Sunday, April 30, 2017

WE GOT NEXT!

     These games are next -- in more ways than one. I first learned about this series just a couple days ago. Everything I've read and seen about them since then indicate that they are right up my alley -- complex and substantial, if not all that massive. The game system itself is also the work of Gene Billingsley who also produced Operation Mercury, a game I'm very fond of.

The Next War, in situ. No packing peanuts this time.
      What this actually represents to me is a chance to redeem myself for my failure to play Gulf Strike very much when I had the chance. At the time, I found that game just too complex to actually play. Didn't stop me from admiring the hell out of it, though. I had always wanted to play it. Now's my chance.

This is not a game for playing; it's a game for laying down and avoiding. I had the pre-Sadam version (eye roll).
First up: India-Pakistan.
This one adds naval rules.
Rules booklet and Game Specific Rules booklet are both glossy and full-color.
Lots of player aids, a first class production all the way around.
The standard rules are actually pretty short and sweet.
9/16" counters designed for GMT's aging fanbase.
Big hexes. Die shows scale.
     Both games are one-mappers. I've already gone through the Standard Rules and found them relatively simple, straight-forward common wargaming fare. If Beyond the Rhine wasn't taking up all my table space, I think I could set it up and start playing today. The game includes both Standard and Advanced scenarios, allowing you to start small and work your way into the full game. I've only opened NWIP so far, Taiwan is still in shrink.
     GMT has been at this for some years now. They have really set the bar high for everybody else.

Friday, April 28, 2017

HERE BE MONSTERS

     I ordered a bunch of packing peanuts and when they arrived, I found these inside:

     Ahhh! Monsters!
     Seriously, these are a couple of real monsters. Guderian's Blitzkrieg II must weigh 10 pounds (you Brits are going to have to calculate how many stone that is yourselves: I don't know metric). 5 booklets, 7 maps (3 full-sized), 2800 counters and 2 dice...after a while it all begins to add up to some serious weight. The Scenario booklet alone is 96 pages.

That shiny stuff on the boxes is shrink wrap. I almost hate to rip it.
      Compared to this, The Last Blitzkrieg is a piker. Still, four full-sized maps! Plus, it's a brand new system. It feels good to be getting in on the ground floor for once. The second game in the series is going to cover the Battle of Kasserine Pass, one of my favorites. So I'm hoping I like it.
     I just got back into boardgaming in 2013 after a 25-year absence. I've had to pretty much re-discover my gaming preferences from the ground up, by trial and error. What I've found is that I like monster games, the more complex the better. How do I know I like them? Because they're the ones I play the most. This year, my most played game was Kiev to Rostov, a four-mapper (and when I add Crimea to it, five!). The four-map Beyond the Rhine is on my table now. I keep coming back to both of these. I love pondering my moves, consulting rules (yes, I really like that), charts and tables, and plotting strategy and watching the resultant "history" unfold before my eyes. This is something you can get only from a monster. That's why I play them.
     In keeping with this new passion of mine, I ordered this one, too:

     This is a company level game covering the Marines' WWII campaign on the island of Saipan. This is another game system new to me. If I like it, volumes on Guam and Crete are in the offing as well.

Northern map from Saipan (from Compass Games' website)

Saipan south.
     Saipan will consist of 2 maps and 6 counter-sheets. Does that make it a monster? Close enough for me. Hope it's good.
     But the games I'm really excited about I won't have in my grubby little hands until tomorrow. One of these will be next up on my table. I'll let you know what they are as soon as they arrive, followed by full blog coverage.
     Speaking of which, I have the first few turns of my Beyond the Rhine campaign to share soon. But I haven't been blogging much lately because I've been trying to maximize my game time. If I'm going to get these things played, I'm going to have to hurry. Times waits for no man, and all that, wot?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

OPERATION MERCURY: NAVAL GAZING

     I just got through Turn 3 of Operation Mercury, my first night turn. Not hugely eventful. The Germans continue to consolidate their forces and attack wherever the odds are good. They are especially eager to get an airfield, Maleme in particular. The sooner they can start flying in reinforcements (and supply), the better.
     The Allies get a bonus for attacking at night -- and they did with not so good results. They might want to go strictly defensive from now on. Those German paratroopers with their 8 Efficiency ratings are nasty tough.
     The losses for the turn: Germans -1 step; Allies -2. Most combat resulted in Fatigue for one or both sides.

