas Napoleonic or Intro to Wargaming Napoleonic rules will make a comeback in terms of Napoleonics this year.


15mm/10mm American Civil War - With a my HUGE purchase from a few years ago at a convention, I'm STILL basing my 15mm ACW guys and there is still a sizeable contingent of unpainted metal just waiting for their uniform issue.  With lots of attention being given to the Black Powder "Glory Hallelujah" supplement, and Norm's "Two Flags-One Nation" rules beckoning, I'm really wanting to get some bigger ACW games on the table.  WIth us trying out "Altar of Freedom" this year, I bought enough lead to game out some smaller ACW battles and I still need to finish all of that in time for an upcoming refight of The Battle of Shiloh in February!  Additionally, I've been wanting to put the Neil Thomas ACW rules from his Intro to Wargaming book onto the table and really put them through their paces.  Expect to see more ACW than previously. 




15mm Ancients - A big push to get some experimental Ancients units painted up.  My decision to go with single-based unit stands though was an expensive one, particularly because while I have way more than enough to play some big DBA games, 16 figure unit stands requires more purchases.  While I've got a purchase in, I'm already close to completing ALL of the Romans I currently have in 15mm (blog posts coming up in 2021 I promise!).  Then I can start on the barbarbians - but this is alot to paint and while I'm keen on playing Commands and COlors Ancients, Hail Caesar, or Sword and Spear with them, I havent played nearly enough Ancients to even know where I stand with rules. 


10mm Fantasy - My daughter and I will occasionally play 10mm games of "Orcs" with my Kallistra and GW 10mm units.  Orcs is a variation of Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames which I may tinker with this year.  I have LOTS more to paint and it's doubtful the fantasy project will get much traction this year but there needs to be some forward movement! 


6mm 1/285 Cold War - I am so very close to completing this project!  I have to complete more Soviet COld War Infantry and more West German infantry but I almost have enough for some really big, like 150 point, games of Team Yankee and of course Battlegroup: NORTHAG which I do plan on playing. 


So there you have it.  Most of my projects "should" see some brush time and table time this year with the intention of seeing progress in each Tier, with the Tier I projects looking for significant progress. 




2021 Gaming Priorities - The Year of the Toy Soldier


I've been thinking alot lately about gaming and what I want to get out of it and what I want to play.  2021 for me really needs to be a return to more familiar and comfortable gaming in my opinion, with more well-known rules returning to my table.  The whole thing for me - the whole purpose of this blog and this hobby for me - is to literally play with toy soldiers and share those battles with you all.  

I do NOT count myself as a "serious" wargamer, nor do I see myself as faithfully, painstakingly recreating or simulating warfare.  There are books for that.  There are boardgames and computer models and simulations for that.  

Rather, I have fun playing with my toys, and I enjoy that the outcomes of those battles are unique and many times out of my complete control.  I do like to create scenarios and recreate historical battles when I can, but in the end I want to play with toy soldiers, and I want my gaming to serve that end.


Here is a list of "planned" games for 2021 and themes by month.  The themes aren't strict - for instance if my little group of friends wants to play an AWI game then I'll happily play that, but I am going to try monthly "priorities" which should hopefully drive my painting progress.  I have also tried to organize my painting activity.  Let's see in December of 2021 if we were able to hit these marks and make more progress than usual?


January 2021 - World War II Month!  Expect plenty of WWII games hopefully including Flames of War, Tigers at Minsk, and Battlegroup.

Jnauary Painting Priorites ACW getting ready for February.


February 2021 - ACW Month - Preparing for the Shiloh game using Greg Wagman's Altar of Freedom.  I'll be playing the US and Ken will be playing the CS forces.  Hoping to introduce Dave and others to these great rules.

February Painting Priorities Seven Years War


March 2021 - Seven Years War - I want to play a BIG Seven Years War battle this month, and other SYW battles with Black Powder, and Neil Thomas' modified Napoleonic rules.

March Painting Priorities - World War II


April 2021 - World War II Gaming - since it's a main yearly priority I want to get as much WWII gaming in as I can.  That means World War II games!  More FOW, Battlegroup, TAM etc.

April Painting Priorities - Cold War


May 2021 - Cold War!  Expect Team Yankee games and hopefully LOTS of Battlegroup: NORTHAG and even some experimentation with the CENTAG army lists from the facebook group.

May Painting Priorities - Ancients Push!  Finish as many Ancients units as I can.


