The Second World War, Iron Cross, 10mm
I called this meeting engagement “first clash” because that’s exactly what it was – the first tabletop encounter in a new project. Recently, Sean 2 and I decided to collect some World War 2 toys in 10mm, as we’d enjoyed our recent Arab-Israeli games in the scale. The rules are pretty much the same – Iron Cross in the World War 2 version of Seven Days to the River Rhine, which we’d used before.We both opted for mid to late war Eastern Front, with Sean choosing the Germans, while I went for the Soviets. This opening clash was set a little to the south-west of Orel in August 1943, in the aftermath of Kursk. The table was pretty open – rolling countryside and a few hamlets, interspersed with low hills, small woods and a river. We played the game in my kitchen, on 6×4 foot table. This being a meeting engagement, we both entered the table from opposite long edges. Sean’s force was built around three Panthers. We wanted roughly equal forces, and as those three monsters were worth 100 points apiece, I could fill my boots with T-34/76s. I had eight of them, plus a trio of T-70s, and some infantry, riding on the back of the tanks.Sean supported his force with some infantry on foot, and three Stugs. The Panthers though, were the real challenge, as in order to knock one out I had to get close, and hit it from the side. In fact the game started well, as I brewed up a Panther which kindly turned its flank to me, as a couple of my tanks were driving up to one of the little hamlets. He still had two of them left though…On the far side of the river I occupied the other hamlet. Each of them was an objective, together with the two hills and the ford. Sean didn’t bother with the far side of the river, as he had that covered with a Stug and a Pz III. On the other side though, he brought on his other Panthers and his last Stug, which covered the area where his first Panther was brewed up. I advanced very cautiously indeed…Things were starting to kick off on the German right though, as he brewed up one of my T-34s, and I brewed up his Stugs and a Pz III. That just left some infantry holding the German flank. He sent one of them wading across the river, to take that second hill, while I sent my otherwise pretty useless T-70 to hold it. Having T-70s though, in the vicinity of Panthers was like taking a paper knife to a gun fight. Back on the Soviet right I advanced towards the small wood near the German table edge, where a Stug and a Panther were hiding out. The white or black markers are “activation” tokens, which shows just how bad my shooting was! The Stug though, was getting hit, but it seemed to bear a charmed life, and none of them destroyed her. If that was bad, then the Panther would be worse! In the next turn though, the Stug finally got brewed up, and an infantry close assault forced the Panther to pull back a little. Strangely Sean didn’t bother with his third Panther and another Stug – they stayed on the table edge, as he was concentrating on the Panther’s battle with what looked like half the 5th Guards Tank Army! Unless my gunnery improved though, I wasn’t going to survive.What followed was a very strange gun duel, with the lone Panther holding off several Soviet tanks. Even my other T-70 joined in, even though she needed crazily lucky dice to achieve anything against a Panther, even on the flank or rear. Still, the gun duel rumbled on, with neither side managing a telling hit. I damaged the Panther slightly – a glancing blow – but it wasn’t nearly enough.Over by the river the Soviet tanks there started advancing up the road, with no German tanks to threaten them for the moment. I hadn’t considered infantry though, and when my leading T-34 was damaged by a panzerfaust round I pulled the tanks back from the wood where the German infantry were lurking. My aim was to reinforce the tank battle, and use numbers to overpower the Panthers. In the end though, it turned out that Sean’s Germans had reached their break point, and his remaining two Panthers lumbered off the table, covered by the German infantry. In theory the game was a Soviet win, but it didn’t really matter, as this was very much a learning curve game. The rules worked beautifully, and we’re now getting the hang of its simple but stylish command token activation system.