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Subject: Minsk pocket escapees rss

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olivier R
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Isn't it a bit weird that the Russian units that escape the Minks pocket can be placed anywhere on the map? Well according to the placement of units in the reserve box. It is as if they're teleporting across the map, no?

Or maybe I misundestood this rule completely.

Also what is the rationale for allowing a + 1 dice roll modifier for the remainder of the turn when a Russian units escape?
 
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Adam Starkweather
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That's the rule on where the Minsk pocket escapees can go. The +1 is for the troops that get out and join up with other units.
 
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olivier R
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Okay so the +1 modifier is only for the units that have escaped or for all the Russians?
 
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Adam Starkweather
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All Soviets.
 
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Jason Cawley
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In the course of the 1941 campaign, the Germans formed several very large pockets around Russian forces of army size and upward. Some of these were pocketed more securely than others. Understand, typically the eastern faces of the pockets were initially made by panzer forces far in advance of the German infantry, which marched on foot and dragged its artillery and forward supplies by horse drawn wagon. It took days to a week or more for German infantry formations to reach the far side of these huge pockets and defend them, relieving the motorized infantry of the mobile forces for further action farther east.

Particularly in the northern half of the front, roughly from the Pripyet marshes north, the terrain in which these pockets were formed was heavily forested. Much of the low lying area is forested marsh, left as forest precisely because of the high water table, making the land useles for agriculture. A mix of deep pine forest, marshland, and small lakes is characteristic of the whole region. Major settlements and areas of settled farmland break up this background terrain but nowhere wholely supplant it. The majority of the land area, we would describe as a wilderness.

Holding newly formed pocket containment walls hundreds of miles long through such terrain was necessarily a spotty business. What the Germans did was physically occupy the major developed routes - the railroad lines, the very few paved roads, the larger inhabited areas - and screen the rest, typically along the secondary roads. The screens were backed up by centrally placed artillery able to intervene in the forested vastness between the major positions by fire, and patrols monitored the rest.

But entire divisions-at-a-time worth of Russian forces bypassed and pocketed, simply retreated into the marshes and went partisan. Others escaped and evade by night movements through the backwoods. In the later pockets in front of Moscow in October (the mud period), sometimes entire armies were able to pull back through pocket "walls" that were walls only against a truck convoy on a major road, but had no hope of stopping men on foot hiking through the backwoods.

Well, when large groups of armed men are roving through the area that is now your own army's rear area, uncontained and unlocated, yes out of command and uncoordinated but not disarmed or any less hostile, "incidents" occur. An evading band runs across a road convoy that isn't ready for them. A supply depot set up in a town gets a visit from a rag tag battalion of hungry riflemen one night.

The Minsk pocket mechanics are meant to reflect this, and the trade off it created for the Germans. Their dilemma is how rapidly to free up the infantry divisions holding the pocket by thinning the pocket walls to artillery backed screens and wait for isolation to reduce the pocketed forces, or on the other hand to leave them denser and deliver attacks into the pocket to reduce it by active combat. If the Germans pull out nothing until turn 3 and then only 7 points worth of stuff, they can ensure that nothing gets out. But they delay their own forces' release from the pocket battle. If on the other hand they take 7 a turn, they run about a 50% risk of significant sized units evading out of the pocket by the backwoods. (33% on turn 1, then with the +1 die modifier, 17% on turn 2, etc).

And if stuff does get out, it is going to be drifting back east in groups from brigade to platoon, here and there. Running into Germans at awkward times, and eventually rallying on existing Russian formations, getting resupplied, and rebuilding cadres by incorporation of the lost personnel into new units, once they are fed and re-equipped with heavy weapons, etc.

They aren't on the map as full units because they are broken down to atoms and evading through the woods all over the map.
When the Russians counterattack while they are out there, the Germans risk their appearance on the scene in awkward places and times, when they can't afford security detachments, when they cut a retreat route, etc.

They can't operate as full units again without re-supply and re-equipping, so they appear as a mere boost to the Russian replacement stream. In the meantime, they can influence ongoing battles in the Russian's favor from time to time.
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olivier R
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Okay interesting dilemma for the Germans here indeed. That helps me picture a bit better what is happening but Barbarossa is one of my favourite period of the war so I knew fairly well what happened. The part that bothered me was how the escapees could appear hundreds of miles east of the pocket but I guess it makes sense given the time scale and the way Jason explains it.
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