September 1942 Stalingrad - Von Paulus' powerful Sixth Army has reached Stalingrad and wishes to capture this important city in the heart of the Russian Motherland.
Doing so would cut a major supply route from the oil fields around the Caspian Sea to Moscow and the north. Secondly, and politically more significant to Hitler, the capture of the city bearing Stalin's name would, it is believed, strike a decisive blow to Soviet morale all across the continent.
Defending the city is the recently formed Soviet 62nd Rifle army headed, at this time, by Lieutenant General A. I. Lopatin.
This campaign plots the progress of the 21st Panzer Grenadier Regiment, part of the 24th Panzer Division, as it assaults the outskirts to the south of the city and tries to push on through to the Volga where, it is hoped, artillery observers can throttle the supply routes of the Soviet defenders by interdicting the ferry crossings over the river.
Opposing the Germans initially are elements of the 33rd Rifle Division although in these heightened times anything and everything will be used to keep the invaders from their goals.
The campaign is designed to be pretty linear. The 21st Regiment has been assigned a narrow battle frontage and their 'slice' of Stalingrad is 5 segments deep. Success will be measured by whether they can reach the banks of the Volga (the 5th segment) and how long they can stay there.
I am trying out a new campaign movement system which I hope will provide the opposing commanders with plenty of challenging decisions that will affect the outcome of each tabletop encounter and subsequent progress after the battle .
I'm using IABSM v3 and whilst I know the general disdain that Rich has for points systems I am actually trying out a type of 'resource points' system for the campaign.
Each commander has a number of resource points he can spend to purchase units before and during a battle. The Germans will usually be given more resource points the further they progress on the table top - to simulate German HQs tendencies for reinforcing success. The Soviets will gain points for how long they can hold on to effectively 'streets' on the tabletop. Providing an overarching command decision for the commanders is the fact that after the battle is finished a follow-on assault is played out. And both sides roll dice for any unused resource points. This is designed to prevent any one side piling masses of troops onto the table - sure they are going to win that battle but they will have exhausted their reserve - and the opposition will be able to utilise their unused reserve to decide how far along the campaign map the action moves.
I also wanted to model the way in which Stalingrad chewed up some of the best troops in the Wehrmacht and so I am limiting the number of good troops that the German commander has access to. I hope to do this by giving each side a small number of core units - an IABSM company of veteran Panzergrenadiers and a veteran Pioneer platoon from the 21st Regiment plus a few other bits and pieces. I will take note of their casualties in each battle and their reduced numbers may begin to tell later on in the campaign. The Germans will be able to call on as many regular infantry platoons as they want but they will cost the same as the core troops, they will only have 1 lmg and they won't be veterans.
In a similar way the Soviets will have a small number of core troops that the will be able to call on - elements from the 13th Guards Division have been landing in recent days and there are other units that will make a showing.
So onto the first battle.
The Soviets started the game with 10 resource points. They chose two regular infantry platoons at three points each (they didn't have access to core troops in the first encounter) plus two snipers at 0.5 point each. They deployed in a forward defence with one platoon on the hill on their left and the other covering the outskirts of the city and the rachel (deep natural ditch) going into the centre.
The Germans had 12 resource points to start with. They selected two Panzergrenadier platoons at 3 points each plus two MMG teams. They had an initial three stonks which usefully hit the hill, the first Soviet squad in the forward position in the rachel and the building on which the snipers were placed.
Fortunately the effects of the stonks were minimal - indeed the snipers weren't affected at all.
The Germans sent two blinds up the Rachel (the two MMG teams). The MMGs spotted the leading Soviet squad in the rachel and generally gave it a bad time inflicting lots of shock although not may kills. (no pictures here)
Two blinds went up the centre of the table, avoiding the trenchworks on the hill. The front one was the result of a very eager 22" on 4d6 and ended up with the 1st platoon almost reaching the built up area. The blind at the rear was a dummy and Russian spotting attempts meant that the Germans got quite far forward in the centre and on their left flank with the other platoon.
The 2nd German platoon reached the edge of the city and charged the single Soviet squad there which took some casualties and shock and ran back into the built up area.
The German 1st platoon is finally spotted and begins to trade fire with the Soviets on the hill and the last infantry squad in on their left flank. The two Russian snipers have a dreadful day rolling either double 1 or double two three times in five shots - their only saving grace a pin from one shot. Maybe that stonk affected their sniper sights?
The next two pictures are of the penetration of the city by the German left flank. the Russian commander called up a platoon of infantry and a single infantry squad as reserves. When their cards arrived the platoon where put in the centre of the town to try and block the German 1st Platoon and the single Soviet squad fortunately arrived and was assigned to the extreme right flank (green blind) where their appearance prevented the Germans from capturing a third row building.
We ran out of time at that point and added up the resource points used and gained. You get back some 'dice' for the troops you have on the board who are not dead - but not as many as they cost to field. The Soviets started on 10 points, earned about an extra 4 point but spent 11 points which gave them three dice in the follow-on assault. They had 67 troops left alive which converted to another 6 dice So 9 dice in all.
The Germans started with 12 points and spent 8 and they earned two points for occupying any position in the first row (the hill or the rachel) and three points for capturing that house on their left flank so 7 dice. they had around 48 men left so another 4 dice.
The dice were rolled and the Germans ended up with a breakthrough which on the campaign map meant they reached and took section three leaving the next battle to be over section 4.
The follow-on assault is a good idea I hope but needs some work on the actually dice rolling and outcome. I may have been generous with allocating one dice for every 10 men as well. As it was both commanders have said they liked the game and are looking forward to the next instalment.