Eastern Front #49
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||Soviet Union (Defender)|
|Germany||10th Panzer Division|
|Soviet Union||19th Rifle Division|
|Overall Rating, 10 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 135 of 555|
|Parent Game||Eastern Front|
|Maps||3: 1, 3, 8|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 43 cm
33 x 17 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Eastern Front||maps + counters|
on 16 July Gen. Heinz Guderian ordered the 10th Panzer Division to capture the town of Yelnia, about 82 kilometers southeast of Smolensk and a key point on the road to Moscow. The Soviet 29th Army blocked the way with its 19th "Tambov" Rifle Division, a tough unit of the pre-war regular army.
The Soviet defenders put up stout resistance, but the panzer troops found their way around the line of Soviet entrenchments and took part of the town. Inside Yelina, the Soviet infantry held their ground with the help of massive artillery support.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|4 Errata Items|
The reduced direct fire value of the Heer HMG became 5-5 starting with Fall of France.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
The Pz IVe appearing in the original Panzer Grenadier game had an Anti tank value of 4-7. As of Afrika Korps (2002), continuing onward through the 3rd and 4th edition games, the anti tank value has been 4-4.
(plloyd1010 on 2016 Jul 25)
The reduced direct fire value in Kursk: Burning Tigers is 4-4.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
Kommissars never get morale or combat modifiers. Ignore misprints.
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|The Recruit's Progress|
After a long day's battle the exhausted German soldiers shake their heads. They have once more experienced the amazing tenacity that is developing in the Soviet Army.
The mission was simple and adequate time was given for its completion. A small INF/armor group peeled south to knock off a Soviet forward observation post while the rest of the force stayed on the road and north of it to hit the main Soviet defenses. The deployment facing them was substandard. The Soviet commander ignored the maxim that in Russia one trades space for time and solid defenses. Instead, he opted to try and defend too big an area.
The first contact was at the observation post where the Germans rolled over the Soviets in short order.
Nest came the woods north of the road. To the astonishment of the Germans, the Soviets had committed a large force of INF to meet them. The result was carnage on the Soviet side and a German dash to cross the river, arc south and attack the village. The death of the Soviet commander in the north left their OBA effectively blind.
As the Soviets saw the trouble brewing north of the village, they began to shift AT guns from the south. As they were being transported, German OBA began the astounding feat of picking off the guns and their transports with almost sniper-like accuracy. Meanwhile, the Soviet commander in the village made the decision to trade lives for time. The order was given for every soldier to stand and fight where they were, forcing the Germans to fight house-to-house.
It worked. While German losses were light, their formations were scattered and many units needed rallying before they could proceed with the attack on the woods south of town.
The Germans had plenty of might to clear out the woods. They were being held by a light and depleted force of Soviets. Many units had made a demoralized retreat from the fighting in the village and had yet to rally. It was an easy thing for the Germans to clear out the woods. However at the end of the day, there were still enough Soviet forces remaining for the Germans to claim victory.
On a personal level, I really enjoyed this action. I am quite new to PG, this being only my third completed scenario. I would STRONGLY urge any other recruits to play Spruce Grove ASAP. There are so many basics to the game that are very apparent here-- the proper use of armor and infantry in assault, the tremendous advantage of good leadership, the necessity of trading space for adequate defense are all here. Besides that, it is a fast-paced scenario with just enough challenge and counters for a raw recruit.
|Canny Soviet Set-Up Wins The Game If Not The Battle !|
This game was played ftf with Wayne Baumber in a single sitting. It was chosen via our usual random pick system and this one had to come from the PG Top 20 List. We rolled up Spruce Grove rated a 4.2 at the time. This requires the Germans with a smallish recon force (and NO engineers) to clear Soviets from forests, entrenchments and towns including crossing a mined river. It looked a tall order, and here is how it went
On the 19th July, the forward recon units of 10th Panzer Division were given a task entailing a lot of objectives for what was a small task-force. They were to clear forest areas plus Yelnia itself of enemy troops. They were also ordered to ensure that they left no enemy stragglers or pockets behind them in the forests. Ahead of them they saw the following. To the south, there was a small rise with an entrenched frontage consisting of 4 x INF plns, 1 x HMG pln and a 76mm battery. Further on but to the north was a wide forest area. Here too, the Soviets had placed a couple of companies of infantry. Beyond that was a minor river with one bridge to Yelnia. The area was peppered with entrenchments each with an HMG and INF platoon. The bridge was surrounded by minefields and there was hidden AT batteries in the area. The German task-force despatched to dislodge this veritable feast of defensive headaches was a battalion of infantry, 2 x HMG platoons all in APC’s. A company of PzIII’s, a pln of PzIV’s and some weedier PzII’s. There was no assault engineers detailed to the task group which must have been a massive omission?
