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Strategy in Red God of War
By Doug McNair
March 2009

Continuing in the tradition of America Triumphant (the subject of a previous strategy article) and Alsace 1945, Red God of War lets players fight a very different “battle of the bulge.” Unlike the better-known Ardennes campaign, Operation Mars threw ten Soviet armies against an already established, north-pointing German bulge west of Moscow. Ten German corps held a line 335 miles long, and certain sections of that line were weaker than others. The Soviets were able to penetrate the line in more than one place, but superior German organization and operational flexibility allowed Army Group Center to pull back and re-establish the line, avoiding destruction at the hands of numerically superior Soviet forces.

Factors Driving Play

Like the other games in the series, Red God of War uses a classic zone of control (ZOC) system, where each hex that’s occupied by at least two regiments or brigades, or one division, exerts a ZOC into the six adjacent hexes. ZOC interferes with enemy movements and blocks supply lines.

Also like the other series games, each turn the players must spend one supply point (SP) on each headquarters they want to be in combat supply that turn. HQs in combat supply can make the units they command move and fight at full strength, as long as they’re within four hexes of the HQ and not cut off by enemy units or ZOC.

The players then put chits representing those HQs (and other, unsupplied HQs if desired) into a common container, and draw them randomly one at a time, moving and fighting with each HQ’s formation as its chit comes up. Activated units get a movement phase (during which tank and mechanized units can perform overrun attacks) followed by a combat phase, and then cavalry, tank and mechanized units can move (and overrun) again in the mechanized movement phase.

Units which can’t trace supply lines to their HQ (due to blocking enemy units and ZOC) are isolated, and move and fight at greatly reduced capacity. Units which can trace a supply line to their HQ but are outside its four-hex range are unsupplied. So are units within range of an HQ that’s cut off from its own supply source on the board edge, or which didn’t get an SP spent on it this turn. Unsupplied isn’t as bad as isolated, but it’s not good.

The flow of new SPs each turn is unreliable. Plus, after a certain number of chits have been drawn, each player must roll a die after drawing another of his chits to see if his side experiences “operational halt” (due to exceeding his quartermaster general’s capacity to supply the battlefield that turn). If it does, the rolling player must remove all his remaining chits from the container and can’t activate any more formations that turn. So, players must only spend SPs on, and put in the container the chits of, their most critical formations. To do otherwise is to risk running out of SPs before reaching one’s objectives, and to risk not being able to activate one’s formations in crucial areas of the battlefield when needed.

Finally, the weather plays a big role in Red God, with snow cutting the movement rates of all units (except ski units) in half, and mud cutting all movement rates to 1/3 normal.

Together, these factors give Red God plenty of fog of war, since players don’t know when their formations will activate (if at all), how far they’ll be able to move, and how well they’ll be able to coordinate with other formations from turn to turn. They also put a premium on maneuver, with units moving to cut enemy supply lines so that enemy units will be slower to move and weaker when attacking or defending.

Beyond these universal issues, many factors make Red God a very different game depending on which side you’re playing — and make it an incredibly cool solitaire game.

German Factors

Divisional Flexibility: The Germans are holding a very long line, and that line is thin in some areas. There are places where only a few German divisions are expected to hold a line many hexes long. Luckily, they can do this by breaking down divisions into their component regiments, and spreading out the regiment counters along their assigned front. The German player even has control over how strong those regiments are and can create a few strong regiments or many under-strength regiments from one division as needed. The German player can break down divisions into regiments whenever he wants to, and can recombine regiments back into division counters later, as desired.


Don’t take rail movement for granted.

Command and Control: Each German corps HQ can supply and command any German units which are closer to it or equidistant from other German HQs (not just the units assigned to its corps at game start). So, if a headquarters gets eliminated or cut off from its units, the next HQ up the line can take over immediately and direct the lost HQ’s units. German HQs have a movement allowance of 12, so they can relocate quickly to get within supply range of the units that lost their HQ. Alternatively, German reinforcements can enter the board and use rail and strategic movement to dash across the board to the sector where they’re most needed, and immediately get supplies and support from whichever German HQ happens to be there.

Toughness: Each German division can take anywhere from three to five step losses before being eliminated. In contrast, many Soviet units are brigades or regiments and have only one step, while no Soviet division or tank corps has more than two steps. So in addition to being able to break down into individual regiments, German divisions can keep taking step losses and retreating to new defensive positions for a long time, while each attacking Soviet unit can only take one or two step losses before dying.

