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Subject: Boardgamer Special Issue: Prokhorovka #5 - Kalinin rss

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Jeff S
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Paul and I have continued our series of Panzerblitz matches with another Prokhorovka scenario from the The Baordgamer Panzerblitz Special Issue. Our latest match pits the Soviet 2nd Guards Tank Corps assaulting positions of the 2nd SS Panzergrenadier Division Das Reich.

Scenario Description:

In this scenario the Germans start set up on board 3 in the center and board 2 on the western side. The Soviets set up on board 4 on the eastern side. Victory is determined by victory points gained by killing enemy units and the posession of towns on the board. The Soviets gain 10 points for control of towns on boards 3 and 2, while the Germans get 10 points for control of towns on board 4.

The Soviets start with large amounts of artillery as well as fortifications on board 4. He also gets good complements of Guards infantry and rifle companies with T-34 and T70 tanks. In addition, he also gets two companies of SU-122 assault guns, and 2 Katyusha units.
Overall the Soviet forces are well balanced for combined arms with good artillery support, and plenty of trucks to move the infantry up.

The Germans start with a balanced force as well of infantry, assault guns, and antitank guns. Artillery support though is limited to two batteries of 105mm and two 120mm mortar units. On turn 6 of this 12 turn scenario the cavalry arrives with armor, infantry in halftracks, and Hummel and Wespe SP artillery.

Early Turns:

The Soviet start off their attack on a broad front with forces moving in to assault the center town of Opustoschenia, and the southern flank town of Grabyosh. Infantry are brought in on trucks as well as riding on tanks. On the northern flank, Soviet tanks and infantry advance with the support of SU-122s into the woods east of Zabvenia.

The Germans open up on the advancing Russians with everything they got. The Germans have Command Posts (CP) in Zabvenia, Opustoschenia and on Hill 129 so they can spot most all of board 3 for indirect fire. In addition, two batteries of 88s open up on the tanks as well. It is quickly determined though that the Germans don't have enough firepower to repulse all the attackers. This means that there will be survivors that will also be able to call upon their own artillery support against the defenders of Opustoschenia and Grabyosh.



These calculations lead the Germans to concentrate their artillery in defense of Opustoschenia. This barrage takes out an infantry company. A Marder platoon and 75mm AT gun section take out attacking tanks. An 88 opens up on another T-34 working its way around Opustoschenia. An infatry company in Opustoschenia close assaults tanks as well. The Russian Guards though stay firm and assault into the town after a barrage is called in that takes out the German CP.

In Grabyosh, the fighting is even harder. German defenders know that they can stay and take out Russians or save their own skins. 88s in the vicinity of Golod lend their support and two Russian tank companies are taken out. Another Marder platoon and 75mm AT take out more tanks and trucks, but the infantry are in postion to spot and assault into the town. The infantry in Grabyosh pull back to the far side of the town to avoid the expected Soviet artillery barrage. The Soviets bring in massive quantities of artillery to rain down on Grabyosh taking out the Marders and antitank guns. The Soviet infaatry assault into Grabyosh as well dispersing the infantry company.

With the Russian assaults making headway into the forward positions, the Germans have tough decision to make. Essentially Grabyosh is written off as reserves are insufficent to take back the town. The German forces in Grabyosh attempt to withdraw back into the woods, while the reserves (3 Stug platoons) are moved into postion to support the defenders of Opustoschenia.

The Russians meanwhile bring up a second wave of infantry in trucks supported by more tanks. In the north the Russians consolidate their positions in the woods east of Zabvenia, but make no attempt against the town itself. By turn 4 though the Soviets have cleared the town and the woods to the west. They are now in position to move against Golod:



Middle Turns:

Once again the fight is on for Opustoschenia though with heavy casualties on both sides. The Soviets lose another infantry company to artillery fire while more vehicles reduced to wrecks in the open steppe surrounding the beleagured village:

The Germans attempt to assault the Russian attackers to throw them out of the town, but their attempts come up short. Both sides are eager to bring down the artillery but spotting is difficult. In particular the Germans withdraw to the western end of Opustoschenia where apparently the Russian CPs cannot reach. The Soviet will have to depend on the infantry and those batteries that can direct fire on the German positions. Fortunately, they have an SU-122 to the north and 3 artillery units on hill 106 that can provide support.

