After a year of preparation and two false starts, I finally got my Winter War Campaign off the ground yesterday at the Hobby Bunker. It is funny that when I look back the easy work was painting the figures and getting the terrain together, the really tough work is campaign design. I really have to admire the work put in by Rich Clarke in his "Pint-Sized Campaigns". Not only do you have to have a grasp of history but you have to be able to design an interesting campaign.
After reading around the Winter War, I decided that Battle of the Raate Road would best lend itself to a short but interesting campaign for Chain of Command using the At The Sharp Edge campaign supplement. Here we have a 5 day battle fought over a relatively small area between two very asymmetric and different forces under very adverse conditions.
Being a relatively novice WWII gamer, I felt it best to stick as close as possible to the army lists and the campaign supplement as available from Too Fat Lardies. For the first two months of the Winter War the Soviets are rated as green and the Finns elite. This pits a large force of 62 men against a small force of 36 men, with the large force having a +9 advantage in supports. Sounds good but when it came down to it, it was an uninteresting experience for the Soviet player as he has lots of men but very little command ability and very few tactical options. Historically correct maybe but boring to play.
The Too Fat Lardies games have an excellent cadre of players so as usual I referred my problem to the User Forum. After some discussion, I have made some modifications to my original plan to hope for a more interesting campaign. I plan to put together a pdf of the campaign when it is completed, but the general outline is as below.
January 5-7, 1940
Finnish CO Orders: You lead an elite Jããkiri platoon. Advance north to find where the Soviets are concentrated, then skirt along the Raate Road east 20 km to the Soviet command post at the Raate Border Station, attack the border station and kill General Viogradov, commander of the Soviet 44th Rifle Division. Along the way hary the Soviets forces.
Soviet CO Orders: You command a green force of Ukrainian recruits. General Viogradov has ordered the 44th Rifle Division to retreat back to the Finnish-Soviet border along the Raate Road. Your specific platoon has been ordered to provide rearguard action as the division retreats. Make your way to the border where you will join up with the 3rd NKVD Border Regiment.
- The campaign structure is a unilateral 4 rung ladder. Scenario 2 and 6 from the main rulebook will be used for the 1st and 4th rung. The scenarios for rungs 2 and 3 will be selected according to the tactical situation, with the previous game's loser making the selection.
- Victory for the Finns is taking the border station within 6 Turns, anything else is a Soviet victory.
- Army lists: the official CoC lists for the 39-40 Soviets and Winter War Finns. To make the game more playable the Green Soviets will have 5 CD and able to deploy a complete squad in entrenchments.
- Attrition will accumulate on both platoons. The CO's and yours Men's Opinion will be calculated after each scenario. The Platoon Leader's Outlook will be calculated after Turn 2.
- Replacements can be called for once by the Soviets and once for the Finns.
- A Wild Card will be available to each side during the campaign after Turn 3.
- The Soviets will have a fresh squad of a regular SMG NKVD troops available for the final rung as Reinforcements
Terrain: No normal terrain. For Infantry, the road itself and it's edge is Broken Ground, the Forests, Hills, Lakes and Exposed Ground with Scrub is Heavy Going while the Snow is Really Heavy Going. All Vehicles are confined to the Ice Road.
On to the first scenario "Find the 44th". This was played as in scenario 2 except that we played it along the long axis rather then the short. Unfortunately we did miss that Mike (the Soviets) was supposed to get two free entrenchments, we did count the game but I decided to give him a fresh platoon for the second game. I as the attacker threw a 6 for support, so I got 6 supports and Mike got 15. I took an captured Soviet LMG for one of my LMG team, a Maxim HMG Team, as well as a Satchel Charge. Mike took one entrenchment, a Commissar, a Maxim HMG Team as Well as a BT7 Tank, he may have had more but that is what I saw. The Finns had a starting Morale of 11 and the Soviets 8. On to the Patrol phase.......
|My SMG team advancing through the forest, ready to mop up the Soviets.|
So our first game was a Soviet rout, as their morale fell to zero before they could withdraw. Certainly we identified that as set up this is a somewhat uninteresting game from the Soviet perspective, which I hope will be corrected by increasing the Soviets Command Dice to five. Mike was unlucky though, he only lost 21 men, but every time one of his squads had a kill on it, his test for wounding a leader failed and he had to take multiple morale tests which brought him down to zero in a little over two hours. Let's hope the next game is more interesting.