With the Soviets scoring the victory in the first encounter, we followed the scenario tree for the next encounter. Full details and forces can be found in Bashnya or Bust! campaign book.
In brief, this clash takes place around the small town of Osen. The Germans are holding out whilst their engineers set charges on the last remaining bridge (bottom left in the picture below), before withdrawing their remaining troops over the river and blowing the bridge to bits. They are outnumbered and face a swift Soviet attack that features plenty of T34s and SMG-armed tank-riders. They need to drive through and capture the bridge.
All figs and tanks by the ever-reliable (and recently relocated) Heroics and Ros. Buildings, roads, etc by Timecast.
The Soviet Blinds chip made a couple of appearances and they began the engagement. In an unexpected move, the Germans deployed a single "dummy" Blind which shot up and spotted the tank HQ and accompanying T34-85s with (invisible) tank riders.
It's a trap! Or ambush. Or ambuscade. Whatever word you choose, the Soviets are now in a spot of bother. Two Hetzer tank-killers open up on the Soviets at extreme close range.
Predictably the T34s take a pounding but remarkably none explode! Nice dice rolling by the Don. "Fritz" Freddie tramped outside to burn his dice.
Aha, found you! A second Soviet tank zvod (the much-maligned T34-76s) plus tank riders spot a Blind in the town. This is auto-spotted at the end of the turn. A German rifle zug with attached PaK40 support replete with extra Big Man to command it (special German rule).
At this point, it might have been a painful and quick end for the Russkis!
The Tank Riders dismounted and, after a quick think and a spot of yodelling [why?], decide on the time-honoured charge into the face of the entrenched enemy. The thing is, it worked. Very much.
Well, okay, one section fled after suffering extreme machine-gunning and mega-shock (mid-right) but the PaK40 was massacred. Can you massacre a gun?
Cue question about Russians using captured German weaponry.
After a lull we return to the original ambush, where the Hetzers brewed up / bailed the T34s this time. But they ran out of actions to attack the lone HQ tank. Would this be costly in the future?
The tank riders got lucky and dismounted - they then scooted past the Hetzers and dug in on the far side of the wood. Over the next hour or so they crawled their way towards the bridge with grim determination ...
Meanwhile, see that smoking house in the picture below, right? It used to be intact and feature a section of German rifles plus NCO. The "useless" T34-76s got lucky with a double-6 with High Explosive. Boom! In the house directly above this, another High Explosive shell sees off another squad.
Have we found out what the 76s should be doing? I think so ...
Meanwhile, Germans were racking up the demolition points whenever the Turn Card was drawn.
Just 14 more to go ...
Nein! HQ tank gets a bit of revenge on the Hetzers who are now somewhat screwed (technical term).
Fritz got a bit nervous as his advanced guard disintegrated and he had no troops left on the table. Out plopped the Blinds chit a couple of times and the Germans showed their hand. Mind you, the troops would be dug-in and had a few more surprises up their sleeves.
Pooofffph! Another High Explosive shell from the 76s gets the lucky "66" and a house collapses around another squad. Ouch. Yup, load the HE boys!
No, I'm not quite sure what happened below either.
Russians a bit strung out but heading en-masse for the bridge and to hang with the casualties!
Germans seem to have deployed their Stug IVs in the wood (mid-left).
Ah yes, the end is nigh. The Russian Blind got this close to the bridge (below) before the Stugs revealed themselves on a chip: the result was catastrophic for the last zvod of T34-85s. Once again the best Soviet tanks in the force go up in flames. The Soviet players began a dismal communist hymn to the fallen and prepare to throw in the towel.
The situation deteriorates for the Russians as their infantry is slaughtered in the open fields by a rifle gruppe and 2 MG teams activated by the CO Big Man (level 4 - powerful!)
Just a few more chips ... it seems to be drawing to a close.
The Russians score some revenge on the centre rifle gruppe, rendering it useless.
Human Wave! Urrrraaaaaaahhh!
A run of unusual Soviet chips emerged, allowing the remaining infantry to scoot into position and charge the remained PaK40, German CO and associated MG teams in the rear/flank. Painful.
After a discussion, it seemed fair that the Russian CO (who finally arrived on the scene) could organise a last-ditch charge into the German rifle section that was guarding the bridge.
It was swift and bloody.
Now the Soviets had control of the bridge!
The sideshow continued as the Soviet tank HQ zipped about and dispatched the final Hetzer.
Back at the bridge. One SMG vzvod was wiped out by the German rifles supported by Stug fire.
But the remaining SMG group plus Big Man dig in on the opposite bank.
And that was where we decided to end it. Time was pressing on and the Germans were in a right old mess. Even the Stugs were being hit in the flank by now as they desperately tried to rescue the bridge. So, out of thin air, the Soviets pulled the win out of the bag!
Urgh. It was all going rather well until the final few rounds. It was another great scenario which was evenly balanced despite the uneven forces. The Russian steamroller was hard to stop. The Hetzer ambush did a decent job but their chip stubbornly refused to re-emerge and so they could not pull back to help defend the bridge. The Stug ambush also worked a treat. I think the exploding houses probably swung it as that weakened my defence in the town and allowed the Russian infantry to get to the bridge.
If I had it over again? Get the FOO onto the table sooner (attach him to a forward platoon before the battle); place at least one AT gun on the flank to make the Russians think about diverting to deal with it; I'd be tempted to deploy nearly everything near to the bridge, just to see how that panned out. My force was defeated in detail, really. That said, we were sitting pretty comfortably until that cinematic Uraaaahhh! turned the tide. You've got to love that. But with 2 losses now, the campaign is in danger of ending pretty quickly for the Germans.
Next time? It's off to Zima. My Tiger Is make an appearance and we have some hard-hitting troops to play with.
Russian Regimental History:
Kolbasa! This was an epic battle. The newspapers have no need to make up a story this time! Mind you, they might want to gloss over the inept T34-85 displays. Did any of them fire a shot? At all?
After our surprising discovery that Russian scout cars can lay down some serious firepower in a previous battle, it was interesting to see what the much maligned T34-76s achieved. The fast steamroller (swiftroller?) tactics seemed to work well enough and we had enough hardware to waste a few tanks here and there. Tank riding worked well and they can hop off pretty effectively if they come under fire. I also loved how the COs on both sides intervened dramatically and decisively.
Of course, bragging rights go to our boys for the charge that overwhelmed the German command stands.
The next "Zima" scenario looks tough. We have swarms of infantry again and the ISIIs make a pleasant appearance but other than that the support is pretty thin...