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The Korean War Project
by Jay Townsend
June 2015

I called the Korean War a “project” because it was a huge undertaking, starting with the study of thousands of pages of material from many books and various web-sites as well. At first I thought I would only do the Pusan Perimeter section and leave it at that, but after completing that section I continued to read on in detail and found the whole war fascinating and not given the attention it deserved in history or in platoon level war-gaming. Being the completest that I am, I had to do the whole thing!

At the advice of Avalanche Press’s Mike Bennighof, I divided the Korean War into four sections with the first game now currently in print and available through Avalanche Press, called Pusan Perimeter. The second is in production and called Counter-Attack, the third is presently called Intervention and the last is a supplement I call Allies.

Piecing together such a large project was very challenging, just reading for about a year and half before even getting started and then putting it all together in a Panzer Grenadier scenario format that would be interesting and fun, to follow a historical flow from the beginning to the end of the war. and where victory conditions for every scenario would allow either player or side to win that particular scenario. I also wanted to follow the scenarios flow throughout the Korean War where most major battles were covered or mentioned without attacking the same hill 27 times.

As with Saipan 1944 and Marianas 1944, I created a historical scenario path through 1950-1953 in the Korean War that I feel every gamer will enjoy playing. The Korean War came to a total of about 200 scenarios, each crafted so that I would like to play them more than once, that way I know other gamers will as well. As a designer I like to treat every scenario as my baby, to polish and refine them until I am happy with each one to be released out into the world of Panzer Grenadier gaming.

The Korean War was a perfect fit for the Panzer Grenadier gaming series rather than the Panzer Grenadier (Modern) series as most of the weapons and units used in Korea were very similar to those at the end of World War II, thus we kept it in the normal Panzer Grenadier series of games and rules. I like to think of the four products from the Korean War as a mini series of games within the Panzer Grenadier series.

The first game in the Korean War Series, Pusan Perimeter, covers the initial attack of the North Korean People’s Army (NKPA), supplied with Soviet weapons and armor. The North Koreans thrust across the 38th Parallel into South Korean territory, which was initially defended only by the weak Republic of Korea Army (ROK) as the South Korean ground forces were called. The South Koreans, led by their dictatorial President Syngman Rhee, are desperate to hold on to their part of the Korean Peninsula with their outdated equipment until Americans arrive.

When the Americans do show up with their own ill-equipped divisions diverted from occupation duty in Japan, they have little that can stop the NKPA armor, either. The fighting is desperate for both sides, as the NKPA are trying to conquer the whole Peninsula before the Americans can get enough reinforcements over to Korea. The Americans and ROKs get pushed back into an area called the Pusan Perimeter and must fight for their very existence in some very tense battles. In the first fifteen scenarios the ROK have to hold off the better-equipped NKPA followed by the arrival of the Americans in Scenario Sixteen, the famous battle fought by Task Force Smith. Other scenarios include the counter attack at Chonui, the battles of Taejon, Yongdok and Andong, the fall of Chiju where the first American Pershing tanks enter combat, the Battle at the Notch and many more. There are 48 scenarios total.

The next game in the Korean War series is called Counter-Attack and is currently in production and very close to release. Counter-Attack picks up where Pusan Perimeter left off, finding the American and ROK forces still being pushed around and probed across the front. The NKPA leaders are pressuring their forces to finish the job of conquering the whole Korean Peninsula. The NKPA drive on the Pusan Perimeter focused on its the west edge along the Chinju-Masan Corridor, which compelled American General Walton Walker to concentrate all of his Eighth Army’s reinforcements arriving in Korean for a counter-offensive. Reinforcements included the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade with supporting tanks and artillery. The Eighth Army was strongest in the southernmost segment of the front, so Walker decided to attack in this area, the first American counterattack of the war. Up to this point, the American strategy had been to hold their lines when they could and fall back to buy time. But the Pusan Perimeter had contracted about as much as it could. With the enemy supply lines overstretched, and the Americans finally having built up a fighting force, the time was right to go on the counter-offensive.

But the NKPA forces are far from dead and have committed over 250 tanks and self-propelled guns to support their own troops. The Americans have upgraded their own armor from the light M24 tanks to M4/76 Shermans, M26 Pershings and some M46 Pattons in later scenarios. There are 62 scenarios in this package which include: Task Force Kean, The Bloody Gulch and the First Battle of the Naktong Bulge (which in my opinion should stand out as one of the famous battles of American history). Other scenarios include the Taegu Front, the Bowling Alley, Battle Mountain, the Great Naktong Offensive, the famous Marine amphibious landings at Inch’on with some cool amphibious craft and vehicles, the Highway to Seoul, Battle of The Barricades, Task Force Lynch, the Fall of P’yongyang and Death of the 239th Regiment to name a few. This package includes a few British units (with more to be added in the Allies supplement) and it also adds U.S. Marines. It has the NPKA attacking fiercely followed by a stalemate situation with both sides defending or counter-attacking until the Inch’on end-around landings in the rear open things up a bit for the American/British/ROK forces to push north, even using a parachute landing to attempt to trap large NKPA forces. This game is again packed with action, and ends with the Allies thinking they were witnessing the last days of a Communist North Korea.

