Clash of Steel AAR part 2
In the first part of this AAR series the Germans and Soviets traded a few desultory blows across the map with little effect. As they units draw closer we should see some more action in turn 3. This turn sees another Soviet unit, the 92nd Motorcycle Guards, arrive as well as three aircraft units.
The new turn starts with the activation of the 35th Panzergrenadiers. They are quite close to the city now and also will be entering the normal range of ATGs and support weapons as they advance. Due to the distance or my miscounting hexes, there is only a single SdKfz 251 that is within range to potentially assault this turn. Perhaps some artillery will help? The 35th’s HQ calls in a barrage to hex 6N6 where the ATG is located. It is still unconcealed due to its Op Fire last turn. Sadly the barrage is not on target (rolled a 1) but it is rather critical so the Germans burn a Fate Point to change the 1 to a 2 and make the barrage hit.
Hex 6M5 takes one hit and is disrupted even with the benefit of the trench. Damn Soviet sandbags! 6N5, with the HQ, takes 3 hits and doesn’t save any. 6O5 takes three hits and the single infantry unit there is destroyed. 6O6 takes a single hit and the infantry there is disrupted. The ATG in 6N6 takes two hits and is Reduced. Going back to 6N5, there is only a single infantry unit there with the HQ. Since all of the units in the hex were eliminated the HQ is automatically eliminated with no roll (188.8.131.52). That means that the 52nd will be without an HQ until the Marker Removal Phase of this current turn. Not good for the Soviets.
So let’s get back to moving the armoured infantry. The SdKfz 251 in 6I7 advances first to try to draw off a shot from the ATG. It moves to 6J8 and then 6K7 where the ATG attempts a shot. It gets a single hit and the SdKfz 251 fails to save and is disrupted. Next the APC with the LMG in 6J9 advances along the railroad to 6M8 finally ending at the outskirts of Pokrovka at 6O7. The APC in 6J10 also follows the railroad towards Pokrovka and ends its activation at 6N7.
The SdKfz 251 in 6J8 is the only one that can assault into the city this turn and so it attempts to do so by moving into 6K7 and then 6L7. This falls into Extended range for the Soviet Sapper in 6L5 and it ponders a shot to try to stop the German APC but with Extended range and Battlefield Smoke penalties it would no AT firepower left. The APC then moves into 6M6 where it dismounts. The Sapper can now use its AP firepower as this is normal range. It rolls a 2 and misses and also loses Concealment. The Armoured Infantry attempt to use the Mobile Assault rule to try to assault into 6N6 and succeed with a 3. Despite a 34 Assault rating the Germans only manage to get a single hit but that is okay as the Reduced ATG doesn’t generate any hits. The Reduced ATG is destroyed and the Germans celebrate their first victory in Pokrovka.
The APC and HQ move into 6L8 but can’t dismount. The Pioneer in 6I9 follows the HQ and ends its turn in the same hex.
Das Reich is activated next. This is slightly annoying for the Germans since there are no tanks within range of the Tigers and Pz IIIs except one T-70A at 5L9. The continued delay in getting any good targets for the Tigers on board is vexxing. I decide to avoid shooting the Tigers at the T-70s and instead the Tigers slouch forward with the Pz IIIs providing smoke cover.
Further south the infantry portion of Das Reich is staring across the fields to a duo of concealed ATGs. The sHQ decides to follow the example of the 35th and drop an HE barrage on the woods north of Pokrovka. The barrage is placed in 6L4 and is on target. The Sapper in 6L5 takes two hits but the Trench takes all of the damage leaving it unscathed. The ATG in 6L4 takes two hits and can’t save either of them and so it is reduced. Finally the ATG in 6M3 takes a resounding total of 3 hits, saves none, and is destroyed.
The recon vehicle in 6F2 moves forward to try to strip the Concealment counter from the ATG in 6L4. It moves to 6I2 where the ATG decides to fire. The decision is made not so much to spare the ATG but to try to stop the Sdkfz 222 from stripping Concealment from the Sappers. Sadly both shots miss and the recon vehicle continues to 6K2 where it does remove Concealment from the Sappers and Commissar in 6N3.
With nothing to hinder their advance the rest of the APCs advance forward as fast as they can.
In a maddening turn of events, for the Germans, the Soviet 6th Tank is finally activated. The End Turn card that was put aside for them is returned to the deck and it is shuffled. I decide to have the tanks coming in shooting since they need to stop the Tigers from advancing further towards the 31st Tank and mauling them.
A stack of two T-34s declares a Move and Fire action and enters the map at 5R12 and then stops in 5R11 to fire at the Pz IIIs in 5R8. There is a stack of Pz IVs at 5R5 that could Op Fire but I decide to save that option in case any T-34s pop into the open to fire. The T-34s fire but are not at Reduced range. Each tank generates a single hit and the Pz IIIL saves one of them and is Disrupted.
