Jim Tracy drove up
to Columbus on 1/7 to participate with me at our local CABS meeting in
playtesting the upcoming reprint for PanzerGruppe Guderian from
James F Dunnigan is behind the
re-design effort and there are some changes in the works for the game from
it's original, first published in S&T #57 in 1976. The game was reprinted
by Avalon Hill in 1984 with very minimal changes.
Jim Tracy was a gracious
opponent and very aggressive as the Germans, making this game an
interesting and effective exercise of the system and new map (in progress
by Art Lupinacci). We learned some interesting things and in addition to
this set of photos, there's feedback once again sent off to JFD in the
interest of sharing our experience in the game.
My pictures are of mixed
quality, however even the blurred ones are used here if they can show
where the two sides were positioned during the turn.
Posted with permission of Art Lupinacci of L2
Design Group. Map art is by no means final, and subject to change.
Counters are not representative of actual artwork intended. Counters will
be 5/8" and map will accomodate them when this title is published.
Jim Tracy across the table from me on Turn 8
This is the end of turn 1 for the
Soviets, so there's no German units on the board at all. The Soviet 16th
Army was released turn 1 and was used to fill in some of the forward
positions against an immediate German advance near Vitebsk.
Jim was telling me he's used to
people defending back and using those 2 armies to build up the secondary
defense line before Smolensk. I am used to defending forward more than
apparently he's seen being effective, and since that's been successful for
me many times in the past, I stuck with it.
The Germans peel open the
southern flank pretty strongly on turn 1. The end of turn 1 sees Jim taking
Orsha and holding the critical crossroads just north of that city. That road
is the supply road for the Germans, so it's pretty touchy for the Soviet to
lose it this early.
The German did have a bad setback
in one way. Jim committed an attempted overrun that turned out to be a 1-2
attack and obtained an Attacker Eliminated result, taking a full panzer
division out of the game early.
There is however only very weak
German forces on the board at this point, the advance guard moving as much
South as possible, ignoring Vitebsk entirely.
Soviet Turn 2
The Soviet cuts the supply paths
and attempted to clear away the motorized regiment on the southern flank.
That attack went awry however, and ultimately what resulted was simply road
blocks being placed in the path of the German advance. The isolated status
of the Germans was obviously tenuous, but the goal of limiting the mobility
of the advance elements was achieved for at least the first movement phase.
German Turn 2
The Germans clear the Supply
threat, lock down the northern flank to some degree by posting units up
against the Soviets so they can't move, and kick again at the Southern flank
to keep the threat of simply zipping across the to Smolensk. Jim never takes
his eyes off the VP cities deep in the back areas of the Soviet lines. Nasty
habit he's got there.
Notice that the Soviets have
nothing solid to the south even though there is a road for supply down there
cutting in towards Smolensk. A serious weakness I had no easy means to
Soviet Turn 3
Soviet troops pour in along the
southern rail line the best they can, but it looks like a measure of too
little to really keep that vast open terrain secure. The northern flank is
utterly ignored by the Germans. Soviet reinforcements coming down from the
north are unable to do more than trickle towards the critical parts of the
But an attempt has been made to
get some troops into place along the Dnepr, and to cut up some of the
forward German units. Once again, a few advance German units have been cut
off, but the Soviet hasn't the force to do any damage other than to get in
the way of the steamroller.
Note the German reinforcements on
the edge of the map waiting to enter on Turn 3. I'm sure Jim put them out in
advance deliberately as an intimidation tactic! Actually, I know he was just
trying to prepare for his turn, as watching me maneuver had to be boring.
German Turn 3
At this point, the German main
strength pours onto the board, and right through the Soviet line in the
south like a hot knife through butter. An immediate and direct threat to
Smolensk is now in place. This is that lesson Jim is trying to convey about
defending forward in this game.
The Soviet northern flank is well
displaced forward now, in no position to react, even if it could move. And
here's where the Soviet is pinned in place too, unable to attack for
withdrawal purposes, an aggressive forward defense is put at risk here. None
the less, the Germans are not clearing the critical supply road they will
require to get to and past Smolensk. Those woods and swamp will require
clearing before there is a suitable supply path.
Soviet Turn 4
Smolensk receives a rush of
reinforcements by rail that pile in as heavily as possible. The Soviets also
mount a sharp counter attack against the advanced 10th Panzer division which
was surrounded and out of supply for the attack. The result was a split loss
of steps, 2 for the Panzers and 1 for the Soviets. The effect of taking a
Soviet step loss puts the panzers back in supply at the end of the Soviet
turn. The 4th Panzer is in the woods closest to Smolensk.
