Eastern Front #45
|(Attacker) Romania||vs||Soviet Union (Defender)|
|Romania||4th Mountain Brigade|
|Overall Rating, 7 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 469 of 579|
|Parent Game||Eastern Front|
|Maps||3: 1, 3, 6|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 43 cm
33 x 17 in
|Kill Them All|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Eastern Front||maps + counters|
While further south their comrades finished the battle for Kishinev, Romanian 3rd Army crossed the Dnestr River into the Ukraine. There they faced the formidable Stalin Line pre-war defense system. Ordered to smash through, Romanian assault groups formed and began to arduous task.
The Soviets showed little initiative to counter-attack, but neither would they surrender their positions and they fought with tenacious courage. The Romanians had to take each position in savage hand-to-hand fighting before they could wheel to the north and resume their advance.
|2 Errata Items|
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)
Under no circumstances should you try this at home. Professional driver, closed course, etc. etc. Do not walk up to trenches, drenched in HMGs and expect to be able to evict the tenants. These results are not guaranteed.
In this scenario an elite Romanian force comes up on the Stalin Line, heavily fortified and loaded with HMG units. There is no way that the Romanians should be able to clear the road and its environs of Soviets, clear the towns and keep their losses low, but then again that would lead to a really boring AAR and with a name like "Rewarding Insanity" you can pretty much bet that something else happened.
First we need to remember that HMGs without infantry support defend at 1/2 strength in assault. Then we have to remember that the Romanians have a morale margin in their favor. Finally we have to consier the fact that the orders are to clear the road so sitting back and hitting the Soviets again and again with artillery only works if you have a lot of really godd artillery, which is not a description of the Romanian artillery.
The Romanians did get insanely good artillery rolls and the Soviets broke and ran from their trenches leading to the first entrenchments changing hands after only 2 1/2 hours. Lots of desultory firing on both sides at entrenched units led to a feeling that the Romanians could never acheive their goals when, 5 hours in, suddenly the Soviets disintegrated to the south. They failed some morale checks and tried to recover. Regardless of whether they did recover or not, the Romanians were able to advance to be able to assault in the next turn. Given the initiative they almost always could attack at the beginning of the next turn. In this fashion, trench after trench began changing hands.
The Soviet commander,however, had a trick up his sleeve. If things got really bad he would send a few troops to hide in the town in the southeast of the map, thus denying the Romanians a win. Very enjoyable little scenario.
|Entrenchments, just Entrenchments!|
The Victory Conditions determined the initial setup of the Soviets (The Romanian wins if at the end of play no Soviet unit occupies or can reach with direct fire any hex of the east-west road and no Soviets occupies any town hex. The Soviets need to eliminate at least 12 Romanian steps. Entrenchments were built all city squares occupied by 3 mortars and 3 hmgs in the city on the southeast corner. Directly northwest of the city entrenchments were placed in all spaces of the field by all the remaining units. As soon as the romanians arrived on the scene, The Soviets vacated the city and joined the rest in the field leaving a lone leader in the to spot. Since we play double blind, the Romanians had no idea the city was defenseless. The initial attack of the Romanians was a mass attack on the northwest corner of the field on an entrenchment support by the surrounding 8 entrenchments. After their initial success assaulting the corner, the demoralized troops left the assault square and were replaced by fresh troops. The Kommissar worked his magic on the demaoralized troops and The Romanians needed to withdraw to avoid a very early death. The Soviets counter-attacked but never left the field and the game was won as dead Romanians piled up next to the field and its entrenched edges. Sometimes you win by playing only not to lose.
|What's with the Romanian AT guns?|
What I learned from this scenario:
I was completely out-played by my opponent. It was one of those games where I knew what I should be doing, but my set up didn't allow me to do so. Thus, I was spinning my wheels the entire game.
|Hook, line and sinkered|
Storming entrenched machine-gun postions is never a pleasant task but that's the kind of job that axis lackeys like Romania can expect to get assigned. In this case there are only 10 platoons of Soviet HMGs to contend with and every Soviet occupied hex is entrenched, including the town hexes. Somehow Romania must clear the east-west road from being occupied or within DF range of any Soviets AND clear out a 5-hex town without losing 12 steps. Dubbing the task arduous would be optimistic.
There are so many possiblities and options for the Soviets to deploy and honestly I don't think there is any way to go wrong provided that the entrenchments are placed within DF range of the road or in the town. My Soviet plan was to spread out 5 entrenchments with double stacked HMGs at least three hexes away from each other in as many different directions as possible and hole up all the INF and support weapons in the entrenched town. This would force the Romanians to cover a lot of ground and out in the open for Soviet on and off-board artillery to have it's maximum effect. Sure, a few entrenchments would fall but all of them would have to be cleared for a Romanian win anyway so why not make it even more difficult? Begrudgingly the Romanians begin to advance towards certain disaster.
