To Embark Upon the Great Crusade 16

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.

Soviets Pushed Back in Stalingrad

As the battle rages in the city of Stalingrad, the Nazi army makes a slow advance through the city.

Dom-inated by the Nazis

Dom 31 is an important building in Stalingrad. The Russians must hold against the advancing German troops. Nearly surrounded, the Soviets must hold fast until relieving forces arrive.

Here is are the forces just before contact:

The Germans began their assault with heavy fire that destroyed the Soviet forward MMG squad. Sgt. Sviddrov held fast, his men taking our Bierman as he tried to advance. But the Germans were too many. They were able to move quickly and hit the building hard, rushing in with bayonets fixed and trench knives in hand. THe Russians didn’t stand a chance! They quickly moved to secure the next building and one of the far buildings.

The Soviet reinforcements eventually made it into the area and brought some tough fire onto the German position. But it was not long before another squad made it into the main building. Sgt. Rodimtsev and a squad had earlier been ambushed near the tree-lined building objective.

It was too late for the Soviets. The Germans took held four of the five objectives in the area. The Soviets could not hold their positions and were forced into a surrender!

The end of the engagement:

Game Notes
We just had time for one game tonight.

Scenario 37, Dom 31 is from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #2 – Stalingrad in the Combat Commander Series. I could have set up my units better. There are some setup restraints. I shouldn’t have had my MMG so far forward. Regardless, the units in Dom 31 (objective 4) couldn’t hold against the onslaught of units that advanced. But more than that, the Germans had Ambushes aplenty.

I got Rodimtsev and a squad forward to try to pry the enemy out of Objective 3 once Objective 4 had fallen. Their single squad was ready to Advance into my hex with FOUR Ambushes! The dead units were piling up.

Korolev came onto the scene and made a rush past Objective 2, pouring fire into it to drive out the lone German squad. One squad was was abel to Advance in but another lone German squad got into Objective 5 and had two ambushes! That was the last unit for my Russians to surrender.

I had several runs of discards (and the Germans did too actually) but he was hoarding every Ambush he could get. I should have kept my forces back but by taking objectives he was scooping up the VPs. It was a relative short and harsh fight. Good game, though.

The astute reader of this series may recollect that the next battle in order is M5 from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #4 – New Guinea. Somehow or another I put it in the list farther up and so it turns out we’ve already played it. So on we go in the Stalingrad fights.

Current standings: Allied-Axis, 13-22.

To Embark Upon the Great Crusade 15

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.

Autumn Heats Up in the South Pacific!

While fighting rages in the city of Stalingrad, Australian and Japanese forces clash in the sweltering jungle and hills of New Guinea.

Templeton Crossing is Crossed, October 17, 1942

ANZAC forces have a tough trail ahead of them as they outrun their supply lines and catch the retreating Japanese who are ready to delay them as long as possible. Here, the Japanese are dug in on the ridge line waiting for our Australian allies to advance.

The Japanese immediately get a radio but the jungle is so dense there are only a few good lines of sight. ANZAC forces advance slowly. On the left, Sgt. Philips is bringing HMG and LMG fire to harass the Japanese up on the hills. They encounter them far enough forward to hit them, but the wily Japanese scoot in and out of sight. On the Australian right, they manage to engage the units but are cut down in fierce hand-to-hand fighting.

Philips uses the gully for his approach until he can finally gain the winding trail up the hill. The Japanses manage to decimate the ANZACS on the Allied right but instead of coming forward (the Aussies could have stopped their advance most likely) they moved to the center. Endo is trying to hold things together as Philips’ men approach.

Lt. Payne manages to gain the central crest, rushing in to a lone Japanese squad. Sgt. Endo, sliding away from Philips’ men rush into the same melee. But the Aussies are ready and with a determination born of their bitter struggle up the hill, they kill the Japanese to the last man and secure the crossing!

The Aussies are Up a Creek and Bitterly. Eora Creek, New Guinea, October 22, 1942

ANZAC forces again engaged determined Japanese defenders as they attempt to cross Eora creek in the mountainous jungle of New Guinea. We can’t imagine the heat, the humidity, the utter torture of fighting and moving through such jungle terrain and while in combat. We must take a moment of silence to remember our brave allies.

