12 July 2013

Polish 21st Light tank battalion vs Soviet Cavalry



I played my first Early War game in months earlier this week against David, we were both using lists from my September Campaign v.2 book. As I wanted to field test my R35 company we played a straight core rulebook scenario, since there are no historical scenarios revolving around the 21st Light Tank battalion in my book.

I ran the following list

R-35 tank company from the 21st Light Tank battalion

R-35 HQ tank
4 Platoons of 3 R-35 tanks each
1 Motorcycle reconnaissance platoon (2 sections)
1 Piechoty company: 3 platoons with AT rifles and HMG platoon
________
9 platoons, 1500 points


David ran the following list

Soviet Cavalry regiment

HQ
1 Platoon of mounted Soviet cavalry
1 Platoon of dismounted Soviet cavalry
1 Platoon of 4 BT-5
1 Platoon of 5 BA-10 armored cars
1 Platoon of 76mm infantry guns (3 guns)
1 Platoon of 45mm AT guns (2 guns)
1 Platoon of 76mm AT guns (3 guns + staff team)
1 Platoon of AA MG trucks (3 trucks)
1 Polikarpov air support with Rockets
_____
8 platoons, 1500 points


The scenario was "Fighting withdrawal", handpicked since it's one of the fun scenarios in the book. As the tank company I was the attacker and David was defending with his highly mobile cavalry/mechanized list.

I placed my objectives at the far flanks, David placed his objective just behind the farm. My plan was to focus on the objective on top of the hill on the left flank - thus I deployed all 4 tank platoons, motorcycles, the company commander and a single infantry platoon on the left flank, one infantry platoon and the HMG platoon at the center and one platoon at the right flank.

The way David had deployed was BT-5 tanks lurking behind some trees on the left flank, 76mm infantry guns on the hill guarding the objective, the AA trucks were hiding behind that same hill, all cavalry units around the farm, BA-10 and 45mm AT guns on the right flank. 76mm AT guns were placed in Ambush.
........

As the battle began all R-35 tanks moved forward, still hopelessly out of range from the enemy units, motorcycles moved ahead and made sure no ambushes were placed in the trees nearby, the infantry support was moving slowly from behind. I remained in position with the two infantry platoons and the HMG platoon, meaning to use them as a reserve and distraction for the Soviet troops on the right flank. Polish HMG teams rained down some bad news on the Soviet dismounted cavalry in the village and managed to kill a  team and pin down the rest.

Now the Soviets moved out with the BT-5 tanks, which came around the small tree line on the left flank, and they also revealed their 76mm AT guns hidden in the wheat field. The crossfire from artillery, AT guns and BT-5 tanks did its best to stop the slow moving but heavily armored Polish tanks - with partial success. The R-35 platoon moving along the train tracks lost 2 tanks - among the casualties the platoon commander. The tanks coming from the left flank however bounced the hits .

With the Soviet tanks still out of range the R-35 tanks had to move even closer before they opened fire, focusing the fire from two tank platoons on the BT-5's, which resulted in 2 knocked out tanks.

Rushing from the right flank to even out the odds came the BA-10 armored cars with their excellent AT guns but firing at long range had the Poles bounce all hits and the tank and AT gun battle continued during the next turn.

Being at close range the R-35 parked comfortably and unleashed a ful rate of fire at the BA-10's but with very poor accuracy and low efficiency of the rounds the Soviet armored cars only bailed out with one car, supporting Polish AT rifle and regular rifle fire managed to destroy one car but it did not look very good with 3 barrels of 45mm guns staring at the flank of my R-35 tanks. Polish HMG guns and more fire from the R-35 tanks brought down the Soviet 76mm artillery platoon down to a single gun, then the Soviets lost one more BT-5 tank and the BT-5 commander was bailed out.

The Poles kept firing at that Soviet command tank with all they had with increasing frustration, failing to destroy it until it finally blew up - but not after all valuable shots had been allocated to that enemy platoon. The return fire from the 76mm infantry guns knocked out an R-35 tank and bailed two, and the Soviet Polikarpov airplane strafed the area with rockets but did no damage.

The situation for the Soviet left flank looked grim but their AA trucks and infantry guns wiped out the Polish platoon reconnaissance platoon which urged the remaining R-35 tanks to muster an assault on the hill. Meanwhile on the opposite flank one Polish infantry platoon left their hiding place in the forest and advanced against the right flank objective as a precaution if the attack on the left flank objective didn't pan out. The BA-10 platoon, still constantly under small arms fire and dodging AT rifle shots now destroyed the exposed R-35 platoon (2 tanks destroyed , 1 fled) and then made haste to return back towards the right flank where they began firing at the Polish infantry in the open.

Caught between the MG fire from the BA-10 armored cars the Poles also found themselves charged by Soviet cavalry, already bloodied to 50% of their starting strength the fierce fighting saw but a few casualties and ended with the Soviet cavalry being forced to withdraw. The Poles failed to rally and were once again attacked by cars and cavalry, this time however the defensive fire from the pinned down riflemen and bayonet defense wiped out the Soviet mounted cavalry platoon - which lost all teams except for the commissar - who fled! Badly battered the Poles still stayed in the fight.

At this point in the battle it had become clear that the Soviet player would soon remove the objective on the hill, and trying to capture the objective on the right flank with a very badly beaten up infantry platoon would be very hard. This just added extra determination to both sides, R-35 tanks charged the 76mm infantry guns on the hill, in the defensive fire and fighting the Poles managed to destroy one gun but 1 tank was bailed out and two bogged down which meant they were all destroyed . This was perfect for the Soviet side as the Poles would fight in vain for the objective on the hill which would be removed the very next Soviet turn. Still, the Poles charged with the infantry - aiming to break the enemy company morale. The guns were wiped off the hill and the enemy company commander was nearly killed but got away by the slimmest of margins.

It all came down to two rolls of the dice, first David checked the "Meddling political officers" rating of his company commander- turned out to be "Trained", then he rolled the company morale check and failed! The Soviets withdrew from battle.

We actually looked at the remaining possibilities after the fight to see what would have happened if the Soviets would have stayed in the fight. I had pinned down David's last unit of dismounted cavalry, which would have unpinned and probably wiped out the remaining Polish infantry claiming the objective on the right flank. My troops from the left flank would never be able to reach the center objective in time before the end of turn 8.

So it was a very tight game, and as always extremely dynamic with a LOT of triumph and despair moments. The game really went back and forth each turn and something occurred each turn - be it great armor saves on my part, good firepower tests with Polish HMG teams, failed motivation test for Polish bailed out tanks and pinned down infantry, the cavalry battle that failed, the extremely unlucky charge uphill with the R-35 tanks against the infantry guns etc. I had a great time, and I think David did too. Joakim who was watching the battle also commented on rarely having seen a FoW game that went back and forth the way ours did.

So to sum it up, I really like playing FoW when everything clicks, from the player mindset of both players to the September Campaign lists and Early War. It's also great to play with Poles vs Soviets since both players hit each other on 3+ before any modifiers come into play, it makes the game flow really well and our fights are pretty bloody for both sides and never one sided. There really is no point for me to play anything FoW related outside of my area of interest if that makes me miserable.

3 comments:

  1. Without a doubt one of the best games of FoW i have played in a long while. darn those overarmoured polish tanks :p

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, I thought you guys were playing this Sunday. A shame I missed it; EW is definitely much more interesting.
    Will have to challenge one of you to a match at some point ^^

    /Anders

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cool game, interesting period early war

    ReplyDelete

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