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AAR - Andreas Biermann's "The Dirt Road"

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Hallo Andreas, ich habe mir einmal die Freiheit genommen, dein Szenario öffentlich zu lobpreisen.



Okay, don't expect any deep tactical analysis or brilliant gaming here. Just some nice pictures and a good impression of what this scenario is like.

It is (late, I suppose) June 1941. The german army has invaded Russia, and its Panzer divisions race forwards in order to cut off the soviet units from command and supply. Behind them, the infantry divisions have the rather unglamorous task to "clear out" the encircled pockets.

One of these actions is represented by Andreas' scenario, in which two infantry companies with some support have to conquer an enemy village.

Comments are of course welcome, be they on tactics, the scenario design, typos, or whose grass mod that is, but if you've already played the scenario, please don't tell me about any possible nasty surprises.

I chose the german side (it's a german vs. AI only scenario, semi-historical). The forces that General Krautman, the task force leader, was given, consist of two rifle companies with an MG platoon, some tank-hunter teams, two 37mm PaK, one 81mm and two 75mm FOs. The men have already seen action and are veteran class. Regimental arty does not have full ammo, possibly due do the massive expense of shells during the last week and the quick advance.


Taking a quick look at the terrain, General Krautman decides to split up his force:

1. Kompanie (A company) will advance towards a small pine-covered hill. All fire support teams (=Unterstützungstrupps), incuding the platoons' "Hitler-Youth cannons" (50mm mortars) will set up position here. The first platoon of B company (1. Zug, 2. Kompanie) and a tank-hunter team will advance on the left flank, and the company's other two platoons (2./3. Zug, 2. Kompanie) plus another tank-hunter team shall make their way through the grain fields on the right flank.

Assaulting a village (Obviously shelled in advance, offers lots of cover to defenders) across open ground is a very nasty thing to do, so General Krautman will probably use up most of his arty support providing smoke. The briefing mentioned possible enemy armour, so the initial assault will wait until the PaK are in position. As General Krautman knows, the soviet tin cans are easy prey for the mighty german 37mm gun.


The attack begins: 2. and 3. Zug (2. Kompanie) advancing through the grain


1. Kompanie and supporting units marching forward


On the left flank: 1. Zug/2.Kp crossing the dangerously open plains


And they are the first ones to take fire! From somewhere ahead, a Maxim MG is spitting lead.


An overview of the situation as of turn 4.


One minute later, the first of General Krautman's men have reached the pine hill. From there, they have a good view of the village below.

[ June 10, 2005, 10:18 AM: Message edited by: Krautman ]

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Nice AAR.Thanks for taking the time to do it.We can never get enough of 'em! smile.gif

Three cheers for Image Shack!!

Edit to add:(As I didn't want to dilute the AAR with another post)

In the opening setup,I am interested in your deployment.I ask this because you are not the first I have seen to do this.Why do you have your infantry so tightly packed?Is this something to do with realism?You could easily still keep all of them in the same cover they are currently in--but especially the ones in the wheatfield,and brush--need to be spread out more,IMHO.

[ June 05, 2005, 08:45 AM: Message edited by: no_one ]

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Another couple of minutes later, the left flank units have reached the safety of a small forest.


You can see them on the left side of this picture. The MG that took them under fire has also been located.


A second Maxim joins in, but no one is injured yet.


Finally, the sweating PaK crewmen have pushed (i guess IRL they pulled) their guns into position. The FOs have laid their wire- the support group is ready. Now everyone is waiting for the flankers on the right to move through the grain and towards the village...


General Krautman decides on creating a smoke screen and orders the FOs to contact the arty in the rear.

Yet suddenly he is reminded of that thing that some of those really well animated 3D-characters in General Krautman's flat-sharing community call "reality" or "real life". This "reality" has an amazing resolution, but is so horrendously time-consuming to get through with. Sighing and cursing his unjust fate, General Krautman leaves the eastern front and returns to more prosaic stuff.

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Originally posted by no_one:

In the opening setup,I am interested in your deployment.I ask this because you are not the first I have seen to do this.Why do you have your infantry so tightly packed?Is this something to do with realism?You could easily still keep all of them in the same cover they are currently in--but especially the ones in the wheatfield,and brush--need to be spread out more,IMHO.