June 2021 World War II Gaming - Looking for some good World War II Western Front gaming in June with hopefully some D-Day campaign linked games.  Hope to put more Battlegroup on the table, as well as FOW.

June Painting Priorities - ACW 15mm and Ancients - trying to get as many Ancients painted as I can!


July 2021 - Gettysburg MEGAGAME.  I want to put some big ACW battles on the table with some familiar rules.  July 2021 is the time to do it with a long weekend, I'm hoping I can stage a large game with friends.

July Painting Priorities - OPEN MONTH!  Catch up on priorities.


August 2021 Commands and Colors Month!  Hopefully all of that Ancients painting paid off and I'm ready for a BIG 15mm Commands and Colors Ancients bash!  Also expect lots of Commands and Colors games including Napoleonics, BattleCry, and Tricorne.

August Painting Priorities - Napoleonics - here we should see a big push to get as many 10mm Napoleonic units done as I can


September 2021 Napoleonics Month!  Hoping to put some large battles on the table using Blucher for bigger games, Neil Thomas Napoleonic, and maybe some Black Powder games on the table.

September Painting Priorities - Fantasy Units - a big push to paint up as many Fantasy 10mm units as I can


October 2021 - Fantasy Gaming Month!  Hope to play lots of games of "Orcs" with my daughter.  A fantasy-based derivative of Commands and Colors Ancients, and perhaps try out Kings of War?

October Painting Priorities - OPEN MONTH!




December 2021 - CHRISTMAS MEGAGAME - open as of right now but some contenders for the 2021 Christmas MEGAGAME include:

Talavera, Gettysburg Cemetery Ridge, Berlin '45, Stalingrad '42, Kasserine Pass '43

That's it - a "hopeful" list of games to play in upcoming 2021, all subject to change of course with the whims of fate.  I'm hoping that I can stick to these priorities of painting and gaming, and if so, what a remarkable year it would turn out to be!  I hope you all have achieved your aims for 2020, and that you all have a safe, healthy 2021, and hopefully a joyous return to in-person gaming!


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Tigers at Minsk Play: The Oktiabrski State Farm

 No rest for the weary as we take the fighting to the Kursk battles with Norm's excellent "Tigers at Minsk" rules.

Cover art from the "Tigers at Minsk" Rules 

I wanted to explore the possibility of creating some "big" scenarios and I turned to the Battlegroup series of rules to do just that.  Battlegroup: Kursk has a series of linked games re-fighting the Prokhorovka battles.  Those are sliced into a series of games and players have the option to play a simultaneous MEGA game (this game in the book would truly be MEGA, by the way on a 20' by 8' table!) or play each action individually.  The Boardgame Geek link for TAM is here.


Creating a Tigers at Minsk Scenario


The scenario first up from the Battlegroup Kursk game is "First Charge at Hill 252.2" where SS tanks and infantry collide with the 32nd Guards' tanks and infantry.  At first I tried to set up the entire battle on a 20 hex by 15 hex battlefield, but decided to play around with things a bit more and further divided that engagement up into 2 separate engagements, east and west, for Tigers at Minsk.

About 8 hexes by 11 hexes but I need to fix that and replay the game.  You can see the Soviet infantry and armor bearing down on the farm complex from the north.  The Germans are either in the houses or in the wheatfield - and there aren't many of them!

This battle featured a Soviet assault against the Oktiabrski State Farm.  The Soviets have 5 x T-34s, 4 x Infantry Squads, an HMG section, an SU-76 supporting the infantry, and an 82mm Mortar section (morale 6) Alot of firepower, but not alot of infantry.  The Germans have 3 SS squads in fighting positions, an HMG, 2 x fire missions of 150mm Artillery Fire in support along with an FO, a Panzer IV, and a Tiger I (Morale 3 +1D3)

German HMG crew in the building

Special rule - the SS here are "fanatical" and so they will rally in 1 terrain level "better" than where they are.  Their morale level / scenario breakpoint is also variable.  Given the small number of units, their morale should be "3" in TAM terms, so with their historical tenacity during Kursk, I gave them a 1D3 "boost" in morale level.  This game they achieved a 3 which helped the game last a bit longer.


