Fronte Russo #1
|(Attacker) Italy||vs||Soviet Union (Defender)|
|Italy||3ª Compagnia Motociclisti Bersaglieri|
|Italy||80º Reggimento Fanteria "Roma"|
|Soviet Union||150th Rifle Division|
|Soviet Union||469th Regiment|
|Overall Rating, 10 votes|
|Scenario Rank: 148 of 579|
|Parent Game||Fronte Russo|
|Maps||3: 1, 5, 8|
|Layout Dimensions||84 x 43 cm
33 x 17 in
|Enter & Exit|
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Eastern Front||maps + counters|
Following the defeat of the Soviet 6th and 12th Armies, all remaining Soviet units in the southern sector were in full retreat toward the River Bug. Axis units raced to encircle them and keep them from crossing to safety on the other side. German units pushed aggressively southward on the right bank of the Bug, but there were insufficient Germans on the left bank to maintain a swift and effective advance. A flying column, formed by the 80th Infantry Regiment of the Pasubio Division and led by Colonel Chiaromonte, was ordered to move as quickly as possible toward the Nikolayev Bridge. There was a skirmish with Soviet delaying forces on 10 August, but the first real action seen by the Expeditionary Corps started on 12 August, when the head of the column met the Soviet 469th Regiment, near the town of Jasnaya Polyana.
The Italians attacked toward a field of grain, but gained ground very slowly against stiff resistance from Soviet infantry supported by three horse-drawn artillery batteries. But then an Italian company made a flanking maneuver and the Soviets withdrew, most likely fearing encirclement by additional Axis troops that were arriving by the minute. Most Soviet units escaped, but the Axis forces soon occupied the Nikolayev Bridge.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|1 Errata Item|
The reduced direct fire value in Kursk: Burning Tigers is 4-4.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
This small scenario has an Italian motorcycle company followed by motorized infantry with mortars and arty trying to get through to exit the east end of the board vs Russians in 2 groups, a company to the north of the road and one to the south, with OBA and mortars. The arty really put the writing on the wall in this one as the Italians made it just to the junction of boards 5 and 8 and got stopped dead in their tracks, and then the Russian troops advanced and assaulted the leading stacks of Italians. As the Italian Colonel lead a company around the flank of the assaults, he was killed by accurate OBA fire, which caused the whole Italian officer corps to stop everything for 2 turns before the Major took command, but he was immediately demoralized by more OBA. The Italian troops started fading away, walking towards the rear as one unit after another became demoralized and failed morale checks. In the end, casualties were light, with just 3 steps of Italians dead along with their Colonel, to 4 steps of Russians with 2 LTs gone. The mud just seemed to absorb any arty or mortar fire the Italians could throw, while the Russian arty and mortar fire seemed to always find the target, even if only rarely causing a step loss. Once the Italian commander died on turn 10, the front stagnated, and the stacks of good order Italians with good leaders found themselves bogged down in assault and unable to regain their initiative and mobility. As neither side really seemed to be winning, the slugging continued turn after turn, and I was glued to the game hoping for something of a more grand outcome, a great charge of the Italians trying for the east edge, with the Russians harrying every step along the way, so the tension was still there until it became impossible for the Italians to get anything off the board. In the end, with both sides now having their own share of individual units fleeing the fighting, and with 1 large assault action still going, the Russians never lost control of the whole length of road on the eastern board, so the Russians take the win on this one. Great game. And tougher than the small number of units would make me think in the beginning.
|First Action met a roadblock|
In this scenario, an advancing column of the Italian CSIR runs head on into a Soviet blocking unit. The Italian has to exit 16 steps of combat units off the east edge of the playing area. Failing that, they have to control all of the east-west road and hex 1004. The Soviets have to control hex 1004, and either control one hex of the east-west road or permit no more than 8 Italian steps to exit to the east. A draw is also possible in this scenario. Hex 1004 is important as it is the only elevated point in play. The Soviets have stationed an artillery observer on this hex, calling in the off-board artillery (3 X 10 batteries). Per the Special Rules, hex 1004 is the only hex from which an observer can call in OBA.
Another quirky Special Rule is that the truck-borne Italians cannot take their trucks off the road. It's too muddy for them to use open terrain. In addition, the Italians have a motorcycle company that can drive through the mud at a cost of +1 MP per hex travelled. I sent the truck mounted infantry to the north of the road and the motorcycles to the south.
