Thursday 23 November 2017

AB Russians and Germans - the replacements

The problem with buying beautifully sculpted figures is that they soon make your other figures look rather plain, and so it is with the AB figures that I've been buying.  When I first got back into miniatures I had no figures at all and so the pressure was on to quickly put together some allied and axis units without breaking the bank.  I found the Plastic Soldier Company figures were a great way to do this.  They were decent figures, that came in a variety of poses and in sufficient quantities in a single box to meet my needs. As such, they soon populated my initial British, Russian and German regular infantry units.

My first Russians, based for Crossfire

The moment I wanted a variation, say some British Airborne for the Chain of Command Kampfgruppe Von Luck campaign, then I decided to get hold of some AB figures.  Once I started painting these, then AB became my first point of call when I needed to add anything additional to any existing units - be it tank crews, artillery crews or specialists like engineers.

AB Waffen SS crew with a Zvezda Pak 40

AB Russian tank crew with an S-Model IS-2

It is, of course, a slippery slope, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  So, to cut a long story short, I've slowly been replacing some of my plastic figures with AB.

With the PSC Russian figures all the Serzhants (Junior Leaders, if you are playing CoC) carry pistols and I wanted mine with PPsh 41 SMGs.  I originally used some of the regular SMG figures from the PSC Russian infantry set, but none of them had particularly leader-like poses, so that apart from a larger base they didn't really stand out on the table.  Once I saw the new Russian figures from AB and their very attractive set of leader figures, I knew what I needed to do.  While it seems like a bit of an indulgence, the figures stand out so much more than my earlier leader figures that I think it's been well worth the effort.  The PSC Russian senior leader is a nice sculpt that certainly does the job, but as the AB set comes with two leaders with pistols it seemed churlish not to add them in as well. Since I initially painted these and posted them on the blog I've revisited how i do faces. Previously I'd settled for a flesh base coat and then a wash of GW Ogryn Flesh, but the results weren't always that great, so now I've tried a base of dark brown and then blocked in the flesh to leave the eyes and other features in the dark base colour.  I've then touched up the highlights with a lighter flesh colour.  A bit more effort, but a nice end result with a stronger level of contrast that works well when viewed from playing distance.

Faces prior to the new technique

And in action in a recent game
Nothing wrong with this PSC Russian Leytenant, but you know how it is.....

The PSC Russian Infantry set includes both riflemen and SMGs.  The problem is that generally a Russian infantry unit will be made up entirely of riflemen or entirely of SMG men.  Which means the Russian platoons, be it a rifle or SMG platoon, tend to be made up of too many figures in the same pose.  The problem is not quite as acute with the PSC German Infantry set, which includes a higher proportion of riflemen, but there is still a bit of repetition when you make up a full platoon.

Again AB figures to the rescue.  For the Russians I have added sixteen of the AB SMG figures so I can work them into the mix and add some variety to an SMG platoon.  These figures are close to completion, they just need to be varnished (coat of gloss followed by a coat of matt) and have their bases flocked.  I haven't bought any replacement riflemen. Yet.

For my Germans I've added two regular squads.  I could actually do with more variety in my MG34/42 teams, as the PSC range only include two offers - one team prone and the other marching and with six teams in a panzer grenadier platoon there's a lot of duplication of the same pose.  I'm still trying to work out the best way to deal with that.

Aside from adding variety to my units, my entire painting style has changed since I bought those original PSC figures several years ago.  The technique I used back then was partly based on speed, but also on my limited experience of painting miniatures (I've been painting 54mm figures for many years, but that's a completely different approach and technique).  I relied heavily on Army Painter dip, which was satisfactory enough and combined a wash with a tough varnish all in one hit.  However I did find it dulled down a lot of colour and my figures didn't particularly pop out when viewed from a distance.  The good thing was I cut my teeth painting relatively inexpensive figures and now that I've developed a style I'm happier with, I'm applying it to the more expensive figures.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Storming the Citadel Scenario 5 'Escape to Victory'

With the Germans successfully capturing the village of Butovo the survivors of the Russian platoon are trying to make it back to the defence line at Cherkasskoye. For the following scenario the Germans are looking to cut them off before they can reinforce the main defensive position. The Russians have three carts of wounded men and if they can exit two of them off the table then they will be able to use some of their current platoon as additional support for scenario six.

