Romania spring 1944 (Flames of War Campaign) #1

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German infantry defend a village somewhere in northern Romania.

Nothing gets foul, grumpy basement dwellers excited as a wargaming campaign, so this summer I opened up the Google drive and began to scribble down some ideas. Singling out the era and front wasn’t hard, I picked Romania in early 1944. The campaign had the good wargaming properties of having somewhat equal military forces (slight favour towards the Axis) but most importantly, large military formations with all the fancy toys were fighting. Romania was an important Axis ally, supplying Germany with vital oil and manpower for the big fights in the east. For Stalin, the Red Emperor, a defeated Romania would become a springboard for more influence in the Balkans.

Campaigns can easily get into Moby Dick type of eternal quests, so I pussied out by reworking the Infantry Aces format from Battle Front by mostly renaming things and making a new map. Points were upped so players could build some redundancy into their armies. It sucks to lose the Pak40s and having no way of hurting T-34s outside Panzerfaust range. The most time consuming part was making the maps, after about 4 iterations I made one that wasn’t awful. The fruits of all the hard work can be enjoyed here.

First round and results

In the first round we had a good turn up playing 750 point games. The areas fought in the first round were Falticeni, Pascani and Targu Frumos in Grupul de Nord. After 6 hard fought battles, the Axis had defeated Soviet attempts at Targu Frumos and Pascani. Only Robinsky’s T-34s achieved a breakthrough at Falticeni. With an Axis victory in Grupul de Nord, the Soviets will look forward to fighting more Axis fortifications in the next round.

I personally got 3 games in playing for both sides, netting two losses and a win. I learned that the Panzer IVs is a worthy fuckin’ adversary in 750 point games. Leaving home without two AT units is a bad idea.

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Two of the three battlefields in the first round. Armies were 750 points only and rounds were quick.
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German players favored infantry companies while the Soviets brought tanks. Here a Forward Detachments stares down Grenadiers in Dust Up.
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After two humiliating defeats I got to play a third game against a Forward Detachment. A took a big squad of grenadiers, a small one, some panzer IVs and a minium sized Nebelwerfer battery with a PaK40. A powerful toolbox at 750. Opponent was fielding a Forward Detachment with 5 T-34/85s, some SU-76s, SMG infantry and Spetsnaz.
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The mission we played was Encounter. My opponents SU-76s went down against the Panzer IVs. With PaK40s and Nebelwerfers I took out just enough T-34s so that the Panzers and infantry occupying the town could take them out. On the right flank my small infantry platoon came in from reserves and secured the far objective.
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T-34/85s make a run towards the village. Poor accuracy means they do very little damage. They shot up my infantry with MG fire but the German grenadiers miraculously survived and took shelter in the buildings.
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The Second in Command and the Nebelwerfer battery turning up on the right spot securing my home objective from Soviet probing attacks.

 

Second round

In this round players will fight in Grupul Central containing Targu Neamt, Halaucesti and Podu Iloaiei. The Soviet wunderwaffe Robinsky who switched over to Hero IS-2s has been steamrolling over the German opposition, Soviet tankisti are making ahead in Targu Neamt and Podu Iloaiei but are pushed back in Halaucesti. Points in this round were upped to 1150 meaning players could bring real armies.

I brought a Panzer IV company supported by Tigers into battle, but could not take out the damned IS-2s with flank shots. We fought in Hasty Attack with me as the attacker. I initially laughed at their poor aim as my Panzers raced to the flanks. But the tears of joy soon turned into tears of sorrow once those stupid 122 mm cannons started to roll those important fives and sixes. This weekend the fate of Grupul Central will be decided. Hopefully, I will have the 120 mm Heavy Mortars ready to spew some death and destruction.

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The battlefields in the second round. We played the river as simply difficult going to avoid bogging down the game.
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A second rate German infantry company (represented by Sicherungs) defend in Counter Attack. A Soviet forward detachment is attacking.
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The Germans are supported by an armored train and a platoon Nashorn tank hunters. They stop the Soviet attack.
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I played a German Panzer Kompanie with nothing but 2 Tigers and Panzer IVs. The opposition was an Hero IS-2 Heavy Tank Batalion. IS-2s should be dead meat to flanking and Tigers.
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I get my reserves in and push very hard to get to flanks. The IS-2s have a hard time hitting the Panzers.
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The Tigers struggle to penetrate the heavy armor of the IS-2 Obr 1943 at range. I need to get closer.
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Soviet reserves show up and the Panzer IV’s fail to get through the side armor. That was something of a nasty surprise. The IS-2s lose two tanks and the Katyushas, but the Panzer Company is broken. I should have probably attacked on the other flank. The Tigers were a big letdown though, they bogged down in bad spots and their armor penetration was bad.

The campaign is pretty fun so far, however some of the extra rules weren’t used by the players (such as the Battle Skills). I had high hopes they could link together the campaign, will print them out next time to see what happens. I was expecting some resistance with the restrictions on briefings and units but the players find them acceptable.

Another lesson learned is to run the campaign directly from the blog and Facebook. Nobody bothers with forums anymore.

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