Battle of Hürtgen Forest

Last Thursday I played a game of Flames of War (FoW) (version 4) against Guus under supervision of gamemaster Lex. Guus is working on a FoW incarnation of the Windhundpanzerdivision; to test the first batch of his freshly painted troops a setting and scenario in line with their history were chosen.

The setting was inspired by the Battle of Hürtgen Forest, in which the Germans fought American troops in the last phase of ww2. In our case however it was my Tsejcho-Russian tank army that would try to drive off the defenders of das Reich. Lex had worked out a scenario based on the 'No Retreat', with some tweaks. And he was also our very hospitable host, rules official and just judge.

Like always I had prepared properly and read Lex' instructions intently (right...). However, one of those minor tweaks, stating that the attacker (me) was not allowed to use air support had somehow missed me. This was not a big thing, since I had expected to fight a panzer army (never heard of the Hürtgen battle before) I could now replace the Sturmovik points for tank riders, which would hopefully come in handy against all the infancty Guus had selected.

The other major setting for this battle was that almost the whole table would be 'forest' (the 'FoW type' of forest being indicated by the shade of green of the playing mat). My tanks would have a hard time driving through let alone fighting infantry!

German trenches

In so far this was a historicly correct setting the battle worked out fine, for Guus and the Germans that is. Guus deployed his force dug in, waiting for the invaders, panzer IV's and HMG's in reserve and a small but important scouting group forward (in turn 0). My tank force of 15 T-34's, 3 SU-85M's, a pack of T-70's(!) and 4 BA-64's were deployed in a way to make most use of the one road on the board. My idea was to make use of my recce to spearhead a force of tanks up that road, but Guus clever use of his recce prevented this (wonder where he got this cunning plan from..?).

Left flank

This meant my main force of a small and big contingent of T-34's were 'blocked' by the recce unit and stuck on the lef flank. To put some pressure on the other side I sent the T-70's and BA-64 there, trying to manouvre past the dug in troops there.

This plan did not work out too bad, except for some small problems: The smaller group of T-34's did not manage to get past the three stands of recce, the main force did smack through the other part of the German recce unit, but this took (too) much time. Moving through woods means bogging down a lot, taking (too) much time. Failing armour saves against artillery fire (PAK 50!) takes (too) much losses, even if you have a Russian number of tanks.
Medals (hero of the motherland!) went to the 'little ones' of my army: The BA-64 and especially T-70's made a heroic quest through the woods, around the left flank of the Germans just in time to pin down the defending infantry and PAK's to support the final all out atttack of the main unit on the trenches.

Assault fought off

However Guus' dice rolling was not up to Guus' normal high standards, hitting, destroying and bailing enough tanks to force a break off of the assault :-)

All in all a very good start of the year and a return to the Flames. Can't wait for the next engagement!!

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