The Heraklion Sector. The Germans are strong on both flanks. The airfield is to the right. Tough sledding here, though.
Naval Operations map, night of day one. A British task force bombards German positions near Maleme airfield. The rest of the navy awaits the German convoys. All units are undetected at this point.
Left-center of pic: The Germans take the city of Reitmo (6 VPs). Otherwise known as Low-Hanging Fruit. Australian troops have cordoned off the airfield.
Only some freak die rolls have saved Maleme airfield from capture. This is where the Germans are strongest. They have split the Allied defense in two.
My attempt at an overview. From left to right: Maleme, Reitmo, Heraklion. Wasn't Maleme a song by Rod Stewart?
German aircraft on search missions at first light of Turn 4. They can search 5 sea zones, but extra aircraft assist in three of them. 
All British task forces are detected, but one. Send in the Stukas!
INCOMING! Stukas dive from the clouds onto the Gloucester, a light cruiser.
The CL is damaged!
For the Allies, surface detection fails to find any Germans. An air search reveals one of the convoys. Gulp! Almost made it through! Incidentally, one of those markers is a decoy.
The ensuing surface action is not pretty. The convoy carries 11 steps of ground units. 5 are lost. The units in the top row are okay, those on the bottom are now indeed on the bottom -- as in Davy Jones' Locker. Yeah, THAT bottom! And that's with the Brits rolling poorly, too. And now that it has been detected, the convoy will have to endure another turn of this. Maybe it can hit the beaches with some supplies still intact. But I think its days (hours) are numbered.
On the bright side for the Germans, a DD is damaged in the battle. Two-of-three ships in TF B are now damaged. Back to Alexandria for repairs. Blood in the water for the Luftwaffe!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A DISTINCTION WITH A DIFFERENCE


      It's the end of Turn 2 of my current game of Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov and I've learned something. Namely that you have to be careful with this rulebook. It makes a number of very subtle distinctions without necessarily drawing attention to them.
     Through repeated playings, it only gradually dawned on me that, first, motorized units were allowed to cross major rivers without a bridge and then only later that supply wagons were allowed to cross as well. Why, thought I, this changes everything! And it does. My initial confusion stems from this rule: "Armored units, all artillery units, and MSU's with orange MA can cross a major river only at a bridge." And that's the end of the matter.
     Sure it seems simple enough, but this is just one of a million rules and exceptions to rules. By the time my bleary eyes saw this, my brain read: "Red Box MA units, artillery units and MSU's can't cross except at a bridge."
     Here's the problem. All Armored units are motorized (Red Box MA), but not all motorized units are Armored. And MSU's come in two varieties, Truck and Wagon. I've never stopped to ponder their differently colored MA before. But it's true: Trucks are orange (bad); Wagons are white (good). (The rules might have mentioned this by saying something like -- oh, I don't know -- TRUCKS can't cross!)
     So there are subtle distinctions here, distinctions that make a definite difference. The upshot is that motorized infantry and recon units can cross -- and they can take wagons (I mean "MSU's with white MA's") with them.
     The other thing to watch out for are Zones of Control. There are actually 4 varieties: Your standard "uncontested" ZOC, a "contested" ZOC (friendly and enemy ZOC in the same hex), ZOC in a hex with a friendly unit, and a ZOC negated by the presence of a friendly unit in the same hex. I'm not making this up. (There are even more when you take into account terrain and weather. Don't get me started!)
     You see, here's the deal: supply lines can travel through EZOC hexes that also contain friendly units, but when you're considering the Soviet Surrender rules, the line need only be free of uncontested ZOCs, strictly verboten for supply lines. I'm confused just writing about it.
     Now that I'm aware of it, though, maybe some of these rules will finally stick. I have a particularly hard time with the river crossing rules. I don't know why.
     Anyway, let's get on with the game.

     The northern sector. Starting at the top and working our way down: The German have made inroads toward Kiev, a major objective. The main thing here is that German units are now adjacent to the city so any units in the adjacent city hex must roll for surrender every turn. Small chance, but the Huns'll take it.
     The next down is Kanev, an area of major effort by the Germans. The Soviet defense is stubborn. He keeps armored trains in the combat hexes to take step losses. Demoralizing for the Germans to use up all their precious supply only to kill off a couple of 1-SP armored trains.
     The area with the gray star, Cherkassy, is where the Germans are having the most success. Two Russian units in this area have surrendered and the strongpoints have been cut off. They will suffer deterioration and disappear after the next turn.
     The blue arrow shows where the Germans historically crossed the Dneiper (the "D" is silent).
     The last area is where the Germans have had the least success. A counterattack by a Soviet tank division cost the Krauts a full Panzer regiment. Given the paucity of German replacements, that really hurt.

