Today we played the fourth scenario in the World At War: Death of the First Panzer game. It was titled “Wittmann’s Ghost,” a homage to the most famous German tank ace of WWII. On one side was Oberst Russell, trying to take back the town of Walkerburg from the Soviets with his West German forces. On the other side was Polkovnik John (me) and my commissar Comrade Kateri, defending the town with the glorious troops of Mother Russia.
The West Germans had two separate forces, a few platoons of Leopards coming from the north and a company of mechanized infantry heading in from the west. Standing in their way were elements of a Soviet airborne division, complete with a platoon of air-dropped self-propelled guns (ASU-85s). The three forces made contact early as Soviet Sagger teams and anti-tank guns opened fire on the German panzers and infantry fighting vehicles alike, but then inflicted little damage. Soon a company of T-72s arrived on the scene, taking light losses as they charged across the map to engage a rush of infantry fighting vehicles.
Things descended into a whirling melee during the mid-game, with T-72s and Soviet infantry slugging it out at close quarters with the West Germans. The Soviet tanks took pretty heavy losses, but they got the job done and eventually obliterated the West German mechanized infantry company, leaving only smoking hulks on the hill south of Walkerburg. Russ’s Leopards came on strong, eliminating and disrupting a few platoons of Soviet infantry, but after a short while, the combined firepower of the Soviets was too much for the Deutsche, and they quit the field.
This short, small scenario was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I thought early on that I would be turned into mincemeat, but soon realized that there was only a small area of open terrain that my T-72s would have to cross before making it to a long ridge on the south edge of the map. I used this to shield my tanks from Russ’s deadly Leopards for as long as possible, which allowed me to concentrate the majority of my forces on the mechanized infantry, destroying them outright before the whole lot turned on the Leopards.
I was reminded tonight why I enjoy the World at War system so much–it’s a simple ruleset that I can not touch for months, then pick up in fifteen minutes and feel competent with. Plus, the carnage on the field after a scenario is just great to see!