What a glorious day for the Reich!
The slavs fell right into our trap. As the Division pulled back to a more strategic position from which to regroup and rejoin the attack on Kiev, it fell on my humble kamphgruppa to stoicly hold the Russians at bay. Having sent many supporting units to the rear ourselves, we were left with only our hardened core of veterans, who dug in on the Geran side of the rail line running throgh Zhitomer (as depicted with a few new packs of Russian village buildings and a snap-tight rail station. It was really nice fighting over a new town). High command also provided me with much needed relief in the form of an armored detachment -- three Panzer IIILs, and three Panthers. It was, how you Americans say, called in the cavalary. It was decided that the armoured units would push out from our lines and engage the enemy in the most annoying manner available to them -- it was their goal to draw off attacks from our objectives, rather to decicevely confront heavy Russian tanks. A pare of SdKfz 251/9s, sporting 7.5 cm guns, were kept in Ambush to play with later.
As the Russians rolled forward, the action got going quickly on my right front. A light Russian advance on this side threatened my most lightly defended, and furthest back, objective, tempting the Panthers into a more direct fight than they'ed intended. However, it turned out that the Russians were using card-board trianing mock ups of tanks, which blew over in the breeze as the Panthers turned to position themselves between the main body of the Russian force and the central objective, sort of threatened by a platoon of T-34s, led by Maria. The first shot took out her tank and killed the Soviet propaganda creation and leaving her tank smoulederig besides the tracks. The T-34s never regained their coordination or momentum, perhaps one or two more feeling our tutonic steel while the rest hid in the village.
On the left front, my Panzer IIIs were confronted with far more opposition than they'd bargained for -- three heavy-ass tanks of some slavic design, a platoon of gimpy light tanks, some scout cars. They contented themselves with careful attacks on individual targets using combined fires (two tanks shooting one) to preserve their own numbers, all the while manouvering to prevent any assault on the Grenadiers dug into the woods around the left objective. These troops could not be assaulted without drawing supporting fire from the Panzer IIIs. More over, they were well situated within a few tree stands, such that the collapse of the forward element of the platoon did not displace the rear elements who were actually within range to contest the objective. His first assault killed an infantry team but produced no strategic effect. The Panzers were widdled down in time, with two burning and the last quitting the field, but a second assault never materialized. Thus did the Russians let their one chance for victory slip through their fingers as I removed the left objective on turn 6.
The loss of platoons through withdrawl was my only real concern in this fight. I insulated my self against its affects as best I could by abusing the kamphgruppa rules (he led only the MG teams, who were useless in this fight anyway) and fielding a minimum-strength Pioneer platoon -- who came with the added bonus of a mine field, which totally gimped up the Russian advance through the village. These two units were the first to withdraw, followed by the destroyed Panzers -- they hurt me on moral, but still count as a platoon gone. It wasn't until turn 6 or 7 that I had to give up anything I'd really miss, one of the Grenadier platoons, but by then I was also removing the objective they had been assigned to protect.
As the Panthers took pot shots, vaporizing anything stupid enough to be Russian they could find (dear god is AT14 fun!), I removed the central objective. Had it remained, to take it he would have had to kill three Panthers and a platoon of dug-in Panzer Grenadiers, with the CiC, and that pair of 251/9s who had showed up. I think they even killed a T-34! No intact units remained to complete this task, with one heavy tank burning on the tracks, the others cought up in the village with the confused T-34s and the lone surviving scout car. I don't remember if his mortars ever fired a shot. After the central objective was gone, he'd have had to take those men through everything I had left and some woods to aproach the far, right-flank objective. At the start of Breakdance's turn, he shook my hand and called it a good game.