Lost battles usually start with successful shots
It was on the Eastern Front. The dusty road passed through a small village where factory workers had lived before the war: a gloomy, battered place largely reduced to rubble. The village stood on the shore of a shallow creek, crossed by three small, plank bridges. On the other bank were silent, peaceful woods and fields, offering a balm to the spirits of those who huddled in the trenches that scarred the ground in front of them. It is here that the Red Army unleashed its impact.
Having had the rules for some time and, for some reason, never played them, we finally got around to playing our first game of "Mum". In short, they are a company-level set of wargame rules led by card activation much like Sharpe Practice.
The German defense was represented by a company of grenadiers (however, each of the three platoons consisted of only two squads) strengthened by three PaK 40 guns. Their commander was Johann Schmidt aka the Red Skull.
The infantry were dug in at the edge of the village - on the river bank, with their PaKs distributed evenly across their line of defense.
And the Russian were not long in coming. A company of submachine gun armed infantry plus support, and a company of T-34 tanks. A formidable force.
Russian tank company commander immediately opened fire - hitting and destroying one of the PaKs. Great start, I thought.
During the initial phase of the battle Russian tanks killed several Marines, and, finally, the German guns began to respond: accurate fire knocking out one tank and forcing the crew of another to bail out.
The Soviet infantry began to advance, their pace increasing as the tanks and PaKs continued to exchange fire.
The left hand platoon of T-34s were all KO'd, but the Germans lost their central PaK: it's crew fleeing in panic just before the gun was destroyed.
The Germans, now deprived of their guns (the third PaK was unfortunately positioned: it only covered the right side of the defense so couldn't hit the bulk of the Soviet tanks), began to retreat from their trenches.
Some ran back into the village, some into other buildings, and some into the factory units.
On the left flank, the Soviet infantry ran into a minefield, which stopped their advance after their company commander was killed.
At this point fate (well, the IABSM card deck) intervened, and suddenly the clattering of tracks was heard in the village as a platoon of StuGs came thundering through as fast as possible.
The Soviet tanks were now on the road and hurling themselves towards the village. This meant, however, that about a quarter of them now came within the firing arc of the last remaining PaK 40, with predictably explosive results!
The Command StuG carefully crawled to the edge of the village and opened fire from cover, destroying one tank and knocking bits of a second. Another StuG opened fire on the enemy infantry, but to no effect.
At this point we decided to finish the game. The advancing Red Army was completely exhausted, and the three StuGs were the last straw!
Without the self-propelled guns, of course, we would still have faced a hellish struggle for the village (Panzerfausts in the side of tanks and melee-ing infantry) so probably, at least subconsciously, we decided to avoid it!
Whatever it was, it was a great game: great (as always) rules from the Lardies and a great opponent. Uncle Kostya - thank you so much for the game, and I'm looking forward to your report on the game.