"Get those carts moving"

The Russians aren't in good shape, with only sixteen abled bodied men left of their original platoon.  All they have in support is an immobile 45mm L46 anti tank gun. The Germans, on the other hand, will draw on a platoon that is down only three men, plus they will have the added benefit of seven support points.

Everything seems to be in the German's favour for this one and both Dave and I sense this might be a fairly short scenario. With that in mind we have decided to revert to an earlier rule that was posted in the TFL CoC forum, that said the carts should be treated as medics if fired upon. This struck both of us as a good balancing mechanism, otherwise we feel there is too much incentive for the Germans to focus all their attention on the carts and the game could degenerate into a turkey shoot. Of course, if we were going to be strict about playing the period then the Germans will have little hesitation in firing at the carts, but in the interest of a more challenging scenario we decided to incorporate the rule.

For the German support I selected a IeIG18 75mm gun and a Sdkfz 251. My thinking was the infantry gun would provide a good level of HE support and help suppress the Russian 45mm AT gun, hopefully freeing up my half track to swoop down and capture the carts. My squads should be able to deal with the Russian infantry as we outnumber them with both men and firepower.

We start with Force Morale at nine for both sides and the Russians win the roll to determine who has initiative. The Germans benefit from 1D3 moves in the patrol phase and a roll of one gives me a single additional move. With the initiative, Dave was able to get moving quickly and so the patrol phase ended with the Russians able to cover quite a bit of the table. As a result JoPs looked like this:

Holding the initiative Dave takes the first phase and promptly rolls a double six. We thought this might be over quickly, but not quite like this. A Russian cart is able to deploy behind the farmhouse.

In the follow up phase the cart is joined by the other two. Meanwhile, both the Russian squads deploy, one in the orchard and the other behind the farmhouse.

Is this the Eastern Front or the American West?

The carts arrive and there's not a single German in sight. Yet.

With the Russians off to a good start I see every reason to start making immediate use of my extra command dice. It's a good decision, as it produces instant results with a double six of my own. With that, the Germans deploy two squads, one to the top of the hill and another in the rough ground. From there they can both target the Russian squads around the farmhouse and cover the edge of the table where the carts will try to escape. Both squads open fire targeting the squad behind the farmhouse, which is in open ground. Despite all the firepower this only results in one casualty and five points of shock, but the Serzhant (JL) takes the hit and is incapacitated for the remainder of the turn. Russian FM falls to eight.

The Serzhant is stunned and shock accumulates

In the following phase the Germans deploy their infantry gun onto the hill and the third squad into the rough ground, where they are joined by the Unterfeldwebel (SL). With nearly every Russian unit now deployed there seems no reason to hold back German deployment.

The German squads in the rough ground continue to target the squad in the open, causing two more casualties and three points of shock. The Serzhant takes another hit and is stunned again. Russian FM takes a hefty drop down to six. With eight points of shock, the squad is pinned down. The third German squad and the infantry gun target the Russians in the orchard, inflicting a casualty and five points of shock. The squad Serzhant is the one who is hit and he suffers a light wound. This time Russian FM holds steady, but I can't complain, that was a very effective series of phases for the Germans and the Russians won't be able to stand up to too much more of this.

The wounded Serzhant continues to bark out orders

The next Russian command roll produces yet another double phase and it's obvious that Dave needs to get the carts moving to exploit the opportunity. He brings on the Russian Leytenant so he can try to rally off some of the shock and take command of the squad whose leader is out of action. Meanwhile, he returns fire at the squad and infantry gun on the hill, but only manages to inflict a small amount of shock.

The wagons start to roll

With a double phase the Germans can only watch from a distance

In the subsequent phase the Russians roll yet another double six, at which point I'm starting to think that the carts will make it off the table before I even have a chance to try and stop them. So much for my Sdkfz 251 turning up to force their surrender.....they will be long gone at this rate. The carts move 8" and are now only 13" from the table edge, which means they can't get off the table in the next phase, so I'm still in with a chance. His squads fire up to the hill again and this time one of my squads takes a casualty. The Russians try to deploy the 45mm gun, but with their senior leader busy at the farmhouse the order doesn't get through.

