Here is a report of our last playtest, covering the entire campaign.
Initial placement on November 19th.
The situation is well known by the Eastern Front experts
The entire 6th Army, and part of the 4th Panzer Army are concentrated around Stalingrad in the hope of conquering the last ruins on the right bank.
To maintain the continuity of the Front, the Wehrmacht relies on its allies. With from north to south, in order of appearance, the Hungarians, the Italians, the Rumanians, and still the Rumanians.
In the other camp, the Soviet has been preparing the counterattack for months now. To the north of the city, the troops massed along the Don, on the bridgeheads wrested from the Rumanians and that the Germans tried in vain to reconquer.
To the south, the soviet is much weaker, but achieving concentration in these desolate steppes is a nightmare.
An overview of the area where the drama will be played.
Two important points to note:
1/ Certainly, the Soviet has a lot of troops, but in the end, very few Tank or Mechanized Corps. The southern pincer is particularly weak.
2/ German has no reserve, except its two weakest Panzers, the 14th and 22nd Pz., almost stuck on the front. The region of Nizhne Chirskaia is completely deserted.
- Last edited Tue Feb 5, 2019 5:09 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Tue Feb 5, 2019 4:23 pm
Little digression about the rules.
Each month is divided into four turns
Each turn takes place according to the following game sequence:
Soviet Player Game Sequence
Offensive Marker Redeployment and Placement Phase
Support Marker Acquisition and Placement Phase
Evolution of Mars Offensive Phase
Reinforcement and Replacement Phase
Axis Player Game Sequence
Stalingrad Supply Phase
Support Marker Acquisition and Placement Phase
Reinforcement and Replacement Phase
The weather is tested at the beginning of each round, except in NOVIII where the weather is automatically Snow (no consequences, the effects are already integrated in the Combat table) and Blizzard (no air support can be placed)
The heart of the game system is the management and use of support markers.
A support represents most of the time a punctual support in material (artillery, aviation, ...), but can also symbolize the action of a leader, or an event (intervention of Stalin, test of surrender, ...)
Each turn, the players draw a number of supports and can either play them or keep them.
The German player obtains his supports according to a track symbolizing the Fuhrer's Approval: the more he will cling to the ground and launch counter-attacks, and the more he will obtain supports.
Moreover, in this opus of the series, a Manstein marker present on the track minimizes the influence of the Fuhrer and enable to obtain a minimum of means.
(Yes, for the very first time in wargame history, a rumanian leader!)
On the Soviet side, supports are received mostly via the Stakva but also according to the number of 'Minor Offensive' markers on the map. When the Soviet player accumulates 10 supports in his Stavka box, he can trigger a major offensive, with devastating effects.
Soviet Turn NOVIII
To launch his major offensive Uranus, the Soviet player has a special rule: he will be able to choose 10 supports in his pool. I will not go into detail so that everyone has the pleasure of finding the optimum combination (if it exists), but the choice of the soviet player will be focused on an artillery mix (combat bonus), katyoucha (pre-fight losses) ), surprise attacks (allows to fight before the movement), armored brigades (acts as an armored unit but for the turn only), and other ...
The first shot is carried by the armored group north: 26 TK, 1 TK and 8 KK.
Thanks to a surprise attack support, these units cross the Don and pulverize the unfortunate 14th Romanian Division. The breakthrough is achieved!
Same thing in the south, where it is the first division that collapses.
During the movement phase, the Soviet tanks will rush through these two breaches even if rivers not yet frozen slow their movement.
End of the Movement phase north of Stalingrad:
End of the Movement phase south of Stalingrad:
The Soviet will now resolve the combat phase.
In the 'Roads' system, combats are solved in a traditional way, using a ratio.
The peculiarity of the system lies in the combat table. In addition to the traditional results of attrition, causing the reduction or elimination of units, a tactical result for both sides completes the table. The tactical results mostly give the defender a retreat and the possibility for the attacker to place units in exploitation, but other results add a little chaos in the battle: Engagement (additional losses for both sides) ), Reaction (allows to move a unit near the fight), etc ...
Last subtlety: elite units (marked by a star) have the option to choose their tactical result, to a certain extent.
Only Romanian units are attacked. Terribly weakened by the barrage of artillery and in particular by the katyouchas, the divisions can not resist.
On Don, south of Serfimovich, the Lascar's Group, surrounded, is removed from the map.
