Friday, September 14, 2018

Surprise Party

June, 1944.  Operation Bagration had begun, stormed though German lines and surged deep into Belorussia and the Baltic States,  At Latvian Dvinsk (Dunaburg, Daugavpils) the town and its outlying suburb villages were overrun, though not without a fight.  The Germans hastily abandoned the village of Malinava, northwest of Dvinsk.

Oberstleutnant Degnon, with an elite force of heavy tanks and panzergrenadiers was tasked with seizing, taking or carrying the village of Malinava as a counter to the bridgehead the Russians were establishing on the south bank of the Dvina River (just off the bottom edge of the map).  Dividing his small battlegroup into two columns, he ordered the column commanders, Hauptmann Carius and Oberleutnant Strecker to pinch out the village position, retake the place, and prepare for the enemy counter-attacks that would inevitably follow.  The Germans soon found that Malinava was already held in some strength, though the enemy had yet to consolidate his defences.

For his part, the local Russian Commander, Colonel Bogdan Bogganitch Bogdanovitch, had been apprehending just such a quickly mounted attack by the Hitlerites.  He had his tanks and tank-riding infantry, but where in all of Holy Mother Russia were his heavy weapons supports?  The mad rush of the advance had left them far behind.  All he could do was wait.  'Hold on,' said his commanding General, 'We have tanks and infantry coming up.  Some heavies, too.  They should arrive about midday.  Can you hold until then?'

'We'll hold,' said Colonel Bogdanovitch. He was by no means as sure of that as he tried to sound...

German Kampfgruppe Degnon:

HQ:  Lt-Col Drgnon, car, SP=6

Column Carius:

Haupt. Carius, Kubelwagen  SP=1
1st Panzer Company:  Tiger I, heavy rank, elite, SP=3
2nd Pz Coy: Tiger I, heavy tank, elite, SP=3
1st Panzergrenadier Coy: 4 infantry stands, SdKfz251 average SP=4
2nd PzGr Coy: 4 infantry stands, SdKfz251, average,  SP=4
4th PzGr (Weapons) Coy:
      MGs: 2 MMG stands, SdKfz251,average,  SP=2
      Mortars: 1 8cm mortar, SdKfz251, average, SP=2
Heacy Armoured Car Compamy:
      1 SdKfz234/2 Puma, elite, SP=3

Column Strecker:

Oblt. Strecker, kubelwagen, SP=1
3rd Pz Coy: Tiger I, heavy tank, elite, SP=3
4th Pz Coy: Tiger I, heavy tank, elite, SP=3
5th PzGr Coy: 4 infantry stands, truck, average, SP=4
6th {zGr Coy: 4 infantry stands, truck, average, SP=4
8th PzGr (Weapons) Coy:
     MG: 2 MMG stands, truck average, SP=2
     Mortar: 1 8cm mortar, truck, average, SP=2
Recon Support Armoured Car:
     1 SdKfz 234/3 with 75L24 gun, average, SP=3


Units: 17 (including commands, see Note 1
Median: 9
Strength Points: 50
Exhaustion Point: 17 SP lost

Russian, Elements of 4th Shock Army

Garrison, Malinava village and environs.

91st Tank Brigade: Colonel B.B. Bogdanovitch, SP=6
410th Tank Battalion:
     1st Tank Company: 1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
     2nd Tank Coy: 1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
     3rd Tank Coy: 1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
421st Tank Battalion:
     4th Tank Company:  1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
     5th Tank Company:  1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
     6th Tank Company:  1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
155th Tank desantski SMG battalion:
     1st SMG Coy: 4 SMG stands, average, SP=4
     2nd SMG Coy: 4 SMG stands, Average, SP=4
     3rd SMG Coy: 4 SMG stands, average, SP=4
     MMG Coy: 2 MMG stands, average, SP=2
Light Armoured Car Coy:
     1 BA64, MG only, elite, SP=3

Reinforcements, arriving during the day:

At Point C:     Elements 129th Tank Brigade:
     7th Tank Coy: 1 T34/76, poor,SP=3
     8th Tank Coy: 1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
     4th SMG tank desantski Coy: 4 SMG stands, average, SP=4
At Point B:   Elements 132nd Tank Brigade:
     9th Tank Coy: 1 T34/76, poor. SP=3
     10th Tank Coy: 1 T34/76, poor, SP=3
     5th SMG Coy: 4 SMG stands, SP=4
At Point A:  Elements, 43rd Heavy Tank Battalion
     Captain S.S. Stepanski, jeep, SP=1 (See Note 1)
     1st Heavy Tank Coy: 1 IS2, average, SP=3
     2nd Heavy Tank Coy: 1 IS2, average, SP=3
     6th SMG  Coy: 4 SMG stands, SP=4


Units: 12, rising to 15, 18, 22
Median: 6, rising to 8, 9, 11
Strength Points: 41, rising to 51, 61, 72
Exhaustion Points: 14, rising to 17, 21, 24 SP lost


1 Commands counted as separate units for the purposes of counting medians.
2. Command stands with another stand may act with it without using an extra movement point.
3. Command units moving independently cost a movement point.
4.  I made the German tanks elite and the Russian 'poor' really to differentiate as much as possible their disparate strengths without differencing their SP values.
5. Recon units I decided were 'elite' to add to their value for recon purposes.  It didn't make much difference in this particular game, although the Puma did end up footing it with at least one T34.
4. On the Russian side, the Exhaustion Point is adjusted upwards, as reinforcements arrive.
5. Reinforcements are placed on the table entry points, or 1 edge grid area adjacent to it, at the beginning of their arrival turn before initiative is determined.
6.  Arrival times are
    C: Move 11
    B: Move 14
    A: Move 17
(These could have been randomised to add to uncertainty)
Before leaving here, I ought to say something about the rule set I was using.
1.  The rule set was Bob Cordery's Portable War Game.  However there were a few small tweaks to make what was a sizeable game play smoothly.
2.  The subcommanders added to the number of units, but could move with other units at no extra cost to the movement allowance.
3.  Turns were in pairs, comprising one side making its moves and attacks, then the other.  At the beginning of each pair, I rolled two dice.  One went ODD (German initiative) or EVEN (Russian initiative),  The other roll went 1,2 - activate median-1 units; 3,4 - activate median units; 5,6 activate median +1 units, for whichever unit 'won' the initiative.
4.  At the end of that side's moves, combats and rallies. then the other side rolled to activate its units.
5.  Commanders did not have a fighting capacity of their own, but helped (per rule set) with the fighting and or morale of units they were with.
6.  Pinning.  To move things along, I decided that pinned units in contact with the enemy could still battle in close combat.  The modifications still stood, but a 'natural' six rolled always counted as a hit on the enemy.  The effect of this was to help the action along a bit, especially when two opposing units were both pinned!  We'll see how that worked out next time.
7. Transports.  The Panzergrenadier trucks and half-tracks were integral to the unit.  If the infantry dismounted and left their vehicle, only the vehicle OR the infantry could move or shoot for the movement point allocated to the unit.   Motor transport in this action did not count as separate units.

Finally: this scenario owed a great deal to the 'Surprise Party' scenario from the Computer game Europe In Flames: East Front.  It seemed to me a fine scenario to adapt to this system

To be continued.

1 comment:

  1. Archduke Piccolo,

    This looks like it was a very interesting scenario to fight. I look forward to reading the battle report.

    All the best,