Clash of Steel AAR part 5

Clash of Steel AAR part 5

Previously on Clash of Steel

Lets start off part 5 of this Clash of Steel AAR with a quick recap of the situation as it stands from turn 6. The Das Reich formation was the only one on the map to not activate last turn. There is a card set aside from them but it is close to a coin flip whether they will be able to activate before the T-34s of 6th Tank do.

The 92nd Guards Motorycle have made it into the protection of the northern section of Pokrovka but the 35th Panzergrenadiers have also gained a significant hold of the southern parts of the city. The 25th Panzergrenadiers have been delayed by the mud and rain as well as Soviet troops entrenched to the west of Pokrovka. They are poised to assault both the trenches as well as the western area of the city this turn.

The Germans are out of airstrikes and artillery and the Soviets are rushing into Pokrovka as fast as they can. Will the Germans be able to push them out?

Turn 7

And as luck would have it, for the Soviets at least, the 6th Tank is the first card drawn from the Activation deck.

6th Tank

The tank complement of Das Reich has been reduced to two Tigers but at a cost to the 6th Tank of a reduced formation of T-34s and a reduced HQ. While all of the Panzer III-L tanks are wrecks the Tigers look as if they are still a threat. Making an approach more difficult is that there are two Pz IV units from the 18th Panzer that could possibly use Op Fire when the Soviets decide to move.

Before doing anything I roll for the Disrupted T-34 in 5S9. With the HQ reduced it needs to roll a 5 or less and it fails.

Combat and Actions

The Good Order T-34 in that hex declares a Move and Fire and advances into 5S8. The Tiger in 5Q6 declares Op Fire. The range is three and there is a single Wreck in the LOS. The Tigers roll two hits and manages to Disrupt the T-34s. Next, one of the T-34s in 5Q9 declares a Move and Fire and advances into 5Q8. I would like to keep the last Tiger from firing in case the Soviets don’t remove the Acquired Counter it has and so I use one of the Pz IVs to Op Fire instead. The unit in 5L6 fires and generates two hits and also Disrupts its target.

The remaining T-34 in 5Q9 repeats the process and in response the Pz IV in 5M5 declares Op Fire but misses. The tanks continue into 5Q7 where the final Tiger unit is forced to fire. With the aid of the HQ it gets four hits which wrecks the T-34. After seeing all of that play out, the Good Order T-34 in 5Q10 decides to remain in place and fire at the closest Tiger to see if it can cause some sort of damage. Even with the moderate help of its HQ it is unable to cause any hits on the Tiger.

52nd Guards Infantry

The brave defenders of Pokrovka are drawn from the deck next. They have been taking a beating from the onrushing Germans and their artillery and as a result almost half the unit is Disrupted. Only the Reduced infantry unit in 6N5 manages to rally. Disrupted units can move away from an enemy but with the tangle of German formations around the city it may be difficult to do.

Combat and Actions

Before they can get run over by a Goliath, the Disrupted infantry in 5M3 retreats to the trench in 5N3 and the caring embrace of Commissar Belyy. The Reduced infantry in 6N5 fires at the adjacent Germans to no effect. The infantry in 6O4, with the HQ, fire at the Pioneers in 6O5 as they would like to not be assaulted by them. They score an astounding two hits but the Pioneers just shrug them off. I would like to keep the Soviet infantry in 6M5 free for Opportunity Fire but in Nations at War an enemy has to enter a new hex to be eligible to receive OpFire. Just getting out of the trenches isn’t good enough.

Firing at the Germans in 6L5 wouldn’t be effective, despite being adjacent, because of the benefit of the trench so instead the Soviet infantry in 6M5 fire at the Germans in 6K5. They get a single hit but the Anti-tank Ditch provides enough cover for the Germans to squeak out a save.

The last unit of the 52nd is an infantry platoon in 6P6 which decides to take the opportunity and assault the APC in 6O6. Last turn the Germans didn’t have enough MP, because of the Torrential Rain to unload.The Soviets rush into the hex and it is only due to the additional Firepower dice provided by the APCs lacking support that they are able to get a single hit. The Germans are not able to save it, even with the bonus from the City terrain, and so they have to retreat their entire movement allowance all the way to 6L8.

Next from the draw pile is one of the two End Turn cards. Following that is the Soviet 3rd Tank

3rd Tank

In its last act of the game the Stuka squadron reduced the HQ for the Soviet 3rd tank which is going to make rallying the Disrupted platoons of the formation more difficult. Happily there are no Tigers in the area but an environment rich with SdKfz 251s and recon vehicles. Going into the city or even between the city and the Woods in 6L4/6M3 would be a disaster as the area is swarming with Pioneers and German assault infantry who have been hampered by the rain and are probably looking for a fight.

Combat and Actions

The T-34s stacked with the HQ initially fail their rally attempt but the HQ now has an Augmented ability instead of a Leadership value so I use it to re-roll one of the dice and this time it passes. The other tank platoon in 5F3 manages to rally as well so now, what is left of the formation, is ready to go.

