in 'Panzer Grenadier: Eastern Front'
Scenario #5: 'The Crossing
By Doug McNair
Having just completed a set of tactics articles
on the “First Day” battle scenarios
in our War of the States: Gettysburg
and Chickamauga and Chattanooga games,
it seems appropriate that my first article
Grenadier: Eastern Front should analyze
a battle that took place on the first day
of Hitler’s attack on Soviet Russia.
Scenario #5: “The Crossing at Alytus”
starts on the afternoon of June 22nd, 1941,
and depicts the Soviet 5th Tank Division’s
attempt to block 7th Panzer Division’s
advance from its bridgehead on the Neiman
River at Alytus, Lithuania. The sturdy bridge
at Alytus had withstood Soviet demolition
charges, and the Germans needed to clear the
Soviets from the area so they could use the
bridge to speed their troops and supply lines
across the river and toward Mother Russia.
The scenario starts at 1515 hours and runs
for 36 turns, with visibility decreasing after
turn 1945. It is played on four boards set
up in a vertically oriented rectangle, with
boards 7 (upright) and 1 (inverted) placed
left-to-right north of boards 3 and 5 (both
upright). The bridge on Board 7 has been destroyed
while the bridge on Board 3 east of the town
(Alytus) has not.
The Germans start on the west bank of the
river on Board 3 while the Soviets may set
up anywhere on boards 1 and 5 to the east,
no more than two units per hex. At the game’s
start the Soviets have a two-to-one numerical
advantage in infantry-type units and nearly
that in tanks, and the Germans have no artillery
support. However, German morale is 8 to the
Soviets’ 7, the Germans have heavy air
support (they get to draw two air units each
turn while visibility is eight hexes or more),
and they receive six more tank platoons as
reinforcements on the first turn in which
they roll a 5 or 6 on one die.
The German objective is to have eliminated
twice as many Soviet steps at game’s
end as German steps eliminated (tanks count
double, trucks and prime movers don’t
count). Any other result is a Soviet victory.
The Soviets have numerical superiority and
need only keep their troops alive to win,
so they can start off using a “Come
and get me!” strategy, setting up their
units in limiting terrain so they’re
concealed and can get the first shot on the
The Soviet 45mm anti-tank guns and T26 tanks
should set up in forward, adjacent hexes so
they can activate all at once and hit the
German Pz38t tanks with devastating fire before
they can fire back. They should also set up
in more than one location on opposite sides
of the German line of approach so they can
get crossfire bonuses on the German tanks.
Each setup location should have plenty of
infantry support so the Germans will have
to either split their forces or concentrate
on one location at a time, giving the Soviets
a shot at flanking attacks. But the Soviet
player must be careful not to charge out of
his defensive positions until German units
have been weakened by Soviet fire. Charging
full-strength, higher-morale German units
is a very risky business, and the Soviets
need to be prepared to call off the attack
and retreat back to cover if the first rush
doesn’t go well.
The Germans must act aggressively to win
in this scenario, but they must also be very
careful not to waltz into Soviet traps or
otherwise risk being outflanked and overrun
by Urrah charges.
should therefore start by crossing the river
and advancing eastward with caution, letting
their air support pound the Soviet position
for a few turns. They should keep their forces
together and pick one Soviet position to assault,
and not attack it until the German tank reinforcements
are on the board and due to cross the river
At that point, the German player should advance
on the Soviet position with his infantry,
keeping his tanks outside Soviet anti-tank
fire range. He should let the infantry draw
fire from the Soviet tanks there (thus allowing
the German tanks to spot them), then use the
panzers’ superior AT fire range to take
out the Soviet tanks before the German infantry
moves in to assault the lower-morale Soviet
infantry. The Germans should repeat this process
with each Soviet position, hitting one after
another while guarding their flanks against
counterattacks from other Soviet positions.
Here’s what happened in a recent game.
