Buying Time – Berlin Soviet AAR

Martin back with the promised AAR on the new Buying Time scenario from Berlin-Soviet. This scenario is something decidedly different. Not only does the Attacker have a force twice as big as the Defender but the Defender gets minefields based on the Attackers Force size. Not to mention if you are keeping track of your games then the Victory Points are based on the number of turns the game lasts rather than on platoons lost.

Buying Time Scenario

So lets get on with the game.

I commanded a 150 point of the all new IS-2 Hero Heavy Tank Company against Duncan who used a Bulge Brigade Panzer Grenadier Formation as the basis of his defenders of the Seelow Heights with a mere 75 points. Duncan as you can see from his list had every AT gun, mortar and Artillery piece he could muster in his Force and had plenty of panzerfaust armed infantry but his troops weren’t likely to stand very long once the fighting got up close, luckily he would have plenty of room to fall back into with the deployment area being so long. I maxed out my platoon count to avoid my Force breaking with 4 platoons of the latest IS-2 tanks one with bed spring armour as well but, they were rather small. My thinking being only an AT14 or better gun would really threaten these so more units might be prefereable to bigger ones. These are supported by the Guards Mortars (Katyusha Rockets as most will know them) a few OT-34 flame tanks to deal with infantry in buildings and a Hero SMG platoon to do any mopping up.

That’s an awful lot of Reluctant!
  • Berlin Soviets List
    • HQ Hero IS-2
    • Hero IS-2 platoon with bed spring armour (3 tanks)
    • Hero IS-2 platoon (2 tanks)
    • Hero IS-2 platoon (2 tanks)
    • Hero IS-2 platoon (2 tanks)
    • Hero SMG Platoon
    • Hero OT-34 Flame Tank platoon (3 tanks)
    • Katyusha Rocket Battery
    • BA-64 OP

Duncan placed his objective marker as far from the Soviet front line as possible towards the middle of the table whilst I placed mine as close as possible as far from the village as possible. Duncan then deployed his six minefields to cover all the open ground across the soviet front, this would force me in to taking multiple cross checks to get my advance past the farm fields and off my start line or I would have to risk the minefields to use the more open space. This shows up an immediate impact of the changes in this scenario with the defender having minefields based on the attackers Force size enabled Duncan to cover nearly all the open space on my front of advance. Secondly this would potentially slow me up in the initial turns preventing me making a rapid dash advance toward his infantry position as I was bound to fail some of my 3+ cross checks. He covered the front behind the minefields with most of his infantry and the lighest of his 5cm anti-tank guns which could only cause me any trouble from the side. The third unit occupied the buildings supported by the 8.8cm flak guns on a hill covering the right flank and the rear of the village. His big AT17 guns were set well back behind the woods to take advantage of their 40″ range protected from infantry by the Quad FlaK battery, he placed his HQ here too, as they were an obvious target for my Katyushas being the main threat to my armour at any sort of ranged firing so he wanted to minimise the risk of not unpinning them. The mortar batteries were placed covering the rear most objective. All the guns were ranged in across the board to cover my initial advance if I chose to not go through the minefields. I set up the Soviets with the OT-34’s on my left to advance toward the village whilst my Infantry mounted the heavy tanks all massed towards the centre of the table with the Katyushas to the right rear and my OP positioned to be able to spot against the Volks 8.8cm Artillery screened from them directly by the wood.

Deployment with the Soviets Attacking from left to right

Turn 1 started badly with me failing several cross checks on my leading platoons forcing me to push my bigger 3 heavy tanks tank platoon through the minefields with the predictable result in that one got destroyed luckily the passangers survived and dismounted into the minefield! The OT-34’s fared similarly with one getting bogged in the woods. I ranged in the Katyushas on the Volks 8.8cm artillery and despite hitting every team under the template the result was just 3 pinned platoons! The German turn went better with the quads and HQ unpinning but not the volks 8.8cm artillery this would reduce them to just 4 long ranged shots against my concealed because of being stuck in a walled field IS-2’s (they would stay that way for the next 5 turns as well). Duncan couldnt avoid my repeat bombardment but used the 120mm mortars to conduct counter battery fire and managed to destroy 2 of my Katyushas! The 8.8cm knocked out an IS-2 and the infantry team onboard, the FlaK88’s managed to kill one OT-34 85mm and bail out the other, thanks to their still being Aggressive, despite range and cover penalties. So a great start for the Germans putting 2 platoons on last stand tests already.

