Friday, October 13, 2017

Terrain making - a new venture.

As you may already know, I have become immersed in Rommel. It is a very challenging and fun game. My friend Steve usually sets up the table and uses his beautiful terrain pieces and buildings. We have been playing eastern front and our plan is to run an event at Historicon 2018. We selected 1943 and the Russian attempts to cross the Dnepr River. This venture would require a number of marsh features and that is the piece missing from our table as we are using carpet remnants for now.

The first test piece. Waiting for the "water effects" to dry thoroughly.

We have most of the figures painted and based and although the pile o' lead is always there, I opted to take a break from painting and try my hand at terrain pieces.

The first step was to watch dozens and dozens of YouTube videos from amateurs and pros alike. One hobbyist I gravitated to is Mel, the Terrain Tutor. Mel is quite a character but what I like most about him is his willingness to share his top secrets and experiments with various materials. He genuinely strives to make us all better at what we love to do.

The next challenge was scale. Most tutorials are based on making terrain for larger scales ranging from 15mm to 32mm figures. We are playing Rommel in 6mm so that clump foliage you use for grass now can represent large bushes or small trees? Conceptualizing these materials and their use was my puzzle.

Next was budget. I had very limited funds so I needed to use what was laying around the basement and buy only the cheapest yet functional materials needed to do the job.

 Test piece #2 awaiting a re-pour of "water effects".

Materials manifest:

0.4 mil plasticard cut to 15cm squares.
3/32" thick (approx. 2mm) cork sheets cut to 15cm squares.
Super glue.
Mod Podge.
Spackle (joint filler compund).
Various flocks, clump foliage, lichen, tuft grass and static grass.
Various paints and washes.
Watered down PVA glue.
Flow aid medium.
"Water Effects". More on this later.

 Step 1 is to cut your plasticard base and cork sheet to size. For Rommel, we are playing on a 6" gridded board, however; rivers run along the borders between the squares and will intrude into the area. I have cut some 4"×6" bases to allow some room.

Step 2 is mapping out your marsh pools where your water effects will be poured. Internet photos of marshes, swamps and bogs gave me some ideas on how to lay them out but feel free to be a little creative here.

Step 3 is to cut out your template. If you can cut them at a 45° angle you will save some time later as you will not have to bevel the interior edges as much. The outside edges around the base should be bevelled to remove the hard edge between the cork and the base. You can do this step now or wait until you have glued the cork to the plasticard (recommended). Use any scraps to add islands to your template. I find it adds a realistic touch to the piece.

Step 3. Glue your cork template to the base. DO NOT USE PVA glue for this step. Mel The Terrain Tutor did a workshop on the adhesive properties of various glues. PVA and plastic do not bond well. Secondly, PVA glue shrinks a lot as it dries and will warp your base. Good old super glue is the ticket. If you haven't bevelled the edges yet, do it now.

Step 4. Cover the entire piece with wall compound remembering to slope your edges around the outside of the cork template. Completely fill the outside edge. For the rest of the template, thin is a win. There will be many layers of material in this project so apply thin coats for each step. Spread the filler with your finger or any sculpting tools you may have. Wet your finger and smooth out the filler especially in the pools. Don't let the filler collect or gob up or your pools may get too shallow for the desired effect.

Step 5. After the filler has completely dried, sand it smooth with fine grit sand paper. I recommend a sanding sponge readily available at your local hardware store of choice. The soft nature of the sanding sponge helps prevent taking chunks out of your filler and allows for more equal pressure across the piece. Don't forget to get into those pools! 

Step 6. Apply a THIN coat of Mod Podge to seal the piece. Again, this is preferred over PVA for the same reason - less shrinkage and less warping. There may be other alternatives such as spray adhesives. These should work fine but I have not tested them out.