The Soviets set up their forces on Board
5 around the southern road. They concentrate
forces in the woods north of the road, in
a field just north of the road to the east,
and on a hill just south of the road near
the field. This gives all Soviet units a wide
open field of fire on the advancing Germans,
and keeps them close enough to each other
that they can support each other with AT crossfire
and Urrah charges at the German flanks. They
have six infantry leaders and four tank leaders,
which is just barely enough to lead their
The Germans set up just west of the river,
in and around Alytus. The INF, HMG and ENG
platoons set up on and around the road east
of town, keeping off the trucks for fear of
long-range Russian AT fire. The tanks and
armored cars set up behind them in town and
will stay behind them as the German column
advances and waits for its reinforcements
to arrive. The 37mm AT gun sets up on the
east end of town to cover the German rear
against Soviet tanks and armored cars moving
down the road from the east.
Turn 1 — 1515 Hours
The German player starts with an initiative
of 4 while the Russians have a 2. On the first
initiative roll, both players roll a natural
3, meaning a Random Event occurs. The players
roll on the Random Events table and get a
5, meaning German units in one hex to take
a second action this turn. This is great news
because it allows the two HMG platoons in
the lead to advance close enough to the Soviets
to fire on them long-range next turn.
The players roll for initiative again and
the German player wins by one activation.
First he rolls to see if his armored reinforcements
show up, but he rolls a 4 and they don’t.
He then draws his two aircraft units for the
turn and gets one flight each of He111 and
Bf109 aircraft, both of which have relatively
weak ground-attack capability. He sends both
of them to strike the Soviet 45mm AT gun position
in the woods north of the road . . . and rolls
a 1 and a 2, meaning both miss their target!
The major commanding the column decides not
to include this bad omen in his action report.
The very weak Soviet offboard artillery
(it has a fire strength of 8) misses the German
infantry west of the bridge, and then the
entire German column (except for the armored
cars in the rear) activates through subordinate
activation and crosses the bridge. The INF,
ENG and panzer platoons end up bunched around
the bridge, with the panzers just outside
the range of the Soviet 45mm AT gun in the
woods north of the road.
The HMGs and a lieutenant then take their
second action to move farther eastward. They
end up where a Soviet T26 in the woods north
of the road can fire on them but where they
can fire on the two Soviet HMGs there and
not be hit by them in return. The T26 declines
to use opportunity fire on them, not wanting
to expose itself to AT fire from the panzers
which are too far away for the T26 to answer.
Soviet mortars in the hills to the east
open fire on the German HMGs but miss. The
Germans send the armored cars to join the
37mm AT gun in the east part of town, covering
the German rear and the bridge. The Soviets
units in the fields and hills to the east
start digging-in, and the turn ends.
Both players roll a natural 2 for initiative
and another random event occurs. The roll
on the Random Events Table is a 7, yielding
one more aircraft unit for the Germans this
turn. The Germans win initiative by one activation,
and also roll a 5, meaning their armored reinforcements
show up. Their air support this turn is one
flight each of Stukas, Hs129s and Bf110s,
which all attack the woods north of the road.
The Stukas miss the two Soviet HMG platoons,
but the other aircraft hit the Soviet 45mm
AT gun position, rolling a 2 and destroying
the AT gun (one Soviet step loss) and forcing
a morale check on the T26 tank unit with it
(it makes morale).
Soviet mortar fire disrupts the two German
HMGs and their Lieutenant south of the woods,
but they immediately recover morale. The Soviets
pass, and the Germans bring in their tank
reinforcements, which start moving south toward
Alytus from the road on Board 7 to the north.
Soviet offboard artillery is ineffective on
the HMGs, and then the German INF and ENG
platoons move northeast from the bridge toward
the woods to take the pressure off the HMGs.
The Soviets in the fields east to the east
finish digging in, then the panzers by the
bridge move north (now that the 45mm AT gun
is gone) and put themselves just outside the
normal T26 AT fire range of four hexes. The
Soviets in the hills to the east finish digging
in, and the turn ends with units relocating.
The Soviets have taken one step loss and
the Germans have taken none.
The Germans win by two activations and draw
one flight each of Stukas and Hs129s. The
Stukas miss the Soviet mortars, but the Hs129s
disrupt one Soviet HMG platoon in the woods
north of the road and demoralize its Lieutenant.
Then the German HMGs south of the woods move
two hexes northeast, putting them within the
three-hex spotting range of the Soviets in
the woods. Soviet opportunity fire from the
woods is ineffective.
