Here are the photos and AAR of the Soviet victory (led by my good self) at the Stalingrad Day run by Too Fat Lardies.
Firstly, a look at the map of the table:
Next a look at the different sectors of the table:
The Southern Sector:
The Lard Elevator:
The Central Sector:
The Lard Factory
The Northern Sector:
The Krasny Gusseta Factory:
The Kebab Shop - Soviet HQ, Red Square:
The Soviet Bank of the Volga:
And now some of the players:
And now some of the action:
Kev: As overall C-in-C of the Soviets I did as Egg did with the Germans, standing back to co-ordinate the bigger picture. I was Central sector commander as well so can only really comment in depth about actions on this sector.
I allowed Rob (south) and Mike (north) a free reign in their areas. It was my role as C-in-C to come up with an overall strategy and decide in which sectors resources would be located. In the Centre and North the Germans really hit us with some force causing significant casualties.
Once again detailed planning paid off as we all knew our roles and responsibilities plus we had co- ordinated our minefields and artillery support which proved telling.
The terrain and the rules system were the real winners overall! In essence, in the North and South it was the stubborn defence by the militia units which won the day.
In the centre it was the inactivity of the Germans in response to being presented with an empty battlefield (we kept stuff well back) artillery and Katyusha strikes (why we kept well back), with well placed minefields (which the Germans went through twice!)
When they did get going we had two full Companies in reserve and a Company of T34s on the way plus seven AT guns.
My plan was to stop their movement early on allowing the centre to be held by token units. We were very worried about German Panzer flank attacks and so kept our armour in reserve massed on the flanks with our Elite units; Naval Infantry and Engineers.
In the end we didn't use either Naval troops or engineers and only committed two Platoons of T34's, the battle largely won by Militia and a few regular Ivans.
Jerry AKA von Eggkopf German C-in-C writes: Despite valliant efforts by the gallant Wehrmacht forces, we ran out of time in the end before we could destroy the soviet menace. Our plan was to pin the Russians on the Southern and Central tables and put most of our strength on the northern table and with a left hook rolling up the Soviets up from one flank. However the built up terrain proved to be a real nightmare to move through."
Kev: Very interesting Egg. We were thinking that you may ignore the centre initially and attack with Armour across the more open terrain in front of the Lard Elevator. The Panzers were expected to bypass the elevator and roll up the southern flank. Hence our armoured reserves on the flanks.
Egg: We were very cautious at the start of the game, due to a large extent to the C in C worrying that whilst our briefing said we were attacking, knowing Richard (and looking at the Soviet commanders) I had a strong suspicion that early in the game we might find ourselves fending off a large Russian attack."
Kev: Normally I would consider this, but I decided to play it cool and allow limited counter attacks reinforcing our successes.
Egg: As it happened there were very few Russians at the start, but we had enough trouble just trying to deploy our troops on the narrow frontage on each table."
Kev: Yes we planned to get your guys to use a lot of dice spotting empty buildings and slowing you down. The empty battlefield syndrome.
Egg: The Axis blinds cards seemed to be very shy and didn't come up on all the tables - even on the northern one ,where it was discovered midway through the morning that there were two of them in the pack!"
Nick Skinner (Northern Sector Umpire): Were there? I never noticed - and I was umpiring that table. It wouldn't surprise me though. Mind you, there may as well been 400. They still didn't come out! Well done to all, and particular handshakes to Jez and Mike, who played the Red Hordes with such characteristic aggression on my table, and to Martyn, Martin and the virginal Trevor from Sherwood who drove their zugs forward with true Prussian severity. I don't think many trains will be leaving Stalingrad Central this week...ever seen the effect of a 150mm round on a wooden box car?
Egg It is the only game I have ever played where, having been informed by Richard that we had a company of infantry available as reinforcements, all three tables turned them down as they couldn't put them anywhere!