In the west, at the junction of the Italian and Romanian armies, the Soviet gets an unexpected breakthrough that will have serious consequences ...
End of combat phase north of Stalingrad
In the south, however, everything is not going as planned. The headquarters of the 4th Romanian army was overwhelmed by an armored brigade and a cavalry corps but managed to inflict losses. But it is especially the solid 18th Romanian division, however encircled which by its resistance, will stop the Soviet assault (no result of exploitation for this combat)
End of combat phase south of Stalingrad
Nevertheless, the Soviet is in the process of reaching its objective during its exploitation phase : the encirclement of Stalingrad.
During this phase, all units under an Exploitation marker can move half their movement points and fight again (except infantry that can either fight or move).
Soviet tanks are rushing into the breach and encircle all the 6th Army. As a bonus, in the west on the only Exploitation combat, Bokovskaia is captured, making problematic a future German defense on the Chir river.
Axis Tour NOVIII
Given the success of the Soviet offensive and the encirclement of Stalingrad, the Axis player has no choice: he declares the creation of the 'Fortress Stalingrad'.
This action triggers several consequences:
- All units in the pocket are now under a specific status (OOS-FS). They will defend themselves better at first (at the cost of a drastic reduction in their attack factor).
- An air bridge will be establish the next turn
- alert battalions are created from scratch, made up of all the men in the rear services.
Around Stalingrad, the pocket is formed, the largest possible in a first time to fix a maximum of enemy units. On the southern flank, a weakness is spotted in the Soviet line: the armored brigade in hex 1132. One step loss to eliminate and the pocket will no longer be sealed ...
On the Chir River, a front line is forming by agglomerating alert battalions, reduced Romanian divisions and a security division,
The best troops (62 ID) are placed in front of 26 TK because a Soviet breakthrough in this sector would be catastrophic.
Sector Chir River
Southern Area Stalingrad
Note: by convention, a single OOS-FS marker is placed in the pocket to indicate that all units are under this status. In the final version of the game, all 6th Army units will have a specific counter indicating that they are OOS-FS
The Axis player has a great opportunity during the combat phase. With two attacks, He can surround the armored group around Kalach. Given the supply situation, both fights are resolved at a 2/1 ratio but fortune smiles on him and the two hexes are captured.
The situation is reversed: Stalingrad is supplied again and it is the Soviet who finds himself surrounded!
The turn ends with the arrival of the first reinforcements: elements of the 6Pz and an infantry division are positioned behind the Chir.
General situation late Nov III
NOVIV Soviet Turn
Weather: Snow and Overcast
The Soviet is already preparing its future offensive and begins to store the supports received this turn.
Hundreds kilometers to the north, Operation Mars is triggered by Zhukov. Although this battle will be a terrible failure for the Soviet Marshal, the offensive will have the advantage of holding a large number of Panzer divisions.
In the game, a track allows to simulate the evolution of Mars with the final consequence of a modification of the arrival date of some reinforcements.
In this game, Mars unfolded as historically and did not influence this part of the Front.
For the soviet player, the objective of the turn is naturally to close the pocket while maintaining pressure on the Chir River.
All available units are therefore directed primarily to Stalingrad. In particular, to the great relief of the axis player, the 1st Guard Mechanized Corps, its best unit in reserve, takes the direction of the Don and will not put more pressure on the Chir.
Nevertheless, the Soviet pressure have an impact on the whole Front ...
End of the movement phase Chir river sector
End of the movement phase Stalingrad sector
The combat and exploitation phases are a formality for the Soviet, the alert battalions and the OOS units offering only a weak defense.
The Chir River line still holds more or less but this time, the Stalingrad pocket is definitely sealed. Only outside intervention can save the 6th Army.
General situation end of the Soviet tour.
Tour NOV IV German
on the German side, it's time to set up the air bridge.
In the pocket, the supply level is kept with a track from 1 to 11.
When the Fortress Stalingrad is declared, the supply level starts at 10 (11 if the pocket is not sealed). The level will decrease over turns, in three ways:
* -1 automatically if the Soviet conducts at least two attacks during his turn against OOS-FS units
* -1 automatically if Axis player attacks with OOS-FS units
* following the air bridge table.
As already written, the capabilities of the OOS-FS units decrease depending on the level of supply. For example, up to level 7, units defend with full potential. When the level reaches 1 and the German has lost both airfields, the surrender of the pocket is tested.