Step 7. Add your texture. There are too many personal preferences to say any one is the only way. This is how I prepare my base for paint. I try to match the outside "transitional" part of the base to my figure bases. Apply your adhesive, again, PVA is not recommended, to the base avoiding the pools. Using kitty litter I add some rock features mainly around the outside. Bogs, swamps and marshes are not known for major rock formations typically so less is more. Using your grit of choice, mine is fine ballast, sprinkle, don't dunk, your grit again mainly on the perimeter of your base. Remember, the interior of your marsh will be heavily flocked so adding some interior grit is ok for a few bare spots and texture but don't go heavy. The base on the right is probably more than I want so it will get more foliage cover. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Step 8. Basecoat. Again, many preferences here but I opted for spray paint and primer. Color to taste but remember wet soil is darker than dry soil. Let dry thoroughly as the next step is dry brushing.

Step 9. Dry brushing. Again using the palette of your choice dry brush the entire piece picking out your texture and then the rocks. I use a craft paint Golden Brown on my bases and highlight rocks with Jack Bone. Use very soft bristle brushes, as we did not seal this to save layers, so your grit, but especially your rocks, can be easily knocked off with too much pressure. No need to be super careful with the paints as any mistakes can be covered with your foliage. No need to make a mess either! :)

Step 10. Before we begin, I tried another optional step and that is experimenting with really tall grass for this scale. The trick is to take a bundle and tie off one end so it looks like a wisk broom. Well, I am all thumbs so easier said than done. I managed a system where waste was limited. The cut clusters are super glued. Do not press down or your grass will bend and lean sideways. Just hold the cluster in place for about 10 seconds. There is no weight so the glue holds them up nicely.

The real step is to apply some Moss Green, or your green of choice, and paint the top edge and slopes of your pool walls. Break it up. You don't want to paint everything. Pick and choose your murky areas.

Stepp 11. Pool floors. This is another of those preference steps. Paint the pool floors to reflect the depth and the colors you want to show through the water effects. I use artist inks and  Mel's formula of 2 parts green, 2 parts blue and 1 part black. I will probably play around with it but it works for now. Paint the floors only trying to not go too far up the banks. A liitle is fine as we can correct it in a later step.

Step 12. Flocking. Let the fun begin. You can see most everything I use for this step. Use what you have but have fun with it. The key is the variety of colors, textures and heights to add depth and bring your marsh to life. I start with a burnt grass along the ridges where I applied the Moss Green paint and work from there. Static grass is added next leaving bare ground where I may want to place clump foliage (bushes) and flower patches. Lichen is added as "trees" either straight up, fallen or dead. Finally clump foliage as filler. Again, have fun with your piece and let it lead its own life. No two should be exactly the same.

Step 13. Wash. A simple but necessary step to the piece in my opjnion. Go lightly with your wash as you can always add a coat. Too heavy and it will wash down and cover your painted pool floors. Some drip is ok as it will just muddy the shores. Who doesn't love Muddy Waters? ;) You want to tone down the bright moss green along the edges and hit the stalks of your lichen to make them look more like boughs and branches. Wash them completely brown if you have used stalks as driftwood glued to your floors. Apply until you are happy with the effect.

Step 14. Seal the piece. Here is where I use PVA! Any Elmer's type white glue in a 1 part glue, 6 parts water, 1 part flow medium mixed well. I use a $1 spray bottle that sprays a fine mist over the piece. Everything will be reactivated and turn white. It is ok. Everything should dry clear. The key is the flow aid. It will help the glue penetrate the clump foliage and lichen making for a better bond. I use an artist's product but everyday dish detergent will do. ALLOW TO DRY THOROUGHLY!

 Step 15. Water effects. This is the final step that will bring your piece to life. As I said from the beginning, I am on a small budget. My friend Steve recommended Future acrylic floor polish for the water effect. My first test piece resulted in a complete bleeding into the surrounding flock so much so it drained over all sides of the piece. Partly, I believed, was the base was not on a nearly perfect level surface. So, I poured again, and again, and again, and again. I was doing something wrong but could no longer deal with the frustration of so close yet so far. Off to the hobby store I went and purchased Woodland Scenics Water Effects. At $20 a bottle, plus or minus, I dropped the cash down on the counter. Much better results as the liquid is much thicker. There was still some bleed off but the effect worked out nicely. A few tips...

