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DAR - Snow For The Hungry AXIS PBEM

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I've been reading AARs and DARs on this site for years and always thought: that looks like a lot of work! Well now I've decided to see how much work it is and give it a go so I'm going to do a during action report on a PBEM match against a member of The Few Good Men (back out now Sgt Grunt if you're reading this), and we're playing the Snow For The Hungry scenario from the F&R module that neither of us has played yet so no spoilers please.

We've already started and are about 20 turns in so lots to get caught up on but let's start with the analysis. I'll be using METT-T (who wouldn't?) and trying to apply German doctrine as much as I can remember how to do it :)

A note about the weather. It's:

  1. January
  2. Freezing
  3. Very windy (heavy into my face)
  4. Blizzard
  5. All in all pretty miserable, I wouldn't want to be there in real life.

1. Mission

The scenario is set in January 1945 as elements of the Großdeutschland division attempt to clear the coastal highway to resupply the troops trapped in Königsberg. Our mission is to clear the highway and the neighbouring towns of any Soviet resistance so that they can not interdict and disrupt the relief efforts.

Looking at the objectives (3 occupy and 1 touch) and the points totals they shape up as below (the objective designation are my own):

  • The town of Wardienen (Obj ROT) - Occupy for 400 points
  • The village of Waldburg (Obj GRAU) - Occupy for 200 points
  • The church (Obj BLAU) - Touch for 200 points
  • The road to Königsberg (Obj SCHWARZ) - Occupy for 200 points

The rest of the 700 points available (total of 1700) are for destroying enemy forces.

The focus is clearly on destroying the enemy here, I need to find them and destroy them and that is my core focus, the objectives are secondary and given the Soviets are on the defensive then they have likely occupied the objectives or the ground near it anyway, especially at ROT and BLAU, but more on that later.

The objectives in the AO:


Next up...enemy!


Edited by Monty's Mighty Moustache
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2. Enemy

"Enemy shmenemy" -- MMM

The briefing states that the enemy OOB is unknown and the situation is "fluid", whatever that means. It does say that it is estimated that the area is held by a cavalry regiment but I have learnt over the years that these things can be misleading so the initial part of the mission will be to uncover as much info as I can about the enemy and his positions.

What I do know is that it's the Soviets with all their pros and cons. They will likely be quite closely bunched due to the weather and their C2 being mostly verbal and visual and of course they lack organic effective AT assets but excel at short-range firefights, which might be a problem given the weather!

For fun I templated a cavalry regiment and they consist of:

  • 1 x recon platoon
  • 1 x sapper platoon
  • 4 x cavalry squadrons each w/ 3 platoons, 1 MG platoon, 1 SMG platoon, 1 AT Rifle platoon
  • 1 x mortar squadron
  • 1 x infantry gun battery
  • 1 x AT company

That gives a total of 583 men, 4 x 45mm AT guns, 4 x 76mm infantry guns, 3 x 82m mortars, 12 x AT rifles, 8 x MMGs. But it's fluid. Hmmm. It’s not mentioned if they are entrenched or have any armour to hand so I'm expecting anything.

As for my opponent himself I have not attacked against his defence yet, in the other two games we've played he was the attacker and was quite cautious so it will be fun to see how he sets out his defence.

Next...troops! (yes I know it's supposed to be terrain but I have this info more readily to hand with screenies.)


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28 minutes ago, chuckdyke said:

Fluid it is extremely mobile, it is good you play against a human opponent. METT-TC always E enemy what would you do if you were the defender. 

Actually I interpreted "fluid" as changing, so I'm not expecting just a cavalry regiment at all but we'll see.

I'll do my "what would I do in his situation" when I do the terrain analysis.

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3. Troops

I have a battalion(-) of mechanized panzergrenadiers with the support of a ragtag platoon of armour. I created a sheet with my OOB (yes, I am that anal):


Curiously, and this is something I only noticed on turn 18 or something, two of the platoons do not have a leader, I'll highlight which of them when I get to the turns. They have the HQ team but none of the soldiers are marked as "Commander" so they have no C2 contact with the Coy HQ even though there's a radio man and all the squads are marked as out of contact too. I'm not sure if this was intentional or if the reduction is strength is randomized and the Plt HQs were randomly chopped but it's something I'm going to have to manage.


The Panzer Coy HQ being off the map means that the tanks are cut off from the Bn HQ too via radio so I'm going to plonk the Bn HQ Support team next to the Panzer Plt HQ with everyone up so they can share info about the place.


