Jerry, the owner/manager of Games 2D4 offered me a game this week, so I put together a 2K mid-war list and headed over the the store on Saturday. Jerry has been playing Russians lately, so I wasn't too surprised to see him pull out a big Red Army infantry list when I got there. Having already faced the T-34 onslaught earlier this week, I was eager to see what it was like to face a big Russian infantry horde at 2000 points.
Here's the list I brought with me:
Sandwyrm's Afrika Panzerkompanie
145 1iC: Panzer IV F2
115 2iC: Panzer III L
5 Recovery Half Track
580 4 Panzer IV F2
400 4 Panzer IV F1
Light Panzer Platoon
150 3 Panzer II F
Schwere Panzer Platoon
385 Tiger 1E
Rocket Launcher Platoon
220 6 NW41 LaunchersTotal: 2000 Points
This is a similar list to the one I faced the T-34's with. It's got a Tiger for holding down the flank, a unit of F2's for long range sniping, some F1's for close-in work, some PzII's for scouting out ambushes, and a big unit of Nebelwerfers for both pinning down enemy infantry and smoking positions.
I had 5 points left over, so I brought a recovery vehicle along too. In theory it might come in useful for pulling a tank out of difficult terrain that it's gotten bogged down in. But it's usually more of a comic relief choice, as Farmpunk can never seem to kill the thing. Not with tank fire or with air strikes. :)
Jerry's Red Army Strelkovy Battalion
Yikes! Just one of those infantry
We rolled up a 'No Retreat' battle.
In this type of battle, there's two objectives on the table. One placed by the attacker and one by the defender. The attacker has to capture one. The defender is trying to hold the attacker off with a reduced number of units until reinforcements arrive. They win if the attacker loses enough units to fail a company morale check, or if the attacker has no units in the defender's deployment zone from turn 6 on.
To balance things, the defender gets half of their forces (rounded down) on the table at the start of the game; up to half (rounded down) of which can be placed in ambush. The rest of the defender's units go in reserve. While the attacker gets to put all of their forces on the table after the defender has deployed.
Here's our table after deployment. Infantry always defends against tanks, so Jerry put his objective in the rear, while I placed mine up front behind the road. He took the side with the buildings because it's easier to defend.
Jerry has strung a
Behind them he's placed his artillery in a deliberately messy formation that I'll have trouble hitting much of at once with my own artillery. That many guns is plenty scary.
His SU-152's go into ambush. They have the firepower to easily destroy my Tiger, much less the many light and medium tanks I have. :(
I go all-in on the right side where the objective is closer. With my artillery in back to support. There's a spotter right there in the trees...
...and another one over on the other side. So I can spot pretty much anything on the table.
For my Tiger's skill, I roll up 'For The Fatherland!', which gives him a 2+ morale (normally 4+). Oh well... I was hoping for shooting re-rolls or another shot on the main gun. I put him in the trees since he passes terrain tests easily. He's there to hold down my flank against everything Jerry has on the other side of the table.
It teases, yes it does. But there's an anti-tank gun and 2 anti-tank rifle teams to worry about first. Not to mention the SU-152's that will pop out somewhere. How am I going to dig out all that infantry?
Let's get on with it.
My Rocket Artillery opens up. I'm not sure whether to shoot at Jerry's dug-in artillery or just pummel the dug-in infantry I'm facing. But I end up going with the infantry. I need to pin them down and maybe kill a few.
(The smoke puffs, btw, are there to mark that I've fired. One disadvantage of Nebelwerfers is that they leave a nice big plume of smoke in the sky that gives away their position to the enemy. Such that Jerry will be able to range in on them with his artillery without the need for LOS from a spotter. )
Dug-In infantry are VERY hard to kill. They get a 3+ save right off the bat, and even if they fail you have to roll a firepower test to actually kill the team. So despite a rocket barrage and lots of shots from the rest of my army, I only actually killed ONE team!
At least I got a smoke hit with an F1 that made the anti-tank gun much less of a threat. Now he can only see 16" and has a 2 point penalty to hit.
I surprised Jerry with this, as he didn't know that direct-fire smoke didn't have to be fired at the beginning of the turn anymore. In 3rd Edition, it just has to be fired before the other shots in the same platoon.
On his turn, Jerry's 2nd company of infantry comes on. Oh boy... I've barely damaged his first line and now I have to worry about reinforcements?
That massive artillery battery opens up and... only kills one rocket launcher. I breath a sigh of relief, but losing a launcher does mean that I won't be able to fire double-width templates anymore. :(
Alright, turn two. I move forward cautiously and shoot again.
My whole army fires and I kill one anti-tank rifle team. This isn't working. I should have assaulted instead!
Jerry's infantry reinforcements plod forward.
Over on the left by the artillery, his SU-76M's come on and high-tail it for the middle of the table.
