Friday, September 28, 2012

Stalingrad 70th Anniversary

In observance of the 70th anniversary of the battle for Stalingrad, I press-ganged a few friends into getting together for a Flames of War Stalingrad battle.  Special thanks to Bob who provided the enormous table and 90% of the scenery.  The entire battle is probably far too much to try on one table, so we took a chunk of the fight-the battle for the Red October factory circa October 1942-and decided to try that.  

A great overview of the battle and the map we based our layout on can be found here:

We built 2-2000 point forces for each side to represent the German 79th Grenadiers and the Soviet 39th Guards and support.  So we played a total of 4000 points per side. We decided to play using modified Firestorm rules using combat platoons and support platoons as separate formations, but we would not use overall morale checks, however.  The Soviets started with only 2000 points of infantry on the board while the Germans had all 4000 points from the get-go.  The goal of the mission was to control two of the the three objective points by the end of turn 12.  Soviet reinforcements would be available from turn 3 onward, but they would only roll reinforcement dice as if in a regular game, i.e. one die on turn 3, 2 on turn 4, etc. needed a 5 or 6 to get a reinforcement   

Here is the German deployment.  Their assault was led by a wave of Grenadiers supported by significant armor and artillery assets.  

 Facing the fascist hordes were a veritable wall of Soviet bodies.  Four Strelkovy companies manned entrenched positions in and around the buildings.  
 Here is the overall Soviet deployment.  Some AA assets are deployed to cover the main objectives, located in the center-left apartment block and the two buildings in the center and top of this photo.  If you look close you will see some ZIS trucks marking the objective locations.  

 Here's an overview of the situation at the start.  Bombed-out ruins and craters are the order of the day.  

 In the early turns the Germans advanced all across the board, pushing hard for the central train stations.  

 Smoke barrages neutralize Soviet fire as the Germans advance.

An intense firefight and several assaults resulted in heavy casualties on both sides, with the Germans taking heavier losses overall.
 Below we see the depleted forces in the center after several close combats.  The Soviets still hold the rear train station but only holding by a thread.

Here's a different view of the assault.  The German forces on the right, below, have advanced very skillfully using rubble piles as cover.  They have sustained few losses, while on the left the Germans have been bled white.

 From the Soviet point of come the Fritzes!
A sniper pops up in the ravine and takes out the crew of an infantry gun!  He'll remain there for the rest of the battle making a nuisance of himself.
German tanks join the assault in the center as the Soviets hold on defiantly and a  massive assault using the German storm group and Stugs develops...

The German assault group prepares to tackle the Soviet flank.

 With the support of combined arms the central train station is finally overrun by the Germans, but at extreme cost.
A very thin group of German infantry hold the central train station.  A company of Guards infantry in the foreground prepares to launch a counter-assault on the exposed German platoon.
With a shout of "Urrah!" the Soviets charge the German positions and succeed in an attempt to re-take the central station.
German tanks on the right have cleverly flanked the Soviet positions, only to find themselves matched by a platoon of KV-1 tanks!
Soviet reinforcements begin to pour on to the field.  The T-34s surivive repeated Stuka attacks while huge KV-1 tanks move to shore up the left flank.
Soviet rocket mortar and artillery fire disperse the Stugs and punish the German right.  Little is left to contest the objectives on the Soviet left flank.
Few Germans remain to threaten the center or right wing.  The assault stalls on the left as the local commander realizes he cannot expect to assault successfully.

At this point we decided to call the game.  We had played for 7 turns out of a planned 12, but the Germans were not in possession of a single objective.  In addition, they had lost almost an entire company (4 platoons) while destroying only one of the Soviet "companies" (roughly equivalent to German platoons) in return.  The German forces on the German right suffered very heavily while those on the left took only light losses.  But in the end the remaining troops would have had to go over to the defensive in the face of the mounting Soviet pressure.  Everyone enjoyed the game and the table was wonderful to play on, but we agreed that some re-balancing would be in order.  W are bandying about some ideas for a reply, but let us know your thoughts on how to make a large city fight like this competitive and enjoyable!