ASL Solitaire: Roads to Stalingrad
‘Advanced Squad Leader’ is THE game for so many wargamers and I have always been fascinated by its extraordinary wealth of detail – perfect for my graphic storytelling. Some time ago I started an ‘ASL Solitaire’ project to chart the experiences of a German infantry company on the Eastern Front in 1942. I decided to use the 305th Infantry Division, which was transferred from occupation duty in Brittany, western France, to the Kharkov sector in May, 1942. They arrived just in time to take part in the defence against the Soviet offensive in that area.
The idea of the project is to follow Kapitan Praxa’s company from 2nd Battalion, 576th Regiment, 305th Division, from Kharkov to Stalingrad throughout 1942, within a loosely historical framework, using the ‘ASL Solitaire’ rules, followed by a full game of ‘Streets of Stalingrad’ to chart their involvement in a simulation of the great historical turning point of the war. It’s another big project! To be related through a future emagazine (for many years, I expect).
The 2nd Battalion, 576th Regiment has been sent to the Krasnograd sector, south-west of Kharkov, and a mission has been chosen (at random) – Mission 8, ‘Patrol’. So the story is that Praxa has been ordered to probe to the Battalion’s front in search of the advancing Russians. Mapboards 12 and 42 have been determined by the Mapboard Selection Table, with the Germans entering from West (bottom of the pictures shown). Below is the full custom-made map I developed for the scenario using large hexes (with only hex-centres shown) to avoid too much hated stacking!
The picture was taken just after the mutual sighting of both armies. Although the Russians are first to fire, luckily for Praxa, the Germans have just passed through the village and will be able to fall back on it to form a defensive line against what could be a large attack. Two squads of Lieutnant Klaus’ platoon have been broken on point of the advance, just beyond the hedge-line, and the Russians are swarming out of the woods in front. I have removed the black ‘Suspect’ counters here to only show visible Soviet units:
The mission has advanced a little since I took the photos. Due to a lack of space, I have played subsequent turns on paper using a reduced black and white sketch map. As you can see, the Germans have set up a defence line on the edge of the village with the left wing thrown out to the woods on the left to prevent the Russians exiting the map to the left. It is the German Defensive Fire Phase of Turn 2 and the initial enemy surge has been checked at the hedge-line north of the village:
The Soviets renew the attack, however, and inch forward under covering fire which breaks Kapitan Praxa and his men in the woods on the edge of the village. The latest, rather startling development is the appearance of a T-34 tank (no. 14 on the map) on the edge of the woods, just 50 yards in front of Leutnant Kubler’s position (no. 7)! Fortunately for the Germans, it bogs immediately, but will have a clear view for firing in the coming game turn:
My intention is to illustrate the events of this mission and future ones, all the way to the smoking factories of Stalingrad. In my next post I hope to show a few sketches of this mission in progress.