The two marks (Mark and Marc), continue their chronological newsreel AAR series thru the sands of time with Combat Commander as the metaphor of their exploration of squad level combat in WWII.
October, 1942: Hell in the City of Stalingrad
The battle rages fiercely as the German army is halted at Stalingrad. Fierce fighting from street to street, building to building, room to room and man to man leaves its bloody mark. It’s a close run thing as it seems the Germans make some small headway in slaughtering the Soviet Defenders.
They Didn’t Take One Step Back! October 1, 1942
As Soviet forces were transporting an infantry gun across a small bridge in a ravine in the city, the Russians were hit by German forces!
Here is the start of the engagement:
After wiping the IG gun, leader and squad from the bridge, the Germans advanced to take it. The Russians were hindered by the superior German firepower but didn’t give up. They threw squad after squad at the bridge, dying in ambushes and brutal hand-to-hand fighting. The Germans advanced a squad up on the hillside where the Russians were, but it was taken out. The Russians pushed hard to get back on the bridge but couldn’t do so in time. They did not take one step back. But they crashed fruitlessly against the German line.
The end of the battle, the Russians facing the Commissars pistols.
Fortresses of (Mostly Russian) Blood and (Mostly German) Iron, October 1, 1942
Not far from that horrible gully slaughter, on the very same day, the Germans attacked into a portion of the city held by a large group of Svoiet defenders. Alas, the defenders had set themselves too far forward and the German fire was to be brutal.
Here is the setup.
I try to shift my units on the left to be able to engage the German HMG but I am shredded. The Soviets are nearly paralyzed and their units shredded one by one. The Germans are advancing up the center slowly and delivering some bad fire to the Russians units. On the Russian right, we’re able to kill some units in melee, preventing their reinforcing units from making a run down the side.
Objective 4, the leftmost large building, is an important objective. The Germans manage to take it and discover its important. It is up to the Soviet relieving force to come in and take it back, which they do. The Germans send a bunch of units in the center forward, but they can’t clear the large building in the center right on the Russian end. Their time is running out and they don’t manage to take back Objective 4. The Russians hold their ground against the invaders!
Here is the final result:
Into the Breach, A Bad Place to Be! October 17, 1942
The Barrikady Gun Works, a massive Soviet Factory complex no overrun by the enemy and filled with Soviet soldiers defending from every nook and cranny. Snipers are everywhere. Every second is a dangerous one. Every life could be the next snuffed out.
Here are the Forces, swirling and mixed together for battle horrible in its severity and bloodshed!
It is a horrible confusion. Men are running from both sides of the battlefield. The explosive roars of flamethrowers and satchel charges echo through the cavernous building. Machine guns like buzz saws and the constant pinging of ricocheting rounds and the screams of the wounded and dying. Everywhere the Russians manage to meet the Germans, they ambush them and kill them man-to-man. Their bayonets are relentless, their knives drenched with German blood. But the Germans advance slowly into the main factory building. Their machine guns, pouring forth incendiary death, are cutting down the enemy. The Russians can’t get organized as blazes ignite and spread throughout the factory.
After a grueling day of fighting, German rear forces are able to supply artillery fire. The Germans, having held fast, cheer their advance against the Russian hordes and with a final withering strike, bring down a portion of the factory onto the hapless Soviet enemy. The Germans have held for today and that is enough.
What’s left in the factory:
Scenario 38 (as well as the nest two) are both from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #2 – Stalingrad which is an expansion for the Combat Commander: Europe game. This scenario is almost a “shooting fish in the barrel” setup, the Russians down in the gully and the Germans up on the hill blasting them. If the Germans start with one (or worse, two, as Marc had) Fire Orders, the Russians have a hard time lasting. The IG gun can fire smoke if it gets the chance but I never did. The Russians really didn’t take one step back but it was to no avail and the withering fire just whittled them down until they surrendered.
I really set up too far forward. I should have simply sat back and waited for the Germans. I drew Objective 4 as worth 3 and he pulled the event which revealed it. That meant I had to take it back. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get Move orders or Recovers to fix my left, and those units all died. On the right, my units slowed him down but eventually died. It was a matter of holding out after taking Objective 4 back. The Russians win at Sudden Death with 5VPs but only one space left on their Surrender Track. So close! These are the games that physically exhaust me because I’m tense and the adrenaline is pumping!
The Gun Factory is just a huge mess and it’s a matter of holding on and killing more of the other guy. The Soviets were doing pretty well. Overall, I was winning melees and the Germans were winning firefights. On the balance, though, they gradually wore me down and I couldn’t seem to get Fire cards to shoot back effectively. Sudden Death is not until 12 and we were at 11 and the Germans were up by one VP when Marc pulled a Battlefield Integrity Event, gaining him 12 VPs from my eliminated units! A horrible event at the worst time! He then managed to get a radio which brought the game to a close at Sudden Death. There was no realistic way I could have caught up. The Germans win with 13VPs.
It’s an uphill battle for the Allies so far. In our chronological play through of all the Combat Commander Series, it’s Allies 12, Axis 20.
I note we played the Eora Creek scenario out of order. Same month, but a bit early. But we’re back to the Pacific next battle anyway.