Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 11 – Operation Konrad III

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 Axis victory in Game 10, our two Commanders are once again in a dead heat. The Campaign is balanced on a knife’s edge with neither the combined Axis forces for the Soviet juggernaut any closer to total victory. As with Operation Konrad I, Konrad III also took place outside of Budapest proper in the frozen Hungarian hinterland.

Andrew built his attacking force from the IV SS Panzer Corps (Fortress Budapest) Theater Selector and Joe brought forward the Guards Mechanized Brigade (Fortress Budapest). The two commanders strode into the home of Campaign: Fortress BudapestMichigan Toy Solider – knowing full well that this game could tip the balance.

Both Axis and the Soviets went with 100% First Wave (as they often choose to do). There would be no holding back this game. The Axis objective was to destroy the Soviets and punch through their lines. The Soviets had to destroy the Axis attackers and hold them back from escaping off the Soviet table edge. The game was played using the Dawn Assault rules for Night Fighting. Turn 1 had limited visibility and at the beginning of each turn, there was a roll to see if dawn had arrived. Andrew was hoping for a long night as the limited visibility would help his Panzer approach without the risk of Soviet AT fire.

Our Commanders could score VPs by:

  • Soviets:
    • 1 VP per Axis unit destroyed
    • 2 VP per Axis Panzer (Armor 9+) destroyed (3 VP total)
  • Axis:
    • 1 VP per Soviet unit destroyed
    • 2 VP per Panzer within the Soviet Deployment Zone at the end of the game
    • 3 VP per Panzer that escapes off the Soviet table edge

The Pre-Game

The Axis Strategy

After the Game 10 victory, let’s run it back! That’s right, I am using the exact same army list in this game as before. The IV SS Panzer Corps (Fortress Budapest) Theater Selector is exactly the kind of the Tank Platoon I need for this mission. Unlike Game 10 I won’t have much physical cover or LOS-blocking terrain for my tanks. And there is only a single road instead of three. Looking at how open the table is I have to rely on the Night Fighting rules to give me a chance at making a breakthrough. My overall strategy is simple – run onto the table on Turn 1 as I won’t be able to acquire any targets anyway (line of sight is only 2d6″+6 inches). I plan to put my tanks into aggressive positions and surge forward on Turn 2. The only possible flaw in this plan is if dawn arrives on Turn 2. If we start Turn 2 with full visibility I’ll be in real trouble. Joe has some serious AT punch and if he can drawn open lines of fine onto my force it’s going to hurt.

That being said, Tank War is always wild. Even if Joe has some clean shots he may whiff on the hits or damage rolls. Or he may roll absolute fire and set my entire force ablaze within three turns. Thanks just how Tank War goes! There is no reason to hold back, I need to punch just a couple of tanks off the Soviet table edge to have a chance at the win. So rev those engines and let’s make a run for it. – Andrew

The Soviet Strategy

In past Tank War games I had always brought a smaller number of Heavy Tanks with big guns. Knowing Andrew would be trying to be sneaky with the Dawn Assault rules, my plan was to break from the norm and try and surprise him. With only a single road to cover, I would set up a Vet Heavy AT Gun to cover the approach and spread the remaining armored forces (which were mobile) to flex towards the Axis main point of attack. The relatively open ground in the middle of the table was, to me, an ideal killing ground for the Big Red Bears of the 1st Guards Mechanized Corps. I really needed dawn to come early for me to have a chance on this mission, otherwise Andrew would be right on top of me when the sun came up, scoring massive amounts of points from being in my deployment zone or breaking through my lines and rolling off the board. – Joe

The Game


  • No units on the table at the start of the game. Both the Axis and Soviet forces arrived completely via First Wave.
  • The table has one road running from edge to edge, a couple buildings, woods scattered throughout, a couple hills and two swamps.
  • Long, open lines of sight across the table but the cover of darkness would be in place for at least one turn.

Turn 1

  • Andrew rolls out the Panzers, all 1500pts of IV SS Tank Platoon arrived on the table:
    • Sd.Kfz 250/9
    • Panzer IV – Command Vehicle
    • Panther
    • Panzer IV
    • Sd.Kfz 7/2
    • StuG III
    • Panzer IV
  • Joe pushes the Soviet Steel forward:
    • SU-85
    • Heavy AT Gun
    • Tow
    • Gaz Jeep
    • ATR Team
    • T-34/85 – Command Vehicle
    • SU-100
    • T-34/85
    • T-34/85
  • With the Dawn Assault rules active, no shots were fired. Not a single unit had line of sight.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs

Turn 2

  • To the shock of both Commanders, the dawn arrived. The remainder of the game would have an unlimited line of sight.
    • To be more specific; Joe’s delight and Andrew’s dismay.
  • First Order Die of the turn, the big bad SU-100 fires with a clear line of sight over the swamp at the Panther (the MVP of Game 10), hits, pens and turns the mighty engine into a smoldering wreck. First blood and 3 VPs to the Soviets!
  • On the right flank, a Panzer IV advances up and clips a T-34/85 with a Crew Stunned.
  • The second T-34/85 advances up to the farmhouse, fires over the hill, and destroys the StuG III before it even had a chance to activate.
  • Forced to move, the Panzer IV in the center trips the Soviet Heavy AT Gun ambush and pays the price. Hit, pen, knocked out.
  • The SU-85 plays cat and also cat with the Command Panzer IV and the 250/9 on the left.
  • As the smoke cleared at the end of Turn 1, almost half of the Axis force was destroyed without a single Soviet loss.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs

Turn 3

  • Combined fire from a T-34/85 and the SU-100 immobilized the right-flank Panzer IV, just inches from the Soviet Deployment Zone. The Panzer IV was unable to answer back.
  • The T-34/85 that knocked out the StuG III in Turn 2 turned its guns onto the 7/2 and puts an AT shell right through the engine block.
  • The 250/9 made a rush up the road and fired its Light Autocannon at the Soviet Heavy AT Gun, killing two of the crew, but was then knocked out by return fire.
  • The third T-34/85 in the center blasts a shell into the Command Panzer IV, setting it on fire, but the crew holds.
  • The SU-85 on the left flank crept forward, hunting the Command Panzer IV on the other side of the woods.
  • Two more Axis vehicles knocked out and not a single Soviet kill in return. The situation turned from bad to worse for Andrew’s Tank Platoon.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs

Turn 4

  • With just two units remaining, Andrew’s only hope was to escape off the Soviet table edge with the Command Panzer IV.
  • The Soviets scored first activation and a T-34/85 on the right flank hit and Crew Stunned the immobilized Panzer IV forcing the vehicle Down.
  • The SU-185 lurking in the woods missed the Command Panzer IV at point blank. Was this the break the Axis needed?
  • The Command Panzer IV advanced up the road, fired on the Anti-Tank Gun (missed) and the T-34/85 (also missed). These were both critical shots that needed to score hits.
  • The SU-100 holding the backline fired at the immobilized and stunned Panzer IV – hit, set it on fire and with six Pins, the crew bailed.
  • The Axis armored assault now contained a single Panzer IV facing off against a still completely unscathed Soviet Tank Platoon.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs

Turn 5

  • Turn 5 stared and ended with a single Soviet activation – the Heavy AT Gun fired at the final Panzer IV. The shell connects and pens the armor. After only five turns on play, the entirety of the Axis force had been destroyed.
Soviet VPsAxis VPs

Soviets: 7 unit kills (1 VP each), 5 Panzer kills (2 VP each)
Axis: 0 unit kills, 0 unit in Soviet Deployment Zone, 0 units escaped off the Soviet table edge

Final Result – Soviet Win
The Campaign swings back into Soviet control! The Axis forces were not only defeated, they were completely smashed off the table. Total annihilation.

The Post-Game

The Axis Conclusion

You know, sometimes Tank War be like that. In Game 10 (the previous Tank War game), Joe and I had a slugging match. Two forces throwing wild punches with reckless abandon with shells bouncing off armor and often resulting in minor damage. That was not the case today. Right at the top of Turn 2 Joe went on a hot streak and not only hit, but knocked out three of my tanks right in a row. By the start of Turn 4 I only had two Order Dice remaining. Rough.

Looking back, it was the end of Dawn Assault after Turn 1 that gave Joe the opening he needed. If the reduced visibility had lasted until Turn 3 I would have at least managed to score some points. I drove my armored assault hard during Turn 1 to secure strong jump off points for Turn 2, assuming I’d get the cover of darkness for one more turn. But then dawn broke at the start of the Turn 2 and the Soviet guns had uninhibited line of sight to my now exposed tanks. Joe had a shot, and he didn’t miss.

There were a few chances. A few times the dice broke my way but Joe’s guns were simply too hot. It was hit after hit, pen after pen. I lost track of the number of times he rolled Massive Damage. Honestly, it was laughable. Joe and I had a great time, shaking our heads at how wild Tank War can get. There was not much to do other than shake it off.

So, I took the L. But the real kicker is that I didn’t kill a single Soviet unit! Because of that, Joe brought himself to within one on the total Campaign Kills. It was a bad break for the Axis High Command. The attempt to relieve the Budapest defenders has failed, they are on their own. – Andrew

The Soviet Conclusion

I am never allowed to complain about my dice again. By the end of Turn 2, not only had dawn arrived (complete surprise for both Commanders) to the dismay of Andrew and relief of myself, but I had also knocked out his biggest threat (Panther) and two Panzer IVs! By the end of Turn 3 Andrew had just two units remaining, one of which was immobilized. I’ll say it again, blowouts are no fun. I would rather have a close game that comes down to the end than crush my opponent. They don’t have fun and piling on just doesn’t feel good. The one positive thing from this was now Andrew only has one more overall Campaign Kill than me, which will be important for the tie-breaker.

This was another Attacker/Defender mission with a slight twist (Dawn Assault), but after the die roll at the top of Turn 2, the twist no longer mattered. The early dawn was great for me in regards to Campaign scoring, but I feel it also took away a bit from the mission. I would very much like to revisit this mission sometime down the line to see how different it would play with a delayed dawn. The Guards Mechanized Brigade selector again was still fun and ‘Honor of the Guards’ came into play a couple times allowing the Big Red Bears to hunt. Overall a good mission, and a fun time. Thank you again to our gracious hosts, Michigan Toy Soldier, and to my partner, Andrew. – Joe

Soviet Campaign ScoreAxis Campaign Score
Soviet Campaign KillsAxis Campaign Kills

Game 10 – Operation Konrad I | Game 12 – Farkasreti Cemetery

4 thoughts on “Campaign: Fortress Budapest – Game 11 – Operation Konrad III

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