Wednesday, December 31, 2014

KG Klink, Poland, Game 2


It's 0630, 1 Sept 1930.  Following the way being opened by the infantry, the Kampfgruppe's reconnaissance elements rushed through the hole, followed by the Panzers, with motorized infantry elements mixed in as they were able to get on the road or catch up following mop-up duties.  Attached to 4th Panzer Division, the Kampfgruppe has been told to dash for Warsaw and forgo all else, that everything to their right will be handled by the Slovaks, and everything to their left will be handled by Guderian's panzertroops swooping down from the north.  This is a great concept, but immediately goes out the window when the recce element is ambushed by the Polish 19th Uhlan Regiment, dug-in on the northwest side of a small town (actually a string of three villages all) called Mokra.

The opposing forces.

The Poles have their CO, three 37mm anti-tank guns (ATGs), two .30-cal MGs, an 82mm mortar, and five rifle squads.

The German force, with their CO (the Reconnaissance Company commander, 1st Lt Unger), 2nd Lt Wehner's Armored Reconnaissance Platoon )1 Sdkfz 231 and two 221s), two Panzer Mk IIIs of 3rd Panzer Plt (Lt Gerhart and Sgt Fittzbaum's vehicles happened to be near the head of the column when the fight broke out), the bulk of 1st Motorcycle Plt (4th Squad had fallen out with mechanical problems), and then some cats and dogs from the infantry (2nd Grenadier Platoon's Lt Klugmann and his 1st and 2nd Squads, led by Sgt Aust and Sgt Hasselbach; Klugmann was very angry about missing the fight at the frontier, and so he grabbed his 1st and 2nd Squads, who had fought at the frontier, and hopped in the first transport available, determined to be at the forefront of the action.  Once again his 4th Squad was left behind, presumably still guarding the left flank).

Overview of the situation when the fighting broke out.

The Polish line, with both MGs in the trench at top, the mortar in the trench at bottom, flanked by infantry, and with the three ATGs in the bunkers.

The German order of march: the Armored Reconnaissance Platoon interspersed with 1st Motorcycle Platoon, followed by the Recon Co CO, followed by Lt Gerhart's panzers, with Lt Klugmann's 2nd Platoon having just dismounted on the right.

The game starts (as I'm playing the Germans, I can't really think of a time I won't have the Germans go first ;) ) with the Germans rolling a firefight; not good, a scurry, or even a 'regular' turn would have been much better, I need to push forward to try to outflank the Polish line, but alas...

All three armored cars fire on the Polish line, to no effect; the motorcycle platoon can't fire while mounted, and the panzers and 2nd Plt can't see anything to engage.  The enemy MGs open up, forcing Sgt Gradl's 2nd Motorcycle (M/C) Squad (far left) to fall back.  Then the enemy mortars hit 2nd Plt (bottom center), forcing Sgt Hasselbach's squad to rush forward and hunker in the woods, out of sight.

Then the real @#$% hit the fan: the enemy ATGs opened up, knocking out Cadet Distler's Sdkfz 221, and immobilizing Sgt Pichler's 221.  The effect of that fire pins Lt Wehner's armored car, forces Sgt Sachs 2nd M/C squad to fall back (far left, next to Hasselbach's squad), and Lt Weider's squad to dart forward into the trees and dismount, pinned.  Whew...

Then lightning/disaster strikes twice as the Poles roll up a firefight.  This really sucks as the few units that could shoot are now shot to pieces...  So, the enemy MGs (off camera at top right) open up, and Cpl Pankau's 4th M/C Squad (bottom center w/white bead) suffers men down.  Two ATGs fire at Sgt Pichler's vehicle (on road with white bead), and one hits but fails to penetrate, while the third ATG fires at Lt Wehner's vehicle and forces him to fall back (far left, cowering with two motorcycle squads).  Then the enemy mortars, which already have 2nd Plt (bottom right) ranged in, drop on them again, and now all three units are hunkering in fear...

