Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 6 – Counter-Attack at Pestszentimre

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.


For the first time since Game 2, Joe and the Soviets are now in the lead! Andrew and the Germans are looking for a comeback in Game 6 – Counter-Attack at Pestszentimre. Our two commanders prepared the battlefield at Michigan Toy Solider for what promised to be another titanic tank clash. Both players brought forth a 1,500pt. Tank War army list. Andrew was running the Panzer Kampfgruppe and Joe the Soviet Guards Mechanized Brigade.

Interestingly, this mission had very little in the way of special rules, deployments or objectives. A fairly straight forward attacker/defender breakthrough style mission. No free units and no hidden setups. Just a line of eight German vehicles attempting to hold back the Soviet Steel.

Our Commanders could score VPs by:

  • Soviets:
    • 1 VP per kill
    • 2 VP per friendly unit withing the Axis Deployment Zone
    • 3 VP per friendly unit within 12″ of the Axis table edge
  • Axis:
    • 1 VP per kill
    • 1 VP per Soviet unit on the Soviet half of the table

The Pre-Game

The Axis Strategy

Tank War defense, here we go again. Looking at the mission, I wasn’t thrilled with what I saw. Although Joe would be forced to cross an open field to get into the scoring zone, he’d only have to advance 36″ forward (easily accomplished, especially with a road down the middle). Any tank that ended the game within the German half of the table would score two big VPs. I needed to quickly immobilize or destroy Joe’s armor.

The vehicles in my defensive force contained four Heavy AT Guns, one Super Heavy AT Gun, a Heavy Autocannon and one squad of Panzer Grenadiers with x4 Panzerfausts. It would be a wall of Armor 9 and 10 that Joe would have to run towards – all I needed is my guns to be hot early and I’d be alright. But if that Prep. Bombardment pinned out for force or I failed some critical Order Tests than it would be an uphill battle to recover. – Andrew

The Soviet Strategy

Seeing as the Germans would be pinned from a Preparatory Bombardment, and the large open ground for me to cross, I went for a bold decision. I would take a small number of Heavy Tanks and run the gauntlet of German armor. With encouragement from the mission description, I took four, yes four IS-2 Heavy Tanks, and a lone T-34/76. The plan was to get within scoring range before the Germans were able to shed enough Pins from the bombardment. All the while I would be advancing and shooting to try and pick off targets. – Joe

The Game

Deployment

  • Note on the terrain – the three swaps were played using the Deep Mud rules (p.164), sadly we never had a chance to role on the Deep Mud Table.
  • The mission called for full deployment of the Axis forces and the Soviet forces were held back in First Wave.
  • Axis deployment from top to bottom:
    • Panzer IV Ausf. H
    • SdkFz 7/2 (Heavy Autocannon)
    • Panzer IV Ausf. H (Command)
    • Panzer IV Ausf. H
    • Panther Ausf. G
    • SdkFz 234/4 Armored Car (Heavy AT Gun)
    • SdkFz 251/1 Half-track (Transport)
      • Six Panzer Grenadiers with x4 Panzerfausts aboard

Turn 1

  • Before the first Order Die was pulled, the Prep. Bombardment strikes the German position. No direct hits but each German vehicle took at least 1 Pin. In total, 11 Pins spread across 8 units. Andrew didn’t know it at the time, but those Pins would cause major issues.
  • The Soviet First Wave arrives! Unlike some of the previous missions, none of the Axis units had the option to deploy Hidden or in Ambush.
  • Joe wasted no time – the first of four IS-2s rolled onto the table, fired and destroyed the Panzer IV guarding the road. First blood to the Soviets!
  • Andrew attempted to counter but failed not one, not two, not three, but four Order Tests! Four of the remaining seven German units failed to activate on Turn 1. The German line was in shambles.
  • Only the Panther was able to fire at the approaching Soviet tanks, it missed.
  • The 251/1 rotated and fled backwards to the cover of the woods.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
10

Turn 2

  • Looking to press the advantage, the five Soviet tanks advance in a uniform front toward the defenders, blasting down range.
  • The topmost IS-2 fired and knocked out the Panzer IV Command Tank scoring a second Soviet VP.
  • Trying to stem the bleeding, Andrew makes an escape move with the 234/4 behind the woods.
  • The 7/2 Flak reversed into the woods, blasting at the Soviet armor with its Heavy Autocannon but missed both shots.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
20

Turn 3

  • In an unbelievable stroke of luck for the Germans, the 7/2 survived a direct hit from the T-34. The AT round hit and penetrated the soft-skin half-track but only managed to Immobilize the vehicle.
  • The Panther finally woke up (after failing two back-to-back Order Tests), fired its Super Heavy AT, and turned the IS-2 Command Tank into a fiery wreck. The Germans are on the board!
  • The last remaining Panzer IV failed it’s Order Test – that is three turns in a row.
  • The 7/2 also failed its Order Test. As did the 234/4 – at least it was hidden behind the woods.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
21