Soviet mortars hit a northbound INF and
ENG platoon, disrupting the ENG. The rest
of the German foot units move north to draw
fire from the Soviets in the woods, while
the ENG fails to recover morale. The Soviet
infantry in the woods use opportunity fire
on the Germans, with the tanks lying low,
but the fire is ineffective. Soviet OBA is
ineffective on the closest German INF units,
and the reinforcing panzers head south.
Units relocate and recover, panzers blow
up some Soviet prime movers and trucks, and
then two T26 platoons in the woods decide
to open fire at long range/half strength now
that the panzers have fired. They know they’ll
have to fire and expose their positions when
the German infantry move adjacent to them
next turn, so they fire on the panzers now
to get the first shot. Each T26 unit can fire
only once and needs an 11 to hit a Pz38t at
5 hexes. They roll a 9 and a 5, both missing.
The Germans pass, and then the Soviet colonel
in the fields to the east decides to charge
the strung-out German east flank before the
panzer reinforcements arrive. He sends three
T26 platoons and six INF platoons west to
engage the German HMGs south of the woods,
keeping them just outside the range of the
panzers. The turn then ends on a Fog of War
The Soviets win initiative by one activation,
and Soviet mortar fire on the HMGs south of
the woods is ineffective. The Panzers east
of the river and west of the woods then activate,
with three of them firing on the T26s in the
woods and the rest moving southeast to engage
the T26s that charged out of the field. The
moving panzers end up five hexes away from
the T26s (outside their range), and the others
pour six AT shots into the woods (they can
fire twice per turn due to Armor Efficiency).
They need an 11 to hit a T26 in the woods,
but the closest they get is two tens.
charging T26s fire on the German HMGs south
of the woods, disrupting their Lieutenant.
One flight each of Ju88s and Bf109s then attack
the Soviets charging the HMGs, disrupting
an INF unit. Fire into and out of the woods
is ineffective, German tank reinforcements
move south, and then the Soviets in the hills
to the east follow the colonel’s example
and head west to block the German tank reinforcements
from crossing the river. Fire from the German
HMGs is ineffective, and then six Soviet infantry
platoons surround their position from three
sides. The turn then ends with more ineffective
fire and repositioning of forces.
The Germans win initiative by one activation,
and the three panzers and one ENG just north
of the road near the bridge activate, with
one panzer and the ENG moving back to the
bridge to guard it while the other two panzers
blast away at the three T26s that just charged
out of the hills to the east. They need to
roll 10s to hit, but their best they do on
six rolls a 9. The Soviet colonel has his
five INF units fire on the adjacent German
HMGs while his T26 fires at the panzers by
the road. All fire is ineffective. Panzer
fire on the T26s in the woods all misses,
and then the T26s from the hills to the east
move west onto the road and within range of
the panzers north of the road.
German air support again hits the Soviet
units attacking the German HMGs. The Ju88s
disrupt one INF unit, and the Hx129s score
an X result, doing one step loss on an INF
unit and demoralizing it and the other INF
unit in the hex plus their lieutenant!
Soviet fire is ineffective as the German
infantry rushes the woods north of the road,
and the German tank reinforcements move south.
Then two T26s fire at the two panzers just
north of the road, and one rolls a 10 and
scores one step loss, demoralizing the other
panzer step. Point-blank fire from the German
HMGs scores an M2 result but the Soviets make
morale. The rest of the Soviets from the hills
move west on the road, and the German armored
cars head out of Alytus and cross the bridge
to take up position in the woods south of
the road. They’ll fire on Soviet infantry
moving west. The turn then ends with more
repositioning of forces.
Both sides have now taken 2 step losses
(tank steps count double).
The Germans draw very weak air support this
turn and win initiative by one activation,
so the only panzer platoon that’s in
a position to hit the T26s leading the charge
west activates (along with the demoralized,
reduced Panzer unit in the same hex). It misses
on both shots, and the demoralized unit flees
west across the river and past Alytus. The
Soviets on the road then activate, with the
T26s missing the Panzers and the foot units
moving west. The German armored cars in the
woods south of the road open fire and demoralize
one HMG unit leading the advance west on the
The panzers west of the woods blast away
one more time at the T26s there, rolling two
10s and two 9s, but scoring no hits. The Soviets
in the woods fire point-blank on the German
infantry but have no effect, and then the
infantry assault two Soviet-held woods hexes.