Though speed bumps are in the
way, the path to Smolensk is pretty clear for the German to reach at the end
of Turn 4. Still, that critical supply route is choked with Soviet units.
Several motorized German divisions have been bled a bit, and the 10th
Motorized is split apart, as is the 3rd Panzer, making overruns with those
We started counting supply paths
at this point because it was beginning to look like it could become an
German Turn 4
The panzers roll around the flank
and take up positions around Smolensk. There's a couple benefits to doing
this so strongly even though there is a possible supply issue. The main
reason, it keeps additional units from squeezing into Smolensk to defend in
the city proper. Notice the northern flank still is in position, unable to
draw back to defend the city.
The Germans also roll the 4th
Panzer in behind the Soviet lines along the road to work on cutting supply
to the powerful divisions that have taken up positions in stronger defensive
terrain. To reduce the threat of counter attack, the Stukas are positioned
to reduce Soviet mobility around their flank.
The wide open Southern flank is
having a very negative effect on the Soviet defense, but it's far from
Soviet Turn 5 (Smolensk area)
A counter attack is thrown
against the eastern most Panzer division next to Smolensk to relieve some
pressure. It does damage, reducing the panzers a bit, but ultimately, all
that is happening is the Soviet reinforcements pouring in from the Northeast
are still unable to do more to provide relief. But the Germans are pressed
at the limits of their logistical tail, supply will be carefully calculated
for any of the easternmost units.
Soviet Turn 5 (road to Smolensk)
Meanwhile along the roadway,
efforts to block supply from opening up are ongoing. The 10th Panzer is
badly depleted, but by no means crippled, and the 4th panzer gets cut off
from supply, a counter attack having caused damage to the 4th but equally
dinging the Soviets. The disrupted marker should have been removed before
the picture was taken.
One of the arguments against this
forward defense is the effectiveness of the German infantry divisions in
participating in clearing the woods, as is evidenced by the infantry working
in through the swamp area.
German Turn 5 (the road to Smolensk)
The effort to encircle the
Soviets is pushed in a bit tighter. More of the defensive are in forward
sections is being cut up. It becomes just a matter of time before the larger
stacks of Soviet infantry and armor are peeled away, leaving open the
critical supply road.
German Turn 5 (Smolensk area)
Meanwhile, the forward troops
make an attempt to crack at least one of the city hexes, resulting only in
the loss of a leader. Concerns of flanking efforts by the Soviets lead to
the placement of Stukas to protect against the movement of the one armor
unit in the area sneaking around the flanks of the Panzers.
Soviet Turn 6 (Smolensk)
Another effort is made to
displace the forward Panzer division, with a split result again, bleeding
them slowly at best.
Despite the best efforts to keep
the panzers in supply, some Soviets slip around the flanks to cut off
supply. A defensive position along the Dnepr is forming Southeast of
Smolensk, but poorly due to the fact the Panzers are already across the
river east of the city.
Soviet Turn 6 (road to Smolensk)
The encircling panzers are themselves cut off,
but the counter attacks fall flat, leaving them in place with the pocketed
Soviet troops still just barely holding the road to keep the German advance
Off map on the north and west, the northern flank
remains unchanged, still holding at Vitebsk, with minimal German screening
forces holding the Soviets in place.
German Turn 6 (Smolensk area)
Jim starts to force the city. The
southern hex falls to the German attacks, and flanking threats to supply are
swept aside. The Stukas once again are positioned to prevent any effort to
flank exposed panzers. Threats from the south are being answered by
screening efforts also.
German Turn 6 (road to Smolensk)
Efforts to clear the supply road
continue, but now the German infantry is helping to provide flanking for
Vitebsk and the Northern flank that's been so long static.
The Soviets continue to hold out
at least another turn though, providing even further barriers to easy
advances by all the German forces. Some panzer forces to the west have been
scattered by failed overrun attempts.
Soviet Turn 7
The Soviet once again piles on
the Panzers across the Dnepr, causing more damage, but by no means
displacing them. Additional forces slip in to prevent flanking of the city
to the north or south. The swarm coming in from the east isn't nearly
enough, but it's causing the German to work harder on clearing his rear
Down south a handful of Soviets
hold back just a couple German units from advancing towards Roslavl, with
one division sitting in the city proper, and a couple other units tying up
the few Germans advancing near Mstislavi.
The Soviet interdiction marker is
placed on the supply road as far West as possible to affect the German
capacity forward at this point.