Not a single German unit is in position to fire back (because of bad morale or LOS blockage).  Now, before you check out, I bid you take care, as @#$%'s about to get crazy; I'd say it's worthwhile to hang in there and read the rest of this.

The Germans roll 'normal,' plus a random event, which turns out to be a smokescreen (the actual rule says something along the lines of 'one unit can move without being subject to reaction fire;' I took a bit of liberty with it and made it an actual smokescreen, and I rolled the red dice to show how long it would hang around.  This is the break I've been looking for, right?  The panzers rush right, as does the CO, who moves to 2nd Plt and tries to rally them, but fails, and Sgt Hasselbach's squad falls back even further (though it stays on the map).

On the left (off camera), Lt Wehner is able to rally himself, which allows Sgt Gradl's squad to attempt to rally also, but, of course, they fail...

Then a bit of luck as the Poles roll up a scurry; another firefight would have been disastrous.  Of course the first two were disastrous...  In any case, the Poles are pretty happy to sit tight, though they do send a rifle squad around the head of the German column (top right, near Lt Weider's 1st M/C Plt HQ section in the treeline with yellow bead).  Lt Weider tries to rally his troops, but fails, though Sgt Pichler's Sdkfz 221 (bottom center), and Sgt Gradl and Sgt Sachs M/C squads (far left) are able to rally.

If you look at the two rifle squads and two panzers at top right, the rifle squads are Lt Klugmann's HQ section and Sgt Aust's1st Sqd, 2nd Plt, which started in the center of the pic behind the trees.  The CO, Lt Unger, started there, and rallied them, then headed left (bottom left), where he rallied Cpl Pankau's 4th M/C Squad (just above him, on the road).  Once they rallied, Lt Klugmann and Sgt Aust moved their men forward to link up with the panzers, ready to pounce on the enemy on the other side of the smoke.

Another random event fixed a vehicle, so Sgt Pichler's previously immobilized vehicle is now back in the fight (I didn't figure it would work for Officer Cadet Distler's vehicle, which has been burning for several minutes now).

So Pichler dashes his vehicle ahead and to the left, then opens up with his MG, pinning the enemy rifle squad there.

One of the Polish MGs (top left) fired on Lt Weider's HQ Section (far left), to no effect, while mortars drop on the units at bottom left; Sgt Gradl's M/C squad is okay, but Sgt Sachs' M/C squad is once again pinned.  Oh, and Lt Wehner's armored car was there, but ran like a girl (bottom right, barely hanging on to the map; better not let Col Klink see you leave).

Sgt Sachs' squad unpins, and Lt Unger rallies the Lt Wehner's armored car.

But the smoke lifts, and it's time for action: Lt Gerhart's panzer engages the ATG at top right, but misses; return fire drives him back (bottom left, the smoke puff at center is where Gerhart's tank was)...    Sgt Fittzbaum picked up the slack, firing several 37mm solid projectiles into the ATG bunker, pinning the crew.

Lt Wehner finally makes himself useful; he orders his vehicle forward (bottom left), then calls a halt and opens fire with the 20mm gun, knocking out the ATG at top right (smoke puff)!  This has the side benefit of forcing one of the enemy MGs to fall back (just visible at top right).

Then the Poles roll another scurry!  This time they are not content to sit tight, and get a bit petulant.  In the south, three rifle squads move up on Sgt Fittzbaum's panzer, with 2nd Platoon looking on.

The enemy rifle at the head of the column, the MG that just ran, and the ATG all rally.

Lt Unger rallies Sgt Hasselbach's squad, who moves up (bottom center), while Lt Gerhart's panzer rallies (bottom left).  Not really wanting to be too aggressive, but wanting to screen Sgt Fittzbaum's panzer from being close assaulted, Lt Krugmann and Sgt Aust move their squads forward.

