Dateline June 24, 1941, outside Brest-Litovsk: A Russian outpost is being pulled back from an overwhelming German advance, but the documents and communications equipment of the outposts Command Post (CP), including details about the defenses of Brest-Litovsk, need to be destroyed before falling into the hands of the advancing German army. The only force able to intercede between the Germans and the CP is a unit of the Russian Militia, with very light weapon support (a single heavy MG, and a single light MG). The Russians begin in place, while the Germans advance and attempt take the Russian Outpost CP before the key documents and comm. gear is destroyed.
Game Details: As the Russian player, I set up first (with the exception of a large quantity of wire counters, which I set up after the Germans). Captain Egorov was required to set up in the CP (obviously, he's the one doing the burning of papers and such), but otherwise I was free to position my teams on most of the map - all but the last three hexes, where the Germans enter. Since I was the defender, and my primary objective was simply to keep the HQ from falling to the Germans - it was worth a total of 16 VPs all by itself, for a total swing of 32 points if it was lost (I'd lose 16, Eric would gain 16) - I felt no need to be overly aggressive for the most part. The Captain and a weapons team manning the Heavy MG went into the HQ building, two militia squads with a Corporal went into the other major building, and a large force of infantry, including the Light MG, went into the woods along the road. Eric Deployed the bulk of his forces on the far side of the clearing, with some weapon squads coming in amongst the buildings on the other side of the map. At this point, I deployed my wire - since my main goal was simply to slow his team down (and, if possible, channel his units into lines of fire from the rest of my units), I used it mostly on the edge of the forest in the hope of both slowing him down, and making him easier to hit with my stationary fire teams (in CC:E, wire has two effects - a unit entering it must stop moving, and they have a -1 penalty to all of their stats while in the wire).
Eric's Germans went first, and he moved his squads up, taking a couple of pot-shots at my units in the farmhouse on the left flank, and moving the mass of his force through the clearing, and up onto (but not yet into) the wire, while I churned cards a couple of times looking for a better set of cards. One important card I ended up pulling ended up being quite important - an Ambush, going well with an Advance already in my hand. Eric then moved into the wire - one group in particular looked threatening, as he had a full squad PLUS a weapons team and his Heavy MG. The Militia squad guarding that section of the wire advanced, used an Ambush to weaken the Germans further, and the resulting Melee ended in a tie - eliminating my militia along with both his squad, his weapons team, and probably most importantly his Heavy MG. That seemed like a pretty good trade to me, as the Russians have numerical superiority in this scenario, while the Germans units and weapons are quite a bit superior. As it turned out, neither of us were able to use our Heavy MGs much, as mine ended up breaking shortly thereafter as a result of doubles rolled while using Sustained Fire, and eventually being eliminated (the weapons team obviously was unable to repair the damage).
At this point, the Germans managed to use the Demolitions card they started with (a special rule for this scenario, to make up for the large quantity of wire the Russians start with) to remove one of the wire tokens on the right flank, and started pouring his units through - this resulted in a fairly prolonged firefight in the woods and along the road, with the Germans coming out on the better end of it. The one major thing Eric was unable to do was eliminate Sgt. Maisky who had been in charge of guarding that part of the wire - he was able to retreat back behind a low wall and take command of a fresh militia squad that provided some protective fire on the left flank of the HQ building. I managed to consolidate my forces, mainly be retreating a militia unit into the HQ (the stacking limit of 7 allows one leader, one squad, and one team to occupy a single hex, and buildings provide strong cover which make them difficult to attack at range).
Eric was using his MGs and a seemingly endless collection of Rout cards to drive several of my weakened squads off the map - at one point, I was down below 10 VPs, after having started with 20, due to losses suffered either directly or as a result of my Routed units running off my end of the map. Eric continued his advance through the forest on the right flank, protected by a good amount of brush between my units and his (and by forest, in some cases). He also had a Walking Wounded event bring back one of his previously eliminated units (broken), appearing right behind my HQ - but luckily for me he ended up not having the Moves (to move it off the board for VPs) nor the Recovers to make it more of a threat, before I was able to eliminate it with the squad Sgt. Maisky had taken charge of.
At this point, things were looking a bit grim for the Russian defenders (or, at least, it felt that way), as the Germans were able to move a sizable force (2 squads, plus a light MG) forward to threaten the HQ building. I expected him to advance into the HQ and start a melee, so I discarded and managed to get a second Ambush card. Sure enough Eric advanced both squads into the HQ, and he ALSO had 2 ambush cards - I broke my team and my squad (after verifying that Command still applied in melee - the cost of breaking my squad was a reduction in FP of 3, while breaking Cpt. Egorov cost 4 FP, 2 each for the team and the squad), and ended up with a significant numerical advantage over Eric's broken forces (IIRC, it was on the order of 10 FP to 4 FP), and I managed to roll fairly well, eliminating two German squads (and a LMG), and maintaining control of the key objective. The Germans still had enough forces to be a threat, but managed to maneuver behind the copse of trees right outside of the HQ building. I was able to use recover to un-break the squad and team guarding the HQ, and was able to fire (with a decent attack value) on his units hiding in the field on the edge of the map. At this point, luck took a strange turn - Eric's defense roll was both the last card of his deck, AND a Time! trigger, resulting in TWO time triggers at once. This brought the VP total back from the brink (by 2), and also put us one Time! trigger away from Sudden Death (with me controlling the initiative).
On his next turn, Eric moved his units closer, and I took the chance to take some opportunity fire, my attack roll resulting in yet another Time! trigger . . . at first, I grabbed the top card, which was higher than the Sudden Death (SD) value, but we checked the Time Advance sequence, and I was supposed to reshuffle my deck first . . . on a recheck, my roll was significantly below the SD value, ending the game. Since I held the initiative, Eric had no option to force a re-roll.
For those keeping track at home, that was THREE Time! triggers right in a row . . . with a Sudden Death roll to end the game capping it all off.
On the whole, after having eliminated the units assaulting the Russian HQ, I felt like I had things well in hand (for the first time since the Germans had swarmed over the wire, to be honest), so I'm not sure the result would have been terribly different if the game had gone on longer. Additionally, the HQ building was, in fact, worth another 2 VP (due to a hidden objective drawn as an event), making it worth a total of 18 VP, for a total swing of 36 points if it changed hands. As it was, the game ended abruptly (and in my imagination, the surviving Russian militia, along with Captain Egorov, retreated to the relative safety of the Brest-Litovsk fortress, with many vodkas drunk to their brave comrades who had made the ultimate sacrifice holding off the advancing Germans).
This was my fourth game of Combat Commander: Europe, and my first victory (which was pretty exciting from my perspective). I'm still enjoying CC:E quite a bit, but I'm likely to be aiming for something a bit different for my next choice - I have a while to think of what I want to try, though, as it's Eric's turn to pick this week, when I will likely be taking the Russian perspective once again, facing off against the U.S. in Twilight Struggle.
Combat Commander gets your blood flowing.
Thanks Tim, that was a very well written report. Congrats on your first win!