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The third game of the Vyazma or Bust WWII eastern front IABSM campaign was played today in our club. After two consecutive victories, a reversal of fortune for the Soviets who lost in their attempt to control the road towards Pochinok, the gate to regain control of Smolensk. Should the Soviets have won this game, the campaign would have concluded today... the battle continues!

Forces, Objectives and Initial Deployment 

Following the initial success at Izdeshkovo and Belyj, the Red Army launched a strong offensive to try recapturing the city of Smolensk. The German troops are forced to go into the defensive, building a series of reinforced strongpoints around key locations, gathering any available forces in each place.

The scenario recreates the attack of a powerful Soviet combat group to one of these strongpoints, located in the road near Pochinok. The Soviet commander has amassed three infantry platoons, an assault SMG platoon, a weapons support platoon with three HMGS and three light mortars, reinforced with two AFV platoons (a 4 x T-34 platoon and a 4 x T-26 respectively).

The Soviet units enter the table under Blinds though the east side of the map and the objective is to take the two hamlets in German hands (minor victory) while avoiding losing any of the precious T-34 tanks (major victory).

On the other side, the Germans start the game dug-in along the main road running north-south, including the houses of the two villages in the map. They also deploy in blinds. The German forces comprised two infantry platoons, one support weapons platoon (3 x MMG), an engineer platoon and two AT guns, in addition to some surviving AFVs of the 5th Pz Division (2 x Panzerjaeger guns and 2 x Stug III).

They win if at the end of the game both hamlets remain under German control (minor victory) and no Soviet units are on or west of the road (major victory).

The initial deployment is shown in the following map:

The Germans decided to split the forces in three groups, entrenched around the hamlets along the road. From south to north, the AFVs, and infantry platoon and the remaining units (infantry platoons, support weapons and AT guns) around the hamlet in the north.

The Soviets decided to concentrate their attack in the north-east corner of the table. They could put four Blinds each time the Soviet Blinds card came out of the deck. The initial forces entering the table included two infantry platoons, a recon platoon and the T-34 platoon.

Game table from the north side

Soviet activity detected! 

Battle development 

The Soviet units were spotted in the first few turns as they were moving in the open in full sight of the entrenched German units. The Soviet commander deployed the T -34 tanks and most of the infantry in depth formation and towards the hamlet on the north...

The feared T-34s attack 

The feared T-34s attack 

...but soon the attack bogged despite the superiority in numbers, as casualties and shocks accumulated in the Soviet units, caught with in the open with no cover...

Hesitant Soviets under a rain of lead and fire 

Hesitant Soviets under a rain of lead and fire 

...by the fire of the German MMGs, infantry...

...and soon the AT guns.

In the central part of the table, an attempt by the Soviet T-26 platoon to make a flanking move was parried by the the Panzerjaeger and the Stug III units moving along the road from their initial positions in the hamlet at the south edge of the table...

... forcing the small Soviet tanks unit to retire due to accumulation of shocks.

Situation at the end of the battle:

 

Failing to make any significant harm to the the well entrenched German units and with both attack pincers stalling, the Soviet commander ordered to disengage and to return to their own lines. The victory was for the German players.

After action comments This is the third game with IABSM. Despite fewer players today (two German and one Soviet) and a larger number of troops on both sides, the game was played at a very fast pace and concluded in just three hours.

The players now seems to have a good mastery of the rules and in most cases could resolve attacks, spotting attempts and other situations without the umpire support. In general, very few time was lost looking at the book or arguing about the rules, which really helped to provide a faster momentum to the game.

Some complaints came from the Soviet about the scenario, specially because he had to move in the open most of the time, being quickly spotted and fired. It was difficult for him to spot the Germns in their positions without being forced to move too close to them for his comfort.

However the rules were not a matter of argument and now I can confidently say that IABSM is officially adopted in our gaming group as the preferred WWII set.

Benito