1. Place your base on a level surface.
2. Use a small measuring cup with a sharp spout.
3. Pour slowly. Watch how it levels out. 
4. You can use a skewer or other tool to work it into the corners.
5. Have a small pointed tool (I use a skewer) to pop any bubbles.

If you do you will leave fingerprints. If you need to see if it is dried hard, use that pointy tool in an inconspicous place for your test press.

The product does have minor shrinkage so if your water is more shallow than you want, top it off and follow rules 1-8 again.

The first 2 pieces fully dried.

I hope you have enjoyed my first terrain tutorial and the final result. If you have any questions or comments, please post below in the comments section. Until next time...

...Happy Gaming!!!


Friday, September 29, 2017

Somewhere in Russia again - a Blucher AAR

Gaming life doesn't get any better when on a week you don't play Rommel, you play Blucher. Chris and I did our Thursday game this week with 250 point armies. He has been a painting machine when he can, building up his Russian forces. Tonight he brought 3 infantry and 1 cavalry corps totaling 18 units. His army morale level would be 6. He accompanied this army with 216 guns! Using Russian battery strengths of 18 guns, he brought 2 12# units, 1 8# foot unit and a horse unit. His artillery commander and a "Rally" trait corps commander filled out his roster.

The French army views the Russian position.

I know at only 250 points it would be expensive to bring the Guard but I did anyway. 2 infantry corps accompanied Napoleon and his guard along with 120 guns. Drouot, my artillery commander, rounded out the French force totaling 14 units. With Nappy being a "Legend", my army morale would be 7.

Russians deploy on their hill defending the crossroads objective.

When I arrived Chris had already set the board and the scenario to save time. We set the victory conditions making the town at the crossroads a 2 point objective. The farm in the valley and the hill on the road would be 1 point each. This configuration allowed for a draw outcome and would make the Russians have to move from their deplyment zone to contest 2 of them. We thought this fair and the battle began.

French Turn 1. II and III Corps advance against the Russian left.

French Guard heavy artillery take position overlooking the valley on the left

The French Plan. The Russians had a strong position with both flanks guarded by woods and their main body deployed on a hill at the crossroads. They outnumbered the French with a numerical superiority of guns as well. Any thoughts of winning this scenario by objectives quickly disappeared. The plan was simple - break the Russian morale. My two infantry corps would attack the Russian left. The Guard heavy guns would take up a position on the hill on my left providing overwatch on my flank while the remainder of the Guard Corps would stay in reserve. I would try to play to my advantages. The Russians on defense gain a bonus in melee while the French advantage is the Skirmish trait. This would be an infantry battle at long range. Wear my opponent down in firefights before launching advantageous charges into his lines. This is why I spread most of my artillery out amongst the brigades to beef up the firepower.

The Chevau-leger of III Corps advanced and screened the line of sight between the hill and the light woods allowing the infantry to reserve move up and gain some early ground. This maneuver was repeated by II Corps on their left. Now let's see what Chris will do. Russian I Corps advanced to contest the hill objective while his cavalry corps advanced to threaten the flank of the advancing II Corps. Russian heavy guns from II Corps conducted counter-battery fire on the Guard artillery. Rolling only 3 dice Chris rolled two 6s forcing the Guard guns to retire from the battle! So it's going to be one of those nights, eh? This was a major setback for the French losing essentially 17 points from the battle and fire support. Drouot had no artillery to command so he was wasted as well.

Drouot and staff search for the Guard 12-pounders. What the...?

The French attack begins

III Corps engages and the firefight begins. II Corps brigades prepare positions against the threatening Russian cavalry. Guard lancers charge annoying Cossacks.

After losing my Guard artillery early, I saw my next deployment error. Infantry of the Guard were deployed within range of those same Russian guns and took an unnecessary hit. Chris advanced his cavalry placing his Cossacks well forward. Now I was forced to move my Guard and give up the opportunity for a timely reserve move later in the battle. My hand was tipped as I repositioned my forces to support the attack while keeping the Guard out of range of his pesky artillery. I should have deployed my reserve BEHIND the hill. 20+ games of Blucher you think I should know better!

