A few weeks ago a not-quite-local games store in the general Vienna area had an Operation Squad day and I attended, along with my trusty Soviet rifle squad and some of my terrain.
The Mission and Forces
Here’s the setup of the table ,depicting the outskirts of a small town on the eastern front. The mission was mission#1 from the rulebook, Recon. The objective was to take and control the central pigsty in the middle of the table (with the rounded fence in the front) which, as rumour has it, has a stash of either vodka or fuel hidden inside. The secondary objective was to cause the enemy forces more casualties.
I played the Soviet rifle squad (plus a sniper and a Maxim MMG plus crew) while my pal fielded his trusty German Grenadiers squad (plus a sniper as well). The specialty of these Germans of course being the squad LMG and their light mortar.
The Soviet Plan
My plan at deployment was to quickly get my men into the woods at the centre of the table. This would serve as a firebase. Especially if I would get to set up my Maxim gun it would be able to exercise a lot of battlefield control. The squad LMG would serve as a flank guard, just like the two riflemen to support the sniper on the far right flank.
If they were able to get rid of the German sniper they could put a lot of pressure on the German Sergeant and light mortar team. Keeping those from firing is always pivotal.
The German Plan
The German plan was based on their squad LMG and the mortar serving as fire support whilst the riflemen and the squad corporal, lined up between them, would move where ever they were needed.
It was obvious that the Russians would try to get into that forest and it would be hard to keep them from doing just that. So the plan was to keep them pinned in there, rain mortar shells upon them and have the MG34 open up and anybody who would try to get out and to the mission objective.
Unfortunately for me the German sniper performed really well this time, pretty quickly killing my own sniper and thus taking a lot of pressure off their left flank.
My two remaining riflemen over there managed to be a continuing nuisance though, even forcing the mortar to redeploy later in the game, keeping them from firing once more.
Meanwhile in the middle things didn’t go as smoothly as I had planned. As it turns out hauling a medium machine gun on a 120kg metal frame through underwood, trees and shrubbery is quite a challenge. In short – my central firebase never really came to be.
On my left flank, despite getting peppered at from all sides, my LMG team performed rather well, thwarting a first attempt of the Germans to take the mission objective early on. As the game went on my LMG team got ground up between German MG fire and the occasional mortar shell.
Here you can see a shot of the situation late in the game:
You may recognize this scene from my rules review of Operation Squad. At this point the Germans had advanced and pretty much mopped up what was left of the defenders of the Motherland.
Right before that I’ve had to have to roll my first Morale check. Luckily the men were steady in the face of demise, but it didn’t help much in the end. They had fought bravely, even kept it up to the end, but eventually were shoo’d off the board, leaving the objective to the German squad.
Conclusion and Learnings
It was a very fun game, and the table just looked great I think, especially as my opponent brought a bit smaller bits from his gaming group’s collection for making the table look a bit livelier. These details, such as the well and the wayside shrine, add a lot to any gaming table and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Bringing an MMG such as my Maxim Gun can be a great asset to your force, but you really have to be careful where you position it. Trying to haul it through the woods clearly was a mistake.
Next time I should just deploy it somewhere and not plan to move it much at all.
The snipers’ duel this time didn’t take long at all. Snipers are a huge asset to your squad, but they also are a bit of a gamble, especially if there’s another sniper on board.
Overall, a very enjoyable game at a nice location and with great people to hang out with (wargamers. :p ).
Thanks to S-Games for having us!
I hope that you enjoyed this battle report. Stay tuned for more!