Is this because he's keeping them in command? It looks like the kind of spacing you could expect if you don't have command bonuses...
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Originally posted by GreenAsJade:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by no_one:

In the opening setup,I am interested in your deployment.I ask this because you are not the first I have seen to do this.Why do you have your infantry so tightly packed?Is this something to do with realism?You could easily still keep all of them in the same cover they are currently in--but especially the ones in the wheatfield,and brush--need to be spread out more,IMHO.

Is this because he's keeping them in command? It looks like the kind of spacing you could expect if you don't have command bonuses... </font>
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Tactical analysis is always welcome, i just don't have the time to do it myself, at least until the scenario is finished.

The command bonuses are pretty good. I bunched the infantry up in order to keep them inside the narrow approach lane that can't be taken under fire from the village or the two hills.

Apart from that, it should be mentined that General Krautman is at times somewhat sloppy with his infantry orders.

The two company HQs stay with the support units on the pine hill; their combat bonuses might prove useful to the HMGs.



While the FOs establish contact to the artillery and check coordinates, the flankers on the right have almost reached the first line of scattered trees. They can already see the southern hill that has to be taken.


One minute later, the first smoke rounds show effect.


As soon as the smoke is dense enough, the first infantry platoon dashes forward, covered by the HMG platoon and the mortars.


Simultaneously, the flankers on the right (southern) side of the village commence their assault.


At last, the single flanking platoon on the left leaves the safety of the forest and advances across the open.


But the smoke covering them is not dense enough! From the small piece of forest that lies ahead of the men, russian infantry opens fire.


Likewise, the men using the central approach route are subjected to heavy fire from the village and the hills nearby. They try to find cover among the brush.


Only the flankers on the right are not fired upon: As fast as they can, they run forwards.

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The platoon that advanced across the open on the left side of the village are (or "is"? It's more than one person, so I'm not sure) lucky: A huge smoke cloud arises right in front of the russian infantry that took them under fire. The germans grab their equipment and hurry towards the forest, preparing for a bayonet attack. But what is this?


Some dug-in tank unlike anyone they've seen before. It probably ran out of fuel during the german advance and was dug in by the russians to cover the northern exit of the village. "Tank hunters, prepare the throwing mines!", the Leutnant shouts. "All squads, prepare for close combat! Forwards!"


This is the situation as of turn 23: In the center, one platoon has reached the brushes and crawls forward; the smoke doesn't provide enough cover. The wheatfield guys on the right are spread out and advancing as planned.

On the left, you can see the dug-in T-34 and, below it, the defending infantry whose sight is now blocked by smoke.


Under its cover, the attackers dash in. An Mg opens fire right ahead of them! Fierce close quarters fighting commences at once. The russians are staunch defenders and will not give ground.



In the meantime, the smoke screen has reached its maximum density. The assault continues in the center - a second platoon has been brought forwards - and to the south, in the wheatfield.


That is the current situation - trouble in the north (left side), some relief in the center, and nothing new on the southern wheatfield front.

Yet the smoke arty ammo has been used up; the screen isn't gonna hold much longer.

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The infantry at the northern village exit: They don't care about the smoke any longer, as other problems have to be solved. A brave russian officer and his MG team, for instance. Or a big, mean dug-in steel monster.


The smoke screen fades away! Quickly, the infantry in the center races towards the brushes, accompanied by General Krautman's helpless screams. Soon, russian fire causes casualties.

Then, as if there weren't already enough problems, the leading wheatfield flankers spot THIS:


A second dug-in T-34 guarding the southern entrance to the village! A second T-34!

Mr Biermann, despite your truly enviable last name, you are a somewhat cruel man. At least concerning the area of digital battlefield creation. General Krautman shakes his fist in anger!


This is an overview of the situation so far. On the left, the german squad is involved in close quarters battle and taken under fire by the dug-in steel thing. In the center, the complete absence of anything blurring the view of a possible defender causes considerable trouble. On the right, the wheatfield guys are now taken under fire by what appears to be a a Maxim (in the scattered tree line, at the edge of the wheatfield) and the second T-34.

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Back to where the first T-34 is: The germans at the northern village entry have finally defeated the russians in the small forest. None of them surrendered, they all preferred to die. But the T-34 is breaking the back of this assault: OG Altmann knows what to do. He grabs his comrade and his AT throwing mined and runs for the tank, constantly under fire by enemy infantry. Suddenly his comrade is hit.


