After finding out that Edward Sturges had not played many IABSM games, and was due to take command of a German force at Too Fat Lardies Stalingrad Day, on Jun 19th, I decided to offer the invite of a game.

Rob (Vis Bellica) Avery was also keen to take me up on the offer too, as he is due to be a Soviet commander at the day too.

The offer of a fun practice game was something not to be missed. I decided to umpire and mentor Edward.

I set up a nice 1942 scenario for the Eastern Front and worked out the orbats below.


Edward's German Force

Forward Observer

  • Forward Observer in SdKfz 250/5 (Fast, MG) in contact with four 10.5cm Field Guns off-table.

HQ Platoon

  • Hauptmann Bereich (D4)
  • Rifle squad (8 men) 
  • Four MMG’s (3 men) 
  • Two AT Rifles (2 men) 

Infantry Platoon 1 

  • Leutnant Bockstein (D4) 
  • Feldwebel Pfalz (D6)
  • Three Rifle squads (8 men each) 
  • 50mm Mortar (2 men)

Infantry Platoon 2

  • Unterfeldwebel Kendermann (D6) 
  • Three Rifle squads (8 men each)
  • 50mm Mortar (2 men) 

Infantry Platoon 3 

  • Obegefreiter Ursiger (D6)
  • Three Rifle squads (8 men each) 
  • 50mm Mortar (2 men) 

Infantry Platoon 4 

  • Stabsfeldwebel Wurtzgarten (D6+1) 
  • Gefreiter Kichenstuck (D6)
  • Three Rifle squads (8 men each) 
  • 50mm mortar (2 men) 

Gun 1 

  • Infantry Gun leIG 18 75mm Infantry Guns with Horse drawn limber

Gun 2

  • Infantry Gun leIG 18 75mm Infantry Guns with Horse Drawn limber

Armour 1 

  • Leutnant Bassermann (D4)
  • Three PzKpfw III G
  • PzKpfw IV F2

Armour 2 

  • Feldwebel Ockfener (D4)
  • SdKfz 253 Observation Vehicle
  • Three StuG III D

Air Support 

  • Stuka Schwarm flying overhead. These can make a maximum of D4 attacks per game.

National Characteristics

  • Dynamic Commander 
  • Heroic Leader 
  • Rally 
  • Blitzkreig Bonus 
  • MG Bonus 
  • Mortar Bonus 
  • Out of Ammo 
  • Fuel Shortage 
  • Vehicle Breakdown 
  • Gun Bonus 
  • Rapid Deployment 
  • Artillery Support 
  • Air Support x 3

Rob's Soviet Force

Infantry Platoon 1 

  • Three Rifle Squads (10 men each)

Infantry Platoon 2

  • Three Rifle Squads (10 men each)

Infantry Platoon 3

  • Three SMG Squad (8 men each, all with SMG)

Support  1 

  • Three HMG (3 crew each)

Support 2 

  • PTRD/S ATR (2 crew)

Support 3 

  • PTRD/S ATR (2 crew)

Gun 1 

  • 45mm L46 ATG (5 crew each)

Gun 2 

  • 45mm L46 ATG (5 crew each)

Tank Platoon (activate on individual cards not as a platoon, raw troops)

  • Three T-34/76 obr.41

National Characteristics

  • Hesitant Commander 
  • Hesitant Troops 
  • Uhraieeee 
  • Tank Killers 
  • Gun Bonus 
  • MG Bonus 
  • Commissar 
  • Out of Ammo 
  • Fuel Shortage 
  • Vehicle Breakdown

I was keen to make sure Edward had a good innings against the slightly more experienced Rob.

With this in mind I provided armoured, artillery and air support for Edward so he could get a good feel for the mechanisms in IABSM.

The table was relatively flat and open, though there were small woods, fields, ploughed fields, marshes, a stream and several buildings. Again all provided to give Edward and Rob a variety of terrain to fully use all the rules.