Cpl Pankau's 4th M/C Sqd moves up to 2nd and 3rd Squads (bottom left); with Lt Weider's squad (top center, in treeline) being the only unit of the 1st M/C Plt hasn't exactly covered itself in glory...  Weider rallies hit men, while Lt Wehner moves his armored car forward (center, on road, just ahead of Cadet Distler's burning vehicle).

Lt Wehner's vehicle (bottom left) and the ATG at top right trade fire, with Wehner's guys coming out the worst, but only pinned (yellow bead).  And then disaster struck once again...

In the southeast, Sgt Fittzbaum's tank fired at the last ATG and missed, and the return fire damn near blew the turret off the poor Mk III.  This had the adverse effect of causing the squads of Sgt Aust and Sgt Hasselbach to run, leaving only Lt Krugmann's 2nd Plt headquarters section opposite a full enemy rifle platoon!

Stand by, @#$%'s about to go down!  With nothing left to lose, Lt Krugmann showed'em his warface, let out a guttural scream, and led his men in a charge.  Snap fire from the enemy missed, and Krugmann closed with the enemy on only a +1...  And was victorious!

He then set his sights on the next enemy squad...

Closing fire is again ineffective, and again the squad closes and devours its victims.  They then turn half right, and charge again.

I didn't allow the mortar team snap fire, and they were a push over.  With their blood up, the Lieutenant once more turned his men on the enemy...

Snap fire once again went wide, and the German infantry once more dominated their enemy.  I 'cheated a little bit; if you look, you'll see I placed a 'hero' figure, which gave a +1 to close combat, after they won their third close combat.

Having vanquished three enemy rifle squads and a mortar team, Lt Krugmann gives his men five to smoke'em up, lit via the flames of Sgt Fittzbaum's burning tank.

As a bit of unfair foreshadowing (as of the time I'm writing this I've played seven battles), in two future games a similar situation occurred, and I tried the same gambit, and in neither case did it work...

The Poles roll another firefight (could have used that a couple turns ago), and Lt Weider's squad (bottom left) once again finds itself pinned down.  I don't believe they've ever actually fired on the enemy, despite being in these woods, very near the enemy line, since the very beginning of the fight...

Sgt Pichler's vehicle opens up, getting a 'man down' result on the enemy rifle squad.

The CO, Lt Unger, tries to rally Sgt Hasselbach's squad (off camera to bottom right), but fails, so Unger says hell with him and moves up to support Lt Krugmann's troops, who are facing down the ATG that drove back Lt Gerhart's tank and destroyed Sgt Fittzbaum's.

Then Sgt Pichler, angered by the fact he's spent three rounds of fire on an enemy rifle squad in the open, but failed to knock them out, decides to charge, and so he overruns them (bottom left, with enemy casualty visible, and next to Lt Wieder's squad), then fires on the ATG at top right, pinning it.

And, after cowering for much of the early fight, Lt Wehner (bottom left) once again makes himself useful by firing at the ATG at top right, forcing the crew to fall back (red bead at top right), abandoning the gun.

With the nearby ATG abandoned (top center, the one that initially drove him back and destroyed his subordinate), Lt Gerhart moves his tank up next to Lt Klugmann and the CO, then begins pumping rounds into the last remaining ATG (top left), forcing its crew to abandon the gun as well.

Then the Poles rolled a damned firefight.  Granted, the Germans had some real bad luck at the beginning, but if you follow that, the Poles should have won, except for the fact they rolled firefights when they needed scurries, and scurries when they needed firefights (they had a huge firepower advantage initially with all their guns able to be brought to bear, and the Germans still caught in deploying out of march).  The Polish MG at top right opened fire on Lt Wehner's armored car, forcing it to fall back once again (all the way to bottom left, behind the motorcycles, which have been cowering the whole fight).

Lt Gerhart's panzer opened fire on the MG in the trench at far left, forcing it to fall back (top left, next to one of the hunkering ATG crews).

While Lt Krugmann's squad moves up and captures the ATG.

