Race to the Volga AAR Soviet Union

Chris over at The Sharp End Gaming has provided me and Doug from Cry Havoc! an early build of his new Stalingrad scenario, “Race to the Volga”. This is a companion scenario to “Operation Hubertus” that Chris released on his blog on Monday. Doug has typically played these as the Germans, and I have been playing them as the Soviet Union.

I am in command of the Soviet 62nd Army with 9,351 personnel, 55 armored fighting vehicles, 1,281 non-armored fighting vehicles and 153 guns with a combined anti-personnel firepower rating of 3,519, anti-armor of 31,474, bombardment of 666 (pure evil), armor of 348 and an infantry value of 4,809. These 113 total starting units are facing a German press into the city that I must repulse or delay as much as possible to collect the Victory Point locations my forces are presently arrayed upon.

There are a number of objectives behind the Soviet forces that I assign to the closest company or battalion to handle. As these units are not currently suffering from any fatigue and it is 06:30 game time, I just use the default settings which should get them there in short order. Once I get down to everything that has five Victory Points or more, I stop detaching units to plug the holes and order a general defend in-situ order to the 62nd Army HQ with Attacks selected.

The current intel picture presented indicates 2,450 Axis units running north to south on the western edge of the map with much lower numbers than I have with my Soviet forces. Knowing how this is done in creating a mission I am certain there are a significant amount of additional on map forces to contend with as well as the reinforcements the Germans will receive.


The general picture of the battlefield with both the northern and southern most objectives displayed.

My general intention in handling reinforcements is to simply reattach to the organic superior force any unit that is below battalion classification and give direct orders to the others to plug holes or shore up some of the higher Victory Point objectives.


D01 09:31 When the 34th Guards Infantry Regiment arrives (3,553 personnel), I order them to the Beketovka Ferry Objective. Although this objective is only worth 2 Victory Points, if the weak forces already there are breached it would allow the Germans to run rampant behind my lines so to speak, on the other side of the river.


D01 10:38 When the 39th Guards Infantry Regiment arrives (3,550 personnel), I order them to the 9th of January Square Objective to prevent the Germans from attacking across the ferry crossing point just to the south of that location.


D01 15:02 When the 42nd Guards Infantry Regiment arrives (3,718 personnel), I order them to plug a perceived hole opening up at the Grain Elevators Objective. Using the Unit Quickest Path Tool allows me to see the theoretical route the unit should take getting there. I alter the settings to Minimum Rest.


D01 16:33 When the 13th Guards Infantry Division arrives (941 personnel), I order them to the Lazur Chemical Factory Objective (3 Victory Points, split 50/50 between Occupation and Completion). While they are a HQ unit, they are also a reinforcement unit so I am pressing them to the other side of the river where they contribute a few bullets to the cause.

I also use this opportunity to issue a Deny Crossing order to the 38th Sapper Battalion that is on the opposite side of the Beketovka Ferry Objective. Up north I order the 3rd Company 1st Battalion 184th Tank Brigade (10 T-34 76.2mm tanks) to fall back to the Red October Factory.


D01 18:00 The Mamaev Hill Objective (14 Victory Points, split 50/50 between Occupation and Completion) is being contested so I order the 2nd Battalion 161st Rifle Regiment along with 1st and 2nd Company of the 1st Battalion 184th Tank Brigade to fall back into a defensive posture on top of the objective.


D02 00:00 The 34th Guards Infantry Regiment is making painfully slow progress towards the Beketovka Ferry Objective, so I use the Unit Quickest Path Tool to see that adjusting the route to a move order with quickest path selected should take them approximately seven hours to arrive.

The order is issued and I make a mental note to trust the system but verify the progress at the 06:00 update. I set the move order end time to D02 09:22 (eight total hours) so that if the unit flags it will abandon the task and sit dormant in case I forget to check it (rest is set to none so they start the move immediately).


D02 06:00 Although the 34th is making progress, it is still painfully slow and I am in doubt they will make it before their order end expiration.


D02 15:21 1st Battalion 416th Rifle Regiment (692 personnel) arrives and they are ordered to defend at the Train Station Objective (7 Victory Points, split) with quickest route selected and minimum rest.

Down south I am alarmed to find out that much of my Ace in the Hole 34th Guards Infantry Regiment is not only still grinding away towards their objective, but many of the units are completely out of ammunition. The unit has seen zero combat since arriving and I am somewhat perplexed by this situation.

