Game report: 15 August 2008

August 16, 2008

This is a report of a game of Panzerfaust: Iron Fist played between myself and Peter on Friday night.

The game type was decided before we met, as Attack/Defence, with Peter’s Russians as the Attackers. Point values for this scenario weren’t strictly followed – my Germans were worth about 2000 PV and Peter had approximately 3000 PV. Although we had decided to base the game in 1943, this was revised to 1942.

Upon meeting, the “map”/game board was laid out. A medium-sized village at a T-intersection inside the Soviet border was going to re-taken by the Reds, reaching the town centre being their only objective (not having to hold it). There were some good stands of trees surrounding the village, but also some open areas too – making both attack and defence a challenge. The main road ran North-South, with the intersecting road going East. It was determined by dice-roll that there was a Light, Southerly breeze.

Three companies of Soviet troops were to face one supported German company whom were already dug in. This supported company were trialling a new addendum, that all German forces post-1941 could receive regiment support units even if they were an ad-hoc battlegroup (the regiment support units were my recently-completed PaK 38s).

Once secret maps were drawn and troop movements decided by the players, the game began.

Turn One T-34s came on directly opposite my PaK 38s, who were concealed in the big Oak trees to the northwest of the village. A mixed force of T-26s and BT-7s came on next to the East road. The Panzer III J (early) platoon hidden in the orchard behind the village immediately moved out to try to intercept the T-26’s.

The PaK 38s took aim at what was hoped to be platoon or company command tanks and fired. A spigot grenade destroyed one T-34 and an APCR shell immobilised another.

German Platoon 1’s mortars dropped smoke in front of the T-26s. This action ended up disadvantaging both sides…

The T-34s avenged their fallen comrade by opening up with all their machineguns, killing one PaK crew. Morale was tested for the other PaK crews – they held firm, determined to make the most of their advantageous position.

Soviet 152mm artillery began to fall onto the village, its centre of effect being close to a platoon of Infantry and the Company HQ. The Beaten Zone Radius (BZR) of this artillery was quite large, and meant that while that platoon remained dug in, they were always going to be affected by it – but if they moved out of it, they were likely to be killed by it!

Turn Two This turn, the PaK 3’s missed their targets and one was in turn destroyed by concentrated machinegun fire from four T-34s. The German mortars now began dropping shells onto the T-34s, whom happened to have “tank desant” – tank-riding infantry – onboard. A number of them were killed by shrapnel.

The T-26s and BT-7s had scooted out of the sight of the Panzers, whom were now left looking at a big smoke cloud dropped by their own troops. They split up and continued to move, hoping to stop the Reds reaching the town centre.

The heavy Soviet artillery now destroyed the small shed were the German Company HQ was commanding defence of the village. This meant an immediate Morale Test for the whole company. It passed, but now the defenders were going to be at a permanent disadvantage. The Panzers became the new company HQ.

Turn Three The remaining PaK 38 stunned a T-34 crew but then died at their gun as the remaining T-34s recommenced their advance.

Both German and Soviet infantry exchanged heavy fire.

Each side inflicted losses, but the infantry platoon, suffering a Shaken morale due to a poor Morale check, saw some troops begin to flee.

Turn Four This was a defining turn for the Germans. The infantry platoon fighting the advancing Red Infantry lost their Platoon HQ to T-26 machineguns. The T-26s had been cautiously advancing along the East Road and had now reached the outlying buildings. Their proximity to the German infantry caused those Germans near to the T-26s to surrender whilst others fled.

On the other side of the village, tank crews had sighted each other and an armoured battle had commenced. Four BT-7s destroyed a Panzer III whilst another Panzer was immobilised by the continued 152mm artillery barrage.

Turn Five More Germans surrendered to the T-26s and the T-34s whom were sweeping in quickly, trying to reach the village centre. One was a bit too quick, getting caught in his own side’s barrage (but unluckily for the Germans, not suffering enough penalties from it).

The two still-functional Panzers over on the southeast earned some credibility by knocking out a BT-7.

Turn Six Two more BT-7s were knocked out and there was a momentary glimmer of hope for the Germans – both were HQ vehicles. Soviet morale held and the BT-7s continued to move slowly advance, firing as they came.

The T-26s, close to their objective, knocked out the active Panzer III they found in their path.

From behind the buildings, the T-34s raced forward and took the objective. The remaining Germans, including a complete second infantry platoon whose only action had been to fire a few anti-tank grenades at the T-26s, surrendered. The game was over.

* * *

The German side expected to lose, but as the game unfolded, thought all was effectively lost by the start of Turn Three. As other games played have usually gone for ten to twelve rounds, this was shorter in rounds but the same three-hour duration due to intensity of fighting…other games have involved a lot of troop movement by both sides, where turns can be quickly resolved.

Lessons learned from this game?

  • Keep my mortars at the back or rear.
  • Keep my tanks in the middle or front – at the rear they are too late in arriving to do anything, especially since the Russian player will usually always have twice the number of tanks I do.
  • Don’t bunch my guys up too much – that heavy artillery has a big BZR.
  • Spigot grenades are a risky proposition – they fire after the T-34s, due to reloading slowness. On the other hand, APCR is awesome!
  • All tanks suffer Morale penalties when they enter built-up areas. Try not to do this unless it’s an objective. To steal an observation from “Kelly’s heroes”, “The Tiger is an open-country tank…”
  • In Peter’s own words – “In an attack/defence game, if you are defending you must think ‘ambush with everything’!” My tanks were not going to ambush anything. In fact, they were hiding. They should have been in the trees on the right flank.
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