The CO and Lt Gerhart's tank move up, firing on the trench and forcing the enemy rifle squad to fall back (top left).

And when Sgt Pichler's vehicle circled around from the left, the Poles threw in the towel.

-Lt Krugmann recommended for the Iron Cross 2nd Class and Iron Cross 1st Class simultaneously (I read this was possible in those cases of extreme valor when the recipient did not already have an Iron Cross 2nd Class) for placing himself under heavy fire in position to screen stricken panzer elements, then lead his close assaults which eliminated four enemy units and broke the back of enemy resistance.
-3rd Panzer Platoon's Sgt Fittzbaum wounded in action, received Wound Badge, will return after Polish campaign.
-Lost ~20 KIA/WIA and 1 Panzer Mk III destroyed.  1 Sdkfz 221 was damaged, but recovered and put back into action.
-Caused ~45 KIA/WIA, captured ~35 EPW and 2 anti-tank guns.

So, the mission was accomplished, albeit by the skin of my teeth.  Truth be told, this was better than the Germans did in real life, being beaten severely in real life.  In any case, in the overall scheme of things, the KG and 4th Panzer Division pulled back to allow air and artillery to pound Mokra, and immediately preparing to launch a mechanized attack.

The fights have been very exciting, but too close for my taste ;)  For all those out there that like to see the Germans get their butts kicked, stay tuned, there's a few of those to be written up.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

KG Klink, Poland, Game 1


It's 0500, 1 Sept 1939, and the war has just begun as the German 10th Army is crossing the frontier.  Kampfgruppe Klink is assigned to the operational control of the 4th Panzer Division, and is in the vanguard of the invasion.  Col Klink's plan for his sector of the line is to use his infantry to open the hole, then have his motorized reconnaissance and panzers pour through in the direction of Mokra.

Overview: North is up, Germans attacking from the west (left), Poles defending from the east (right).

The opposing forces, Poles on left (please forgive me as I don't have any Poles, so I'm having to proxy Soviets, and even some British vehicles, for the Poland campaign), Germans on right.

Ze German force: Command stand at top (the Schutzen Company commander, 1st Lt Freitag), the weapons platoon's machine gun squad (of two guns, led by Corporals Steinkamp and Creuzburg), one of the 75mm field guns (Sgt Oberlander), and eight rifle sections.  The first is 1st Platoon's HQ section, led by 2nd Lt Nessler.  All of Nessler's platoon is present, as are the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd squads of 2nd Platoon (2nd Platoon's commander, 2nd Lt Krugmann, and his 4th Squad are detached as local security on the left/northern flank).  3rd Platoon is on the right/southern flank, tying in with elements of 4th Panzer Division, and 4th Platoon is in reserve, while the remainder of the KG is waiting nervously near its vehicles.

The Poles have a Command stand, a 76mm field gun, a .30 caliber machine gun, an 82mm mortar, and five rifle squads.  They also have three bunkers and four strands of concertina wire.

Germans are placed at their starting positions (left), while the Poles are placed on blinds.

Which I then flip, and add their fortifications.  The Germans have three rifle sections and an MG at top left, opposite four enemy rifle squads; in the center, the Germans have their CO, mortar, field gun, an MG, and a single rifle section at center, opposite the Polish field gun (center) and MG (far right).  At bottom left, the Germans have four rifle sections, while the Poles have nothing directly opposite, but can cover all avenues of approach in the south via fire.

And so it begins.  Cpl Hackl led his squad up to the wire (center) and fired at the enemy bunker, and the bunker returned fire, causing them to fall back (they are at top center with red bead, before falling back next to the CO at far left).  They were followed by the truck, which unlimbered the 75mm field gun while the 80mm mortar hopped out (this would prove to be a key tactical error; having the field gun and mortar right next to each other proved an irresistible target for the Polish field gun and mortar).  Meanwhile, Sgt Haas moves his squad up (bottom center) and they fire at the rifleman in the bunker, no effect.