     Things are a lot brighter in the south. The Germans will cross in strength this coming turn. Once this area is fully supplied (along the route of the green line) the armor will cross too.

     The Cherkassy area in close-up. The Russian strongpoints have been neutralized and the SS units, given enough supply, can cross the river any time now. Once that happens, the Russians will have no choice but to pull back lest their bridges be captured from behind. Now, that would be embarrassing.
     Incidentally, the 2-2-7 AA unit in the upper left corner of the map can infiltrate onto the Russian cavalry stack's flank, thereby cutting them off from the bridge in their rear, their only lifeline. Notice, however, that once the cavalry pulls back a hex, only its supply line will be cut, but it won't have to roll for surrender. Remember contested vs uncontested ZOC's? (You weren't really paying attention, were you?)
     It could be a good turn here for the Germans. (The green line shows the future German supply road. They'll need it.)



END OF END OF EMPIRE

     I decided to give "End of Empire" another chance. So I re-started the French & Indian War scenario (the main one, a one-mapper). I got to 1757 and decided to call it quits.
     The game has beautiful components and demands to be played. But it's just too simple. It looks good in pictures. The strategic situation looks intriguing. The game should be awesome. But it just isn't. I can see where it might be a fun diversion for a couple of guys on a Saturday afternoon (I think you could probably play the entire F&I War in a single session), but as a solo game, there's just no "there" there. It's a little like what playing Risk solo might be like. I just conquered Ukraine. But so what? Here, it's "I just invaded Nova Scotia. Wake me when something interesting happens."

The three main "theaters" of action in my game. The frontier campaigns against Forts Pitt, Frontenac and Niagara have knocked the Indians out of the war. The English want to invade Nova Scotia, but the French fleet denies them. They tried once earlier and were repulsed. The game photographs better than it plays.
The French have a firm grasp of Nova Scotia.
British forces mass in New York awaiting the appearance of the fleet.
The Montreal front. Montcalm makes the place unassailable - at least for now.
A little closer look. 
British dawdling (failing initiative rolls) has allowed the French to reinforce Frontenac.
Braddock is master of the frontier. Outnumbered 10:1, Niagara will fall very shortly. The Indians have been taken out of the war. Sounds sort of exciting, doesn't it? It's not really...

ONE LITTLE PROBLEM...

     The game room's been hopping lately.
     First of all, after suffering through King George's War in End of Empire, I started the French & Indian War with high hopes. A successful French invasion of Nova Scotia was a promising start. But then the game bogged down. I finally packed it up entirely. I'm ready to draw some conclusions about End of Empire.

An extremely attractive game fails to conceal one little problem....
     It's boring as hell.
     The British ended up launching a low-odds attack on Montreal -- just for something to do. Otherwise, it was looking like a Mexican stand-off on the Canadian border.
     The problem is, the game is just too simple. Maybe what it needs is a more detailed treatment of politics and/or logistics to keep it interesting. Maybe a more detailed Indian/frontier war treatment would help, too. I dunno. As it is, it all seems a little too simple and, ultimately, a little pointless.

HUBE'S POCKET - TURN 4

     A devastating turn for the Germans. The dice rolls couldn't have been better for the Russians....or worse for the Germans.
     The infantry battle in the center of the map features Russian first line units (4-4-7s) vs German SS units (6-5-8), yet it is the Russians who come out on top -- mainly thanks to a run of IFT rolls of 5 or less (4 of them, IIRC). That's bad enough, but the German rolled 11s on his MCs. Two of them.
     The Russian tank behind the wall leads a charmed life. The German tank on the hill hit it at least 3 times. However, each "hit" was considered a hull hit. Since the Russian is behind a wall, hull hits count as misses. The German tank was lucky, too. Return fire from the T-34 merely immobilized it. The next shot will probably take it out altogether.
     Meanwhile, two Russian tanks race unhindered around the German left flank.
     Worst of all for Jerry, however, was that he lost his Panther, his ace in the hole. Here, the German luck couldn't have gotten any worse. After surviving a Close Combat assault in the road by a Russian 6-2-8 squad, the Panther trundled down the road on the trail of two Russian T-34s, whose main armament can barely scratch the Panther's heavy armor.