A second stack of T34s also declares a Move and Fire and enters at 5S11 and stops at 5S10 to fire at the Pz IIIL in 5O7. The German Pz IVs in 5R5 decide to Op Fire now with each unit firing at one of the T-34s. The first Pz IV hits twice and Disrupts the top T-34 and the second misses entirely. The undisrupted T-34 fires and can’t even generate a single hit. The final stack of T-34s, along with the HQ, enter at 5O11 and stop in the woods at 5O10.
What could be better than having ground attack aircraft arrive for the Soviets? Perhaps the Germans having no AA fire? In either case, the IL-2 is activated and it makes an immediate beeline for the Tiger/HQ combo in 5P6. Sadly the target roll is a 1 and so the IL-2 misses entirely. The Germans move it to 5O5 where it has nothing but ground squirrels to attack. Hopefully they were entrenched because the IL-2 gets two hits and craters the landscape. Rolling for status I get a 2 which means that the IL-2 is out of ammo and is removed from the game. So much for trying to destroy a Tiger.
The 92nd Guards Motorcycle finally arrive on the scene. They also come on the the same 5K11-5T12 map edge but they have a much better movement factor so getting them away from the German tanks and closer to Pokrovka should be easier.
All of the units enter the map at 5K11 and then quickly move south-east towards the railroad. The HQ and two units of motorcycles end up in the woods in 5F7 to provide some additional cover for the HQ.
The Chaos card is drawn next. The roll is a 5 which is Torrential Rain. Maybe it will help with the smoke? All vehicles with an armour factor, so not motorcycles, lose 1 MP and the Chaos card is removed from the game. Probably not a good result for the Soviets as this will slow down the arrival of their tanks.
Note: I promptly forget the reduced speed of the tanks for the rest of the turn.
The 18th Panzer are activated next. Despite there being tempting targets to the north of them I think it better that they start to move east to be able to head off the T-43s and motorcycles heading to the city. They head off to the east and end with the woods between them and the Soviets coming from the north.
The 52nd Guards Infantry are activated next but they are without an HQ . The Commissar is many things but it doesn’t act as an HQ so every unit in the formation will need to check to see if it is In Command at the beginning of the activation. After checking, six hexes of troops from the 52nd are Out of Command. This includes the two Disrupted units so they won’t be able to test to remove their Disrupted markers.
The units in 6N3 and 6L5 are in Trenches and I don’t particularly want to move them but it seems as if some sort of action might be called for. I check the Solo cards for the Sappers in 6L5 and they fire on the German infantry in 6N6. They get a hit which the Germans fail to save and so they are disrupted. The Soviet infantry in 6P3 moves towards the closest enemy unit and I take that to be the infantry in 6N6 since the Soviet unit can’t move towards the APCs in LOS without leaving cover. It advances to 6O5 and stops. I decide that the Commissar and Sapper should stay put in their trench.
The German Stuka decides to drop by and it decides to attack the T-34s in the open at 5S10. Once again a 1 is rolled and so the Soviets move the Stuka to where it continues the war against Russian ground rodents. Maybe the smoke is causing problems? It only generates a single hit and the status roll is a 6 and so at least the Stuka can try again next turn.
An End Turn card is drawn next and the the Soviet 31st Tank card is drawn. The Disrupted T-70 in hex 5K8 fails its Morale and so stays disrupted. It is five hexes away from a German Pz IV in 5N5 so it will be forced to move east or south-east to maintain the distance between them. Happily this is where the formation wants to go as it doesn’t really want to trade shots with German tanks at this range. The idea is to move south-east and then south to try to put the woods in 5L5 between the Pz IVs and the light tanks. Then they can try to move to attack next turn.
Next up is the German 25th Panzergrenadiers. This means that the last End Turn card can be put back into the deck. So there is now a 33% chance that the next activation will end the turn. The 25th is a bit behind the rest of the troops attacking Pokrovka but there are also very few Soviet units that can Op Fire at them so they can quickly advance.
All the trucks move into or behind cover. One dismounts at 6H5 as it will be in the range of too many Soviet units next turn if it continues to drive forward. The HQ positions itself at 6I7 and the two attached STuG IIIGs move into the gap between the woods to prepare to provide supporting fire next turn.
The Me 109 is drawn next and it doesn’t have an air target as the Soviet Il-2 left the battle. Instead it looks for appropriate soft ground targets. It decides to attack the Commissar and motorbikes in 5G7. It scores three hits and one motorcycle is Reduced and the second is Disrupted. The Commissar is unaffected by fire as it is not an HQ unit. The status roll for the Me 109 is a 1 which means that it is also removed from the game.
The second End Turn card is drawn. That leaves the Soviet 3rd Tank in the Activation deck and so one End Turn card will be kept out for it during turn 4. During the Remove Markers Phase, the Reduced HQ for the 52nd Guards Infantry is placed in 6O4.
So the turn saw the effects of artillery fire on the defenders of Pokrovka and the effective but irrelevant impact of ground attack aircraft on the local population of small mammals. I will try to remember the effect of the Torrential Rain next turn.