The Germans decided that they would have to clear the high-ground of the ridge to their south completely, before swinging north to try and extricate the enemy in the woods. To do this, the infantry forces would attack the ridge on the south flank with armoured forces placed to keep back any advance on the north flank. They then planned on some form of mad-dash to Yelnia itself with the time remaining. The advance on the ridge line began at 1300 hours and by 1345 hours both sides were slinging OBA at each other and closing to contact. The Soviet defenders on the ridge proved especially tenacious. For two hours the Germans tried to pummel their positions with grouped infantry fire and OBA, but the defenders held their morale together and would not budge. The APC’s had to be held back as Soviet 76mm & 45mm guns were nearby and these would have enjoyed picking off turkey targets presenting themselves for demolition. Eventually, around 1500 hours, enough of the obstinate Soviets became disrupted and demoralised for the German infantry to finally close in. once this occurred a nasty close contact battle ensued for the entrenchments. With APC’s sent forward now that Soviet guns here were nullified, the ridge was eventually overrun at 1615 hours without any Soviet survivors. The Germans had suffered a step of INF and an APC pln as losses. But the attack had taken far too long against an unexpected Soviet determination, leaving just less than half the time allocated for the rest of the objectives to be taken.
The Germans now had to head for the northerly forest and support their armour that had been held there to pin the enemy. The Soviets cannily made no attempt to fight, but instead, to buy time, found themselves slinking back further into the forest and then skulking around in its depths to avoid contact with the enemy. This situation continued for sometime as the Germans were hampered by the need not to allow any enemy groups through the net and into their rear. Eventually there were no corners of the wooded area to hide for the Soviets and a new close battle commenced. Compared to the battle on the southern ridge, this one ended pretty quickly and with little fight from the Soviet infantry there as they now had to face AFV’s. However, the time had now moved onto 1815 hours (turn22) and there was no hope for the Germans to cross the river, swing back south to empty yet another forest and take Yelnia.
German losses were absolutely minimal. Just 2 steps (INF & APC). The Soviets lost a hefty 16 steps (14 Foot, 2 Guns) but their victory had been gained in fine style from the Germans as they had easily bought time throughout the game. That evening, the task-force commander penned a scathing memo to HQ in regard to a lack of assault engineer capacity. Soviet Victory.
There is no slight in the title of this AAR against Wayne. I do exactly the same in our games. That is, read the VC's and deploy or enter accordingly. Wayne set up a pretty decent defence that hinged around the tactic of eating time. Given the stats in my 140 or so ftf career, I guess Wayne comes out as the best opponent I have faced and he showed why today. That is not to say that the German job is impossible if the Soviet set-up is good or better. In fact, the first Soviet obstacle just probed so tenacious in its determination to hang on. They would not budge for sometime. On another day, with less determined morale, they may have folded earlier ! Despite the Germans clearing practically all the way to the river and administering a bloody nose to the Soviets as far as casualty exchange went, the fact remained that in the time scale given, they never even got to the town or the final forest. I notice that there was another ftf play of this battle that the Soviets also won. I'd love to know how that went, but alas ...... No AAR. I rate this battle a '3'. Its pretty standard fare as far EFD goes. Interesting, but did not scale the heights of excitement expected as that assault on the town never had time to materialise. Good win Wayne !