The troops are about 20% reduced but in good condition, nothing there worries me but I expect the reds to have more men. This force is highly mobile and I have good long range firepower with the number of MGs my guys are toting but in this weather it may not help that much. I have no fire support and am expecting no reinforcements, I have to work with what I've got so it's imperative that I keep my armour alive as they will be my prime supporting fire assets. No charging off into the snow for you Hauptmann!

They are equipped with radios at the platoon level and upwards, all the Hanomags are equipped with radios as is the armour.


Next...terrain analysis!


Edited by Monty's Mighty Moustache
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3rd Company has only two sections I just checked but they all have a leader. The German for platoon is Zug maybe it was in a patch or something. Happy gaming. With the snow you maybe not aware of the reversed slope of the village. All their half tracks have radio. 

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1 hour ago, chuckdyke said:

3rd Company has only two sections I just checked but they all have a leader. The German for platoon is Zug maybe it was in a patch or something. Happy gaming. With the snow you maybe not aware of the reversed slope of the village. All their half tracks have radio. 

Yeah I'm aware of the German for platoon, I forgot to use it however so I will from now on so thanks for the reminder. I also know all the Hanomags have radios, I assumed everyone did so I didn't mention it but maybe I should have. The tanks all have radios too as do the Bn, Plt and Coy HQs and the HQ support units and 2ICs. Plenty of radios which is more than can be said for the Soviets.

I have noticed the reverse slope, that's all to come in the next instalment when I do the terrain analysis. Can I ask that you be careful with any descriptions of the scenario so as not to ruin it for me and others?


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4. Terrain - General Observations

"God, it's a barren, featureless desert out there!"

"The other side, sir!"

I will be using OCOKA to do my terrain analysis but first some general thoughts on the terrain.

The terrain on the whole is quite flat and rolling, there’s not a lot of dead ground but there are marshes that are impassable to my vehicles dotted around the place. There is also an abundance of trees for the enemy to hide in and overwatch the open ground. The ground rises towards the East with Obj BLAU in particular being quite prominent.

The open ground that there is is dominated by woods and treelines and smaller, sparser areas of scrub and trees that all make for good hiding spots.

Looking NW back towards Obj ROT


Looking E towards Obj BLAU and the treeline


Another view of Obj BLAU from the woods to the South


The approach to Obj GRAU on the South side of the AO


A word about the visibility. Ordinarily on a map like this the sightlines would be great but as it is the blizzard is limiting the visibility to about 350m. This is going to be a close quarters scrap (probably).

Next..OCOKA time, I'll start as I always do (perhaps a wee bit unorthodox) with identifying the Avenues of Approach.


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9 hours ago, Monty's Mighty Moustache said:

Plenty of radios which is more than can be said for the Soviets.

There is a feature you may consider when you play Soviets. Every HQ can access mortars, if I have an HQ which has no radio I call a mission (Harass for infantry Smoke for tanks) This simulates flares or field telephone etc. Once you can adjust it means communication has been established and Company and Regimental HQ can direct units FO's can override the mission. Tip a cover arc over Wardienen quickly reveals elevated and hidden terrain. 

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5. Terrain Continued - Avenues Of Approach

A bit unorthodox I suppose but this is the way I think about such things when doing terrain analysis, I still use OCOKA but not necessarily in the traditional sense. First, after a good nosey around and getting a general feel for the map (see the last part), I like to have a think about what are my likely avenues of approach. I've identified 6 on this map from my jumping off point.



Straight up the highway. Boom! The road is paved so it would offer very fast travel straight into Obj SCHWARZ and into the enemy's rear.

Bridge over the "Boggy Stream" which is passable to vehicles but as Luke once said, "I have very a bad feeling about this".



The highway rises to the East




There is a road that runs straight from my jumping off point alongside the boggy stream and up to Objective ROT and beyond. It would allow quick movement towards Obj ROT.




The ground straight ahead of the jumping off point is scrubby with lots of trees and bushes. The Southern side provides a covered approach to Obj ROT.


On the North side of the AoA


On the South side of the AoA



This avenue skirts the South side of the AO and would allow for a dive deep into the rear to Obj GRAU. Once at Obj GRAU then it would be a trek through the wood, or a drive along the road, to the North to the other objectives. It would bypass Obj ROT and would be out of sight for any units in the town so they would be unable to interdict without leaving their nice cosy nest!