Supply Points: The German player starts with only four supply points, but he gets to roll a die to receive one to six additional supply points each turn. By contrast, the Soviet player starts with 14 supply points but gets a maximum of three more supply points each turn. In addition, if he fails to make gains soon, Stalin’s attitude toward Operation Mars will deteriorate and new supply points per turn will be reduced or cut off completely, with Soviet units being withdrawn from the battlefield. The Soviet player has to ration his supply points carefully to avoid running out of them before he reaches his objectives, while the German player can spend his supply points freely to put his corps at full strength and give them extra bonuses in battle.

Soviet Factors

Inflexibility and Slowness: In contrast to the Germans, each Soviet Army HQ can command only the units of its own army. So, if units get outside the four-hex range of their army HQ, they’re going to be unsupplied no matter what. Also, most Soviet HQs have movement allowances of just 3, while most other Soviet units have movement allowances of 6 or 8. This means that when the Soviets make a breakthrough, their units often can’t exploit the breach to the fullest for fear of outrunning their supply lines. This is tough because the Soviets must take at least three specific town hexes on the board to win, and German units are faster than Soviet units on average. Short Soviet supply leashes often keep them from reaching their objectives before the quicker Germans fall back and re-establish their lines.


Roza Shanina killed over 100 Hitlerites.

Red Army Bureaucracy: Appropriately enough for a Communist army, bureaucratic inertia causes problems for the Soviets in Red God. Each turn, the Soviet player must put in the container the same chits he put there last turn, with just one exception. He may delete one of the chits or put in an additional one. So he must give “stand ready” orders in advance, putting in the container the chits for formations he’s supplied and wants to use this turn, plus other formations he may need to use on the next few turns. This also means that after some Soviet armies have bogged down or taken too much damage to be an effective force, their chits will keep going in the container and being drawn. So on average, more Soviet than German chits will go in the container each turn, and some of those will be useless Soviet chits. The Soviets therefore run a greater risk than the Germans of hitting operational halt and not being able to activate all the formations they want to each turn.

Offensive Limits: Due to supply issues, each Soviet mechanized corps can make only one overrun attack per turn, and each Soviet army can only attack two German-held hexes per turn. By contrast, every German unit can attack an adjacent Soviet unit each turn. The Soviets have to pick their targets carefully and maneuver their forces to provide maximum punching power at critical points.

Superior Numbers: On the up side, the Soviet player has a huge numerical advantage over the Germans. The weakest German Corps (the XII) has only two infantry divisions with which to hold the line, while the most powerful German corps (the XXVII) has nine infantry divisions. In contrast, the weakest Soviet army (the 29th) has four infantry divisions plus four infantry brigades, and the most powerful Soviet army (the 20th) has two mechanized corps, one cavalry corps, eight infantry divisions, ten tank brigades, two infantry brigades, and a ski brigade. The Soviets can hit the German line hard with lots of cannon fodder to absorb step losses and allow other units to advance. And once they’ve created a breach, they can flood it with lots of units that the outnumbered Germans will have a hard time containing before they reach their objectives. Then, once the Soviets reach an objective hex, they can stack it with units and surround it with others, making it tough for the Germans to dislodge them before the end of the game.

Game Summary

The following summary of a recent game illustrates these points.

Objectives

In the historical scenario, the Soviet mission is to break or circumvent the German line and move beyond it to take control of at least three hexes in the towns of Belyi (a one-hex town on the west (left) flank of the bulge), Olenino (another one-hex town behind the center-left of the line), Rzhev (a two-hex town on the center-right) and Sychevka (another one-hexer five hexes south of Rzhev). They must do this by the end of the eighth turn (December 9-10). The German objective is to make sure the Soviets take only one or none of those hexes. Two hexes is a draw.

Setup

On the extreme southwest flank of the bulge, the Soviet 41st Army sets up in line that starts just west of Belyi and runs southwest. There’s nothing of value south of Belyi, so the 41st concentrates its units in the northern part of its set up zone. However, they do have to extend their line to the southwest somewhat, because the German VI Corps is stationed 5+ hexes southwest of Belyi. If the 41st doesn’t cover its southwest flank, the VI Corps will encircle them from the west and cut off their supply lines, making it much harder to take Belyi.

To the north of Belyi and curving northeast beyond Olenino, the German left-center is weak. The four infantry divisions, one mechanized division, and one Guards mechanized division of the German XXIII Corps are charged with holding the 14 hexes of that line.

