Kalmu - Hill 256
Panzer Lion #6
|(Attacker) Germany||vs||Soviet Union (Defender)|
|Soviet Union||93rd Guards Rifle Division|
|Overall Rating, 4 votes|
|Scenario Rank: --- of 588|
|Parent Game||Panzer Lion|
|Maps||2: 14, 6|
|Layout Dimensions||86 x 28 cm
34 x 11 in
|Scenario Requirements & Playability|
|Road to Berlin||maps + counters|
On all heavily trodden battlefields, certain places take on an importance all out of their military value. Hill 256 (the vantage point from which "Those Brave Boys" helped stop the Soviets at Nicola) fit the bill for the second round of Targul Frumos battles. Nicknamed "Kalmu" after a nearby small village, the hill's value as an observation point had diminished since the previous days' actions left little doubt as to either side's troop movements. But both sides had lost many men trying to take it and honor demanded they continue, so on May 4th the crack Grossdeutschland engineers were ordered in.
According to the official divisional history, after being rebuffed in their first few attempts to secure the hill the engineers finally managed to drive the Soviets off for good. The "for good" part is open to question, because on May 7th a good portion of Grossdeutschland's combat strength would be required to clear Kalmu again.
|AFV Rules Pertaining to this Scenario's Order of Battle|
|4 Errata Items|
The VC's in this scenario make mention of "tanks count double". There are NO tanks.
(vince hughes on 2012 Apr 01)
The reduced direct fire value of the Heer HMG became 5-5 starting with Fall of France.
(plloyd1010 on 2015 Jul 31)
The morale and combat modifiers of German Sergeant #1614 should be "0", not "8".
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
All SPW 251s have an armor value of 0.
(Shad on 2010 Dec 15)
|Grossdeustchland engineers lose their commander, but take the hill|
The Grossdeutschland engineer battalion assaults Soviet guards holding a hill. Soviet set-up placed the ATR's on the "wings" of the 20-m hill level and the 57mm AT gun back covering the approach to the summit. For good or ill, the 76.2 gun was placed in the northern 60-m woods to combine with the 81mm mortar for an 18-factor on-board artillery. Soviet defenders included twice Hero of the Soviet Union Captain 11-1-1.
The Heer set up in the woods to the south of hill 256 on board 6. Set-up was more or less symmetric about the N/S axis to fool the left (Soviet) side of my brain as to the schwerpunkt. Although the battalion commander was leading the assault up the hill, the troopers knew that the most important man in the field was the holder of the Assault Badge in Gold, Leutnant 9-2-1.
The first few turns made the Russian commander's decision to keep the 76.2mm gun as a BF piece precient. Although no German step losses for the first three turns, red and black markers were distressingly to be seen. "Had the men been at the Schnapps last night?" wondered the now quite concerned battalion commander. That's when a platoon of SPW's fell victim to Soviet AT fire.
The Germans had finally managed to get their collective act together - as the Russian artillery began to become a bit scattered - and closed with their opponents (with the weight to the West) to engage in some "softening up," when a Soviet machine gun burst cut the Engineer major in half. Ironically, Grossdeutschland's fire began to pick up and hurt the Soviets badly (and pushed a leader forward so that their OBA pounced on the Soviet AT gun), but lacking organization, could not immediately follow up the fleeing Soviet platoons.
Once the decapitation freeze wore off, the German advance was fairly inexorable. The Soviets were able to slow German platoons here and there (German morale had stiffened), but Leutnant 9-2-1 was simply spreading carnage about.
An '11' on a 45-col DF attack obliterated one of the two strong Soviet hexes and the engineers stormed the summit. Hero of the Soviet Union Captain 11-1-1 was left standing alone with his last platoon of machine gunners. Other remaining Russian units had fled northwards leaving the Germans in possession of the hill.
I'd say that the SPW 251's here really made the difference, providing that extra fire-power in stacks without subjecting to column shifts. I should have pointed out that the SPW's stayed in their starting locations until the GD grenadiers had swept to the West (the schwerpunkt side) and assaulted the ATR there.
