Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 3 – Operation Debrecen

Over 16 missions, Joe & Andrew will battle through the full campaign – each trying to secure victory in a desperate fight for control of Fortress Budapest.

After the nail-biter of Game 2, the Soviets continue their armored push towards Budapest, it is finally time for the German forces to counterattack. We are back at Bastion Gaming Center to find out with Game 3 – Operation Debrecen!

In a change of pace, the third mission has a Soviet Armored Platoon surrounded and defending a lone, central Objective. The Germans launched a massive armored counterattack in an attempt to encircle and cut off the Soviet spearhead. As with Game 2, this mission was played between two Armored Platoons using the Tank War structure. Joe had to build a Guards Mechanized Brigade (p.152) and Andrew picked the Panzer Kampfgruppe (p.135). The mission did not specify a point value, our Commanders settled on a whopping 2,000pts for this Tank War game.

Scoring is 1 VP per kill and 3 VPs for controlling the Objective. To secure victory, you need to win by two. The game would last a full six turns with a possible seventh.

The Pre-Game

The Axis Strategy

Finally a chance to attack! After two games of playing defender, I was itching to take the initiative and launch an assault on the Soviet dogs. Joe and I both have substantial collections of tanks so we decided to go big and play this game at 2,000pts. Of course, being Tank War, it was still only 10 units for me and eight for Joe. We also made sure to secure a proper table for this massive armor clash and lucky for us, Bastion has a pretty incredible 10’x5′ table filled with these terrain hexes. It really was an epic setup.

Joe had the unenviable duty to deploy first. He had no information on where my forces would be arriving from and did what he could to cover the objective. Once Joe’s initial units were down, I split my force into two pincers – one of two Panzer IVs and the other with the Panther and the remaining Panzer IV onto either side of the river. I knew that Joe would have to deploy his units relatively close together and hoped my Arty Observer would be able to apply some Pins to his armor and give me time to roll in. The other half of my force would arrive at the top of Turn 3 from a table edge picked by the player currently holding the Objective. I needed to get to that bridge as fast as possible so I could then launch my Outflank from the best possible position. The last thing I wanted was for Joe to pick the side my force would arrive from. – Andrew

The Soviet Strategy

As the 6th Guards Tank Army reeled from a draw in the aptly named “Valley of Death”, a line in the sand needed to be drawn. Heavy tanks would be used to smash through the hated fascist armor and continue the drive towards the prize, Budapest! Comrade Marshall Malinovsky supplied us well with a large number of heavy tanks to ensure success. Having to split my force, and deploy half on the table, this mission seemed like a big challenge. My plan was to set up cautiously as I wasn’t sure where the Germans would be coming from. I wanted to see where Andrew’s forces would be coming in from and concentrate there until I could bring my heavy tanks to bear and crush him in a flanking move. If he tried to get cute and split or outflank my deployed forces, I felt confident I could pivot and respond in kind. Taking a Katyusha was a bold choice, and would prove to be a costly mistake! – Joe