Kev: Same with us. We had two Companies arrive as reinforcements and I couldn't see where we needed them. In the end I reinforced Rob and the centre.
Egg: Most of our existing forces were still on Blinds, and the Russian Katyusha strike on the middle table was fresh in our memories!
Kev: In the centre, well over half our stuff was still undiscovered. One unit of Soviet Naval troops under my direct command journeyed to the south then to the northern sector before finally ending up in the Lard Factory. When the game ended we were going to send them in on the next move.
Egg: As German CinC, I spent the day flitting from table to table encouraging, cajoling, and offering support (and occasionally reinforcements) to the various commanders.
Kev: Ditto. I shot down a Stuka, fired two Zis 3 guns and a 37mm AA gun at infantry troops in a ground role. Oh, yes...and I used two 82mm mortars which fell short and hit the Lard Factory, and that was it.
Egg: Mother and Sid on the southern table did a valiant job of keeping the Russians pinned down using only minimal forces- they had one company of infantry and two Stugs - at one point getting right across the killing field of the burnt out workers housing, to gleeful calls of "Pickled Gherkin", and up to the very doors of the Lard elevator itself. Before a slightly over optimistic charge into a defended building across open ground brought them to a halt.
Mother Tucker: As one of the 'not defeated, just slightly delayed in our timetable of defeating the Soviet swine' German players, I can give testament to the efforts to breach the Soviet defences. Narrow tables and dreadful terrain were the major causes of our problems early on. We would have been through those pesky militia had we been able to physically reach them. However, we must acknowledge our stalwart opponents for the defence they put up. Mind you, it was great to dish it back out to them when they thought about having a go back. See you in Moscow.
Noddy: The battle on the southern table was a nasty brutal affair, with a relatively small force (a single German company supported by two Stugs and some strong artillery support) attempting to assault the Lard Elevator, which turned out to be nothing short of a huge pill box with a bird's eye view of the whole table. To make matters worse the approaches to the elevator were relatively open, and gave little cover to the Germans.
The Germans attacked very aggressively, taking heavy casualties as they approached their objective. The assault culminated in a series of vicious close combats in the last row of buildings before the elevator, the Germans fighting their way into the buildings before being hit by a strong Soviet counterattack which threw them back from their hard earned gains.
Up until now the German artillery had been relatively ineffective, a series of barrages on the elevator itself proving completely ineffective, but now as the Soviets emerged from their positions the big 150's started finding their range and dishing back some of the punishment which the Germans had been absorbing for most of the day.
The appearance of two fresh German platoons, coupled by the strong artillery support allowed the battered German forces to consolidate on their original start line, while the Soviets were filtering off much of their reserve forces to reinforce other sectors.
Overall a highly enjoyable and keenly contested game. I was certainly surprised at the sheer aggression showed by the German players when faced by such an imposing defensive position, this was only matched by the characteristically stoical defence as played by the Soviet team.
Sid: Mother and I made the decision to come off the Blinds from the start. We had considered that we could potentially move quickly to secure a localised area (in front of the Lard Elevator) and get our artillery deployed and in action to support the advance as quickly as possible using the turn of the individual units' cards. We were not certain we could do so at all in the event we stayed on the Blinds, as Soviet reinforcements would, we assumed, be arriving any minute in response to our advance. With numerous Big Men (at least at the start) we were reasonably comfortable with being able to drive forward at least with a majority of our force as their cards were turned individually."
Kev: Sensible logic. With so many Big Men, as you say, it is important that you play to your strengths in IABSM. Very sound.
Sid: We reasoned that it was better to arrive as quickly as possible with anything, than to not arrive at all and be pinned back for the bulk of the game on our baseline."
Kev: Which incidentally happened on the central sector allowing our artillery and Katyusha's to hit them.
Sid: We knew that we were unlikely to be reinforced and as the holding table we further considered that whatever ground we took at the opening of the game could be ceded during the remainder of the game without impacting on the other tables.
