The Battle of Altdamm, March 1945: Part Two

Check out Part One here...          by Brjánn Jónasson
Turn Three: What ever happens, keep firing!
Soviet

The T-34/85 were in the thick of it now, and the undamaged tanks moved past the burning wrecks of the lead tanks and kept engaging the Panthers and StuGs at point blank range, wisely hiding from the impenetrable King Tiger. The veteran T-34/85 crews manage to flank and kill the second Panther from the panzer platoon, but fail to hit the StuGs. The infantry attempts to assault the StuGs, but fail the Tank Terror roll, perhaps thinking that the stuck StuG really isn‘t stuck at all and that the Soviet tankers really have the proper hardware to deal with the situation.

The crew of the bailed-out IS-2 remounts, confident in the solid steel of their tank, and keep up the advance with his fellows. Since they only have a rate-of-fire of 1 they get a penalty to hit if they move, and this saves the CO Panther from finding out just how it feels to take a 122mm shot on the upper front plate at long range.

The IS-2 manoeuver closer to the town and open fire on the CO‘s Panther hiding close to the Panzer IVs.


The T-34/85s continue to press the Germans, but fail to take out the StuGs after moving into range.

German
The fighting spirit seems to have left the small StuG platoon. Apparently that happened right around the time the second Panther was blown up right next to them, but possibly even sooner. The crew of the bogged-down StuG still fails to get the tank free, and the tank commander is seen wiping the sweat off his brow with a suspiciously large white handkerchief. The other StuG fires at the T-34s, but only bails out one tank.

The King Tiger can now move and fire on the IS-2s that are threatening an objective, and the life of the German CO in his Panther. The Panzer IVs move to flank the IS-2s but only one tank gets a good shot off on the side of the heavy tanks, and the gunner misses his target. The King Tiger hits an IS-2 and gets through the front armor with the long 88 cannon, but the ammunition was obviously made in a prisoner labor camp and fails to blow up the Soviet tank much to the chagrin of the Tiger Ace. To add insult to injury the IS-2 platoon bounces the long-range shots from the CO Panther and the artillery barrage hitting all three tanks.

The King Tiger, which is commanded by a Tiger Ace with the Schnell-skill, rolls a 1 and fails to Storm Trooper to get his ass out of the street and into cover. This would come back to bite him in the butt later.

The infantry mount their transports and head towards the huge cloud of smoke from all the burning tanks on the other side of this small clump of houses.


The Panzer IVs move to flank the IS-2s but fail to make a lasting impression.


The King Tiger advances to take a shot at the IS-2s. The shot penetrates the thick frontal armour of the Soviet tank, but a failed firepower roll results in the crew bailing out.

Turn Four: Die kitty, die die!
Soviet

Even the most dim-witted Soviet tank commander knows that when you have an opportunity to sneak a shot or two into the side or rear of a King Tiger (or really just any German tank) you take the shot. And the Hero-Tankovy commanders are far from the most dim-witted, since those tend to be weeded out early. The two T-34/85s remaining in the small company now rush into the town and have perfect shots at the King Tiger‘s shiny, large side.

The IS-2s manage to move away from the Panzer IVs to keep them off their flank for one more turn after the bailed-out crew of one remounts. They open fire on the panzers in the open and manage to blow up two tanks. The StuGs finally get what they had coming and the T-34/85s blow both assault guns up from point blank range. The crew of the bogged StuG is last seen being taken prisoner. Apparently the large, white handkerchief came in handy after all. The Soviet infantry assaults into the positions held by the StuGs and consolidates just out of reach of the objective.

The two T-34/85s flanking the King Tiger wait until they have come to a complete stop before opening fire on the German behemoth. One shot goes wide and goes through the living room of the elderly Herr Agler and his wife. The other hits the King Tiger and penetrates the formidable side armour. The crew celebrates as the crew of the King Tiger bails out, hastily loading another round to finish off the enemy tank.


The two T-34/85s get side shots on the King Tiger, but even as one penetrates the groans of displeasure from the Soviet side are quite audible as the firepower roll is failed.

German
The celebrations of the crew of the T-34/85 tank that just put a round through the side of the King Tiger are cut short when the German crew gets back into the their tank, and the turret starts to turn towards the two flanking Soviet tanks with an uncomfortable lack of panic. Due to the slow traverse of the turret only one T-34/85 is blown up, and the other decides to be brave and carry on, with the commander possibly seeing a medal in his not too distant future if only he can blow up this King Tiger.