The Game

  • The game was played on a massive 10’x5′ table – after all, it was a 2,000pt Tank War game – with a large river running from end to end. Roads crisscrossed the table all directing to a bridge over the river. There were three places to cross the river, the bridge and two fords.
    • The single Objective was placed in the middle of the table, at one edge of the bridge.
  • Joe deployed half his force (four units) within 18″ of the Objective. His other four units would arrive via Reserve from a short table edge starting Turn 2. The initial Soviet force contained three T-34/85s and a Katyusha Rocket Launcher.
    • The Soviet reserves contained three IS-2s and a single T-34/76 set to arrive on Turn 2.
  • Andrew deployed half his force outside of 18″ from any Soviet unit. This deployed German force contained three Panzer IV Js, a Panther, and a Forward Artillery Observer.
    • Left in Outflank – to arrive at Turn 3 – was a second Panther, an Sd.Kfz 7/2 half-track with a heavy Autocannon, an Sd.Kfz 234/4, an Sd.Kfz Half-track with a single squad of Sturmpioniere Assault Engineers inside (x4 Panzerfaust and one Flamethrower).
  • With the Soviets surrounding the Objective, the German forces drive forward!
  • A Panzer IV knocked out one of the T-34/85s but not before a hail of Soviet MMG fire killed the German Forward Artillery Observer.
  • The Panzer IV on the low left flank unloaded at the Katyusha but was only able to score a Crew Stunned.
  • The lone Panther on the high left flank hit a T-34/85 in the rear, scored a Super Pen, and rolled not one, but two Crew Stunned! Double 1s on the Pen Chart. No one expects the double stun!
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
  • The Soviet Reserves arrived! Three tanks came storming from the top left flank. Two IS-2 and a T-34/76. The third IS-2 failed its Reserve roll and remained behind, for now.
  • Turn 2 opened with the low left Panzer IV laying down more MMG fire at the Katyusha, but no damage.
  • Before the Panther had a chance to activate, two IS-2 Heavy Tanks arrived from Reserve in the top left flank. Both tanks fired point-blank rear shots. Both tanks missed. Unreal.
  • Realizing the immediate danger, the Panther made a mad dash towards the road, however, it could not escape the T-35/76 who, punching well above its weight, not only hit but killed the Panther!
  • Panzer IV on the top right hit and immobilizes a T-34/85.
  • Final Panzer IV – the German Command Tank – hit the Katyusha with another round of MMG shots, lit the Rocket Launcher on fire, and with six Pins, the Katyusha failed its Morale check and bailed.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
  • With neither side holding the Objective, the German Outflanking Force arrived from a random table edge – the top side was rolled.
  • In an attempt to get a rear shot, the second German Panther arrived from the upper left and blasted point-blank at an IS-2. And promptly missed.
  • However, the 234/4 Armored Car was much more successful. Rolled in from the top side, and knocked out the immobilized T-34/85 with a point-blank shot.
  • The Command Panzer IV advanced down the road towards the bridge and ripped a shot at the last remaining T-34/85 resulting in another kill for the Germans.
  • Continuing the comedy of errors in the upper left corner, the T-34/76 advanced to point-blank on the second Panther…and missed.
  • The remaining German reinforcements drove down from the top edge towards the road network.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
  • Big turn of the Soviets! Not a single German kill and two for the Soviets.
  • The third IS-2 finally arrived from Reserve in the low left and immediately knocked out a Panzer IV.
  • The IS-2 in the top left finally connected with a point-blank shot onto the second Panther and blew it to smithereens.
  • The score was now all even at 4-4, but could the Soviets push the Germans off the Objective?
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
  • With all the units finally on the table, there would be no further Outflank/Reserve surprises.
  • Misses across the board with AP shells going wide left and right.
  • Only one kill; a long-range shot from the low left IS-2 onto the exposed Half-track. Hits, Pens, Kills. and forces the Pioneers to bail.
  • With only turn 6 guaranteed, the battle was on the edge of a knife.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
  • The first shot of the Turn, 234/4 knocks out the lead IS-2 making its way towards the Objective. This little open-topped Armored Car has cemented itself as the German MVP.
  • The IS-2 on the low road quickly advances towards the Objective and fires at the Command Panzer IV. It scores a hit, pen and a kill.
  • The Soviets pushed up as quickly as possible (while still being able to fire) in the hope that Turn 7 would be played. However, it was not to be. The game ended with Turn 6 and the Germans in control of the Objective.
    • The Soviets ended the game with a massive six kills to the German five. But with the three additional VPs for holding the Objective, it took the German score from five to eight resulting in the narrowest of German victories.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs

Soviets – 6 Kills | Axis – 5 Kills + 3 VP for holding the Objective

Final Result -Axis Victory

The Post-Game

The Axis Conclusion

You could not have planned a better start for the Campaign! After three games Joe and I are dead even. One win, one loss, and one draw. Not only that, but each of our wins was by the slimmest margin possible! Joe fought an excellent defensive battle and was in control of the game towards the end but on Turn 6 my dice got hot and blasted the tanks who had the chance of contesting the Objective.

So much for the Forward Artillery Observer calling in some Pins – he died on the first turn without even getting a chance to fire! I don’t know why I didn’t just go Down, it would have pretty much guaranteed his survival. I must have just forgotten for a moment that kills were VPs! The 234/4 once again proved its worth. That little armored car has long been one of my favorite German units. It has a Heavy AT Gun and Recce for just 180pts Reg. That is an absolute steal for what it brings to the table. Being wheeled is also a plus because it brings speed that fully tracked vehicles simply cannot match.

The mission certainly could have been even crazier if my Outflank force had arrived on a different table edge. I was real nervous when we rolled the scatter die to see where they would arrive from – what a great little twist on the mission. Game 1 is still my favorite game so far, but this is a great mission. If you want something different for Tank War, give this one a go.

So here we are, dead even after three games. Will Game 4 be a tipping point and swing the momentum one way or another? Can’t wait to find out. – Andrew

The Soviet Conclusion

Even before the first shot, disaster struck the Red Army. A miscalculated deployment left the center Objective uncaptured! Andrew split his forces so far apart, I was unable to concentrate effectively to form up and counter his pushes! With big tanks arriving and failing to hit anything, and down in dice early I was worried. After some cold dice on both sides, then some good dice by both we were in the middle of a wild tank battle. I was forced to abandon all caution and had to charge my remaining units towards the Objective, with my only chance at the win being killing the two Panzer IVs holding it.

This was a wild mission! It really forces the Soviet player to make some truly gut-wrenching deployment decisions. The lack of any substantial cover, and deploying first makes it difficult to defend from the German opening salvos. The wild way the German reserves come on if you don’t control the Objective also makes life even more difficult for the Soviets. Playing on the huge 10’x5′ table was awesome! The large table that Bastion has is beautiful; the hexagon tiles that are interchangeable are so cool and such a nice dynamic way to build the map. I would highly recommend this mission to any player. It would work for any faction and theater. Easily one of my favorite campaign missions I’ve played so far! – Joe

Soviet Campaign Game ScoreAxis Campaign Game Score
Soviet Campaign KillsAxis Campaign Kills

Game 2 – Into the Valley of Death | Game 4 – Flak Regiment 133

3 thoughts on “Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 3 – Operation Debrecen

  1. I have seen a few hex board kits at shows and been tempted to buy one, but never did. It was interesting to see an alternate type of battle report, good stuff!


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