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Old June 2nd, 2013, 11:35 AM

jivemi jivemi is offline
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This is a modest AAR concerning Scenario #80, Wiking in the 'Burbs (of Dnepropetrovsk, which they've already captured, in September 1941), taking the German side in an assault.

The Germans are trying to secure 9 objectives in and around the town of Kamenka. They are not lucrative, ranging in value from 50 to 70 points. Fortunately the most valuable Wehrmacht unit--the StuG III--costs only 22, so it's possible to lose a couple and still win. They have 21 turns to complete the mission.

On the German side there are 6 infantry platoons, including 1 of engineers; 6 AFV's (3 StuG III's, 2 15cm sIG 33's, and a SdKfz 251/10); plenty of artillery (4 105mm howitzers and 4 8cm mortars onboard, and 6 4-gun 150mm batteries offboard); along with 6 Heinkel level bombers. Two infantry platoons (one of engineers) start from the southwest, while everyone else begins in Dnepropetrovsk, east and a little south, about 2,000 meters from Kamenka along the most direct dirt road.

Terrain is basically ground level, with plenty of buildings and asphalted roads inside the towns. Outside is mostly level, with a mix of open terrain, trees, rough spots, a little mud, and scattered buildings. There is also a network of dirt roads that can help movement, plus railways that often slow things down.

The plan is to split the eastern force in two, with 3 infantry platoons, 2 StuG's and the 2 sIG's heading northwest toward Kamenka along the most direct road, while the other infantry platoon, a StuG and the 251/10 half-track head west to eventually flank the town from the south. The 2 southwest platoons head northeast, then north, to secure objectives along that axis.

Intense artillery preparation precedes their advance. Smoke hides German units from prying eyes while HE saturation is so heavy that most dug-in enemy units are severely pinned when spotted.

However the main force heading directly northwest runs into numerous mines spread randomly on or along the road--in buildings too!--so the advance proceeds at a crawl. While clearing these without benefit of engineers is going on, local Russian counterattacks with light tanks and armored cars succeed in brewing up a StuG that was left a sitting duck up front after moving nearly its full MP's one turn. Fortunately infantry is capable of defending itself, and all attacks eventually result in burning Soviet vehicles. (Btw the AFV's don't score a single kill the whole battle, although they cause numerous casualties and eventually decide the game. See below.)

Meanwhile the 2 other parties make steady progress. The southwest force secures 3 objectives south of Kamenka, beating off attacks by (initially) light armor with relative ease (hiding behind smoke to ambush a tank often succeeds, long as the infantry isn't suppressed, and engineers with flamethrowers can intimidate just about anything).

The "central" force of infantry platoon, StuG and HT proceeds almost without opposition and turns north to the nearest objective. Unfortunately they turn too soon--they should have gone further west and linked up with advance units of the (south)western force, by now (Turn 12) on the southern outskirts of Kamenka and only 600 meters from another VH. Instead, after neutralizing opposition in a stone building guarding their central objective they find themselves shaking hands with a platoon from the main force that has given up on the direct route and are replicating the central force strategy of moving west, then north. Yet this has already taken much time, and objectives in town are still far away.

By the beginning of Turn 17 the assault has stalled everywhere as fresh Soviet infantry appears, discouraging any infantry advance until they're neutralized, by which time it will be too late for them to seize more than one or two objectives in town. The southwest force must leave 3 squads behind to deal with a lurking KV-II threatening the 2 southernmost objectives. Meanwhile another StuG has been lost to a mine--infantry was already in the hex but didn't detect it. Too bad! Adding insult to injury, the half-track gets immobilized in a clump of trees, leaving only 3 AFV's still running. Further progress seems all but impossible.

What to do? A decisive win is probably out of the question, so the prudent course is to hang on while a last desperate flanking operation--this time to the north, east of town--is attempted with the surviving AFV's. Infantry are ordered to hold in the meantime, waiting for artillery fire to suppress and decimate the massing enemy. (Some battery tubes had been turned off to conserve ammo, but now everything is turned loose in a last-ditch attempt to neutralize the defenders.)

The armor, such as it is--the central force StuG and the 2 laughably armored sIG's--makes its move. Before doing so they blind with smoke a fortified house (with AT gun) that has been spotted at the last moment and was obviously placed to discourage just such an indirect approach. The little force ventures north into the open without incident (also without infantry). Artillery fire is adjusted as Turn 17 ends.