Cursing at this day, OG Altmann primes the Panzerwurfmine and throws.


And it hits home! The crew abandons the wreck immediately.


But there is still a second tank to deal with. The PaK crews, knowing how easily their guns slice through russian armour, take aim and fire. But something seems to be not working out today, as the tank crew doesn't bail out!


But nevertheless, the PaK fire is most valuable: The tank crew is obviously stunned by the continuing crash of shells against their turret, and the wheatfield flankers can move in to take out that most annoying Maxim in the scattered trees.


With the northern T-34 gone, the men can finally assault the village. But each step forwards has to be fought for viciously.


And the wheatfield flankers reach the scattered tree line! Now the first hill, with a small flag on it, is near.


But in the center, nothing works out as it should. The men are merely crawling forwards and backwards through the brushes, trying to find cover from the enemy fire.

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The current situation: Fierce fighting and assaulting on the left side. In the center, General Krautman proposes to his men the opportunity of a glorious deceisive assault instead of lying around in the brushes (see arrows; some squads advance, some provide covering fire). On the right, the wheatfield platoons split: One will move towards the flag on the hill, the other one will overrun the Maxim.

As always, General Krautman's orders are being obeyed immediately:


Assaulting the Maxim. It is taken out seconds later.


Taking hold of the forest hill with the first flag: An enemy infantry counterattack is repulsed.


And, in the center, a first squad reaches the village: Hooray! General Krautman jumps up from his chair and claps hands ecstatically. But: the other squad that was supposed to follow got supressed and crawled back to the brushes.


Furthermore, the northern hill (where the first T-34 was destroyed) is too heavily defended to be taken by a single depleted platoon: No forward move is possible.


At least the wheatfield platoon that moved onto the forest hill advances: Numerical advantage enables flanking moves, and the first flag is close nearby. Also, the destruction of some infantry + MGs guarding the forest edge relieves the guys in the center, who where taken under fire from there.

Now another problem arises: The PaK are nearly out of AP ammo. If the tank crew ever should get that ringing out of their ears, their shotgun-style shells could make mincemeat out of the attackers.


Thus, someone has to be found to do the dirty work.

[ June 07, 2005, 01:14 PM: Message edited by: Krautman ]

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OG Hof happily volunteers. Ahead of him is a long run.

-On the left, no further progress is made. In the center, at least two squads have reached the village. The german units taking the hill have relieved them of the massive firepower put upon them.


The platoon leader collects the rest of the platoon and leads the men right into the village, where their comrades need support.


This is the brave tank hunter OG Hof: Neglecting all considerations, he dashes forwards at full speed ("fast"), while his platoon mates follow him and provide covering fire ("assault"/"advance").

A soviet infantry unit is hidden behind the tank, but supressed by the advancing platoon's fire.


The tank gun seems to be pointing directly at him! PaK shells shatter on the tank turret, and all around OG Hof, gunfire and the screams of berserking men are heard. But the veteran tank hunter keeps his concentration. With all possible force, he throws the Panzerwurfmine.

It hits, but -no effect!

With trembling hands, OG Hof primes a second mine, aims and throws:


Obviously, he hit the ammo storage!


This is the situation as of turn 31: Time is running out! The right flag is taken, and the men will proceed to the large flag in the rear. In the center, progress is slow, but steady. But SLOW! On the left, support is needed. To the lower left, you can see a second platoon coming to help- General Krautman moved them away from the center, where they are not needed.

Well, i hope you enjoyed it so far. General Krautman, although close to a serious heart attack, surely did. Expect more on friday.

[ June 07, 2005, 01:17 PM: Message edited by: Krautman ]

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That's the plan for the next turn. "TH" means tank- hunter team.


Attacking the northern hill: Lt German and his men take out a grenade launcher position, but are taken under fire from higher ground.


Suddenly, the russians counter-attack: A bunch of infantry tries to push the germans back. OG Altmann, the brave tank hunter, is wounded.


In the center, each step forward is dangerous: Uffz Albert's squad is taken under fire from the remains of a collapsed building nearby.


The Mg and PaK teams on the pine hill try to support the infantry as good as possible.


