Game two was against Justin who was running the 442nd from Road to Rome, with his list including two bazookas with the HQ teams, two full rifle platoons, 81mm mortars (along with a weapons platoon mortar section), pioneers with bazookas, 57mm AT guns with… yup, more bazookas, a rifle recon platoon, four 105mm guns and four M10s to round out the army. I was running my Panzer Ausbildungs Verband (with Veteran)-1. The random roll brought up Hasty Attack and Justin chose the “village” side to defend. The board had really good terrain for my army, with big forested areas covering my approaches. With one objective in the village and the other two towards the left of the board, I stacked heavily on the left flank, with only the 88’s on the right flank, covering the area with their massive anti guns perched on a hill. My hetzers, pioneers, recce and anti aircraft half tracks all started in reserve as Justin had no air support to worry about. Justin kept the TD’s in reserve along with the 57mm guns – which I thought at the time was a big call against a tank force like mine. He ambushed an infantry platoon on the left objective and spread out wide, thanks to my lack of (meaningful) artillery or air support.
The game started rather nonchalantly with me moving up the left flank, bunching tight together to fit all of the hulls.!
Justin decides to smoke my approaching tank horde. With me needing 6’s to hit anything with the bunker busters, its a quiet first turn. Turn two and I’m almost in range – but due to the tight space, I’m confined to just a few shots (which do nothing). I am at this stage, worried about the 105s and my light hulls… Justin gets his reserves – tank destroyers! But they come on the wrong flank! Fortunately the jeeps can take advantage of the road through the village; they are still woefully out of position however. Justin smokes my tanks again – I’m thankful as this will (hopefully) keep my tanks concealed; where as his infantry are already concealed and I don’t suffer further penalty!.
Rather unfortunate for the TD’s, my hungry 88’s now had something to open up on. The chance cube deities were kind to me, however, allowing me to blow up two of the vehicles. I was actually hoping to force the M10s to pop there, being miles from my armour and unable to take advantage of the road.. On the left flank, the 105s direct fired on my artillery, leaving me with the command and staff teams only; who both promptly fail their enjoy the war rolls and desert the field of battle. The Brums, Panthers and command tanks open up on the guns and infantry crowding the objective and claim quite a few casualties. With the TD’s miles away, the left flank is starting to look ominous for Justin. I’d brought my recce and AAA up from reserve on the right of my armoured flank, to put some MG shots on the infantry platoons surrounding the middle and left objectives, while my Hetzers had come up the middle. Justin ambushed the tank destroyers and moved them forward to engage, but the range was too much for the 3inch guns. His artillery slammed into my recce, killing one and bailing the other. I responded by blowing up two M10s with the 88’s, still enjoying the ‘high’ ground on their little hill. Things had become desperate for Justin; starting the turn with no teams contesting the left objective, which my Panthers had parked near. With his infantry double timing it over to the left objective (still out of range – just – to contest), I failed to do any meaningful damage thanks to their space marine 3+ saves. It was all down to his reserve roll – could the AT guns arrive on time? Justin obliged and got his 57mm AT guns on from reserve and completely blew the game open…
The 57mm guns ripped open the side armour of my Panthers, and to make matters worse the bazooka teams assault, wiping out the Panthers and the 2IC and promptly securing the left flank. With my armoured thrust in tatters and another platoon down, it was time to take stock of the situation and find my own rabbit to remove from a nearby hat. Keen to bring the game back into German hands, I swing the Hetzers up the middle of the board and push for the central objective – Justin has left this rather exposed, with only two M10s holding the objective while the infantry moved out to protect the left flank.
To keep the infantry in place my Brums stay put and rain breakthrough shell death on the 105s. My CO Panther does the right thing and bogs crossing the forrest, while the Recce and AAA move forward to pin the infantry.
My pioneers had done nothing all game, however, I’d brought them forward to protect the 88’s from an unlikely assault. This nearly proved costly…
Justin’s recce came on late in the day and sped forward towards the German soldiers. With both forces perviously close to breaking point, he decided to force the game and machine gunned them. I was fortunate to lose just the one stand.. My Hetzers surged towards the objective, nailing the M10s and bedding down for the inevitable counter attack.. Justin’s infantry and their bazookas ran towards the objective, desperate to assault and hold the game for another turn. It wasn’t to be however, despite bailing one Hetzer, the combined firepower of remote control MGs proved to be enough, not only pinning the platoon but forcing a morale check, which they failed, handing the game to the Germans, 4-3 and the end of the battle.
Justin did well to claw this game back – had it not been for the M10s getting lost on their way to the party, my left flank assault would have taken a very different approach. The Brums were excellent in this game – shaking off AT rounds and 105 shells, and squashing their fair share of infantry and artillery alike. They really do struggle with one shot to score their points back, but the big guns are quite useful and more than a little intimidating. As much as Justin played well to get back into this game, I was also very lucky – not having any realistic threat from the M10s all game, and sneaking past the infantry blockade to steal the middle objective. I got punished for my overconfidence with the total annihilation of the left flank forces – I’ll need to be more mindful of reserve deployment in the future.