Once past Obj ROT there are a couple of different routes I could take. One is to attack across the open fields towards Obj BLAU (reused the screenshot as it sums it up perfectly).



No pictures for this one, it's simply a drive straight through the trees towards Obj GRAU, with the same options available to me to continue the attack.

As far as enemy avenues of approach go they are the same but in reverse, I'll need to be especially vigilant not to get overextended should I push down AoA1 or AoA4 as he could counterattack down the other flank and he could move extremely quickly down AoA1 with it being a paved highway.

That was a lot of work, but hopefully now I've got my GIMP legs back under me (it's been a while) the next few I should be able to rattle out quite quickly.

Next...Obstacles (it will make sense, I hope, when you read it).


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6. Terrain continued - Obstacles

I like to look at obstacles in a couple of ways. The first is to look at them in a general way to see if there's anything that will curtail my ability to move and secondly I look along each Avenue of Approach to see if there are any obstacles to movement there. I will mostly look at obstacles that will inhibit vehicular movement in this battle as my force is mechanized and that's where the majority of my firepower is going to come from so without the support of these heavy weapons the sledding will be tough.

a) General observations

In general there are a lot of wooded areas in the AO but they are mostly passable by vehicles although it will be slow. I've highlighted some terrain that will inhibit movement or block it altogether, these are mostly areas of marsh (the larger areas) that are completely impassable to vehicles but are passable by infantry, albeit they will be exhausted crossing it and it slows them down to a crawl. I'll be avoiding these. The marshes are connected by a boggy stream, it is passable in some places and impassable in others but to be honest I'm going to avoid it if at all possible as the risk of bogging will be a bit too much for me to accept.


The other obstacle to mention is the weather, it's only light snow on the ground but those 70 ton Tigers may still have issues. It is also snowing heavily so I'm not sure if that will have an effect later in the battle.

b) Obstacles on the AoAs

When looking at obstacles along the AoAs I look for pinch points, anywhere that will funnel my forces and make it hard to navigate that would be ideal to set up an ambush: bridges, roads between buildings etc. I've marked such areas with green circles in the image below. For the eagle-eyed amongst you I've marked the entirety of Obj ROT as an obstacle as it is behind a reverse slope and dominates AoA2, so much so that it is a serious problem as it also offers good cover and concealment to observe any movement along that corridor.


The next step in the process is to look at where the enemy can observe the AoAs and the obstacles along them, that should help identify Key Terrain.



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15 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

Great job! Always love seeing another high quality AAR. It is a lot of work but I always find it to be worth it. Those arrows can be much more of a pain than some may think. 

I'll be following along. Ignore the peanut gallery and carry on. Looking forward to seeing this play out!

Thanks Cpt, I appreciate the encouragement. I definitely underestimated how much work it is but once I found my editing legs again (used to do a lot of photo and video editing a few years ago) it's getting easier.


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7. Terrain continued - Observation

Now I have identified some obstacles along the avenues of approach I can identify some smashing spots for the dirty Ivans to watch what I'm up to, and perhaps lob a shell or two at my forces. As alluded to in an earlier post there are a lot of trees, so not surprisingly a lot of the identified spots are in...the trees!


Just to the SW of Obj ROT is a hill. This hill wraps around the south side of the town and impairs visibility to the SW and S, it also provides a fantastic reverse slope defence for the town and great visibility in all directions. I would be stunned if he didn't have some units sitting there watching everything, it would be the first place to receive some arty love if I had it, but I don't. Boo.

Looking towards ROT from the SW


Looking West from the hill toward my setup zone


Looking South from ROT, note the hill limits visibility to that direction


Looking West from ROT, anyone fancy charging over that hill towards some Soviets in fortified positions? There's an Iron Cross in it for you!


Next up...time to identify the Key Terrain (spoiler - that hill is definitely on the list).


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8. Terrain concluded - Key Terrain and Cover and Concealment

KEY TERRAIN - The Key Terrain for this battle are positions that offer observation and fire onto multiple avenues of approach or dominate a particular avenue such that it can't easily be bypassed and must be dealt with. I will examine each in turn but this map shows the Key Terrain for this battle:


KEY TERRAIN 1: The same hill mentioned in the last post on observation SW of Obj ROT. It dominates the surrounding area and AoA2 and AoA3 are observable from it. In truth it can be bypassed quite easily by avoiding those avenues but I include it here because it is so dominant.