The T-34 in 6N1 opens fire at the SdKfz 251 in 6L3. It gets two hits and disrupts the APC. The Reduced T-34 in 6O1 declares a Move and Fire action and moves into 6N1 and is fired upon by a Marder from the 18th Panzer in 5L3 and is Disrupted. One of the T-34s in 5G1 fires at the SdKfz 222 in 6K2 and misses. Its hex-mate does the same and almost rolls the exact same result and also misses. The final platoon in 5F3 moves into 5G2 and then 5H2 where the second Marder from the 18th Panzer opens fire but misses. The platoon ends their movement in 6M1.

35th Panzergrenadiers

Finally a German formation is drawn from the deck. This streak of Soviet activations does mean that the Germans will be able to control the flow of the rest of the game especially since Das Reich will be guaranteed to activate this turn.

Being the first inside the city means that the 35th has taken some damage but is also in a good position to begin trying to push the Soviets out of Pokrovka.

Combat and Actions

The Disrupted infantry in 6O5 fails its Rally Check by one. Sadly there are no more Fate Points to use to help it rally. The recently evacuated APC in 6L8 is able to rally but is already Ops Complete because of the assault it was in. The HQ and mounted infantry in 6P8 move to 6Q6 and dismount. I check for Mobile Assault and it succeeds and the infantry piles into 6P6. The Germans roll two hits on four dice (!) and then to show them how it is done the Soviet defenders roll two on two dice. Ack! Both the Germans and the Soviets are Disrupted and Reduced and I roll for the HQ but it is not affected by the attack. The Germans are forced to retreat back into 6Q6.

The Reduced infantry in 6P7 then assaults the same Soviets. It gets no hits initially but the LMG lets it re-roll one die which then generates a hit. The reduced Soviets only have a single die which now scores on a 6 because they are Disrupted. They fail to make a hit and are destroyed.

The Pioneers in 6O5 assault north into the hex with the Soviet infantry and the HQ for the 52nd Guards Infantry. The Pioneers score two hits and Disrupt and Reduce the Soviets who do a single hit in return. The Soviets retreat into 6O3 and then roll for their HQ which is unharmed by the assault.

The German infantry in 6N6 are left where they are so they can hold that hex of the city against possible counterattack.

18th Panzer

Next it is the turn of the 18th Panzer. As you may recall they have already used OpFire with three of their units so they don’t have many options in this activation.

Combat and Actions

The Pz IV in 5M5 declares a Move and Fire action and then drives into the Woods in 5L5. I check the Solo Deck for the Reduced T70 in 5I5 and it decides to OpFire. With its single dice it records a solid hit which the panzers don’t save reducing them in the Woods and stopping their advance. Who would have thought?

The HQ and two Pz IV platoons in the Woods in 5M3 decide to fire at the stack of reduced T-34s in 6N1. The first shot, with the aid of the HQ, is at the Reduced T-34 stacked with the HQ. They get three hits and the T-34 miraculously saves two of them which stop it from being destroyed. The second Panzer fires on the same target but its single hit is saved by the T-34s.

25th Panzergrenadiers

Three Soviet activations is followed by three German as the 25th Panzergrenadiers join in on the attack on Pokrovka. The first thing that the 25th need to do is finishing clearing the trench line of Soviets. Assaulting into the trench without the Soviets being Disrupted will be a disaster. Perhaps some tanks would help?

Combat and Actions

The Disrupted infantry in 6K6 rallies and then the StuGIIIs in the same hex open up on the Soviets in the trenches in 6M5 and generate two hits. The infantry make none of their saves and end up Reduced and Disrupted. A perfect start for the activation. The second StuG fires at the reduced infantry in 6N5 but doesn’t roll anything even close to a hit. The infantry in 6K5 rush into 6L6 and then assault the trenches. The Soviet infantry in 6N5 could potentially fire but it would be at Extended Range and with the Battlefield Smoke it would require a 6 to hit on a single dice.

The German grenzers charge into combat and do no damage. Luckily for them the Soviets are equally inept and also roll no hits. The Germans retreat back into 6L6 and are now Ops Complete. The infantry in 6L5 attempt an assault and do a single hit to destroy the Soviets but by some miracle the Soviets do two in return. The Germans are Reduced and Disrupted but at least they have cleared out the trenches.

The infantry from 6K6 dashes across the fields and piles into the trenches in 6M5. The Soviets in 6N5 declare an Op Fire attack on them but are unable to do any damage. All that is left is to move the HQ and infantry in 6J7. There is not a lot of terrain for them to move into between the city and their hiding place strategic vantage point in the woods. There are also a lot of single units scattered in front of them. I want to get them into the trench in 6L5 and so I will have to move one infantry unit on its own first. There is a motorcycle unit in 6O3 that can Op Fire but with the Battlefield Smoke it would need a 7 to hit. The HQ follows along after the move has been deemed safe.

The card for the Soviet 31st tank is drawn next which means that only the cards for Das Reich and the Soviet 92nd Guards Motorcycle are left.