Kev: Again sound reasoning, Sid.
Sid: Given that we had identified the immediate advance over hostile ground as a priority, we had to decide whether staying on Blinds was more likely to achieve this. A marginal decision, we thought. To tip the balance, we were mindful of having our own Blinds spotted in any event from the top of the Elevator by the Soviets, so we felt we would loose little by coming off the Blinds from the start and employing our direct fire weapons.
Kev: Once again very true. I think I would've done the same. You certainly had Rob worried with all the artillery, pity it proved a bit inconsistent in its results. The Elevator was such a commanding feature that they could see the whole table from it.
Sid: As a deployed covering force, we also thought that revealing our hand early but driving forward with aggression against what we expected may be initially light Soviet forces might focus Soviet attention on the south table and away from the North and Central tables. We were intended to be an element of the matador's cloak, and to be effective in that role one has to show a certain amount of steel underneath.
Kev: Well you certainly showed steel, Sid, definitely the most aggressive of the sectors. Unfortunately for you the Lard Elevator was held by quite a few troops as we were thinking that the main German thrust would come via the South where armour could've moved better amongst the ashes of the workers district. Rob and I were both of the opinion that you'd screen off the elevator and make an armoured thrust at the centre.
Sid: Of course, things did not work out as intended.
Kev: No but you were playing the percentages and undoubtedly did the right thing. The swift advance in the south made me think that Panzers were on the way there, and I daresay Rob thought so too for a while.
Sid: To serve really effectively as the "cloak" we should probably have kept some units on Blinds to deceive the full strength of the south table assault.
Kev: Possibly as we may have thought that the Panzers had arrived.
Sid: With hindsight, the decision was closer to call than we thought, but I'm still of the view that there is an element of a gamble in staying on the Blinds (as with coming off them) and that the Blinds may not be the solution for every circumstance.
Kev: Oh I agree totally, Sidney. It was impressive to see all the German forces deployed on the Southern table, but when we realised there was only two German Commanders facing our three of the McHighland Battalion, and saw there were three on the central and northern sectors we kind of figured you were a feint, albeit a strong one.
Kev: It almost worked too. Rob, I think quickly deployed on table in response to your forces adding his card in the pack. I think we all underestimated how strong the elevator was prior to fighting. The Lard Elevator was a real sod. Lord knows what I'd have done to capture it, it was a fortress. The Germans were a great deal weaker in the southern area, not to take anything away from the excellent McHighland Battalion who fought marvellously and went on the attack in the afternoon. The imposing Lard Elevator was a fortress and could've been held with a lot less troops. I felt truly sorry for Sid and Andy who tried their damn-dest to get in.
Rob Avery: You'll forgive me if I point out that they also had more artillery than Napoleon: including two 150mm guns, two 75mm guns, loads of ATG's, HMG's (on 5 dice), two StuGs, and a whole platoon of Big Men!
Nod (Southern Sector Umpire): Not to mention an 88! HMG's were 4 dice by the way - they often attached big men to them to raise them to 5. Not to mention a 20mm flak gun, which was about the only thing which was causing any hits at all on the guys in the elevator.
The Germans threw abysmally early on with their heavy guns - a plethora of 2's and 3's using area fire on the 3rd militia platoon manning the house to the south of the elevator - it was painful to watch.
Rob: Proves my point: there was so much artillery landing on us at the end of the day that I didn't even notice the "88"! And they had so many Big Men I'm surprised the whole HMG crew weren't Big Men!
Kev: We faced an 88mm in the Central sector which started zeroing in on anything visible knocking out two MMG's with ease. I know the guys on the Northern sector also came up against one. The 88mm certainly deserves its fearsome reputation.
