The stress of command
I've started a Battle Group Kursk campaign, using a map generated from Google Earth. On Monday night we played the first game at the D6 Lounge, Roseville, a 1000 point Defence Line game as the Germans started their attack on the first day of the Kursk offensive. I played the Germans with my friend Paul (proxying for Man Cave Paul), who has never played a miniatures game before and had to be told what 'D6' means. The Soviets were commanded by two recent graduates from the school wargames club. Let's call them Piotr and Lorenz.
Soviet Commanders looking cocky
For those interested in such things, here are the codes for our battlegroups, which can be loaded into the excellent online force builder.
German Panzer Division battlegroup:
Soviet Rifle Division battlegroup:
I'll hand over now to the German Commander's report.
Following an initial bombardment our troops advanced on a narrow front against the Soviet line at 6am. The road on our right flank led through wheat fields to a village, where our observers identified a number of dug-in Bolshevik tanks. To our left was an open field, heavily mined, but with seemingly little covering fire. I therefore began by advancing our StuG squadron on the right as a feint, and in the hope of engaging an exposed Bolshevik KV1.
Our StuGs immediately came under heavy fire from prepared Bolshevik artillery, and remained pinned throughout much of the morning. Our mortars returned fire on the village, where we had already mapped a target point, with some success at pinned some enemy infantry dug in around the houses.
Strong Soviet defences around the village
As reinforcements arrived, I deployed them into the open field on our left. Our Panzer IV squadron advanced to draw the ambush fire of a dug in enemy T-34, allowing a squad of armoured pioneers to advance rapidly and clear the nearest minefield. I have recommended their Unteroffizier for a decoration. Our armour sought to exploit this gap on our left decisively, but suffered considerably from pre-registered enemy artillery which was cleverly sited to cover the enemy minefields, something we had not anticipated.. One of our Panzer IVs was abandoned after taking direct hits from heavy Bolshevik mortars. Our attack was failing to make ground, and to make matters worse the Bolsheviks launched a reckless tank attack which destroyed our battery of Hanomags with Wurframen rockets, although the enemy lost two tanks in return.
With aerial reconnaissance reporting the advance of Soviet armour reinforcements, I considered it vital to establish a foothold in the enemy village. Since the centre of our line was not under artillery fire I launched what forces were able to move obliquely from the left through the wheatfields and into the village. Our Panzergrenadiers attacked with great elan, rapidly occupying some houses and putting Soviet artillery under fire. Despite my own Panzer IV being pinned by heavy fire, two StuGs and the remaining Panzers also managed to rapidly knock out several enemy tanks and crack the front defensive line before the arrival of Bolshevik reinforcements. Seeing this, the remaining enemy withdrew, leaving the village in our hands by 11am.
Through the gap!
My forces are pursuing. Heil!
Major von Durnen.'
As always with BGK this was a cracking good game that had everything - tanks hitting random mines, dogged Soviet tanks refusing to die, air attacks being driven off by Flak... Paul and I were happy to pull off a win on points, with our Battle rating much healthier than the Soviets when we had to finish up, although we failed to achieve the decisive brakthrough I had hoped for. The pre-registered Soviet artillery made it very difficult to get our attack underway, and although it only cost us one tank, we had to take multiple Battle Counters to try to keep our troops moving. Fortunately, once we found a gap through the artillery zones we were able to move decisively enough to force a result.
In campaign terms, our victory saw the Germans bludgeoning their way through the first Soviet line, but failing to reach the second. Our next battle will be a smaller rearguard action or meeting engagement as the German advance units attempt to maintain the tempo of the attack.
Great game, enoyed by all, and Paul discovered the pleasure of tabletop mayhem. Here he is recording his first knocked out tank for posterity.