In the following Russian phase the carts move a further 7", leaving them only 7" from safety.

With both his squads carrying some shock and one of them pinned, Dave wisely decides that laying down covering fire may be the most effective method to protect the carts and so he lays fire on the hill and the rough ground. I'm going to need to do something drastic to try to save the day.

Covering fire will reduce the effectiveness of German fire

In my next phase I decide it's time to get ruthless. I activate all my squads and the gun to fire at the carts in an attempt to prevent them slipping away. It's an ugly war with little quarter taken or given by either side and I've played my part. The carts contain four men and only kill results have any effect. The covering fire that Dave elected to lay down now proves very effective at limiting the number of hits. I fire two squads and despite all that fire only manage to inflict two casualties on the carts.

My third squad and the infantry gun also fire. The result is better and this time we inflict an additional three casualties. In the end all this may not mean a thing, because if the Russians can slip two of those carts off the table in the next phase then they have their victory. My FM drops down to eight as a result of firing on the wounded men.

Well, next Russian phase and it's all eyes on the movement roll for the carts. It's agonisingly close, but it's only 6", taking them to just one inch from the table edge and within a whisker of victory. So, it's not all over just yet. The Russians finally manage to deploy their 45mm gun and it fires HE up at the hill causing a further point of shock. Meanwhile his squads maintain their covering fire in the hope that will limit further casualties to the carts.

The German phase sees the last of the extra command dice used and it pays off handsomely with a double six. The rest of my command dice don't give me a lot of activation choices, but enough to have two squads fire once again. There's still a chance I can deal with those carts, if only my FM holds up. The result is enough to raise the number of killed men to four in one of the carts and so eliminate it. The German FM takes quite a hit as a result and drops from eight to six. If I can eliminate a second cart in the next phase, then that will see me face a few less Russians in the next scenario.

That's one cart eliminated

The Germans watch the carts come agonisingly close to escape

The subsequent German phase sees the covering fire come off my squads, which allows me to direct much more effective fire at the carts and it's enough to the do the job and eliminate that second cart. I have a CoC die available and, while it does nothing more than ease my conscience, I use it to avert the FM test for shooting at the wounded men.

A second cart is eliminated

With that Dave calls it a day and the scenario is over. Well, as we thought, the scenario played fairly quickly, however it was not quite as one-sided as we imagined. Russian victory could so easily have been attained had the carts been able to move just that little bit faster. While double phases abounded and they could so easily have given the Russians a chance at victory, they ultimately rewarded the Germans. Luck as always was fickle and the combination of the slow moving carts and the weight of German fire was enough to tip the balance.

In the early stages the Russians benefited from holding the initiative and the fact the Germans were restricted to one free move in the patrol phase. That meant the Russians were able to place their JoPs quite far up the table, clearly an advantage. The game was marked by double phases on both sides and it certainly gave the Russians a good shot at moving the carts, but in the end they were hampered by their inability to move fast enough. Nonetheless, it was a close run thing. If it wasn't for that bit of ill fortune, this could so easily have been chalked up as a Russian victory. In hindsight Dave realised that he started laying down covering fire too late and should have considered using it much earlier. The Germans were all firing at effective range and covering fire would have been a very effective way to reduce the chances of a hit from 1 in 3, to 1 in 6. Quite a shift in the odds.

The German platoon took two casualties. With Force Morale ending at six for both sides, I paid the penalty for shooting up the wounded men, as a consequence German FM is not high enough to see those two casualties return. As it stands now, one is lost permanently and I'll only see the other return if we make it to 6 July. CO's opinion goes up to 2 and the Men's goes up to 3. The platoon commander's outlook is energetic. Overall the Germans are in reasonable shape to face the next scenario.

Russian casualties have no further impact, as this platoon is now replaced with a fresh one from a new regiment and we will start afresh with CO and Men's opinion.

So next we move to the final map.  The Russians really need to make a stand here and try to throw the Germans off schedule. We plan to follow this campaign with Citadel: the Breakthrough, the follow up pint sized campaign, and so the outcome of this particular campaign will have repercussions for both sides in the next one.

