So welcome to the Leipzig battle between Ryan and me - redux - Part 2 - the sequel - this time its personal! Well, maybe not the last one. We rolled back the game, re-positioned our forces just a little bit (but not a huge amount), and started the game over because the last game was fairly unsatisfying.
First off right off the bat, I'm going to tell you there were two things we did wrong in this battle that hurt my NVA forces a bit. We'd misread the Hunter-Killer entry on the helicopters, and played as if the helicopter was perpetually both concealed and gone to ground, when it should have only been gone to ground on the turns that the unit didn't fire (which I don't think was any turns, quite frankly). We also played that the transport vehicles could contest the objectives which required me to keep moving units forward to contest the objective in my quarter. According to the new "More Missions" PDF, transports can't contest. Did it change the outcome of the game? Honestly, I don't know, but I look at every game and every screw-up as a learning experience, and now I get to share my "learning experience" with the whole world!
Now, on with the battle report. As this is essentially a repeat of the previous battle, I decided to have a little fun and tip my hat to the classic movie, "Groundhog Day." Enjoy!
PERSONAL JOURNAL OF MAJOR ERICH KRIEGLER, NVA
It is with a certain sense of deja vu that I find myself preparing to blunt the American spearhead near Leipzig. The day began at 0600 with new orders from headquarters. I had believed this area would have been secured and that my battalions would be re-assigned to the Ruhr, but yet again we find ourselves facing off against the Amerikaner trying to blunt a spearhead that never should have made it through the Hof Corridor. I contact the commander of the T-55 battalion, Hauptmann Philip Konnors, and tell him to be ready to move out, but he reports that his tanks are still refueling along with one of my T-72 companies. I'll therefore be forced to press ahead with the Shilka battery, the 2S1 battery, the reconnaissance company, and two companies of panzers. I hope it will be enough until reinforcements arrive. If only there were infantry available, but they're guarding the approaches to Dresden in case the Ami's turn south.
Intelligence reports that an American Mechanized Company is in the area. I can't see any infantry yet, but something tells me that the forest near the crossroads is getting ready to be crawling with them. I therefore put my panzers out of sight and let the observer range in on the crossroads. I wonder if I shouldn't have ranged in on those woods instead...
Sure enough, just as the observer has finished ranging in on the crossroads, he picks up movement in the forest. Appears to be one of those accursed American "Hammerheads" - that will cause problems. Minutes later he's joined by infantry. They're ideally positioned to defend the entire area. I'll have to get close to knock them out, but there is a lot of open ground between here and there. Aerial reconnaissance has reported tanks and helicopters incoming as well. Hauptmann Philip had better put his panzers in high gear. Third company commander Hauptmann Gruner has radioed and indicates he's on his way, but it may be close to a half hour before he arrives.
Noting the more direct threat, I order the artillery to shift fire to the infantry in the woods. They are able to range in easily, but the overall fire appears to ineffective. At this point I don't feel as if I have enough firepower to dig them out of the woods, so I hold my panzers back awaiting reinforcements, it turns out to be a wise move. The observer and the Shilka battery both report incoming units - tanks and helicopters! How did they get here so quickly!?!?!?
The accursed helicopters have managed to bounce up from behind a stand of trees and before the Shilka battery can zero in, one is destroyed and another damaged by incoming missile fire. The Abrams tanks fire, but their gunnery is uncharacteristically poor. We're now facing a threat to our flank and we haven't even been able to prepare any sort of attack!!!
The Shilka battery manages to take down one helicopter, but return fire into the panzers near the main road and against the Shilka battery itself is simply ruinous! The company commander of first company survives and I order him to hold position and guard the communication center. I've ordered second company to be ready to engage those Abrams tanks! I plan on joining them in the attack!
With so many of my panzers burning, the surviving Shilka tries to bring down the surviving helicopter, but fails. With a dearth of targets, the Abrams make a drive for the command center focusing their fire on the observer BMP and the 2S1 battery.
With the Abrams tanks so close, I order Second Company to move around their flanks. As I prepare to join them in the attack, the BRDM squadron radios and indicates it is under attack by American APCs. The BRDMs are not armored enough to stand up for long and I order them to fall back. Just as I order my driver to slew around to flank the Americans the world explodes before my eyes. The surviving helicopter gunship has just hit my tank with a missile. I and all the crew make it out of the tank alive, but barely! I will have to command the battle from the Artillery communications point - I just hope their radio is good enough!
The rest of the battle is a blur, but it is very costly. The enemy continues to push his IFVs and scouts forward and between them and the remaining helicopter, the final Shilka and two full companies of T-72 panzers are destroyed. The reconnaissance section is destroyed, as is one company of T-55 tanks which finally arrived in what I was hoping would be a mopping up operation, instead they had to keep the American infantry vehicles off of our command post, wasting a chance to finally begin the offensive. One company of T-55 panzers and Hauptmann Philip Konnors make it to the objective where they are shielded from the one mechanized platoon by a building...
... for some reason their position and orientation looks familiar...
Just as the Americans appear to be repositioning for an attack on the T-55 company, headquarters radios and indicates that we are no longer on the primary axis of advance and that we are to fall back to our starting lines and prepare for new orders. The Americans appear to have received similar orders as their air support retires from the immediate area and their infantry begins to withdraw just as our panzers move away from the crossroads.
The butcher's bill is very high with two companies of T-72 tanks knocked out, our AA battery, the reconnaissance team, and one company of T-55 tanks, but we still have our artillery and three companies of armor. I'll requisition the 2nd company commander's tank and we'll move out...
Final Notes and Battle Honors
So that was a far more entertaining game than the first one. In addition to the tidbits of information in the preamble, I've had a chance to look back at things I could have done differently. One thing I keep forgetting as a long time Flames of War Player (since V2) is that even though I'm Soviet Bloc, I HAVE SMOKE!!! Assuming I could have built up enough armor, I could have laid a smoke bombardment in front of the infantry in the woods and dashed my armor in to where once the smoke cleared they'd have been inside the minimum range of the anti-tank missiles. Assuming I had enough T-72s at that point, their "brutal" gun would have eventually allowed me to clear the wood.
... or, you know, I could just finish painting that dang infantry...
In the end this was just a meat-grinder of a battle, so rather than singling out any one particular unit that performed well with a video... I leave you with a gem of a scene from "Groundhog Day!"
Offical result: DRAW