|Soviet's trade land and bodies for rare win|
Played against Vince in one FtF session, this scenario has a combined arms force of German INF, HMG and AFV trying to cross 3 boards contested by tough Soviet INF and HMG who are well entrenched in good defensible terrain. Time is against the German's in this one and the Soviet player has to have just one unit left in the forests and/or Yelnia town to win this one at game end. The Russian has an interesting choice at the start of the game, he can deploy 2 x 76.2 Art of have an extra 10 points of OBDA. Now in my view playing against Vince you have to take the 76.2's and get them on the board, these guns can take out all the German tanks on the board and this will cause Herr Hughes who hates losing tanks to be even more cautious thus hopefully costing him time. Vince has been very complimentary on my set up, and I was pleased that the sacrificial units set up on the hill on the middle board worked as well as they did, this was due in no small part to having 8 morale troops instead of the normal early war Soviet 7 morale fare. The rest of the units were spread throughout the forests and town there job was simply to avoid contact and survive for as long as possible. When the German attack came it was a textbook infantry assault, the commander was obviously a student of Erwin Rommel's book on such attacks, but with a little luck for the defenders this assault took up far too much precious time and even though one wooded area was cleared fairly quickly the Germans realised that night was falling and a hasty attack over a well mined and entrenched river would only result in heavy casualties called a halt to the advance. Not the most exciting game I have played however it gets a solid score from me, 24 turns is not a lot of time for the German and the Soviet player has to slow the German advance down right from the start so a forward defense line is a must. The German player perhaps has to be more aggressive than Vince was and be prepared to accept the risk of losing more casualties and thus losing both the battle and the game. Its certainly a tricky and difficult scenario for the German.
|Stonewalled before Yelnia|
I didn't put much faith in the German attack even before setting up the Soviet defenses. Just reading into the specifics threw up plenty of red flags. The Germans are outnumbered over two-to-one; have a good distance to travel; must clear woods on two boards; take control of all town hexes on board 3; traverse minefields and tackle entrenchments all in the course of 24 turns. However, this scenario had a decent rating and was up next on my list so I had to give it a go and see how much could be accomplished given the circumstances.
The Soviets have a lot of options available to them for deployment between two of the three boards. The first thing I made sure to do was to deploy a few platoons of INF on the hill in the central map to make a dash for the woods on board 1 along with both a 45mm AT gun, 76.2mm battery and 82mm mortars also deployed on the hill to delay German forces from using the east-west road to get to Yelnia. Another 45mm AT gun was tucked away in the northern woods just west of the town. Then I set-up the final defensive lines and took liberty to make sure that the eight allowed entrenchments were widely dispersed from north through the town and around it and further south through the woods. I didn't mine the bridge or river hexes but instead interwined the minefields and decoys between entrenchments. Also, I refrained from placing many units in the western portion of the town facing the German advance and held most of the town defenders in the eastern sector except for one 45mm AT gun; two town hexes were left vacant but for the Germans to get to them they would take an enormous amount of opportunity fire from adjacent entrenched HMG postions. It's hard to describe this defense in words, without an actual picture but the idea was to make a frontal assault on the town very difficult to manuever through just one narrow and clear path. Sure, the Germans may be able to break in and take the vacant town hexes but not without heavy losses or failed morale checks and once inside they would be trapped, surrounded and likely not in good enough strength or numbers to press on a serious assault.
The battle kicks off with the Germans rolling into plain sight of the enemy but quickly demobilizing units loaded on the SPW halftracks out of range of the AT capable weapons deployed on the hill. Since the Germans are spotted right away Soviet units are free to move and the INF brave OBA fire in the attempt to get to the western woods. The upstart Soviet 6-0-0 LT is disrupted (and soon easily eliminated) along with one platoon but three platoons of INF make it to those woods. Since the German halftracks can't really advance much further down the road without being blown to scrap-metal they are sent triple stacked in masses to take on those leaderless INF who don't get very far into the woods. Of course those now leaderless INF units won't last long but they will burn up time and will also get a column shift in making counter-assaults against AFVs on their own without INF support. So the first of many Soviet delaying actions begins as these woods have to be cleared as part of the German VCs. Meanwhile, some German INF units make straight for the hill to clear out support weapons while the other units make fast towards Yelnia. The panzers circle around north to avoid AT fire and take the slow path towards and through the northern woods to emerge on the other side to provide fire support across the river.
