Friday, December 28, 2007

The "Road" to Murmansk

Christian and I got together to play a little Blitzkrieg Commander this evening. John Bertolini stopped by to visit and watch for a bit, too. I wanted to play with my new Russian Naval Infantry and I do know Christian is a big fan of the Eastern Front. Noe I didn’t order any Russian Naval infantry, they were sent to me by mistake instead of the stuff I actually ordered from a certain company that produces modern and WW2 20mm figures. They told me to keep them. I didn’t actually get them for free or anything as I paid more in brokerage fees and taxes for the box that was labeled as containing the stuff I actually ordered (which was considerable more… like ten times more…) than the Russian Naval Infantry were actually worth… Ah well… hopefully I’ll get the stuff I actually ordered in the next week or so…

I called this The "Road" to Murmansk because... well... apparently there were none - despite what the germans maps told them ( I am being "funny" here)! Only tundra, swamps, and bogs... I don't really even know if there was trees... but lacking that sort of specific knowledge of the campaign conditions I threw some out there to break up the table a bit.

Somewhere Near Murmansk, July1941


General Dietl’s troops are driving east into Russia to cut the train line and seize the port of Murmansk! Standing in their way, the brave men of the 3rd Naval Infantry Brigade!


We played basically a breakthrough scenario right out of the Blitzkreig Commander book.




One Regiment with three under strength battalions, each with:

6x Infantry Units
1x Support Unit (MG)
1x Support Unit (Mortar)


One Naval Infantry Battalion, with:

7x Infantry Units
1x Support Unit (MG)

2x Artillery Units (76mm) – off table, 2 assets each.


Christian took the Russians so I took the Germans.

(Remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

The Germans set up… I know, I know… they look more like late war Waffen-SS than 1941 Gebrigsjager…. Work with me here – I don’t have any of those painted up… YET!

The Russians deployment. Now Christian had some issues with the area he had to defend, the lack of troops he had to defend it with, and the lack of command units to order them to defend it (the last point Christian whined about constantly throughout the game… so much so I offered to dig him out a “lend-lease” Canadian command team at one point if it’s make him stop). He spread his troops pretty thin – hoping to make use of opportunity and initiative fire and clever scheduling of the off-table artillery to stall my advance.

An overall view of the initial deployments. In the foreground are my Germans – they had 12 turns to get the bulk of their formation off the far end of the table.

Lacking a Russian Sailor’s hat I let Christian wear my Bolshevik Budenovka.



All three German battalions surge forward two moves dashing around the bogs and swamps (the brown grassy-looking area terrain)! Looking good so far.


Steady boys, steady…



Momentum starting to fade already. All three battalions complete only one move…


Steady boys, steady…


Again, creeping forward. Russian opportunity fire suppressed one platoon of Germans.


FIRE! Russian small arms and machine-gun fire suppressed another German platoon.



1st Battalion (the southernmost) made no move at all this turn (first command roll = 11!).

2nd Battalion (in the center and pictured above) moved out into the open. Opportunity fire suppressed one platoon. They made a second move, but couldn’t make it to the Russian platoon in the woods opposite.

The 3rd battalion also rolled an eleven for their first command roll!? CO wasn’t much help either – my advance quickly ground to a halt!


Christian’s first cleverly planned artillery barrage arrived right on top of two of my battalions! (It’s like he can read minds… or see the future – crappy command rolls and slow advances and all!) However the 76’s did little to impress or upset the Germans. Of a dozen platoons under the two barrages only two received any sort of casualties and none were suppressed.

That’s all the Russians managed to do this turn.



Ineffective though the barrage was, the 1st Battalion decided it was bad to sit in a registered target area and got moving. Three times! On the second move the Russians made some opportunity fire but caused no hits.

The 2nd Battalion over ran one of the Russian’s platoons, consolidated the position and brought fire down on the sailor’s MG detachment that had been harassing their advance.

The 3rd battalion crept ahead for two moves.


Well-coordinated fire from the Russians suppressed two German platoons, one in the 1st Battalion, and one in the 2nd Battalion. Further fire caused one to fallback into the 2nd Battalions HQ area causing confusion all over! Still more fire was poured into their position, causing the MG platoon some grief and had them ducking for cover for the next turn! The already suppressed platoon in the first battalion was also obliged to fallback into their battalion’s MG platoon causing further chaos across the German advance!

John, who was observing, thought Christian might just have a chance…



1st Battalion did some moving and firing, twice.

Then the 3rd Battalion went rocketing across the table for four moves!

2nd battalion, under command of the CO – as the battalion’s HQ was apparently still in utter confusion, also did some firing and moving, suppressing the Russian’s MG detachment.


Command Bonus! Fire twice! Another pass – Fire again! The sum total of all this firing netted 1 hit… no suppressions…



The 1st Battalion failed to anything but sit right in front of the woods defended by a battalion of Russian Naval Infantry

The 2nd Battalion did some maneuvering and firing which, once again, suppressed the Soviets Machine-gun detachment.