German Turn 7
At this point, the road path is still being blocked by the
Soviets, and though the southern hex of Smolensk has fallen, the forces inside
the northern hex are still too strong to contemplate a head on assault without
holding more space around the city to make a significant attack. There is some
maneuvering going on in the south to try getting to Roslovl. Jim catches me out
on a rule I'd missed before, that being the Soviet air interdiction cannot be
placed on top of a German unit (a side effect of the interdiction marker in part
being not just air, but partisans). Note the line of German units developing
along the roadway. Jim has mechanized forces working to flank around Smolensk to
the north and south, targeting any supply path into the city proper. He has
effectively prevented reinforcement of the city, though when he took the
southern hex, a very powerful Soviet armored unit was retreated into the
northern city hex. He's also been frustrated in the attack to take Vitebsk,
which holds out against attack while surrounded. None the less, some of the
powerful German infantry will make it to the Smolensk fight soon.
Soviet Turn 8
With a bit of a rush, the Soviet
works to prevent easy flanking of either North or South. The German will have to
choose between the two to make his advance during his turn. The maneuvering down
south around the Mstislavi area is slowly turning into a real attempt to break
through to Roslavl, so the positions are more critical in the south than they've
been for a while. The lightly held southern flank once again represents a threat
to areas east of Smolensk now. The major effort is being placed by the
Soviets on keeping the advanced German units from having supply. Once again,
attempts to displace the Panzer Division east of Smolensk fails. Each turn
though brings more damage to that division.
German Turn 8
The road to Smolensk is finally
cleared of roadblocks and Vitebsk is also crushed. The German force in the south
has done a bit of rear area clean up too, as a mechanized unit rushes to roll
into the unprotected Roslavl. The main effort to cut the rail line up from the
south so no more reinforcements can creep up from down there. Additionally, the
GD is pushed into Velna, to seize the VP city behind Smolensk. However, best
efforts to clear Smolensk itself failed and the flanking move around the north
has been held up. Great rear area successes, but the front area is still in
Soviet Turn 9
The Soviets frantically fill in open spaces, bringing in
the first 5 divisions of the optional Southwest Front units. The position is
simply dangerous enough for the Soviet that without them, the east edge of
the map is within easy reach. Another attack on the Panzers east of Smolensk
brings no result though it's apparent the jockeying German flanking moves to
the north will get around eventually anyway.
German Turn 9
An attempt to force Smolensk fails. The Germans that had
been fighting for the supply road start catching up with the rest of the
battle, and the road to Roslavl is cleared to the south.
Soviet Turn 10
Yelna is recaptured, Roslavl is
re-entered, effectively recapturing that city as well. The attack on the panzers
east of Smolensk finally pays off and the Dnepr river becomes the defensive line
again southeast of the city proper. An attempt to crush the one German unit
flanking from the north fails, but the northern flank to Smolensk is becoming
thicker. Another 5 divisions of the Southwest Front reinforcements pour onto the
board, the southwest section of the board showing signs of weakness that the
Soviet cannot ignore.
German Turn 10
The German forces, having finally
cleared the last blocking defender near Mstislavi push back towards Roslavl in
force. Partly to pin the forces coming up from the south, partly to regain the
VP city. A couple Panzer divisions and a Motorized division wheel behind the
Smolensk area to pocket the defenders from behind. The serious effort is
undertaking destroying the northern flank comprised of Soviet infantry that has
been occupying so much German force's left. Despite clearing many Soviet units
from the map, the Germans end up with several divisions dispersed as the result
of failed overruns. The steady pocketing of Soviet units out of supply does
however yield a collapse and the German advance is once again pushing east.
Soviet Turn 11
Soviet efforts to relieve their supply state in the Smolensk
pocket fail, but several German division are put out of supply. Additional
road blocks are put in place to prevent an easy movement east by the German
forces. The pocket is large enough to take a bit of effort by the Germans
to clear. The serious effort is put merely on holding onto what the Soviets
still hold though.
German Turn 11
Defenses in Roslavl are crushed and a serious drive started
towards the east edge of the map. Most importantly, the right flank of the
Smolensk defense is completely crushed, leaving an encircling penetration on the
northern edge of the board as well. Smolensk, still held by a few strong units
is cut off and isolated now beyond hope of any relief.
Soviet Turn 12
In a desperate effort, the Soviets
form a line to cut off supply to the advancing German forces in the south. By
this means the Germans are prevented from being able to reach the 20-60 VP hexes
along the eastern most edge of the map due to insufficient movement while out of
supply. All that is left to the Soviet is to block movement that could reach VP
hexes remaining on the map during Turn 12 for the German.
German Turn 12
German forces reclaim Yelna and a wild rush to Gzhatsk snaps
up the VP there too. But critically, the final assault on Smolensk fails,
leaving the city still in Soviet hands at the end of the game.
|7th Panzer Destroyed
|1st five SW front divisions
|2nd five SW front divisions
End result is 51 VP, the German marginal victory starts at 50
VP, so this was a marginal German Victory.