"Herr Oberstleutnant," murmured von Kummerbund gently.
Von Kattelrussler leapt to his feet and clawed at his holster, fortunately his orderly wasn't permitting him to load ammunition into his pistol. Glancing wildly from side to side von Kattelrussler caught side of von Kummerbund and calmed down slightly.
"Well? What news?"
"The reports of our scouts are definite. There are absolutely no halftracks anywhere near us."
"Thank god," replied von Kattelrussler sinking back down onto the ammunition box again. "And that idiot from R&D?"
"We shot him this morning after he delivered the flamethrowers. Ah, what should we do with the body? People might ask questions."
"Roll him into a ditch and recommend him for a wound decoration," said von Kattelrussler. "You're absolutely certain there are no half tracks?"
"Absolutely Herr Oberstleutnant. This attack goes in on shanks pony."
"Excellent, then victory is in our grasp. Wait a minute, did you say flamethrowers?"
"Indeed Herr Oberstleutnant, flamethrowers and demolition charges to help with the assault."
A serene smile crossed von Kattelrussler's face, "Then we are blessed dear von Kummerbund. Nothing can survive the purification of the flames. This will be a holy mission."
"Yeah, right, holy, as you say sir." As gently as he could von Kummerbund coaxed his commanding officer to his feet and led him to the jump off point. On the way von Kattelrussler babbled excitedly about flamethrowers and how he intended to adopt one after the war.
OK, I have to admit I'm getting a little fond of von Kattelrussler. Anyway in the next scenario BFP114 - Engineering Defeat there aren't any of those crazy half tracks to worry about. I as the Germans have twenty squads, fourteen on board and six reinforcements to drive through eleven Polish squads and capture three of four buildings in the rear. Lest I linger in the process on turn four the Poles get six squads of reinforcements including a flamethrower of their own. To bolster my attack force I have some assault engineers, a pair of flamethrowers and a pair of demo charges. What could possibly go wrong?
I suppose the writing was on the wall from the get go. Ivan set up with a strong seeming force forward hidden in buildings and cringing behind walls. What I should have done was send half squads forward to strip concealment and opportunity fire powerful stacks once the job was done. At least that's what Ivan would have done and I have to concede it couldn't have worked any worse than what I did.
|Centre and right. Surely nothing can withstand my firepower.|
Blinded by the sheer firepower of my stacks I thought I could take a few prep fire shots and possibly clear away some enemies before I launched my halfsquads on a death ride. After all even at long range against concealed units a flamethrower still gets a 6 flat shot right? Not if you break them both in the first prep fire phase they don't. Not that they were alone in failure, not one of my shots managed to so much as strip concealment and the only result I got was when a sniper pinned (and thus revealed) a green halfsquad hiding up on the hill. Still with the assistance of some smoke from my assault engineers I managed to get a couple of squads across the road on the extreme right and broke what turned out to be another green halfsquad on the hill.
My plan had been to crush his centre by weight of fire (flamethrowers featured heavily in this) and push onto the hill on the right to build a firebase. My reinforcements were due to push gently along on the left through the grain but the main effort would be the centre and right. In the centre I would drive down on either side of the road and on the right I would build a firebase with a couple of mmgs and pound his flank which seemed a little skimpy.
In turn two I had another go at smothering his forward centre defenders with fire. I broke two machine guns. There was no other result. On the right the firebase building continued apace. The hill was mine. Unfortunately the entire "inflicting harm on the enemy" bit just failed to happen. I pounded what turned out to be a halfsquad with an mmg for three turns without even stripping concealment. On the right of the road I managed to kill a squad in CC and on the left I traded a squad for a half squad leaving me approximately one halfsquad in profit as far as CC was concerned.
|OK, thing haven't really changed too much but at least the hill is mine.|
Over on the left I was trotting patiently through the grainfield and was also starting to ease through the orchards despite the fact that a squad and a half of green troops held out in my rear. Having held me up for three turns these guys left their buildings on their own terms and continued to give me grief further to the rear.
I was desperately behind time and apparently incapable of inflicting harm on his troops. I hadn't got anywhere near where I needed to be. In turn four Ivan's reinforcements would pour on and since my twenty squads hadn't been able to deal with about four green squads worth of Poles I didn't see that they would do any better against elite and first liners. I got a little desperate but I saw a glimmer of hope. The road that led to the nearest victory building was open. Most of Ivan's force was deployed on the flanks. If I could occupy the attention of his troops covering the road I might be able to sneak some troops down there. At the very least it would give me a toehold and Ivan something to think about rather than simply killing me as I moved forward.
|Looks good doesn't it but his damn green heroes are still lurking under those pin counters.|
It was a tactic of despair, I hadn't done enough damage to Ivan's force to justify it but in three turns I had barely done any damage to his force at all and it was only going to get stronger. On the right a half squad charged forwards on a fire drawing mission. He certainly succeeded but rolled snakes on his first morale check and generated a hero. This hero then undertook fire drawing duties and between the two of them they forced Ivan to reveal his entire right flank, something two squads, two mmgs and a 9-1 had failed to do for three turns. Naturally they died but firepower had been soaked up. On the left side of the road I pushed my reinforcements towards his defenders and once again soaked up firepower at an unpleasant cost.
Now was the time, every one of his units capable of firing on the road had been finalled out. Leader led squads charged down the road. Whereupon a green half squad crucified three squads with a pair of FPF shots. The resultant 1-2 residual crushed another three or so. Yes I know 1-2 isn't to be sneered at but you might expect one squad to get through it.
|It's a little difficult to tell but underneath all of the counters lies the wreckage of my hopes|
At the end of my turn four and with most of my force broken (the part that wasn't dead) I conceded. I had nothing anywhere near the victory buildings, my men were incapable of passing a simple morale check and Ivan's reinforcements were looking at their watches and awaiting their cue. My defeat stemmed from my utter inability to break Ivan's forward line except on the right where the gains made proved irrelevant by my inability to break (or even reveal) his right flank position until it was too late. I definitely made a mistake relying on the flamethrowers on the first turn. Over on the left creeping forward through the wheatfield got my troops forward but I was unable to cross the road. Two half squads died on separate attempts to get across the street. Strangely Ivan's sniper which had a formidable 5 only got a couple of results although one of them was on a squad on the hill on the first turn. This broken squad then pointblank refused to rally in six subsequent rally phases. Sigh, defeat resounding and absolute.
"Traitor," moaned von Kattelrussler. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he struck at the malfunctioning flamethrower with a jagged rock. "You promised me fire and gave me nothing. I defy you gods of war!" The rock slammed down onto the flamethrower again. Hauptmann von Kummerbund backed slowly away until he was out of his commanders line of vision at which point he turned and ran for his life. The subsequent explosion still blew him off his feet.