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Subject: Battle on the Chir River (with lots of photos) rss

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M St
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This is a solo session, played after Chris gave me a set of counters with formations marked in colour, that makes setup and play much easier.

One of the key features is that the Russian reinforcement arrival locations are not known to the German player, so I decided to just use the "early" ones generally and without looking at the arrival zones, to minimise "preparation time" for myself when playing the other side.



I think I played the opening attack pretty badly - the Russians did not break through in the center by Turn 2, although they had encircled the garrison of Surovikino.



This is when 11Pz turns up.



Unsurprisingly, over the next two and a half days (five turns), 11Pz proceeded to stunt, then dent, then bend back the center attack. Meanwhile the Russians became stuck before Oblivskaya in the west and making slow progress in the swamps on the Don. Novomaksimovsky fell as early as Turn 3. (I may have inadvertently given them an early advantage there - took me a few turns to realise that the Russian cavalry were regiments and so non-stackable.)



By about Turn 6 (December 9, PM), it was becoming clear that the central threat had abated, with the Soviets about to be chased back over the Chir. The Soviets were closing in on the last Don crossing and German group A was slowly giving ground.



11Pz started turning back the Russian right flank, but this was not going to last, Russian reinforcements were going to turn up from the north eventually.



So by Turn 7 (December 10 AM) 11Pz sent about a regiment's worth of troops to the east to help bolster that defense. (The design notes advise against splitting them but 10 points for a river crossing is a big argument.) The Luftwaffe field division was set up in distributed fashion, but since the push on Oblivskaya was stalled and the one in the center defeated, they all marched east once released. It was already too late to bring the AT guns in position in front of the bridge though.



On Turn 9 (December 11 AM) the furthest penetrating battalions of 11Pz started falling back across the Chir given the imminent arrival of Russian reinforcements. There is no time to retake Surovikino.

The Soviets had to decide where to bring on 5 Mechanised Corps, and decided to let it support the 47 Guard Rifle division [blue] in its push for Oblivskaya, rather than attack into the teeth of 11Pz. So 11Pz left some AT guns in the center to bolster the infantry line against a resurgence of 1 Tk Corps and raced westwards.



The Soviets made a serious push for the bridge and on Turn 10 (December 11 PM) actually managed to get three units across, led by the 5 Tank Army recon platoon, though the peninsula behind it was crammed with German units retreating from 4 Mechanized Corps.


Also on Turn 10, 5 Mechanised [white] reached Oblivskaya and established a virtual encirclement of the town.



One infantry battalion and some SP guns of 11Pz made a push for Novomaksimovsky, held by a cavalry regiment. On turn 10 they actually made their way in!



However this was a really stupid move, as they now faced serious encircling attacks, and there were no other German units around to help them. They lost grievously and were kicked back out on Turn 12.

Meanwhile, an 11Pz armour/infantry stack had reached the area near the Don bridge.

On Turn 11 (December 12 AM), the first hex of Oblivskaya was taken by 47 Guard Rifle. The balance of 11Pz arrived in the vicinity, starting to attack the flank of the new attackers, to divert their attention from the village. They forced some to retreat but did not stop the attacks, and decided they were too weak to attack the tanks of 5 Mechanised head on. (The problem of diverting a regiment to the east.)



25 Tank Corps [green] attempted a major armor attack near the Don bridge on the11Pz relief forces, but that was basically blown apart by German fire. This opened the way for the Germans to actually attack back across the bridge, not retaking the hex, but causing losses to the troops holding the other side.

On Turn 12 (the last turn, December 12 PM), the second hex of Oblivskaya was taken, with the German defenders failing a morale check and being eliminated trying to escape from the encirclement (7 steps were destroyed, a serious blow).



In the center, with 11Pz out of the way, the Soviets cross the Chir again, but the major road junctions remain blocked and only one battalion of 1 Tk gets south, but its way to Sovchos 79 is blocked by a screen of AT guns.



In the east, with the tanks of 25 Tank severely reduced in strength and out of position, the German tanks on the Don launched an attack across the bridge, using the remaining forces of Group A as an anvil, and succeeded in eliminating the Soviet defenders and reestablishing contact with the main body of Group A.



Final outcome was 88:82, a narrow marginal German victory. (Might have been a substantial one if the defenders of Oblivskaya had held.) The main problem on the Soviet side was probably the slow going around the Don, which might have scored a few more points for a Soviet marginal. And I have to work on those first turn attacks. It is rather embarrassing that the Soviets never even came close to Sovchos 79.

This game remains excellent, a very compact game that nonetheless shows the mobility of a hard hitting fight and the desperation of the "fire brigade" trying to stop breakthroughs all over the map. Combat results in constant attrition and the nerve-wracking decisions whether to take the losses in the teeth or fall back and give the other side positional advantages. The system is also excellent at showing the implications of combined arms attacks (or lack of the same).

Note, since this is a long post, pls thumb the thread.
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Gregg Keizer
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M St wrote:
This game remains excellent, a very compact game that nonetheless shows the mobility of a hard hitting fight and the desperation of the "fire brigade" trying to stop breakthroughs all over the map. Combat results in constant attrition and the nerve-wracking decisions whether to take the losses in the teeth or fall back and give the other side positional advantages. The system is also excellent at showing the implications of combined arms attacks (or lack of the same).

What a terrific AAR. Thanks!

I just finished cutting the counters for 57th PANZER KORPS: The Strong Right Hook -- I butchered the Germans' and had to ask Chris to send a second set -- but your report has made me pull out the counters for 48th Panzer Korps for careful, careful cutting. Then, once I get the current off the table, put 48th Panzer Korps under the plexiglass.
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Eric Walters
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"...the art of manoeuvering armies...an art which none may master by the light of nature. but to which, if he is to attain success, a man must serve a long apprenticeship." -- G.F.R. Henderson
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Very happy to see the plethora of photos and discussion for this very fine game. As much as I also like Panzer Battles: 11th Panzer on the Chir River and Panzer Command--both great titles--they don't supersede this particular treatment of the battle. Very much enjoyed the blow-by-blow description and your analysis. Hope to see more like this on older classics such as this.
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Terry Lewis
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Excellent AAR, Markus!!!
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M St
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Thanks Terry! Eric, I agree that Panzer Command is another excellent game on the battle. For me the game that completes the troika on the Chir River battles is Winter Storm, which is the best high level operational rendition of the campaign that I've seen. I'll have to dig out my AARs of that one.
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Terry Lewis
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"But first, the children ought to be fed." -- Virginia Held (1980) from "Property, Profits, and Economic Justice"
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M St wrote:
Thanks Terry! Eric, I agree that Panzer Command is another excellent game on the battle. For me the game that completes the troika on the Chir River battles is Winter Storm, which is the best high level operational rendition of the campaign that I've seen. I'll have to dig out my AARs of that one.

Bring on those Winter Storm AARs!!
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