This is the battle report of the second scenario of Vyazma or Bust, an Eastern Front campaign played with I Ain't Been Shot Mum from TooFatLardies. The first scenario saw a defeat of the German forces in the attempt to break the lock in the Smolensk area which would have opened the door to a blitz into Moscow.
The reaction of the Red Army to this unexpected victory was a hasty counterattack with all the available infantry and armoured forces that have left isolated important pockets of German troops. This second game, around the small village of Belyj, is a classic encounter between a Russian column moving north to contact and destroy the enemy and a German kampfgruppe trying to break the encirclement and returning to its own lines.
Forces, objectives and initial deployment
The German foces comprised a couple of rifle platoons on foot, supported by a motorised HQ platoon with heavy weapons together with a collection of different armoured units ( 2 x Pz IVs, 1 x Pz II, 1 x Sdkfz 222 and 1 x Panzerjager) left behind in the hasty retreat and short of fuel. These forces are escorting the divisional artillery HQ. All German forces are veteran and good moral.
The Germans deploy in a collective farm (the site of the artillery HQ) located in the north of the table and must cross and exit the table by the southern edge to win the game.
|View from the north. The farm/koljos in the front|
The Russian objective is to contact and engage in combat the German forces, preventing the enemy from achieving their victory conditions (unknown to the Russians); and a secondary objective, to occupy the farm in the north with at least one army Comissar.
The German deployed in blinds around the farm and made a quick dash south along the road, with the two infantry platoons covering the flanks and the armoured column in the centre...
|Russians and Germans on their way to crash|
|Comrade Stalin is watching us!|
Following the first opening moves, the battle slowed down substantially when the opposing forces clashed in the road fork across the river, developing in a series of frontal attacks between the armoured units and a few attempts by both sides to bypass the enemy by the flanks.
|T-26 column heading north|
|End of the road for you little tin man!|
However, the attempt of the German panzers to move forward was cut short by a counterttack of the remaining T-26 and the Red Army infantry, losing 1 Pz IV and the other retiring by accumulation of shocks.
|Russians take revenge|
|Germans caught by surprise!!|
The final move in the battle came when the a column of lorries (the infantry and the artillery HQs respectively) left the farmn heading south...
|Caught in a traffic jam|
|MMG providing defensive cover|
The Germans would have had to concentrate their scattered forces and made a strong dash into the village with the remaining infantry and suppoorted by the AFVs; this woul have had taken a lot of time and the outcome was far from clear. Considering that the farm (a second objective for the Russians) was also taken, it was finally agreed to award a marginal Russian victory in the game.
Follow up impressions
After two games players are putting the rules mechanics in the bakc of the mind and are more focused on tactics. The lessons (for the Germans) of the first game were also useful and the game was much more balanced.
As expected, IABSM showed to be a flexible tool to play games and not a tome of laws and regulations a la Squad Leader for example, well adapated to simulate prevailing conditions in the WWII battleflleds. A remarkable feature of the game experience is the almost total lack of "legalistic discussions" among players with an increasing focus on the tactical options.