 The Middle Guard take cover behind the hill while Drouot continues looking for his missing artillery.

Guard Lancers repulsed by Cossacks! Again, what the...?

This was another disappointment in a series of disappointing French attacks. Concentrated fire on the Russians guns (8 dice) never resulted in more than one hit so while it did keep the Russian heavy guns from firing every turn due to retreats, the horse guns simply moved back up and fired into my lines. Skirmish fire between the two lines was a draw and it is here I had hoped to win the attrition battle but, alas, no. The occasional "6" was never supported with a "first 5" for my skirmish trait. Thankfully Chris made the fateful statement, "I've never charged prepared infantry with cavalry." I responded, "It is your army. Do as you wish.". He did.

2 Russian cavalry brigades charged each French square! I needed my troops to hold and II Corps withstood the cavalry onslaught inflicting heavy loss to the Russians. A total of 8 hits had to be absorbed while my brigades took a hit a piece. Now I needed to somehow deal with those Russian guns. They were killing me and losses were mounting.

Desperate times call for desperate measures! The French light cavalry hurl themselves at the Russian guns. 1 brigade has already been sacrificed from II Corps while III Corps courageously fights on!

The situation was getting desperate. My army had already lost 3 brigades and on the verge of losing a fourth - the III Corps light cavalry. The Guard guns disappeared early and most of my remaining brigades were worn. Three brigades of the Guard moved to support II Corps while a fresh brigade in III Corps moved forward to relieve its worn companions. It was only a matter of time before the Russians unleashed their fresh Corps into the fray. Napoleon needed something to happen NOW!

 Guard cavalry move to positions supporting II Corps. Russians activate their II Corps but only to advance a brigade to take the farm.

 The battle rages around the hill objective. A series of attacks and counter-attacks see the loss of the Russian horse guns and a determined III Corps cavalry brigade driving off their heavy pieces and now screen the Russian grenadiers.

A view from the Russian lines shows how worn they are becoming as well. 

Fortunes begin to change for the French. Russian fire dwindles as Chris begins to roll ice cubes. He couldn't buy a hit on the French while my skirmish trait starts paying dividends. The heroics of III Corps cavalry inspire French troops all along the line and they actually survive the hard fight and withdraw to safety behind the lines! At this point I still have only taken 3 hits to my army morale and the Russians losses have caught up. I need a quick and decisive push before Russian reserves relieve their battered comrades.

The Russian send a brigade to forage the farmland while the remaining forces play spectator to the events unfolding on the battlefield

Napoleon gallops up and issues stern orders to finish the Russians 

There is no time to wait. French Guard cavalry charge and overwhelm a Russian brigade while infantry reposition to refuse the left and renew attacks on the beleagured Russian I Corps.

 Nappy remains near the crux of the fighting...

...while Russian cavalry circle around to the French rear

Following up their success, the Guard cavalry turn on the worn Russian defenders. III Corps renews their attack on the Russians with a charge of their own. The Grenadiers a Cheval run down their opponents. With only 2 hits remaining, the Dutch Red lancers and the Russian dragoons eliminate each other! III Corps infantry overruns the tired Russian defenders. The Russian army breaks!

Turn 17 and the battle is won


Despite early setbacks, the French were victorious for two reasons - Chris went ice cold at the critical point in the battle and he never used his fresh reserves. To Chris' defense, I have well over 20 games under my belt while he has a handful at best. If he were more experienced he might have seen early on I had no intentions of winning by objectives so parking troops to defend them was unnecessary. Those reserves could have put enormous pressure on my left flank and relieved the worn forces on his left. That is an enormous drain on MO dice and takes some finesse retiring units from the front lines and replacing them with reserves but it beats the alternative of not using half your army. The heroics of the French light cavalry cannot be understated! They were key to this victory. 

Chris is a quick study and I am certain every battle from here on in will be tougher and tougher. I welcome the challenge!

I hope you enjoyed the battle and, until next time...

...Happy Gaming!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Rommel. Take 3. Breakout.

Steve and I met for our Thursday night game of Rommel. My first priority was to remember to take photos! It was my turn to be Germans and I selected 106 points from my Ghost Division - 11th Panzer. Steve chose 96 points of his Soviet 6th Tank Corps and used the difference to select Scenario #1- Breakout. We bid and construct our lists prior to scenario selection to save time. This typically makes us take more balanced and flexible units since we know nothing of the terrain or scenario yet. Steve also arrives at the hobby store early so he also sets up the map. All I need do then is select my table side.

Positions after German Turn 1

Looking at the Breakout scenario, the objectives seem daunting for the attacker. Exiting a quarter of your fighting force and securing an objective at the far end of the map while protecting your lines of communication with the enemy already on both your flanks was the design of an evil mind. That being the challenge I deployed my forces. My elements were:

15th Panzer- 
PzIV battalion
PzGrenadier battalion
Motorized battalion
15cm SPA
10.5cm SPA

110th Panzergrenadier-
Pz III Battalion
PzGrenadier battalion
Motorized battalion
2 coys Sturmpanzer IVs Infantry Support

111th Panzergrenadiers-
Pz III Battalion
Motorized battalion (Pioneer trait)

Divisional assets-
2 15cm Heavy Artillery battalions

German grab for advantageous terrain

My plan was to go aggressive and grab whatever terrain I could in the center of the map. The scenario prevents me from attacking the Soviets on turn 1. 15th Panzer drove up left center while 110th PG went right. I played the Off Road event so they wouldn't be tipped. The pioneers of the 111th PG took up defensive positions around my supply source. My artillery had no choice but to deploy unprotected in the open for barrages so the PzIIIs of the 111th hung back to both protect them and delay any Soviet efforts to cut my lines of communication. My road movement and a tactical phase saw a good push up the map with the motorized companies deploying in urban and woods terrain. I was hoping any Soviet attacks would attrit themselves against defensive positions.

Armored units push forward. Motorized infantry and supports defend the villages.

The Soviets play conservatively and retreat to cover the objective while leaving forces behind to defend his supply lines

An opportunity presented itself to destroy 2 of the 3 Soviets artillery units near the corner of the map. I played Gaps in his lines, shot through the Soviet forces and attacked his artillery with 15th Pz. I thought I had enough factors between 15 Pz and supporting barrages to obliterate them. Well, my die roll was paltry and I only scored 1 hit so 1 battery survived. Steve played Gun line and scored a hit on me and I retreated. Lost opportunity. Here is another elegant piece of design by Sam. Throughout the battle, a factor here, a shift there, a tactic or 1 pip of the die subtley changes the course of the fight. It is like drinking tequila. You may survive a shot or two but more than that you start heading towards the floor. This was just one step in that direction.

A strong armored push towards the objective by 15th Pz and the failed attack on the artillery left units vulnerable.

Which the Soviets exploited with a strong counterattack and a devastating attack roll leaving this German force combat ineffective.

I continued to put pressure on Steve with the armored units of the 15th and 110th which had to constantly defend against Soviet counterattacks. The Soviet losses were adding up but I couldn't continue taking attrition losses and hope to be strong enough to seize the all important objective. Steve later admitted he should have not attacked but let me batter my forces against his defensive wall. 

The Germans are within a kilometer of their objective!

The Soviets scrape together whatever they can to stop the German push.

But another tequila shot and a lone defender watches as the Germans retreat from the attack.

To make the situation worse, Soviet Turn 6 reinforcements arrive!

The Germans are now presented with a new set of challenges as the situation on the battlefield changes dramatically. Steve is preparing a counter-offensive with his newly arrived forces. He does spend ops to play All workers to the front and gains 6 prepared positions. Luckily for me half of them are placed in his supply squares which I have no intention of attacking. He then spends 1 op to tactically position his units. 

