Sunday, October 19, 2014

15mm WWII Tank Battle: Hunting T-34s

Sylvain, in his usual phlegmatic gallic style, tells Jeremy to cheer up - there is always the good wine (or is that whine?)

Sylvain here, reporting from my basement. I hosted a game set on the Eastern Front and the players were provided with the following intelligence:

German Objective: May 1942. The rasputitsa is almost over. In one month, the Heer will launch Fall Blau. High command wants us to test the Soviet defence line and to accomplish our mission, we have been given three band new PzIV equipped with the new long 75mm gun. A recent air reconnaissance patrol reported the presence of a company of T-34s in the village of Karrotgrad. This is where we are going. Our mission is to hunt T-34s.

- The German player gets one victory point per T-34s destroyed and minus one victory point per PzIV F2 destroyed.

Soviet Objective: Kamarads, the Motherland has been invaded by the nazi barbarians and the time for retreat is now over. General Zhukov wants us to protect the village of Karrotgrad and I intend to destroy any enemy coming close. We already have a company of T-34s, the best tank ever designed. We also received 10 new tanks from our Canadian friends. We will see what we can do with them. If we see the enemy coming, we will hunt him with our T-34s!

- The Soviet player gets one victory point per German vehicle destroyed and minus one victory point per T-34 destroyed.

House Rules: The core rules were “Flames of War” with a few significant changes:
1. The turn sequence used cards (inspired by Too Fat Lardies).
2. A spotting rule was added to make reccon units more important (inspired by Firefly).
3. The artillery was off board (inspired by reality).

Jeremy, in the back, confident that the Gods of Dice will be smiling upon him. (They won't!)

My goal was to come up with a somewhat realistic simulation of tank warfare on the Eastern Front with 15mm miniatures. I decided to set-up a table as big as possible. It was 10'x6', and there was barely any room to move around.

Each unit (platoon or company) was represented by a card. There was a deck to set up on the table an another deck to use for orders.

Jeremy commanded the Panzers while Curt and Stacy oversaw the defences of Karrotgrad. The Soviet players hid half of the cards representing their units under terrain features like hills, woods or buildings.

A BA-10M, minding his own business.

I added a rule for spotting. It was to be used by the German to reveal Soviet units in ambush and by the Soviet to accumulate "threat points". These threat points could be used to call reinforcement and stronger units, like a company of T-34s, required more points than a simple platoon of anti-tank rifle.

Some German panzers bogged down in the stream.

Jeremy entered his units on the other side of the river. There was a small platoon of BA-10M in the woods that the panzers quickly dispatched. However, Fortune started to become unfavorable to the German side. You can see in the picture above that some units got bogged down while crossing the river, including the Air Liaison unit in charge of calling in the Stukas.

Lend-Lease Valentine tanks sent from Canada, in neat parade formation, en route to intercept the panzers.

This was a very lucky company of Valentines. They survived a few bomb runs from the Stukas (when the observer was not trying to push his half-track out of stream) and many hits from the German guns.

Realizing that staying too close can be dangerous, the Valentines fan out in the field.
Destruction brings satisfaction to the host.
More reinforcement on the way. This does not look good for the German.
The Valentines are standing firm in front of intense German fire.

A company of seven T-34s enters the battlefield. Is there any end to this flow of reinforcement?
In conclusion, the German did not make it very far onto the table. Crossing the river proved difficult, with lots of units bogged down. It took too long for the German to deploy effectively and use their superior gunnery. Basically, the Soviet were able to destroy the German tanks piecemeal as they showed up.

The house rules I prepared for this scenario did not work very well. The spotting rules were not clear enough and the Soviet were able to activate most of their units before the German got too close. The activation sequence needs to be fine-tuned as well. Eventually,  I will come up with a satisfactory set of rules. I just love 15mm scale and I have a few more ideas for scenarios.

Many thanks to the players who showed up. Their patience and good sense of humor made the whole evening enjoyable despite glitches in the rules.