Recommend
21 
 Thumb up
 Hide
17 Posts

PanzerBlitz» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Scenario 3: The Pure Scenario rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
This thread will have a look at PanzerBlitz's Scenario 3. In my view this is an excellent scenario; it is a great introduction to the game, is reasonably effective as a solo game and accurately replicates the battles of Operation Typhoon.

First a (hopefully) short note on the game itself. In my view, PanzerBlitz and PanzerLeader are excellent tactical games, they do an outstanding job of replicating the CHALLENGES faced by commanders on the ground in that period of manoeuvre warfare. I emphasise the word challenges, or problems, as this is exactly what the game sets out to do. There is no way known one can come close to accurately replicating the chaotic, unpredictable and even ridiculous nature of warfare; let alone trying to do it on a piece of card in ones living room. However one can try and replicate the challenges and problems that commanders faced in theorising or planning their battles.

In modern armies, commanders are constantly tested by doing manoeuvres or exercises without troops. That is; they are given a situation or problem, they must analyse it, come up with a solution and conduct orders and every part of preparation carried out on actual operations prior to stepping off. There is usually no single right or wrong solution to these problems, but the commanders get valuable training in overcoming problems or constraints placed in front of them and their troops.

So it is with the Scenarios in PanzerBlitz. In a good scenario (not all successfully meet this standard) both sides are given a seemingly very difficult task. This is the beauty of the game, both commanders must come up with a solution specific to their forces, the enemy and the victory conditions put in front of them. In my view, Scenario 3 meets this criteria, which we will now investigate.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
Scenario 3: The Pure Scenario
The Scenario/Situation/Mission

The Scenario is a classic breakthrough mission. The German must create a corridor 3 hexes wide from the Southern edge to the Northern Edge, conversely the Russians must maintain a constant line East to West, covered by fire or units. Anything in between is a draw. As I mentioned in my previous post, these are the challenges put down to both commanders.

The Russians must thinly spread their force to defend against a possible attack at any one point. In other words, they must have a contingency for every possible enemy action. For the Russians, it is all in the pre-game set up, they have limited mobility.

The Germans must choose a point and attack with very limited resources. Again the game can be over before it begins for the Germans as well.

Both tasks seem daunting and difficult. When planning for any scenario, as you try and put yourself in the enemies shoes to investigate possible enemy courses of action; if you think to yourself 'it is much easier to be the other guy', you know it is a difficult scenario. In this case, both sides find themselves doing this.

The great thing about this game is that both sides can lose it before it begins. If the Russians leave a weakness in their defences, or an approach open and the Germans can exploit it, game over. Likewise if the Germans choose a poor point of attack, or do not correctly employ their forces: game over. Anything in between, it is game on and down to the dice and the conduct of the battle itself.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
Scenario 3: Terrain analysis
I will now have a look at the board set up, roughly using the old OCOKA acronym. Starting from the West:

Board 3:

Board 3 is very open. It offers advantages to both sides. As we will see, each feature has pros and cons for each side. Board 3 offers unlimited opportunity for manoeuvre to the Germans, the entire board being an Avenue of Advance. Conversely this also gives the Russian mortars and field guns excellent fields of fire, the can mutually support each other and the board is easily covered by fire. The main obstacle is the gully to the South. It has one ford, but can easily be bypassed, although this will serve to slow the German advance down. The 107 feature can be a problem for the Russians, as it creates dead ground to the West if they plan to cover that area with fire from the hills on the adjacent board.

Board 2:

Board 2 contains what would be considered the Key Terrain of this battle. The 132 feature dominates the surrounding area, particularly the wide open Board 3. It is defendable and also contains and important road junction at the town of Bednost. The primary Avenue of Advance is via the north-south road. It crosses a stream to the north, but again this can be bypassed. The 129 feature provides the ability to observe/fire upon this crossing and also the eastern and western approaches to the 132 feature.

Board 1:

Generally speaking, Board 1 creates the opposite problems to Board 3. It is close country; numerous streams, hills and woods. It has only one Avenue of Advance via the north south road. It crosses a gully at the southern end which will be difficult to bypass due to marshy terrain. Any departure from this main avenue of advance will be slow going. The 135 feature also straddles this road and is the most defendable. Conversely, due to the cover provided, this board is not easily covered by fire. Range weapons have limited use and cannot be mutually supported from the features on adjacent boards.

Overall, each board balances out its merits for each player. Board 1 is the hardest to traverse for the German player, but the Russians will have difficulty linking their units. The whole battle could be won or lost in the fight to destroy one or two isolated units.