Germans: hold 5 summit hexes + 13 Soviet steps = 28 VP Soviets: hold 1 summit hex + 4 German steps = 6 VP
|It was all going my way...until those 2 barrages...|
Vince and I played Panzer Lion Scenario 6 - Kalmu - Hill 256 today. He was the Germans, I was the Russians. I was not pleased with my leader selection (curse you, Alan!), with only 1 leader with a morale modifier. Still, my troops were dug in on a hill and were guards, so the situation wasn't exactly terrible. Of course, Vince had a 9-1-2 leader who depressed me greatly.
I set up with a strong forward defense and my artillery on the hill in the back. This was mostly because I misread the victory conditions and didn't realize that only the unwooded hills counted for victory. Still, I don't think this was a crippling move. Because of my forward position, Vince spent several turns working around my flank, while my 57mm on the hill kept his Sd.Kfz 251s at bay...and I learned the term "Hanomag" today.
After about 4 or 5 turns, Vince's troops were actually behind my troops and moving up the back slope of the hill. I withdrew some of my forward troops back and they dug in again. Vince moved in close to bring heavy firepower to bear and then weakly assaulted the back of the hill, losing a step for his troubles. Vince was not feeling very confident at this point. I didn't think he was that bad off, and my position wasn't bad. In fact, one of his captains had died of a bad case of lead poisoning.
And then the roof caved in. Vince's mortars demoralized my AT gun which failed its recovery check and was eliminated. Oh, and my 1 leader with a morale modifier was killed, too. Then, I pulled an ATR out of the assault so I could send in an HMG and INF squad amd take him apart on the 30 column. Of course, this left me with a stack of 3 units for one impulse. So his mortars open up and roll a 12 (or a 3...I forget which of these attacks was which)....The ATR loses a step, and the others are either disrupted or demoralized and can't reinforce the assault. This is not good...my position has suddenly gone from good to very bad. Its not desperate yet, though, even though his halftracks can now advance mostly unimpeded (hey, I did still have an ATR!). His heavy firepower is probably not as effective as Vince would like, so I still scrape up enough units so that I can assault him on the 18 column with he was on the 9...if I can win the assault, I think I can stabilize things. Of course, I roll a 1 to his 4. And later, I get to be on the 18 while he's on the 13...and he again outrolls me. Meanwhile, with his superior morale, my units are slowly breaking, and he's bringing up a lot of firepower to do the final assault on the hill. Given that it was 2 AM for him, we called the scenario. It looked most likely to be a German minor victory.
I really liked this scenario. If it wasn't for that absolutely terrible turn when all my plans went into the crapper, and perhaps a slightly better set-up, this scenario could have easily gone to the Soviets. OTOH, I thought Vince wasn't as aggressive as he could have been with this attack, and I think he could have made faster progress. Overall, I thought it was really balanced and didn't inherently favor either side. Plus, getting in a live game was great, too!
And hopefully Vince will give his view of the scenario.
|0945 Hours : The Moment Hill 256 Began To Fall (or Turn 8 blues for the reds)|
This was to be my first skype battle with Joshua Gottesman. Josh chose a very good looking scenario in this one, and after the usual emails sending set-ups and leader draws, we were ready to go on the pre-arranged evening.
Hill 256 near Kalmu had taken on an importance to both sides far in excess of its true value after both Soviet and German armies had left so many dead upon its slopes over the preceding days. On the 4th May 1944, Grossdeutschland Division committed its Engineers to the task of capturing its heights once more.
The hill was manned by Soviet guard infantry from the 93rd Guards Rifle Division. These were supported by a battery of AT guns, 76mm artillery and a platoon of mortars. They had dug-in on the heights of the south-face, (the expected advance line of the Germans) with troops fanning back facing both east and west and their artillery and mortars posted further back on the woody slopes of the northern heights. The Germans, seeing this decided that an approach on the south face would be costly and probably doomed against an elite enemy. They therefore planned to flank the enemy by going fast past the east face, then turn inwards to attack the undefended north face. Of course, this would give the enemy time to shift troops there, but it would turn his dug-in locations and in theory give the Germans a better chance when attacking, hopefully grabbing the heights from the enemy. They also planned to use their OBA to bombard enemy AT guns, neutralize them and allow their half-tracks (hanomags) to close in to assist the engineers.
