Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Barbarossa Mini-campaign: Battle No.2: Late arrivals

Once the Germans had broken through the Russian front-line they advanced as rapidly as they could into Soviet territory. The Russian response was to send all available units forward to meet the invaders, to defeat them, and then to throw them back across the border.

This was the second battle of my Barbarossa Mini-campaign.

Late Arrivals
This battle used Scenario 10 from Neil Thomas's ONE-HOUR WARGAMES. Both sides had six units available to take part in the battle.

The Germans had:
  • Three Infantry Units (= 12 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)
  • Two Tank Units (= 6 Strength Points)
Note: The German will become exhausted when they have lost 11 Strength Points.

The Russians had:
  • Four Infantry Units (one of which was Militia) (= 15 Strength Points)
  • One Anti-tank Gun Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
  • One Tank Unit (= 3 Strength Points)
Note: The Russians will become exhausted when they have lost 10 Strength Points.

The terrain looked like this:

The leading German troops had outstripped their supporting units and had halted in order for them to catch up. The Russians were already rushing reinforcements forward to stem the German advance, and a clash was inevitable. It was know that the German support units were moving up the road that ran through the built-up area in the corner of the wargaming board nearest the camera, and that the Russian troops would be arriving via the same road but from the opposite corner. The hill was deemed to be unclimbable and was regarded as impassable terrain.

The battle began when the first Russian units (led by their Tank Unit) entered the battlefield. The Russian Tank Unit immediately engaged the German Tank Unit ...

... and missed!

The Germans responded by moving their Machine Gun Unit out onto their right-hand flank whilst their Tank Unit fired at the Russian Tank Unit and forced it to withdraw.

Further Russian units arrived on the battlefield ...

... and this enabled the Russians to move forward.

The Russian Tank Unit's fire forced the German Tank Unit to withdraw down the road towards the built-up area ...

... whilst the Russian Anti-tank Unit was able to open fire on the German Machine Gun Unit and inflict 50% casualties on it.

At this point the first of the German support troops arrived, and this enabled the Germans to begin counter-attacking.

The German Tank Unit fired at the Russian Tank Unit and reduced its effectiveness by 33% ...

... and the German Machine Gun Unit was able to return fire upon the Russian Anti-tank Gun Unit and kill half of its gunners.

The duel between the two Tank Units continued ...

... but no further damage was caused.

A Russian Infantry Unit had moved forward and engaged the German Machine Gun Unit, but it was equally unsuccessful.

Events then began to favour the Germans when their Tank Unit was able to hit the Russian Tank Unit twice ... knocking it out.

The German Machine Gun Unit switched target and fired at the Russian Infantry Unit, but was unable to hit it.

The German Tank Unit now moved forward and forced the foremost Russian Infantry Unit to fall back.

This success was followed up by the two German Infantry Units, which advanced on either flank of the Tank Unit.

The Russians responded by moving their Anti-tank Gun Unit into the woods (thus giving it some protection) and forming a road block with their Infantry Units.

The left-hand German Infantry Unit fired at the Russian Infantry Unit in the centre of the roadblock, inflicting 50% casualties upon it.

The German Machine Gun Unit also engaged this Russian Infantry Unit, and reduced to 25% of its original strength.

The German Tank Unit chose to fire at another of the Russian Infantry Units ... with devastating effect.

At this point the Russians had reached their Exhaustion Level (they had lost 10 Strength Points) but were still in a position to defend ... which they chose to do.

(Once a side reaches its Exhaustion Level it cannot take any offensive actions such as advance, but may either retreat or fight on in the hope that they will exhaust their opponent. In this case Stalin's 'Not one step back!' order seems to have been obeyed.)

The Russians quickly proved that they were unwilling to give up their positions. The Anti-tank Unit fired at and hit the German Tank Unit ...

... and the Russian Militia Infantry Unit moved forward to support the Russian front-line.

At the same time the right-hand Russian Infantry Unit engaged the nearby German Infantry Unit and caused it to suffer 25% casualties.

The Germans reacted by moving their right-hand Infantry Unit forward, ...

... bringing further troops onto the battlefield, ...

... and wiping out the Infantry Unit in the centre of the Russian front-line.

In the hope that they could stem the German advance, the Russian Anti-tank Unit fired at the leading German Tank Unit and forced it to fall back.

The left-hand Russian Infantry Unit engaged the German Machine Gun Unit at long range, but their fire was ineffective.

The German response was vigorous and effective. The leading German Tank Unit moved forward and engaged the Russian Anti-tank Gun Unit ... and destroyed it!

The second German Tank Unit also advanced and engaged the right-hand Russian Infantry Unit. The latter was already reduced to 25% of it original strength, and this attack wiped it out.

The left-hand German Infantry Unit also moved forward and fired at the Russian Militia Infantry Unit, but the range was long and the German Unit's fire was ineffective.

The left-hand German Infantry Unit moved forward again, and this time its fire reduced the strength of the Russian Militia Infantry Unit by 33%.