The terrain was fun to play with.  Historically, at least in the northern prong (Ponyri), the crop fields are seriously overgrown given the lack of workers to tend to them and harvest.  So while the wheat fields offer cover for "Non Armored Fire" in Tigers at Minsk, I made them variable line of sight like rough/scrub.  This made for a very fun and interesting "cat and mouse" situation where the Soviets would attempt to shoot at the dug-in squad in the wheatfield holding down the German left flank but couldn't always see them, and so trained their fire against the easier targets of the buildings of the collective farm.

To the north, the Soviet tanks see their entrance restricted and canalized by trees, so with the 1 hex movement in LOS of an enemy hex, the Soviets cannot conduct any daring armored thrusts early-on and have to coordinate their attack.  They have poor command and control and so only 1 single hex is able to be "in command" for the entire game.  Basically the Soviets have a huge sledgehammer but have a difficult time using it against the Germans.


Finally, to add another element of tension, the German tanks start from their base edge hexline and must trudge all the way up to the collective farm buildings to get into the game.  With the amount of ground to cover moving only 1 or 2 hexes, this was an agonizing wait for the Germans.  

This gives a sort of "last stand" feel to the action while their squads hold on and cross their fingers that they'll either rally or Ivan's shooting won't be effective.


I had the game last 90 "minutes" which probably could have been comfortable 75 minutes or if you want even more tension, make it 60 minutes.  

Special rule idea - I also tinkered around with the idea that when playing a larger game, on say 20 hexes by 15 hexes, the Soviets have the ability to erase 1D6 or 2D6 minutes off the clock by capturing objectives.  That would also add a nice element of tension to an already tense game! 


The stage is set for an exciting show-down with both sides bringing interesting advantages to the table with the Soviets holding a serious firepower advantage and the Germans holding a qualitative advantage in terms of their troops' staying power!

German opportunity fire pinning a Soviet squad as it emerges from the wheatfield

11.00 Hours

The game opens up with maximum Soviet effort as all of the Soviets pass command rolls and move forward.  Germans open fire with the HMG from the collective farm after a Soviet squad stumbles into the open from the wheatfield.  They're prompty pinned down.  The Armor moves up to the defile between the wooded copses.  Soviet mortars also start firing at the collective buildings to suppress the defenders.  The Germans have their FO up front and call in fire against the Soviets in the open, plastering them and pinning another squad.  The armor are both "out of command" and stuck.  The Soviets must weigh the decision of getting their armor up front to do some serious damage against the infantry, or pushing their infantry forward into the jaws of the German defenses.  It's a see-saw effort as I move back and forth between pinning Germans on one turn, and moving up elements on the other.


The wheatfield is intersected by an access road that features full visibility for both sides and this proves to be a tough spot for the Soviet infantry, who should have used smoke to cover their advance!  The Germans take full advantage of the situation and pin the advancing Soviets trying to cross the road.  THe frustrating nature of the wheat field is hard on both sides as the German squad holding the left flank doens't always see the Soviet teams, either.  The German armor is moving slowly.

11.11 Hours

The Soviet Armor sorts itself out and starts to move up through the defile. Next turn they'll be able to open up against the collective farm buildings so the German armor had better get moving!  Pinned German elements in the buildings find they can unpin more quickly (fanatical rule) which is good for them as it keeps Ivan at bay a little longer.  FO brings the last 150mm fire mission against the oncoming Soviet infantry to break up their attack.  THe barrage misses the intended target, but hits Soviets further west in the next hex and eliminates a squad.  German armor still having a very tough slog of getting up.  The Tiger moves, but the Panzer IV is out of command.  More tough decisions weighing moving crucial German armor up and risking not suppressing advancing Soviet infantry!  In the end, the men at the sharp end get the priority and the tank advance is slowed.

Soviet armor at "the defile"

11.22 Hours

Ivan gets 2 x T-34s up into the Defile between the woods but they can't fire this turn.  The tanks are undoubtedly scanning and acquiring targets for the infantry.  The Soviet infantry try, unsuccessfully, to rally this turn, and the Soviet infantry on the access road start spotting targets for the SU-76 to fire against.  German shooting is painfully ineffective against the infantry in the wheatfield, and the Panzer IV is still out of command, struggling to navigate their panzer up through drainage culverts and fields.  The German pinned squads rally and they're still in this fight!

20 agonizing minutes and still no panzers in sight!

11.31 Hours

Soviet tanks open fire against the houses but fail to knock out targets.  Soviet armor attempts to move through the forested terrain but fails to get into the woods to their left (A scenario consideration to make this game even better would be to make the woods completely impassable to armor thus forcing the Soviets into even more crucial decisions to make).  