Rob: Once I saw what was facing us in the south, if we had started with all our men on the table, I would have been very confident to hold the sector without breaking into a sweat. As it happens, Rich kept all our Red Army and Naval Infantry, and the tanks, back on the banks of the river. Ironically, if you had followed what I thought you were going to do, your panzers would have rolled over a company of poor quality militia, with only one d4 Big Man and no crewed weapons, and been at the Lard Elevator before the bulk of my men had even left the river bank!
As it happens, much to my relief, you didn't...which meant that not only could I get my men into a shooting gallery position on Mother and Sid, but I could also release my seven T-34's and elite naval platoon to Kev in the centre early enough for them to get into action. I do love fighting on two tables at once!
Egg: Mike ,Edward and Biffo on the middle table, had a company an extra platoon, and a platoon of engineers. After a slow start and finding themselves on the receiving end of a Katyusha bombardment which landed right in the stack of Blinds which had just arrived, started to pick up some momentum, and at lunchtime were given the lion's share of the reinforcements- an extra infantry company and the panzer company in an effort to break through. Given a few more turns I feel certain we would have been in Red Square before nightfall.
Kev: I don't know about that my friend, one of the great what ifs of the game. By the afternoon we had a T34 Company in position, two uncommitted companies of regulars, seven AT guns, mortars, snipers and naval infantry all waiting for you.
An armoured thrust early on certainly would have worked. In the centre an armoured thrust early on could have won the day. Once the pressure was lifted from the southern sector, reinforcements from across the Volga and uncommitted armour were rushed to Red Square to defend it. Once they were in the vicinity it was a forgone conclusion, even though German Panzers made an appearance and used smoke to mask their advance.
Egg: I was very impressed with Edward's plan for this table which ran to several pages, and Mikes response of " Bloody hell my plan was just going to be to roll high"
Kev: You've gotta love Mike's attitude. He always has such bum dice. I played the balalaika with little Katyusha...and we certainly made the Germans dance.
Mike: To take a section of eight men plus a Big Man across the mines takes three hits - on average a kill, wound and miss. Well worth the risk considering the reward of holding that vital building that the pioneers had just held against two full sections of Russian infantry.
Okay a roll of 6,6,5 and a Big Man loss (roll of 2) was a bummer, but that's life...and war. Would I do it again at those odds to secure such an important piece of real estate? YES! Would I do it again knowing that the next card turned would be German Blinds with the Pioneers who just sneezed to clear the mines? NO! But that's the beauty of the game - with time running out you have to balance risk and reward and make difficult decisions.
Edward: A very fun day if somewhat frustrating to try to work forward through a mass of buildings. Now I've seen a Katyusha strike I don't want to see another one (well, not land on my troops anyway). Apart from my fellow commanders' use of troops - and indeed a Big Man - to try to clear minefields :-) it showed the difficulties of operating in that sort of terrain.
I think the German Blinds card came up 4 times - maybe 5 - all day. This particularly affected the reinforcements, not that there was a great deal of room to deploy them on a 30" frontage. But the Russians played a good defence, well though out in holding their (apparently) rifle company back - we didn't see a Russian for ages though we were under fire.
Kev: Okay, this was very, very unlucky but once several Soviet units were spotted and their cards placed in the pack the probability of the Blinds coming up was significantly reduced. This is a bugger if you're waiting for one card to turn up in a pack fifty or so cards big. I must admit it is something I always consider and one of the reasons I revealed my AA gun, Zis 3 artillery, mortars, sniper card and encouraged Clive and Kelvin to reveal their forces adding further cards to the pack. TOP TIP: 'Blinds Move' is vital in the early stages when the pack is small but once there are lots of cards in the pack its best to use the Skelton Gambit and reveal forces voluntarily. The chances of mobilising and motivating them are much greater. That's why early on its best to be bold and move rapidly on Blinds. If you stop to spot you will slow down. If you noticed we did no spotting early on in the Central sector to allow the Germans to move into our artillery and Katyusha pre-registered fire zones. This almost didn't happen though as they used dice to spot empty buildings.