German mechanized divisions whose component regiments stay stacked together in the same hex have divisional integrity and fight at double strength. The German player wants to keep that advantage, so to cover the other 12 hexes the XXIII Corps must break its four infantry divisions into several under-strength regiments.

Luckily for XXIII Corps, the north-facing part of their line is behind a creek (across which waits the powerful Soviet 39th Army). Also, the Soviet 22nd Army which opposes the less-defensible west-facing part of the line is only moderate in strength. The German 1st Panzer Mechanized Division is also in a reserve position three hexes southwest of Belyi, and can move north quickly to reinforce the line as needed.

The German line running east of Olenino to Rzhev and southeast of Rzhev is strong, until it passes a bend in the creek at the town of Karmanovo. The remaining third of the German line (running due south to the board edge) gets progressively weaker while the Soviet forces there get progressively stronger.

In addition, the Soviet 3rd Tank Army holds a reserve position behind the Soviet line at the extreme southeastern flank of the bulge. If the Soviet 5th and 33rd Armies can break the German southeast flank and drive to within two hexes of the town of Viaz’ma (deep in the south-central section of the board), Red Army Command will release 3rd Tank Army for duty. It can then plunge in after the 5th and 33rd and help them drive northward on the road from Viaz’ma to Sychevka, and finally Rzhev.

Turn 1: 25-26 November

The weather on Turn 1 is snow (half movement for all but ski units). The German player rolls and gets five supply points (which is very good). The Soviet player gets his standard three, so he now has 17 supply points while the German has nine. The Soviet player spends five supply points to put half his armies (at the various weak points in the line, plus the creek bend to the east at Karmanovo) in supply. The German, not knowing which of his corps will hold and which will falter, spends only two SPs to put the VI Corps (which may try to encircle the Soviet southwest flank) and the XXXXI Corps (defending Belyi in the west) in combat supply. All units of both sides can trace supply lines to their HQs, and all HQs can trace supply lines to their supply sources on friendly board-edges.

The Soviet player puts the chits for all five of his combat-supplied HQs in the cup, plus the chit for the weak and unsupplied 29th Army, which is just to the north of the weak southeast German flank (he’ll need to activate in later turns to exploit any breach the Soviet armies to the south make). Due to poor German preparedness on the first two days of the campaign, the German player can only put six chits in the cup on Turn 1. So, he puts in the chits for his HQs on his two flanks, plus the chit for the reinforcing XXX Corps which will arrive at the southwest board edge this turn.

Chit #1 — Soviet 33rd Army (extreme southeast flank): It activates and destroys both divisions of the weak German XII Corps during the combat phase, and its two component tank corps (the 9th and 10th) overrun and wipe out the XII Corps HQ during the mechanized movement phase. The XII Corps HQ goes on the turn record track two turns in future, when it will reappear at the southwest corner of the board. The 33rd’s other tank units use the mechanized movement phase to solidify their northern flank, encircling and cutting off the German 137th Division from the XX Corps HQ.

The next chit drawn is German, but once again due to poor preparedness the first two German chits drawn go back in the cup so another chit can be drawn.

Chit #2 — Soviet 41st Army (extreme southwest flank near Belyi): Their attack on Belyi bogs down.

Chit #3 — Soviet 39th Army (at the apex of the bulge west of center, north of Olenino): They attack south but kill only one German regiment.

The Soviet player then draws another German chit, which goes back in the cup. After that, any German chits drawn will be played.

Chit #4 — German XII Corps: This is the corps the Soviet 33rd Army just wiped out on the southeast flank, so no German units can activate.

Chit #5 — German XX Corps (just north of deceased XII Corps): The encircled 137th Division has its supply status downgraded to unsupplied. It can’t move due to enemy ZOC and only attacks at half-strength because it’s unsupplied, so it doesn’t break out. The other units of XX Corps pull back westward to try and block 33rd Army from moving up the road to Viaz’ma.

Chit #6 —Soviet 5th Army (directly east of just-fled German XX Corps): They attack and force XX Corps to retreat farther west.

Chit #7 — German XXIII Corps (weakly holding long line from Belyi north to Olenino): They pull some of their under-strength regiments back from their setup hexes to more defensible and consolidated positions.

Chit #8 — Soviet 29th Army (to the north of the southeast flank breakthrough): They’re unsupplied, so they hold position and wait for a German retreat.

Chit #9 — Soviet 20th Army (just north of 29th, at the creek bend at Karmanovo): This is the most powerful Soviet army on the board. They attack southward toward Karmanovo, but make only a one-hex breach due to strong opposition and the Germans’ defensible position in woods, the town, and behind the creek.

Chit #10 — German XXXXI Corps (defending Belyi on the southwest flank): They bring in the German 1st Panzer Division to reinforce Belyi.

GERMAN OPERATIONAL HALT! VI Corps on the extreme southwest flank can’t activate to move north and encircle the Soviet 41st Army attacking Belyi, nor can the reinforcing XXX Corps enter the board. All Soviet chits have now been drawn, so the turn is over.

Turn 2: 27-28 November

The German gets six SPs (good, he needs them . . . ). The weather improves to frost, so all units now move at full speed. Stalin is happy with the campaign thus far, so the Soviets get three more SPs. The Soviet player puts three of his armies in combat supply: The 33rd and 5th on the crumbling southeast flank, and the 20th attacking south toward Karmanovo. The German puts the HQs on his extreme southwest flank, his right-center (to counterattack the Soviet 20th Army), plus his remaining HQs to the south (so they can pull back at full speed and make a new line) in combat supply.

The Soviets receive the 19th Rifle Division as a reinforcement, and they assign it to 33rd Army on the extreme southeast flank to help exploit the breakthrough. The Soviet player withdraws the chit for the 39th Army (which didn’t do much as it attacked south toward Olenino) and puts the rest of last turn’s chits in the cup. The German once again puts the chits for both his flanks in the cup, plus the chit for the reinforcing XXX Corps.

Chit #1 — German XXXIX Corps (right of center, opposing the Soviet 20th Army north of Karmanovo): They attack but each side scores just one step loss.

Chit #2 — German XX Corps (on the extreme southeast flank, just north of Soviet breakthrough): They pull back to block the road running northwest to Viaz’ma, plus the woods area north of the road.

Chit #3 — Soviet 29th Army (north of southeast flank breakthrough): They’re still unsupplied and had hoped to follow a German retreat. But they’re sick of holding position, so they make a half-strength attack on the weak south flank of the German XXXXVI Corps (which has most of its units positioned to the north to oppose the powerful Soviet 20th Army attacking Karmanovo). They do surprisingly well, eliminating a German division and sending the powerful Soviet 3rd Guards Motorized Division through the breach (the German units around the breach are single regiments and exert no ZOC). Third Guards Motorized ends up northwest of XXXXVI Corps’ HQ, cutting it off from its units to the north (which will have to rely on XXXIX Corps HQ to their north for supplies).

Chit #4 — Soviet 41st Army (on southwest flank at Belyi): They’re unsupplied, but the Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps blows a hole in the German line south of Belyi and advances southward behind it. It then tries to break back west to 41st Army’s HQ with an overrun attack during the mechanized movement phase, but fails. It will be isolated next turn.

Chit #5 — Soviet 5th Army (just north of 33rd Army on southeast flank): They attack and eliminate the German 183rd Division and push back XX Corps HQ and another German division while the two tank brigades reach the road to Viaz’ma. Then, during the mechanized movement phase, a tank brigade charges up the road at full speed (due to the improved weather) and gets within two hexes of Viaz’ma. This releases the Soviet 3rd Tank Army, which can join the advance from behind the 33rd next turn!

Chit #6 — German VI Corps (on extreme southwest flank): The Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps’ penetration of the German line south of Belyi puts Soviet ZOC between the German units in Belyi and VI Corps HQ. So, VI Corps HQ can’t supply the powerful German 1st Panzer Division that moved to reinforce Belyi. The German 1st Panzer has to stay in Belyi to defend it from the Soviet tanks, and VI Corps by itself isn’t powerful enough to do much damage to the Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps. So, they just make a token attack on 41st’s infantry brigades holding the end of the Soviet southwest flank. They do very well, however, and force a breach in the Soviet line.

Chit #7 — German XXX Corps (the reinforcing corps at the southwest board edge): There are three German mechanized divisions with XXX Corps HQ. They enter the board in the road hex seven hexes east of the southwest board corner. All three use strategic movement to race down the road at 1/2 MP per hex to Viaz’ma and beyond. The HQ and one mechanized division move to the road hex one hex south of Viaz’ma, while the other two mechanized divisions move northeast of Viaz’ma.

