Last stand in Strackenz

It was the Spring of 1945 and the Allies are pushing across Germany from the east and west. The former Duchy of Strackenz lay in the path of the advancing American Army, and advance units had already captured Strackenz City. All that remained was for the last remaining units of the once-might German Army that were still in the area to make a stand at the bridge that the Allies needed to cross to enter Mecklenburg.

The German defenders comprised:

  • 1 Self-propelled anti-tank gun unit
  • 3 Landsturm machine gun units
  • 3 Landsturm infantry units (armed with Panzerfausts)

The American attackers comprised:

  • 3 Tank units
  • 1 Mortar unit
  • 1 Machine gun unit
  • 4 Infantry units, 1 of which was equipped with Bazookas

The opening positions
The Germans had dug in on the eastern side of the river …

… and the Americans advanced along the road from Strackenz City.

Turn 1
There was no artillery fire by either side, and although the Germans had the initiative, they chose to do nothing. The Americans therefore advanced towards the bridge.

Turn 2
For the second time neither side fired their artillery, the Germans did not move, and the American continued their advance.

Turn 3
The leading American tank unit opened fire on the German machine gun unit that was to the left of the bridge … and missed it.

The Germans chose to do nothing and the rest of the American units continued their advance and began to shake out into line.

Turn 4
The American tank unit fired at the same target as it had previously … and missed! The mortar unit also targetted the same German unit … and also missed!

The American had the initiative and continued to advance of a broadening front.

Yet again the Germans chose to remain in their defensive positions and await developments.

Turn 4
The leading American tank unit and the mortar unit again fired at the dug in German unit to the left of the bridge. The tank unit missed yet again … but the mortar unit was on target and destroyed the German unit despite the fact that the Germans were dug in.

The Germans chose not to react to this loss, and the Americans continued their advance.

Turn 5
The German slef-propelled anti-tank gun unit fired at the closes American infantry unit … but missed it!

The American gained the initiative and continued to advance … and this finally brought the two sides into contact.

A number of battles were fought. Near the location of the German self-propelled anti-tank gun unit an American infantry unit attacked a German machine gun unit …

… and was beaten off.

Near the bridge the German infantry unit fought an American tank unit, supported by an infantry unit. It used its Panzerfaust … but this failed to destroy the American tank unit.

On the other flank the American Bazooka-equipped infantry unit took on a German machine gun unit …

… and pushed them back.

The Germans remained on the defensive … and only movement the made was when the infantry unit near the bridge pulled back.

Turn 6
There was no artillery fire, and the Germans had the initiative. They used the opportunity to pull their vulnerable infantry units back toward the forest.

The Americans now pushed forward with further vigour, and more battles broke out when units form both sides came into contact.

The attack by an American infantry unit on a German machine gun unit ended in a draw, whereas the American infantry unit that attacked the German self-propelled anti-tank gun …

… was forced to fall back.

Turn 7
The German self-propelled anti-tank gun and the nearest American tank unit exchanged fire … and the Tank unit was destroyed!

The American mortar unit then fired at the German self-propelled anti-tank gun … which it destroyed!

The Germans had the initiative, and now that their most powerful weapon was destroyed, the infantry retreated further towards the forest.

The Americans were now free to continue their advance towards Mecklenburg. The last stand in Strackenz was over!

Notes
Armoured fighting vehicles were treated as per the ideas laid down in an earlier blog entry (i.e. they move 2 grid squares; they fire at a range of 4 grid squares as if they are light artillery; they may not move and fire during the same turn; and they have a battle Power of 7).

The Landsturm were all rated as being militia and therefore had their Battle Power reduced by 1 (i.e. their battle Power was 4) except for the units armed with Panzerfausts, who had a Battle Power of 6 for the first battle they fought against an enemy armoured fighting vehicle unit (against other types of unit they had a Battle Power of 4). After the first battle against an armoured fighting vehicle unit, the Panzerfausts were deemed to have been used up and the Infantry unit reverted to its Battle Power of 4.

The American unit armed with Bazookas had a Battle Power of 6 against enemy armoured fighting vehicles but did not lose that rating after battling enemy armoured fighting vehicle units as it was deemed to have a plentiful supply of ammunition.

The mortar unit was treated as if it were light field artillery.

Conclusions
The new rules worked even better than I had expected, and the casualty rates on both sides were much lower than I would have predicted. With the introduction of armoured fighting vehicles, I do think that I need to giver serious consideration to increasing the range of artillery … but as the period I was wargaming is much later than that the rules were originally designed for (and military technology had advanced considerably), this does not seem to be unreasonable.

I really enjoyed fighting this battle, although I did have a few problems fitting the vehicle models into the grid squares. (For 1:100th-scale model vehicles the grid squares need to be at least 50mm x 50mm and not 40mm x 40mm as they were in this wargame.) It gave me the opportunity to use some of the Axis and Allies Miniatures that I have acquired over recent years … and I suspect that the rules I used to fight this battle were probably a bit less complex that the ones that come with the Hasbro game.

