Blitzfreeze Campaign Walkthrough Pt. 3

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.

We’re facing:

  • 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.

Resource gains/losses:

  • 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.

Blitzfreeze Campaign Walkthrough Pt. 2

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.

Resource gains/losses:

  • 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.

Blitzfreeze updated!

Just a quick one – made a few minimal changes to Blitzfreeze.

I’ve added the panzerfaust for tank/bunker-busting and some panzerschokolade to provide a further element of risk/reward during play. These can all be acquired through campaign events.

Additionally, the name table has been re-worked to make finding a first and second name a lot easier – there’s a possible 2,500 combinations.

Pick the game up here.

Barge Busters

Until war came, PT’s in the U.S. Navy were an untried type. They had never met the test of action, and no standard doctrine for their employment had been established. But by the end of January, 1942, Rear Adm. Francis W. Rockwell, Commandant of the 16th Naval District, was able to write from Corregidor, “These boats are proving their worth in operations here, having sunk two ships of three to five thousand tons and three landing boats.”

These boats did prove their worth: the Navy built more of them. On December 7, 1941, there were 29 PT’s; on December 7, 1943, there were more than 29 squadrons.

PT’s met the Tokyo Express at Guadalcanal. They cut enemy barge supply lines in the upper Solomons and along the New Guinea coast. They torpedoed German cargo lighters in the Mediterranean, and overcame E-boats in gunnery duels in the English Channel.

They contributed to the rout of Japanese task forces in the Battle of Surigao Strait, and successfully countered vicious Kamikaze attacks at Mindoro.

Under cover of darkness they freely landed agents, scouts, and reconnaissance parties throughout the Solomons, New Guinea, and the Philippines, and on the coasts of France and Italy.

PT’s were in more frequent contact with the enemy, and at closer range, than any other type of surface craft. They specialized in close-range, close-to-shore attack, and everywhere demonstrated that they could hurt the enemy with proportionately small damage to themselves. At Close Quarters – Captain R J Bulkley Jr, USNR (Ret)

Barge Busters brings these naval knife-fighters to the tabletop, pitting hard-nosed skippers against shrieking kamikazes and lumbering sampans.

Players will be able to customize the loadouts of their PT squadron, then lead them into battle against Japanese naval vessels, aircraft and ground targets.

 

 

Blitzfreeze Campaign Walkthrough

This post follows on from the previous post on character creation.

Before beginning our first battle, we must roll to discover what kind of assignment it is. Rolling 1d10 we get:

  • A chance encounter; figures that flee during this battle run the risk of getting lost in the wastes.

Next we must find out who we’re fighting against. Rolling another 1d10, we discover that:

  • We’re fighting a band of regular Soviet infantrymen, obviously staked out in ambush to engage any Germans that should come along.

Using the Soviet force table in the Five Men in Normandy core book, we determine the exact composition of our ambushers by rolling 3d100.

  • 1 model with a Tokarev pistol.
  • 3 models with bolt action rifles.
  • 1 model with a DP-28 LMG.

Finally, we must decide on the mission type by rolling a final d100.

  • Scout; our unlikely protagonists are forging ahead of the main retreat column, trying to find a safe path through the snows. Now ambushed by the Bolsheviks, they must get the lay of the land and retreat before more Soviets close in.

Our battlefield is a windswept hilltop, ringed by thick pine trees and snarled with thickets of bramble. A cart track blazes a trail through the undergrowth, overlooked by a single rough-hewn observation post.

The choking terrain screens much of the early movement, as our heroes fan out through the wood while the Soviets dig in around the watchtower, sticking close to their machine gun’s devastating firepower.

With Hummel in tow, Bretz manages to get within spitting distance of one objective, before pitching a molotov cocktail into the watchtower and scuttling back into the undergrowth.

As the log tower catches like an autumn bonfire, Kraus riddles the fleeing Soviets with bullets, filling the air with the sound of tearing calico and the stink of cordite.

Specht and Saller lead the charge on the final objective, with our heroic oberleutnant catching a bullet for his trouble.

With the Soviets fleeing in disarray, the squad picks up its wounded, unsuccessfully scrounges for ammunition and quits the field in good order.

Resource gains/losses:

  • Everyone gains +1 stress and exhaustion for participating in the battle.
  • Saller gains +1 exhaustion for failing a search roll.
  • Bretz and Hummel gain +1 stress for being under fire for 2 consecutive turns.
  • Specht and Kraus lose -2 ammunition for firing their automatic weapons.
  • Bretz, Hummel and Saller lose -1 ammunition for firing their rifles.

Next, Specht must roll 1d100 on the Injury table for going out of action during the battle. He suffers a light wound. He is critically injured for 2 hours and gains +1 exhaustion, pushing him over his constitution threshold.

If this cannot be reduced, he will collapse and be permanently removed from the campaign.

For successfully completing the mission we roll 3 positive morale dice, with two successful results, increasing our morale by 2 and reducing the stress of all characters by -2.

For taking a casualty, we roll 1 negative morale dice. The roll does not generate any additional effects.