The Katyushas score plenty of hits

Turn 2 started with the OT-34 not remounting and all last stand tests being passed. It was another stuttering advance with 1 tank still stuck on the start line and my HQ in the fields. The lone OT-34 76mm advanced to firing range against the 1 panzergrenadier not in a building. I chose to redeploy the remaining Katyushas out of range of most of the mortars to avoid the repeat bombardment and the 8.8cm artillery was already pinned so I decided not to sacrifice them just yet having failed to unpin. My heavy tanks regroupping passed the fields could now opened fire on the German front lines using their 12.7mm MG’s to kill a couple of dug in infantry teams and a 5cm gun managing to pin one platoon but not the other. The OT-34 spewed forth flame and most surprisingly turned the unfortunate panzergrenadier team to ash pinning them down as well, this did leave it rather exposed to the 88’s but targetting both remaining tanks would be tricky so I was fairly certain I would at least have 1 left next turn. The German’s stayed gone to ground in the main with the 88’s picking on the functioning OT-34/76 with not unpredictable results of a destroyed tank, the 8.8cm artillery continued to fire at the IS-2’s killing a second, leaving me with two platoons of just one tank. The infantry being at over 4″ from the tanks remained gone to ground.

Regrouping after crossing the dry stome walls

Turn 3 started with my last OT-34 remounting but then deciding to fail its last stand test and departing the field along with one of my IS-2 platoons also failing its last stand test costing me another infantry team as well. My Katyusha unit unpinned and was now back operational if at a much reduced strength. My infantry dismounted and the tanks rolled slightly forward to be in assault range as well of the forward infantry platoons. Shooting saw the Katyushas range back in in the 8.8cm artillery but no casualties were again caused, the remainder of my shooting saw both the infantry platoons pinned. Looking at my tanks positions I launched my first assault with the remaining 2 tanks with bed spring armour, Duncan opened fire with 4 panzerfausts and two 5cm guns after much rolling of dice the heavy beasts remaind unscathed and pressed home their assault killing 1 team. The Reluctant Germans at this point decided to fail their counter attack roll and both the infantry platoons fell back tacking them out of further assult range whilst the 5cm’s survived being destroyed by the tanks they were left still in range of a couple of SMG teams which duely followed up destoying another gun for the loss of 1 more infantry team. The remaining gun broke off passing its cross check to hide in a wood. Duncan now decided discretion was the better part of valour and pulled the infantry back a little further ready to dig in again next turn. Shooting was pretty uneventful with the mortars failing to range in but 1 more IS-2 was lost leaving me with two platoons of 1 tank and one of 2 tanks plus my HQ. The SMG platoon was further reduced in strength when the Quad 20mm AT guns opened fire on my tanks killing a number of teams riding on them.

The Soviet assault positioned to break through the German lines

Turn 4 and now the Soviet losses were mounting but no last stand test were failed so I pressed onward, the SMG’s advanced to pursue the lone 5cm gun team whilst the tanks manouvered to assault the infantry. Shooting went much better despite rerolling hits for only having 2 teams the Katyushas killed the 2iC, 1 Quad AA and more importantly two 8.8cm AT guns. The tanks advanced spraying fire at the HMG platoon who had been left to block my advance killing 2 teams before an assault saw them wiped out and the infantry again fail to counter attack and fall back further. My HQ tank entered a duel with the 88’s managing to shoot 1 before running over the infantry platoon regrouping behind the village and driving them away from the objectives. My remaining SMG teams assaulted the lone 5cm gun and thanks to being in a wood survived the supporting covering fire from the panzer grenadiers falling back toward the 8.8cm guns they quickly dispatched the gun and consoildated deeper into the wood. On their turn the remaining 88 held firm but everything failed to unpin again and dug in. The mortars again failed to hit the Katyushas which had taken out the heavy AT guns. Thanks to some careful positioning the only target Duncan had for his AT was my HQ tank after missing with the AT17 guns the lone 88 managed 2 hits to the front and I failed my save and my HQ tank brewed up my Force commander jumped to another tank from my larger platoon leaving me 3 platoons of just 1 tank! The remaining Quad AA managed to kill 1 more SMG team leaving them with just 2 teams.

