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Subject: Odessa: Ride of the 7th rss

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David Murray
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Deluxe Eastern Front has arrived and due to a dearth of opponents this weekend I decided to play a solo game. I am very impressed with the bound scenario book and many of the scenarios perked my interest. I finally decided on Scenario 73 as it had lots of cavalry and one of my all-time favourite tanks the Romanian R-1 (there is an old wargaming story for this!).

The scenario uses three boards with a central river and small village, with a larger village to the South. The Romanians enter from the north. They are mainly cavalry, an R-1 tank, a couple of 37mm ATG’s and some mortars. The Soviets enter from the south again mainly cavalry, some T-37’s, HMGs, and mortars.

The victory conditions are interesting and two-fold. Firstly each side gains victory points for eliminating steps and secondly (and more interesting) the Romanians gain 5 VP for every southern town hex occupied. So the Romanians do not need to gain ‘control’ of the town hexes just ‘occupy’ them – this victory condition had a profound effect on the game, as you will see.

Comparison of the forces is also interesting, leadership and morale is pretty even. Each side’s tanks do not have AT capacity making the Romanian 37mm ATGs a valuable asset. The Soviet T-37’s are slow but the Romanians R-1 is by far the fastest thing on the battlefield. Comparison of the cavalry is also interesting; the Soviets are better armed having a ‘5’ but there range is only ‘1’. The Romanians are more lightly armed with a ‘4’ but have a better range of ‘2’.

The Game: The Soviets quickly occupied the southern town (main objective) on board two. They sent out a couple of cavalry platoons to dispute the village in the middle of the board and the T-37s took up positions just in front of the southern town to attempt to slow down the Romanian cavalry.

The Romanians sped down the road towards the middle of the board. The Romanians gained an initiative bonus on the second turn and managed to occupy the middle village before the small Soviet cavalry force could. The speed of the R-1 counted here as it swept around the advanced Soviet cavalry. After a brief exchange of gunfire the Soviets withdrew but lost a step in the process. First blood to the Romanians.

The Romanians split their forces into three. The largest force occupied the middle village and awaited the arrival of the mortars and ATGs. The smaller western force moved around the large forest to the west. The eastern force made a wide sweep towards the small hill overlooking the main town. A rash move by a T-37 saw it being charged by the Romanian cavalry, after a mutual assault the tank withdrew hastily.

When the Romanian ATGs and mortars were in position the Romanians went again on the offensive. A three pronged attack from three separate directions forced the Soviets to spread their forces thinly. The Soviets only had the mortars, 3 HMGs and the T-37s that had any range greater than 1. The Romanian 37mm ATG’s set up facing the town from the middle of the board discouraged the T-37’s from defending the town’s outer edges.

With the speed of the cavalry the defending Soviet HMGs were denied many opportunity fire chances, the Soviet mortars caused some problems for the Romanians but a leader was on hand to rush around mopping up the stragglers. The limited range of the Soviet cavalry proved decisive, the Romanians could wait outside the Soviets maximum range and cavalry charge into the town, with only one opportunity fire chance against them. Of course the Romanian cavalry had to withstand quite a few column shifts against them – but as soon as some made it through and survived the first round of assault it was then up to the Soviets to dig them out – remember the Romanians only had to ‘occupy’ a town hex for 5VPs.

The Soviets had an advantage in most of the assaults – more AFV’s, some HMGs and ‘5’ value cavalry. The Romanians however kept infiltrating the town, leaving a platoon to ‘hold’ the Soviet assault while moving deeper into the town. Towards the end of the battle the Soviets had been successful in many assaults but it was almost like stamping out fires that continually spread throughout the town – the Soviets need to be victorious in the assaults so forces concentrated in them and so they could not afford to hedge in all the assault hexes to stop the spread of Romanian units.

Final VP score: Romanian 38 – Soviet 17.

An interesting scenario with replay value. It could be interesting to see if the Soviets could halt the Romanians before they reached the main town – but I doubt it. There is a river in the middle of the board, however it is equal-distances from both start lines so there is no guarantee the Soviets would make it before the Romanians. The Soviets have an advantage with their tanks but outside the town they are too easily bypassed by the speed of the horses and their firepower is not great.
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