Of course, we went to the second half of the first turn where the Commissar promptly claimed his first victim. He ELRed the broken Russian squad when they refused to listen to his wonderful rhetoric. My "elite" Germans did no better in N3, refusing to budge under Sgt. Esser's tender ministrations. Ah well.
Prep Fire was both "hit and miss". (In fact, if there's a general lesson that has to be made known to new players it is this: Don't depend on Prep Fire!) Paul's squad in O7 took a PB shot at my 7-0 and three squad stack and missed. Whew again from me. Then his whole line in the neighbourhood started shooting across the street -- no effect! But his newly unveiled Gun popped a few rounds (thanks ROF!) and literally popped the head off a unit (thanks Critical Hit!) and broke the other squad. Esser was left, again, with a bunch of headless corpses under his command.
Allies Turn 1 - MPh
I think Paul sought, immediately to take advantage of Esser's very precarious position. He moved in two different squads from his immediate reserves to try and CC N3 (I think -- Paul's offered to write up an AAR from his side and I'll post it when he's finished it). Alas, I had a leader-led (9-2) HMG in M5 with LOS to N2 and O3, both hexes he would need to get to if he wanted to advance into N3 and take out Esser.
In both instances the HMG (and supporting squad at first) chewed up the Russian advance. I kept a LOT of rate. Now, my memory of this is hazy as I didn't pay attention to it at the time but Paul mentioned it later when we convened for Turn Two onwards -- Defensive First Fire where you keep ROF in your SW is not carte blanche to keep blasting away -- the key limiter is the MF expended to get to the hex. So, in at least two instances, I think, I kept ROF and fired a second/subsequent time on the same squad moving into the open ground hexes of N2 and O3. Having expended only 1MF to get to the hex I was allowed only ONE shot. Was this game changing? I'm not sure. I do recall that both squads who tried this ended up very dead. I apologized to Paul, I think some of my enthusiasm with the HMG might have "jedi mind tricked" him... To be fair we were both tired from the long turn and it was a Sunday night before a work day (and I certainly didn't do it on purpose!).
Regardless, in the end Paul couldn't get his guys into CC with Esser in N3. He would maintain a bastion of German fire from that building until his advance midgame.
The rest of the turn saw my 7-0 stack rout the guys next door in DFPh and my HMG, still maintaining ROF rout the other squads on the O-line buildings. Things were starting to get ugly...
Axis Turn Two - Start of RPh
We concluded the session by doing Turn Two's Rally Phase -- we'd know what we had going into the next turn and would have time to think about it. Here you can see that the routed O-line squads were backed up with the 9-1 into hex P5. The squad in R3 had run up into the Bread Factory and taken up the MMG left behind by the others. While the Gun was still threatening N3 with a nasty -2 acquisition counter my guys on the M-line and the 7-0 stack in O8 were making noises on the Russian flanks.
It was turning out to be a very interesting game...