The fall of MOSCOW airfield marked the end of Phil’s visit to the games table. He left his Boxfiles behind as he plans to come back before New Year’s Eve. Naturally, I took the opportunity to photograph some of the contents and slot pictures into the orbats in place of some of my dodgier place-markers. A bit of rounding off happened too, during which the northern thrust around Moscow finally broke through the exhausted defenders. A hasty counterattack took back the airfield and southern defences, though not the eastern side of the riverbank. Flying into MOSCOW was going to be a precarious enterprise from now on, as the eastern end of the field would be under fire from across the River MOSKVA.
Over the past 30 years, head-on armoured battles have been a bit of a rarity (as you might expect from rules titled Not Quite Mechanised). During the course of the day I had been reflecting on the last time that armoured forces clashed at GAZALA. The comment then had been that something more formal was needed to cover the gaps. Phil is developing NQMsquared (or Megablitzsquared) and I’m happy that he is troubling to do the work on a system of squares that I enjoy playing, but don’t want to develop myself.
1 Shock Army is about to run head on into 7 Panzer Division in a mini PROKHOROVKA, so the battle rules will run like this:
As the lead elements of mobile forces run into each other, there will be an initial point contact as one or more bases touch each other at the head or front rank of the column. Resolve each combat in the normal way for winning the firefight.
When mobile stands fight enemy stands of different armour value in this way, everyone at the point of contact may choose which stand to direct their fire onto.*
The winner may:
- Advance in contact (if mobility = or better than enemy mobility).
- Hold fast.
- Break off combat (if mobility is better than enemy mobility, or the enemy does not wish to remain in combat) to make contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.
- Reinforce the combat with any other troops that are mobile enough to enter the combat.
The loser may:
- Fall back in contact with the winner, if the loser is mobile enough (otherwise the loser can be bypassed if the winner chooses, and be engaged by follow-on forces who so choose).
- If the enemy does not wish to advance, the loser may remain in combat for another round, morale permitting.
- If the enemy wishes to remain in contact with the loser, and is mobile enough, he may do so.
- Break off contact (if loser’s mobility is better than enemy mobility).
- Fall back behind unengaged friendly troops, who will halt the enemy and engage him.
- Mobile logistic stands can fight, but must fall back to their maximum limit in the face of the enemy as they attempt to fight.
- If logistic stands are in prepared defences, they can halt a mobile enemy and fight, but can only halt non-armoured troops.
- This means that armoured troops can choose to pass through logistic units without fighting them.
- If logistic troops lose a combat from a defensive position, they must fall back in the normal way.
- If they are passed through as described they may remain in position.
- Fall back out of combat, into contact with a command or logistic stand, where they can reorganise pins away as long as they are out of contact with enemy bases and not under fire from artillery. This takes a whole move.
- A PzIII stand (M armour, M gun) contacts a T-70 (L armour, L gun). The PzIII puts a pin onto the T-70 which elects to fall back.
- The PzIII is joined by a SdKfz stand (L armour, L gun) from the second rank of the advancing column, as it advances to maintain contact. On the second round of combat the T-70 takes two pins and chooses to fire at the (L) Sdkfz causing one pin.
- The T-70 falls back again to find a logistic stand but the Fascists advance to keep it in contact and are joined in the front rank by a command stand. On the third round of combat the T-70 takes no pins and chooses to fire at the unarmoured command stand, treating it as a (M) gun firing at a (L) target** causing one pin.
It can be seen in the picture at the top of the page that 2 Guards Mechanised Division is formed up in three columns of attack. Each column has armour at the head, followed by supporting infantry, then support (S), command (C) and logistic (L) stands.
*British commanders in the Western Desert complained on occasion that their anti-tank gunners shot up softskins in preference to armour, as it was easier to ‘brew them up’
** Remember that all armour and gun values are relative to each other. We reason that 45mm guns firing armour piercing (AP) at medium tanks would have a light effect, but the same guns firing AP or HE at unarmoured targets would have a medium effect.