You can read what happens next in Scenario 6 'Breaking Through'.

You can follow all the posts and AARs at the Campaign AAR Page.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Storming the Citadel Scenario 4 'Hold the Line'

The Germans have successfully broken into Butovo at the second attempt and now comes the tough job of driving the Russians from the village. For the Russians this is a delaying action. Their platoon is now down sixteen men, but the longer their dwindling force can hold off the Germans the greater the reward in subsequent games.

The support roll was five, giving the Germans ten and the Russians five. Once again it's a balance for the Germans - armour or infantry? Armour is tempting, but in the close confines of the village it is going to be vulnerable and, like my Tiger in our first playing of Scenario 3 'Panzer Marsch!', could fall to a single shot. It pained me to see so much support burst into flame. Once again I see this task as one for infantry and so I will treat myself to an Elite Pioneer Squad to really add some firepower to the platoon. They will be joined by a second senior leader to provide plenty of tactical command options.

I'm not sure what Dave will choose for his supports. He could do with more infantry, but he will probably want to consider some sort of anti-tank weapon. Then again, entrenchments would be useful, given they would be the only hard cover. I don't think I can second-guess what he's going to have lined up to face me.

My plan is fairly simple. I want to have the option to work from either flank and so will look to place JoPs in the areas marked on the map below. There are a few locations where the Russians can enfilade any German advance, but if I work my way around each flank I should be able to eliminate those positions and not allow them to hold me up. I can't decide whether to lead with the Pioneer squad or hold them back to have them deploy at the point they will be most effective. I think I will bring on my regular squads on the flanks to feel out the Russian positions and then try to identify where best to deploy the pioneers.

With the benefit of accumulating CoC points on a command roll of 5 and any single 6, I've found CoC dice come quite frequently. If the same happens again I should consider the option of moving a JoP forward and deploy the Pioneers to the very forefront of any action. Sounds like a good plan anyway, let's see what transpires.

The Germans find themselves with a force morale of eleven, benefiting from a net +3 to their roll. The Russians are only at eight, which gives the Germans a head start.

The patrol phase gives me jump-off-points on either flank and one back at the table edge. The Russians are placed to cover both flanks and the objective jump-off-point is placed out in the open, making it difficult to approach.

The village looking from the German point of view

There are no pre-game barrages for either side, so initial deployment won't be hindered. With that I take the first phase and deploy a squad and the Unterfeldwebel (SL) to my right flank. The Russians don't make any response and wait to see what I have planned.

The first German squad appears with a Senior Leader

The following phase I bring on a second squad to join the squad on my right. They are placed on overwatch while the other squad is ordered forward over the fence.

On my left flank I deploy a third squad. The plan is to force a reaction to my two squads on the right, but threaten with the squad on the left, so that the Russians will find it hard to concentrate on any single flank. Depending on how things develop I will then decide where best to deploy the Pioneer Squad.

With that the Russians deploy their first squad on my right, placed on overwatch, in anticipation of my arrival at the fence line.

In my phase the two German squads on the right both advance carefully towards that fence. Ideally we arrive at the same time, so that both can participate in the inevitable firefight.

On my left flank the solitary squad also advances, and take up tactical positions behind the fence. I think we can expect to see Russians popping up in the vicinity of that farmhouse and orchard, so I'm moving cautiously.

The Russians respond on my right by deploying a second squad and placing them on overwatch. There is a tense inevitability to what is happening on this flank and so the question is, who will win the firefight?

At this point I roll a double phase. That's good timing. Both German squads are ordered to advance tactically up to the fence knowing they can expect the Russian squads to react once they get there, however my right hand squad clearly didn't hear the order properly and move too slowly. The Russians are on overwatch and so react to the move, firing on the first squad to reach the fence line and inflicting a single casualty. In my second phase, I have one squad fire at full effect from behind the fence and the Russians take two casualties and three shock.

My second squad advances the short distance to the fence and fires at half effect. They compensate for their tardiness with accurate fire and the Russians take another casualty and more shock.

At this point I'm feeling this might be a good moment to hit the Russians hard and decide to deploy the Pioneers, in the right-centre of the village. They can move to assist the firefight on the right flank, but will also be able to move to the left should they need to respond to any threat.

