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Subject: Scenario 67 - Island of Muhu - 14 September 1941 rss

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Drew Heath
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Scenario 67 - Island of Muhu - 14 September 1941

When the Germans swept through the Baltic states in the summer of 1941, they left behind them the Soviet garrisons on the Estonian islands in the Baltic Sea. Once the front had moved on, it was time to eliminate these outposts far in the German rear area. Accordingly, the German and Finnish navies dusted off the 1917 amphibious "Operation Albion" and once again landed troops on the island. On Muhu, a small island between the mainland and Saaremaa, the landing force encountered stiff resistance at the village of Saastna.

Map: 4
Game Length: 20 turns
First Turn: 0900
Other: none

Germany - Elements, 151st Infantry Regiment (61st Infantry Division)
Enter anywhere on the north edge:

10 x Infantry
4 x Heavy Machine Gun
2 x 81mm

Leaders: 1 Major, 2 Captains, 4 Lts, 1 Sergeant
Initiative: 2
Morale: 8/6
Off-board Artillery: 3 x 20

Reinforcements - ERNA Commando Group
Enter at the start of any turn, in ANY hex not within line of sight of a Soviet unit:

1 x KDO

Soviet Union - Elements, 3rd Rifle Brigade
Set up first, anywhere at least 3 hexes from the north edge:

8 x Infantry
3 x Heavy Machine Gun
1 x 45mm
1 x 76.2mm MTN

Leaders: 1 Major, 3 Lts, 1 Sergeant
Initiative: 1
Morale: 7/6
Off-board Artillery: 1 x 24, 20, & 12

Victory Conditions
The German player wins if at the end of play there is no Soviet unit able to bring a town hex under direct fire. The Soviet player wins if the German player does not and at least six German steps have been eliminated. If neither player wins, the result is a draw.

Introduction
My gaming buddy wavydavie and I hadn't played PG in almost 2 months so I chose this scenario in the hopes that it would make a nice, easy refresher - it features no armor, takes place in broad daylight, and is only one map with Germans trying to clear the town.

Opening Setup
Map 4 has a central town covering 7 hexes, a large field in the NW quadrant, a forest in the SE quadrant, and a small 3 hex hill in the NE corner that won't be mentioned again because it wasn't a factor in play.

As the Soviets I elected to split my forces thusly:

- my weakest leader, 2 infantry, and 1 HMG were posted to the NW field. It was a suicidal decision but I hoped they'd slow & disrupt the German entry

- a Lt and 2 infantry started just outside of the town to the SW with plans to immediately dig-in and cover the rear... there were reports of Commandos about

- a Lt, mortar, and one infantry set up at the north edge of the forest SE of town, giving them good cover and LOS over nearly the entire German advance

- the remainder were posted in the town to await the German advance

In the Beginning
The Germans managed a stunning initiative victory on the first turn, getting 3 sequential activations to start thereby allowing Dave to get his entire force on the board before I could fire a shot. I had a chance to OppFire with my HMG in the field but chose to wait.

Opening Rounds
The Suicide Brigade hiding in the fields fought valiantly, delaying half the German forces for nearly two hours through repeated rallies under withering combined fire before finally being swept aside. By 1030 the theme of the battle had also become clear - Finger of God Artillery - as both sides repeatedly chose to mass all their off-board artillery into unified strikes on single hexes. This meant consistently firing on the next to last bombardment column for both sides, and occasionally on the last column if a commander was foolish enough to crowd 3 platoons into a hex. Shells would come whistling in, great clouds of dirt and earth would erupt into the sky, and when the smoke cleared whole platoons would simply be gone. A fearful slaughter indeed.

Midgame
Throughout it all, idly watching the carnage in the fields ahead, sat the Soviet town garrison. The enemy was out of range of their rifles and HMGs, and they couldn't be spotted by the still-too-distant Germans to allow accurate artillery fire. Their picnic was abruptly ended, however, when a lone German Lt sprinted to within 600m of the town and began calling in artillery. At the same time the last of the Suicide Brigade collapsed amongst the corn rows, freeing the German left for the assault on the town. At 1100 the Germans rallied the weary and scared shitless, reformed their lines, and plunged ahead towards the town - which was now under heavy bombardment.

Endgame
The Soviets fired on the rapidly advancing Germans as best they could, but the brutal artillery barrage limited their chances and the chances they did get were mostly squandered when the incompetent leadership couldn't successfully coordinate fire between platoons. The Germans soon reached the town and brutal hand-to-hand combat ensued just after 1130. Fighting was so desperate that at one point the Soviet commander resorted to calling artillery down on a neighborhood that still had some Soviet platoon remnants in it in the hopes of burying the swarming Nazis along with his own men. By noon most of the Soviet leadership and over half the initial brigade lay dead. Those few that remained were badly broken and scattered among the houses, unable to offer more than token resistance to the Nazi hordes. The battle was over. (~turn 13 of 20)

Play Evaluation
During a brief post-game analysis Dave and I discussed the sequence of events and made the following observations:

- he wasted way too much time and manpower chasing my small detachment in the fields, in hindsight we agreed they really were never going to be much of a threat

- advancing the lone leader to spot on the town was a great idea and one he should have done much earlier in the battle

- my town defense really suffered from not drawing any leaders with combat modifiers, thereby preventing me from combining fire on his approaching Germans

- in the town my leaders were not stacked with my men, they were behind them. This protected them from the artillery barrage but cost me a valuable +1 shift during assault defense

Final Thoughts
This scenario proved to be everything we wanted it to be: small & manageable, simple, tense, and fun - this would be a great intro scenario for someone new to the system. It was very bloody for both sides with both Germans & Soviets losing all their initiative by the end of the game. I would definitely replay it if given the chance. Can the Russians win? Yes, I think so, but they have very little margin for error. In the end it hardly matters though, you'll be having far too much fun to care.

Notes
- we played with the German Commandos acting as their own leader. This isn't specified in the rules but is a logical conclusion - they're freaking commandos!

- I have a broken elbow and typed all of the above with one hand, yes, I love Panzer Grenadier that much!

EDIT

Mark Stadel has uploaded a picture of all the maps - Map 4, the one used for this scenario, is on the right.
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George Haberberger
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Nice writeup, I'll have to give this one a try.

I've never put my leaders behind the platoons, but it does sound interesting, I should try it one time.
 
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Drew Heath
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In situations where you're going to sit and suffer a lot of artillery fire it allows them to be clear of attack and yet still lend morale bonuses to adjacent hexes. My mistake was not advancing them when Dave closed in for assault. At that point artillery ceases anyway and so you're only hurting yourself by keeping them in the rear and losing that assault bonus.
 
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Xander Fulton
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Shad wrote:
At that point artillery ceases anyway and so you're only hurting yourself by keeping them in the rear and losing that assault bonus.


Boy, you guys play a VERY different kind of game than we do! We always end up shelling the crap out of our own forces.
 
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Jason Rahman
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Great replay Shad, this is a very interesting scenario and along with Infantry Attacks is a great scenario to introduce players to PG.

Last time I played this scenarios I lost as the Germans, in part because my opponent set up in a very sleazy way. What happened was that he set up several useless leaders, INF units and Mtn ART units at each map corner so that my commandos couldn't enter! Because of that I wasn't able to have my KDO unit harass his flanks which was a big part of my battle plan.

Of course that is nothing compared to what you can get away with in ASL!

 
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Enrique Aynat Eknes
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Nice AAR.
 
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