This is my one current PBeM game at the moment: AP42 from Action Pack 5, East Front. Joe Moro is the Soviet Commander attempting to make do with a polyglot mix of slow but beastly and fast but tinny tanks hampered or aided by the Land Battleship T-35. I on the other hand have some mobile light forces with a mix of up-armoured 38Ts and the early Mark III with 50mm. There's even the ubiquitous Pz IVe who is not much chop against armour but is there to provide support (yeah right).
AP42 is a fiddly scenario to play on VASL initially and especially via PBeM. The German opening move involves so many mounted units on motorcycles and really only a couple of legitimate entry routes.
The Soviet set up area and Victory locations:
|Two distinct yet adjacent Victory Location areas, with some real manoeuvring required in the mid to late game to even threaten the North-westernmost victory locations.|
The Soviet setup as I saw it:
|I was at a bit of a loss to see where my main effort would be on turn 1 and 2, as the paucity of German boots on the ground means that it's imperative I minimised risk in the opening turns to allow me to put pressure on the Soviet infantry. I could see that the central route was just a complete no go zone unless I could guarantee SMOKE, but the PZ IV isn't that good. I decided to have the Pz IIIs go through the forest rod in the centre to station themselves at or on 7 hex range to the east of the central 5/8" concealment stacks. The Pz 38Ts would try and get through the Eastern gap by the marsh in 37DD4 with a view to hooking around the wheatfields area on board 57 East. |
Here's how the situation looked at the end of German Turn 1:
|The initial turn went okay, I confused myself several times and changed my mind about where I wanted to maintain some Infantry, but that was taken care of early on with the first Zundapp riding half squad not getting very far at all. The Panzer IIIs were in a good position, while the 38Ts had gotten away with only a single stunned tank from IFT fire but they had drawn the AA gun out of hiding with no consequences, and had smoked it nicely.|
By the end of Joe's Soviet Turn 1 response, I was feeling a little better:
|My sniper had been killed saving a CE tanker, but I'd KIAed the gun crew of the unsuccessful AA gun for failure to rout and both Panzer IIIs were now in position to protect the infantry from the KV and also provide some additional MG firepower to any infantry advances. With the Gun now MIA, I felt I could use my positioning on the flank to properly sweep around and force relocation of 1 or 2 concealed tanks while getting into the optimum 7-12 hex range band.|
Turn 2 was where the infantry cleared the flank completely and the Panzer 38s did their backyard blitz to the north:
|The 38s scooted around, an opportune snakes and one of my better LOS picks paved the way for a take down of the T35 well ahead of schedule, even with a MA malf on one 38T. The infantry were angling their way to the North West but it was slow going, I needed to develop some kind of threat on the western flank, but the KV was protecting units covering the axis of redeployment so I couldn't go that route as perhaps I should have earlier.|
Joe's Turn 2 response was interesting, I think he felt the KV was unsupported and out on a limb, especially as I hadn't brought the FTs into play at all yet:
|Here we see the KV lumbering up to scare the 38T in the north, while the remaining gun armed 38T did me proud and took out a pesky BT, again with a good LOS pick and showing the 7012 hex range band working to my advantage. The Pz IV was doing his damnedest to keep the Soviet infantry honest and forced a minor adjustment, something I hoped to take advantage of in turn 4, if not earlier.|
We're now into turn 3, and I'm trying to KO the Soviet armour once and for all:
|The situation at the end of the prep fire phase, no success with the DI, but the last BT is toast courtesy of an IF shot, the infantry can redeploy from east to the centre, and the Panzer IIIs are now in a position to go KV hunting with APCR if possible. I'm yet to lose a single unit (except for a Sniper that takes out the concealed 8-0 on the forest road , something that hurts me a lot more than Joe may think, as changing the axis of attack is going to be a real issue now with only two leaders.)|
Nowhere close to being in the bag, but I'm hoping to get some real momentum out of this turn's movement and advancing fire phases, particularly if the KV1 fails to take out the 38T before I get my next defensive fire.
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