The background to this game can be found over at Chris Kemp's NQM site. This is an account, given from the Russian perspective and as such is completely free from any taint of bias that you may get from either a German or an umpire's account of the game.
We were down to two players and an umpire for this, due to two Monday Nighter's dropping out. Even so, we played a lot of scenario in a short time and got Chris the campaign answers he wanted.
Due to the wonders of the internet I was able to get the map for the game before hand and set the terrain up. We're playing on the light green cloth in the middle of the table, giving the two ends for figure and kit storage. The game area is about 10' x 5'. The terrain is slightly distorted, but this represents about 350 - 400km, I think.
The black strips are bitumen roofing felt, and represent railway tracks. Chris is currently setting out Germans on the main road. Stalingrad is in the far left corner. Chris kindly "forgets" to bring a box along each time we play NQM so I have to fill the gaps with my toys. This gives me a bit more ownership, which is nice. In this game you'll spot some of my RCW infantry and also some SCW Condor Legion and Soviet supplied equipment from time to time.
This is the view from the other end of the table.
One thing as a Russian at this stage of the war is that Chris gives you your kit and you put it out, feeling quite good about the numbers and so on. Then he starts to layout the Germans, and the boxes of armour just keep on coming. All you've got is an armoured car recce unit.
This column isn't even finished from Chris' box and then he tells you Phil is bringing even more. Including Hungarian SS units. And a pontoon bridge unit. We had so many units on the table that Chris has resorted to giving them little paper name tags so we can keep up with what is going on.
The opening attack of the game was the German attempt to seize the railway junction at Borisoglebsk. This was defended by a Soviet Rifle Division of the 9th Army, supported by the army's heavy artillery. Being Russian this of course didn't fire in the first turn as the Panzers stormed up to the junction.
However, thanks to the "Joy of Six" my lightly armed troops gave the medium armoured Panzers a spanking in the first round of combat. This strong point was intended to stop the German armoured thrust in its tracks whilst I tore into it from the flanks and 3rd Cossacks and 24 Armd Div punched the head of the column in, and it seemed to be delivering.
As you can see from this panorama shot.
Be nice to have just a tincy-wincy bit more armour (BTW my BT-5 and T-26s are proxies for T34/76s) but we make do with what we are allowed.
Having been bounced by the troops in the junction, the Panzers pile on without drawing breath, leaving the assault to some slightly less well armoured forces.
These likewise got the worst of the combat, and were stalled on the outskirts until reinforced. I was then able to close with the column head with my tanks.
It was all looking rather good, with the Germans strung out and at my mercy:
The action round the rail junction got quite heated, and the Germans finally succeeded in winning the fire fight by one hit, enabling them to close assault my troops, secure in the built up area.
I was feeling quite good about this. Phil's Germans had very few infantry stands (I outnumbered him in that arm), and on the previous run throughs troops in built up areas can be real b*gg*rs to winkle out as you fight your way in, one stand at a time. I'd be able to hold him up for a good couple of phases whilst I thumped the road column and inflicted casualties on his limited resources in the town.
Then, apparently, Phil got to roll a dice, and on getting a 6 I was told that my troops, despite beating off three assaults, seeing a Panzer formation flee from them and threatened by very little infantry panicked and surrendered because the Germans were going to drive a few Panzers into a built up area. A built up area I had been occupying and been able to fortify, supported by army level heavy artillery. You can see my lads tamely walking off as prisoners with little white pins on their bases. From Heroes of the Soviet Union putting in for Guard status for the next game, to cage fodder and a bullet in the back of the head at the end of the war in one die roll.
There was nothing for it but to charge into the Fascists on the main road and kick the sh*t out of them, and hopefully drive them to their deaths in the Volga River.
It actually went very well. I recce'd most of the column pretty well, and even when I didn't I blundered into them and rolled pretty good dice in the combats.
At the head of the column my armour and cossacks drove the Panzers back. Alas they got caught in the flank as the Panzers that had overrun the railway junction ran through the area, rounded up the prisoners and sent them to the rear and then launched an attack without, apparently, drawing breath or needing to reorganise.
The rest of the German column, however, had effectively been broken and was streaming away from the railway line. As they were motorised and I wasn't some of the units outpaced me. Others ran into my pursuit columns or just, as predicted, got trapped up against the river.
Okay, so I got bounced just north of the railway junction, which lead to my artillery being overrun, but even so the Germans haven't got to Stalingrad and they're pretty roughed up.
I even captured their pontoon bridge.
An action packed evening. A real, big, thanks, to Chris for putting it on. He now needs to work on a few more campaign moves before we revisit the table top. By then I might have some proper armour.
BTW You'll see out the back of some units little tags reading "Conscript" of "workers" etc. These don't relate to this game, but to the "Return to the River Don" RCW game.