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...