In the northern hex, both sides roll on the
18 column on the Assault Table, and the Germans
get a 1 result while the Soviets get a 2.
One German INF unit is eliminated but the
other two and their lieutenant hold morale.
A Soviet INF unit takes one step loss and
is disrupted, and both T26 platoons in the
hex are demoralized (the captain with them
is OK). The assault on the southern hex gets
a bloody nose, with the Soviets getting a
1 result while the Germans score only an M2.
One German INF unit takes a step loss but
holds morale, and the other INF unit becomes
demoralized. Both Soviets are disrupted.
Two T26 platoons from the fields enter the
road and drive west to the point of the westward
advance (and just outside the range of the
German 37mm AT gun in the town). German air
units miss their target, and then the Soviets
counterassault the southern German woods assault,
sending in a lieutenant and an INF unit and
disrupting a half-strength German INF unit
The German HMGs score an X result on the
hex with the Soviet Colonel plus one T26 and
an INF unit. The INF takes one step loss and
is demoralized. The colonel rightly surmises
that the attack on the German HMGs has been
halted, and orders a withdrawal. This happens
in a far less orderly fashion than desired,
with three demoralized units and a lieutenant
failing to recover and fleeing northeast.
The panzer platoon guarding the bridge then
fires on the T26s at the point of the westward
road advance and scores one step loss, and
the battered but brave Soviet tank unit holds
morale! Soviet mortar fire hits the German
HMGs (it had been holding off since so many
Soviets were around the HMGs, exposing themselves
to friendly fire) and rolls a 12, disrupting
one of the HMGs and demoralizing the other.
The leading German armored reinforcements
make it to just west of Alytus (the rest are
back in the town), and then the T26s who were
attacking the HMGs fire on the Panzers north
of the road, just missing on a roll of 8.
The Germans pass, and the Soviets in the northern
woods assault hex fail to recover morale,
with the two demoralized T26 platoons exiting
the hex and the Soviet captain deciding to
go with them (the half-strength, disrupted
INF covers their retreat). The turn ends with
more retreats and failed recoveries.
The Germans have now taken seven step losses
and the Soviets have taken six, with several
demoralized Soviet units fleeing and scattered
around the board.
German initiative drops to 3 while Soviet
initiative holds at 2. The Germans win initiative
by one activation and the three panzer platoons
west of the woods miss the T26s spearheading
the westward road advance. T26 fire from the
road replies but misses, and the infantry
with them decide to hold position rather than
advance into point-blank opportunity fire
from panzers by the road. A demoralized Soviet
HMG unit flees southeast, and the panzer reinforcements
cross the bridge and join their fellow tankers,
while all remaining T26s in the area fire
at the panzers and miss.
German air power hits the middle of the
Soviet road advance, disrupting the captain
leading it. Then the Soviet counterassault
in the southern woods hex demoralizes the
remaining good-order German unit there, and
the Germans just to their north fail to harm
the half-strength Soviet unit that guarded
the retreat of the fleeing, demoralized T26s
and the captain. The captain spots the two
Soviet HMGs to the south and tells them to
follow him back into the assault hex —
can’t leave those incredibly brave infantrymen
to die . . . It’s not a smart move.
The Germans roll a 6 on the 18 table and score
a 2 result, while the lower morale Soviets
roll a 1 on the 13 column and get nothing
but shot to pieces. The half-strength INF
unit dies defending its captain, one HMG unit
takes a step loss and the other is disrupted.
The two demoralized T26s that exited the assault
with the captain keep fleeing northeast.
The last unactivated panzers north of the
road miss the T26s on the road, the Soviet
mortars demoralize the Lieutenant with the
German HMGs, and he and one demoralized HMG
fail to recover and flee west (the other HMG
recovers to good-order). The Soviet Colonel
orders his infantry to turn back and attack
the HMG position again, and the turn ends
with more ineffective fire, missed recoveries
and repositioning of forces.
The Germans are holding steady at six step
losses and the Soviets have now taken eight.