Egg: The highlights of the day here were, for me: Mike's charging his engineer section and a Big Man through a minefield, then reinforcing them by charging two more sections through the same minefield, and then asking if he'd cleared it yet. The Russian platooon which assaulted the building with five figures and a Big Man in it, getting 16 dice, and then found that the 5 figures were engineers, with a flamethrower and got twenty-one dice to defend with.
Kev: We were aware that they were engineers, but Kelvin had sat on his arse at my suggestion for three hours. I felt we needed to attack you. In the event only two sections assaulted as the third section were out of range. We planned to climb the fence to assault but were told we couldn't by Rich.
Kelvin: I think I should be renamed Kautious Kelvin! The only time I had a go at door knocking, I was greeted with flamethrowers. Should of pinned them: it's a slow learning curve!
Kev: Not your fault Kelvin, mine. Actually the German Engineers should've been classed as Pinned anyhow: we had hit them that turn with my Zis 3's and your 76mm infantry Gun. I realised, but when we only suffered two casualties after a failed assault I figured we had got away lightly and by that stage it wouldn't have helped for me to quibble as the incident had passed. It could've gone either way particularly if the third section had been added.
Egg: The anti tank gun which set up outside the window of same building, still with a flame thrower inside!
Kev: It held you up whilst you killed it though. At one stage it took three hits and rolled three ones to save!
Clive Duckering: Unfortunately the gun was already set up behind the building before the flamethrower got there. They were not expecting anyone to run over the minefields with such gay abandon. Their choice was to face up to the flamethrower or try to explain to a fat NKVD bloke why they had run away from the enemy leaving their very expensive gun behind. They chose the lesser evil of the flamethrower. The idiot who put the gun there? Me!
Egg: Biffo deserves a special mention for his attack on the Lard Factory, during which one brave section rushed into the next hall to kill the one surviving Soviet who had retreated there. Having bludgeoned him to death, they then looked up, realized there was an entire fresh Soviet platoon standing round the walls watching them, and were then wiped out to a man!
Kev: This tactic was a direct result of a training game we held at Wally HQ where the same thing happened by accident to Max. We realised we'd stumbled over a golden tactic.
Egg: On the Northern table Martin, Martyn and Trevor, had two infantry companies and a platoon of Stug 33B assault guns. The going here proved to be much harder than we had anticipated, the railway yards in particular which look quite open on the map being a nightmare to get through. Again we had problems just moving our units up the table most of the morning, even without Soviet interference. Minefields were an unpleasant surprise here too. However our forces fought their way through here, drove off a Russian tank counter attack, and at the end of the day were poised to assault the Krasny Gussetta factory. They had also managed to attract nearly all the enemy reserves in their direction, a lot of which had been strafed by the Luftwaffe on the way.
Nick: After the initial shock of losing the main railway building the Russians played an aggressive defence on the Northern table, which in some ways was initiated by the forced volley fire that accompanied the turn of the 'poor fire discipline' card.
Crucially, and aided by some fortunate dice (for once) the workers militia bounced a German platoon assault that drove into the railway yards itself, and for a few moments a lead German platoon came under fire from troops firing out of the upper storeys of the knicker factory.
This fire was suppressed by the 150mm support guns - one of which was damaged by infantry anti-tank (I think - Rich was running the game at this time) and subsequently pulled off.
Russian armour, which had arrived by mid afternoon wasn't as effective as it might have been. For a start, two of the tanks broke down whilst the cluttered railway yard presented few opportunities for fire.
On the whole the Germans attempted to co-ordinate their advance with suppressing fire from MG's, but it was very crowded. I suspect that the Germans would have liked to have advanced faster, but to do so they would have needed to get their armour and support weapons into action earlier. Not easy considering how crowded it was. On more than one occasion they complained of roadblocks as their armour clogged the streets.
Martyn Simpson: Martin put forward the idea that we have an overall table commander and that while two of us took the infantry companies the other player would manage the supports...this was a good idea...unfortunately on the day we decided to do it by committee divide the forces up evenly :( Sorry Martin I'll listen next time.
