The Storming of Berlin Part 1

This will be the first part of the TankFactory tournament battle report and my tenth post on Scattered Dice. Hooray! The event was themed around the last days of Germany and enforcing strict red on blue. I brought the Berlin Exclusive Strelkovy I discussed before. As usual I will divide into two parts, first will cover the venue, organisation and first two games. Second part will cover the last two games and my overall feelings with the army performance. Even though I set the entire Friday evening to paint, deliberately gimped my army to reduce the amounts of minis needed to be done like an grown up should, I still went full retard getting about with 2 hours of sleep after finishing all the boots, belts and weapons. Like Danny Glover famously said: I am getting too old for this shit.

Venue and Organization
The event took place at the Dragon Factory in Copenhagen, a large house that hosts various departments of nerdery. The general idea behind the event is more of a gaming day with a theme and not a competition style tournament. They didn’t use Swiss pairings so I didn’t have to face my arch-nemesis Macde who miraculously decided to come along. Prize support was raffled instead of given to the players with most points. Most of the people show up with cool rather than competitive armies and there is a great friendly atmosphere. There were about 11 players who showed up.

I set up two or three of the tables on the venue and felt it was difficult to convey a grim darkness Berlin city fight theme with the available terrain. There were enough buildings and ruins but few roads, parks and such to really tie it all together. To be fair to the organizers, city fights next to bocage and river crossings are the most unpopular ways of playing Flames of War. I noticed some critique on my table set up techniques from a lowly Flames of War plebian. On to the games:

Game 1 – Fallshirmjäger Company – Dustup
I got to play Pman, overall nice guy who I had the great fortune of fighting once before. He is a veteran of Flames of War and held a glorious FoW campaign I took part in some time ago. This time his army was:

Fallschirmjäger Company  (Nachtjäger¹ Digital)

HQ
2 Command SMG + 1 Panzershreck team
Sniper

Combat
3 Platoons of 7 Fallshirmjäger MG Teams
3 Platoons of 7 MG Teams
3 Platoons of 7 MG Teams

Support
2 StuGs + 1 StuH (Fallshirmjäger)
2 StuGs + 1 StuH (Fallshirmjäger )
2 8.8 cm AA + command team (Fallshirmjäger)

There were probably some Panzerfaust spread around but I enjoyed the rare luxury of not needing to pay attention to them. The real kicker is that all of these Fallshirmjäger diehards Enjoy the War very much and pass platoon morale checks on 2+. I was lucky that Pman rolled to pick side first because I had no clue what to expect from his army or better yet… mine.

Deployment and Early turns

IMGP0072
Overview of the table during set up. Looking at the picture now, I should have placed the objective in his quarter closer to the big L shaped ruin on the right.

Because of my insecurities I went into MAXIMUM DEFENSOR mode with the big Strelkovy, ZiS-2 and Heavy Mortars securing my objectives. The offensive plan was to roll up with the 45mm and the SU-100s from reserves, shoot until the barrels glow red, then send in the small Strelkovy to mop up the remains. I decided to save the planes until the StuGs came in, but got a chance of dropping a template on a arriving Fallshirmjäger platoon hitting all of them. That wiped half of the platoon out.

IMGP0076
8.8s and two platoons of tough Fallshirmjäger guard the German objectives. A very strong defensive core.
IMGP0078
I totally forgot about my opponents sniper who came in and started to harass my Heavy Mortars. Luckily my Battalion Commissar was nearby and could walk up to the Sniper Team and cast Gulag successfully, banishing the Sniper Team on 4+.

Mid turns
His StuGs came out of reserves and attacked hard on the right flank but ZiS-2s and Heavy Mortars took them down. I also took some jabs at the reduced Fallshirmjäger unit hoping for platoon break but against 2+ morale little success was had.

IMGP0082
StuGs came in from the reserves and try to outflank my position. They take fire from a volley firing ZiS-2 and Heavy Mortars.

On the left flank I drove the 45mm guns and the SU-100s forward hoping to sweep the 8.8s of the objective with barrages of volleyfire. Problem was Pman not doing his part of the plan, he held fire with until the SU-100s came really close. I didn’t want to send the small Strelkovy platoon in close combat with the ferocious Fallschirmjäger, so I ordered the Strelkovy to dig some nice foxholes. Such squeamishness was probably a mistake, as an lucky assault could have payed off big time.

IMGP0084
I got my reserves in and hoped to lure the 8.8s into a duel with my Cat Killers. Pman ruined my devious plan by holding fire.
IMGP0085
The StuGs try to outflank my army and spray machine gun fire into the dug in Strelkovy. With strange luck they destroy both teams in the closest building!! That denied my an assault from concealed positions. 
IMGP0089
But luckily the sober gunners in the Tank Destruction company finish them off.

 

Late turns

IMGP0087
My opponent ordered his second StuG platoon back to his lines, hoping to impede the SU-100s and 45mm guns from rolling up his lines.

 

IMGP0088
The Fallshirmjäger that came in from reserve scramble to safety. The Sturmovik pilots had previously mauled them to half strength but opened up the celebratory vodka too early and made no further impact in the game.
IMGP0093
After the last German reserves arrive and went back to their lines, I ordered the Strelkovy and ZiS-2s out of the entrechments and towards the objectives.

The advance was frustrated by the StuGs who swung around and raked the struggling Strelkovy with machine gun fire. The ZiS-2s weren’t able to maneuver in place to fire back.