The CO Panther in desperation moves to short range and fires on the IS-2s, but the strong frontal armour is not needed since the shot goes wide. Not totally unperturbed the Panther promptly stormtroopers out of short range again. The artillery again rains down high-explosives on the heavy IS-2 tanks to no effect. The infantry move out of their half-tracks and move into the field towards the Soviet infantry and the objective, hoping they are too insignificant for the IS-2 to spend ammo on them.

The two surviving Panzer IV‘s move to fire on the T-34/85 flanking the King Tiger, but the front armour of the Soviet tank proves up to the task and the shots bounce off.

Turn Five: Poor bloody infantry
Soviet

The infantry now take the initiative and charge into the open to take the objective. The IS-2s take on the CO Panther, hitting him, penetrating the armour, but failing to blow up the tank on a fire power roll of 1. There is general displeasure with this dice roll from the Soviet side, but the Germans seem to be rather happy with this result.

In what can only be seen as an insult added to injury for the Soviet side the single remaining T-34/85 chasing the tail of the King Tiger fails to hit the huge German tank even with the gun barrel firmly stuck up the German tailpipe. The crew of the King Tiger contemplates turning the turret to get rid of this persistent pest before the paint job of the King Tiger is too badly damaged.


Both sides are running out of tanks but the Soviet infantry finally takes the objective.

Reduced to one tank, the heroic T-34/85 platoon commander fires valiantly, but somewhat inaccurately, at the King Tiger.

German

Since the CO Panther was bailed out and fails to remount he is within command distance of the Panzer IV Js he decides that moving to the smaller, hidden Panzer IV is a good idea seeing how the huge 122 mm round from the IS-2 just penetrated his Panther. The Panther in return becomes a part of a platoon of two tanks with the remaining Panzer IV not deemed suitable for the CO.

The SS-Panzergrenadiers hardly move, with only one stand advancing close enough to contest the objective. The artillery targets the enemy infantry and tanks, killing one stand of infantry. The German infantry then opens up on the Soviet infantry, and the crews of the half-tracks follow suit. After the dust has settled five out of nine remaining infantry stands have been killed in what can only be seen as a demonstration of superior German armaments, or possibly the complete lack of survival instinct in the Soviet infantry. The very same lack of survival instinct comes in handy for the Soviet side after that, as the infantry decides to stay in the field and fight on rather than fall back from the hail of bullets.

The CO takes his little Panzer away from the big bad IS-2s and flanks the single T-34/85 flanking the King Tiger, along with the other Panzer IV. It seemed like a safe option after seeing what the IS-2s did to his lovely Panther. Unfortunately for them they both fail to hit the rear of the T-34/85. The crew of the lone Soviet tank praise Stalin and vow to blow up this King Tiger if it costs them all their lives.


The machine guns of the German infantry and half-tracks massacre the Soviet infantry before they have a chance to dig in.


The two remaining Panzer IV Js engage the cheeky T-34/85 shooting the side of the King Tiger, but fail to kill it.

Turn Six: Nein, nein, nein, NEIN!
Soviet

Three T-34/85s move into the open and let the German infantry sample some of the finest machine gun rounds produced in the Soviet Union this year. Only one infantry stand is mowed down, but a glancing hit on one of the transports drives all the half-tracks off. Glad for the cover fire from the tanks the remaining Soviet infantry dig in close to the objective.

The IS-2 keep up a steady barrage of fire on the Panther (well, as steady as RoF 1 tanks can), but the tough armour of the Panther saves the tank this turn. The single T-34/85 is still heroically driving circles around the King Tiger. They finally hit the enemy tank, but watch in horror as the 85mm round bounces on the side of the tough King Tiger. To make matters worse they even fail the firepower roll to bail out the crew.

German
The fearless SS-Panzergrenadier platoon fails to unpin. Apparently they also failed to bring any entrenching tools and can‘t dig in to save their lives. Which was really not a figure of speech this time. The good news for them was that they still contested the objective.

The crew of the Panther, still alive, are feeling highly motivated seeing their CO running away from the Panther and directly towards the nearest tank, and remount the Panther. They proceed to open fire on a clump of still operational T-34/85s and brew one up and bail another. For some unknown reason, possibly inebriation, the depleted Soviet Company decides to keep fighting, even if it sort of feels like a very bad idea.

Then the King Tiger kills one and bails another. The Panzer IVs finally end the reign of slight discomfort caused by the single T-34/85 flanking the King Tiger, blowing him up. They would later remind their fellow tankers from the King Tiger crew of this little favour, but were less than pleased when the other crew offered to buy drinks to celebrate right after Germany had won the war.


