Soviet morale for this attack was bad enough at 7/6 but to make matters worse the 164th Rifle Division ended up with some of the worst leadership available from the lot. Only one of eight of the Soviet leaders had a morale modifier, a 7-0-1 LT, and even that low-moraled leader would not be available until Soviet reinforcemants arrived at 19:30/turn 11. The elements of the Romanian 1st Mountain Division set up two separate defensive lines; one dug-in central, on and around the east-west road supported with 45mm AT guns and the other a little further south behind the minor river with some mortar and field gun support around the one wooded hex there; both positions have HMG units positioned to catch any units in a crossfire that try to outflank them. All Romanian units are deployed on board 5 as there is no use for board 7 other than space to flee back into for demoralized units. The Soviets are tasked with removing all Romanian units from board 5 and to eliminate 10 enemy steps in the process; The Romanians just need to hold fast and eliminate 16 Soviet steps.
The battle begins during the afternoon with full visibility and most of the first wave of Soviets entering from the east advance no further than the hill just south of the road; just in range for their HMGs to make DF contact while most other units dig-in there to wait for reinforcements and decreased visibilty to follow before seriously considering making any assaults. A few stray platoons of INF are sent north through the fields as a diversion. This wasn't the most bold plan and it would of been far safer to try to hide most of these units in and around the fields or other limiting terrain but that also would of made for a very boring ten turns. Soviet indirect fire support is somewhat laughable with just 1x12 OBA available and just one 82mm to start; against dug-in defenders with higher morale at 8/7 coupled with plenty of leaders with morale modifiers fire support when used were usually wasted activations. The Romanians on the other hand do have decent fire support OBA at 3x10 along with 2x81mms and a 75mm FG so by the time reinforcements do arrive the Soviets are down 5 steps already with no Romanian losses.
Only as visibility began to decrease did the Soviets seriously attempt to press the attack and predictably even the slightest M result on either fire table crippled the morale of both units and leaders alike. Only the dug-in units on the hill managed to stay in relatively good order while both of the flanking attacks were halted. The Soviets did manage to get some T-26s and some foot units across the minor river on the south flank but afterwards only the tanks were able to stay in good order. Only once night fell and visibilty decreased to 2 hexes were any assaults made on the Romanian lines, all the while Soviet casualties continued to mount. It seemed futile to continue the attack as it was like charging through quicksand just for the Soviets to make contact without becoming disrupted or demoralized. However, by 21:45/turn 20 the north flank of the central defenses began to waver and the first dug-in postion finally fell with some units actually falling back. Soon enough the east-west road was cleared along with one of the 47mms and even the frontal HMG post was reduced and on the verge of collapse. That was fine for the northern attack but every attempt on south flank, across the minor river, failed miserably. The Soviets could not win this battle with half-measures but poor leadership and morale prevented them from doing anything more than just that. With time about to run out it did seem possible for the Soviets to walk away with a draw as the Romanians had not yet eliminated enough steps for their VCS. However that was quickly remedied by sending out a lone leader as a forward observer that found a triple stack of demoralized units to call OBA down on. Some nearby T-26s tried their best to stop this upstart Locotenent to no avail and indirect fire from Soviet OBA or 82mms had no effect either. Right at midnight/turn 29 a blast of Romanian artillery fire was able to push Soviet losses up to the required 16 steps for the win.
From the beginning I balked at the Soviet VCs; it was a lot to ask to clear an entire board of dug-in defenders with higher morale and firepower. However I did make the most out of trying to at least make a decent breach in the lines and achieve some minor goals. For all the efforts made the Soviets did at least manage to clear the east-west road of Romanian units though it was not a victory requirement. And, if I had actually played for a draw from the start then likely could of got that result at least by making the Romanians leave their dug-outs and going on the offensive to meet their VCs but that probably wouldn't of been as enjoyable. The only other option would of been to attack at close quarters right away without waiting for reinforcements or visibilty to decrease with the night turns; intitial Soviets casualties may of been higher but enough of them may have made it through to assault the dug-outs right away. Instead, by delaying what had to be done, the Soviets were left with a lot of stranded, leaderless and poor ordered troops lying around; unwilling or incapable of rallying and easy targets for Romanian artillery. I will not venture to say that this is unwinnable for the Soviets as someone has pulled it off before, just that I didn't have it in me with this go. However, it was a good enough play and was satisfied enough that some of the Romanian postions did give way in time so I'll rate this one a standard "3" and worth another shot. And since a draw is highly probable it would be unfair to say that this one is too unbalanced; it did take 29/30 turns for Romania to win.