31st tank

All things considered, the 31st Tank isn’t in bad shape. And even better, the German 18th Panzer has been activated and can’t Op Fire against any of the T70s that decide to move. With that in mind, the decision is made to move the T70s in close and see if they can get a few track hits to disable some Panzer IVs. With the Torrential Rain the T70s only have 3 MP and so this will restrict their Move and Fire options.

Combat and Actions

First though, the platoon in 5I3 needs to try to rally and it manages to do so. We’ll take it as a good omen. With only a single MP available when doing a Move and Fire, the stack in 5I3 can’t move into the Woods in 5J3 so it has to either stay exposed or get cover. Since the turn is almost over I decide that cover is the best bet and move the stack into 5J3.

There is a single platoon of T70s in 5I2 and it declares a Move and Fire action and claws its way through the mud into 5J2 where it fires at the Marder in 5L3. It actually manages to hit but the Marder saves the damage.

Finally the Reduced T70 in 5I5 is stuck where it is as it used Op Fire in the German 18th Panzer’s activation.

The Reduced T-70 in 5I2 is incorrect and has been corrected

Das Reich

The card for Das Reich comes off the top of the Activation Deck. I put the last End Turn card back in and then shuffle the “deck”. This means that there is a 50% chance that the 92nd Guards Motorcycle won’t activate this turn.

The Tigers have been involved in a long shootout with the 6th Tank but I do need them to start to move south. I should have done this last turn but I got distracted. Since there are no Soviet units that can fire on them I decide to move them both as far as they can go in this rain. That isn’t very far with only 2MP. This puts one stack of T-34s in the of fire next turn.

Before the infantry in the south can move there are a few units that need to rally. The SdKfz 251 in 6K3 rallies but only due to the ridiculously high morale of the formation. The other Disrupted APC in 6L3 also manages to rally.

While the two infantry formations are making good progress on moving into Pokrovka there are now Soviet threats moving into the area that need to be dealt with or at least delayed.

Combat and Actions

The Sd Kfz 251 in 6L3 unloads and the Soviet Sapper in 6N3 fires. It is equipped with an LMG that extends its range to 2 so the fire is not modified for range but that doesn’t help and all the fire whizzes by the Germans. Sadly the Germans can’t do anything else at this point and the entire platoon tries to find cover behind the Goliath they are equipped with.

The Armoured Infantry in 6K3 advances into the Woods in 6L4 and the SdKfz 251 unloads. Sadly those troops don’t even have a Goliath to hide behind. The infantry in 6J4 moves into the Woods in 6L4 and there are now two infantry units and another Goliath in the hex.

The SHQ is located with the Captured T-34 in 6I3 and it decides to fire at the Disrupted and Reduced Soviet T-34 in 5N1 that is stacked with the HQ. It generates an astounding three hits of which the Soviet T-34 saves two but that is enough to wreck the tanks and the HQ successfully rolls to stay on the map.

The SdKfz 222 recon vehicle in 6K2 moves into the Woods in 6M3 to stop the Soviets from advancing into it and also to possibly Op Fire next turn if the Commissar and his drinking buddies in 6N3 decide to do anything rash.

Finally the ultimate card draw. Will the card reveal the 92nd Guards Motorcycle or will the turn end with the unit paused in the north of Pokrovka? Luckily for the Soviets the card is indeed for the 92nd and they get the final activation of the turn.

92nd Guards Motorcycle

There are numerous units of the 92nd Guards Motorcycle in the northern outskirts of Pokrovka and they are within assault range of two German stacks that are disrupted. The problem is that the difference between a Good Order Soviet morotcyclist and a Disrupted German infantryman is not very much. The city must be defended though so it is up to the 92nd to push back the Hitlerites and defend the city.

Combat and Actions

The Motorcycle infantry in 6O3 moves into 6O4 and assaults the positions held there by the Disrupted Pioneers. Even with three dice and a re-roll the Pioneers are unable to cause any damage and the Soviets push them back, and reduce them, with a single hit. The rest of the units in the formation are able to close to within a hex of the Germans but the +1MP needed for infantry to assault a hex will block them from being able to attack.

A unit from 6P4 advanced into 6P5 to reinforce the Disrupted troops there. The second unit from 6P4 moves into the recently cleared 6O4 and the HQ and two platoons of motorcycle infantry move from 6Q3 to 6Q5 making a solid line of Soviet troops across the city.

End of turn

Despite some pushbacks the Germans still hold a significant portion of Pokrovka and the infantry of Das Reich have finally made it into positions to launch their own assaults. The Germans are now being harried by T-34s from the north of the city and all of the defending armour is still a ways from the city. The Torrential Rain and Battlefield Smoke are still having an impact on both sides but one has to think that it is thwarting the Germans more as they need to bring up the rest of the panzers to protect the flank of the attack on the city.

Join us next time for turn 8 as we see if the Germans will be able to protect their attack and finally push out the Soviets or if the Soviets will use their numbers to blunt the attack and hold on.

Zac Belado
Author: Zac Belado

Zac is a wargamer from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. When not trying to figure out a new set of rules or cut the corners on counters he is busy building websites.