Another officer rouses Specht from his slumber, roughly shaking the slumbering soldier into wakefulness. The Soviet advance has encroached on the rear guard again and every man is needed to repulse the latest attack.
- Every character adds +2 ammunition to their profile.
Next, we roll to determine the opposition for the battle:
- Some local partisans are screening the flanks of the Soviet advance. Whipped into a frenzy by propaganda, these fanatics make up for their lack of training with sheer aggression.
- 2x models with pistols
- 3x models with bolt action rifles
- 1x model with a shotgun
The mission is:
- The Soviets are using a fragile pontoon bridge to span a fast-flowing river. Since the siege broke, a steady stream of regulars have poured over the narrow crossing in pursuit of the fleeing Germans. Outstripped by the main force, the bridge is now guarded by a handful of bored-looking partisans. Specht’s force must penetrate the enemy lines and destroy the bridge to take the pressure off the retreat column.
A lazy creek winds its way through furrowed fields, flanked by stands of emaciated pine trees. Huge ruts mark the passage of hundreds of vehicles, with an innumerable sea of footprints chewing up the track.
The pontoon bridge is painted olive drab, spattered with thick black mud and daubed with red stars. Someone has hammered a signpost pointing the way to Berlin into the ground beside the makeshift crossing.
Smoke billows from a rude shelter erected on the far bank, a fur-capped head protruding from the doorway, flicking cigarette ash into the murky water.
The remaining partisans carve listless patrols back and forth across the muddy landscape, unaware of the German veterans crawling towards them.
With the stealth rules in play at the start of this battle, our protagonists take the opportunity to set up the perfect ambush. One hapless sentry is quickly flattened by a blow from Bretz’s entrenching tool, another silenced with a single blow from Kraus’ meaty fist.
Both corpses are swiftly looted for their provisions, with Bretz turning up a silver brooch in one partisan’s ammunition belt.
With the two sentries on the near side of the creek, the Germans fan out through the trees, moving in a ragged line anchored by Kraus with the MG42.
A rifleman spots the bumbling Hummel and snaps off a shot with his rusty Mosin, narrowly missing the former clerk and sending him scurrying for cover.
Saller and Kraus lay down a barrage of covering fire as Bretz and Specht scuttle out onto the pontoon bridge. A stick grenade traces a lazy arc into the guard hut, eviscerating the partisan sheltering inside.
With the demolition charge planted, the squad withdraws in a good order, leaving a few shocked survivors on the far side of the bank.
- Everyone gains +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
- +1 Loot for Bretz’s successful search roll.
- +1 Provision for Kraus’ 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.
We successfully completed the mission without taking any casualties or having anyone flee the battlefield.
Skipping straight to the morale phase we roll 4 positive morale dice, scoring 2 successes. We reduce the stress of all characters by 2.
Buoyed by his continued survival and newly-discovered martial prowess, Saller finds new reserves of courage. He permanently increases his constitution by 1 and loses 2 exhaustion.
Another patrol heads out to screen the retreat column, and are happy to trade their provisions for the squad’s excess ammunition. Tucking into another meal of iron rations, our protagonists refresh themselves ready for their next encounter.
As night sets in, the cold frosts close around the makeshift camp. Everyone rolls on the General Winter table.
- While attempting to piss into a flooded ditch, Specht slips on the ice and plunges into the water. Soaked to the skin, he finds it impossible to get warm and catches hypothermia.
- He is critically injured for 6 hours and permanently injured for the remainder of the campaign – he may not dash in battles, gains +1 additional exhaustion for participating in battles, and now the party must roll 4d10 for distance travelled and pick the lowest 3 results.
- Additionally, he must roll on the Lost Item table and loses 1 loot as a result.
- A rime of frost crusts across Bretz’s heavy overcoat, sapping his strength. He gains +1 exhaustion.
- Despite his heavy overcoat, Kraus is chilled to the bone and gains +1 exhaustion.
- The biting wind cuts Saller to the bone and he gains +1 exhaustion.
- Hummel was the one who plunged into the flooded ditch to rescue Specht, and frostbite quickly sets in. He is critically injured for 2 hours, is permanently injured for the remainder of the campaign. Additionally, he must roll on the Permanently Injury table.
The squad reduces the distance it travels by -1, on top of the penalty imposed by Specht.
Hummel’s permanent injury is that he loses his leg. He may not move in battles unless another character is in base contact to carry him.
For one of our player actions, we’re going to leave Hummel behind. His debilitating injury and cowardice has become a liability to the group’s survival. We roll 1 negative morale dice and score a success, adding 1 Stress to every other character.
Abandoning the wounded man at the roadside, Bretz heads back down the column in search of a new recruit. It costs 1 loot to recruit a new party member.
He returns to the campfire accompanied by the bespectacled Unteroffizier Artur Konigsmann. The new recruit was snatched away from a lucrative teaching position at a prestigious school. Despite himself, he thrived – the authoritative personality that made him a successful schoolmaster translated well into bossing landsers around the parade ground.
Konigsmann found himself less suited to the rigours of combat, and spent most of the siege malingering in the rear areas.
We reduce Konigsmann’s starting resources by 3 for each turn we’ve played so far.
Hampered by the shivering Specht, the group only manages to travel 12km in 6 hours.
We’ve travelled 42km so far, and 14 hours have passed since the siege lines collapsed.