Soviet initiative drops to 1, and the Germans
win initiative by one activation. The seven
panzer platoons on the road east of the bridge
all open fire. The fourth platoon destroys
one step of T26s stacked with the Colonel
and about to assault the last HMGs. The other
step is demoralized. That’s all the
panzers manage to do.
lead T26s on the road destroy one German armored
car step in the woods (the other step is demoralized),
and then all three panzer platoons west of
the woods miss the T26s on the road. The lieutenant
takes over for the disrupted captain on the
road and activates the column, but all three
T26 platoons miss the panzers again. The infantry
is tired of waiting around and advances, and
one of them gets disrupted by opportunity
fire from the undemoralized armored car in
the woods. The Soviet captain on the road
recovers but the demoralized HMG keeps fleeing
for the hills.
The leaderless HMG fires on the Soviet colonel
and his units before they can assault, disrupting
one INF unit and demoralizing the other. The
Soviet assault on the HMG position is once
again repelled, and the T26 that was going
to join it fires on a panzer and scores one
step loss, disrupting the other step. The
German assault in the northern woods hex gets
a bloody nose, taking one step loss but holding
morale. But both Soviet units there become
demoralized, and the reduced-strength German
INF that fled from the assault recovers morale.
Soviet mortar fire disrupts the German HMG
that repelled two assaults, and then panzer
fire from the bridge destroys one step loss
from the lead Soviet tank unit on the road.
This one contains a tank leader, and he holds
Soviet fire on the lone disrupted German
HMG is ineffective, and then a massive German
airstrike composed of Stukas and Ju88s attacks
a three-high stacked hex on the road. The
Ju88s miss the target, but the Stukas hit
and score a 2X result, eliminating a disrupted
full-strength INF unit, demoralizing the lieutenant
and an HMG and disrupting an INF unit. Then
the Soviet counterassault in the southern
woods hex demoralizes the German major there,
leaving him and his INF unit both demoralized.
The major recovers morale but the unit doesn’t
and flees the hex, taking one step loss from
the Soviet “free shot.” The Soviet
colonel next to the indomitable HMG gets one
INF unit with him to recover morale, but the
demoralized INF and tank unit with him both
fail and flee northeast.
Both Soviet units in the northern woods
assault hex fail to recover from demoralization
and flee the hex, and the German “free
shot” does 1 step loss and eliminates
a reduced HMG unit. The turn ends after more
The Germans have now taken 10 step losses
and the Soviets have taken 15, with significantly
more Soviet units than German demoralized
German initiative drops to 2 and Soviet
initiative holds at 1. The Germans win initiative
by one activation. The seven tank platoons
on the bridge and the road open fire again,
eliminating the last two steps of T26s leading
the advance. All remaining T26s on the road
miss their targets, and another demoralized
Soviet HMG on the road flees. The panzers
west of the woods miss the Soviet tanks, and
more T26 fire misses.
The Germans in the northern woods hex assault
the fleeing demoralized Soviets north of them,
doing two step losses, eliminating an HMG
unit and disrupting and ejecting the now lone
captain. But the lieutenant leading the assault
and one of his INF units become disrupted.
The Soviet lieutenant who repelled the southern
German woods assault returns the favor and
assaults the fleeing Germans, but he becomes
demoralized and his INF unit becomes disrupted.
German airpower demoralizes the INF unit with
the Soviet colonel, and Soviet OBA demoralizes
the German lieutenant who just chased the
Soviet HMGs out of the woods. Recoveries occur,
Soviet mortar fire demoralizes the hitherto
brave German HMG, and the turn ends on a Fog
of War roll after more recoveries.
The Germans have still taken only 10 step
losses while the Soviets have now taken 21
and are scattered willy-nilly.
Soviet initiative drops to 0 while German
initiative remains at 2. The Germans win by
one activation and the panzers open fire,
killing three more Soviet tank steps and disrupting
a fourth. Returned fire from the last good-order
T26 on the board is ineffective, German airpower
demoralizes the last good-order Soviet INF
unit on the entire board, and the Soviets
surrender, having taken way more than twice
the German step losses and having nothing
left to fight back with.
here to order Eastern Front now!