This report is from the game played on October 15th 2016 at the first ever TFL Llardiff Games Day that took place at Firestorm Games in Cardiff.
The idea of this games day was that gamers not necessarily familiar with TFL products could come and have a go at a variety of different games, getting a taste of Lard and then hopefully coming back for more.
I was tasked with showcasing I Ain't Been Shot, Mum!, and told that I should prepare for a series of different players dipping in and out throughout the day, with my efforts focused on setting up and umpiring one game in the morning and one game in the afternoon.
Hmmm, I thought, multiple players dipping in and out: my favourite - not! No matter: Lard calls and I answer...so I decided to bring to Cardiff one of the larger (if not the largest) games from my Bashnya or Bust! scenario pack: scenario #4C, Holm. This is a late war game where a battalion of Soviet infantry (and remember IABSM is a company-sized game!) supported by just a few tanks tries to overrun a German force defending a small village on the Kaunas front. You can see the set up in the rather blurry picture, top right. The Germans would start the game dug in under hidden Blinds anywhere from and to the left of the church; the Soviets would enter the table from the right.
This would be an ideal scenario for Llardiff, as I could play the Germans with a variety of players taking control of one or more of the huge mass of Soviet units attempting to roll over them. Players could therefore drop in and out with no problems.
As it happens, for the morning session, I only had two players: Andy, who had come down from Glasgow specifically to play IABSM (above and beyond, eh?); and, I think, Nick, who wanted to gain more experience in the game at the hands of the master (i.e. me, apparently).
The battle opened with the Soviets ignoring the central road and advancing strongly up either flank of the table.
On the Soviet right, the Battalion commander led a company of infantry supported by a platoon of mortars and a platoon of three IS-2 heavy tanks towards the church (the tanks are still on a Blind in the picture below).
Spotting quickly revealed a German entrenchment around the small village church, and another around a couple of huts slightly further up the road.
One Soviet platoon of infantry moved forward quickly, hoping to get the drop on the Germans, but were largely annihilated as their advance slowed down in amongst the heavy crops just in front of the church. At least, with their tactics of spotting by dead body, the Russians established that each of the church and the hut entrenchments only held a small infantry platoon supported by an MMG.
Having learnt the dangers of advancing against an unprepared target, the Soviets now used their mortars and their tanks to pound the churchyard, priming the Germans there for a second quick charge into melee. This second attack was a success, and the German platoon was effectively wiped out.
Meanwhile on the left...
Meanwhile, on the Soviet left, a second company of infantry had headed forward towards a large German gunpit holding a PaK40 anti-tank gun. The Russian aim was to knock it out so that their heavy tanks could advance properly down the middle of the table rather than skulking around near the church.
The first platoon headed up the table under a Blind and, unbelievably, got level with the gunpit despite multiple spotting attempts by the Germans. However, not wanting to risk whatever it was under the Blind, the Germans withdrew their gun, replacing it with a squad of infantry 'borrowed' from the entrenchments around the hut.
The Germans also now revealed their secret weapons: a couple of StuGs and a couple of Hetzers, lurking amongst the huts. These started, respectively, bombarding the advancing Soviet infantry and exchanging fire with the three IS-IIs.
The Russian infantry platoon charged across from their flank and quickly disposed of the the German squad manning the abandoned gun pit. Worse for the Germans, one of the IS-IIs managed to get a shot at the SdKfz 11 half-track towing the gun away, blowing it and the gun, and its crew, to kingdom's come!
The Soviets now advanced strongly across the board. Things were not looking very good for the Germans, but they weren't finished yet. Some neat anti-tank shooting took care of two of the IS-IIs in the same turn, and suddenly it looked as if the tables could turn.
But it was not to be. Although the German StuGs and Hetzers would be a pain for the Soviets, the Germans had now completely run out of infantry! They had started the game with only two, two-squad platoons, and now had precisely one five-man MMG team left, and that was pinned down! As the objective of the game was to hold the road junction in the village, I ruled (against myself!) that you needed infantry to hold something, not just AFVs, and that therefore the German could no longer win and, eventually therefore, the Russians would take out the Germans tanks and stroll one of their remaining infantry squads into a winning position.
The Soviets therefore won the day in what was one of the biggest games of IABSM I've ever played with only three people. What's more, we finished the game in almost exactly three hours: Speedy Gonzales or what!
A great game that did exactly what is was supposed to do: showcase I Ain't Been Shot, Mum! to a non-Lardy audience.