As our erstwhile comrades trudge down the road, Specht is collared by an exhausted major and a couple of feldgendarms and thrust back in the direction of the advancing Soviets. The squad has been press-ganged.
- Every character adds +2 ammunition to their profile.
Rolling to determine the opposition for this ad-hoc foray, we get:
- Once again, we’re facing a band of marauding soviet regulars, driven on by a fanatical hatred of the fascist despoilers.
Once again turning to the Soviet force table, we determine the exact opposition:
- 3 models with bolt action rifles.
- 1 model with a submachine gun.
- 1 model with a sniper rifle.
Lastly, we roll 1d100 to determine the mission type:
- Destroy; Carelessly squandered in a poorly conceived counter attack, the punctured hull of a Tiger tank sits abandoned amidst rotting wheat and bloated cattle. The squad is tasked with destroying it before the Soviets can tow it away for study.
Our battlefield is the shell-scarred ruins of a village. Fenced enclosures and stands of trees surround the skeletal frames of burned out houses. The Tiger sits at a crossroads, whitewash blackened by flames and scarred by shell strikes. The upturned remains of a hanomag blocks the road in one direction, a makeshift barricade of farm machinery blocking the other.
The Soviet forces are already dug in around the village, with the sniper scanning the surrounding area from a makeshift fighting platform in a tall fir tree.
Open fields provide scant cover, and the squad ends up darting between the carcasses of dead cattle and crawling down drainage ditches in an effort to remain hidden from the prying Soviets.
Unfortunately, very little remains hidden from the sharp-eyed female sniper, who honed her trade during the vicious city-fighting around Leningrad. Her first shot knocks Bretz off his feet, scattering the remainder of the squad.
Rifle fire from behind the village barricade puts Hummel to flight, leaving Kraus cursing as he struggles to maneuver the cumbersome MG42 into position.
Dropping to a knee, Specht hauls Bretz to his feet and the pair of veterans lead the charge into the centre of the village. The Soviet squad leader is cut in half by the sawing MG42, the attending riflemen falling back towards the sniper’s nest.
Hummel, unchecked in his panicked flight, leaves the combat area and staggers back to towards the retreat column.
While attempting to outflank the sniper and her attending infantry, Saller stumbles upon a well-hidden trapdoor in the floor of a mostly-intact cottage, yielding some valuable provisions.
Bretz and Specht toss the makeshift demolition charges into the Tiger’s open hatches and retire back towards the cratered fields. Saller and Kraus follow close behind, laying down covering fire from rifle and machine gun.
- Everyone gains +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
- Bretz and Specht gain +1 stress for being under fire for 2 consecutive turns.
- Saller, Specht, Kraus and Hummel gain +1 stress for watching a friendly model go out of action.
- +1 Provision for Saller’s successful search roll.
- Specht and Kraus lose -2 ammunition for firing their automatic weapons.
- Bretz, Hummel and Saller lose -1 ammunition for firing their rifles.
Bretz must roll 1d100 on the Injury table for going out of action during the battle. He suffers a light wound, becoming critically injured for 1 hour and gaining +1 exhaustion.
Even during this shambolic retreat, some semblance of military discipline must be maintained. For his flight, Hummel must roll 1d10 on the Battlefield Discipline table. By some minor miracle, he manages to talk his way out of the deserter’s noose and gains +1 stress.
We roll 3 positive morale dice for successfully destroying the Tiger, scoring 2 successes and reducing the stress of every character by 2. This lucky roll saves several members of the squad from a nervous breakdown.
We roll 1 negative morale dice for Bretz’s encounter with the sniper. This does not generate any additional effects.
Sheltering in the lee of a stationary Maultier tractor, Kraus uncovers a careworn photograph and a few tattered scraps of paper, the last traces of any communication from his family back in Berlin. He reduces his stress by 2.
As another patrol detaches from the shambling column of frozen soldiers, the squad trades their excess ammunition for scraps of horse meat and tinned iron rations to replenish their larder.
With their next meal secure, the squad tucks in with gusto, lending strength to frozen limbs and restoring shattered spirits.
Next, all characters must roll on the General Winter table; Specht, Bretz and Kraus all roll 2d10 and pick the best result because of their winter clothing.
- Specht is overcome by uncontrollable shivering – he gains +1 exhaustion and may only roll Shock dice in the next battle.
- A rime of frost crusts across Bretz’s heavy overcoat, sapping his strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.
- Kraus, burdened by machine gun and ammunition, repeatedly slips and falls, soaking him to the skin. He gains +1 exhaustion.
- The fingers on Saller’s left hand go completely numb and start to blacken at the tip. He is critically injured for 2 hours.
- Hummel is overcome by uncontrollable shivering – he gains +1 exhaustion and may only roll Shock dice in the next battle.
We’ve had a pretty lucky turn – following the battle, most of the squad was on the verge of total collapse from exhaustion or stress but a good morale roll and some savvy bartering have paid dividends.
We don’t need to take any additional actions this turn – the squad is fully equipped and no-one is slowing the group down.
We’re not going to allow anyone to lay up this turn and take the full squad into the next battle.
The squad advances by 16km – for a total of 30km so far. We’re a fifth of the way there.
5 hours pass. Our protagonists have been on the go for 8 hours.