Sunday, February 23, 2014

Plugging the gap... eastern front, late 1943

This year 2014 has already started with far too few war games played. Friday night Andrew and Nick G came around for an impromptu 20mm WW2 Spearhead game,,,, FINALLY!!! The scene was set. Late 1943 on the eastern front, south of Kursk. The German allies have melted away in the face of the massive Russian counter offensive, and a large hole exists in the German line. A Russian infantry division, supported by a heavy tank break through regiment, is pushing forward as there are no armoured divisions are available. A German infantry regiment has been ordered forward to plug the gap, a small battalion of the valuable veteran Tiger 1 tanks committed in their support.

The Russians committed the break though regiment of KV1s on their left flank.

The German regimental commander deployed his centre battalion supported by his Tigers, allocating his regimental guns (Pak 40 and a 75mm IG detachments) in support of his left flank.

The KV1s were well supported by regimental 45mm AT platoons, and a regiment of artillery (deployed on table).

The battalion commander on the German left attempted to push his Pak 40s forward to support the infantry, but these were caught in the open and eliminated by the already deployed Russian 45mm AT platoons.

The German commander had ordered his third battalion to try to take the Russians in the flank, marching them around the Russian left. The flank march arrive don schedule and caught the Russian with only a a couple of platoons deployed as a flank guard.

The German left came under increasing pressure with concentrated artillery fire. Meanwhile the German counter battery artillery (a battalion of 150mm guns) located the Russian off table guns and eliminated the regiment in two turns of concentrated fire. This took some pressure off the German left, but too late. The Russian CB observer located the German artillery, but being out-ranged was unable to bring down effective CB fire of its own on the German 150s.

The German armour had to push forward but it was effectively ambushed by the previously unlocated Russian heavy tanks.

A combination of suppressive artillery fire and direct tank fire suppressed first one, then both platoons of Tigers in a great illustration of combined arms action.

Meanwhile the German attempt to push forward in the centre was coming under increasing volumes of direct and mortar fire.

Finally both Tiger platoons were eliminated, and even though the German flank attack had made some progress it was obvious that the German force was buckling under the sustained Russian pressure.

Both armies came from my own 20mm collection, and both lists (at 450 points) were my own. The Russian list was very effective, maximising indirect fire support for the infantry and armour. I generally take two on table Russian artillery regiments, given the difficulty of contact between Russian observers and their gun. My rationale is that if all else fails, they can always fire direct under the control of the gun crews, so the points are less likely to be wasted. This decision, combined with the mortar support, was crucial to supporting the infantry. Mind you, Andrew's die rolling was better than average, and Nick's was poor. In one turn Nick failed every roll to lift suppressions, heralding the death knell of the German armour.

However a great game.


  1. Solid post Robin with some old school classic toys. Loved it.

  2. HI ROBIN,
    which were tthe tbale dimensions? I'm really interested in understanding which could be a reasonable table for playing spearhead in 20 mm. I usually play in 6 mm but in the last years i collected several 20 and 15 mm so really would like to play at these scales. Thank in advance

  3. Hi... I had traditionally been a 6mm player in WW2 and Moderns SH too. When we play 20mm we use the 1.5x ground scale and a larger table. My table is 8'x5'. Nick uses a 9'x5'

    We are determined to avoid the 'track to track' phenomenon that you see in other 15/20mm games systems.

    Look forward to seeing some games :-)


    1. Thank Robin for the feedback. Look forward too to play some games...i have to negotiate time with Job and Kids.i'll follow with great interest your blog

  4. And a good time was had by all! One thing you failed to mention Robin was that I was just following the plan you laid out! Mind you, I doubt my plan would have been much better...

  5. And I'm not sure that my decision to push forward in the centre was the right decision to make!

  6. Nick

    The plan dispersed the German forces too much... too greedy in its intent. More limited aims initially would have been better, concentrating firepower for the initial battle allowing more expansive development at a later stage, assuimg that the outcome of the first phase was positive.