Not pictured here: at the same time up north I order the 112th Rifle Division (484 personnel) to fall back onto and defend at the Barrikady Factory Objective (3 VP, split) so that they will be in better position late game to assist in some of the higher point objectives.


D03 00:00 The movement order for the 34th Guards Infantry Regiment is a complete disaster. Although the Unit Quickest Path Tool indicated some 6-8 hours for the march, the unit is actually projected to arrive on D04 at 06:43.

They are now effectively marginalized as they are totally out of position to affect the battle in a positive way for the Soviets, and reissuing orders will not accomplish anything with the amount of time remaining.

Even though the regiment was issued a quickest route with no rest, their overall fatigue is only at 2% (and the highest single unit fatigue I could identify was 21%). I simply do not understand what is going wrong.


D03 06:31 The 10th NKVD Division (1,564 personnel) are ordered to fall back onto and defend at the Grain Elevators Objective (7 VP, split).

At the same time, three new arrivals (3 Bn 416, 1 & 2 Coy 1st Bn 137th) are grouped together into a force of 722 personnel and 20 armored fighting vehicles. They are issued a move order with quickest route and minimum rest to the Train Station Objective (7 VP, split). 


D03 12:00 The last of the reinforcements have arrived and now the Soviets must hold off the German attacks as best they can. Right now I am looking at a possible Decisive Defeat outcome.


D04 00:00 The situation remains relatively unchanged. The yellow crosses on the battlefield indicate those Soviet units that have either surrendered or were eliminated.


D04 06:00 The final morning status update shows a bleak situation. It is interesting to note that some of the early reinforcements that were ordered to cross the Volga have not done so in any significant force. This coupled with the ammunition situation identified earlier in this post makes this a frustrating grind of a scenario to play with reinforcements that have to utilize ferry crossings.

After-action Report


Review Final Situation


General Observations

These are just my opinions and not personal criticisms.

If the German commander is named in the main scenario briefing the Soviet commander should be named as well.

There should be some nominal scoring at least assigned to the standard Destroy the Enemy Objective in the Scenario Editor Victory Conditions settings: without it the objective still appears in the list with an ugly white overfilled box. By assigning some value other than zero in the Total Kill Points field, this issue can be eliminated.

Eighteen scenario objectives are too many. I can appreciate what the author is trying to accomplish (forcing a broad front), but much like the previous Stalingrad scenario this just becomes overwhelming to a casual gamer such as myself. Anything more than five distinct objectives (or any amount that causes a scroll bar to appear in the list in game) is simply too much to bother with.

The blue against the green on the counter is difficult for me to see. I think they would look better and be easier on the eye with a higher contrast such as a light against dark or a dark against light color, not two dark colors.

The Red October Factory Objective is an identified location on the map as well, but it is named the Red October Plant: these can be consolidated into a uniform naming convention.

I have a fairly average gaming system with 8 GB RAM, a quad core i7 CPU and a Radeon HD 7700 2 GB GPU that plays most games with ease. At the D02 20:00 mark there were 18,000 + Soviet personnel on the map and even using the run until function the speed of the game was quite slow. I certainly enjoy these massive divisional sized battles; however such a scenario could take a significant tool on systems with lower specs than mine.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Tim. Thanks for the feedback! I don't know why, those units arrived without ammo I will look into it. I've also had difficulty moving them across the river in time. I've thought about improving the road infrastructure or placing them on the map initially.

    I will fix the cosmetic stuff today and post another file for you. The larger objectives question I will look at. I will try to limit it to 7 objectives and see what happens. Typically I like the flexibility of more objectives and all were historically important points to the Germans and Soviets but I can see your point.

    Thanks again!

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am still coming across the ammo issue. I looked at the EF - GRD - AT Rifle Coy – Stalingrad estab file and you have 78 personnel which is consistent with the 3 14.5mm AT Rifle Coy 34th Guards Inf Regt in the Scenario Editor. I am suspecting you do not have enough head count, for the following reasons: each 14.5mm PTRD AT Rifle indicates a crew of 2 and you have 36 of them in the estab file, so you would need 72 people right there. Assuming that is the only weapon they could carry, you do not have enough people left – 6 at this point - to carry the LMG’s, the SMG’s and the Mosin’s (a total of 81 additional weapons). In addition, you have the weapon set to Single Shot, which means it is used up after one use. Per the estab manual, this should be used for things such as rocket launchers and panzerfaust. I am just speculating here, but I suspect the issue lies in this area: it seems that any unit where you have this PTRD weapon is the root cause of the ammunition issue.

    ReplyDelete