Even with Soviet casualties mounting to heavy levels, Steve's counterattacks have dealt concerning losses to my armored forces. I cannot afford to exit combat effective units off the map. I need them for a final push on the objective. I need to preserve my weakened units, punch a hole somewhere and exit those units to fulfill the victory conditions. The question is... how?

The Soviet counter-offensive is repulsed with heavy loss but the 110th suffers losses I cannot afford.

Meanwhile on the other flank, 15th Panzer blows through Soviet defenders and, with a follow up tactical phase, exploits and eliminates Soviet artillery punching a hole in the Soviet line.

Having survived Steve's attacks, I launched a few concentrated and well supported attacks looking to eliminate Soviet defenders and punch a hole for my weaker forces to exit the map. I also call up the pioneers of the 111th with 2 companies of their PzIIIs. I will need the armored reinforcements for the final push and the pioneers to reduce the Soviet prepared positions on the objective. I am banking on Steve's forces being too weak to mount a threat to my supply lines.

The Ghost division presses on and Soviet defenders are becoming sparce. 

The Soviet left flank collapses. The photo shows the units I was able to exit. Now all I need is that objective!

The pioneers of the 111th were able to mount a precision strike and remove one of the prepared position markers with little Soviet response. The last challenge to overcome is the jump off terrain for my final push is marsh (soft ground) meaning any attacking units are automatically tipped thereby fighting half strength. I do have worn units of the 15th Panzer that broke through and can attack from the flank but it looks like my combat factors may not be enough to eliminate a 3 unit objective defense.

The first major assault happened on Turn 11. If the objective does not fall I will need bonus turns to achieve victory.  The assault was conducted by the 110th PG and I poured everything into the attack draining my ops and using both heavy battery divisional assets. It was a devastating attack but, once again, the bartender served up another tequila shot. 3 full strength Soviet units took a beating but 1 unit remained with 1 box left. The Germans retreated. The Soviets reinforced as I could not fully isolate his objective. On bonus turn 3, worn units of the 15th Panzer are my last hope. The German gas tank was empty and the final assault was to weak to achieve victory. I shook Steve's hand. Good game.

So close. A lone Soviet defender survives the brutality of the German assault

What a great scenario! The challenges presented to both sides are difficult and it came down to bonus turns and anyone's game. I do feel it favors the defender. No, not because I lost. Early on, Steve rolled well but with low factor attacks causing casualties I didn't expect. I mentioned the "tequila effect" and that too haunted me. However; my major mid-game offensives were brutal. I can't recall how many high factor, tactics supported attacks had a die roll of 5 or 6. I was rolling hot while Steve struggled to roll a 3. My late game attacks rarely wiffed with 1's or 2's. I was still rolling well. With all that combat success I still struggled to mount more than one effective assault on the objective by nightfall. This needs to be played again! Win or lose, this was one of the most challenging and fun scenarios I have played in years!

I hope you enjoyed the report. Until next time...

...Happy Gaming!


Monday, September 4, 2017

Rommel - First Play

Sunday could not come fast enough. The long awaited release of Sam Mustafa's latest Honour Series was released over a week ago and, as usual, I couldn't stand waiting for my first game. It is probably unfair to Sam that my expectations were high. With his track record they should be. So my friend Steve and I brought our Mid War lists to our gaming club to have at it.

Steve put a 106 point Soviet list together consisting of 3 tank brigades and a motor rifle brigade along with a couple of "parent" attachments.

My German 11th Panzer Division costed out at 108 points and had the 15th Panzer Regiment, the 4th and 110th Panzergrenadier Regiments and an independent Tiger battalion. 2 Wespe units rounded out the division as support.

With a difference of only 2 points, we played the Encounter scenario. We placed the objectives as per the scenario. Rolling for terrain pieces, Steve got to place 12 or 13 pieces, maybe more (I forgot already), and I rolled a whopping 6 pieces. Steve brought his gorgeous 6mm terrain and, as you will see, made for a nice looking table. Thank you, Steve!

We diced and I got the first turn.