Board 3 allows the Germans excellent approaches and opportunity for manoeuvre, but the Russians units can mutually support each other in depth.

Finally, an important feature is the west to east road which cuts all three boards. This road is vital to the defender and key to this scenario. As the Russian has limited mobility, he must utilise this road to laterally move his forces to reposition them once the German attack begins. Therefore ideally he must have his MLR forward of this road in order to prevent it from being cut. If he can do this it makes matters very difficult for the Germans indeed, as he is able to react to the German attack and adjust his defences.
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Santiago M
Argentina
flag msg tools
RFSU wrote:

The Germans must choose a point and attack with very limited resources. Again the game can be over before it begins for the Germans as well.



Badgeroonie's analysis of the 12 original situations (see uploaded file) states that this scenario "is pointless for the German player because of the Soviet infantry companies and the lack of any real way for the German player to deal with them".

Did you perceive the same? Which strategy could the German player adopt in order to deal with the Soviet infantry companies?
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
G'day Santiago, yes I was going to get to that. If you look at the total AF available to the German player and the total DF of even a single rifle Company you can see it is very difficult for the Germans to destroy anything. However it often only takes the destruction of one unit to create the 'breakthrough', I will develop this more later. I think the best thing about this scenario is that it is a good Solo opportunity, if you set a good Russian defence you can have a few good goes trying to crack it yourself!
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Santiago M
Argentina
flag msg tools
RFSU wrote:
G'day Santiago, yes I was going to get to that. If you look at the total AF available to the German player and the total DF of even a single rifle Company you can see it is very difficult for the Germans to destroy anything. However it often only takes the destruction of one unit to create the 'breakthrough', I will develop this more later. I think the best thing about this scenario is that it is a good Solo opportunity, if you set a good Russian defence you can have a few good goes trying to crack it yourself!


Great thoughts.

You encouraged me to solo play this scenario. However, I don't get to clearly understand the victory conditions. Russians win if they establish an "unbroken line of hexes covered by either units or fire from west to east". Germans win if they "can clear a path of three hexes wide from South edge to the North edge of the board, uncovered by Russian units or fire".

1. What does it mean "covered by fire"? Is it equivalent to having those hexes under the range of fire of any Russian unit? What if the units are dispersed?

2. The Russian "unbroken line" from east to west, should it be made at the same "height" of the board from north to south? I mean, could the Russians have an unbroken line in Board 3 at hex A, continued by an unbroken line in Board 2 at hex F?

Will you upload pictures of your setups?
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Friend
United States
Sierra Vista
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Great analysis Ned! Looking forward to reading more. We'd love to see some photos!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
Santiago, my understanding of the victory conditions is that an unbroken line of hexes covered with either fire or units means this: Any hex that a Russian unit could conceivably fire upon is 'covered by fire'.

Importantly this includes the rules for line of sight. As I mentioned in my terrain analysis of Board 3, this is particularly noteworthy when looking at the features (hills) on the boards. Note C of the notes on obstacles and elevations states that the line of sight (i.e. line of fire) of a unit on a hilltop is broken by a brown hex side if said obstacle is closer to the target than the firer. Therefore, as an example; if a mortar unit was somewhere on the 129 feature (board 2) wished to fire at a unit west of the 107 feature (board 3), as the mortar would be 8 hexes from the 107 feature, it could not see a target on the other side of the 107 feature unless it was more than 8 hexes to the west (incidentally now out of range of the mortar!). In the military this is called 'dead ground'. So you can see already there is an area that the mortar cannot cover, so for the Russians were to meet their victory conditions this area of 'dead ground' would have to be covered by another unit.

In answer to your questions specifically, it is my interpretation that the end of turn 10 includes flipping over dispersed units, so any dispersed units would be reinstated and can participate in establishing an unbroken line.

The unbroken line is exactly that, the edges of each individual board have nothing to do with it. The unbroken line must be from the eastern edge of the 'battlefield' to the western edge. However it does not need to be straight, but it must not be disjointed. Remember what this scenario is representing. The Russians are trying to maintain their front line, or MLR (main line of resistance). The Germans are trying to break through these upfront combat forces in order to get into the rear areas, cutting lines of supply and communications, opening up the Russian flanks and rear. But they also need to be supplied etc. So you can see that even using the rules of PB, they need a corridor to drive resupply trucks and support units up to the tanks etc that conducted the breakthrough.