Not a lot left

Turn 5 I am down to 3 tanks, 2 infantry teams and 2 rocket launchers! Everything stands being fearless and all within 6″ of my remounted HQ. Now it was time to make a final push against the German position if I could eliminate the 2 remaining 8.8cm guns then despite the small numbers I could previal capturing the forward objective. I manouvered everything to attack the remaining position. The Katyushas ranged in on the pesky mortars killing 2 and ensuring their survival if nothing else given Duncans inability to unpin. The remainder of my shooting killed a few infantry teams but the 8.8cm were unharmed meaning I would have to risk an assault with my HQ and 1 tank against the 2 pinned guns and the infantry. I moved up, the guns fired scoring 1 unsavable hit killing my last platoon tank, the infantry fired their panzerfausts – 1 hit which I saved with the bed spring armour but I managed to miss in assault and to make matters worse now the Germans decide to moitivate! Luckily they also fail to hit but despite needing a 3+ with a reroll I failed to counter assault and my HQ tank was forced to break off. The panzergrenadiers consolidated to bock any assault from my SMG platoon. German turn 5 would be short if they could kill the 2 remaining SMG teams and either remaining tank they will have held on and secured victory. Duncan started with failing to unpin again so he didn’t move electing to get as many shots as possible, opening fire with everything he could. A lone SMG was still standing after the MG’s fell silent whilst the 88 and 8.8cm managed to knock out just the last IS-2 platoon tank. I had lost 9 out of 10 IS-2 tanks but could unbelievably still win the game if my Hero SMG’s held their nerve.

Turn 6 and my final chance for victory, my infantry held firm and accompanied my Force commander in a final assault on the 8.8cm artillery guns, my shooting was uneventful just more dead mortars! I assaulted, the guns and infantry missed ands 1 gun was crushed under the tracks but motivating a lone panzergrenadier managed to bail out the HQ tank as my luck on saving panzerfaust hits finally ran out. The game was over with a spectacular German Victory with the Soviet assault completely destroyed with only 1 SMG team left!

The Germans escape

What did I learn about the new Soviets – the IS-2 (late) is a fearsome creature and hard to stop but still has all the same issues as the Bagration version and needs careful handling. To be sucessful in this scenario I will need bigger platoons in the future I’ll try this again with 3 platoons of 3 rather than taking them as I did, we are also going to look at how different it plays with the regular Aggressive IS-2 option. For other changes I’ll swap the OT-34 platoon for some Red Air Force Sturmoviks for more flexibility – they were just to easy to kill being Aggressive 3+ to hit isn’t what the Attacker here needs when having to keep moving forward. Despite being constantly pinned the Brigade Panzergrenadiers put up a solid defence and Duncan used the extra depth of his deployment area well, slowing me down and stopping me dashing to close the distance to the objectives whilst my force had all its strength.

I’d urge you to give this a try, it played out really interestingly; the extra minefields and narrow front made it a challenge to get my assault started; the extended defender deployment area allowed the infantry to fall back safely away from the advancing heavy armoured thrust and effectively regroup and dig in to fight again, it allowed the big guns to make maximum use of their massive range. Despite my 2:1 advantage in points and superiour quality troops it wasn’t quite enough on this occassion, thanks to a well constructed defence the rear guard managed to buy time halting the attack to keep Germany fighting for another day.

7 thoughts on “Buying Time – Berlin Soviet AAR

  1. This game confirms my belief, which is
    1) German bulge is very strong and (-by being) very cheap
    2) Hero IS-2 costs too much

    The Bulge list was cooked in a lab, it was perfection, along with the strategy they applied. The Attacking list had very few things despite being 2x points.

    Keep in mind soviets had 2 times the points! I can’t imagine the soviets winning this on even points, ever. (even with 2 less minefileds, defender reserves and ambush, like in normal games)

    1. I feel you shouldn’t have gone for “good” Soviets, and just tried to drown him in hulls & men

      1. That wasn’t quite the aim, I wanted to see how the IS-2 latest failed, even making a few minor changes to the structure of the Soviet list could have resulted in a different game. Platoons of 2 were a very risky choice.

    2. We played it like this very deliberately and are replaying the game with a more focussed Soviet force this week so will be interesting to see what happens then.

        1. The replay has occurred the Soviets lost 9 IS-2 tanks and all their infantry again however, this time they started with 12 which proved ultimately decisive with victory coming in turn 6 as the HQ and last IS-2 platoon of 2 pushed away the defending infantry.

          The major difference in the list comes from being able to take more supporting artillery I had 3 units compared to 1 and getting the extra hulls in the platoons 4/4/3 vs 3/2/2/2 which enables them to absorb a casualty or 2 and still have a chance in assaults.

Comments are closed.