“Just Passing Through” is the name of the third scenario for Counterattack, an expansion set in the World at War universe. This scenario features two formations of Americans (the A/1-8 mechanized infantry and Echo tank company) trying to sweep into the Soviet salient as it advances into France during the early summer of 1985. Played on the Blood & Bridges map, the Americans face off against the 62nd Motorized Rifle regiment in an effort to take the cities of Uberdorf and Dattenburg.
Once both of these cities are secured, the West Germans enter the map and try to take the city to the far north, Werthoven. At the same time this occurs, the Soviets get the 13th Guards Tank division (full of lots of T-80s) to try and take back any lost ground. For this reason, timing and conservation of forces is a vital issue, especially for NATO. If the Americans take Dattenberg too late, they probably won’t get Werthoven. If the US takes too many casualties while taking both of their objective cities, they won’t be able to fend off the onslaught of the 13th Guards.
The scenario setup scatters the 62nd MR among the three cities of Uberdorf, Dattenberg, and Werthoven so there aren’t many setup options here, except for where to place the HQ. Anticipating a US push on Uberdorf, which is nearest to the American initial placement, the Soviet player puts his HQ on the T-64 and infantry platoon in the southern outskirts of the city.
Again, not a lot of options here for the American player. Echo and the A/1-8 place their units in and around the city of Rahms, which lies south of a large hill.
Some initial thoughts on tactics –
For the Soviet player, this really is about delaying the Americans and inflicting punishment on them. Uberdorf starts off with few units and is pretty much a lost cause. The US player will suffer from opportunity fire on his advance so the idea is just to keep hitting at him at every turn.
The American player wants to avoid getting hit by too much opp fire so it may be a good idea not to get caught on the hillside near Rahms. The Americans might win a firefight here against Soviet units at long range but it would probably be costly. For the US player, they will attempt to use a war of quick maneuver at ground level, taking Uberdorf with infantry and then hitting Dattenberg next.
|Soviet setup on the west side of the BaB map. Americans set up to the south in and around Rahms.|
Things start off okay for the Americans with an activation by A/1-8, which moves from behind the hill near Rahms for an advance straight north to Uberdorf. Echo activates next and moves west to pour tank fire at the Soviet infantry and tanks in the city. Unfortunately, opportunity fire from the T-64 stacked with HQ in the south of the city immediately disrupts the Abrams platoon stacked with a leader.
An activation chit is pulled for the Soviet 62nd MR and the T-64 fires again, managing to finish off the Abrams/leader stack. Just to try and slow down the US advance on Uberdorf, a Soviet infantry unit is sent south into the woods near the city. It will serve as a deadly little speedbump that the US player will have to deal with before attacking Uberdorf itself.
Over to the east, the Soviets start to slowly push half of their infantry and tanks from Dattenberg towards the west to get closer shots at the Americans encroaching on Uberdorf. A Sagger infantry team and a T-64 from Werthoven start pushing their way south to the beleaguered city.
Echo goes again next and calls in DPICM on Uberdorf, with absolutely no effect. However, the Abrams stacked with the HQ does eliminate the T-64 sitting in the city and the second Abrams gets a disruption on the pesky Soviet infantry sitting in the nearby forest.
The A/1-8 moves north around the hill and deploys infantry to assault the Soviets sitting in the woods south of Uberdorf but the assault is astoundingly unsuccessful and the enemy infantry remains lodged in the forest. Another Bradley platoon moves up with its belly full of infantry ready to assault the city.
Echo fires into the Soviet infantry in the woods and the Abrams manage to reduce it. Finally, some limited progress is being made. That’s all for tank support as the US player decides it is time to take care of the infantry and tanks streaming in from the east. The HQ with two Abrams platoons moves east along the road through Rahms, hoping to cut the encroaching Russians off from their attempt at reinforcing Uberdorf.
The 62MR activates next and raises hell on the Bradleys sitting to the south of Uberdorf, successfully reducing two Bradley platoons with long range fire from Dattenberg. It is too late for the Uberdorf Soviet defenders in the city, however, as the infantry from the A/1-8 takes out the nearby Soviet HQ and infantry. Uberdorf is still not completely secured but a major portion of the defenders have been knocked out of the fight.
|A/1-8 pushes towards Uberdorf.|
|Echo moves east to cut off encroaching Soviets from Dattenberg.|
Echo gets the first activation and takes out a T-64 sitting in the west side of Dattenberg. The A/1-8 formation was in pretty good shape until the 62nd MR activated next with great rolls to check for command status. The Bradleys are absolutely peppered with shots from T-64s to the east, successfully destroying an HQ and reducing a Bradley platoon and infantry. With no one in command next activation, the A/1-8 sits in and around Uberdorf helplessly.
A/1-8 mops up around Uberdorf but is unable to dislodge the final doggedly determined defenders. End turn markers are pulled early in the turn and we move on to turn 5.