The Pioneer squad arrives

After that round of fire the Russians decide this could be a firefight they could lose. One squad fires before falling back. The other wants to move further back towards the rough ground, but they seem to interpret the order with a bit too much enthusiasm when Dave rolls 6,6 for their movement. Only the three points of shock stops them moving back the full 12". Not quite what the Sergeant had in mind when he ordered them to pull back.

Russians pull back a little too eagerly

With that invitation I push my squads forwards, if I can work my way into the orchard I should have the added benefit of neutralising, if not eventually capturing, his JoP on this flank.

Over the fence under the watchful eye of the other squad

At the same time the Pioneers move at the double to take advantage of the Russian withdrawal, but the squad takes time getting organised and they only cover a short distance.

On my right the Russians decide to hold their ground and go on overwatch, ready to fight over the next row of fences.

In pursuit the German senior leader directs the squads on the right to work their way forward towards the fence and in the direction of the Russian JoP.

German senior leader directs the movement of the three squads

Germans close in on the Russian jump-off-point

While the Russians are falling back slowly on my right, they act more aggressively on my left.  First a squad appears in the orchard.

Followed by a Maxim MMG in the grounds of the farmhouse. Both target the German squad behind the fence on my left flank.

The Maxim adds to the firepower

My solitary squad now has some opposition

The Maxim and squad fire and inflict one casualty. My Obergefreiter (JL) is hit and suffers a light wound. It's a blow, but the German force morale holds steady. My squad is on overwatch and so immediately returns fire, killing one of the MMG crew.

The wounded leader continues to direct the squad

In my next phase the squad on the left returns fire at the MMG and squad and inflicts another casualty and some shock, but they can't stand and fight alone and so I decide to bring the Pioneer squad to their assistance.

Pioneers head to the sound of gunfire

On my right I want to make sure both my squads are working together to reach the fence line at the same time and don't repeat what happened previously. The Unterfeldwebel (SL) does his best to coordinate their movement. In the process we neutralise the Russian JoP.

While the Russians wait patiently on my right flank, the firefight on my left continues and my squad starts to build up quite a lot of shock, I need to bring the Pioneers into action.

The Pioneers move into position

At this stage I feel I have most of the Russian force engaged and I'm close to moving all of my squads into a position to bring a lot of fire to bear on both flanks. I sense the Russians on my left are trapped in the orchard, they have accumulated enough shock to make movement difficult and hopefully the Pioneers can make short work of them.

On my right, despite my best efforts to coordinate movement the two squads can't quite manage to make it to the fence line at the same time.  The orchard is clearly denser than they thought and for whatever reason they've been unduly cautious. Very frustrating for the Unterfeldwebel (not to mention me!). As the first squad arrives at the fence the Russians on overwatch open fire and cause some shock.

The Russian second line of defence

With the arrival of the first German squad behind the fence we now enter into a round two of the rolling firefight with the Russian squads. I've accumulated two CoC dice and so I keep in the back of my mind the option to end the turn and capture that Russian JoP. Before that can happen we must push those Russian squads back and get over the fence. I am about to return fire from behind the fence, when Dave plays a CoC die to interrupt and dishes out some vicious fire. The Russian squad may have lost a few men, but the LMGs are proving very effective.

The Russians interrupt just before the squad can fire

The German squad takes one casualty and one more shock, and it reduces one of the LMGs to a single crew member. That takes their fire down by three dice; when you factor in one less die for the shock, the LMG's firepower is now halved. Not only that, the squad is starting to look brittle. My return fire is less effective, but the Russians suffer some shock.

Things are looking brighter on my left flank now that the Pioneers have arrived. The Russians have chosen to ignore their presence and focus on trying to break the German squad on the far left flank. They have come close. The squad has taken casualties and is now pinned down.

However, the Pioneers have arrived in good time to relieve the pressure. They can generate a lot of fire, which is exactly what they now do. We manage 16 hits across the squad and the MMG team.That proves too much for the MMG team, who take another two casualties and that's enough for them to break and fall back. That should be the last we see of them.

