The pleasure of Alan coming over for Little Wars Melbourne provided an opportunity to play a game or two. Since we are both Savage Worlds fans and I have had this game campaign in planning for a while we decided to play out the first scenario.
It is 1941 and the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Nazis has just commenced. Spearheading the assault in Army Group Centre are reconnoissance elements of the Waffen SS Das Reich division. This is our protagonist group, with their own half track, led by Scharfuhrer Zeslaus Helemann and Unterscharfuhrer Redmond Salzwedel (both Wild Cards). The ist fireteam (Extras) consists of Hastings Braune, Dieter Auer, Blaz Freund, and Burke Wernerus. The 2nd fireteam consists of Ancel mendelssohn, Bingham Oxenschlager, Alexander Muehleck, and Carl Leimbach. The LMG team consists of Dieter Weiman and Helmuth Sommer.
The mission involved crossing the Belorussian border well in advance of the main column and pressing inland. The goal, therefore, was for the Germans (Alan) to run the roadblock and exit the far end of the table taking as few casualties as possible.
The table was arranged to have a small guard post with a few shacks nearby. The region was hilly and forested. I chose to use the PWork map of The Valley for the base board and built it out with some standard hills, rocks and bushes. The guard post was one that Alan had made and gave me. The half track is a 1:43 DeAgostini model. Since the troops did not actually dismount they are not visible.
The Soviet opposition was broken into three oversized fireteams of 6 mean each, led by Sergeant Arkady Goncharov (Wild Card).
Alan did not beat around the bush in this scenario. Rather than dismount and outflank the position he gunned the halftrack straight at the barrier, LMG blazing. The initial burst cut down the two on watch and alerted the rest who spilled out into the road. Goncharov ran to the radio hut to alert headquarters. Alas, we decided, Soviet radio protocol and poor technology had him there for the rest of the game shouting at the receiver.
Initiative stayed with the Germans as they reached the gate. Shooting and throwing on only d4, the Soviets were shooting wildly and throwing grenades everywhere except on target. One solitary grenade did make it inside the halftrack, but was tossed out by Carl Leimback before it detonated. The Germans were also blazing away, and despite being on target my Soviets managed to survive slaughter only by my using all my Bennies. Their luck was running out fast.
Once through the shattered gate we made a control test. The vehicle slewed to the side, smashing through one of the huts and slowing it sufficiently for Erik of the 2nd Soviet fireteam to leap on up onto it and fire his Nagant point blank. Alas, he too was a poor shot and affected nothing. To add to the Soviet misery the 3rd fireteam manoeuvred into position, let rip with a volley of shots… and shot Erik. The only effective shooting of the day causing a friendly fire incident. And with that, the SDKFz 251 roared away over the hill with all crew unharmed.
Other humorous events included the moment where, in a fury, Arkady discharged his pistol at the telephone (he was dealt a two – meaning a reduction in ammunition. He was alone in the booth, therefore we concluded his must have shot the phone). The other was when we deduced, since the call was not going through, there must be a complex chain of command problem. Where was the Zampolit who could authorise the connection? Two new figures were brought on the table, Anton and Alyona running from the nearest haystack where some political instruction had been going on…
This was a clear win for the protagonist team in a set piece demonstration against inferior opponents, exactly how the first encounter might have been expected to run. The Nazi’s arrogance was not blunted, and now they are deep in the Belarus ready for Godfather to find them a mission. Whether any of the Soviets become recurring foes is yet to be decided.
Overall, the game played smoothly, Savage Worlds again providing a stable platform for story telling gaming. There was just enough crunch in the rules to tie it to the period, but the basic mechanics transcended this and we spent most of our time talking about what the people were doing, feeling and saying, rather than thinking about the gear.