Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Red Flags and Iron Crosses (Tarred and Featherstoned) - Play-test 3

The third play-test used a different scenario. It was devised specifically to test the revised sections of the rules including those relating to aircraft.

The scenario was set during the period after the German invasion of 1941. Elements of a Panzer Division were advancing along one of the few good roads in the area. A small industrial town lay along the road, and the German expected little or no resistance. The Russians had rushed a unit of infantry to the area – supported by a light field artillery unit and an anti-tank gun unit – and had raised two under-strength Workers’ Militia infantry units from local factory and collective farm workers. The Russian defenders therefore had three infantry units (one rated as ‘average’ and the rest rated as ‘below average’), a light field artillery unit (rated as ‘average’), and an anti-tank gun unit (also rated as ‘average’).

The German attackers had three tank units (each equipped with a PzKpfw IVE), two slightly under-strength infantry units (in trucks), a reconnaissance unit (a Kubelwagen), and an infantry gun unit (with towing vehicle). All the German units were rated as ‘above average’. The tank gun carried by the PzKpfw IVE was the short 75mm, and so for the purposes of the play-test the gun was rated as a light and not a medium tank gun.

In addition to these ground forces the Germans had access to air support from the Luftwaffe. This was limited to 1D6 dive-bomber sorties and 1D6 fighter sorties, the D6 being thrown before the battle began. The Luftwaffe was dealt a playing card each turn in the same way as other units; A Spade non-picture card signified that a dive-bomber sortie would arrive over the table two turns later and a Spade picture card signified that a fighter sortie would arrive next turn.

At the beginning of the first turn the German reconnaissance unit sped up the road towards town, and was promptly ambushed by the Russian anti-tank gun unit. The Kubelwagen was destroyed and one of its crew was killed. The other crewmember took cover and frantically signalled what had happened to the German units that were following the reconnaissance unit down the road.

By the end of turn 3 the Germans had begun to deploy their forces to attack the town. The tanks moved cautiously along the axis of the road in an arrowhead formation, whilst the motorized infantry deployed behind them. The motorized infantry gun unit had swung off the road to the left, and prepared to unlimber. The Russian anti-tank gun opened fire on the leading German tank, but missed.

During the next turn the German tanks opened fire on the Russian ant-tank gun unit, which returned fire, but neither side was able to hit the other. The German infantry gun unit unlimbered, and was immediately fired at by the Russian light field artillery unit that was hidden in the town. The artillery fire was ineffective, but served as a warning to the Germans that the town’s defences were stronger than expected.

Turn 5 began with a further exchange of gunfire between the Russian anti-tank gun unit and the leading German tank. The latter had stopped so that its gunfire would be more accurate, and this proved to be a very effective tactic as the anti-tank gun unit was hit and destroyed almost immediately. The other tanks were now able to deploy in order to outflank the town, as were the German motorized infantry units. The Russian light field artillery unit continued to fire at the German infantry gun unit without effect. The Luftwaffe now made an appearance (a Spade non-picture card having been dealt to them during turn 2) in the form of a Stuka dive-bomber. It bombed the Russian front-line defences, but the troops were too well dug-in and suffered no casualties.

The Germans now began a co-ordinated advance on the town, with two of the tank units engaging the Russian front-line defences to good effect – they killed the Russian artillery spotter and several Workers’ Militia infantrymen – whilst the other moved out onto the German right flank to support one of the motorized infantry units that was already beginning to move around the town’s flank. The other German motorized infantry unit had also begun to move forward on the left, and the German infantry gun unit provided it with artillery fire support.

Turn 7 saw the Russian front-line collapse as the German tank attack swept forward. The leading tank crashed through the Russian trenches, and the Russian commander realised that unless the German attack was not thrown back at once, the town would be lost. He therefore ordered his one remaining infantry unit to advance and retake the trenches. Unfortunately he did this at the same time as the Luftwaffe made its second appearance (a Spade picture card having been dealt to them during turn 6) in the form of a Bf109 fighter. The fighter’s strafing run caught the Russians in the open, and four of them were killed, including the commander. The rest of the unit fled, along with the gunners of the light field artillery unit, their morale having collapsed.

The Germans occupied the town during the next turn.

Lessons learned:

The use of above average, average, and below average classifications for units works quite well, with above average units being far harder to destroy than below average ones.

The air attack rules seem to work as I had hoped, and produce reasonable results (the dive-bomb attack kept the Russians pinned down but did not cause any casualties whereas the effect of the Bf109’s strafing run was exceptional due to very good dice scores).

The reconnaissance rules seem to work quite well, although the destruction of the Kubelwagen during the first turn did not give me a lot of opportunity to try them out in any detail.

The plastic beer glasses that I used to ‘fly’ the aircraft above the tabletop are just the right size to allow them to be placed over most obstacles on the tabletop and are very stable.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for leaving a comment. Please note that any comments that are spam or contain phishing messages or that come from Google Accounts that are 'Unknown' will be deleted.