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September 1941

In anticipation of the new Russian game pack I thought I would go back to my old favourite Vyazma campaign booklet for my next report. I have done this campaign three times before and all have followed a similar run through, so lets hope this one is different and I get to see more of the booklet.

One note is that I play this game solo, but I try not to cheat and hopefully whilst one can't recreate the full tension I still think IABSM plays as well solo. Anyway here goes.

The Germans have to attack through woods and over hill. They have two full Platoons to do this with MMG and mortar support, and even some Panzer IIIs. The Russians are a large Platoon but they too have a lot of support mainly Tanks and Anti Tank guns. Worryingly for the Germans the Russian guns are all better than the Germans tanks opposing them.

Here is the field of battle looking over the Russian held village to the woods in the distance, this indeed is the area the Germans have to take.

The German plan is to attack on a broad front which will hopefully spread the Russians out and allow a two pronged attack on the village later in the day. The 1st Platoon in their halftracks would go directly towards the village over the hills, with the MGs and mortars in support. At the same time the trunk mounted 2nd Platoon would advance through the far wood and outflank the Russians.

The Russian defenders held the village with two Sections and then had the other two in the woods. The tanks were mainly around the village but the ATGs were in the woods covering the road.

A cautious start with the German blinds trying to find the Russians.

The first action was the German Panzer being picked out by a cunningly sited ATG. The first shots though were luckily ineffective.

The action then moved to the German right as the Panzer Grenadiers managed to get onto the hill overlooking the village. At the same time the MMG supports also arrived, which boded well for the attack. The Russians in the building though took first blood as they destroyed one of the MMGs almost immediately. Both sides settled to shoot it out for several turns now, the Russian relying on cover and the Germans on fire power. The Germans were very bunched though and prime target for the Russian Off Board Artillery if it ever arrived.

On the left the 2nd Platoon finally got into position and started advancing to push any Russians out of the woods. This was not to prove easy as the Russian fought like tigers and held the lacklustre Germans up all day, only succumbing to panic at the very end.

The Germans suddenly realised the Russian artillery was arrived when a spotting round came down luckily over the hill. This seemed to shock the Germans into drastic action. Obergefreiter Truatmann was the first to decide that to take the village needed some close fighting. He charged against the pinned infantry in the building and the unpinned ATG next to them. Unfortunately this was did not turn out to be his best idea as he was narrowly defeat 4 dead to 3 dead in a rather lame affair.

On the next turn though Oberleutnant Voller did exactly the same thing and this time was successful. Again it was a lame affair and after two full rounds the Russians only retreated due to the number of shock they have on them. It didn't matter as the Germans had their first building.

In the centre the much vaunted Panzers were being held up by the single ATG which was taking aim better now, and had taken out two tanks already. ATG guns with separate cards are brilliant and the lack of the German Panzers return card was not helping.

Luckily though a Stuka suddenly appeared and shot the T-26 which had just moved into position to support this ATG, as if it needed it. You can just about see it smoking in the distance.

Back in the town the MMG on the hill were coming into their own, especially with the leadership of Obergefrieter Bratwurst who was managing the guns excellently. One Russian Section was defeated by firepower and replaced by one from the wood, which had successfully beaten back a poor attack by the German HQ section earlier.

In the far woods the Germans were finally getting into action and causing some casualties on the Russians in there. The T-26 had a brief scare as the ATR handler sneaked into an excellent position and then totally fluffed his lines and was then summarily dispatched for his pains. The Germans finally got rid of the ATG holding them up, but for the good it did them this victory was moot.

The game seems to be turning for the Russian as the German command tank was destroyed quickly by a T-26 moving up and trying a snap shot. Luckily for the Germans the end wasn't too far away.

The end came in a bit of a wimper as the German firepower on the hills destroyed the Russians in the village and the Russians in the far woods were about to be chased off as well. This meant that German infantry was in village and the Russians had no infantry. It also meant that despite only having one tank left that the Germans had won a minor victory, but a victory is a victory whatever the colour.

The position at the end can be seen here.

Another great game of IABSM. As I mentioned at the beginning I was hoping for something different but so far the Germans have always managed to win this, and it's always their infantry that do it.

Highlights were the Russian OffBoard Artillery totally blowing their lines and continually placing their spotting round out of sight of most figures on the board. The other was the German use of their MMG to which the Russian really couldn't answer, but of course the OOB was there to remedy this.

Well it's onto Urk to see if the German Juggernaut will continues it march towards Moscow.

Craig Ambler