The SU-152's pop out of ambush behind the road. They each get a single AP13 1+ firepower shot (with re-rolls) that will auto-kill anything I have but the Tiger.
Jerry would like to kill my F2's up on the hill, but he's just out of range. So he shoots at my PzII's instead. Why the PzII's? Because he wanted to kill a platoon, and they were the smallest. Remember that he's trying to wear me down until I fail a company morale check and run. To do that, he needs to kill 3 of my 5 platoons and preferably my 1iC and 2iC as well.
But he only hits one PzII. No morale test. Awe. :)
It's do or die time. I move up and prepare to assault. Fortunately I manage to take out the anti-tank gun and the last anti-tank rifle that can see me. So Jerry won't have anything too nasty left when he gets his defensive fire.
I learned A LOT about assaulting in this battle. Previously, I'd always just moved every tank into assault together like you would with infantry in 40K, but Jerry took me through the proper procedure very patiently. It's one platoon at a time. You assault, play it to completion, and then you assault with the next platoon.
So in went the F1's and my 2iC in the PzIII.
They took out about about a third of the enemy troops before I failed a morale check and was forced to disengage. Any units left within 4" of the enemy after consolidating are automatically destroyed. So my bailed-out F1 was toast.
In went the PzII's.
Whenever Jerry failed a morale check, his 1iC gave him a re-roll. If he failed that, his Kommissar would execute a squad and give him a 2nd re-roll. The Kommissar would kill a lot of men this game!
The PzII's kill a few bases before falling back and losing a bailed out tank. That leaves...
Now, regular infantry can't hurt a Tiger in close combat. But if they hit at least once I do have to make a morale check or be forced to disengage. Remember that 2+ morale skill that I wasn't so crazy about? Well it worked wonders here. Instead of a 4+ morale, I was even more fanatical than the Russians and their 3+!
I kept rolling ones (10 in 12 rounds) to hit in that assault, but I never rolled a 1 for morale.
Eventually, after I killed 2 infantry and Jerry's Kommissar had killed 3, he broke off. The Tiger had forced his line back up the hill all by himself!
(You're getting painted first buddy!)
Things have started looking a bit better for the Wehrmacht.
Look though, Jerry's KV's have come on. Why are they over by his artillery? Their guns aren't great (AP7), but they have Tiger-class armor on them. I would have brought them in behind the infantry to help contest the objective.
Those SU-152's are still in a great position though. They shoot and pop 2 of my remaining F1's. These guys really need to die soon.
I move up the F2's and open fire on the SU's. I kill one.
My 2iC (over on the objective) in his PzIII kills the other. Nice.
That Russian artillery spotter next to the objective is an independent team, so he can't hold or contest the objective. Hence, I ignore him in lieu of other targets. The Russian artillery barrages keep coming down, but they're not killing anything.
I assault the Kommissar and kill him. The rest of Jerry's infantry break off. The Tiger consolidates into a defensive position on the road. I have the objective.
But will I keep it? The 2nd line of infantry has moved up within range to contest. Jerry considers assaulting me, but is afraid of the defensive fire from 7 tanks.
The SU-85M's make it up onto the center hill for some side shots. Jerry uses them to kill my last 2 F1's.
In return, my Tiger takes out two of them. Gotta love that 88.
If I hadn't taken a turn too long to do the initial assault, I wouldn't have had to worry about this 2nd line of infantry. But I didn't and they're here. Time to prepare for the assault! The dice you see are my machine gun hits. Believe it or not, Jerry only failed 3 of these saves!
In go the F2's, backed up by by both the 1iC and the 2iC.
By the time I finally fail a morale check and pull back (losing the 2iC), I've almost wiped out the entire company! That's insanely good luck!
At the cost of one tank, I killed 25 infantry bases!
In goes the last PzII to try and clean up.
And he does!
Jerry's unit then fails their morale check and runs off the table. He has nothing left that he can hope to contest with.
The SU-85M's kill 2 F2's in a last-ditch effort to make my platoon flee, but they pass their morale check. The KV's try and kill my PzII, but miss all of their shots.
In our exuberance, we decide to let the observer team walk home without shoes. :)
Army Lessons Learned
- If I have an infantry unit pinned and smoked, GO AHEAD AND ASSAULT! Don't wait!
- Always bring a Tiger along. They can handle the unexpected.
- I Need More PzII's.
- I don't need more than 4 Artillery pieces in a unit.
Jerry told me that this wasn't the hardest list he could have fought me with. Next time I can expect that 2nd line of infantry to be Pioneers (Engineer Troops). Against engineers, I'd have 4+ saves in combat instead of 2+ saves. While the Tiger would need a 3+. Big difference!
All in all, it was a fun battle that I went into with a lot of uncertainty. With no small bit of luck though, I was able to win the day!