The enemy field gun (in bunker at top right) fired at Sgt Oberlander's field gun, pinning them.  The enemy mortar (also top right) targets Sgt Haas' squad (bottom left, in street with white bead), wounding several men.  But the real disaster was that the rain of mortar shells caused 2nd Lt Nessler and the HQ section (bottom left) to run off the map!

At bottom left, the Cpl Steinkamp's MG34 fires on the near enemy bunker, pinning them, while Sgt Landauer rushes his squad bottom center) up to Sgt Haas' squad in an attempt to rally them, but they fail...  The CO, 1st Lt Freitag, rallies the field gun crew, who pump several rounds into the enemy field gun's bunker (top right).

Causing the crew to abandon the gun (red bead; I don't play the rules as written here, I allow crews to rally and return to the gun).  However, the Polish CO quickly rallies them.

The enemy MG (top right) opens up, and puts the damned field gun out of action (far left), while the enemy mortar again targets 1st Platoon at bottom left.  Sgt Landauer's squad suffers men down (white bead), while Sgt Haas' squad falls back and hunkers (red bead).  A very crappy turn of events...

Germans roll firefight, which is not great, I really need to be moving forward to put pressure on the Poles.  Cpl Hackl's squad tries to rally and fails (red bead on rifle squad at bottom left).  Off camera, Sgt Landauer's squad, having been pounded by mortar fire twice, tries to rally but fails and runs off the map, though Sgt Haas' squad finally recovers.  Cpl Steinkamp's MG34 (bottom left) fired to no effect, then received return fire from the enemy's MG, which saw Steinkamp's men flee off the map...  Cpl Osswald's MG34 (lower top left) pinned an enemy squad at top right, while the 80mm mortar took that same concentration of enemy troops under fire, but didn't hit a damned thing.

The Poles re-man their field gun (far right), while their CO moves to their rifle bunker opposite the German 1st Platoon (in southwest).

Now the Germans roll a scurry, let's see if we can get things moving.  Right off the bat, in the center (not pictured) Cpl Hackl tries to rally his squad, but fails and they also run off the map.  For those keeping track (and I certainly am), that's a Platoon Commander with his HQ section, two rifle squads, and an MG34 team that have run away screaming.  Colonel Klink, watching from a low ridge through his field glasses, vows something will be done about this, it will not happen again...

Seeing the situation falling apart, the CO, 1st Freitag, takes desperate action.  He moves right, where he leads Sgt Haas and Cpl Nader's squads towards the enemy rifle bunker.

The Germans also move forward in the north, if for no other reason than to keep the four enemy rifle squads there pre-occupied.

In the north, the Poles react by falling back, not wanting to allow themselves to be decisively engaged.  They's rather slow the Germans and allow their supporting weapons (MG, mortar, and Field Gun) to break the Germans.

The Polish CO rallies the rifle bunker (bottom center), while the field gun (top right) fires at Sgt Haas' squad on the bridge, but the gallant Sergeant leads his men through the maelstrom unharmed and undaunted.

In the north, the enemy has ranged in and puts Sgt Hasselbach's squad out of the fight, and causing Cpl Obst's squad to fall back (far left).

The Germans roll up a random event, and this allows them to get the field gun back in action, and it's immediately put to good use.

Sgt Oberlander's crew quickly pops several 75mm rounds into the enemy rifle bunker, suppressing the occupants, so Lt Freitag and Sgt Haas charge into close combat, and eliminate the enemy squad and commanding officer!

The enemy field gun (top center) again fires on the bridge, but again to no effect, though Cpl Nader's men are not happy for the attention.  The enemy 82mm mortar fires on the field gun and mortar; the mortar is unaffected, but once again Sgt Oberlander's crew abandons the gun (bottom left with red bead).

The Germans roll a scurry, and another random event.  A hero emerges, which I should have assigned randomly, but it only made sense to make it Sgt Haas (who has endured two mortar barrages, charged across the bridge under 76mm gun fire, then led a close assault victory) of 1st Platoon's 2nd Squad.