The Japanses, it seems, turn out to be well emplaced to repel any defenders. Their medium machine gun and battalion gun sit on a high ridge, commanding the creek bed and the surrounding slopes. Here, they are shown ready to thwart the Australian advance.

The ANZACs moved forward cautiously. On the left they would eventurally get men along the edge of the battlefired, across the treacherous waters and out through the other side of the area. But it wasn’t to be enough. The Australians fought to get their men moving and flank the Japanese but what had seemed like a retreating force turned into a well emplaced defense. At nearly every turn, the Aussies stumbled into tangles of wire and minefields. The chatter of one medium machine gun was joined by another and then a heavy machine gun. As the Aussies fire back, the Japanese defenses, a trench and pillbox were made visible.

To gain the bridge was to be cut down. To stand along the high ground on the allied side of the creek was to take hits from the Japanese weapons. Try as they might, the Aussies couldn’t make enough headway and had to regroup to fight another day. A bad loss for the brave ANZAC troops!

Game Notes

Scenario M4, Templeton’s Crossing, is a Combat Commander: Pacific scenario from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #4 – New Guinea. The battle was nip and tuck and I worried on my right when all my men were killed. The Japanese have so few units, however, that it almost makes the default strategy to eliminate them all. As always the Japanese are horribly deadly in melee. This battle saw a slow but steady advance from the Aussies up the slopes, using fire power to break the Japanese and harass them. There were some deadly melees on the right which cost me all of a group of forces.

I was surprised he didn’t make a run for the board edge since exit VPs were +1. (We both had hidden points for Objective 5 but that turned out not to matter). Here was the clincher, however. He brought his last two units into the melee in the center. It was 11-7 FP in favor of the Japanese. He rolls for a total of 18. I have the Initiative Card. My only hope is…boxcars! And I get them! That’s the last three of the Japanese units and so the Allies win! That was such a nail biter and my wish came true for that twelve! 

Scenario G, Bitter Creek, is also a New Guinea fight, this one running across a dangerous creek. The ANZACs need to get moving and quickly. Even with bonus movement on the other side of the creek, it’s just so slow to get through the jungle. The Japanese had terribly good draws with two Hidden Units to score another MMG and then an HMG. Lots of Defender Actions helped slow me down. It was just a matter of fighting the clock in an effort to get around that trench full of red-hot machine guns. They were chewing us up all over.

While I managed to get several units off, it wasn’t nearly enough to whittle away his lead in VPs. The Japanese win at Sudden Death with 15.

Another even trade day of battling in the Combat Commander Series. This is a portion of our Chronological Playthrough. Current standings are Allies to Axis at 13-21. As Marc keeps reminding me, it’s the time of the war when the Allies were pretty losing. We’ll see if we can reverse it once the Americans appear in earnest!

One of the cool things to ponder, as I might have mentioned before, is how very different battles are being fought across the same days of October 1942, in Stalingrad and on New Guinea. It gives, even for the briefest moment, an appreciation of the scope of what was happening during World War II.

To Embark Upon the Great Crusade 14

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:

Game Notes

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.

Scenario 39
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!

Scenario 40
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.

To Embark Upon the Great Crusade 13

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.

A Bitter Beginning to Autumn, 1942

The Axis onslaught continued in the early days of Autumn this year. The Germans managed to hold their ground against the Soviets in the Mamayev Kurgan section of the city of Stalingrad while the Japanese held against assaulting Australians on the island of New Guinea. Detailed reports follow.

September 27, 1942 A Vicious Blow to Stalin’s Army

Comrade General,

It is with the heaviest heart and gravest mood that I report that our brave defenders of the Soviet Union have not been able to drive out the Germans from the Mamayev Kurgan area of the city. We tried, Comrade General but have not been successful. While I might blame our troops equipped mostly with submachine guns who could not reach their targets or the lack of accurate artillery fire from our rear, I can only truthfully offer myself as the party to which you must lay this blame.

Here, Comrade General, you see the forces arrayed at the beginning of the battle: