Peace in Our Time:
Scenario Preview, Part Two
If we’d done Panzer Grenadier: Peace in Our Time as a published expansion (or stand-alone game, which would make more sense in game-design terms and even less sense in publishing terms), I probably would have written somewhere between 30 to 40 scenarios. Not any more than that; 40 is the sweet spot and more than that seems to intimidate rather than excite would-be customers (“I’ll never play that many!”).
We went with just 10 scenarios for Peace in Our Time; most publishers would call that a complete game but it’s a little light by our standards. If the expansion set’s popular we can always add more scenarios; since it’s a free download exclusively for the Gold Club, one of the advantages to that (from the designer’s perspective) is that you can always add to it
Let’s have a look at the second, and final, chapter of Peace in Our Time.
28 September 1938
In 1936, the Czechs began a crash program to build modern fortifications to hold against an attack by Germany, Hungary and Poland. By September 1938 264 forts and over 10,000 smaller emplacements had been completed, with many more almost ready. The German Second Army had the task of breaking through this line, unofficially named for Czech President Edvard Benes, taking the same route the Prussians had followed in 1866.
The Prussians had used this same pass during the Seven Years’ War and the Potato War to invade Bohemia, and again during the 1866 Austro-Prussian War. That made it an obvious place for the Czechs to build their fortifications – they didn’t have time to complete all of them, but they made sure to finish the Dobrosov fortress complex covering the pass at Nachod. The Germans knew this, thanks to sympathetic Sudeten Germans living in the area, yet Gerd von Rundstedt’s Second Army planned to try to force the pass at the outset of an invasion of Czechoslovakia anyway. The Czech border battalions were well-equipped with support weapons, and in this sector had plentiful 150mm artillery batteries on call and a platoon of tanks in direct support.
The Czechs have built themselves a stout line of fortifications, including well-armed casemates. The infantry manning them have plenty of support weapons and even a few tanks. The Germans are going to have to fight their way through with an impressive array of heavy weapons and plenty of infantry to do the dying for the next hill.
28 September 1938
The German Air Force began training parachute troops in 1936, and by the time of the invasion of Czechoslovakia five battalions had been organized, of varying degrees of training and readiness. The German plan included a parachute drop behind the Czech fortifications barring the way to Olomouc, to seize bridges and crossroads to aid in a breakthrough. But the Czechs had laid their defenses in quite some depth.
The German paratroopers of 1938 were yet not those of 1941; they would be formed into the 7th Airborne Division of five battalions in October 1938 as the branch continued to expand. The Czech doctrine of defense in depth unintentionally placed forces where the German hoped to drop airborne units to sever the lines of communication leading to the border fortifications. The first debacle of the German airborne forces would occur two and a half years before the air assault on Crete.
The German Case Green really did include an airborne drop, so I had to include it in the scenario set. The Czechs have good numbers and heavy weapons, but they’re on foot so their initial deployment will be important – they can’t just drive to the German drop zone and shoot up the paratroopers, they’ll have to walk there and shoot up the paratroopers.
29 September 1938
Most Czech senior officers had come up through the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Army, and followed a similar doctrine in designing their defenses. A strong fortified line would be backed by powerful reserves who would be committed in immediate counter-attacks to restore the position. Tanks and artillery would serve this purpose, to add weight to the counter-attack rather than serve as offensive weapons.
The Czech counter-attack force, built around a regular army infantry division with plentiful artillery support from its parent IV Corps and 2nd Army, managed to restore the lines despite the presence of German armor. The German light tanks, no more than machine-gun carriers, added mobile firepower to the panzer divisions but were never meant to break through enemy fortifications or conduct a mobile defense.
It’s kind of an odd scenario, with the action beginning after the Germans have penetrated the Czech fortifications but not yet mopped them up, so there are Czech positions behind the German lines that the Czechs will have to relieve. It’s Czech infantry attacking German armor, which might be a problem in other contexts but the panzers of 1938 aren’t all that intimidating.
28 September 1938
Just a month the invasion of Czechoslovakia, Germany’s Supreme Leader ordered the SS to place its armed, motorized militia at the disposal of the regular army for the upcoming operation. That, he hoped, would placate the generals since the order also included a directive allowing service in the party militia to count as a young man’s military obligation. The Army high command considered the militia worse than useless, but had little choice but to deploy them in the forefront of the pending invasion.
The SS militia of 1938 was even worse, in terms of combat ability, than that of 1939, 1940 or 1941. The party activists hadn’t signed up to fight actual enemy soldiers, and the Czechs crushed the SS column with little trouble. Unfortunately for Eastern Europe’s sole remaining democracy, not all of the invaders were SS militia.
Confess it, you knew there had to be a scenario in this set where the Czechs get to stomp all over the SS militia. And that’s what happens here; the Czechs even have tanks to help with the trash disposal (these early militia bands were called the SS-Verfügungstruppe, or “disposal troops” (as in, at the Supreme Leader’s disposal, though it begs for a more fitting interpretation).
East of Plzen
1 October 1939
The German capture of Plzen opened the road to Prague for the 10th Army advancing from the west, and the rapid advance of Heinz Guderian’s XVI Motorized Corps threatened to breach the Vltava River line before the Czechs could fall back behind it. The Czech defense plan called for the forces holding the western borders to keep the German back long enough to allow the army to mobilize. They would then defend the fortifications built along the Vltava before the war, but those would be useless if the Germans got there first.
The Czech 1st Fast Division began the war as part of the high command’s general reserve, and moved westward to counter the German breakthrough at Plzen. By stopping Guderian’s panzers the Czechs bought a brief respite to man the Vltava Line, but greater German numbers were already starting to make themselves felt.
And we wrap up with another tank battle, because we needed another tank battle – since I got to make up the history, I made sure it included tank battles. Once again the Czechs have a huge advantage in materiel, though 1st Fast Division only has the one tank battalion, it’s probably enough.
And that’s Chapter Two, which means that’s all.
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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and NASA Journalist in Space finalist, he has published a great many books, games and articles on historical subjects; people are saying that some of them are actually good.
He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children, and his Iron Dog, Leopold.
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