Then in the mechanized movement phase, the HQ and its mechanized division move southeast and overrun the Soviet tank brigade that got within two hexes of Viaz’ma. The German player spends an extra supply point to increase the odds on the attack, and it kills the Soviet tank brigade. They then drive farther southeast to block the road against the yet-to-move Soviet 33rd Army on the extreme southeast flank. Then, the second German mechanized division moves offroad and east of Viaz’ma to save the fleeing German XX Corps HQ, attacking the pursuing Soviet 5th Army units but doing little damage. Finally, the third German mechanized division moves offroad and NE of Viaz’ma to block Soviet units that will likely go north of XX Corps HQ and advance through the woods.

Chit #8 — German IX Corps (north of where XX Corps used to be): They’re unsupplied, so they pull back southwest to help oppose the breach. The HQ spends all 12 of its MPs to get within supply range of the newly-arrived mechanized division NE of Viaz’ma.

GERMAN OPERATIONAL HALT! XXXXVI Corps can’t activate to oppose the breakthrough of the Soviet 3rd Guards Motorized Division which cuts its HQ off from most of its units.

Chit #9 — Soviet 20th Army (attacking south toward Karmanovo): They hit Karmanovo, spending a Soviet supply point to bolster the attack, and push the German mechanized division out. They advance south to occupy Karmanovo.

Chit #10 — Soviet 33rd Army (on extreme southeast flank): Where there was once a clear road to Viaz’ma before them, there is now the German XXX Corps HQ with its mechanized division blocking the road. The Soviet 9th and 10th Tank Corps head off the road and north, to overrun the Isolated German 137th Division. They inflict enough losses so only a small under-strength regiment remains. This exerts no ZOC, so the rest of 33rd Army can bypass it and surge northwest. The infantry advance behind the tanks and wipe out the remaining German regiment, but the German mechanized division stops the Soviet advance up the road.

But then, 9th and 10th Tank Corps plunge through the one-hex ZOC gap between XXX Corps’ mechanized division on the road and XX Corps’ mechanized division to the north. They encircle XX Corps HQ and the mechanized division from the west, cutting them off from the German supply sources on the west and south board edges. XX Corps and the mechanized division are now also surrounded by Soviet ZOC from 5th and 33rd Armies, so in addition to being unsupplied they can’t move. Finally, the three other tank brigades in 33rd Army move offroad to surround XXX Corps and its mechanized division, cutting it off from supply as well.

All Soviet chits have been drawn, so the turn is over.

Turn 3: 29-30 November

The Germans roll and get three supply, as do the Soviets. The weather changes to snow, which will slow down the Soviet advance. The Soviets spend supply points to put the entire east half of their line in combat supply, while the Germans put their eastern flank and their extreme southwest flank in combat supply.

The Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps south of Belyi is isolated because it failed to break back through the German line from the east. The German XX and XXX Corps HQs and their mechanized divisions are both unsupplied and surrounded by units of the Soviet 5th and 33rd Armies (the divisions aren’t Isolated because they have their HQs with them providing supply). The Soviet player puts all of last turn’s chits plus the chit for the newly released 3rd Tank army in the cup. The German puts in the chits for all his HQs on both his flanks.

Chit #1 — German VI Corps (on extreme southwest flank): They are supplied now and attack northward at full force, pushing the Soviet 41st Army’s flanking units back west of Belyi.

Chit #2 — German XXXXI Corps (NE of VI Corps, at Belyi): The German 1st Panzer Division and the SS Cavalry Division move south from Belyi to hit the isolated Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps that’s trapped east of the German line. The Russians are unexpectedly tough, and only the Germans take damage. The German units move back up to Belyi in the mechanized movement phase.

Chit #3 — German XXX Corps (blocking the road to Viaz’ma): It is unsupplied and surrounded. It can only attack at half-strength, and determines that it can’t break out. So it stays put to defend itself and block the road as best it can.

Chit #4 — German XXXXVI Corps: Its units are largely up by Karmanovo, but its HQ is south of the breaching Soviet 3rd Guards Motorized Division. Since the HQ can only supply the units to the south of the Soviets, it takes those units and pulls back to block the Soviet advance.

Chit #5 — Soviet 33rd Army: They surround and pound the Unsupplied German XXX Corps HQ and its mechanized division on the road southeast of Viaz’ma.

