Saturday 23 April 2016

Polish Counter-Attack 1939 - Revisited

A couple of days ago Paul and I had the opportunity to re-fight our Polish counter-attack scenario: this was the one that I screwed up a bit the first time we played it.

The good news is that, having corrected the cock-ups, the scenario worked out much better. We played 5 moves in just over 3 hours, and the game was concluded in Polish turn 5 when the German losses reached their Battle Rating. The Poles were only about two thirds of the way towards their own battle rating, so the victory was pretty clear.

Paul, playing the Germans, had been determinedly propping up his units in his advance line, placed in the centre third of the table (see map in previous post). He had been doing this by using the rally rule at the end of most turns, and also by using the Tactical Co-ordination order. This had made the defence very stubborn, and had cost the Poles significant casualties whilst slowing their advance significantly. However, Paul had got a little carried away, and had been unlucky by drawing a few '5' battle counters. By the time he realised he was gobbling up his battle rating, it was too late.

Thus the Germans lost the game, but their main line of defence in the village was hardly touched. The Poles had lost an entire tank platoon and some infantry and had hardly advanced much beyond the mid-point of the table: but they had won. Presumably the German commander on the ground had decided that the Poles were sufficiently determined, and in sufficient numbers, to make his defence of the village untenable. Or perhaps the 'higher ups' had ordered him to pull out. Whatever the rationalisation, I liked the result - not because I won, but because it demonstrated that the rules generate interesting tactical decisions whose consequences need to be considered. 

It felt like we had battled for a fairly long time to get 5 moves done, but it was interesting to see that this is about the length the authors would predict for a battle of this size. The main rules don't give any guide to expected game length in time, but there is a very worthwhile example game on the Iron Fist Publishing website which gives some guidance - apparently platoon-sized games can be expected to last 2-3 hours, whilst battalion games might take all day. Thus, for a cross between a platoon and company-size game, 3 hours and a bit is about right. It is comforting to know we are not playing the game too slowly. We are getting used to the rules now, so delays with our heads in the rulebook are much less.

Some Pictures

The German defence line in Werba, south of the road. The black dice show
8 rounds of main armament ammo available to the Panzer IV.
A bit later in the game, and the same defence line from the north.
The Panzer IV has moved out to engage the Polish tanks.
Overview in the third move. The leading Polish tank platoon has taken a beating from the
anti-tank position in the ploughed fields - a 37mm gun and an anti-tank rifle were both present there.
Polish infantry are stalled in the woods to the right following a timed barrage, whilst the left flank platoon
is facing stubborn resistance from the dug-in Germans on the hill.
The second 7tp platoon advances through the burning wrecks of the first and makes a partial breakthrough.
Ignoring the pinned anti-tank rifle to their front, they engage the Panzer IV to their left.
Top right of picture - the German position on the hill is finally overrun.
Polish tank graveyard west of the bridge. To the left, the towed 75mm gun
braves another barrage of artillery fire falling into this area.
Polish platoon-command stand in the woods.
Polish infantry held up in the edge of the woods on the Polish left flank.
The German defence line in Werba has not been tested - this was taken after the final turn.

Overall, a pretty intense gaming experience and one thoroughly enjoyed by both players. As I have said so many times before, it's not just the rules that make a good game. You need a good scenario. Thanks to Piers Brand, Battlegroup author, for this one.