      The Panther comes into view around the edge of the woods. The first T-34 turns its turret and fires. A miss, but it retains ROF. Confident that the T-34 can't touch it, the Panther calmly spends a MP to stop. The T-34 fires again. SNAKE EYES! A critical hit. The Panther is reduced to a burning wreck.
     In essence, game over.
     The only good thing to happen to the German this turn was a Panzerschreck kill of a T-34 in the road and a quick reaction by the German infantry to the Russian infantry advance over the hill.
     But without any way to take out the Russian tanks, I think it's game over. When the German truck convoy arrives next turn, it'll be a turkey shoot.
     Fun scenario.

FRENCH & INDIAN WAR - TURN 1

     This scenario has started off much better than the last one, that's for sure. Tough strategic decision for the French right off the bat.
     General Dieskau and 26 total SP of inf/art spread over 6 units arrives on turn 1 via sea transport. That means you can place him in any friendly port. A defensive-minded player -- and probably a wise player -- would drop him in Quebec (circled on the map). I wanted to ensure lots of action, though, so I landed him in Nova Scotia instead. (2)3SP inf/art units occupy the French ports on the north and south coasts, while Diesku and 20 SP attack Halifax. The British failed on their turn to reinforce the city, and failed again to React during the French move. Diesku takes Halifax easily for the loss of 1 step.
     The British now have no overseas supply capability (per special rule regarding Halifax) and, once the French take Grand Pre (2 hexes to the north of Halifax), the Brits will have to retake Nova Scotia to fulfill their victory conditions, certainly a time-consuming proposition, if nothing else.
     Of course, victory is that much closer in Canada, though. Hopefully, for the French, the conquest of Nova Scotia will go quickly and he can move Diesku to Quebec ASAP.
     For the British, Gov Shirley marches north and takes Crown Point. He probably won't be able to go much farther than that, though. You really need 4:1 odds when attacking forts, and he just doesn't have the strength to go after Montreal.
     Off the map to the west, General Braddock failed his initiative roll and does not march on Duquesne as planned. Students of history will count him lucky.  
     The British would like to take Oswego, too, for Indian recruitment purposes. But that will have to wait. The Oneida will certainly pay for burning Fort Stanwix.
    This one's off to a good start.

The arrows show the offensive action. Quebec City is circled in French blue. It might have been wiser for Diesku to land there. In the west, another circle shows where I'm using a Blaze counter from Squad Leader to depict a destroyed outpost. This is from Earl Dixon's Indian house rules. Thanks, Earl!


DON'T CALL ME SHIRLEY

     Okay, well that was boring as hell. You can see by the pic below that turn 12 or 13 (or whatever it was) looks a lot like turn 1.

Wake me when this thing starts...
     From an historical perspective, I appreciate the inaction. But even the historically-minded can only take so much. The strategic thrust of the scenario (King George's War, if you remember) is really quite simple. As the British, do nothing until your fleet arrives (no sooner than turn 7), then use it to invade Louisburg. Once that is taken (it's guaranteed), use your provincial infantry to take Crown Point by turn 27, garrison it with a regular unit, and it's game over.
     Unfortunately for me Gov Shirley missed Initiative roll after Initiative roll, meaning no amphibious invasion of Louisburg. When he did succeed, he rolled a 1 in combat and had to skedaddle back to Boston. 
     It's a learning scenario, a sort of "value-added" thing, according to the game's designer. Game designers need to be careful about these value-added deals. I made that mistake way back when with my computer game Combat Command. It came with a butt-load of scenarios. Just because I could, I threw in a little throw-away that took place around Heraklion in Crete. If I recall, it was virtually impossible for the Germans to win. But what the hell? The game came with some massive and varied scenarios covering Sicily, Italy, the Ardennes, D-Day etc etc. Little did I know that this little throw-away became the focal point of whatever AAR's players posted, probably just because it was a small learning scenario. Long story short, it didn't really highlight the strength of the game. I never dreamed anybody would actually, you know, play it.
     Such is the sad case of the King George's War scenario (and the War of Jenkins' Ear scenario, too, for that matter). New players are likely to try it first due to it's relatively small size -- and it leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.
     I've had similar misgivings about miniatures rules that don't include decent scenarios, or scenarios at all. If you like historical battles, you have to design them yourself. Every game then becomes a discouraging playtest session that doesn't exactly highlight the strengths of the game in question.
     In the End of Empire Designer's Notes, the designer says his favorite scenario is the Main French and Indian War scenario. So I've set that up. No more messing around. I'm going straight to the best now.
F&I War, using only the north map. Note all the reinforcements on the TRT. Hopefully, this scenario is a little more exciting than the KGW.