Rob was told to hold the village and particularly the bridge in the face of determined German opposition who were trying to exit Rob's table edge, by passing Rob's blocking force.

Rob could deploy anywhere on his side of the stream, and occupy the village. He could keep blinds off-table, which would enter anywhere on his table edge. The question was would Rob realise that Edward did not need take the village to fulfill his victory conditions.

Edward would enter the table on his table edge.


The Game

Okay down to deployment.

Rob decided to deploy two T34's in the graveyard, adjacent to the church. Alongside the Soviet tanks were two Maxim's with a third and Commissar in reserve. Hopefully these would dictate the centre of the table and frustrate German efforts to flank the village or attack frontally.

Deployed in the dead ground behind the graveyard lay a Soviet Infantry Platoon, with another deployed in the village's buildings. Extricating this last Platoon would take a major effort on the part of Edward.

On the Soviet left, lying down with the stream providing limited cover, Rob deployed his SMG armed Platoon. These should ensure that no flanking attack could be made on the village.

In reserve, hiding behind the dead ground provided by the bridge, was sited a 45mm AT gun.

On the Soviet right as T34 and 45mm truck towed AT gun were deployed off-table.

Edward deployed two infantry Platoon's on his left, off-table, charged with advancing and taking the flank, and exiting the table edge.

In the centre left Edward's Forward Observer in an SdKfz 250/5 was located in a small copse, supported by a Panzer Platoon off-table. His HQ Platoon was deployed in a cornfield supported by a 75mm horse drawn infantry gun.

The centre right saw another Infantry Platoon charged with trying to take the village and keeping the Soviet eyes focused on here rather than their exposed right flank. Supporting them were the StuG Platoon.

On the German right flank Edward placed his final Infantry Platoon with his remaining infantry gun, off-table.

The game started with Edward moving his HQ Platoon further into the cornfield and activating his FO.

Rob revealed two T34's in the graveyard which opened up with HE but missed! His supporting HMGs were much luckier. Spotting the corn moving, and with concentrated bursts, both German AT rifle crews were killed, the crews of two MG34's being reduced to a single figure each!

As Edward advanced his Infantry Platoon to occupy a pile of ashes, and the remains of a burnt wooden building, they were hit with long range, but effective fire nonetheless from the Soviet held village.

Edward advanced his blinds on his left only for them to be spotted as fakes, and brought on others along his entire frontage. At this point Rob looked a little unwell as he was clearly heavily outnumbered.

Rob advanced his final T34 and a 45mm AT gun on his left, making good use of the wooden building to provide cover. The T34 fired at the 'Armoured Car' Rob could see in the copse. Beating the armour score of the halftrack by five, the vehicle and his valuable Forward Observer erupted in a fireball. Ooops! With its second shot the T34 beat the score to hit Edward's 75mm infantry gun by two - Kaboom! Scratch one gun.

The Luftwaffe's Stuka's made continual flights over the table but either failed to attack or missed their targets.

It was going to be down to the infantry, yet again.

However, Edward had a couple of nasty surprises for Rob.

Firstly, StuG's appearred supporting their infantry near the village and began systematic destruction of the wooden buildings. I had decided that on a D6 score of 3 - 6, a building would burst into flames forcing any defenders to flee their cover. This occurred straight away, but Rob tellingly decided to enter the, as yet unoccupied church.

Next, Edward revealed his Panzer Platoon. Rob looked unworried as he spotted three Panzer III's. However, two shots later, the two T34's in the graveyard were burning hulks. Edward had a Panzer IV F2 with a long 75mm Kanone amongst his Panzer III's.

StuG's forced another infantry squad out of another building as it burst into flames hit by 75mm HE shells.

It was not all going Edward's way however. Rob had cunningly placed an AT gun in the dead ground behind the bridge. This was manhandled onto the bridge with its first die, fired and hit a StuG with his second destroying its main gun and then with his third dice manhandled the gun back out of LOS.