Chit #6 — Soviet 5th Army: They surround and pound the German XX Corps HQ and its mechanized division north of the road and east of Viaz’ma. They eliminate all but one regiment of the mechanized division.

Chit #7 — Soviet 41st Army (west and southwest of Belyi): Their southwest flank has been badly mauled by the northward-advancing German VI Corps, so they pull farther northward. Other units near Belyi hit the German line separating them from the isolated Soviet 1st Mechanized Corps. They blow a hole in the line, and 1st Mechanized straggles back westward to rejoin its HQ.

Chit #8 — German XXXIX Corps: It hits the northern flank of the Soviet 20th Army (which just attacked southward and took Karmanovo) but does little damage.

GERMAN OPERATIONAL HALT! The surrounded German XX Corps can’t activate (it couldn’t have done much anyway).

Chit #9 — Soviet 3rd Tank Army: It moves west from its reserve position and follows the 33rd and 5th Armies west toward Viaz’ma.

SOVIET OPERATIONAL HALT! The 20th and 29th Armies up by Karmanovo can’t activate, so the weakened eastern section of the German line is safe for now.

Turn 4: December 1-2

The Germans roll and get four SPs. The weather stays snowy, which continues to slow the Soviet advance. Stalin’s attitude stays favorable so the Soviets get another three SPs. The Soviet player puts his HQs on both flanks in combat supply, plus the HQs for the Soviet 20th Army at Karmanovo and the Soviet 22nd Army facing the weak German west-central line between Belyi and Olenino. He places the chits of all his supplied HQs in the cup, and the German supplies and places in the cup the HQs on both his flanks.

Chit #1 — Soviet 29th Army (north of breakthrough and south of Karmanovo): They’re unsupplied, so instead of attacking they start to move forward and encircle the German XXXVI Corps HQ.

Chit #2 — German IX Corps (just north of the breakthrough to the southeast): They pull back farther to block the Soviet 5th Army from advancing westward through the woods east of Viaz’ma.

Chit #3 — Soviet 5th Army: They finish off the last regiment and HQ of the German XX Corps and advance westward into the woods east of Viaz’ma.

Chit #4 — Soviet 33rd Army: They surround and pound the German XXX Corps and mechanized division on the road southeast of Viazma. They reduce it to one regiment (with no ZOC), so the tank units bypass it on their mechanized movement phase and resume the advance on Viaz’ma.

Chit #5 — Soviet 22nd Army (west of Olenino): They break through the weak German XXIII Corps’ line in the Combat Phase, and the Soviet 3rd Mechanized Corps plus the 39th and 104th Tank Brigades advance three hexes eastward toward Olenino. They move again on the mechanized movement phase, and the 3rd Mechanized Corps enters Olenino.

Chit #6 — Soviet 20th Army: They surround and pound the isolated German 36th Motorized Division at the creek bend NE of Karmanovo.

SOVIET OPERATIONAL HALT! The 41st Army by Belyi and the 3rd Tank Army following the Soviet breakthrough to the southeast can’t activate. This is a big break for the Germans!

Chit #7 — German XXXIX Corps: They attack the northern flank of the Soviet 20th Army again, trying to break through and encircle them from the north to stop their drive south at Karmanovo. They wear them down somewhat.

Chit #8 — German XXXXI Corps (around Belyi): They send the units on their northern flank plus the German 1st Panzer Division from Belyi northward to hit the southern flank of the Soviet 22nd Army that just broke through to Olenino. They wipe out the southern Soviet flank in the Combat Phase, and then the 1st Panzer Division moves northwest in the mechanized movement phase to cutoff the 22nd Army from behind.

Chit #9 — German XX Corps (east of Viaz’ma): They are surrounded and unsupplied, and can’t break out. They stand and defend.

Chit #10 — German VI Corps (southwest of Belyi): They destroy one brigade of the Soviet 41st Army and move north to cut off another from its HQ.

Chit #11 — German XXIII Corps (which just had the southwest section of its line destroyed by the eastward-advancing Soviet 22nd Army): They pull back part of their line from north of Olenino, sending their HQ and the Guards mechanized division west and behind the eastward-moving Soviet 22nd Army to cut off their supply lines, and sending the 14th Motorized Division south to attack the Soviet 3rd Mechanized Corps holding Olenino. They eject the Soviets from Olenino and retake it.


The Guards counter attack.

