After a preliminary scenario to get the feel of Festung Budapest, and for Mike to get the ASL feel back, we embarked upon Campaign Game III: City of Eternal Heroes.
The Russian juggernaut in 1945 rolled into Buda and Pest to finish the Hungarian and German forces holding the city. Our campaign takes place at the end of the battle. The Russians had pushed the Axis forces to the edge of the city and were closing in on the Southern Rail Station: The Deli Palyaudvar. That’s where our game begins.
Mike wanted to play the besieged Axis. The challenge of playing the feeble Hungarian forces drew him to them. While Mike will have plenty of opportunity to deal with the low quality Hungarian conscripts and civilians turned into troops, make no mistake, these troops have a backbone in the form of the German SS. These troops are no joke. The German 658 is in my mind the best unit on the eastern front in ASL. Solid firepower, good range and high morale make these units formidable foes. Throw in some 548 and the always dangerous 467 first line unit with it’s range advantage over any Russian unit, and they can really make the going tough.
I really thought that on the first CG date, 2 Feb, I would crash into a Hungarian shield, forcing me to work through the inferior troops before I would find anything of German quality. As usual, Mike had other ideas.
My Russian troops, while inferior to most of the German units in one way or the other, can get the job done with quantity and firepower. My units range from elite 628 assault units to the standard 447 Russian infantry squad, more than a match for any of the Hungarian units, but outmatched by the elite German units. Fortunately for me, this late in the war, the Russians do not suffer from lack of leadership, unfortunately they have not figured out the benefits of smoke, and when you see how many streets I have to cross, I could really use some smoke.
I start the attack essentially from the top of a hill, trying to work my way down, pushing the Axis back. I have to take about 80 to 85% of the map in 8 scenario dates that can run from 5 to 8 turns each. I have a lot to do. Here is a look at the overall map and my starting perimeter.
The building in the red square is the Railway Station. I tried to hit it with my pregame rubble creation but both missions fell short and rubbled many of the buildings inside the white area. The red area at the bottom of the map is my entering area.
Mike saw the wooden building area outside of my perimeter as a death trap and decided against any significant defense of those buildings. He would put a screen of troops there with a minefield just to try to slow me down. The stone buildings on the right of the map were more heavily defended. His setup was essentially behind this blue line.
We both felt that the initial scenario victory conditions were a bit of a gimme for the Russians. I had to have 24 more stone victory locations than I started with. I could essentially capture those locations without really coming to grips with the enemy.
For Mike, defending those 26 building locations was a suicide mission for troops that he could hardly afford to throw away.
Forgive me for the quality of some of these pictures. I’m definitely going to have to figure out a better way to get quality pictures with my phone. Here is the live map.
I kicked off my attack slowly but deliberately, expecting to find Hungarians in the wooden buildings. On my right, I found myself immediately needing to cross a street bounded by open ground. Unfortunately, he had a German AA gun looking down the street running from East to West. I also found a Hungarian MMG in the steeple of the church with LOS to many of my Northern units.
I had one stroke of good fortune when rolling for my leadership, netting a 10-2 and 9-2 leader for one of my Companies and I had them on this side of the board. I also got a platoon of T-34-85s with my at start OB. The first units I ran into over here were Hungarian. This is where I needed to push hard. I challenged the AA gun with a T-34 in the street and used massed firepower to suppress the enemy. Mike’s troops suffer from second degree ammunition shortage, so every time he fires a machine gun, he’s sweating it and only got two shots off with the MMG in the steeple before eliminating it himself.
My Ivans got across the street and into the buildings, making minced meat of the Hungarian defenders. Mike knocked out one of my T-34-85 tanks with a miracle panzerschrek shot.
In the center, I was surprised to find German defenders after a couple of my units found minefields on the approach. A mixed bag of German quality, but there were a few 658’s in there to give his defense a punch before he backed up to the stone buildings across the street.
These troops gave me a rough time for a bit, it took me a significant effort to push them off the hill.
The left was where I found the teeth of the defense. The defenders had given up the hill altogether, electing to inhabit the stone buildings, and using the long buildings at yet another level down as a sort of whack-a-mole. I found another couple of minefields as I came down the hill. This area was heavily defended by German units. No Hungarians over here. There are only a few hexes here between my starting point and the big field. Mike knew if I turned that corner he was in immediate trouble and had made sure that wasn’t going to happen.
It doesn’t look like much, but 8 morale German troops that totally out-range any infantry unit I have, and in stone buildings are proving very tough to crack.
The scenario went 7 turns for 2 Feb, I felt I did fairly well. My attack on the right was very successful. I pushed, busting up the Hungarian defense while staying in good shape with not much lost outside of a T-34-85 and got into the Axis reserve units, driving right up to the last couple of buildings in front of the hill. I finally wrapped up the center, pushing the German units down the hill and moving up to the hill edge. The left however, was very slow going. And as I am finding out in the second date, it’s not getting any easier.
At the end of the first date, I made good progress and accomplished my goals, but I’m not sure I pushed hard enough on my right. Seven more dates, and at least one of them will be a German counterattack. Throw in an idle date or two and I have my work cut out for me.
My perimeter going into the second day looks like this:
I think I have to get the move on.
More after day 2
Thanks for reading.