The 3rd Battalion – being ordered by my CO as, once again, I failed to move my HQs at the end of the last command phase… One company laid down a base of fire on and suppressed the only sailors in their way, the rest moved up. Then the whole battalion moved. Then, showing his truly inspired leadership abilities (Command Bonus!), Oberst Braun had them fire on the remaining Naval Riflemen and wiped out the platoon and had the men on the 3rd battalion storm the woods – the last woods that stood between themselves and the railway – mind you there was still a bit of bog to pass by… but they were very nearly there and only at Turn Seven!


Again those cleverly planned artillery barrages came crashing in! in both cases on positions previously held (or… CURRENTLY HELD..!?) by soviets – those heatless, godless commies! Here, in 1st Battalion’s position, the only damage caused was one hit and suppression on his own Naval Infantry platoon – HA-HA!! (at least that’s all I noted down… looking at the picture for the next turn there are two platoons of Germans suppressed without hit markers which means they would have been suppressed in thre previous Russians turn… so he must have tagged those two platoons in the open as well… ha… uh… ha…?)

The second barrage caused casualties in three of my platoons, but only suppressed one, which was in the open.

The Russians were so in awe watching the pretty lights of there own artillery barrages (some considerably closer than others) they failed to do anything else this turn.



The 1st Battalion Did some maneuvering and firing – causing two hits on the platoon of sailors in the woods, but failing to suppress. They then took hits in one of their own platoons, which WAS suppressed, by opportunity fire from the Naval Infantry. The next attempt to issue orders was a COMMAND BONUS!!! So rather than assault they just finished off the sailors with an extremely high volume of small arms fire, and then began maneuvering around or through the woods…

2nd Battalion directed fire on the Russian MGs, which knocked out the detachment (clink…. Did you hear that? I think it was the Russians reaching their breakpoint!)
They then decided it was time to get going. Rather than doing something sensible like following the 3rd battalion to the north around the bog in front of them –they decided to take the shortest route to the table edge and march right across the open bit between two bogs and right through the remaining company of Naval Infantry (you can’t say I’m anything but sporting!?). Opportunity fire brought on by this action suppressed two platoons.

This is where the 3rd Battalion started their turn – ready to assault the Sailor’s MG detachment, which the 2nd battalion so nicely took out for them…

Here’s where they were at the end of three moves – directed once again by the CO, Oberst Braun (only because he’s a micromanaging twit that forgets to move his HQs up at the end of the Command phase because he wants to take all the glory…)


Passed their first break test!

Fire from the sailors clustered in the woods around their CO suppressed two platoons of Germans of the 2nd Battalion that were charging across the open directly to their front.



Down to the wire…

3rd Battalion went first and got two platoons off the table! Huzzah!

The 1st Battalion stalled. Christian figured they were mesmerized by the spectacular light show of the 2nd battalion assaulting the Soviets in the center woods…

2nd battalion continued to creep forward firing and maneuvering and being suppressed by opportunity fire…

The CO, for all his brilliance, failed to motivate the 1st battalion – which was clear across the table, to get moving!


They passed their break test! A hail of rifle fire suppressed the three leading platoons of the 2nd battalion, severely blunting my assault!



The 3rd Battalion again made a single move getting two more off the table and on towards the Murmansk Railway!

The 1st Battalion was still in a daze and did nothing.

The 2nd Battalion’s Commander was at a loss for what to do…

The CO stepped in at this point… which to get moving 1st battalion – way across the table (80+ cm away, -4 command penalty…) or 2nd Battalion (not quite so far away…) The unsuppressed platoons of 2nd Battalion got to fire once!


Passed that damn break test again!

They did 2 rounds of firing which I think suppressed one German platoon.


Christian was really hoping I’d have a command blunder here… (FALL BACK!!) Didn’t happen. The 3rd Battalion was able to get the rest of their force off the table in good order (except the battalions mortars which had been left far behind and more or less forgotten about…).

The 2nd Battalion, all finally lined up to fire with only one platoon suppressed, knocked out one of the platoons of sailors. Three platoons started moving around the woods toward the table edge while two others, which weren’t suppressed, continued to shoot up and suppress the remaining Russians defending the position. They didn’t make it.

The 1st Battalion tried to make a run for the edge too. The only got two moves in, opportunity fire from the lone platoon of sailors defending this corner of the table suppressed one German platoon…


Christian played out the Russian’s last turn (after passing yet another break test – at -1 now!) while I made notes, it was really all over by that point. I had secured a Minor Victory by getting 25% of my troops off the table.


While the Germans certainly took casualties during the game nowhere did they take enough to render any of the platoon/stands combat ineffective – I took no losses in terms of stands. The Russians lost just over half of their (pitifully small) number. I imagine many of those might have just been guys surrendering or making for Murmansk…

I guess I COULD have given Christian another command element (at the very least it would have stopped the whining)… but I didn’t have any other Russians painted… so…

Coming soon on Tim’s Miniature Wargaming Blog:

More Taking Stock
The Game Plan for 2008
Regular weekly Thursday Night Game reports (the reports of my Thursday night games that is… not always posted here on Thursday nights…)

As always please feel free to post comments below!

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