The squad in the orchard takes another four points of shock, but that's not quite enough for them to pin. Nonetheless, the Pioneers have had an instant impact and shifted the initiative in the Germans' favour on their left flank.

Things are not going quite so well for the Germans on the right flank. What started as a fairly even firefight has degenerated into a rather lopsided one, with the Germans very much on the wrong side. I'm having trouble moving one of the squads up to the fence, trying to move tactically is proving a desperately slow business. Meanwhile the Russian squad in the rough ground proves to be very resilient and quite my nemesis. They fire once again at the squad behind the fence, inflict more shock and this time it's enough to pin them.

I now have one squad short of men and pinned on the right flank, matched by an equally depleted squad commanded by a wounded leader and also pinned, on my left flank. The only consolation is the threat to my squad on the left is almost eliminated - the MMG has gone and the squad in the orchard under a lot of shock. I wish I could say the same for the threat on my right.

The squad on the left - pinned and under strength

I still have the Pioneers at full strength and another squad on my right close to full strength, so despite the setbacks I'm determined to keep pushing forward. Dave however, has other plans, and from the farmhouse behind his squad in the orchard emerges a flamethrower team. Hmmm, I hadn't bargained on confronting one of those.

Here comes trouble!

Just as I was thinking my squad on the right flank was in good shape to continue the fight, a jet of flaming liquid comes arcing across the road. Only one LMG team is in range, but that's hardly any consolation. The squad takes three casualties and six shock.  The leader is lucky to escape harm, but that's a nasty surprise and suddenly that squad doesn't look in such good shape.

The problem now is I don't have a lot that can deal with that flamethrower team, my only hope is the Pioneer squad. When it comes to my phase Dave interrupts the Pioneers before they can fire and the flamethrower squirts another blast of burning fuel across the road. Only three hits this time, but that's enough to add four points of shock and see the squad pin. I now have all three squads from the platoon pinned and only the Pioneers in good shape.

The nasty work of the flamethrower

With the flamethrower team at my flank only one LMG team can return fire but with ten shock, only a single crew member and pinned, even the Obergefreiter's machine pistol cannot take the firepower above 1. Can the Pioneers come to the rescue? They fire, but the flamethrower team is not alone. It is within 4" of the squad, so the hits must be shared. The result kills one of the flamethrower team and a member of the squad. It's enough to finally pin the squad, but the flamethrower team are still in action.

My pinned units can barely generate any fire and so I spend my other activations frantically trying to reduce the shock. It won't be enough to save my squad on the right flank. In the following Russian phase the persistent squad in the rough ground fires once again and the six hits produces four kills. Well, that's a disaster. The JL is wounded and stunned, the remainder of the squad is wiped out and that brings German FM down to nine.

A brutal result sees the remnants of the squad wiped out

The flamethrower team climb over the fence to escape the Pioneers and move in for the kill.

In my phase it looks like there is little I can do to prevent the flamethrower team getting a third and final shot at my squads, but things are not quite over yet, I'm determined to push hard for a bit longer. I deploy my second senior leader on the left flank, where he uses all his CIs to remove three points of shock.

The Pioneers send the rifle team over the fence while the two LMG teams try to finish off the Russian squad in the orchard. I want to try to get near the flamethrower team if possible, who knows, I may be lucky enough to get a double phase? Then again, maybe I should stop dreaming.

The Pioneer's LMG teams do their work. The Russian squad finally break, which takes the Russian FM down a point. It also removes all the known Russian units from my left flank.

Emboldened by the devastation caused to the squads on my right flank Dave advances his two squads back towards the fence line, while the flamethrower team work their way into the orchard and around the flank of my pinned squad. The Russians are coming in for the kill and clearly sense this is an opportunity to take the initiative, if not win the game. The arrival of the flamethrower team has been a defining moment.

The flamethrower team edge forward

The Russian squads edge forward

So while my left flank has been making progress it appears I'm about to lose the game as a result of the unfolding calamity on my right. It calls for some desperate measures. In my phase I activate the Unterfeldwebel on my right flank and he reaches for a grenade and throws it at the flamethrower team. It falls short. He reaches for another, it too falls just short. He is up against two men, but decides his only hope of saving the squad is close combat. He needs to move 4" to get within range, I think two dice should be enough, and.......I roll a 3. Two grenades miss and then he loses his footing in the orchard. We laughed, well, what else could you do?

