92nd Naval in Stalingrad – A Crossfire Battle Report 2

Chris Harrod (Germans) and Nuno Pereira (Soviets) played my Crossfire scenario 92nd Naval in Stalingrad. For Chris it was his second go – he’d played the German commander in a previous game.

I was hoping to run this as a four player game. Unfortunately Rich Jones, who was going to join us, couldn’t make it. So I umpired and took photos instead of playing.

Table

I’ve been upgrading my urban sectors for the Eastern Front. Three aspects to that.

  • I’ve been repainting my generic building sectors. Grunging them up. So they look more burnt out and have a dusting of red brick dust. This is not complete yet so you’ll see a mix of old/new style in this game.
  • Buying commercial ruins and turning them into 3″ x 3″ ruins sectors
  • Buying commercial ruined buildings

You’ll see all of these in the game.

Ruins of Stalingrad

Ruins of Stalingrad

This shot highlights some of the new ruined sectors. The brick walls are commercial resin. I glued them onto 3″ x 3″ plywood bases added some wood filler to make the resin pieces blend with the ground, added sand, rocks, and tiny bricks (yes, you can buy 1/100th bricks). Then painted the lot.

Germans in the Rubble

Germans in the Rubble

Set up

The Soviets deploy hidden. Nuno did this in secret. In hindsight I should have given him some advice as he’s only had a couple of games. He made the mistake of spreading his troops and having only one stand in any particular building sector. This did impact the game but not as much as it could have. Otherwise he had a good deployment with three platoons forward and one in reserve.

The scenario lets the Germans set up on the edge of the table with two companies on table.

Chris deploys his assault columns

Chris deploys his assault columns

Germans assemble

Germans assemble

Germans in the Rubble

Germans in the Rubble

One of the things I like about this scenario is that both players feel like they’re facing an impossible challenge. For the Soviets the issue is being outnumbered. For the Germans it is the prospect of clearing a sea of ruins – and not knowing where the defenders are.

A Sea of Ruins Ahead of the Germans

A Sea of Ruins Ahead of the Germans

Chris was cautious with his panzers (probably rightly as they are worth 2 Victory Points each). They started on the right flank and never really advanced from the base line. But as we’ll see that didn’t protect them entirely.

Panzers in Support

Panzers in Support

The Game

and now for the game itself . . .

0600 Hours

0600 Hours

Chris started slowly. He initially relied on Recon by Fire (RBF) to check the buildings in front of him. This is a safe approach but burns up time. Without actually succeeding in finding any Soviets, because Nuno had deployed back from the front line, Chris sacrificed 30 minutes on the moving clock.

0630 Hours

0630 Hours

From then on Chris got increasingly aggressive. He advanced. This is much faster than using RBF but there is a cost in terms of casualties.

Germans start to advance

Germans start to advance

Germans start to advance in centre

Germans start to advance in centre

But the first German casualties were when an advancing German squad found itself in a booby trapped building. The mines suppressed the squad then a neighbouring Soviet squad finished them off with direct fire.

Germans encounter mines on the right

Germans encounter mines on the right

0700 Hours

0700 Hours

And more time passed.

0730 Hours

0730 Hours

By 0730 Hours the Germans had encountered part of the Soviet main defensive line. That started a fire fight that lasted the entire game. Not that the guys rolled many dice for this, it was just assumed to be happening. The action occurred elsewhere.

Germans and Soviets face each other across road in middle

Germans and Soviets face each other across road in middle

Long firefight starts

Long firefight starts

0800 Hours

0800 Hours

But more time slipped by as Chris explored the Russian positions.

0830 Hours

0830 Hours

The two sides evenutally faced each other across the road that traversed the middle of the table.

Fire fight spreads along road

Fire fight spreads along road

Things got exciting when the Germans found the Soviet strongpoint in a brick building thrusting into the lateral road near the middle of the table.

Germans find Soviet

Germans find Soviet Strongpoint

Firstly, Chris brought on his reinforcement company. He’d waited until he had a fair idea where the Soviet battle line was. Now that he knew they were along the main road he brought on fresh troops to conduct an assault.

German reinforcements arrive

German reinforcements arrive

Then Chris attacked the block with the strongpoint. Not the strongpoint itself but the nearby buildings. The attack started with some fancy artillery work to create a box of smoke where the assault parties would penetrate.

Close artillery support facilitates entry into Soviet held block

Close artillery support facilitates entry into Soviet held block

The the assault parties entered the complex shielded by the smoke.

Sophisticated smoke pattern aids German assault

Sophisticated smoke pattern aids German assault

Because the Soviets were spread out it was relatively easy for the attackers to fight their was through the block.

Hand-to-hand through the block

Hand-to-hand through the block

After fighting through a couple of building sectors the Germans attacked, and captured, the Soviet strongpoint from the rear.