The cornfield containing the German HQ, drew a great deal of fire. The defenders within it could not tell exactly where the fire was coming from whilst Rob's Soviets shot into the corn aware that it was occupied.

Rob had a bit of luck at last when the Pz IV F2 ran out of fuel! It continued to pour fire into the graveyard and church but proved less effective in this role.

The last Soviet T34 then hit and destroyed a Panzer III.

On the Soviet right Rob spotted an Infantry Platoon attempting to enter the crop fields. With his 'MG Bonus' card he pinned them, killed one man and caused a couple of wounds.

The fight in the village continued. StuG's blasted the church failing to set it on fire whilst the brave defenders poured a hail of small arms fire into the German Platoon occupying the ashes of an adjacent building.

On the German right a Platoon manoevered toward the stream and infantry gun occupied a small copse frinig into the church but failing to hit. They spotted Rob's SMG Platoon and decided to hunker down. Here both the Soviets and Germans decided to remain hidden and not advance towards each other resulting in a stand-off. Edward was clearly trying to fix the Soviet left in an attempt to advance on the right.

A general firefight erupted around the town the German's having the worst of it as the Soviets occupied every window and doorway firing with everything they had.

Edward now decided to flank the Soviet right and revealed another German Platoon moving towards the lone T34 and 45mm AT gun. In the centre Edward finally managed to move a couple of MG34's into a firing position in a small Russian hovel.

Edward then advanced his remaining two Panzer III's toward the T34 position. One broke down in a field and another raced to within the 12" short range.

The T34 activated fired and destroyed the remaining functioning Panzer III.

As the church finally burst into flames it forced the brave Soviet defenders to assault the German Platoon opposite them, which had taken severe casualties and was pinned. The German Platoon broke fleeing 12" which took them off-table.

The Panzer IV crew finally bailed out and Rob's Soviet's then assaulted a StuG, to no effect. The StuG managed to activate next though and squished the Soviets, who had taken enough casualties to ensure that they failed the attempt to evade the grey monster!

On the Soviet left I had forgotten to put in Rob's SMG Platoon chip, Doh!

However, when the next turn started Rob used his 'Uhraieeee' card to assault the crops. Forcing the defenders back into the copse. Next his SMG Platoon chip came up! Once again the Soviets launched into an assault on the copse. forcing the defenders back again.

When the 'Heroic Leader' chip came out Rob did another of his specials and the remnants of the SMG Platoon launched their third assault finally breaking the German's and capturing the copse and its gun.

On the Soviet right the German infantry Platoons had made slow progress toward the T34 but had managed to kill all except one of the brave 45mm gun's crew.

Rob had revealed another Platoon behind the village which had started to shift over towards the threatened Soviet right.

We decided that the game should end at this point.

A strategic victory for the Soviets who had held the village despite overwhelming odds and heavy casualties.

Edward had manoevered into a position where given time he probably could and would exit Rob's table edge, but he had lost almost 50% of his force!

A great game and surprisingly well balanced.

I tried when planning to give Rob a balanced force that could react to any tactics Edward used.

Not telling Rob what the German objective was meant that he was quite widely spread. Whereas Edward knew he could have exited the whole force with a left schwerepunkt if lucky before Rob could react.

However, Edward, wisely took the safe option and feignted against the village to fix the defenders, before attempting a flanking move. The German casualties were truly horrendous though and perhaps in retrospect Edward had committed too much to the village.

The loss of Rob's T34's to the Panzer IV F2 was crucial but no more so than the loss of Edward's FO.

With artillery bombarding the village Edward could have pinned the defenders and made a run for the table edge with most of his force. Rob would not have been able to react in time. Once the FO was lost then Edward's task was much harder.

As it was the game was a tactical draw but a stategic victory for the Soviets, who had perhaps lost 1/3 of their force.

A great game though, finely shifting in initiative and impetous, swinging back and forth.

Thanks to Edward and Rob for a fun afternoon's umpriring.

Lots of lessons learnt for Stalingrad Day on June 19th at Lard Island no doubt?