This game was played over an evening from 8 to 11 o’clock including setup and strip down, with Trebian taking the Soviets and Yesthatphil taking the Axis . I scaled the game at one NQM battalion representing a division. This gave me some problems midway through the game, but more of that later.
The 2 Panzer Armee advance was limited to the rail line from TAMBOV to BORISOGLEBSK due to deteriorating weather. Soviet resistance was less hampered, but 57 Army comprising 99, 150, 317 and 351 Rifle and 14 Guard Rifle divisions had left most of their their divisional artillery behind in order to advance to contact with 48 MotKorps, comprising 17 and 18 Panzer divisions with 29 Motorised and 167 Infantry divisions.
Soviet South Front had managed to reinforce BORISOGLEBSK with 335 Rifle division from 9 Army in time to fend off assaults from 2nd SS Panzer and then 10 Panzer divisions from 46 Mot Korps as they arrived on the outskirts of the rail junction.
Things were looking good for 9 Army, as Strategic RKG reserves in the shape of 3 Guards Cavalry and 24 Tank divisions were able to catch 2nd SS Panzer.
Then disaster struck …
I applied a Tank Terror ruling to the reinforced 10 Panzer and 18 Panzer assault on BORISOGLEBSK. The look of horror in Trebian’s eyes told me that I had failed to carry the players with me in the narrative. The story running in his head told him that the heroic 335 Rifle division, fortified* in a city, on the point of achieving guards status , had had victory snatched from them by a dodgy umpire ruling and one die roll. It took a bit of smoothing over as Phil marched the division off into captivity**.
Elsewhere things were going badly for the Germans. An apparently unending wave of attacking infantry was tearing into 48 Mot Korps as it advanced along the rail lines. Any semblance of an attack dissolved as logistic echelons found themselves defending against close assaults.
A fierce cavalry-armour battle developed around the outskirts of BORISOGLEBSK. what became apparent was that the panzers were not going to reach STALINGRAD this year and were not going to hold on to the TAMBOV-BORISOGLEBSK railway. The assault ended with scattered remnants of 48 Mot Korps straggling in to BORISOGLEBSK in order to fall back to VOROZHNEV to regroup.
* I keep having this problem with the open, single storey, wooden built-up areas in 1940s Russia. Everyone equates them to the high-rise city centre scenes in ‘Enemy at the Gates‘ rather than the more open suburbs of Stalingrad that burned down leaving only chimmney stacks. I count these troops as Medium in defence, and only count fortified troops in concrete bunkers as Heavy.
** On reflection, a rule that works well at battalion level is too abrupt to apply to an entire infantry division, even if it has left its heavier equipment behind to reach close terrain. On reflection, I should have made the panzers fight through the rail junction. The result would probably have been the same, looking at the red pips on the infantry stands, but the players would have been happier, and that’s important.
- Racing the Rasputitsa (notquitemechanised.wordpress.com)