KEY TERRAIN 2: This scrubland/woods offers good visibility onto AoA3 and AoA4 and in conjunction with KEY TERRAIN 3 creates a nice bottleneck on AoA4. There's also a small farm that offers shelter and cover overlooking AoA4 (all pictures taken looking towards my positions/axis of advance).


KEY TERRAIN 3: Scrubland just to the South of KEY TERRAIN 2 that creates a bottleneck on AoA4.


KEY TERRAIN 4: Dominates AoA1 and will have to be cleared if that AoA is to be utilised at all.


KEY TERRAIN 5: Obj GRAU. It dominates AoA4 and offers great cover and concealment. It could be bypassed but not easily.


KEY TERRAIN 6: The treeline and Obj BLAU. It offers great observation onto AoA5 and it has an objective on it which I shouldn't really ignore.


KEY TERRAIN 7: Thus numbered because I forgot about it when numbering. On AoA1 it dominates a stream crossing and offers observation (just) onto AoA2. The road also narrows here and passes between buildings and wooded areas.



Last, but certainly not least I'll look at cover and concealment as it relates to the map in general and the avenues of approach and the Key Terrain in particular. Frankly, if it wasn't for this snowstorm I would be in big trouble. There isn't much in the way of concealment when attacking to the East on this map, the enemy on the other hand has plenty of wooded areas to move his forces through or behind and lots of buildings to use as cover. There is KEY TERRAIN 1 that masks the view from the town to the South but that's the only major piece of dead ground I can move through (that I've spotted).

I stated earlier that the blizzard may be a problem as it will draw me into short-range fights, but it's also a problem for him as it prevents him from seeing and hearing what I'm up to at any great distance. Likewise I'll have issues spotting too, it remains to be seen how this will all play out, it should be fun.

Next up...I'll complete the METT-T analysis by looking at time and how I think he will be defending, and then use that to form an initial plan.


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9. Time, Initial Plans and First Turn

TIME - This battle has 2 hours, no idea if the time is variable or not but this is a large map so it feels a bit tight. It's 1pm in January so I'm not expecting the light to fade too much but the visibility could draw in and the battle advances. Something to watch out for.

INITIAL PLANS - OK so now we have all this info, what am I going to do? Good question.

First of all, how would I defend this map if I were the Soviets? Well I'd keep the companies together so let's template based on the Cavalry regiment which has 4 squadrons (company equivalent). I would have one squadron in Obj ROT, one near OBJ GRAU, one near KEY TERRAIN 4 and one in reserve. I would place a piquet line/OPs forward on KEY TERRAIN 1, 2, 3 and 7 and have them fall back when contact is made. His heavy weapons I would expect to be covering the most dangerous avenues of approach and to me those are AoA1, AoA4 and AoA2 leading on to AoA5. I would be shocked if there wasn't something nasty lurking in the trees at KEY TERRAIN 6. However, he can't be everywhere!

I said I was going to stick to German doctrine as much as possible so while this map is screaming out for a command-push style attack I'm still going to do some aufklarung and try and find the schwerpunkt that I can then mass my forces and attack, hopefully causing some confusion and panic along the way.

To that end I've identified some NAIs that need some eyeballs on them.


I included Obj ROT as a NAI as I just want to make sure he has forces in there, I would be stunned if he didn't but you never know. For task assignments I've split my forces to probe forward and see what's in these areas. They will be lead by one Zug of mechanized infantry with some armour support but the armour will be keeping back, only to be brought forward when needed or when it's safe to do so. That being said the following have been tasked:

NAI1 and NAI5 (if they don't all get murdered investigating NAI1)

  • 2 Zug/2 Kompanie
  • 1 x StuG

NAI2 and NAI3

  • 1 Zug/2 Kompanie
  • 1 x Panther


  • 2 Zug/3 Kompanie
  • 1 x Panther
  • 1 x StuG

The rest of the troops will stay in the assembly area ready to be brought forward once I have more info and a plan of attack. My hope is these will be enough eyeballs to effectively spot and also enough firepower to perform some limited offensive action and defend themselves should they need to. It also has the benefit of being quite a large force for scouting so it may make Grunt think I'm attacking across a broad front.


I've just realised I have an armour section going with 2/2 to NAI1 on the above diagram, it's only a StuG and I can't be bothered correcting it now, I'll update it on the next diagram.


Finally, we're on the way! Some screenshots from the first turn for you:






Next time...movement to contact!


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