The Italians entered play in their pre-determined columns while the Soviets moved west. As the two forces came closer to each other the Soviets began spreading out into an extended skirmish line centered on the road. On contact, battle broke out across the board and evolved into a general melee. The Soviets managed to get the first shots at the Italians and made the most of their opportunity. They managed to inflict enough damage on the Italians that they had to fall back and reorganize. Meanwhile, the motorcycles took the south flank and were stopped cold by a Soviet infantry company.
After spending several hours in hard combat the Soviets took the worst of the fighting, losing 9 steps against the Italian loss of 3 steps). Eventually the Soviets began a fighting withdrawal to the east. However, their sacrifice was not in vain. Even though the remnants of the Soviet army were either Disrupted or Demoralized, the Italians were so disorganized that they cannot fulfill any of their victory conditions. The Soviets thus gained a minor victory by holding hex 1004 and controlling the east-west road on bosrd 5. That board is the easternmost board in play.
They fighting was fairly intense and the issue was in doubt for most of the game. I called this one at turn 14 (out of 19 possible turns) when it became apparent that a Soviet Minor victory was inevitable. This one was interesting and forced me to re-think the optimum use and reuse of the humble truck fleet. I was a bit slow in bringing the trucks back into the line to permit the renewed Italian advance. My delayed remounting of the trucks was only one factor in the Italian loss. The primary factor was the almost fanantical Soviet resistance.
If this scenario had another hour or two I might have been tempted to reorganize and rally the Italians. As it was, the reorganization would have ended about the same time that the scenario ended.
|Dura lucha por el hex 1004|
En este escenario se enfrentan una unidad italiana -compuesta por una compañía de motociclistas, dos compañias de infantería, dos secciones de morteros y un grupo de artillería- a una fuerza soviética formada por aproximadamente tres compañías de infantería, dos secciones de morteros y artillería fuera del mapa (3 x 10).
Los soviéticos ocupan posiciones defensivas en torno a una pequeña colina de 20 metros (hex 1004 en el mapa 5), único accidente geográfico del campo de batalla. El dominio de esta colina es fundamental, ya que es el único punto desde el que los líderes soiéticos pueden hacer de observadores de artillería.
Los italianos entran en camiones por el borde oeste del mapa. A partir de cierto punto deben desmontar, ya que son observados por el enemigo y pueden convertirse en blancos de la artillería soviética. Dado que los soviéticos están protegidos en pozos de tirador y los italianos carecen de artillería fuera del mapa, el apoyo de los morteros y baterías de artillería (75/27) italianas es fundamental. Sin embargo, aquí encuentran los italianos el primer problema: sus morteros y cañones, para ser eficaces, deben concentrarse, pero eso supone que pueden ser fáciles blancos de la artillería enemiga. Por ello los italianos optan por desplegar sus baterías y morteros diseminados, uno por hex, lo que disminuye mucho su eficacia.
Los italianos mandan por delante su compañía motociclista, con mejor moral que el resto, para que consiga tomar las primeras posiciones enemigas y conseguir posiciones sólidas lo más cerca posible de la colina. Sin embargo, los morteros y la artillería rusa hostigan el avance enlenteciéndolo. Paralelamente van acudiendo el resto de fuerzas italianas, pero al tener escaso apoyo de fuego indirecto sus progresos son lentos.
No obstante, los italianos avanzan poco a poco, a pesar de sufrir varias bajas. Los soviéticos se ven desplazados de las posiciones del perímetro exterior y se van retirando hasta las inmediaciones de la colina. En los últimos momentos los italianos asaltan una posición enemiga adyacente a la colina, pero los soviéticos resisten.
Al final los rusos consiguen conservar intacta la colina, que nunca ha estado verdaderamente en peligro, y obtienen la victoria.
|Tough slog for the Italians|
The Italians face a challenge in this opening scenario. They only have marginally more attacking forces than the Soviets, but the victory conditions are diverse and difficult. In addition to trying to exit the bulk of their forces off the map, they must also try to capture the lone hill hex and prevent Soviet forces from occupying any road hexes. Whew!
The thick mud prevents the Italian's transport from leaving the road, except for the highly valuable motorcycle units which are dramatically slowed down.
