Capitan Kolomiets was back into the fray after spending a short time at the first aid station getting a new, non-sooty uniform and attention from the companies combat medic Vera. Lightly burned from his encounter with a German flame-thrower in the station house, he was set for revenge. In the shadow of a stable he had an inquiry with Lieutenant Fadeevich, who just came back from fighting. Fadeevich´s platoon had driven back the Germans from the station with the help of the reckless Gorodniansky, commander of a BT tank. Gorodniansky had then pursued the Germans down the railroad tracks but swiftly retired when they came under fire from an anti-tank rifle, which fortunately had failed to do any harm.
Captain Kolomiets promptly set out to organize an attack to exploit Fadeevich´s success. He called up the infantry gun assigned to his command and two Maxim machine guns led by sergeants Parkhomenko and Kriuchenkin. The were called "The Volodyas" for the sake of simplicity, or Vovo and Volodya when referring to them one by one, as both were named Vladimir. Along with these heavy weapons he took with him Vera, as always, as he liked her company and needed someone to look after his burns if the battle would be a long one.
Jonas (German player) here. The patrol phase made it quite clear that my job as defender would be tricky. I expected the Soviets to take in several heavy weapon teams, as their low force rating gives them a lot of support. Maxim's and infantry guns have taken their toll on my German platoons before, and there was no doubt they'd be used again.
The houses and woods meant that there would be several safe places for them to operate in cover, and there was a definite possibility that there would be tanks coming in as well. So I settled on buying a Pak36 and hope that I could cause some damage before pulling out, with as few losses as possible. Fingers crossed!
Kolomiets set up all the heavy weapons and Vera in position in a big blue house inside no mans land south of the railroad warehouse. He then called up the infantry squad under Olegovich to lead the way deeper into Fascist occupied territory. That move should suffice to make the Germans retreat. To guard his left flank he had positioned Leytenat Yakovlevich with two squads in the wood that dominated the area between the railyard and the quarters at his right. He knew that the Red Cavalry should attack on his right hand and therefore left that flank practically unguarded. The patrols he sent out confirmed his suspicion that most German activity was happening on his left flank. They may call him at hot-spur, but he was an calculating hot-spur!
We have changed the attack/defense-scenario so that the attacker can either win on depleting the defender's morale, or by moving a JOP within 12" of the enemy baseline. This makes a "sudden death" possible and hopefully encourage the attacker to actually move his troops forward! This was my plan as I had a JOP very far forward on the right flank after the patrol phase.
Soon some Germans showed themselves and all the Soviet guns opened up. The Fritzes immediately withdrew in face of this impressive firepower! All went silent for a moment. Kolomiets, according to his plan, ordered Olegovich to outflank the enemy. Olegovich moved up behind the blue house and sent forward two scouts to find a secure position ahead of them.
After a short lull in the fighting he heard a lot of gunfire from the wood occupied by Yakovlevich. At first he felt secure: the two full squads in the woods would stop any attack for the time it should take to secure the forward position. After that it would be simple to push in Yezhov's platoon, and the Germans would be forced to withdraw - or face destruction!
But he did not get any word from Olegovich and the furious firefight in the woods continued. He could hear that the most of the gunfire came from MG-34s and he started to get a little worried. Shortly after this he saw Yakovlevichs men retreating over a road behind him. He repositioned his Maxim guns to cover their perilous withdrawal, but all he saw were wounded and falling men.
As expected, the Soviet position in the building was incredibly strong: infantry, even in cover, can't expect to have a chance in a prolonged firefight against two medium machine gun teams and an infantry gun, especially when it is backed up by infantrymen that can pile in fire as well as soak up hits! It was simply a battle that I would lose, and quickly. It was also an open road to the alternative victory condition of moving a JOP, which meant that I started turn 1 feeling like this game was a given loss already.
However, Shirty had left his flank quite open, as he quickly deployed two relatively small sections and angled the first one towards my table edge. Since I had a JOP in the house on that flank, I drew up a new plan: deploy two sections on that side, protected from line of sight from their heavy guns, and have everyone else run as fast as they can to support them. Ideally this would mean that none of my men could be mowed down by the Soviet heavy support, and I could make the victory cost them a lot!
It worked out well, and you can see that I got two sections into the woods Before Shirty could get more than one of his sections into a fire line, and my superior firepower could damage them heavily. Then, I could pile in on the other section afterwards. The only thing that halted my assault for a while was that I had to cross a road, which the heavy Soviet guns could cover with overwatch. In the end I spent a turn or two, agonizing about the casualties I would take while crossing, Before eventually doing it. In hindsight, I should have just kept charging in, as I might have been able to rout them completely!
Here comes a few great photos of the counterattack. The Gebirgsjägers really used the mobility that JOPs and 3D6 moves may give you (they had a JOP in the warehouse, as we "traded" flanks in the patrol phase) to mount a very serious attack on my left flank. I thought I would have no problem delaying him and moving my JOP, thus ending the game in my favor. However, I ended up having problems with that...
Damn! Kolomiets ordered Olegovich back to help shore up the situation. As the deadly struggle continued down the road (behind him!) a light AT-gun began shelling the house.
The infantry gun could not see this new adversary so he, Vera and the Volodyas had to endure (he was very content to have Vera there, as always, if he should be hit by a splinter or two). Several of the machine-gunners were wounded. At that critical moment Gena, one of Olegovichs scouts, showed up (the other scout was Cheburashk, now left alone in the most forward position of the attack). Gena spoke without permission "The advance is secure, no enemies in front". Kolomiets looked down the road. The Maxims were playing, but so were the German guns, and in this deadly crossfire, Yakovlevich's decimated platoon got the worst of it. With Yakovlevich's platoon almost routed he had no other choice but to evacuate his heavy weapons instead of inserting Yezhov into the breach. In a flood of curses they got to work.
The withdrawal of the heavy weapons went surprisingly smooth. Afterwards, they discovered that the Germans had withdrew themselves, probably out of fear of being cut of… damn! Kolomiets swore and cursed until his voice disappeared. Then Vera gave him at bottle of water and a "shut up and do something instead of this not-so constructive swearing"-glance. Kolomiets wheezed "Yezhov, take your platoon, the second machine gun squad and the sub-machine gunners, and go secure the area before the Germans do. Move now". The battle of the Stalino Station was about to continue, but Kapitan Kolomiets needed a short rest, more because of his hurt pride than he would ever confess.
The last phases were a terrible nail-biter, as the Soviet moral pummeled down due to what turned out as a small massacre in the central wood. At the same time I only needed a few 5s on my command dice to get the CoC-dice that would move a JOP and win the game for me. I lost another morale... gained another 5´... phase after phase! At the end I got my last 5 and then lost a JOP. So I "won" the game and lost my last morale in the same phase! We decided that it was a draw, anyhow it was an incredible tight game! Jonas put up an really nice counter-attack through the woods that defied our gaming groups consensus about what can be done in CoC! Thats very fun to see!
This was a great game, and it was one of my most tense CoC games ever. I think I have a reputation at the club of being a bit of a cautious player, and one of my weak sides is definitely that I often play a static defence and don't do so much movements. That might have been a reason why Shirty didn't expect me to just pile in my troops on the flank, run across the field, and fighting in spitting distance within the woods! You never know what to expect.
And even though Shirty got his JOP across the table, I managed to get his morale to 0 on the last turn while losing almost none myself, I consider this a bit of a moral victory for the battered Gebirgsjägers.
WW2 Campaign Blog
This blog follows the second Chain of Command club campaign, set in the intense fighting over Stalino in October 1941.