As a result having many different sorts of assets we didn't manage them that effectively...the terrain of course didn't help. I remember at one point in the afternoon I was completely exhausted and lost for ideas on how we were going do this especially with the six T34s in front of us.
I thought there would be more Russian HMGs set up on fire lanes down the street so a wasted a lot of fire blasting some obvious areas. And after criticising Martin for being too cautious and taking on Richard's point that we're not Americans in our use of reconnaissance by fire... I think I was perhaps was the most cautious player on the table....the fact that all our big men survived says it all!!!
Gosh it was hard work on the Northern table...what a grind to reach the Station. I think we were just about to break the back of the Russian infantry on the table. I for one had run out of ideas on how to tackle the six T34s, the tactic of ignoring and letting them machine gun us was not working, but how we were going to man handle an 88 through the railway yard wreckage I do not know.
Trevor Brown: Regarding the Northern table, our biggest shock was the amount of terrain we were going to have to fight through. The northern table was probably closer to a house-to-house clearance operation than any other table. Okay, we had a fair bit of cover, unlike the Southern sector, but this worked to our detriment when trying to deploy our support platoons, we were unable, for example, to find any space for our 88s (fortunately the Russian T34s seemed to be continually breaking down) or the 150mm artillery with useful lines of sight. Another turn or two and Krasny Gussetta Underwear Factory would have been ours.
Michael Fagan: Beg to disagree with your assessment of the northern table: Krasny Gussetta was still occupied by Regular troops and engineers. It had taken you all day to fight up the table faced only by a company of Railway workers' militia who had a maximum of two initiative dice, even with two Axis Blinds cards in the deck for half the game. Just wait until it starts snowing.
Kev: The terrain in the north was indeed vicious. We had more tanks and Engineers in reserve here with flamethrowers and lots of field guns. It would've been very close.
Egg: Therefore at lunch time it was agreed that though we were making good headway here, it would take too long for us to reach Red Square from the north and to reinforce the centre"
Kev: At lunchtime everyone except me on the Soviet side was very confident that we'd done the job. I was very concerned about Panzers though, and rightly so. I decided at lunch to move our armour reserves to the centre and that volga reinforcements would be channelled here.
Rich Clarke, Game Organiser: The Soviets won a significant victory, although they did lose enough ground for Kev to be shot by the NKVD.
Kev: (Sob) murdered in the hour of victory! Dom tried to persuade me to run to the corner shop to buy a water pistol to do the deed with, cruel chap that he is. It was a gritty, nasty, frustrating series of little fights, with the Soviets heroically hanging on, whilst the Germans inched forward with their heavy support guns bashing holes in the terrain.
The Lard Elevator was the sector with the greatest Soviet successes, as Comrade Avery and the McHighland Brigade mowed down all-comers with aplomb. Krasny Gussetta ended up in the front line as the Germans, Martin, Martyn and Trevor produced the most successful German performance of the day, taking the main station "a la bayonnet". That said, the Soviet Railwaymen's Milita produced one of the most heroic performances of the day in this area, fighting tooth and nail whilst giving no ground.
In the centre the Germans edged their way forward, minefields not withstanding, until their Sturmpioneers got stuck in. By the end of the day they controlled the western third of the Lard Factory and the Engineering Shop, but their tanks had come too late to cut the swathe through the Soviet defenders that they should have done. Oh the joys of wargaming: the "what ifs" of the aftermath. The Soviet militia proved valiant in the extreme, that's for sure.
Hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves, once again it was a tremendously friendly atmosphere, notable for its laughter rather than argument and 'rules debate'.
Many thanks to all who came, and those who assisted in providing figures, terrain and the likes. Visually it was very impressive thanks to you chaps. If nowt else, it was a laugh. The like-minded bit is probably where we score high.