The heroic T-34/85 flanking the King Tiger finally gets what he had coming when the two Panzer IV Js put a couple of rounds into its backside.

Turn Seven: Enjoying the war so far?
Soviet

Only two T-34/85 now remain, including the CO. They moved into cover from houses and the copious smoke from the burning tanks littering the battlefield, and kept pouring hot led on the German infantry. They managed to kill one, and force a motivation for the confident Germans. Fortunately for the SS-Panzergrenadiers the Germans in Desperate Measures have a special rule called Enjoy the war. This allows all German platoons forced to take a motivation test to stay on the field to roll individually for each model, needing only 3+ for each team to stay. One of the two remaining infantry stands fled, but the other stayed on. Enjoying the war, because the peace will be terrible.

The IS-2s, now getting really frustrated with the lack of progress vis-a-vis the supposed imminent destruction of that single remaining Panther, again fire on the enemy tank, and again the front armour of the Panther proves too strong for the Soviet guns. The company commander contemplates writing a letter of protests to whoever is in charge of ammunition production, but decides soon after that this might not be the best idea to advance his career in the Red Army.

German
The single remaining SS-infantry team makes the man-alone test and stays on the field. Those Germans were not making things easy for the Soviet war machine this day.

The two remaining Panzer IV Js now move to support the King Tiger and Panther, but fail to hit either of the two remaining T-34/85s. The King Tiger also targets the T-34s but only bails one. That is the last remaining T-34/85 from the last remaining Tankovy Company, but he is crewed by true heroes of the motherland and they stay. The Panther blows up the Soviet CO‘s T-34/85, but the heroic leader of the Soviet forces simply relocates to one of the IS-2. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and the commander started wondering in earnest why he had not commandeered this heavily armoured tank earlier.

The German artillery finally does something right when it repeats it‘s bombardment on the Soviet infantry, and kills one team. One of the dead turns out to have been the husband of one of the cute nurses in the field hospital nearby, and the rest of the company decide they have been through enough and head in the general direction of that field hospital at a brisk pace.

Turn Eight: The first man to run gets shot!
Soviet

With only three IS-2 and a bailed T-34 remaining the Red Army commander had to take a motivation test to keep his small remaining forces fighting. He rallied his men and managed to keep them in the fight. The crew of the IS-2s sense that they have run out of time and advance on the Panther, finally knocking it out shooting on the move. The new special rule, Enjoy the War, saves the Panzer IV in the same platoon from leaving, after the confident tank rolls a 3 for motivation. The T-34/85 bailed by the King Tiger fails to remount. It just didn‘t seem safe at this point.

German
The German side is worn pretty thin too, but with victory in sight they press on. The CO in his new-found Panzer IV finally gets off a good round into the side of one of the IS-2s and blows it up. The King Tiger must now choose between the bailed out T-34/85 or the IS-2. The King Tiger is less impressive and after hitting and penetrating one IS-2 fails to blow up the Soviet heavy tank, much to the surprise of the crew.


A single stand of infantry, a single Panther, a single Panzer IV J and the King Tiger hold out against the feeble remainder of the Soviet offensive.

Turn Nine: Not done yet
Soviet

Again the Soviet CO passes motivation to keep his men in the fight, but time was running out for the men of the Red Army. The two remaining IS-2 turn their turrets and blow up the commander‘s Panzer IV. The commander‘s luck has run out as he is out of command distance from the other tanks and he is destroyed with the crew of the Panzer IV J. The crew of the single remaining T-34/85 remounts and moves to flank the King Tiger. They rush the shot and yet again fail to hit the huge German tank parked with his ass towards them at close range.

German

Having lost the Company Commander and the 2iC the Germans must depend on the Platoon Commander of the SS-panzergrenadiers to make his sole survivor test* or else go under half strength and automatically fail their Company Motivation. He passes thanks to his Fearless motivation.
*Editor's note: On pg 67 in Desperate Measures, the rule states "If the platoon is required to take a sole survivor Motivation Test... it automatically fails the test and the platoon is Destroyed". The battle is too interesting to not post it, but be aware of this minor point!
The Germans can now almost taste the imminent victory. The King Tiger finally loads a good round into the long 8,8 cm cannon and blows up the Soviet CO‘s IS-2. The wily commander survives and sets up shop in the single remaining IS-2. At the same time the last remaining Panzer IV attempts to hit the last T-34 but in an anti-climax fails to hit and this leaves the Panzer IV badly exposed.


The IS-2s got the German CO in his Panzer IV J, but paid the price when the King Tiger blew up another Soviet heavy tank.