The SU-76 makes its presence known and the firing pins the Germans in the workers houses.  The Soviet HMG fails to unpin.  The Tiger is making progress and is almost at the line and the Panzer IV moves with a little encouragement from the platoon leader, who gives the tank commander a good verbal lashing over the radio.

Pinned Germans in the houses!

SU76 and Soviet infantry crossing the road.  Note the pinned and out of command HMG!

The Soviet 82mm Mortar section seeking out targets!

11.35 Hours

The Soviet mortar, combined with the firing from the tanks and the SU76 knock out another German squad and the Germans are wondering where in the world their armor could be at.  The Soviets fail all of their other command rolls!  The tiger reaches a good firing position behind the right-most house. The Germans in the houses try to unpin with mixed results.  THey're barely holding on now.


11.43 Hours

The Soviets try to move their remaining armor around the wooded copse and get more firepower up on the line.  The Soviet Commander realizes he needs to blast those Germans in the buildings to take the complex but he's running out of infantry squads, with only 1 remaining!  The Soviet HMG and pinned infantry fail to unpin and immediately acquires 2 unlucky Soviet tanks.  The German tiger is in position (Finally!!) and ready to shoot.  The crew calmly lays the turret onto the target, gunner's eyes never once leaving the gunsight, and the crosshairs are laid across the front glacis of the Soviet T-34.  The gunner fires!  The round remarkably hits the front of the Soviet tank but somehow remarkably the crew are still alive in the fighting compartment and the tank is still in the fight although "Stunned."  The Soviet tank fails to recover from stunned this turn.

The German armor, half of it, arrives and immediately goes into battle

11.50 Hours.

The Soviets try again and again are unsuccessful, at bringing armor through the wooded copse, however 2 other T-34s are continuing their march around the terrain.  The T-34 in contact shoots at the Tiger I but cannot hurt it.  Soviet remaining infantry and the SU76 destroy another German squad and all that remains is now a single squad and the SU76.  Meanwhile the Germans are having luck problems of their own as both the Tiger and the Panzer IV are "out of command" this turn.  THe stunned T-34 is still stunned.  of note the Soviets are 1 away from their morale break and the Germans are 2 away.

Failing his terrain check roll - what do you expect from 2 weeks of driver's training before shipping out to the front comrade?

knocked out T34 and a stunned T34

11.56 Hours

A Soviet command disaster!  Only 1 hex is in command for the entire battlefield!  The T-34 in command fires and knocks out the remaining German infantry in the house.  The Germans are down to a single squad in the wheatfield on the left.  The Panzer IV, finally in command, fires and knocks out the SU76.  His help would have been sorely needed about 20 minutes ago!  The Tiger knocks out the "other" Soviet T-34 in the stunned hex.  All Soviet elements except the stunned T-34 take a morale check.  They all fail and the mortars bug out off the table. I called the action here - a real nail biter of a game!

Panzer IV helps out by knocking out the SU76 - his only real accomplishment for the day!

Now is no time to pose for pictures, men!


This was a very fun and interesting game full of decisions.  I would have liked to open the table up a bit more as there is alot of firepower in a very condensed space.  I will continue to tinker around with this scenario and expand on it.  

The Soviets could also try to mount their infantry on the tanks and that would create a very different situation from what was experienced here.  In fact the Soviets probably stand a better chance of making contact with the Germans if they come in on the tanks.  That does, however, eliminate the choices you have to make as the Soviet player and I rather enjoyed the tension of a dual infantry-armor advance.  the real secret is both of those elements working in concert with one another, IF you can get your command rolls to cooperate!  The Soviets have enough tools to do the job here with an assault gun, mortars, and a full platoon of infantry.  They just need the tanks to help blast a hole in the line.


Scenario Considerations

The Germans are very under-gunned here, but benefit from cover and from an ability to rally a bit more quickly.  With 5 x T-34s bearing down on the German infantry, though, they need something that can kill tanks and they need it quickly!  Again, if the Soviets have a good day with the dice and can coordinate their efforts, the German infantry can be blasted right out of those houses.  

I wondered about the possibility of the Germans starting with a Pak-38 AT gun, a smaller 50mm gun with limited number of "special ammunition" that will run out.  This would add another element of desperation to the German defense in this scenario, with the tanks showing up hopefully as the AT gun has fired all of its special ammo.  In TAM, just like in real war, nothing is a certainty, though.