Off camera, the field gun crew returns to the gun, while the CO and Sgt Haas' squad move up to bunker #2 (holding the enemy field gun), with Cpl Nader's squad following them (bottom right in bunker #1).  The enemy MG bunker is off camera at top right, and so we're very lucky to get the 'scurry' as this allows us to move without drawing reaction fire.  However, one of the enemy rifle squads from the north comes down (across street from CO).

In the north, Sgt Aust's squad (top right, opposite two enemy squads) and Cpl Osswald's MG (bottom center) move up to keep the pressure on.

And the Poles in the north (top right) continue to fall back, trading space for time.

Then the Poles roll a firefight and a random event.

Which causes their field gun crew to run (far right).

In the north, all three enemy squad fire on Sgt Aust's squad, first pining it, then putting it out of the fight...

The enemy mortar again pounds the German central position, causing casualties for the field gun crew and forcing the mortar back (far left with red bead).  The enemy MG (off camera to right) fired at Cpl Nader's squad (far right, at bunker #1 with red bead), forcing them back, and the Polish rifle in the road (top right) fired at Sgt Haas' squad, to no effect!  Haas' men returned fire, but they didn't hit anything either...

Cpl Osswald finally got his MG34 into position in the north (off camera at bottom left), and opened up on the enemy platoon there, pinning one and forcing one to fall back.

Lt Freitag and Sgt Haas then face about and charge the Polish rifle squad at bunker #2 (I apologize, the field gun in bunker #2 should have a puff of white smoke on it to denote the crew left).  Once again the CO and squad subdue the enemy in close combat.

They move into bunker #2 and capture the field gun and mortar crews with their follow-on action.

With the Germans now in bunker #2 (top left), the enemy MG in bunker #3 has to re-position itself to get a proper field of fire.  At this point, the machine gun team leader realizes 1) there's only his team and two rifle squads left (in the north, one of them failed to rally and ran away), and 2) he's the senior man.  With that in mind, he fired off the signal flare ordering all remaining forces to fall back.

Colonel Klink, from his observation post, let a broad smile cross his extraordinarily handsome face.  "You see Schultz, we are on our way!  Have our reconnaissance elements lead the way east!"  "Jawholl, mein Colonel.  What about the..."  "What, Schultz?  Come on man, what is it?"  "The, uh, the 'stragglers,' Sir?"  "What?  Stragglers?  Ah, yes Schultz, I catch your meaning.  Who was the first to desert the field?"  "2nd Lieutenant, mein Colonel."  "Damn, an officer?  What are they teaching these youngsters these days?  Very well, have him shot."

-2nd Lt Nessler, commander of 1st Platoon, executed for cowardice.
-Sgt Landauer (1st Sqd/1st Plt), Cpl Hackl (4th Sqd/1st Plt), and Cpl Steinkamp (MG, Wpns Plt) reprimanded and reduced in rank for cowardice.
-Cpl Obst wounded in action, received Wound Badge, will return after Polish campaign.
-Officer Cadet Hinkle transferred from KG HQ to assume command of 1st Grenadier Platoon.
-1st Lt Freitag and Sgt Haas recommended for Iron Cross 2nd Class for leading their men through heavy enemy artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire into close combat to destroy the enemy's central, fortified positions, which opened the way for the armored thrust on 1 Sept 1939.
-Lost ~20 KIA/WIA.  3rd Squad, 2nd Gren Plt eliminated until replacements received.
-Caused ~30 KIA/WIA, captured ~20 EPW, 1 field gun and 1 medium mortar.

Well, it was a hell of a fight and was iffy right up to the end.  I've played a boatload of games already, just need to take an 'operational pause' to get them written up.  But I'd rather keep playing.  Next fight is the early recon efforts on the north side of Mokra; spoiler alert: the KG did better than its real-life counterparts, but the fights following it get pretty damned ugly...  Stay tuned, more to come.