Last weekend, WR and his son Daniel faced off across the socially dividing wargame table. The scenario gave WR a break from his month long isolation of miniature painting and organization effort, toss stale dice, and just game out an unrecorded Flames of War 20mm battle set someplace on the Eastern front during Operation Bagration (July 1944). Having decided which Soviet or German force structure to choose from and pointed out the respective forces, Daniel set to work to place terrain on the 6’x4′ tabletop. WR in the meantime located the required 20mm miniatures from the respective Soviet or German storage boxes, organized the platoons or companies, and placed them on a nearby side table before deployment.
The advanaged Soviet Peredovoye Otryad (Forward Detachment) tank company force (from FOW Red Bear p.76) represented a breakthrough column seeking to seek and disrupt the German rear area, control critical avenues of advance, and cause general havoc when possible. The German force was chosen from the Sperrverband infantry company (Security) organization found in Grey Wolf (p.94). Their task was to confront and block further Soviet advance by their Peredovoye Otryad/ Forward Detachment. Scenario to last eight turns, Objective control count to determine scenario winner or draw.
Soviet Peredovoye Otryad/ Forward Detachment (All are Fearless trained unless noted, 1910 pts.):
Force HQ (FT): Battalion Cmd. team, 2iC team, with two personal vehicles. [30 pts.]
Motorstrelkovy company (FT): Cmd, 21x SMG teams of three platoons, and two Markin HMG teams. 
Motorstrelkovy mortar company (FT): Cmd, Obs team, 6x 8cm mortar teams. 
T34/85 company (FT w/hen Chick)): Cmd T34/85, 4x T34/85 tanks. 
IS85 Guard company (FT): Cmd IS85, 4x IS85 tanks. 
Motorstrelkovy artillery battery (FT): Cmd, Staff, Obs. team, 8x ZIS 76mm cannon deployed on the tabletop. 
German Sperrverband company (Reluctant veteran unless noted, 1735 pts.):
Sperrverband Co. HQ (RV): Co. Cmd, 2ic team, two panzerschreck team. [90 pts.]
Sperr pioneer platoon (RV): Cmd (pzf), 6x R/MG pioneer teams. 
Sperr platoon (RV): Cmd (pzf), 6x R/MG teams (HMG teams replaced with two additional R/MG teams. 
Sperr platoon (RV): Cmd (pzf), 6x R/MG teams as above. 
Sperr platoon (RV): Cmd (pzf), 4x R/MG teams only. 
Panzerpioneer platoon (CV): Cmd, 6x MG pioneer teams with pioneer truck (carrying minefield). 
Speer Assault gun platoon (RV): Cmd StuG G, 2x StuG G tanks, 
Speer A/T Platoon (RV): Cmd, 4x Pak40 7.5cm A/T cannon. 
Luftwaffe Heavy AA platoon (RT): Cmd. 2x 8.8cm Flak 37 cannon. 
Offtable Motorized artillery battery (CV): Cmd, Staff, 2x Obs. teams, 4x LeFH18 10.5cm cannon. Only the two observer teams deploy on the tabletop. 
Initial Deployments: First the Soviet (Daniel’s) deployment. Mortar company behind the far left hill with single tree. On left low hill towards the road the IS 85 Guard tank company. In center near roadway the ZIS 76mm battery in rear line, then the Motorstrelkovy SMG company and T34/85 company. Soviet HQ with Motorstrevlkovy teams entering right flank woods.
German WR deployment. On their right flank the Pak40 7.5cm A/T platoon and reduced a Sperr platoon. Behind the center right large woods the Speer 8cm mortar platoon, with their observers deployed forward in woods alongside the artillery observer teams. Two Sperr platoons and company HQ guard one Soviet objective marker buried deep in the right center woods. Near rear edge of right center woods, behind the village, the Luftwaffe 8.8cm Flak battery lines the woods ready to fire, hoping to entrench their crews on turn one of scenario. Across the roadway the minefield deployed on roadway, the nearby Panzerpioneer platoon behind the small center woods, controlling the other Soviet objective marker. At far left, the StuG G platoon lies behind a low hill, ready to advance and engage exposed Soviet tanks. WR thinks he has to block the Soviet advance, bloodied it good, then somehow grab an objective while dodging the Soviet tanks.