The undamaged German Tank Unit advance and engaged the remaining Russian Infantry Unit, which it forced to retreat.

Both the Russian Infantry Units then fired at the nearest German Infantry Unit. The Russian Militia Infantry Unit's fire had no effect ...

... but the Russian Infantry Unit's fire did inflict a 25% loss upon the German Infantry Unit.

It was now only a matter of time before the Germans prevailed ... and when the end did come, it came very swiftly.

The right-hand German Tank Unit moved forward and fired at the remaining Russian Infantry Unit, inflicting 25% casualties on it

The left-hand German Tank Unit followed suit, and forced the Russian Infantry Unit to retreat.

Soon afterwards the leading German Infantry Unit engaged the Russian Militia Infantry ... and wiped it out!

The sole remaining Russian Infantry Unit was destroyed moments later when the left-hand German Tank Unit advanced yet again and fired at the Russian Unit.

The Germans had won the battle ... but at a cost. Its units were spread out all over the battlefield, and if the Russians were able to mount a counter-attack, the Germans could easily be pushed back. The Russians had also suffered casualties that might be difficult to replace if the campaign was to be a prolonged one.

At the end of the fighting the battlefield looked like this:

This battle was set up on Sunday night and fought in several short sessions on Monday and Tuesday. One of the joys of using the card-driven unit activation system is that it is possible to leave a battle in situ and return to it without having to worry as to which side had the initiative or whose turn it was to move their units next.

It was a real 'ding-dong' battle, and although the Russians ultimately lost, they had held up the German advance and inflicted a significant number of casualties.


  1. Hi Bob,
    Another inspiring game. I've learned a few things from reading your blog and have decided to quote you on my own. Your sage advice of "Keep your armies small." will now be featured under General von Lettow-Vorbecks portrait. If that is ok with you?

  2. Brigadier General,

    I am very pleased that you enjoy reading my blog, and that you have found the recent mini-campaign battle report inspiring.

    I would be honoured if you added the quote to your blog. Hopefully more people will follow the example and have lots and lots of small armies that they use!

    All the best,


  3. What a furball of a fight! It is amazing how intensely a pair of small armies can battle in a game. everything looks great on the hex board.

  4. Steven Page,

    It was a very enjoyable battle to fight. It proves yet again that you can have a great little battle with just a few units per side on a small playing surface.

    One of the reasons why it was such an interesting little battle was down to the playing card-driven unit activation system. This ensured that neither side could be sure how many units they could activate each turn, which made things far less predictable.

    All the best,


  5. Hi Bob,

    A great little action that read and felt like a much larger one! Are you using the latest version of MOMBAT/PW?

    You must be tempted to expand the scope of this given the size of your collection for the period - any thoughts?

    I sense some cunning plans lurking in the background....:-)

    All the best,


  6. David Crook,

    I must admit that it felt like it was a much bigger battle than it actually was, and the limited size of the tabletop was certainly not a hindrance.

    The rules I used were a very simple combination of my playing card-driven unit activation system and the combat system from MEMOIR '44. They worked well together and I will probably stick with them for the time being.

    The limit of six units per side is not as constricting as I thought it might be, and I am thinking of reorganising my 20mm-scale collection so that I can have a selection of different battle-ready combinations of units stored together.

    By adopting this approach it would make my oft-mentioned BARBAROSSA campaign a lot more feasible, and that does appeal. It will at least give me something to think about.

    All the best,


  7. One step closer to Moscow. I suspect the Russians are hoping that you have some snow covered winter hexes!

  8. Ross Mac,

    I don't think that the Russians need worry too much as the German advance is gradually running out of steam. That said, it would not be too difficult (or expensive) to produce a set of snow hexes that will fit on my wargaming board.

    All the best,


  9. I just noticed from 'Brigadier General' that you advised keeping ones armies small'. I think I ought to have taken that advice long long ago, as my armies have a way of getting out of hand... Mind you, they aren't as 'hugeous' as some I've seen in this town! Interesting campaign with few elements but enough variety to retain interest...

  10. Archduke Piccolo,

    It is a classic wargamer's dilemma; a couple of large armies vs. a lot of small armies.

    Like most, I was attracted by the prospect of fighting huge battles on a large tables with thousands of figures ... but never quite seemed to achieve that dream. In the end I opted for a greater number of small armies that were used regularly ... and if not that regularly, then they had not cost me the earth to acquire and did not take up a lot of space.

    I do own what I now regard as being quite large collections of armies (my Waterloo project is an example of this, with French, British, Prussian, Brunswick, and Dutch-Belgians represented amongst its several hundred figures) but they are nothing like the armies fielded by some wargamers.

    All the best,


    PS. I am pleased that you enjoyed reading about my mini-campaign. I think that this is likely to be the pattern of my future wargaming; a number of interlinked battles that have a connecting narrative are much more interesting to fight and write about.


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