Our campaign event is Scavenging Wildlife – while listlessly wandering in the wake of the party, Kraus is set upon by a pack of wild dogs who tear into his pack and devour the dried horse meat he had been saving for dinner. He loses 2 provisions, taking him to 1

Going into the barter phase, we need to take stock of our situation. The whole squad is dangerously low on ammunition and provisions, but flush with loot.

The squad pools their mismatched collections of watches, candlesticks and silverware and sends the dour Kraus down the line to trade for ammunition.   

With their pouches and packs stuffed full of cartridges, the party settles down to consume the rest of their meagre rations, leaving with scant left for the rest of the journey.

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.
  • Bretz’s fingers and toes begin to blacken – he is Critically Injured for the next 2 hours.
  • Despite his heavy overcoat, Kraus is chilled to the bone and gains +1 exhaustion.
  • Saller’s light field jacket and makeshift cardboard boots are no match for the insidious cold. He gains +1 exhaustion.
  • Hummel is overcome by uncontrollable shivering – he gains +1 exhaustion and may only roll Shock dice in the next battle.

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 group advances 13km along the trail to Narva and 3 hours pass.

Pick up Blitzfreeze on WargameVault.

Blitzfreeze Character Creation

Blitzfreeze campaigns take place amidst the shambolic retreat from the siege lines around Leningrad. Players control a group of stragglers, making up the very last elements of the German rearguard.

The supplement makes some modifications to the character creation from Five Men in Normandy, allowing players to create a disparate band of desperate men to lead through the 150km trek back to the Panther line at Narva.

We’ll run through the character creation to illustrate the personalities that can be generated.

The supplement recommends creating five characters to start off with.

The first step is to select a battlefield role for each man. Rolling 5d100 we get:

  • A Pioneer
  • A Clerk
  • An Officer
  • A Driver
  • A Machine Gunner

Next, we have to establish what each man was getting up to during the lengthy siege around Leningrad.

Rolling 5d10 again, we have:

  • The pioneer was caught up in the thickest fighting, as befits his role as a combat engineer.
  • The clerk spent most of his time in the stockade awaiting court martial, perhaps for falling foul of a senior officer.
  • The officer, like the pioneer, saw more than his fair share of the fighting, scrapping with the Soviets over every inch of rubble-strewn streets.
  • The driver spent his time malingering in the rear area, doing his best to keep as far away from the shooting as possible.
  • The machine gunner was assigned to headquarters, spending most of his time behind a sandbagged emplacement, polishing his weapon.

After determining what our unlikely protagonists were doing just prior to the rout, we have to figure out what they got up to before joining the army.

Rolling 5d100, we get:

  • Our pioneer had a successful career in the landespolizei, earning distinction in the street battles against communist rioters during the depression.
  • Our clerk was a senior gamekeeper on a country estate, spending more of his time managing larders and storehouses than pursuing poachers.
  • Our officer was plucked from a Berlin jail, but distinguished himself during Operation Barbarossa and swiftly rose through the ranks to the position of junior officer.
  • Our driver was a successful folk musician, who spent most of his time touring Bavarian beer halls with his trombone.
  • Our machine gunner fought alongside the alter kampfer in the SA, cracking bolshevik skulls with fist and truncheon. Like many of his comrades, he was absorbed into the Wehrmacht after the Night of the Long Knives.

Finally, we need to add some personality to our soldiers. Rolling 5d100 again, we get:

  • The pioneer is a cheerful soul, unhindered by the horrors he has witnessed during the siege.
  • The clerk is particularly unruly, a trait that propelled him straight into the stockade.
  • The officer is a realist capable of adapting to even the most trying circumstances.
  • The driver is exceptionally courteous to all, quick to ingratiate himself for any perceived personal gain.
  • The machine gunner is devoted to the fascist cause, whipped into a state of fanaticism by state propaganda.

With all the rolling done, all that remains is to attach names and ranks to our crew and lead them out into the frozen hellscape.

In command of our understrength squad is Oberleutnant Eberhard Specht, a decorated officer commended for his dependability under fire and his actions during the bitter fighting in the Russian campaign.

His nominal second in command is Pionier Willy Bretz, the cheerful policeman turned combat engineer who distinguished himself in the house-to-house fighting across Leningrad.

Rounding out the trio of combat arms personnel is Gefreiter Hannes Kraus, a fanatical ex-SA member who wants nothing more than to mow down bolshevik scum with his MG42.

The first of the tag-alongs from the rear areas is Kraftfahrer Knut Saller, a truck driver who spent most of the siege inventing assignments to take him as far away from the combat zone as possible.

The last member of this unlucky band is Soldat Laurenz Hummel, rescued from the stockade by Pionier Bretz Laurenz joined the army as a typist and telephone operator. He was caught trading supplies to peasants in the area around Leningrad and swiftly demoted and imprisoned. 

Before the campaign begins, we need to generate 3 non-player characters that may provide assignments and assistance to our merry band. Rolling 3d100, we get:

  • An infantry officer; likely the most senior ranking officer in this portion of the rearguard.
  • An SS officer; potentially engaging in anti-partisan operations, or simply fleeing like everyone else.
  • A fascist partisan; perhaps a local turncoat engaged by the army as a guide through the frozen wasteland.