And their support is needed: Advancing northwards. This shot is taken from the southern hill watching westwards; as you can see, the defenders had a good view of the central approach lane (white arrow). On the pine hill, you can detect the muzzle flash of a PaK 36.


The plan is changed: Some annoying Maxim Mgs have been located at the forest edge on the southern hill, and the platoon that was supposed to go for the large flag is ordered to hunt them down instead. The green arros indicate advance moves. In the center, nearly everybody is advancing, so there are no arrows there in order to not confuse everything.

[ June 12, 2005, 09:19 AM: Message edited by: Krautman ]

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Assaulting the Maxim MG positions: The crews are shocked to be attacked from behind.


An infantry squad appears out of somewhere from the woods, but they are too late to save the Mg position.


Destroying the MG positions has taken a lot of enemy fire from the men in the center of the village, and the advance continues. Everyone rushes to help for Lt German's platoon, which is in deep trouble by ongoing russian conterattacks. Taking cover in the building is Lt German, lying wounded next to him is OG Altmann. The platoon is now down to ~40% strength and low on ammo.



But help is on the way: Firing and tossing hand-grenades, another platoon approaches the northern hill. They can already see the victory flag shining through the trees.


On the southern hill, Lt Kraft could also see the very same flag, had he the time to do so. But his task is to defend the flag behind him against viciously assaulting russians.


He orders his men to drive the russians out of the forest once and for all. With hand-grenade, knife and folding spade, the brutal job is done.

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That's the situation: Lt German's platoon is stuck, meeting fanatical resistance. But in the center, resistance is crumbling. A last Maxim Mg hidden in the debris will be overrun. An apparingly exceedingly brave or fanatic infantry squad that sucked up a platoon's ammo loadout will be close-assaulted, and Lt Kraft will proceed to take the large flag.


A well-aimed grenade takes out the Maxim. Finally! This Mg took a heavy toll on the attackers.


The bravely defending russian squad is taken out, too.


Now the attack on the northern hill can begin!


One minute to go: Lt Kraft and his men are very close to the large VL. They know they can make it.

With a maliciously evil german laugh, General Krautman gives the orders -advance at all costs- and leans backwards to await the outcome. But then, something unexpected happens:


"Both sides agree on a ceasefire" - This cannot be! General Krautman's men refuse to obey his orders! But why? Losses haven't been that terrible! General Krautman's face turns red as he screams in agony.

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Well, this is a bad thing. I was so close to taking the big flag- two squads were defending it, but they were out of command and already pinned by hMg fire; they would've fallen to Lt. Kraft's almost full platoon. Maybe I wouldn't have taken the flag, but i had at least denied its possesion to the russian commander. Same with the other small flag on the northern hill, it was only defended by a few remaining infantry guys low on ammo.

It is a shame that this game -so far very exciting- ended this way, i feel a little bit cheated. I didn't know an auto-ceasefire could happen while your morale is still high. I don't think i hit the ceasefire button accidentally.

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Ok, but let's talk about the scenario, and not about this specific battle.

At first glance, the map didn't seem that impressive to me. I mean, it is nicely done, but there's nothing really special to it. But during the course of the game, i realised this map is cleverly done in terms of gameplay.

The map offers three approach lanes to the attackers: One, to the left or northern side, one in the center and one through the wheatfields in the south.

The leftmost lane forces you to cross quite a bit of open ground, but there is a forest in between so that you can rest. Nevertheless, it seemed to be the most dangerous path, which is why i sent only one platoon through there (It was Lt German's, which also took the most casualties.)

The central approach is covered by the pine hill (where the support teams were in) and cannot be overwatched by the defenders up until quite close in front of the village- Of all three lanes, it has the shortest distance to be crossed under enemy eyes. Furthermore, it offers a huge "brushes" area were attackers can find some concealment, so that you can send in two platoons at once. Therefore, i decided on getting a whole company through there.

The last approach lane leads the attackers through the wheatfields. These offer considerable concealment, but the attackers have to walk a long, long way. Thus, i sent only two platoons through there.

What i did not at all think of was this: A force advancing through a central map area will usually be visible to most defending units on the map, while advancing on the flank may keep many eyes from ever seeing the attackers, simply because the LOS is blocked. The wheatfield flankers, as i called them in the AAR, were never subjected to heavy fire and took the fewest casualties of all attackers, even though they had no smoke to cover them. The southern hill prevents enemy units in the village or on the northern hill from spotting units in the wheatfield, which makes this approach lane very useful despite the long distance to be crossed.