IMGP0097
I took out the 8.8s but lost a couple of SU-100s and all the 45mm guns in the process. Ruins made it hard to bring all my weapons against them.

 

IMGP0099
The Strelkovy march towards the opponent.

 

IMGP0101
The Fallshirmjäger hang on by the skin of their teeth.

 

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During the last turn, Pman charged out of his foxholes with all the Fallshirmjäger and pushed my infantry back. I managed to take a platoon out in close combat before the game ended. I was too far from the objectives, resulting in a draw.

Conclusions
A good game that went to the last second and I maybe spoiled a bit with some rules lawyering. When I play tournaments rules have to followed, especially if they benefit me. Wonder why I’ve wargamed for about 8 years and never won sportsmanship, probably a coincidence.

This game itself illuminates why one needs proper planing to avoid being too defensive in free for alls. With a very defensive stance in free-for-all mission, don’t expect the opponent to recklessly throw his army to death, so getting an win out of it will be difficult. It is better to put down a weaker defense and bait the opponent in. I should have placed the small Strelkovy on my objective, supported by all the ZiS-2s and SU-100s. The rest of the army would set up for the big assault coming out of reserve. I also screwed up with the heavy mortar observers, moving them around constantly out of position, that silenced the mortars most of the battle.

As for my opponent, I would not have pushed forward with the first StuGs platoon, not without taking out a couple of ZiS-2s first. He was also a bit unlucky with the 8.8s, the SU-100 armor held too many frontal shots at bay. The last assault might seem weird at first but it pushed me out of objective grabbing range on the left flank, denying me the overall win. He did good maneuvering with the second StuG platoon, they took out a couple of 45mm guns, slowed down my infantry advance on the right flank, all this without the SU-100s and ZiS-2 returning a shot. To be fair, my army felt the stronger one in this battle and I think Pman had too few numbers to attack my forces successfully.

Result: A classic eastern front quagmire where the Russians and Germans bludgeon each other but nobody comes out truly victorious. 3-2 to me.

Game 2 – Panzer Ausbildungs 500 – No retreat
This army had:

HQ
2 King Tigers

Combat
4 Tiger I
3 Panther

Support
Panzergrenadier ausbildings Platoon MG +1 Panzershreck
Panzergrenadier ausbildungs Platoon Rifle/MG
Single 8.8 with Luftwaffe Crew

A rather nice army but I think Tigers are an interesting choice. They are fearsome in assaults against Strelkovy but their armor is not going to hold up to Allied antitank weapons in Late-Late War.

Deployment

IMGP0106
I had a very good position to defend from. I placed down the big Strelkovy and the ZiS-2s on the table. SU-100s were held in ambush. I put the minefield in the village to prevent movement there.

We played the houses as impassable terrain since roofs couldn’t be removed. I think tanks were allowed to move through them needing to pass skill checks, don’t remember exactly.

IMGP0111
My opponent deployed his army in a line abreast. Tiger and Panthers in the middle.

Early Turns
My opponent moves forward and starts taking shots at the ZiS-2s.

IMGP0123
The tanks move rather close to each other and Sturmoviks get 4 vehicles under the template, destroying 2 of them with rockets. The lone 8.8 has a hard time hitting the Il-2s buzzing overhead. The German second in command passes his warrior save, leaves the wreckage of the King Tiger and mounts a Panther.
IMGP0116
The tanks keep advancing and shooting up my ZiS-2s. The deadly rocket attacks from the Sturmovik take out the last Panther tank by breaking the crews morale.

Late Turns

IMGP0119
Sturmoviks destroy  one of the Tigers but are the opponent gets too close for further airstrikes. Over a couple of turns, the Tigers grind down all my ZiS-2s except the command team that braves on. My reserves arrive, 45 mm guns first and then the Heavy mortars. There are German Infantry men in the village.
IMGP0121
The ZiS-2s respawn as SU-100s and wipe all the Tigers out. A barrage from the heavy mortars combined with small arms fire takes out all half of the infantry. The Sturmoviks make a final pass and destroy the King Tiger. That broke the back of the German attack and my opponent surrendered.
IMGP0125
Another view of the battle. I sharp eyed WW2 nerd may wonder what that US 37mm gun is doing there but I forgot one of my 45mm guns at home. They organizer was nice enough dude to borrow it to me.

Conclusions:
I can’t say I made anything specially erroneous or brilliant in this game. My army is very strong on the defensive and since my opponent didn’t spread out his tanks, the pilots of the VVS racked up tons of kills. The SU-100s sealed the deal with their deadly cannons coming out of ambush. The main function of the ZiS-2 was that of a bullet sponge since it can’t really dent the front armor of the German heavies, I let them soak up shells by staying gone to ground. I could have put the minefield outside of the village, don’t think the opponent wanted to drive trough it anyway.

The table and the mission was very tough on my opponent and after losing the Tigers, he couldn’t really threaten my infantry. After this game, the thought that maybe the LW Strelkovy aren’t the worst army started to cross my mind. The Sturmoviks knocked out 2 King Tigers and a Panther platoon, all that could have been avoided by spreading the tanks out.

Result: 6-1 to the Soviet infantrymen.

Just a short disclaimer, I’ve tried to up my pictures game with an ancient digital camera from 2010 that I found laying around. It is nowhere near studio quality but again this was a tournament, where dice are used in anger, fellow nerdsmen do glorious battle and adrenaline runs high, so understandably taking selfies of my army takes a lower priority. Stay tuned for part 2 that will be up very soon.

¹Nachtjäger means Night hunter.

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