FOW 1944 Eastern front at home

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. [420]

Motorstrelkovy mortar company (FT): Cmd, Obs team, 6x 8cm mortar teams. [125]

T34/85 company (FT w/hen Chick)): Cmd T34/85, 4x T34/85 tanks. [440]

IS85 Guard company (FT): Cmd IS85, 4x IS85 tanks. [645]

Motorstrelkovy artillery battery (FT): Cmd, Staff, Obs. team, 8x ZIS 76mm cannon deployed on the tabletop. [250]

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. [200]

Sperr platoon (RV): Cmd (pzf), 6x R/MG teams (HMG teams replaced with two additional R/MG teams. [140]

Sperr platoon (RV): Cmd (pzf), 6x R/MG teams as above. [140]

Sperr platoon (RV): Cmd (pzf), 4x R/MG teams only. [110]

Panzerpioneer platoon (CV): Cmd, 6x MG pioneer teams with pioneer truck (carrying minefield). [230]

Speer Assault gun platoon (RV): Cmd StuG G, 2x StuG G tanks, [255]

Speer A/T Platoon (RV): Cmd, 4x Pak40 7.5cm A/T cannon. [185]

Luftwaffe Heavy AA platoon (RT): Cmd. 2x 8.8cm Flak 37 cannon. [185]

Offtable Motorized artillery battery (CV): Cmd, Staff, 2x Obs. teams, 4x LeFH18 10.5cm cannon. Only the two observer teams deploy on the tabletop. [210]

Soviet deployment on left, Germans deployment at right. See text for platoon commentary. Hills are minor, Woods are bog skill check. Low stone wall and crop fields slow going and give concealment for foot/A/T teams only.


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 one: Soviet deployment after 1st turn forward movement and German silence. Mortar company behind the far left hill with single tree. In front the IS 85 Guard company. In center near roadway the ZIS 76mm battery, the Motorstrelkovy SMG company and T34/85 company. Soviet HQ with Motorstrelkovy entering woods.

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.

Advancing quickly, the Soviet infantry is caught by the German artillery and mortar exposed behind the village. Six SMG teams are wiped out.

StuG G platoon draws first blood with one burning T34/85 tank across the valley after loses one of their member from Soviet T34/85 85mm firepower.

Soviet advance viewpoint and of the German defensive positions after completion of Turn Two.

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.

German artillery bombards the village to little effect. IS 85 tanks on low hill while watching their T34/85 cousins dodge the shelling. Sperr platoons in woods at right and top of photo.

StuG G play games with Soviets, by advancing then retiring at the hill crest. Massed Motorstrelkovy infantry in woods /village at left. Panzerpioneers in small center woods entrench.

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.

Soviet artillery pounds remains of the PaK A/T platoon at top. The German shelling lands in village, causing odd team infantry removal. Sperr platoon lurks in upper woods watching IS 85’s.

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.

IS 85 tank company faces the approaching reduced Sperr platoon lurking in the woods. Prepares to assault by firing heavy machine gun fire into the woods.

Village area pounded by more German bombardments. Motorstrelkovy pinned down as T34/85 crew button up their hatches.

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.

Rushing forward, the crazy Motorstrelkovy infantry charge into the center woods. Leaving two dead commade teams on the open ground, the Soviet infantry fire their SMG and remove two Panzerpioneers from play. Germans retire as the Soviets occupy their 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.

Soviet IS 85 assault goes in. The Speer command team prepares to fire their panzerfaust in defensive fire.

One panzerfaust, one burning IS 85 tank. Still the four Soviet friends crush two Sperr teams. After failing their tank terror test, the remaining Sperr teams retreat to corner of woods, well shaken.

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.

Advancing to support the Panzerpioneers, one Sperr platoon breaks cover and rushes towards the center woods. Note the minefield marked by the rectangular flat tiles. Objective upper left.

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.

IS 85 tanks drive forward to crush the remaining “cornered” Sperr teams.

Short fight, Panzerfaust missed and two more Sperr teams are crushed. The rest flee from the woods without fighting back, still remaining in scenario after passing platoon morale test.

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).

Motorstrelkovy infantry charge forward, determined to clear the woods and seize the Soviet objective marker. Pinned German Sperr platoon just off photo at right under bombardment.

Retreating after losing three more teams, the battered Panzerpioneers rally somewhat near a low rise to contest control of the objective.

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.

Sperr platoon rallies from the Soviet bombardment and charges into the Soviet SMG infantry, while the battered Panzerpioneers look on. German artillery and mortars shell the massed Soviet.

German spotting round shows the dead Soviet Motorstrelkovy infantry as Sperr platoon charges into the affair. The Panzerpioneers just look on remaining pinned in place.

One round of fighting and the Sperr platoon breaks from combat, fleeing back into the Soviet artillery bombardment zone. Bodies litter the objective marker and woods.

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.

Plucky Sperr platoon rallys, advance into woods, pass the tank terror test, charge home, just to be gunned down by the coax MG fire.

The dead Sperr platoon leaves no survivors.

German shells continue to land on the Motorstrelkovy infantry, tossing dead bodies about while living teams hide from the shelling. Objective marker still contested by the Panzerpioneers.

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.

Two battered sides can only stare at their opponents as the shelling continues. The Motorstrelkovy company is totally spent and refuses to advance the final short distance to seize the objective.

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.

T34/85 company (at 50% after defeating the last StuG G), drives forward and rakes the German position with MG fire alongside the struggling Motorstrelkovy. One Panzerpioneer team removed.

Grimly the Panzerpioneers hold and fire the panzerschreck and panzerfaust rockets at the advancing T34/85 tanks. One brews up and another disabled (bailed out). Assault by T34/85 repulsed.

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.

As the T34/85 break off contact or left burning, the Motorstrelkovy “platoon” charges. Teams drop from German defensive fire but the assault becomes a bloody melee for both. German retreat!

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”!

Final look. T34/85 pass morale to remain on tabletop. The Motorstrelkovy 4 out of 24 teams remaining. Panzerpioneers reduced to one team with company panzerschreck and observer. At top the rest of the German platoons… one Sperr and 8cm mortars, see IS 85 approaching.


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.



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