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20 Comments on “Last stand in Strackenz”

  1. David Crook says:

    Hi Bob,Great little action and the game immediately brought to mind the numberless small last-ditch fights that must have happened towards the end of the war. Germans waiting to see what happened and powerless to do anything other than hang on and hope for the best against overwhelming Allied material superiority. The rules seemed to work very well and I will look forward to seeing how you develop them further.The terrain set up was neat and unfussy and very 'old school' looking – which certainly struck a positive chord with me!For the record the Axis and Allies miniatures game is actually not bad but is certainly more complex than your rules for sure!All the best,DC

  2. David Crook,It was a great little battle … and as you comment, it was typical of the numerous small actions that took place during the run up to the German surrender.I am very pleased with the printed cardboard terrain; it has served me well, and has featured in three wargames … and cost pence rather than pounds to make.The rules work very well, and would probably be very suitable for your Chaco War battles. Once I have finished drafting the rules, I will send you a copy.All the best,Bob

  3. Hi Bob,I really enjoyed this battle report and the series it's part of. I'll have to give it a go myself!All the bestJames

  4. Conrad Kinch says:

    Curious how such simple rules can give such a satisfying and realistic result.

  5. I'm enjoying these reports, and was interested to see the tank rules in action. They seem to play better than they originally read, although I'm not sure that treating them as artillery quite feels right if you do tank vs tank (maybe a subject for the next test?)

  6. The Dancing Cake Tin (James),I am glad that you enjoyed the battle reports. After such a long period without actually fighting any wargames, these three battles were a real tonic.The rules are quite simple, and once I have had a chance to put all the changes down on paper, I will make them available online.All the best,Bob

  7. An interesting little set-to.. it appeared to me that the Germans lost it, rather than the Americans won it?? Is there some kind of reaction/initiative roll – couldn't understand why the Germans didn't open fire sooner..

  8. Conrad Kinch,I suspect that it is simplicity AND imagination that makes such battles so enjoyable.The simplicity allows you to crack on with the wargame rather than having to spend endless time reading and re-reading the rules.Imagination allows you to 'see' what is happening on the tabletop as 'real'.The final (and probably the most important)ingredient is FUN … and lots of it! If you are having fun, your are enjoying your wargaming.All the best,Bob

  9. Kaptain Kobold,The Tank rules do seem to work, although I would be tempted to make tank (and anti-tank) guns slightly more accurate than normal artillery.Making tanks stop to fire is more realistic than allowing them to fire on the move, and encourages tanks and other AFVs to ambush enemy AFVs rather than to charge them head-on.There may well be the need for further play-tests before it feels absolutely 'right' … but I think that the basic rules work.All the best,Bob

  10. Steve-the-Wargamer,Thanks for the comment. I suspect that the Americans were always going to win, and that the Germans were likely to 'fold' once the self-propelled anti-tank gun was lost. The Germans were – after all – Landsturm and not regulars.The turn sequence is simple. All artillery units fire simultaneously, and after that each side throws a D6 die for initiative. The side with the initiative moves their units and any battles are resolved. Then the other side has their chance to move and fight.As turn sequences go, it is not without its faults … and I may well change it. But as I was trying to play-test expanded variants of Joseph Morschauser's original FRONTIER wargames rules, I decided to stick with his turn sequence.All the best,Bob

  11. Thanks Bob… still a little puzzled.. they had what, four or five turns to fire in but didn't until it was (almost) too late?? Were you wanting to test some close combat mechanisms? :o)

  12. Steve-the-Wargamer,The only German unit that can fire further than 1 grid square was the self-propelled anti-tank gun … and it only had a range of 4 grid squares. This meant that it had no enemy units within range until Turn 4.I hope that makes it clearer … and why I am thinking of increasing the range of artillery in general and tank and anti-tank guns in particular.All the best,Bob

  13. jhnptrqn says:

    Bob,I have a large collection of Allies & Axis figures and AFV that I never use. I bought the for a project that just never took off. If you are interested in them you could email me on particulars.Regards, John

  14. Jhnptrqn,You are very kind to make such an offer. I will contact you via email so that we can discuss the logistics involved in getting your collection from the US to the UK … and if there is anything that I can send you as a 'thank you'.All the best,Bob

  15. Pete. says:

    Great looking game Bob, quick question if I may: are you playing solo (you've not mentioned any other player) and if so how are you moderating each side?Regards,Pete.

  16. Pete,Almost all my wargaming is done solo, and I usually just use common sense to decide what each side will do in the circumstances as they develop. I have been doing it for so long, that I don't even think about it now.All the best,Bob

  17. Pete. says:

    Fair enough Bob- I was curious to see if you used any programmed orders/ responses at all?Cheers,Pete.

  18. Pete,I have tried using randomly generated orders, tactical cards etc., but none of them seemed to work any better than just making the decisions myself.That said, I do like to use a random activation system whereby units are given a playing card tile which determines the order in which they will be activated during a turn. I did not use this in my recent play-tests but it can be added to Morschauser's basic rule system without too much trouble.All the best,Bob

  19. Pete. says:

    Interesting – have you ever tried coming up with the scenario sending it to someone else, have them write one set of the sides' orders whilst you write a set for the other side, then send them back? Then you have a pre- determined but human opponent- albeit one with limited responses.Or too complicated?Cheers,Pete.

  20. Pete,I must admit that I had never considered it … mainly because I don't usually decide I am going to have a wargame until a long enough time slot presents itself!If I were running a campaign, it would be a different matter, and I would probably need an input from someone else,All the best, Bob


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