Turn Ten: Sound the retreat!
Soviet

The frustration of the Soviets is obvious, as they just need to kill one more platoon to force company motivation for the Germans, and with the CO and 2iC dead they would fail automatically. They need to kill either the King Tiger, the single remaining Panzer IV J, now out in the open, or the single surviving infantry team. Unfortunately they have run out of men, ammunition and not least courage, and as the CO fails the motivation test the few remaining Soviets quit the field in disarray.

The Germans have won the day, but the victory has a hollow sound after the horrendous casualties inflicted by the Soviet attack. Only two tanks remain, the impregnable King Tiger and a single Panzer IV J. A single stand of the infantry is still in the fight, as well as the artillery in the back. Victory had a price, and the German soldiers knew they could not hold against the next Soviet attack.
Hauptmann Knappe surveyed the battlefield, a graveyard of steel, the black burning smoke of shattered iron hulls. Around him German soldiers look for wounded amongst the blooded corpses. Once more the line held but already they have orders to fall back to another defensive position. Knappe looks at the impact marks on his trusty tank. He thought he had bought it in this battle but fate has refused him his death, or maybe his already dead and is stuck in the after world forced to fight every day. "We will meet again in Valhalla," he says out loud looking at the burning tank of the young Panzer Kampfgruppes commander.

The Soviet Commander can‘t see the point in continuing the attack with only his IS-2 and a single T-34/85 active in the field and withdraws the two remaining tanks under fire from the German forces.

Post-Battle Ramblings

Soviet

Wow! What a battle. This was the most exciting battle either of us has fought in years. The Soviets seemed to have the game in the bag around the middle of the game, but shrewd game play from the Germans kept them in the game. In the final turns either side could have won the game, but in the end the Hero Tankovy were defeated. Of the 18 vehicles in the Soviet army only a single IS-2 and a single T-34/85 survived to the end. And of the 14 German vehicles only two tanks survived. It doesn‘t get any closer than this.

I was pretty pleased with the performance of the T-34/85s. Without the Hen and Chicks special rule hindering them from manoeuvring and shooting they had a pretty good success knocking out Panthers by flanking them. The King Tiger turned out to be a bit too tough, but really only a little bit of luck was needed to kill that behemoth too. The result of the battle would have been quite a lot different if I had not failed the firepower roll for the penetrating hit from the T-34/85 on the King Tiger in the first turn I could flank it. But then the battle would not have been so exciting, so I count that as a bit of luck anyway!

The IS-2 obr. 1944 turned out to be just as tough as I thought they were. Front armour 11 allowed them to take out the 88s at their leisure from long range, and allowed them some confidence in their duel with the CO Panther. It also gave them a chance of surviving a hit from the AT 16 King Tiger, especially at long range. Although to be fair I don‘t have to worry about the King Tiger all that much since Jokull tends to fail any firepower rolls he has to make for his King Tigers.


German

Enjoy the War! Fittingly this rule kept me in the game on several occasions. For me this is one of those battles that stay with you, tense fighting right down to the end. In the battle Brjánn and I both had our fair share of frustration, failed firepower roles were for me the worst, getting through the armour of an enemy tank only to be stopped when I failed firepower. This is especially true for the King Tiger. It has one of the best guns in the game, but it is only ROF 2 and if it then fails firepower you suffer. I did have more than my fair share of failed firepower tests but in the end the King Tiger came through. All over I felt my army did well and all its components combined to win. Aside from my poor 88's that never stood a chance against the IS-2 which with their breakthrough guns and Front Armour 11 where extremely well equipped to take them out. Then my poor small two tank platoons of Panthers and StuGs didn't stand much of a chance after the T-34's flanked them and I wish they had held on a little longer or done more damage. My best units turned out to be the SS-Panzergrenadiers, King Tiger and Panzer IV’s. The Panzergrenadiers saved the day against the Soviet Infantry and when the King Tiger was finally in position it did its job with the Panzer IVs dutifully protecting its rear. The Artillery didn’t make much of an impression until finally it made all the difference in clearing out the Soviet Infantry. But mostly the IS-2 just shrugged of its fire to no effect, and the T-34s were hidden from the observer most of the game so the heavy tanks were the only possible target. Most importantly this was a fantastic game. I do like tournament games from time to time and they do improve your skills, but playing a good opponent like Brjánn on a Friday evening and then ending up with such a tense game where for the last three to four turns both of us can win or lose with just a single twist or turn. That is excellent.


Last Updated On Thursday, January 16, 2014 by Steven at Battlefront