Turn 18. The AFV's make their westward turn and head for town. Artillery has landed among some of the Russian infantry, blowing the bejeezus out of them and causing most to rout. Small arms fire convinces a few more to call it quits. An infantry squad blows up the fortified house.

Turn 19. The northern force finally reaches the northeast part of town and takes the objective there. Three more to go, still 15 or 20 hexes away along 3 separate paved roads--infantry could never get there in time. But there's a dragon's tooth blocking the road here, and the only way around is to smash into a building. There isn't enough time to wait for the next turn and try a "safe" move, it's now or never...

...and as the Godlike commander selects a unit, he mistakenly picks an obsolescent sIG, with no top armor, only 10mm on the sides, nothing on the rear, and prepares to demolish the building. He clicks the SPA into the building, realizing only too late the StuG should be doing this . The building collapses around the puny sIG, yet miraculously the exposed crew is unscathed while the vehicle is still free to move. What a lucky break! All 3 vehicles continue another 100 or so meters into town with no opposition in sight--although without infantry they're trusting to fate in any case.

Turn 20. Level bomber strikes several turns earlier have turned parts of town into prime candidates for urban renewal, cratering roads in the process. Yet there is still a possibility of taking at least one of 3 objectives inside Kamenka. One sIG is directed along a relatively clear road to the northwest and the furthest VH, another is dispatched due west toward the VH there--guarded by another fortified house at the end of the avenue, but artillery has been assigned to blind it with smoke--and the Stug goes south a couple hundred meters, then turns west to get in position for the third objective, stopping next to a clump of trees just 100 meters from the VH.

Then, on the Russian half-turn, shots ring out. Oh nooooo! There's a Soviet squad with rifles, LMG, hand- and rifle grenades in the woods! Elsewhere the enemy is routing, but of all places they decide to make a stand here, doggonit. The stoic StuG can only sit there helplessly as no less than 4 rounds of small arms and light HE fire wash over it; it's used all its MP and can't fire back. At least its Godlike commander is thankful it doesn't blow up...

Turn 21. Last chance for glory. When selected the StuG shows no sign of life, no indication of movement. On closer examination it shows 22 points of suppression. Will it rally? And if it does, will it avoid immobilization?

(Avid readers of these forums may recall--or they may not --this humble narrator's disgruntlement at being cheated out of a win when a squad adjacent to a 700-point VH refused to rally on 2 successive turns. It's in the campaigns, scenarios and maps forum--Scen #18, Grudge Match--in case you're interested. Anyway, would the same thing happen here? Let's return to the action, oh patient and gentle reader).

OK, let's get on with it. Hit the "R" button, and Hey! The StuG revives! It's not immobilized either. What incredible luck! There's more than enough MP to reach the objective, but that enemy squad is still in the woods, dug-in, pinned yet dangerous, even though its buddies are routing pell-mell all around it. And it also covers the next hex along the road, just before the objective. So the StuG fires once to suppress it some more before moving on. It does so, the enemy squad doesn't fire back, neither does it interrupt the brave StuG as it moves down the road and reaches the VH without further incident. It shoots up a couple routers just for kicks. One objective secured, 2 to go!

On the parallel east-west road 200 meters north, a lone sIG receives the order to advance. It moves unopposed toward its objective, and is about to capture it when BANG! The fructifying fortified house wasn't blinded enough and it takes a potshot at the apologetically puny SPA from the point-blank range of 150 meters ! Yet incredibly it misses--apparently it was pinned by an HE strike that accompanied the smoke rounds, or maybe by its buddies fleeing for cover. More dumb luck. The sIG blinds the house with a smoke round and takes the VH.

The other sIG also takes its objective, this time without incident, thus securing a DV (the lurking KV-II down south has driven into an ambush and been dispatched by infantry while the flanking operation was in progress). Final score is something like 950 to 85. Obviously every VH needed to be captured, and in order to do that the German player had to be "Lucky 3 Times." If there's any moral to this long-winded story, it might be, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

That's it folks. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

Last edited by jivemi; June 24th, 2014 at 10:40 PM.. Reason: brevity(?!)
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