Thus, every approach lane has its advantages and disadvantages, which makes a truly "balanced" map, if you can say so.

Apart from that, the area close to the dug-in tanks offers good cover- forest on the left and rocky ground on the right side of the village. And, what is also helpful, the tanks can't move.

This makes it easier for the tank-hunters to do their task, and a succesful infantry attack on a tank is always a highlight in a battle. The scenario design helps you to get such a highlight.

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Hi there

Thanks again for taking the time to not only write this up, but also do an excellent job with the screenies. Very informative, and it felt very real. It is a shame the ceasefire feature came on in the end.

Regarding your two comments - first on the map. While it turned out to have three approaches, I did not consciously design it that way. I am not really sure what I was thinking when I designed it, but you'll find landscape like this if you go to the area around Nienburg/Weser, where I am from. It maybe nothing special to you, but it is home to me. ;)

Regarding the dug-in tanks. That was intentional, because I thought it would be a nice feature to have. German accounts often talk of dug-in tanks, and I am not sure whether there are many scenarios using them.

A comment on the way you played it - using the Pak as infantry support was a very good, historically correct move. I have seen a few comments saying that it made a good support weapon. Probably because it was light, had better precision than the IG18 due to higher MV, and a high rate of fire. There were also many more of these in infantry divisions than of the IG18, and they were pretty useless for anything else.

You also managed to get out of it with low losses, for a CM scenario. Just under 20% is not bad at all.

Great AAR, well played, and thanks for making the effort. If you have any other comments on the game, I would like to hear them.

All the best


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I played this scenario (as the Germans, default AI positions) about a week ago, and enjoyed it. Thanks, Andreas.

I sent a larger proportion (more than Krautman did) of my force on the long wheat-field flanking move. It was my main thrust. I held a couple of platoons back, also on the far right/south, waiting, ready to cover-fire, and draw fire, when the flankers needed relief. And just one platoon in the left/north woods. These made a tentative probe to cross the same ground that Krautman’s did, but rather convincing enemy fire sent them back to wait for the “all go” moment, near the end.

But my attack looked pretty similar to Krautman’s, in general, just far more weighted toward the wheatfield hook.

On the ‘near’ hill; I only moved up MGs, coy commanders, and arty spotters. I sent one arty observer and a lone tank-hunter team on the extreme left/north flank, trying to get close on the west edge to provide additional ‘Borg’ cross-vision.

The wheat-flank move went well, but burned time. At one point I thought the whole flanking idea was a big mistake, because it was taking so long, for all it’s ‘run’ moves. Crossing the road in front of the wheat fields took some luck, it being covered by a T-34 and infantry. I may have got lucky, with that.

My flankers eventually took the south/right hill flag well, with the help of prep arty, then rolled down through the centre-rear of the village, and took the other hill flag.

The ‘T-34’s; survived the battle intact, taking potshots the whole time. They did dissuade my front (non-flanking) forces from trying to close, until the very end, and did some damage when these forces finally did open up and try to advance. In fact, my frontal forces were basically pinned the whole game, by the mysterious T-34s.

My frontal forces, about three platoons, tried to add frontal pressure, and drawing fire, only when the flankers were crossing behind the village . But the T-34’s fire seemed to be fixed forward, so most of my force was safely ‘behind’ them. I never seriously contemplated even trying to take the tanks out.

I never got the rearmost flag. The (very)small force I’d peeled off to take it was repulsed, and I ran out of time and men to make a serious second attempt.

I used arty to shut up early long-range enemy MG fire from the back of the south hill (perhaps a waste), then rained it (blindly) in advance of my flankers as they took the first hill. I don’t know what good it did, but I fancy, some.

My AT guns… Never got a hit on the T34s, instead just shelling infantry targets in support of whatever move was on at the time. I lost one as I tried to move it.

I didn’t think-through my initial AT gun placement well enough. I underestimated the stopping power of the T-34s and just a few enemy infantry, as they stood-off my frontal forces late in the game. Had my frontal platoons been able to close, closer, as was the plan, more of my flankers would have gone for the rear flag initially.

Was fun.

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