Turn 4

  • As expected, the Panther failed its Order Test. It had one Pin.
  • But, not all was lost – the lone Panzer IV fired and destroyed the T-34 bringing the game to a 2-2 tie. Maybe not all hope was lost?
  • The 234/4 failed to Rally. Never mind, it was just a fools hope.
  • The Soviet armor continued to push toward the German Deployment Zone looking to score serious VPs.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
22

Turn 5

  • The Panther scored a hit but bounced the round off the IS-2 front armor.
  • In an amazing twist of fate, the IS-2 on the road failed an Order Test.
  • 7/2 blasted both AT rounds and put a Pin onto the top IS-2.
  • The Panzer Grenadiers disembarked and moved into ambush position with their four Panzerfausts.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
22

Turn 6

  • Turn 6 – the possible final Turn and things are looking desperate for the Germans.
  • Panzer IV fired and landed a hit against the IS-2 on the road but failed to deal any damage (needed a 3 to glance, rolled a 2).
  • The top IS-2 hit and destroyed the remaining Panzer IV.
  • 234/4 finally enters the game with an engine kill on the low IS-2. But was it too little too late?
  • The IS-2 on the road passed its Order Check (2 Pins) and with the Honor of the Guards Special Rule removed both Pins! The Soviet heavy tank then proceeded to hit and destroy the Panther – an incredible show of gunnery!
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
43

Turn 7

  • Some late-game heroics from the 234/4 – fired and knocked out the IS-2 on the road. But sadly for Andrew, it was too little too late. Although Joe only had one unit left at the end of the game, it was enough to secure victory.
  • For the Soviets, just a single IS-2 survived the battle.
    • But that lone IS-2 ended the game exactly where it needed to be, within the Axis Deployment Zone.
  • At the end of Turn 7, the game score was:
    • Soviet VPs:
      • Killed 4 units – 4 VPs
      • Ended the game with 1 unit in the Axis Deployment Zone – 2 VPs
    • Axis VPs:
      • Killed 4 units – 4 VPs
Soviet VPsAxis VPs
64

Soviets: 4 Kills + 1 unit within Axis Deployment Zone | Axis: 4 Kills

Final Result – Soviet Win
Another Soviet win by the slimmest of margins! If Andrew had killed just one more unit, the result would be a Draw.

The Post-Game

The Axis Conclusion

I’m sad to say but this one felt like a bit of a non-game. Sure I failed more Order Tests this game than the previous five games combined, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the lack of agency as the Axis Commander. My first means to score points was to kill Soviet units (1 VP each). The other means was to keep Soviet units within their half of the table (1 VP each) but how could that be accomplished? The middle of the table was wide open, it would have been pure insanity to push toward the attacking Soviets. In a Tank War game, that -1 To Hit for Advancing is often too big a risk to take. Thus, I only had one path to victory – sit in my deployment zone and try to knock out Joe’s tanks.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we had a fun game and I enjoyed the tense moments (Tank War is always fun) but when looking back at the game, I really didn’t do anything. The initiative is entirely within the hands of the Soviet forces. So, I just sat there and fired. I will say, without multiple failed Order Tests across my line on multiple turns, I don’t see how Joe would have any hope of victory. On two turns only half my units activated. That’s a massive reduction in weight fire down range.

But it’s all good! Not all these missions can be winners. I am unbelievably excited about our next game! The Soviets have made it to the city proper and the urban fighting is about to begin. – Andrew

The Soviet Conclusion

Wow, after a slightly less than average Prep. Bombardment, the Guards Tankers burst onto the table and their aim was true! With two early kills, I was feeling great about the game so far. Initially my strategy was working perfectly. Andrews’ force was pinned out and my advancing tanks were putting the pressure on! We seesawed back and forth for a bit and finally the lone IS-2 was able to hold. This mission was fairly generic, the only interesting thing was playing longways on the table. Overall, my strategy worked and I was able to hold, mainly due to the poor rolls of my opponent and good friend Andrew. His failure to pass Order Checks won me this game. Andrew failed something like 10 Order Checks! That is absolutely absurd! But even hamstrung by poor orders, his German tanks nearly tabled me, with just one lone IS-2 to carry the Hammer and Sickle into Budapest.

The layout was strange; almost zero cover in the middle of the table, and the swamps made large areas to avoid and almost created bottlenecks that I was forced to maneuver down. At 1,500 points, it felt like a good size and overall seemed pretty balanced. This mission was fun but not very interesting in my opinion. If you want to run a Tank War mission in this book, use Counterattack at Debrecen. It is much more fun and interesting. This just felt like a generic tank kill mission. – Joe

Soviet Campaign Game ScoreAxis Campaign Game Score
42
3-1-21-3-2
Soviet Campaign KillsAxis Campaign Kills
2629

Game 5 – The Attila Line | Game 7 – The Back Door Left Open

4 thoughts on “Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 6 – Counter-Attack at Pestszentimre

  1. I completely agree with your conclusions. I’m not the biggest fan of Tank War, they are faults with it. But, at least you tried it and that’s fair enough.

    Like

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