The Pioneers may still have a chance to influence things, so I move them around to the right, they will be slowed down by the fences, but they don't have far to go. Meanwhile, my leaders spend the activation removing shock and the reason I have them do so is because I have a CoC die which I intend to use to end the turn when my phase is completed.

With those activations finished, I end the turn. Despite all that's been going on I have managed to reduce shock enough across all my squads that they are no longer pinned. The benefit of having two senior leaders available has meant I can use a combination of their CI and the Obergefreiter's CI to activate and to rally off shock. My stunned leader, the sole survivor of the squad on the far right, also gets to his feet - every man is going to count. More significantly for the Russians, their broken MMG team and the broken squad from the orchard (with their accompanying leader) both rout from the table. This drops the Russian FM down to 3. I felt that was a very successful use of a CoC die.

The Russians are down to only three command dice and they roll 5, 4 and a 3. My hope the flamethrower team won't be activated is dashed when Dave uses the 4 to move his Leytenant. He is a replacement senior leader for the one who was killed in the last scenario and is restricted to two activations and a 6" command range. However, he is just able to move within command range and so the flamethrower does its nasty work once again. An LMG team is wiped out and the Obergefrieter is wounded and stunned. That's been very painful indeed. German FM drops to 6.

I now get a double phase. This is a good chance to get my house in order and see if I can push that Russian FM down to breaking point. It's not over yet.

My left hand squad and the senior leader move over the fence and start to head towards the victory JoP.  

The Unterfeldwebel on the right pulls the remnants of the squads and their leaders into a defensive huddle in the orchard.  

Ready for a final stand?

Most importantly the Pioneers head to the right to see what they can do to help. First up the rifle team move over the fence and are immediately in contact with the flamethrower team. I've attacked from their rear and the odds are exactly four to one, which means they rout immediately, which brings the Russian FM down to two.

Revenge is taken on the flamethrower team

Meanwhile the Pioneer LMG teams head in the same direction.

Pioneers to the rescue

My following phase I move the Pioneer rifle team and the LMG teams into contact with the Unterfeldwebel and his ad hoc group of men.  This should give the Russians at the fence something to worry about.

Meanwhile on the left my squad continues a wide flanking move with the victory JoP in sight.

With few command dice available the Russian command phases are now very limited and any 5s or single 6s are of little use. During the next Russian phase only a single squad can be activated. The squad behind the fence fires in the hope of eliminating the remnants of my squad or one of the leaders huddled in the orchard. These men are regulars and so, for the purposes of target determination, we consider them as if they are in a lower level of cover, given the Pioneer are elite. It matters little, the fire has no effect. We have taken this one right down the wire. I have suffered 21 casualties so far, but victory is now so close I'm sure I can swing it in the next phase. Well, the Pioneers deliver in spades - they pour fire into the Russians behind the fence, causing four casualties and five shock. The Serzhant survives, but the section is wiped out and Russian FM drops to 1. It comes as no surprise when Dave announces his withdrawal at the start of his phase.

Well, that was one hell of game. Utterly nerve wracking and could so easily have gone either way. I think we both sensed the possibility of victory and hung on to the bitter end. Casualties were certainly high, but with a victory and a FM difference of +5 I had some of those men returned immediately. However, this has knocked the stuffing out of my first platoon. They started the scenario down two men and have lost another seven permanently as a result of today. That's nine men dead and the possibility of four returning if the campaign progresses to 6 July, making that close to 50% casualties. The Russians suffered twelve casualties, but only eight from the core platoon, which means that's another four men they lose permanently.

Survivors from both platoons before wounded men are returned

So this is what the remnants of the Russian platoon look like going into their last scenario before they are replaced:

The remnants of the Russian platoon for Scenario 5

This small force will have to try to find a way to hold off the Germans while the three carts of wounded men try to make their escape in the next scenario. It's looking like a lot to ask, but we will have to wait and see. 

You can follow what happens next in Scenario 5 'Escape to Victory'.

You can follow all the posts and AARs at the Campaign AARs Page.