The Airlift Table will give two results:
- the decrease of the supply level (exceptionally, the level can increase)
- the number of Ju-52 markers available for the Axis player
The Ju-52 markers are drawn in a pool. On the back, there is an event that will be able to use the Axis player to improve the defense of its encircled units. When he receives his markers, the Axis player places them face down on the stacks of his choice. They will be revealed during the Soviet combat phase.
For this round, Axis player gets 3 Ju-52, which he places on the stacks most likely to be attacked.
Rest of the turn will consist of reforming a front line on the Chir River. Now that the surprise effect has passed, all the units can move and, by weakening the Hungarian and Italian armies, Axis player manages to bring back a few units in front of the Soviets. It's not very strong, but it still saves time to bring quality reinforcements. A daring attack against a division of the guard even allows to take a Soviet bridgehead on the Don.
On Stalingrad, the pocket contracts to offer more resistance to future Soviet assaults.
Finally, further south, a new front is formed around Kotelnikovo, with the support of survivors of the 4th Romanian army who managed to make their way through the steppe.
Chir river front
- Last edited Sat Feb 9, 2019 4:07 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sat Feb 9, 2019 4:03 pm
Tour DEC I Soviet
Weather: Snow and overcast.
The Soviet player pursues the same strategy: he farms the supports gained this turn and only places one to organize his anti-aircraft defense around the pocket.
On the Chir River, the goal will be to widen the bridgehead in 1526 and the 1 GDMK is engaged on the sector.
On Stalingrad, the noose is tightening around the encircled units. On the other hand, no troop is sent on Kotelnikovo, the Soviet being content to border the Askai River.
Chir Sector - End of the Soviet Movement Phase.
Stalingrad Sector - End of the Soviet Movement Phase.
The unhappy Romanian units can do nothing against the Soviet attacks and the bridgehead widens further. But the Soviet decides not to exploit deeply. Panzers gathered around Morozovsk urge caution ...
On Stalingrad, the Soviet captured the important hex south of Pitomnik Airport.
At the end of the turn, the 26TK is promoted to guard status and its counter is replaced by the 1GTK
General situation - end of the Soviet tour.
DEC I Axis turn
For the German player, it's time to make a first choice. He will not be able to effectively defend all the Chir.
He therefore chose to take the risk of leaving only a cavalry division in front of the Soviet bridgehead. Admittedly, the opponent will break but more or less in a vacuum.
On the other hand, on the southern part of the river, the front is firmly held by the Panzers who go up on the front line. A hex north of the Chir is even captured! The threat to Stalingrad may make the Soviet more cautious ...
In the pocket, the choice is made to abandon the entire sector bordering the Don to reduce the perimeter and thus densify the defense.
In Kotelnikovo, in the absence of opposition, the panzers cross the river ...
General situation - End of the German tour
- Last edited Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:16 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Wed Feb 13, 2019 6:15 pm
DEC II Soviet Tower
Weather: Snow and Overcast
During the support phase, the Soviet player reaches the fateful threshold: 10 supports in Stakva box. If he spends no support on this turn, he can trigger a major offensive the next turn ...
Naturally, he retains this option, but unfortunately for the Axis Player, it is not this decision that will restrain him.
Indeed, he will take advantage of the weakness of the Axis device north of the Chir to hit a blow that should destabilize the entire defense.
Not only, he will attack the weak 7th Romanian cavalry division ('red' combat), but to the north, he will mass not less than an armored army (2 TK and 1 MK) to strike at 6/1 the '9 Not 'Italian (' blue ' combat).
In spite of a good Italian resistance (1 loss on the Soviet tanks), the Soviet destroys the enemy units and especially obtains in both cases results Exploitation, allowing him to carry out his combination.
The following is unstoppable: encirclement of what remains of the 3rd Romanian Army and annihilation of the units during the exploitation phase(retreat impossible)
There is nothing left in front of the five Soviet armored corps. The opportunities for the next round are many: encircle the Italian army (red arrow), rush on Millorovo (blue), or fall back in the back of the German troops (green) ...
The only consolation for the Axis, no significant attack on Stalingrad (without using supports, it is difficult for the Soviet to be present on all fronts), which allows to maintain supply stocks.
General situation, end of the Soviet tour