Turn 5: December 3-4

The Germans roll and get only one SP this turn. That’s bad. Stalin’s attitude stays positive so the Soviets get three more SPs. The weather, however, stays snowy, so the Soviet advance will still be slow.

The Soviet player puts several HQs in combat supply, including the 39th Army north of Olenino (now that the German XXIII Corps has pulled back some of its forces there). The German player has only four SPs left, and he discovers that the German XXIII Corps HQ, which just moved west to cut off the Soviet 22nd Army from supply, has had its own supply line cut off from the east by 22nd Army units and ZOC. The HQ and its units (including the German 14th Motorized Division which just retook Olenino, and other XXIII Corps units defending the line to the north) will be unsupplied this turn.

The Soviet 22nd Army, on the other hand, still has a one-hex-wide supply line to the west, between the Guards Mechanized Division in the north and the German 1st Panzer Division that moved up from Belyi in the south. The only way the Germans will hold onto Olenino is if the 1st Panzer and the rest of the XXXXI Corps units moving up from the south can smash the Soviet 22nd Army. So, the German player puts his three west-flank HQs’ Corps plus the XXXIX Corps (the one that’s been hitting the flank of the Soviet 20th Army north of Karmanovo to the east) in combat supply and their chits in the cup. The Soviet player puts as many chits in the cup as he can and supplies as many of them as possible.

Chit #1 — German XXXIX Corps: The two mechanized divisions in this corps hit the north flank of the Soviet 20th Army again, and wear them down to one tank corps. If they can break through next turn they can get behind the southward Soviet advance.

Chit #2 — Soviet 22nd Army: They back up westward from Olenino to hit the eastern flank of the German XXXXI Corps advancing northward to close the pincers behind them. They damage it but don’t destroy any units, so they may still be cut off from behind.

Chit #3 — Soviet 3rd Tank Army: They advance northwest and destroy the German XXX HQ and its mechanized division on the road to Viaz’ma. They advance farther northwest toward Viaz’ma in the mechanized movement phase.

Chit #4 — German VI Corps (southwest of Belyi): They destroy the brigade they cut off from the Soviet 41st Army HQ, and then pull back south so they’ll be free of Soviet ZOC interference and can move quickly east or west of the Soviet line as needed next turn.

Chit #5 — German XXIII Corps (west of Olenino): They are unsupplied, so they move one hex eastward to try to pick up their supply line again, while the unsupplied 14th Motorized Division moves southwest and kills the weak Soviet 39th Tank Regiment from 22nd Army.

Chit #6 — Soviet 33rd Army: They drive northwest up the road and take Viaz’ma.

Chit #7 — Soviet 39th Army (north of Olenino): They blow a hole in the weak northern half of XXIII Corps’ line, and cross the creek and move south toward Olenino!

Chit #8 — Soviet 29th Army (north of breakthrough and southeast of Karmanovo): They are unsupplied and were only put in the cup due to Soviet restrictions. They continue to slowly maneuver around the German XXXXVI HQ.

Chit #9 — Soviet 5th Army: They keep pounding the XX Corps HQ and its mechanized division east of Viaz’ma.

Chit #10 — German XXXXI Corps: They move north and close the pincers behind the Soviet 22nd Army from the west.

Chit #11 — Soviet 20th Army: They kill the last of the surrounded German mechanized division at the creek bend northeast of Karmanovo, and send units south across the creek to reinforce their forces at Karmanovo.

Chit #12 — Soviet 41st Army (at Belyi): They hit the units which the German XXXXI Corps left behind to guard Belyi when they went north to save Olenino. The 41st Army takes Belyi.

All chits have been drawn, so the turn is over. The Soviets now control one objective hex (Belyi).

Turn 6: December 5-6

The Germans roll and get four SPs. Stalin, who expected to have taken Rzhev by now, starts rethinking his plans, and the Soviets only get two SPs this turn. The weather is still snow. The Soviet player spends all his remaining SPs to put his eastern flank in supply and support the drive northward on the road behind the German lines from Viaz’ma to Sychevka and Rzhev. The German spends SPs on HQs in hotspots, and has only two left. The Soviet player puts all of last turn’s chits in the cup, except for the Soviet 22nd Army which is now Unsupplied west of Olenino due to the pincer movement behind it to the west.

Chit #1 — German XXXIX Corps: They start pulling units back to protect the bridge southwest of Karmanovo from the expected southwest advance of the Soviet 20th Army. Their continued attacks on 20th Army’s north flank do no damage.

