I have worked up a few pages in sketch form of the first encounter in Roads to Stalingrad.
To remind you of the overall situation:
And the sketches (these will be inked-up and coloured for the future emagazine):
My next post will be about the First World War, a detailed narrative of a ‘window’ game I played some years ago of the opening engagements on the Western Front.
‘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.
This is the final part of my G.D. ’40 sequence. I hope it illustrates quite well my idea for ‘window games’ – ie, using a different game system (in this case, Advanced Squad Leader) to simulate the battle at a smaller scale. This game will be continued if my plans for a future emagazine are realised.
Here below is the ASL translation of the action in Stonne at the same time. The squad of my German character (who witnessed the French air attack on his unit in the woods – see Part One) is outlined in red at the top right corner. His platoon has been ordered to take care of the last remaining French defensive positon – the Heavy Mg at top left. Shouldn’t be a difficult task given their shattered morale state!
And here is the position to the east in Stonne wood. The French are beginning to receive quite a battering.
With Stonne more or less in German hands now, the anti-tank guns have already been released from the reserve and should be in the village within an hour or so. The coming French counter-attack with a strong tank force (my French character is the tank commander of one of them) is likely to be a stormy affair!
My next post, in June (I hope to make a new post every month now) will show my idea for a Solitaire ASL campaign game on the Eastern Front in WWII – ‘Roads to Stalingrad.’
My original idea for a ‘Great Wargame’ on WWI has taken a bit of a back seat due to a recently increased workload, but I intend to post up quite a comprehensive campaign AAR I did years ago using Ted Raicer’s ‘Glory’s End’ wargame of the initial campaign on the Western Front. To be timed for the 100th anniversary in August.
The two areas outlined above are where the initial action takes place. I Battalion, Gross Deutschland are tasked with taking the village of Stonne, while II Battalion are to take possession of Stonne wood just to the east. As the German infantry leave their start-lines at 0600 hours certain elements come under heavy air attack and are delayed. Then there is a heavy bombardment of Stonne village. The following maps outline the early developments of the attack.
In part three I will show how the attacks develop, and also I will show my ‘window’ adaptation of the position in Stonne village at the level of Advanced Squad Leader, in order to follow more closely the movements of my German character (who is in the 1st Company of I Battalion).
I am a huge fan of The Gamers’ Tactical Combat Series. It was a wargaming revelation to me when I bought ‘Objective Schmidt’ back in the early 90’s. A decade later, I made my first tentative efforts at making a graphic representation of a later game in the series, ‘GD ’40’. I am posting up here some of those efforts, cleaned up with Photoshop. The colour has not reproduced very faithfully, unfortunately, perhaps because it was originally done in watercolour – the greens have gone positively luminous! This would be one of the stories to be continued in a future emagazine, if it ever comes to pass.
Below are the op sheets for the French initial defence and the German plan of assault.
I decided to follow one individual soldier from each army, with plans to tell their stories in more detail, using ASL as a ‘window’ game when necessary. The first page here below features the present tense narrative of Axel Mauthner, private in 1st Company, I Battalion Gross Deutschland Regiment. His unit received a nasty surprise on reaching the Start Line north of Stonne (which can be seen in I Battalion’s Op Sheet above):
In my next post I will show the results of the bombardment on Stonne and the subsequent assault by the Gross Deutschland Regiment.