Echo moves further east to start hitting at the tanks in Dattenberg while the A/1-8 manages to eliminate the final defending units in Uberdorf. The A/1-8 formation is so battered that it can only afford to keep a single meager infantry unit to defend the city while the rest of the formation makes its way east to take Dattenberg. A Bradley sent up on the hill near Rahms is annihilated by a T-64 platoon that sneaks up on it at close range and destroys it with moving fire. At this point, the A/1-8 consists of only an HQ and three infantry platoons. Echo has lost one third of its units. The Soviets have basically cut off Echo from moving north to get at Dattenberg. Things do not look good for the Americans.
The 62nd MR moves its infantry and tanks slowly from Werthoven, menacing the US infantry occupying Uberdorf. A FASCAM minefield is called in to slow the advance a little.
|Remnants of A/1-8 after taking Uberdorf.|
The A/1-8 moves east towards Dattenberg but dares not enter open ground since two T-64 platoons are sitting in the west of the city ready to use opportunity fire on any nearby enemy infantry. Again, we get an early end to the turn here.
The A/1-8 sits on the hillside during its initial activation. All of the American artillery has been used up on the assault on Uberdorf. All they can do is wait for Echo to break through from the south and hit at the enemy tanks.
Echo goes next and manages to reduce a T-64 platoon in Dattenberg. It’s not great but it might be enough to get A/1-8 into the city.
Unfortunately, an activation by the 62nd MR messes up the plan completely. The Soviets north of Uberdorf jaunt around the FASCAM minefield and start using moving fire on the US infantry defending the city. It is ineffective. The Soviets start moving their infantry and tanks around the south of Dattenberg to surround and isolate the American tanks in Echo. The noose tightens.
|FASCAM minefields in place to slow down Sov units from Werthoven.|
The 62nd MR activates immediately and the deadly trap is sprung. Echo is disrupted by fire from a T-64 on the hillside to the west while a BTR-70 platoon somehow manages a successful assault on the Abrams in Echo, disrupting a tank platoon and knocking out the US HQ. With both American units disrupted, the Soviet HQ and two infantry units assault the American tanks, destroying one platoon.
The A/1-8 formation is unable to wait any longer from an American tank company that is clearly not coming anytime soon. The US infantry pours down from the hillside west of Dattenberg and enters the city, assaulting and destroying a Soviet T-64 tank platoon. Echo activates and all it does is disrupt a BTR-70 platoon. Highly disappointing performance from the American tanks. Without their HQ, they are out of command for the next activation.
|The Soviets about to spring a trap on Echo as it nears Dattenberg. Note A/1-8 sitting helplessly on hill to NW.|
Not much hope is left for the Americans but good things might happen if they can quickly take Dattenberg and get those West German reinforcements on the board.
A/1-8 infantry moves north to assault the sole remaining tank in Dattenberg but suffers from opportunity fire disruption before they can start to work. Unfortunately, their HQ is destroyed from the opportunity fire (when will the Americans catch a break here?) and they are out of command for the next activation.
Echo activates and desperately pushes north towards Dattenberg, using moving fire to try and destroy the infantry stacked with the 62nd MR HQ. The 62nd MR has other plans, however, and manages to keep the Americans at bay, surrounding them with light APCs and infantry. Soviet tanks in Dattenberg manage to reduce the adjacent US infantry from A/1-8. North of Uberdorf, Soviet T-64s let loose volley after volley of fire at the defending US infantry but no luck is had.
|Echo trapped on either side by Soviet units and unable to move north.|
Two end turn markers are pulled.
With Dattenberg still in the grip of the Soviets, there is little hope here for a US win. We’ll see what happens anyways. A/1-8 activates and destroys the Soviet tank platoon in the city and then races down south to claim control of most of the city. If the US tanks from Echo can make it in, there might be hope for some semblance of a respectable outcome for the American player.
Echo manages to overrun the 62nd MR infantry sitting adjacent to them but it is also destroyed in the fighting. The 62nd MR sends its tanks and infantry into Uberdorf to rub salt in the American wounds.
|End Game – Soviets take part of Uberdorf.|
Well, things turned out quite badly for the US player. That actually might be an understatement as not one of the US objectives were achieved nor were any reinforcements able to be called in. This was one of those games where poor decisions made early in the game just compounded on the American player and led to an outright disaster.
The decision to send Echo off towards the east to try and catch the Soviets heading from Dattenberg towards Uberdorf was a huge mistake. It would have been better to have kept the Abrams at long range from the tanks in Dattenberg and just eliminate them from there. The US player was absolutely wrong to split forces and leave the hapless Bradleys sitting exposed on their assault on Uberdorf. By the time the city was taken, A/1-8 was so badly damaged that it could do very little to affect the outcome of the game. Echo was trapped entirely by a small and determined Soviet force that was extremely effective at using close range fire to disrupt and assault it. The decision for the US player to stay off the hills from the start of the game was not a good one. The hill to the north of Rahms could have provided great LOS and defensive bonus against Soviet fire, especially considering that the Russians had absolutely no artillery support.
I had mixed feelings about writing up such a lop-sided report but I felt like I learned a lot from this game and I intend to apply the lessons to another run through of this scenario in the very near future.