The next delay comes at the hill. While the mortars and 76.2mm are quickly eliminated the one 45mm gun there makes quite a nuissance of itself. Only two platoons of German INF are left behind to finish it off but it manages to disrupt the whole company and hold it's ground. Even once the INF recover and assault it they continue hold out much longer then anticipated. The remaining German foot units make for the next AT gun within the northern woods and it has even more fight left in it. German OBA fails to eliminate it; small-arms fire fails and then even an assault on it gets bogged down. The Soviet AT guns have managed to accomplish a lot in this battle as spoilers by utterly disrupting an already very short timetable well before the town itself is in sight. Eventually German foot units begin to cross the river piecemeal and make some sort of effort against the town and western wooded area (presumedly Spruce Grove?) and here even more disappointments await. So much time has been burnt-up already just to mount the attack that matters the most and disorganization runs rampant. There is no way to make a coordinated frontal attack and not enough time or space allowed to attack from the rear. There are too many assaults required at this point between the town and the entrenched woods and not enough German units in place to many effective ones. One relief is that a decoy mine is revealed on the road adjacent to the town and an assault is made on the lone 45mm AT gun there. Again, just one AT gun manages to contest this town hex against incredible odds. At this point I had become utterly frustrated with playing the Germans. Hastily I sent some PzIIs in for support but they had to cross another mine; this one was not a decoy and sure enough one of those panzers took a step loss from the 1-pointer mine. The remaining PzII joins the assault hoping to tip the scales but again the 45mm remains unphased. The 45mm returns AT fire within the assault hex and another PzII takes a step loss. I know it's just a game and a solo play but by now I was on the verge of profanity!
I had now all but given up with the German attack with just a few turns left, knowing this battle was lost but was still determined to get something done. So all focus was now placed on the entrenchments within the woods -forget Yelnia! And it was there that the Germans made anything resembling progress; two of the three entrenchments there were taken. Then, with just a few turns left the convoy of SPW251s finally arrive for support. They took a while to recover and organize as they suffered a few disruptions from clearing the Soviet INF out of the woods further west. Boldly they begin to cross the river to attack the last entrenchment in the grove and two of them get picked off from well aimed opportunity fire. However, there are still seven of them left and they are still able to make an assault but like many others failed to get any results before battle's end. And what of the mighty panzers other than the PzIIs? Well they too had their share of disappointment. They moved towards the north edge of town to hose down the defenders with DF and got a rude awakening once the lead PzIVE failed a morale check from opportunity fire and was sent fleeing after becoming demoralized. The remaining PzIIIHs made an assault on one of the entrenchments on their own without INF support without any effect and were soon repulsed. All in all the German attack on the town was a complete failure with only one town hex ever contested. The only gains made were control of just two entrenchments in the woods. 10th Panzer Division would have to answer to a very livid Guderian.
This was a hard scenario to rate from a solo play; I would like to think I did very well with the Soviet deployment and defense while on the other hand feel I did very poorly with the German attack. I think towards the end I let my frustration get the best of me. However, after reading a few other reports I can see that it is just a very tough task to meet all the German VCs with the small force provided and with no assault ENG units. If one of the best axis players (Vince Hughes) had a tough time at it then I couldn't of done that bad overall with the Germans. Perhaps if German casualities were ignored, especially with the panzers then maybe more could of been accomplished. The PzIIIH and PzIVEs do have an armor rating of 4 but I played it too safe with them even up against the 45mm AT guns by keeping them at long range away from them and delaying their advance towards Yelnia; I also failed to use those more powerful panzers combined with INF in assaults. There was a lot I could of done differently if I had allowed the possiblity of more German step losses but there was not enough time to play it safe. Then again, with the small amount of German foot units you can't afford many losses either. However unbalanced this scenario may be I can still give it a straight 3/5 rating; it did provide quite a challenge. I would have to play it again solo, at least once, before comfortably going against a Soviet player FTF. A few people have logged in German wins here but sadly no AARs to mention how they managed it.