Here I sit recovering from a mammoth journey and a day on my feet and taking a moment to pause and reflect on the events of the weekend. Battleground is, I suppose, an old show under new management, so how did the new management do? Simply excellent. Anyone who has dealt with Pendraken will, I am sure, recognise such sentiments as friendly, helpful, efficient, organised and on the ball and all that carried through to Battleground in spades. Quite simply, from my perspective, one of the best organised shows I have attended.
The venue is also excellent. It’s a large sports hall so lots of space without feeling at all empty and also light, bright and cool. The café across the car park was also open in good time and got the bacon butties on early as a special favour – I know they did good business on the day.
How did it compare to previous years? I can’t say as it was a first visit for me, but it was an excellent show and I have already asked to come back again next year, which just about says it all!
As for the game, it was Scenario 21 from Operation WINTER STORM – the Soviet counter attack on the bridgehead over the MUSHKOVA River at BOLSHAYA-VASILEVKA. The Germans had their usual Panzer Grenadier platoon with a sniper and Panzerknacker team, whilst the Soviets were a little different from usual – an Elite Guards SMG platoon of 4 squads and a T34. Soviet Force Morale was 10 and the Germans were on 8. I had 2 new players, one on each side with Ian commanding the Soviets and Luke the Germans.
The Germans started with their free patrol moves and pushed forward across the board. The Soviets countered but were held back in their own third of the table but with one JOP right over on the table edge on their left flank. (Sorry, should have taken more photos but I was too busy running the game). The Germans had a chain across the middle of the board, choosing to deploy mid table to exploit some good fields of fire.
The Soviets opened by bringing on a squad centre right and pushing into a church. The Germans countered with all 3 squads deploying in a chain and with 2 having fields of fire to the church. The Soviet squad was exposed and started taking casualties, with the Junior Leader being the first to fall. Unable to rally shock, the Platoon Commander came on to bolster the section but some exceptional and intense German fire broke the squad and the German ended the turn – write off 1 squad and the Senior Leader. Soviet force morale plummets. Game over? Far from it. Something Chain of Command does superbly well is the ebb and flow of battle. The Soviets had now got their game together and brought on a squad on their far left, using a covered approach to threaten the Panzer Grenadiers in the building holding the German right flank. They also brought on the T34, which they held well back and protected by their infantry (another squad coming on to do just that) and they proceeded to pound the German right flank. The German platoon commander was forced to rush over to help keep the squad in the fight, but losses and shock mounted. The Germans had tried to counter by bringing on their sniper to cover the exposed right and deal with the lurking Soviets, but Gunter had clearly been at the Apfelkorn and couldn’t hit anything at all!! Showing commendable patience, the Soviets softened up their target and launched a close assault, through the overwatch fire and into the building. By the end, the Soviet squad was down to one man and a wounded Junior Leader and was broken, but the Germans were wiped out to a man – Junior Leader and Senior Leader included. German force morale dropped to 5, Soviet Force Morale – no change! Clever hoarding of Chain of Command Chits (I don’t use dice, heretic that I am!!!) meant they were able to avoid the 2 tests. Much closer now.
The Germans needed to do something sharpish and they pushed their left flank squad forward towards an exposed JOP and, despite another Soviet Squad deploying as quickly as they could to counter, the Germans first closed down the JOP, then captured it and then ended the turn – more Soviet force morale loss and down to 4 dice.
But, undeterred, the Soviets stuck to the plan. The T34 switched fire to the centre squad and began to pummel that with an SMG squad poised to finish the process. Taking losses, shock mounting, an unstable building and with the Junior Leader stunned and out for the Turn, the remnants did the only thing they could and pulled back out of the line of fire.
And then the Soviets lost the game! They pivoted their T34 to fire on the German left flank squad, holed up in the building they had occupied to capture the JOP and boxed in by a Soviet SMG squad. This seems sensible – repeating the route to success from earlier, pound with the T34 and then close assault. However, this was the chance the Germans had been waiting for. They used their Chain of Command chit to ambush with the Panzerknacker team. They had been waiting for a flank or rear attack as they needed that to throw the odds in their favour; and the attack was a blinder. No Soviets on overwatch to cut down the man with the charge, no Chain of Command chit to interrupt and some excellent German dice and poor Soviet dice and the T34 was brewed up. Cue one tank destruction badge, a pat on the back for the team leader for being so patient and picking his moment, and a further loss of Soviet force morale. And so we called it, a very narrow German victory as they had held, but they had lost the best part of 2 squads and the platoon commander. The Soviets had lost similarly – 2 squads and the platoon commander and so they still had 2 squads in good order. But they had also lost their ace, the T34, and, with SMGs and lots of open ground to cover while still facing 4 MG42s and with a Force Morale of 2, we felt it was too much to ask.
And so our campaign through the Show season comes to an end. It’s been great fun, I’d like to thank all the organisers, gamers and interested passers by for what has been a most enjoyable and entertaining first year on the show circuit for Monty’s. And especial thanks to Rich and TooFatLardies for such a great rule set and all the support throughout the year. We will return – watch this space to find out more!!
Monty the Desert Rat