Chit #2 — German IX Corps: Pulls west to block the road north from Viaz’ma and Sychevka.

Chit #3 — Soviet 41st Army: They are unsupplied but are able to push another German division northward away from Belyi, and pile in to consolidate their position there.

Chit #4 — Soviet 39th Army: They push south and wrap around Olenino and the XXIII Corps HQ from west to east.

Chit #5 — Soviet 33rd Army: They push north from Viaz’ma and up the road, but the German 7th Luftwaffe Division (which IX Corps sent to block the road) stops 33rd Army cold, all by itself!

Chit #6 — German XXXVI Corps (southeast of Karmanovo): Pulls back west to avoid encirclement by 20th Army from the north and 29th Army from the east.

Chit #7 — Soviet 5th Army: Bypasses the reduced German XX Corps HQ and mechanized division and moves west, but is stopped in the woods by the remaining German mechanized division there.

SOVIET OPERATIONAL HALT! The Soviet 20th Army can’t hit the bridge southwest of Karmanovo, and 3rd Tank Army can’t advance up the road toward Sychevka.

Chit #8 — German XXXXI Corps (southwest and west of Olenino): The HQ supplies the 14th Motorized Division from the south and sends it into Olenino, while sending 1st Panzer eastward to reinforce it.

Chit #9 — German XXIII Corps (around Olenino): Does some damage to advancing Soviet 39th Army units from the north.

All German chits have been drawn, so the turn is over. The Soviets still control one objective hex at Belyi.


Crushing the fascists.

Turn 7: December 7-8

The Germans roll and get four supply points, and the weather turns to frost, so the Soviet advance can go full speed now. The Soviets only get two supply points from Stalin (plus the two they got back from not being able to activate 20th Army and 3rd Tank Army last turn), so they put their entire eastern flank in supply. The Germans do the same. The Soviets put all of last turn’s chits except for 41st Army (which is now holding Belyi comfortably) in the cup.

Chit #1 — German IX Corps: They retreat the 7th Luftwaffe Division north to keep blocking the road while outdistancing some slower Soviet units. Their mechanized division is stuck in the woods to the east opposing Soviet 5th Army.

Chit #2 — Soviet 3rd Tank Army: They drive north at full speed, overrun the 7th Luftwaffe Field Division on the road and kill it, and send two mechanized units northward on the road during the mechanized movement phase to take Sychevka. They will be unsupplied because they advanced beyond their HQ’s range, but they can still defend at Sychevka at full-strength.

Chit #3 — Soviet 20th Army: They attack southwest of Karmanovo but are stopped at the bridge.

Chit #4 — German XXXIX Corps: They abort their attack on the Soviet 20th Army’s northern flank and pull their two mechanized divisions back to block the road north from Sychevka to Rzhev.

Chit #5 — German XXXVI Corps (southeast of Karmanovo): They escape from being encircled by the Soviet 20th and 29th armies, and send tanks westward toward Sychevka.

Chit #6 — Soviet 33rd Army: They drive north along the road from Viaz’ma and get to within two hexes of Sychevka, but can’t go farther because their HQ has a movement allowance of 3 in each movement and mechanized movement phase. To go farther would make them unsupplied and useless against the mechanized divisions converging on Sychevka.

Chit #7 — Soviet 39th Army: They are unable to amass enough force to make an effective attack against the two German mechanized divisions now defending Olenino.

The turn ends with no more significant activity.


A Happy Valentine. Fraternal assistance from the workers of Great Britain.

Last Turn (December 9-10)

The weather remains at frost, but the two mechanized corps in Sychevka are unsupplied because they are outside 3rd Tank Army HQ’s range. Their movement rate is cut in half, so they get to Rzhev.

The two German mechanized divisions on the road to the north of them are also unsupplied because the advancing Soviets cut them off from XXXIX Corps HQ to the south, and the HQs to the north are too far away. So, they can’t attack the Soviet mechanized corps in Sychevka effectively.

The Soviet 33rd Army is too far to the south of Rzhev to be able to get there this turn, and the river to the north of Rzhev is wide and will prevent the Soviet 30th Army’s tanks from attacking across it. Olenino is under solid German control, and Belyi is securely in Soviet hands. There’s no way any objective hex will change hands before the game is over.

The Soviets control Belyi and Sychevka, which is two hexes. Soooo . . .

IT’S A DRAW!

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This piece originally appeared in February 2006.