While the Soviets have taken heavy casualties, the Germans have lost much as well including two antitank units, a CP and about 4 infantry. With the loss of Grabyosh and Opustoschenia holding on grimly it does not look good for the Germans. The attacks continue and the Germans use every bit of firepower they have to support the Landsers that are huggin the rubble of Opustoschenia. The Germans desperately need to hold out for their reinforcements, but more importantly they need to keep the infantry holding out in good order so they can call in the artillery fire onto the Russian infantry that are in the town.

In the below picture, black lines denote fire support provided to the Germans in Opustoschenia.



For several turns, the cycle continues as both commanders focus their efforts on the struggle for Opustoschenia. The Russians bring down artillery fire from Hill 106 and can get a 2:1 +1 attack against the Germans followed up with a 1:2 -1 close assault. Fortunately for the Germans, the Soviets never get better than a dispersal result. This does prevent German artillery from getting at the Russian infantry though.

Fighting has died down on both flanks though. Finally on turn 6 the German reinforcements come in. Panzergrenadiers are positioned on Hill 132 ready for any opportunity to reinforce Opustoschenia. They don't have to wait long as the Russian finally destroy the defending German company in the town with a close assault. The grenadiers quickly rush in to bolster the remnants and hold onto the German position.

Meanwhile the German artillery is reinforced on Hill 132 as well. With targets drying up in the center, the Germans decide to start counterbattery against the Russian guns fortified on Hill 106. They are able to keep two units dispersed relieving the Landser somewhat. The Russians though reinforce their support by bringing up another company of SU-122s to bare against the town.

Other German reinforcements move into the vicinity of Zabvenia with an eye to take the woods to the east, adn threaten the fire support the Russians are getting from the SU-122s. Other grenadiers in halftracks move to interdict Soviet reinforcements to Opustoschenia, but they are wrecked on the road east of town.

Late Turns:

The cycle continues with barrages into the key town and close assaults within it. The Germans manage to get Pioneers into place but dispersal results keep their heads down. Eventually a Stug platoon is also moved in to bolster the defense strength. The Germans finally take out some 152 and 122 howitzers with a lucky roll of 1 against the Soviet fortified position.



Some panzers move forward along a gully to threaten mortar positions, but that is the extent of the German counterattack. The planned attacks against the woods east of Zabvenai are called off. The only hope of German victory now stands with the determination of the German infantry to hold onto their last corner of Opustoschenia. If they succed, the Germans may win as the victory point totals have been close all along. If they are wiped out, then the Russians have victory assured as there will be no time to make up the ten points for the capture of the town.

Both sides continue with their low odds attacks not wanting to risk exposure of units late in the game. The fighting continues, but the song remains the same as the Germans hold out in the town, but are unable to push the issue elsewhere.

Turn twelve comes, and the VP total ends at 26-26. A draw! The Germans destroyed 26 Russian units, while the Russians destroyed 16 Germans and captured Grabyosh. So many things could have tipped this one way or the other. Both Paul and I noted several times rolling that dreaded 6 on a 4:1 +1 attack, not to mention other decisions taken.
And Opustoschenia:





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Paul Ciorra
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After playing the last few scenarios conservatively I decided to be more bold and daring. The previous tactics didnt help me and didnt save casualties, and in fact in the end caused more. I mounted my infantry on as many tanks as I could, the rest on half tracks and assaulted the two towns right off the bat. Jeff gives a good play by play after that. I lost numerous companies in the meat grinder of Opustoschenia. I thought my play was fairly good except for two mistakes where I basically threw away an armor company on each one. I believe if I played this again I could threaten one more town on the next board. I would also like to add that I had three hexes controlled out of the four of Opustoschenia and thats what kept me from winning the scenario by 10 points. Either way great time was had with alot of excitement till the very end. For once I kept Jeff reacting to my moves and not the other way around. I will say again that the amount of artillery available and the optional indirect fire rules make you really think about what your doing. A mistake will definately cost you big time here. I had over 250 AF in IDF if need be. However there was not enough woods hexes on hilltops so some had to go in Fortifications which Jeff with a dice roll of 1 on a 2 to 1 atk was able to destroy 100 of those atttack factors. Jeff I look foward to the next one real soon, Paul
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Mark Stricker
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Great session report. Thanks for posting.
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