The Italian plan of attack was multiple flanking movements. First the m/c's swept (slowly) to the north to try to unseat the Soviet mortars and OBA spotter from the hill. They succeeded just before Soviet reinforcements from the center arrived to counterattack. This took the Soviet OBA out of the game, since a special rule only permitted OBA spotting from the hill. However, the Soviet mortars were devestatingly accurate all game long, reducing the reinforced m/c company to essentially a platoon of effectives and a bunch of disorganized stragglers.
The main body of Italians proceeded (slowly) down the central road in two groups, before breaking to the south. Italian artillery was pretty effective at breaking Soviet morale, and it looked for a time like the Soviet defenders would just melt away under demoralized counters. The Italians continued to lose steps and suffer demoralizations from uncannily effective mortar fire, so instead of assaulting the weakened Soviet defenders they continued around the defender's position and made for the exits.
The heroic m/c units continued to defend the key hill right up until the last turn, when a steadily reinforced Soviet counterattack finished them off.
The final tally: Italians fail to inflict enough step losses and just miss exiting enough units, while the Soviets recapture the hill and control at least one road hex.
Soviet minor victory.
I liked this scenario, it played quite quickly and was a bit of a puzzle. It would take real luck for the Italians to win, though.
At first it looked as though the Italians didn't have a prayer to win this (I was right). They don't have enough force to both push the RKKA off the road, keep it free and exit nearly all their force, especially since the bulk of the Italian force was of the same morale as the RKKA. In addition, most of the RKKA starts out in limiting terrain and can't be seen until the Italians have crossed 2 1/2 boards of featureless terrain. Add to that the fact that the RKKA has strong artillery (OBA) and a hilltop spotting location which provides an 18 hex view of the Italians. The final nail in the coffin is that the road is solid mud which causes the trucks and motorcyclists to swear mightily as they attempt to grind their way forward.
But then again, they do have artillery themselves, 3 75/27s and 3 mortars, which hammer away in multiple hits per turn. Plus, they also have some decent leaders to help the morale checks, etc.
The Soviets, hidden and with plenty of time to prepare, dig in across the road and in the fields, waiting for whatever forces the Italians can get to within spitting distance without routing away.
The normal attack would have pushed straight for the hilltop to take out the spotter and remove the Soviet OBA from the game (the OBA can only be spotted for from a single hex, control that and the OBA goes away). On the other hand, the RKKA set up for that eventuality with two masked HMGs and 4 INF in support. I could have stood off and pounded the hex with my own artillery (great ideas always happen AFTER the event, or, of course, in the shower), routing the jerks and ridding us of the OBA in that fashion but NO I had to try a southern swing, clearing the road and becoming involved in a nasty fight in the fields to the south of the hill. Indeed, the Italians didn't ever attack the hill at all.
Why, you may ask is that so? Well, because the combined 30 point OBA rolled snake eyes (a "2") three times in 18 shots. Since on average that only happens once every other game of this length we can call this an abnormal result. I don't know how to swear in Italian but something of this nature can certainly get me to look a few up (I have a book with curses in Latin, but I don't think any of the hammered CSIR members were thinking of classical culture as they were turned into small pieces).
Despite this the Italians kept coming on, helped tremendously by the morale boosts from their leaders. As mentioned before the field is relatively featureless resulting in demoralized troops running for a good distance before finding a good place to go to ground. The RKKA has it a little better in terms of terrain. but still they run a good distance away from the road if you hit them from the south.
So the end of the game finds a strong Italian force embroiled with the RKKA in the southern fields when I take another look at the victory conditions. As noted above, I had pretty much given this to the RKKA from the beginning and played the game out to see what could happen, when I noted that if I could get ten steps of Italians off the board and keep the road clear I could get a draw. It would take a great shot by the lone remaining HMG (which was not in an assault hex) to stop the RKKA from coming and getting on the road. I saw two units which could make it.
First the RKKA hit the HMG with its OBA but (those pesky leaders again) it passed its morale check, then the RKKA mortars missed entirely leaving the HMG intact to fire. The first INF moved and got within one hex of the road before it was hit by the opp fire and was disrupted! One down, one to go. The RKKA got ready to move and found that the leader who had been in place to move the INF had previously been hit by friendly fire and routed from the hex. The INF could not progress towards the road without the leader so the Italians kept the road clear and got their ten steps off the map - Draw.
With the Italians behind them in sufficient force the RKKA would have to withdraw, especially since their OBA would be endangered by the Italians behind so I can make some sense out of a draw. The reason it wouldn't be a victory is that for many of the Italians this "First Action" was their last.