Turn One: Soviets rush forward after spotting the deployed Luftwaffe heavy AA 8.8cm battery deployed across the table, behind the small village, and up on the hill lining the woods. Stray 85mm shells explode near the unprotected Luftwaffe battery, but cause little harm, since only the Guard IS 85 tank crews are well trained to engage enemy at distance (the T34/85 crews are trained but suffer the effects of Hen & Chicks rule after any movement). Seeing the Soviet advance, the German blocking Sperrverband force deploys forward to blunt the Soviet advance. Pak40 A/T cannon dragged forward, the Speer platoons advance to control the woods edge. The Luftwaffe AA crews start digging in their cannon (takes two successful skill tests since an “inmobile” cannon rating) and the Panzerpioneer platoon advance into the center small woods. Speer Assault StuG G advanced to hillcrest, fire one volley, then failed to retire behind the crest, to avoid Soviet return fire. One T34/85 crew bailed out by the German 7.5cm shells.
Turn Two: Soviets armor breaks to halt and fires upon the Luftwaffe AA battery. One 8.8cm cannon blown up. Motorstrelkovy company enter the large woods and behind the village. Seeing the Stug G platoon across the valley, three T34/85 open fire and brew up one StuG, Rear line Soviet ZIS 76mm artillery cannot find their shovels to dig in while they bombard the exposed PaK40 platoon, destroying two gun teams. Seeing one 8.8cm cannon wiped out, the remaining Luftwaffe cannon crew is pinned down and failed to complete entrenchment. Having set up their communication equipment, the German artillery and mortar observers call in bombardment on the Soviet infantry behind the village. Shells impact and cause six Soviet SMG team losses. Stug G platoon opens fire and retires this time behind crest. One T34/85 is left in flames.
Turn Three: Soviet artillery continues their bombardment, destroying another PaK cannon, causing a platoon morale test [passed]. The Guard IS85 company advances, firing upon the last remaining Luftwaffe cannon and destroying it, the remaining command team bolts to the rear. Motorstrevlkovy SMG teams seek cover in village and woods. German reply mostly artillery fire on village to little effect. StuG fired and missed the T34/85 targets. Sperr platoons mostly entrench in the woods awaiting developments.
Turn Four: Little action except for German and Soviet artillery bombardments. Both sides assaying the situation on the tabletop. StuG and T34/85 pop off random shots, hitting nothing. Sperr 8cm mortar platoon join the artillery bombardment on village.
Turn Five: See the danger of the lurking Sperr platoon armed with a single panzerfaust, the IS 85 tanks prepare to assault the reduced Sperr platoon in the woods. Daniel held off his tank assault and WR forgot the infantry’s ability to sneak up and assault w/o defensive fire by the tanks. At the village, the German bombardment is causing difficulty for the Soviets. The Motorstrelkovy company is pinned down and T34/85 crews hear shell explosions nearby, getting closer with each salvo.
Turn Six: Order arrives from the Soviet battalion commander. Motorskrelkovy company to assault the Panzerpioneer platoon defending center woods. T34/85 company to give support and engage the StuG platoon playing hide and go seek from their hill. Unpinning and running forward after the German bombardment lifts for the moment, the massed Soviet infantry bear down on the Panzerpioneer platoon and German nearby observer teams. Nearing the German position, the Soviet Motorstrelkovy charge with shouting and firing their SMG teams into the woods. Totally surprised, German Panzerpioneer teams hit the ground as SMG bullets rip overhead, thus giving weak defensive fire but still cause losses. The assault starts and ends quickly after one round of melee. Two dead Panzerpioneer teams and the rest quickly retreat after the Soviet pause to catch their breathe in the German former position.
On the other flank, the IS 85 Guard tanks drive forward into the woods, one tank is hung up by the trees (bogged). Four tanks seek to crush the reduced Sperr platoon. A panzerfaust flys out, one IS 85 starts to burn. Not noticing their burning comrade, the IS 85 tanks crush two Speer teams flat. Failure with tank terror test, the Sperr teams retreat to corner of woods, shaken in morale.