Germans take Soviet strongpoint from the rear

Germans take Soviet strongpoint from the rear

However that wasn’t end of the fighting in that block. More building sectors meant more close combat.

Block clearance continues

Block clearance continues

German assault parties clear block building by building

German assault parties clear block building by building

0930 Hours

0930 Hours

At 0930 Chris decided he wasn’t benefiting enough from the Panzers so he repositioned them to provide lines of fire down roads towards the Soviet positions.

Panzers reposition to provide lines of fire down roads

Panzers reposition to provide lines of fire down roads

The next target was the Soviet occupied block of buildings that contained the booby trapped sector we met earlier.

Germans Clear Soviet position in front of mined building

Germans Clear Soviet position in front of mined building

Then the Germans moved on to the blocks along the Soviet table edge. Again nifty smoke work by the German artillery and mortar men helped with the assault.

Germans use smoked assault lane to attack Soviet ATG

Germans use smoked assault lane to attack Soviet ATG

Not everything went the German way and the Soviets infiltrated back into the block with the mined building sector. They wiped out a German platoon in the process.

Soviets infiltrate back into mined building and Germans counter-attack

Soviets infiltrate back into mined building and Germans counter-attack

But the local success didn’t last long and the Germans returned.

Germans clear the mined building again

Germans clear the mined building again

German right flank

German right flank

The next Soviet move was on the German left. Chris pulled his platoon back from the main road so it wasn’t exposed to fire from the Soviet positions on the far side. However, this opened up an opportunity for Nuno. A bit of smoke to block German lines of fire and a Naval platoon rushed across the main road into a German held block.

Soviets counter-attack on German left

Soviets counter-attack on German left

Chris stuck to his plan and ignored this penetration for the moment. So he took the initiative back to the Soviet edge of the table and his men took out the 45mm Russian gun.

Germans take out the Soviet 45mm ATG

Germans take out the Soviet 45mm ATG

And then the Russian company commander fell to German grenades.

and then the Soviet Company Commander

and then the Soviet Company Commander

Generally the German advance on the back table edge went fairly smoothly although a Soviet squad did manage to catch a German team crossing a road.

German Squad caught crossing the road

German Squad caught crossing the road

As soon as the initiative swung back to Nuno he moved the focus back to the German left. The Soviet counter-attack got moving again and captured the block, wiping out the German platoon in the process. Urraah!

Soviet counter-attack takes out German platoon

Soviet counter-attack takes out German platoon

Despite this local success the game was going in favour of the Germans. Chris pushed his platoons along the complete length of the Soviet base line.

Germans surround surviving Soviets

Germans surround surviving Soviets

1000 Hours

1000 Hours

Whole Table

Whole Table

The Soviets were still fighting but their options were severely limited. There seemed to be Germans every where.

German centre-left

German centre-left

In a last ditch effort to tip the balance a Naval Anti-tank Rifleman took aim on one of the Panzer IIIs on the back edge. Bang. Boom! Knocked out.

Anti-tank rifle hero!

Anti-tank rifle hero!

But that was the last blast. Chris had taken all but two of the blocks on the table, for the loss of less than a company. The surviving Soviets – two platoons – caught in a pocket with no where to go. Nuno conceded.

Soviet pocket

Soviet pocket

Wrap up

Another enjoyable game. A bit unbalanced but only because of the relative difference in experience between Chris and Nuno. Made more apparent because Chris was on good form. He played a very competent game. Confident and didn’t make any particular mistakes. Nuno is still learning.

The visual appeal of the table was definitely an improvement over previous urban games – for example compare to my original 2 foot city. But clearly more I could do in that space. I will, when I have time, refresh the rest of my generic sectors. Particularly the six sector complexes. I’m also wondering whether to make some new six complexes using the ruined brick pieces that featured at the top of this post. They do look great.

The game has prompted me to redefine “within a stand width” of buildings in Crossfire. I’ve had a generous interpretation of this. In future I’ll be a bit more hard line. “Within a stand width” of the occupants of a building sector will mean be within the same building sector.

Again the lighting in Chris’s living room has negatively impacted the quality of the photos. We started playing in the afternoon so daylight provided fairly good lighting. But part way through the sun went down and we relied and the meagre lights available – at that point the photos get all yellowish. So I’ve asked Galit for some lighting kit for my birthday. 🙂

The game was fun but quite long. An hour to set up the day before. Then six hours on the day. Quite long for a Crossfire game where the defender only has a reinforced company. I have found that games on a heavily built up table do take longer. And Nuno’s relative inexperience slowed things a bit as as well. Plus there was a pizza break in the middle.

I also need to figure out how to play Crossfire with three players. I could have played a committee to run the Germans – so I could have played alongside Nuno. We’ve done that before but, alas, I’ve found I tend to dominate in those situation and Nuno doesn’t get the full Crossfire experience. So this time I opted to let him play alone.

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