Another thought to make this game even more frustrating for the Germans is to add the variable morale roll for the Germans to occur AFTER they reach their initial morale BP of 3.  Thoughts on that?

I plan on actually producing a map and stats for the units soon, and will continue to playtest this scenario further.


Bigger Games of TAM?

Combining the Oktiabrski State Farm fighting with the First Charge at Hill 252 game would be a very enjoyable game but admittedly I still need to set up and play the Hill 252 game.  My intention is to combine both of those games into 1 large game, OR, have it as a multi player game on the same table, with 2 players facing off at the collective farm, and 2 players facing off in a meeting engagement over Hill 252.  Much more to ponder on that but don't think for a second that there will be any less TAM action on the table this coming year!  If you're reading this, Norm, I have big plans!


Speaking of which, I know I've been procrastinating with the 2021 Priorities post.  It's coming I promise!  Hopefully I'll have it completely posted on New Year's Eve, Eastern Standard Time.  Stay tuned!


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Gates of Stalingrad - The Suburbs Battles

 Ken and I played a quick 65 point Flames of War battle today using pre-made lists from the "Iron Cross" (German played by yours truly) and "Enemy at the Gates" (Soviet played by Ken).  Using the battles guidance from the book, we played a drive on the city and the first battle was the "outskirts".  There is a neat mission guidance in the books that stipulates the attacker must first win the "outskirts" battle, then can battle into the city center.  If Ken wins the next game, I'll find myself back in the suburbs again! 

The outskirts of the city - a small town with a train station to take you into the city.  A nice looking table I think!

The FOW rulebook has pretty cool guidance on mission selection and we used the matrix to determine what battle we would ultimately play.  The mission selected at random was "strategic withdrawal" which is a mission I absolutely dread as the defender, but seemed to fit in historically.  Basically the defender must buy time as the army pulls back and defending units will slowly exit the battlefield.

The Force Composition

I like tanks and I like playing the Germans.  I'm also sensible enough to realize that you need a balanced Kampfgruppe to take on whatever fate throws your way.  I guessed, incorrectly, that Ken was going to be taking tanks since this was a battle on the outskirts and not inside the city.  This is an intelligence failure of the highest order.  Once again, the Abwehr was wrong!!!

Ken took a full strength infantry rifle battalion of 56 infantry teams along with maxim machine guns and 2 x Batteries of 122mm Howitzers in support.  THATS IT!  That's all!  Ken's logic was that the infantry fighting is more interesting, challenging, and I think unexpected.  Boy was he right about that!

One of Ken's massive infantry companies (this one is Ken's painted by him) - the building behind them is the train station and one of the main objectives for the game

Ken's OTHER rifle company - these are mine and dug in around the farmstead objective

My force was very balanced. looking for infantry to take buildings, and tanks to make rapid thrusts and kill enemy tanks, I selected a Panzer III company of 2 Panzer III Up Armored platoons, a command panzer III, and in support I brought a Panzer Grenadier platoon, a mortar platoon, and an MG34 platoon.  My jaw dropped.  Ken had so much infantry he borrowed a company's worth of mine!

Not too many Germans there...I'll have to capture one objective.  Should I go after the farmstead or the town?  Guess where I ultimately attacked!

I thought my bringing an 88mm gun along would "surprise" Ken, who, as a Soviet commander, wasn't bothered much by it considering he had zero tanks or aircraft!  Anyways, my tanks and war-weary Landers will have to get to work.  I'm going to focus on the forest objective and try to kill enough stands to push Ken back.  That's the plan, anyways...

As we get into the first turn, my Panzers start earning their pay knocking out Soviet teams dug-in in the wood-line with HE fire and machine gun fire.  The mortars start coughing out rounds, spotted for by the Company Commander, and the Landsers start to move up through the cornfield - then disaster strikes.  Ken has his HMGs - Maxims to be precise and 2 in each company - trained on the open ground in the center of the battlefield.  His shooting takes out stand after stand after stand of Schmidt's platoon!!  My stomach turns as my only infantry platoon is cut to ribbons!

HERR LEUTNANT!!!  WHAT ARE YOUR ORDERS!!  Schmidt's men in the cornfield are chopped up by no less than 4 Maxim HMGs!