Seeing the Soviet Motorstrelkovy successful assault and fearing the loss of the center woods and objective marker, one Sperr platoon breaks cover and moves forward towards the relief of the pressed Panzerpioneer platoon.
Turn Seven: Two more turns in scenario. Soviets need to press their forces to secure the victory and objective marker control. IS 85 tanks press forward into the new Sperr platoon position. Two IS 85 tanks bog down in woods so the two remaining tanks must win the assault or more burning tanks. After the panzerfaust misses, two more Sperr teams are crushed out of game. Again the Sperr platoon have no confidence to assault the Soviet tanks, but do pass their platoon morale test for losses, and just flee from the woods. Soviet ZIS 76mm artillery rains shells on the Sperr platoon breaking cover to aid their pressed Panzerpioneers. Pinned down for the moment, but no lost teams.
Maximum effort across the front. So the regrouped Motorstrelkovy infantry charge forward again into the disordered Panzerpioneers and observers, braving the weak German defensive fire. Another two teams crumble into the ground but the human wave wipe out three German teams. Again the Panzerpioneer platoon retreats out of the woods but retain a toehold on low rise to contest the objective marker (4″ radius).
German response is swift in coming. The Panzerpioneers are spent force so the arriving fresh Sperr platoon shake off the bombardment effect (pin) and charge into the disordered Motorstrelkovy infantry, while German artillery and 8cm mortar bombardments thin the Soviet infantry mass. Skirting the minefield, the leading Sperr infantry teams promptly remove two SMG teams. Soviet infantry recover quickly their composure, they counterattack, and remove one Sperr team. The “Reluctant” morale rating causes the Sperr platoon to beat a hasty retreat, back into the Soviet ZIS 76mm bombardment zone to add future punishment to their discomforts.
Back at the IS 85 vs. Sperr platoon fight, the plucky Sperr platoon see opportunity to cause major damage to the Soviets. They rally from the last fight, charge back into the woods, prepare to charge the single IS 85 tank defending their “bogged” cousins. Past the tank test test…. they charge home and are wiped out by the turret coax MG.
Turn Eight: Last scheduled turn for scenario. Daniel has to try and control either objective as the Germans have no hope of control one of their objectives deep in the Soviet lines. Otherwise the scenario is a draw result, minor morale victory for the Germans maybe as they have blunted the Soviet advance in this sector. The Soviet objective buried in the large woods is out of reach, but the battered Panzerpioneer platoon maybe can be forced to release their grip on the other Soviet objective. Die roll to unpin the Motorstrelkovy company, what is left of it….. and failure. Even with the Soviet Battalion commander, medals dotting his chest, shouting at the top of his lungs behind them, cannot motivate them. Need a pistol and crazed Kommissar team but the last one is lying face down in the blasted tree stumps. Scenario called….. as a draw.
Scenario over. For fun we played one additional turn to see what happens if the Motorstrelkovy actually had advanced to control the objective control. The T34/85 platoon rushes forward to lead and support the assault followed by the Motorstrelkovy company…. or platoon now in strength. Advancing fire drops one Panzerpioneer team then the T34/85 charge into the German position.
The tanks have failed so the Motorstrelkovy have to do the job. Charging forward they lose more teams, blood on the red Soviet objective marker mixed with German. Two rounds of melee and the Panzerpioneers have had it…. the one team remaining that is. They retreat and surrender the objective for the moment.
German artillery salvos lands among the dazed Soviet infantry. More drop but mindlessly hold their position. The token Motorstrelkovy “company in name only” defend their dearly purchased blood soaked objective for the scenario win. The nearby German Sperr platoon counterattack never materialized to save the Panzerpioneers and maybe regain the scenario draw result. They are last seen hugging the ground as Soviet ZIS 76mm shells bombarded their position. Congrats Daniel for his “pyrrhic victory”!
Cheers from the warren while we hunker down in our houses (or warren). Hope all safe and keeping busy. Another Eastern Front FOW game write up in the works. This time Soviet Partisans with support vs. German Sicherungskompanie (Rear Security) company outpost and their train.