At 0800 hours, the GD Engineer battalion set off north along the east face of hill 256, staying out of range of the Soviet Guardsmen. OBA almost took out the Russian AT guns on their opening bombardment, but these gunners managed to hang on in there and stay with their guns. The first 45 minutes of battle was all about the outflanking by the German attackers and both sides throwing artillery bombardments at each other. Just before 0900 hours, some German troops, along with an observer had closed in on part of the east face, and just here they managed to remove an enemy SMG platoon via bombardment and small arms fire. The Russians responded by inflicting losses of 1 step on the engineers.
By 0915 hours, the Germans were very slowly closing in on the north-east face. But casualties had been taken doing this (another platoon), and the Germans began using a fire line to try and wear down the defenders. This was made up of 2 x HMG platoons and supporting rifle fire. With the defenders uphill 600 yards away and dug-in in places, the fire groups were finding it hard to inflict much damage. However, when a small crack appeared at one point, the German Major himself led in one platoon to tie this enemy down. The idea being that this would allow the rest of the battalion to advance at lesser risk. It was this assault, that although not known at the time, was to prove pivotal in the final putcome. The Russians reinforced this melee, and despite their advantage, the German Major bravely led his men on, causing more damage on the numerous foe by disrupting and demoralizing them.
0845 hours (Turn 8), and German artillery once more rained down on the AT positions. Finally, a direct hit was scored and the Russian AT guns were no more! Other troops with the guns became shaken, and this event was to spark the advance of the German half-tracks into the fray. Meanwhile, the Soviets ordered the demoralized platoon out of the assault hex in the north-east corner of the heights and this unit joined two platoons nearby waiting to enter the assault. Seeing this, the German Major requested a fire module from the mortars to fire on this packed area of ground. The effect was devastating. The density of troops here caused the shells to inflict more damage than they would, and with the loss of men also came the loss of morale cohesion. Suddenly,in a 15 minute window, the battle was falling apart for the defenders.
The next half-hour only allowed the Germans to extend their advantages, including inflicting more losses. The German engineers were closed in on point blank range to fire on disrupted and demoralized Soviets, and their supporting Hanomags were ready to lend their HMG’s to spread more carnage too. At this point, Soviet command decided the battle would be lost and ordered withdrawal.
What had appeared for 7 turns a rather difficult nut to crack, if indeed it even would have at all, was completely undone by the loss of the AT gun and then, a merciless pummeling of a defending three stack by artillery. On both occasions, key casualties were taken and morale status suffered, leaving the defenders in a suddenly precarious position. For German reports, we will say it was a victory borne of patience and a faith in the ultimate success of their own methods :-)
Game was called at the end of turn 10 of 12. German Minor Victory.
It was great to get a game going with Joshua after seeing his name on CSW so many times, and his character led to a good fun game throughout. I know Josh was of the opinion that German attacks did not come fast and hard enough, but PG, unlike some WW2 games, rarely lends itself to last turn charge scenarios and is about doing the job in a usually decent time allocation. For me, I think I took the requisite time to advance as was needed for this particular job. Other times of course, things might be different, but I was happy with the overall effect, if indeed the situation was very close throughout the game and did have me thinking from turn 5 to turn 7 that I was going to be on the end of a defeat. I gave the scenario a 4 as I think it could be played many times with differing outcome and incidents of interest ... Good scenario !
|Luck Plays Its Role|
A problem with small scenarios is that a streak of good or bad luck can greatly affect the outcome.
That's what happened in my play. The Germans failed a few morale checks on their way, just as expected, and assaulted two hexes on the 30+ columns. This is where the streak of bad luck comes in as the Germans were unable to make any progress over the next 3 turns.
The remaining Germans were a close match for the Soviets but as the latter held the defensive ground, the Germans made very slow progress.
The Germans decided to call it a day when all their forces in an assault hex failed their morale check. It just was not their day.
I rate this one a "3". Although my play was frustrating due to the high amount of luck, I think it's a good Skype scenario.