END OF EMPIRE

     As you might have seen in my last post, my newest project is Compass Games' END OF EMPIRE. So far, it looks and plays pretty good. It covers the American Revolution, the French & Indian War and King George's War. I started the KGW scenario, but then restarted when I discovered I had done Indian Recruitment all wrong. I also failed to comprehend certain strategic nuances. But I played enough to form an initial impression.

King George's War, all set up and ready to go. The KGW scenario only uses the north map, which you see here. The south map is used for larger scenarios. The game comes with (2) 34"x22" maps. Lots of colorful components.
      First of all, it's a pretty simple and fast-moving game. That's not to say that it's easy to play. The strategic choices are actually pretty daunting.
     A lot of your decision-making stems from the types of combat units you have at your disposal. Militia generally can't move without a leader, have some ability to pop up quickly where you need them ("To Arms!" etc.) and must be disbanded at certain times of the year so the soldiers can tend their farms. Other units have only 1-year enlistment terms. Other types include Rangers, Marines, Indians, Regulars, Artillery and so on, each with their own abilities. But it is the vagaries of unit entry and withdrawal that will thwart most of your best-laid plans.
     In my first game, for example, I spent most of the year moving a large group of provincial infantry from Boston to Crown Point with the idea of assaulting the small French garrison there. (When I say it took most of the year, that's not because of low movement rates. Movement rates are actually quite high. It's because you have to pass "initiative checks" in order to get units/stacks to move at all. There is a lot of inaction in this game. Given the subject matter, that's good.) When I was finally able to launch my assault, I realized that the enlistment duration for my entire army was almost up! I could take Crown Point, but would have nothing to hold it with!
     These are the kinds of problems that confront you in the game. So while the rules are relatively simple, they are -- as the old adage goes -- hard to master.
     I'll post some AAR material for this game as my new plan unfolds.

Replacement counter sheet from Compass. Great customer service!
     Unfortunately, the game has a fair bit of errata. Some of the counters were misprinted, for example. But when I contacted Compass, they sent replacements that arrived within a couple of days. I wish there were fewer errors, of course, but kudos to Compass for great service! 
     I had never heard of Compass Games before this. They're definitely on my radar now. A look through their catalog has me interested in a couple more of their offerings, especially their WAR STORM series game LA BATAILLE DE FRANCE 1940, a company level tactical game. (If anyone has any experience with this game, please leave a comment and let us know how it plays.)

     But for now, I've just started on END OF EMPIRE, a very attractive game that just beckons to be played.

PICKING HUBE'S POCKET

AXIS - TURN 3

      This is turning out to be one of the best ASL scenarios I've played in a while.
     Now, I had issues with Avalon Hill back in the day. It always irked me how they would do things -- like requiring mapboards from games A-B-C in order to play all the scenarios that come with game D. Seriously. What if you spent top dollar for Beyond Valor only to discover that you need Crescendo of Doom to play half the scenarios? It also bothered me that The General magazine was nothing but a hard-sell hype machine. I've never gotten over the fact that they suckered me into buying Up Front. The hype was constant and, sadly, I succumbed. (I remember one article where they were trying to sell a game called Devil's Den (IIRC) by creating a Squad Leader scenario to play on one of its mapboards. C'mon, man!)
     Oh, well. Say what you want about AH, but I've found all the SL/ASL scenarios to be extremely well-balanced; i.e. obviously play-tested, which is more than you can say for most stuff these days. For the most part, AH and Victory Games always put out a quality product. Both were head-and-shoulders above the rest of the industry.
     Anyway, on to Hube's Pocket, Turn 3.
     The highlight of the Axis turn was withdrawing the Panther tank from its current engagement so it could it could stem the Russian onslaught on the flank. And by "withdrawing" I mean "advancing-with-guns-blazing!"

