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Subject: Boardgamer Special Issue: Prokhorovka #6 - Hill 226 rss

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Jeff S
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A friend and I had a rematch of the Hill 226 scenario from The Boardgamer Special Issue. It's one of several scenarios depicting fighting around Prokhorovka during the Kursk offensive.

Scenario Description

This scenario features a largely immobile Russian force that is heavy on AT guns, infantry and artillery, while the Germans are more balanced between the different arms and more mobile with trucks and halftracks. Victory is determined by control of the hills on the center board section and for destruction of enemy units. One alteration we made was to use new mapboards from the Imaginative Strategist website instead of boards 1-3. In their place we used boards 11, 8 and 6 (north to south).

Most of the fighting took place on board 8. This board is dominated by two hills with the smaller Hill 133 on the German left and the much larger Hill 136 on the German right. The map also has a road in the center down the valley formed by the two hills with the town of Nizhni Voronezh at the north end of the valley.

I played as the Germans while Tom took the Soviets again. We both were determined to draw lessons from our first time out with this scenario. The lessons I drew from the first match are:

1) Stay out of sight of Russian artillery, and their CPs. The Russians have over 300 points worth of artllery to use and two command posts to direct indirect fire to vaporize anything in sight.

2) To use the panzers more aggressively to infiltrate Russian positions, and to threaten Russian artillery positions in the rear.

3) Better coordination of German artillery for direct fire on Russian forts, and to keep them up forward.

Of course Tom was making the same type of corrections to his game plan as well. From his set up I could see some improvements already.

1) Forts were positioned across the front and in covered positions.

2) Obstacles were placed to block roads up the hills and allow no quick advances across the center board.

3) Artillery in the rear was placed in covered positions with clear fields of fire.

Taking this into account, my game plan was to drive through the center of the board and clear the valley of opposition. This would allow me to gain access to the Soviet rear areas, and then threaten either hill. With the Soviets moving second each turn, I determined that it was foolish to strive too hard towards hill control as they could always slip one unit onto a hilltop at the end. With that in mind, I needed to minimize casualties. Once the valley would be clear I could contest each hill, and then assess the situation. If one hill was vulnerable I could then direct my attention to capturing it.

Early Turns (1-3)

The attack opened with grenadiers moving into positions to spot for artillery against Soviet forts on Hill 133 and in the forest at the entrance to the valley.

Tanks and halftracks were able to gain a foothold also in the woods on the western edge of Hill 136 overlooking the valley. Artillery was able to disperse units on the front edge of 133 but was ineffective against the woods barring the road through the valley. Heavy fighting developed on Hill 136 in the woods. Supported by tanks, several forts fell and the Germans were able to dominate the western slopes. Russian guns though still held sway over the open center of the plateau. A command post was stationed in State Farm 21 waiting for any German to show up.

Back in the valley, I deployed three companies (9 units) of infantry to assault the forts in entrance blocking the road to Nizhni Voronezh. The first assaults failed to eliminate them but eventually succeeded with help from the artillery.

On Hill 133, the foremost fort with infantry and AT guns held firm. I redeployed my infantry to help in the assault in the center. Panzer IIIs though were able to infiltrate onto Hill 133 into the woods between Belgorod and State Farm 22.

Middle Turns (4-6)

Heavy fighting continued on Hill 136 with both sides sending in infantry to close assault their opponents. Both sides took heavy losses in infantry and I lost some halftracks as well. Panzer IVs and Stug IIIs were able to descend into the valley and seize Nizhni.
Some tanks were also lost as infantry were able to spot for the command post on Hill 133 across the valley.

Meanwhile on Hill 133, The Panzer IIIs continued north into the Soviet rear, and reached Kasia to interdict expected Soviet reinforcements. The Soviets counterattacked in front of their forts and pushed back some infantry.

In the valley, Soviet opposition in the woods finally fell and I was able to flood the valley with Gmeran reinforcements of all types.

Late Turns (7-8)

In the valley I consolidated my gains and fought off Soviet counterattacks. Troops were also deployed to set up the attack up the slopes of Hill 133, including against the command post identified in the woods. Fighting died down on Hill 136. The Soviets lacked the firepower to push the Germans out of the woods, while I was content just to contest Hill 136, and screen the valley from any incursions.

In the Soviet rear areas, infantry surround the two Panzer III platoons in Kasia. After overunning an SMG company the panzer were eventually overwhelmed by assaulting infantry. Meanwhile the two other platoons of the company overran truck borne infantry while succumbing to the combined fire of KV-1s and artillery.

At this point we called the game as losses were starting to tilt decidedly in favor of the Germans. I also had a good chance of taking Hill 133 in its entirety for an additional ten points.
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