The third Game in the Korean War, Intervention, picks up where Counter-Attack leaves off with the American and ROK forces pushing to the Yalu River on the Chinese border. In this period of the conflict, new United Nation units were still arriving in Korea but the general belief was that they wouldn’t be needed and the war in Korea would soon be over. In the first six weeks of the Allied offensive the North Korean Army had been virtually destroyed. The Eighth Army was still continuing their pursuit north of the Ch’ongah’on River but its logistical situation was not good, stretched by the rapid advance north and terrible roads with most rail systems knocked out. 

Hiding from aerial observation, three Chinese Armies (the 38th, 39th and 40th), each composed of three infantry divisions, had crossed the Yalu River from Manchuria sometime in the third week of October 1950 and had infiltrated into the mountains 50 miles south of the Yalu. Masked by the retreating NKPA, the Communist Chinese Force (CCF) waited its opportunity to strike at the overstretched U.N. forces in what would begin a new and long chapter in the Korean War. Dreams of the war ending shortly would soon vanish!

As the American and ROK forces push north in what they thought were their final days of the war, they noticed that the NKPA forces started resisting hard once again, as they were covering the major Chinese forces moving in from Manchuria. The North Koreans still have a few tanks and self-propelled guns and heavy weapons to draw the Americans and ROKs into the waiting Chinese trap. Intervention adds the much-awaited Chinese Army (CCF) into the series and adds a few Turkish units to the mix, with more to be added to with Allies supplement.

Intervention, like Counter-Attack and Pusan Perimeter, sees the tides of war flow back and forth. Intervention adds many new units and counter types to the series (as do all the Korean War games) and 65 new scenarios. The scenarios cover the different phases of the Chinese offensives with titles like A New Enemy, Under the Moonlight, Kusong, Battles, Chosen Reservoir, Disaster at Unsan, Toward the Iron Triangle, Bunker Hill, Heartbreak Ridge, the Gauntlet, Death of Task Force Faith, Bugle Hill and Driving toward the Yalu River. The action continues right up to the end of the war.

The fourth item in the Korean War series is called Allies presently and unlike the other three is a supplement adding 88 pieces and 25 scenarios to the series. Many nations contributed troops during the Korean War, but for the boxed games I had to pick the ones that had the biggest roles or looked like they would have interesting scenarios. Allies adds NKPA Guerrillas in their own color scheme, more British including Centurion MK 3 tanks, Australians, more Turkish units and a single Philippine M24 tank counter.

The Allies Supplement has 25 scenarios including Strange Events, Old Friends/New War, Bayonets of Steel, Guerrilla Duty, The Turks, Route 11 and the Gloucester Crossing, Death of the Gloucester Battalion, Rat Killer, Hook, The Nevada Complex and many more. Allies only requires Pusan Perimeter, Counter-Attack and Intervention to play every scenario.

The Korean War project was a huge undertaking and I doubt that I would have done it had I known how much time it would take. With that said it was also a project of love, as once I started I wanted to tell the whole Korean War story in Panzer Grenadier format to be played and enjoyed by gamers everywhere. The Korean War has so many unique situations throughout the whole war with each side pressuring the other that this was just a fascinating mini-series and it would be a shame were it not out there for gamers to play. I knew little about the Korean War until I took this project on and studied and read of the events in detail. It just grew on me.

Dividing the project into four products was pretty easy except for the Allies supplement where I had to choose scenarios and units from the entire war. The total project turned into 200 scenarios but could easily be 1,000 scenarios; generally I tried to limit it to the major engagements. Touching on the subject once or twice was enough. I created each scenario as if I would want to play it more than once.

The Korean War was the largest game project I ever will attempt; the only thing that came somewhat close was the Philippines 1941-42 and Philippines 1944-45 which I just completed in two games. I think I hit the mark with the three boxed games and one supplement to bring a pretty complete picture of the Korean War to your gaming tables. From the designer’s standpoint I hope and believe you will enjoy the Korean War game series and that it will add many enjoyable hours of cardboard action to your life for many years to come.