The HMG stand gunner in the center of this picture would go on to receive the Order of Lenin, posthumously, for holding up an entire German company single handedly!

Soviet infantrymen rush to the edge of town to see what all of the firing is about to the west

My infantry platoon in the cornfield fall back to the hill and will go on to fail their "last stand" test with only 2 of 7 teams remaining.  The Panzers will have to do the heavy lifting.  I push them closer to the infantry and start pumping HE and machine gun rounds into the woods.  It's like whack-a-mole - one team is taken out, and another takes its place.  The Soviets have an endless supply of them on the table!  Still - the work continues!

An armor platoon leader directing the firing of his tanks into the woods!  Clear them out, boys!

Situation around turn 3 or 4.  Armor tightens up into "proper" flames of war tank park formation!

Ken's shells start raining down on the Panzer IIIs and the Machine Gun platoon who are in the house.  Ken would go on to make good use of the REPEAT order for the guns.  This is especially helpful for the Soviets and bad for me, who needs a good support-by-fire position for my machine guns!  Drat!  he pins my machine gun platoon.

I get a lucky break when 3 of Ken's teams fail their save and miraculously, I roll 3 "6s" in my firepower tests.  The HMG crew is left in the front wood copse along with the company commander directing his fire.

I start to think about overrunning the HMG section with my tanks and using them as a sort of giant "fruit squishing" machine atop the Soviet infantry, pivot-steering over the foxholes.  It's effective enough.  I easily pass the skill check and the best Ken's infantry can do - he does not have anti tank rifles - is bail me and hope I fail my counterattack check.   If I fall back from assault combat with a bailed tank, it's destroyed.

A single Panzer III fails its cross check and cant enter the woods.  Note the "official" dug in marker!

This MG crew was hit by MG and HE fire more times than any other element on the table and they continuously survived and, as their citation will read, held up an entire German tank company.  note the Panzer III charging in!
After clearing out the woods, I maneuver the tanks next turn to contest the objective.  It's tough work but I have the movement to do it and I charge in with all of my tanks to clear out Ken's infantry.  I find that I can assault his more exposed elements, and the supporting teams are then pushed back.  If I can win this round, I might be able to capture the objective - the ruined farmstead - and win the game!

Ken decides to leave half of his infantry company in the town "out of command" and guarding the train station objective there, and maneuver them into my flank.  It's a really good move and I train more guns, MGs, and my mortars on the advancing Ivans.  It's a turkey shoot on them as they are not in bulletproof cover but they did their job effectively by taking more of the shooting away from their comrades.  If Ken would have maneuvered them 2 turns earlier, the game would have been lost for sure!

The infantry company from the town surges forward amidst falling shells and MG bullets ripping through their ranks.  The Kommissar is literally killed by an 88mm shell.

Gratuitous photo of my tanks

and antoher!

The assaulting panzer III company does get a little greedy and I push into the woods to push Ken's infantry back even furhter - although this time one of my skill checks fails and leaves Ken with a viable infantry team to counter-attack which he does.  While the attack fails, I end up failing my morale check to counter-counter attack Ken!  The panzer IIIs fall back out of the woods - but the damage is done?

Getting greedy - pushing the assault into the woods 

Still the undisputed masters of the forest behind the farm

While all that was happening, the other battle on the left of the farmstead is what won the game for the Germans - isolating the objective - they win the game on turn 6 or 7.  Worth mentioning that Ken had to withdraw his Battalion HQs and an Artillery Battery due to the strategic withdrawal rule.

Ken's infantry company suffered greatly on the way into their attack.  If this attack would have been launched 2 turns earlier.

WOW this was a great fight - and no shortage of tension, excitement and action.  When I lost my infantry platoon, I thought the game was up - but when I overran the HMG section, I realized there was another aspect I was forgetting about - overrun combat and it worked well.  I do think I could have used my troops a little bit smarter and kept my infantry more secure before - losing a platoon like that is pretty inexcusable but I definitely learned for next time!  Speaking of next time, now I will push into the city and we'll fight one of the really cool urban battles that are in the Army books (the factory, the boulevard, the house, you get the idea!).

Another "controversial" rules choice in so many days, but again, these rules are great fun and present an opportunity to get all of my toys out onto the table and play to completion in a modest amount of time and that's pretty cool.  Going to finish my German assault Pioniere platoon for the city battles coming up!  Flamethrowers and demo charges!!!  

More gaming and blogging coming up, so stay tuned!