The Panther spends 1 MP to start and 1 to move out from behind the trees in plain sight of the Russian T-34.
Since the Russian player would have no idea of the Panther's intentions, he decides to fire immediately. Since it is a moving target, the shot misses (he had a chance of killing it with a turret hit). The T-34 does not retain ROF, so the Panther spends 1 MP to stop and 2 more to take aim before firing. Regardless of the outcome, it plans on skedaddling down the road.
The Russian tank is destroyed and the Panther moves along the road. Another Russian tank, concealed behind a house, takes a pot-shot. Since this one is a rear shot, a hit will probably put the Panther down. But the shot misses. The Panther fires its machine guns at a Russian squad in a wooden building, but misses and continues down the road, having survived the gauntlet of fire.
The overall situation at the conclusion of Axis Turn 3. On the German left, the Russians knock out a German tank. That flank is mostly open now if the Russians choose to exploit it. A single German tank holds the flank. It is on a level 2 hill, but its LOS is severely restricted. In the center, a German tank scores a  potential kill on another T-34 (it is Shocked for now). The Panther approaches the rear of the other Russian tanks, but is itself now vulnerable to infantry assaults in the close terrain. (BTW, that's a German halftrack burning in the middle of the picture. Its luck finally ran out.)

I DON'T THINK THAT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS

     Okay, so I guess an LOL is in order here.
     While playing Advanced Squad Leader today, I'm thinking about having an AFV lay down some smoke. Better look up the rule on that....
     So there I go, thumbing through the index (1st edition rulebook, 1985)...
     Smoke Dischargers....
     Smoke Dispensers....
     Smoke Mortar...
     Smoke Placement Exponent....
     Smoke Pot....
     SN...
     WAIT! WHAT?
     The index-writer for Avalon Hill back in '85 had to see that...didn't he?


ASL - HUBE'S POCKET

     I've been playing Squad Leader since 1978 and you know what? I don't think I've ever played the "Hube's Pocket" scenario. It looks great on paper, but it's pretty complex, and I think that's why I never played it. The vehicle rules are complicated to begin with but when you add in all the LOS variables, this one can be a little much.
    Even now, I had a couple of false starts before I finally got the first turn done. So many options! What to do?
     Well, here's what I did:

     Russian T34/85s enter on the upper left part of the map. One tank engages in a gun duel with a German PzIVH and the result is inconclusive -- Acquisition markers for each. A German 10-2 leader with 2x6-5-8 squads and a LMG open up on the exposed crew of another tank, but fail to do any damage. Return fire by the T34/85's MG results in both BMG and CMG malfunctioning.
     On the right, a group of Russian T34/76s enter along a road and stop to unload 6-2-8 squads riding along. A long-range shot by a German tank from the hilltop misses. All Russian tanks have stopped while most of the German force is still in motion, giving the Russians a decided advantage for the next turn. I might have made a mistake with the German entry as it already looks like they're going to be hard-pressed to stop the Rooskies.
     This may be a short battle.

TURN 2
     Okay, I'm starting to warm to this a little. A full turn at a sitting is a lot to handle, though. I think I'll slow it down to a single Player Turn per session from now on. Just to make sure I stay fresh. There is a lot of rules look-up that goes into all of this. Brain fatigue sets in pretty quick. At least for me.
     Anyway, here's what happened.





     Left-hand side of the board. The German tank takes out a T34/85, then turns its attention to another emerging from behind some trees. A miss. The Russian fires back and also misses. With armor factors at 11:8, the T34s have the advantage. They'll happily trade shots.
     Other than the tank kill, the only real success the Germans had this turn was from some machinegun fire from their tank on the hill breaking a stack of Russian infantry in a wooden building. The Russian had their sights set on building potent fire group behind that wall and in the adjoining woods.
     Oh, I almost forgot. A Russian 6-2-8 squad was KIA. The hex where this occurred is marked with a red star. So from a kill standpoint, the Germans had the upper hand, but the overall situation remains bleak.
     The German had some good luck, too. A halftrack carrying a 6-5-8 and a LATW was fired on twice by a Russian tank through a gap in the trees, once when entering the hex and again when stopping to unload. Both shots were misses.
     The Russians were not without some luck as well. Realizing that he was in a no-win situation against that German Panther tank (armor of 18 vs the T34s kill number of 17...Oops!), the Russian AFV spends a MP to start and backs out of the hex behind some trees, surviving an almost certain defensive fire shot by the Panther.
     Meanwhile, on the Russian left, T34 tanks with a bunch of 6-2-8 squads, make a dash towards the German rear. A single German PzIVH and some 6-5-8 infantry attempt to head them off. This is where the battle will be decided.
     The Russians have a lot of tanks, though. The German will have to think of a way to get that Panther into the fray without giving up a side or rear shot. It may be their only hope.