The battlefield after German Turn 1 movement

I used road movement to rush up the 4th PG and put early pressure on the Russians. I spent the 2 OPs for the Off Road event so my units wouldn't be tipped. I conducted a tactical phase so the 4th could secure the woods and the urban squares. The 11th PG took up positions on the right flank. As per the scenario, both sides had to split their forces so the 15th Panzer and the Tigers were off board and would roll to come on as reinforcements. That was 4 OPs spent and my new OPs roll saw 2 fail to make it into the pool. This would become a recurring theme during the early stages of the battle.

The Russian deployment

Soviet Turn 1 saw Steve's infantry attempt to assault the German position in the village to no avail. Tank battles began and the German Armor Superiority doled out extra casualties but my PzIVs sustained some heavy casualties as well and were forced to retreat.

The battle begins as the Soviet 200th tank brigade attacks the 4th Panzergrenadiers

Meanwhile Soviet forces occupy the wooded mountain areas as they press their advance.

The next few turns saw the Soviets flush with OPs and the assault on the 4th PG continued in earnest. The 4th by now had lost 3 companies, was driven out of the village and could no longer prevent a Soviet breakthrough.

Soviets continue to assault the village

Casualties mount as the Soviets secure the village and prepare for another attack

German OPs were insufficient to mount any local counterattacks or support the combats with tactics. To make matters worse, the Soviet Turn 5 "Marker Step" saw the arrival of the Russian reinforcements. The German position looked dire. Fortunately, and this would pay off later in the battle, the Soviet success to this point wasn't without casualties.

Soviet reinforcements arrive

Breakthrough! The 4th PG can no longer stem the tide of the Soviet successes

The Russians poured through the gap while their infantry and second wave armor tried to mop up the remains of 4th PG. Only a determined fighting withdrawal saved 4th PG from annihilation but reinforcements were badly needed. The Russians are within 3 kilometers of their objective.

The Soviets pour through and continued attacks befall the German 4th

The situation is dire for the Germans but fortunes begin to change. Soviet OPs become scarcer and their combat rolls begin to disappoint Steve. Finally, the end of Turn 9 sees the arrival of the 15th Panzer regiment and supporting Tigers. Turn 11 begins the German counterattack. Flush with new OPs as German fortunes change, I opted to forego playing around with expeditures on events and tactics. Instead, most OPs were used to conduct as many tactical phases as I could afford each turn. The superior mobility of the German panzergrenadiers over motorized or "leg" infantry proved key in the counterattack.

Relief as German reinforcements appear

Leading units of the 15th Panzer regiment will spearhead the attack

The remains of 4th PG consolidate and conduct localized probing attacks on the Russians. Full scale follow up attacks by 15th Pz supported by Tigers achieve major successes against the now worn Soviets. The 110th PG joins in with some pinning attacks on the right flank to support the push.

The German counterattack begins

The battered 110th tries to do their part and support the 15th Pz

The worn Russian defenders cannot halt the German assault and units are dissolving en masse. The counterattack eliminates most all Russian resistance on the left flank and drives on the objective coming within 2 kilometers before nightfall ends the battle. 

Soviet resistance all but eliminated on the German left.

The objective too far. Night falls and the fighting ceases

You couldn't ask for a better first game of any rules set. From set up to take down did take over 5 hours but slow is typical anytime you play a game for the first time. Looking up rules, however; was not causing the delay. No matter how much you read the rules, study the Command Posts and think strategies, both Steve and I had that look of a "deer in the headlights" from first deployment and the start of each turn. Typical of an HONOUR Series game, rules are simple but the decisions to be made each and every turn is what Sam presents to you as the challenge. Another elegant system.

I must say Rommel did play differently from what I had envisioned. The bold arrows on the maps we see often depicting breakthroughs and encirclements was not evident but then I realized this was a one day battle we were fighting. And yes, ultimately breakthroughs were achieved by both sides so it did feel WW2. As we all progress in our familiarity with the game and start recreating multi-day battles, Rommel will shine even brighter!

Rommel will become a staple in my gaming diet!

Until next time...

...happy gaming!