The Second World War, Rapid Fire, 20mm
This week, for the want of something better to do, the chaps decided to invade Russia. The game was set in October 1941, during Operation Barbarossa. Army Group North was approaching Leningrad, and had already encircled the landward side of the city. General Zhukov, commanding the Leningrad Front ordered a counter-attack, which resulted in the recapture of the railway town of Mga, on the western bank of the River Neva. This game centred around the German counter-attack.Essentially, the Germans attacked in two columns, each following a road that led from the west or south-west corner of the table to Mga. The right-hand column was a reconnaissance force – a motorcycle battalion, backed up by a few light tanks and support weapons. It veered off the road to cut the railway line leading into the town, then kept going, taking casualties all along the way. This “death ride” ended when the remnants of the German column sought refuge in a wood behind the town. Having lost about two-thirds of the battalion, these guys stayed put for the rest of the game, breaking cover only to knock out an anti-tank gun that was holding up the main German advance.The main German assault was spearheaded by a powerful force of tanks – a mixtures of lights, mediums and a few of the more powerful Pz. IVs. They had a tough time of it at first, fighting their way forward through the fields that the Russians were using as their forward line of defence. Eventually though they broke through this crust of Russian infantry, and approached the town, which was already under artillery fire from German artillery. At that point Russian reinforcements arrived in the form of an armoured train, sent to the front from Leningrad. What followed was a bizarre duel between the well-armed train and the German tanks – a duel the train eventually lost. When its flaming and shattered carriages were finally silenced the Germans moved in for the kill, helped out by air strikes that pounded the defenders, and protected the German tankers and panzergrenadiers from enemy fighters.The Russians threw in their tank reserves – a couple of under-strength battalions of light tanks – T26’s and BT-5s. Tghese light tanks were no match for the Pz. IV’s, who now dominated the approaches to the town. The loss of the Russian armour was the final straw. What remained of the Russian garrison of Mga was overrun or driven off, aided by the remnants of the suicidal motorcycle battalion. As the evening drew to a close it was clear that Mga had been recaptured by the Germans, and the blockade of Leningrad would continue.Rapid Fire always produces a high-octane, high carnage game, and while the rules lack the subtlety of Battlegroup Panzergrenadier, at least they’re fun to play, fast-moving and – er – decisive!