After what seems like quite a while, Gergely and I got to throw down for a rematch of the river crossing game we played last time. Because we wanted to just be crazy and use our new toys we decided to go all out and make it a huge affair. Nobody else was in the FLGS so we put two of the tables together to give us a chance for the big armies to move around.
We were restricted mostly by the number of order dice we own and so locked it down to 16 units per side giving us quite a matchup. We counted the points as being around 1750 per side and it felt very epic.
Here is the setup. Germans are holding the right of the table, mostly around the river and village with their SS reinforcements coming in from the the corner area (the edges between the corner hill and the hill on the left, and the river on the right)
Here is where my Germans made their defensive lines. These troops were entirely inexperienced except for the sniper and HQ (who can't be less than regular). This lack of morale was to come back and bite me in the butt numerous times during the game.
Here is my MMG team overlooking the crossings from the house, the StuG guarding the bridge with its heavy anti tank gun and my improvised Nebelwerfer rocket launcher ready to add supporting fire.
The main infantry line was dug in behind the barricades hoping to weather the Russian storm and put them down with hefty firepower. Inexperienced troops can still kill if they lay down enough shots. We marked the shallow ford in the river with the mossy bits. Vehicles can't cross but infantry could at no penalty. We only stipulated that they couldn't voluntarily go down to avoid fire and if forced to go down they would retreat to their side then go down.
My elite SS reserve consisted of two veteran squads toting assault rifles and panzerfausts, a 1st lt with adjustant, two Hanomag half tracks to bring them onto the field and a veteran Tiger tank because....well because its' a TIGER :-)
These began the game off table and came on if I rolled 8 or more (D6 + turn number). It game me a slim chance on turn 2 but more likely on three or four, which we thought was a good balance.
Gergely's Russian horde was up to the challenge. He had a mass of veteran infantry including engineers toting body armour and a flamethrower, a foursome of support teams (AT rifle, snipers, mortar and machine gun) and four armoured hulls that you can see in the foreground. His SU-76 brought a medium AT gun and howitzer, the T-34 had the heavy AT, the Ba-10 a light AT and 2 machine guns, and the borrowed M17 halftrack was ready to throw down quad machine gun firepower.
Gergely's officer directs the Soviet armoured column forwards to the battle.
Unlike the rest of the inexperienced troops, who failed orders like crazy and hunkered down, the StuG shook off the effects of the Soviet opening barrage and readied an ambush shot.
Gergely swarmed onto the field with his infantry horde pushing down the left flank towards the ford. His armoured units moved to the right ready to intercept the SS reserve. While my StuG managed to land a pinning hit on the T-34, the inexperienced group on the right were almost useless. Pinned down by Greg's repeated fire and my terrible order checks I think we managed to kill perhaps one or two Soviets in the first few turns. My Nebelwerfer was the most frustrating as it failed three order tests to fire, even though the commander was next to it, and couldn't put a barrage onto his tightly packed troops.
Luckily for me Greg didn't manage to kill too many of my soldiers as they were packed behind cover but my numbers were steady reduced by fire coming from multiple angles. I was getting pretty desperate for my SS reserve to show up.
Turn 3 and I was lucky, rolling a 5 to bring in the elite reserves. I came in from the flank, leading with the Tiger who drew a bead on the T-34's flank. Gergely's tank fired first as it had been waiting in ambush but luckily for the Germans, the shell went wide. The SS crew zeroed in their 88mm super heavy AT gun...
Feuer! The commander yelled and the gunner obligingly put a shot through the flank armour of the Soviet tank. My penetration bonus was +7 and being a side armour shot I got +1 to the roll, which gave me good odds against the armour value of 9. I beat the armour by more than 3 points, scoring massive damage. This result gives you two rolls on the damage table with both applying. I rolled two twos and with a double immobilisation result, the Russian crew decided to head for the hills and the tank was destroyed. Now I was feeling better, despite the crumbling defense of the river.
Here we jump a bit more. Perhaps cocky after my Tiger's early luck I ran my SS elite troops out of the halftracks and into battle. One squad did well killing off the AT rifle and pinning the Su-76 with a lucky panzerfaust shot, but the other one ran right into ambushing fire from Gergely's inexperienced troops. In a humbling lesson, the raw soviet troops gunned down half of the elite SS squad and the survivors failed their morale check for 50% casualties with a double 6, running from the battle and for the hills. Curses!
In a lucky retribution for this loss, my Nebelwerfer crew finally passed their order check and fired at the mortar spotter who was in the woods by the Su-76. The whole area was plastered with heavy rockets and I had a stroke of luck rolling 6s to hit both the spotter and the inexperienced troops. A rocket launcher like this fires like a heavy mortar (2D6 hits, D3 pins) but can't zero in on the target turn by turn. Instead you roll to hit each unit within 6 inches of the targeted unit. I really lucked out as the spotter was killed by 9 hits and the inexperienced squad lost more than half their men but with his typical Skaven general luck (and a Soviet re-roll) Gergely rolled 4 to pass the morale check and stay on the table.
One of the last actions in the game was for Gergely's artillery barrage to come in on target and batter my surviving troops. Luckily he didn't roll any 6s, so nobody took direct hits, but four of my units and two of his took a battering and were pinned a lot. I had to switch to dice marking pins instead of the red chits as we were running low.
Sadly this is where our time for the game ran short as we had dinner reservations in the local brewery with our lovely wives so we packed up calling it a draw. I was confident that my armoured attack on the flank would sweep around and save the centre and Gergely was equally sure his veteran troops would crush my weakened defenders and secure the river crossing.
The game as a whole was a lot of fun with nice swings of luck on both sides. I think my mistake was definitely in not staying down with my low level troops for a couple of turns to get them unpinned. You can elect to remain down at the start of the turn and drop one pin marker without taking a test. Instead I tried rolling to pass checks and failed a lot, sending me down again without losing a pin. Had I let my troops recover a bit more at the start without trying to fire (which probably would have been pretty ineffective anyway) I might have had a stronger defence waiting for the Russians.
Gergely's attack plan was pretty solid though in hindsight it might have been better for him to bring the armour in to support his troops directly. That way he might have overwhelmed me even faster and the SS reserves would have had a long drive to get close to the battle. He got unlucky with the armoured column as the T-34's destruction meant the Su-76 was blocked and struggled to turn around. You can see how a lack of turret was historically limiting in close range battles.
A rematch is definitely intended and we hope to bring in a couple of new players from the club. If you get the chance I strongly recommend playing on bigger tables like this (6'x8') as it gives a much wider flow to the game, which makes you think and play differently.
If you have any questions please just drop me a comment.