Patch came over yesterday, and we played the fourth scenario from Festung Budapest: “HKL 259”.

It’s a fairly small, seven-turn scenario on the southern portion of the NW map (as opposed to the northern portion that the first three deal with). This causes a dramatic change in the nature of the terrain: gone are the multi-hex stone buildings, railway embankment and long broad streets; this area is entirely occupied by a five-level hill with its crest at the edge of the map, and sloping down towards the city, with fairly dense residential buildup. It is now January 24th, and the Soviets have captured a series of hills outside the city, and are now attacking to take this final hill at the edge of Buda. They have seven turns in which to exit 12 EVP of the east edge, some 14 hexes away. They have fourteen good squads (and a pair of HS), but no real support (three LMGs and a DC). The Germans have nine SS squads (of varying quality), with a few entrenchments, and another three Hungarian squads to help out. No vehicles or Guns on either side.

Playing havoc with the situation is Ground Snow, who’s major effect here is that moving up or down a slope costs an extra MF. The Axis is also under level 3 ammunition shortage, which causes unit replacement on 11 or 12, and causes the few MGs the Axis have (four, total) to breakdown easier.

I took the defending Axis, since Patch had the Axis for the last two scenarios, and it allowed me to set up while waiting for Patch to arrive. Thanks to the all-new terrain, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I eventually centered my plan around a couple positions that could see down the lateral roads, and putting MGs in the upper levels of a couple prominent buildings so they could reach up the slope easier. This was easier to do on the north-side of the map, so I spent some thought worrying about a rush down the south edge. That side has the problem of taking longer to get to cover, but there’s not very many stone buildings for the Axis to hole up in, and the east edge is still one level higher, meaning in theory it is shorter in MFs to get to (though you’d have to bypass a lot of buildings).

My main theory was about two lines of initial defense, and I’d move one side’s defenses over once I knew where Patch was coming in. I used foxholes near the front line defense, figuring that the limited occupancy would keep the Soviets from being too annoying with them. A 658 went in U36 where he could fire down the road if Patch came in the south, and he could rout below the crest line if he came in the north. S34 got a LMG in the second level, and T31 the MMG. The main Hungarian stack ended up entrenched behind a hedge in DD34, but that was my insurance that Patch couldn’t get a free run going straight down the edge of the map.

I had just finished placing all my concealment markers about the time Patch arrived, so that worked well. I figured out the mines (I had forgotten about them) while Patch was sorting out his troops, putting them in T27 and U27 as a last-ditch defense, as they were the only exit hexes with no building for me to hole up in, or road to force me to show where the mines were.

Setup and Russian entry.

Patch came in mostly along the north end of the map, with one strong group that came in on the very top of the hill, and stayed there, trying to find good shots down the slopes and making sure I didn’t pull everything off of the south end to reinforce the defenses. His entry had trouble with my hot dice however, and I managed to break about three squads.

The next couple of turns were largely the same. The Soviets were pushing forward, and got a scary number of troops into the first group of stone buildings, but were having trouble pressing into my main first line of defense, with a constant stream of broken units to deal with. I was having more trouble moving units across the map than I anticipated, so my main line of defense was still about my only line of defense. I was really worried that one or two good rolls from Patch (especially helped by the 9-2) could allow him to just start running for the exit with no way for me to stop it.

My Sniper was fairly active, going off almost once every turn. The first three times hit his Sniper, knocking it out completely on the third one. However, the Ammo Shortage gave me a lot of trouble. I managed to lose one LMG outright, and the other and the MMG malfunctioned fairly early, only to be knocked out on the first repair roll. The Hungarian LMG also malfunctioned, but was still in that state at the end of the game. Also, I had about 3-4 squads reduce in quality due to ammo shortage, and a Hungarian conscript squad Disrupted due to it. Thankfully, there was a Soviet squad next door, so No Quarter sent him racing back to the Hungarian 7-0, who actually managed to rally him.

Patch continued grinding his way forward, and it was a race the entire afternoon to see which gave out first, my defensive line, or the Soviet thrust. We had a pair of CCs in U33 and V33 at one point. They lasted a couple player turns (surprising with HtH CC…), and I did better than I probably should have.

Things more or less ended up with Patch trying to cross the Hieronymi ut, while I had managed to line up a fair chunk of my troops to be able to fire down the street from a distance. He got across with a decent number of squads, but not really enough. Time was becoming tighter and tighter as I kept him tied up at a slow advance when disaster struck the Russians. My Sniper activated for the fourth time and killed his 9-2 after yahtzeeing the RS roll. The subsequent Sniper check did not get the 458+DC that was with him, but the 2LLMC broke him.

We went another turn, as Patch made one last attempt to get through my defenses and into range of the goal line. Fairly early on, I broke a squad and dropped his available GO VPs down to 11. There were a decent number of broken units around, but they weren’t going to be able to make it at this point, so Patch conceded.

Patch had a rough time of it all day, and certainly he felt like he was behind where he needed to be the entire way. I’m not sure just went wrong or right, though I will say, that my dice were especially hot during the first turn or two, when the Russians are still crossing the open ground, and so it was especially effective. I think he could have pushed into my positions a bit more aggressively, though I was able to lay down a fair chunk of defensive firepower.

Turn 2

Turn 4

Going into final MPh.