The Romanians do not attempt a river crossing with their ENG units but take the bridge and between the town and the woods on the other side there is just enough space between to spot for Soviet artillery. Romanian HMG units are targeted and disrupted before they can reach the safety of the town but rest of the 4th Mountain Brigade presses on towards the first Soviet entrenchment just outside the northern woods. Here is where the trouble begins. Opportunity fire immediately eliminates a step of ENG and then combined on and off-board artillery makes a mess of Romanian units trying to form a line. Soon after that the reduced and demoralized ENG must flee and it too is eliminated by HMG opportunity fire; now, at just 06:45/turn 6, the Romanians have just one platoon of ENGs left to assist in taking out 10 entrenchments -it's turning out to be a very dreary morning, most likely a Monday. While the Romanians try desperately to form a decent firing line there the Soviet KOM is able to sneak into this one entrenchment and restore order to a demoralized HMG unit before a go is made for it.
Meanwhile, another Romanian attack group splits off and makes for the central entrenchment blocking the road. Soviet artillery continues to rip units apart and by 07:30/turn 9, Romania has already lost 6 steps; half the amount the Soviets need for a win with 21 turns left to go. Then at 08:15/turn 12 a bold assault is carried out, led by the Romanian COL on the central entrenchment eliminating 2 steps of Soviet HMGs along with the SGT, leaving just 2 reduced and demoralized units left to defend. Soviet morale is appalling at 7/5 and once a Soviet unit is reduced it is as good as gone. The next turn the roadblock entrenchment is cleared and in Romanian control; only 9 more entrenchments left to go! Overall Romanian morale is lifted and then another entrenchment in the fields falls at 09:45/turn 18; only 8 entrenchments left! While it doesn't seem likely with just 12 turns left that all the entrenchments will be taken it is a quite a reversal of fortune for an otherwise abyssmally dismal morning.
Privy to some limited Romanian success STAVKA throws both friend and foe alike a monkeywrench of a whammy with a Soviet change in orders at 11:15/turn 24 to "stand fast!". This random event makes the town on board 1 the only objective that matters now -forget the line! If the Romanians are able to seize control of just one town hex then the Soviets lose the battle. Immediately Soviet HMG units abandon the entrenchment just north of the town to reinforce the town and units are shifted around there to make room for them. This seems like great news for Romania but the problem is that so much time and human resources have been expended trying to clear the outer ring of trenches that there is not much of a capable attack force left and they are still spread out with only a token force stationed in western area of the fields. Then to make matters worse, at 11:30/turn 25, the Romanians lose their 12th step and the Soviets meet their VCS. Half of the remaining Romanians are still trying to clear the first entrenchment by the woods. It's just another one of those quirky random events, love them or hate them, but this really seems to have changed every expectation. Ultimately this change in orders does favor the Soviets and only gives Romania false hope but false hope is better than none. Storming the town will be hard enough with no cover after leaving the fields but even worse, one Soviet entrenchment was strategically placed on the east edge of the fields as an obstacle with HMGs to slow down any advance from that direction. There is no time left to assault it, it will have to be bypassed if possible at the risk of opportunity fire.
Well, the axis euphoria is shortlived as every attempt to even leave the fields for the town gets hammered down. There aren't many Romanian leaders or good ordered units left on the battlefield and every time a leader or unit pokes it's head out of the fields it is pelted with ample HMG and artillery fire. Romania has only jumped out of the frying pan into another frying pan -they are trapped with no time left to make even the most futile attempt at an urban assault. Not one unit is able to get even within DF range of the town before it it is either eliminated, demoralized or disrupted. At the last moment, 12:45/turn 30, the overzealous Romanian COL orders and leads a platoon of MTN units to charge at the town anyway, just for the sake of dignity, bravado or just sheer insanity. The MTN platoon actually make it to two hexes away before becoming merely demoralized by the hail of bullets with the COL still in good order. But that is all in vain and the battle ends with a sealed Soviet victory.
I didn't go into this scenario with high expectations, especially for the Romanians but still managed to get a decent play out of it. Midway through, after the first two entrenchments fell my motivation and interest began to perk up. Also I think using random events greatly enhanced this one. Had that Soviet change in orders taken place a lot earlier then Romania would of had better chance of actually winning with the town being attacked first and foremost. Also, despite the axis defeat they did not lose 12 steps until turn 25 so even without any quirky random events a draw is still highly possible. There were moments in the scenario where I wanted to rate this one high though it ended very poorly. So for what it's worth I give it a steady "3" forgeting any slant towards a Soviet win. Also, as I mentioned before I really like the flexibility with the Soviet deployment and don't think I would change one thing with how I set the entrenchments up. Without fully realizing it before play I managed to set-up quite a decent trap which catered to the Soviet change in orders. Had I bunched all the entrenchments together in just one location further west then the town would of been easier to take when it became the sole objective. I do highly recommend this one for at least solo play in that aspect this one is closer to a 4/5 rating. Perhaps a little lower for a shared match as you will likely be playing for a draw with the Romanians eventually.