I just recently finished your Achtung Panzer Jaeger scenario, playing German versus AI on normal. I shall attempt to give you a proper scenario review.
Some of my comments may give away elements of the scenario so if the reader has not played it and wants to do so without spoilers, I recommend they play the battle before reading further.
The map is very nicely done. There are so many dips and rises in the terrain that it is impossible to easily set your troops in the most advantageous places. You have to do some calculating as to where you think the enemy will arrive and then hope you’ve chosen well. In the case of the guns, you better hope you chose well as you are stuck with their placement. The atmosphere is well represented by the terrain and weather too.
It is always chancy trying to engage enemy armor with Marders. They are so thin-skinned that they will not last long in a slugfest. Their only hope is to hold to a good position and get the first shot in. The mix of weapons brought to the battle felt very right. Reinforcing troops were suddenly arriving as they would in a fluid situation that the battle was representing.
I felt that equipment on both sides was properly represented given the time frame and location.
Battle Instructions/Field Orders
I was a bit unsure where the enemy was supposed to arrive. I guess that was the point, because our lines were breached and the enemy was rushing around causing chaos behind my lines. I was trying to re-establish some semblance of order and blunt the Russian breakthrough. If you were trying to be vague and/or confusing to keep the player off balance, then it worked well.
I’m not a big fan of battles that begin with the enemy suddenly materializing in my line of sight. Again, I gather you were trying to simulate the enemy suddenly appearing without warning. I had moved my 37mm “door knocker” to face north and suddenly there was a T-34 staring at them from about 40 meters away from the east. Needless to say, they never got a shot off. Had I not moved their facing I am sure they would have fired several rounds but naturally the end result would have been the same. They would only have been “knocking at the door” and blown apart moments later.
The appearance of my sniper team was another mystery for me. They suddenly appeared in the open, in the LOS of a T-34. I was never able to get them into the battle – they didn’t survive for long in the open and were dispatched at close range by a Soviet AC. Again I am guessing this happened to simulate the fluidity of the battle and the possibility of the enemy showing up unexpectedly.
I took some time to tweak my forces before the battle began and was very glad I did so. The two artillery guns would have been useless in their initial placement. I found some spots for them so they actually had a hand in the battle. I might also note that the large explosions caused by their shells smacking into the sides of T-34/57s were quite gratifying.
The same goes for the Marders. I had to get down in the dirt to try and find some good positions for them. There were no perfect spots, so you had to hope your positioning was good. I lost quite a few of them as the Russians rushed in from the south and pushed through the woods.
I am hoping that the further refinements for the game will include a fix for limbered guns and AT guns. I am also not a big fan of the sudden placement of guns as reinforcements. The computer decides where they go and often they are dropped into places I wouldn’t have chosen. This is not a criticism of your battle, as you were only able to work with the limitations of the game system. The Flak 36 actually was able to engage some enemy tanks in a limited fashion, so I should be thankful about that.
That being said, I think you did a good job with the incorporation of the AT guns, with my exception being the 37mm gun mentioned several paragraphs earlier. I think the scenario needed AT guns to have the right feel.
Seeing Russian armor streaming across the battlefield always grips me in the gut. You have to hope your gunners will see them and dispatch them quickly. The Marders have pretty good range, so some of my AT gunners were taking shots in the 700 meter range, when they actually could see the enemy. Your map made that very difficult, with the trees and the terrain dips and rises, thus it was a good challenge.
I was very pleased with the battle. With some care, the German player could set up his troops with overlapping fire and deal well with the rush of armor. The AI decided that more subtlety was needed and started pushing tanks through the trees from the south. It was at this point that the really dramatic action started.
One of my Marders suddenly realized there were enemy T-70s pushing up from the south, along the road that paralleled the railway. The commander had them swing facing to anticipate the enemy, and suddenly it was too late. The T-70 raked them with fire from the flank, probably at about 40 meter range, and seconds later the crew was dead or had abandoned their gun.
This was the first I realized of the enemy pushing through the woods. I now only had one Marder in a position to cover this advance. I wasn’t sure which way to face them, as the enemy seemed to be everywhere all at once.
A T-70 now appeared at 48 meters to the left of the Marder. They fired as the Marder driver swiveled the gun to face them. The Marder crew shrugged off the hits and snap-fired their own gun. The T-70 was hit and took mobility damage. Now I watched as the seconds ticked off, wondering who would get the winning shot off. I was hoping the Marder boys would win because they should be able to reload their gun faster, being pretty much out in the open with limited upper armor. It seemed like forever.
Then the Marder fired and the T-70 was killed. The range was pretty much point blank.
I had just breathed a sigh of relief when another T-70 appeared to the right of the Marder, just slightly below the railroad tracks. Essentially they were hull down to the Marder just as the Marder would be hull down to the T-70, except that the Marder was looking down at the T-70’s flank. The Marder driver swiveled the gun to the right, and the gunner let fly with a round that apparently stunned the enemy tankers. They were not dead yet, but stationary. It was only a matter of 4-5 deadly seconds before the Marder fired again and the T-70 erupted into flames. The range for this battle was more like 44 meters.
These were essentially knife fights in the trees between armor who were lucky to get the first shots off. It was quite dramatic.
I don’t know what part the off-board artillery was supposed to play. I never saw much Soviet infantry. They were slowed a bit by my “over-run” infantry that also mysteriously appeared in the village once the main Soviet tank rush had swept by. I never used the artillery at all.
Also, I was not sure what part the command vehicles, one of them unarmed, were to play in the battle. If there was a tactical purpose for them, I am still not aware of it. Perhaps some explanation on their reason for being included would help the player understand why they were included. I didn’t want to trade them in for something else because I wasn’t sure if they were specifically intended to be in the mix. I usually only play with what the scenario designer gives me as I figure they have a reason for providing what I am given for the troop mix.
Notwithstanding the confusing parts, which might only be specifically limited to me, I enjoyed the battle. It was a good fight, and I managed a decisive victory with 79% to the AI’s 21%. It was a quick battle that lasted maybe 16 turns.
The player has to actually move some of his equipment around to be successful for this one. You can’t just take the initial placement and hope to be okay for the fight. There are too many LOS puzzles to solve and not enough equipment to cover all the gaps.
The initial sense of desperation for the German player is well simulated, with masses of well-armored enemy tanks pushing quickly across the battlefield, often from unexpected locations. Anything can happen if you let them close with your positions.
I thought it was a well-done scenario, I enjoyed the battle, it had a good historical feel to it, some very dramatic moments, and I’d recommend it. I hope that was what you were looking for as a review. Thanks for your hard work on this.