The most likely successful outcome for the Russians is the following: A unit, lets say a field gun, has a field of fire from its position to one edge of the board. In the other direction it will have an uninterrupted line of fire to the extent of its range. This hex or hexes will be within range and an uninterrupted line of fire to the next unit, say a mortar. This will continue across to the next unit and so on until the far edge of the board.


Hope that clears it up, although re reading it, might be confusing!

Thanks for the interest, good to see people are still interested in PB and PL!

Ned
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
Scenario 3: The Russians
The Russian forces charged with holding the line are comprised of basically a Regiment of infantry plus supporting elements (minus artillery, which is notable for its absence in this scenario!). In the campaign notes, a defence frontage for a regiment is quoted as 12-24 hexes, which is pretty accurate at 3-6 km in my view. The width of the playing field is 30 hexes, so you can see they are stretched pretty thin. However by utilising range weapons, they are still able to defend in some depth.

The 'centre of gravity' for the Russians is their long range weapons in the two 76.2mm field guns and the two 82mm mortars. Their range in 10 and 12 respectively allows them to cover the width of the board easily. However they are also fragile, even when paired with infantry they can be singled out for direct fire as they will be the weakest in the stack. These units should be placed in depth, behind the MLR (main line of resistance), linking fields of fire to meet the requirements of the victory conditions.

The Russian infantry in this scenario can be both invincible and redundant, depending on where the German attack falls. Their massive DF makes them close to impossible to destroy. They can also be used to CAT units which are forced to close to an adjacent hex in order to use their direct fire capabilities. The infantry units should be used in conjunction with the AT units to form the MLR along the lateral road. They also must be used as blocking units to defend the approaches to the MLR, i.e. at roads and choke points, in order to slow the Germans and deny them freedom of movement.

The AT units are the most dangerous to the Germans, they can be used to shore up gaps in the line with their range, but also to destroy or suppress the German armoured units. They should be placed along the MLR covering the infantry blocking units and the approaches to the MLR.

The transport units also play a vital role. The trucks can be used to create a mobile reserve, which can utilise the lateral road behind the MLR to deploy units in just one turn. They can also be used at the extremes of the board to transport units to the German point of attack.
The wagons are not to be discounted. Coupled with the blocking units and the AT guns, using the road movement they can again be used to redistribute defenders laterally quicker than you might think. With a lateral road behind your defensive line, you will really get the chance to display some tactics from the days of Napoleon!

To recap, the Russian units (in my opinion!) should be deployed as follows:

Range weapons deployed in depth, linking up to cover the entire board by fire.

Infantry in blocking positions covering approaches forward of the MLR, also paired with AT and ranged weapons. Don't forget the range of the infantry units as well, the MG's in the Guards and Rifle Coy firing out to a KM can also cover a bit of ground. The MLR should also try and cover the width of the board, this way no one unit can be destroyed and break the chain. The Russian commander needs to try and create some redundancy by defending in depth. Make the Germans destroy 2-3 units to win.

The Key Terrain is the 132 feature on Board 2. Defend it and the approaches to it. From here you can dominate the surrounding terrain and also defend the key junction on your lateral road in the village of Bednost.

Two trucks shall be on standby loaded with a Rifle Coy and an AT gun, somewhere central. Using the road movement rate they can deploy from there to anywhere along the MLR in just one turn after the German point of attack is known.

Overall, the position of the Russians as we will see is very strong. Provided they wisely place their units, they are favourites to win this one. This is a great opportunity for a novice player to learn to recognise fields of fire, obstacles, choke points and avenues of advance.
They can practice planning for contingencies, look at the problem from the enemies point of view and work out his possible courses of action.
Importantly, he can also utilise the mechanics of the game by commanding a pretty simple force.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
Scenario 3: The Germans
The German force consist of a very accurate representation of a Kampfgruppe that would have been utilised in this period. Basically it is (after the awful attrition that the Germans suffered even in the massive victories of 1941) an understrength Battalion, which probably would be about half of the serviceable tank strength of the division at about 25 tanks. Added to that is a Coy of Panzer Grenadiers or Motorised infantry at that time, plus their supporting units in field guns, mortars and AT weapons. The one thing missing is the artillery, the Division would often task a battery of artillery to a Kampfgruppe charged with such an important task. In PB this normally would have been one or two 105mm counters.

The Panzers are quoted as Pz IIIs, which can be created by halving the range and attack of the Pz IVs provided. You can also use actual Pz III counters if you have them, here you will gain a point in AF but lose one of range and defence. I like to get really creative and have four Pz III and one Pz IVd/e. This represents the forces of a heavy coy in the Pz battalion of 1941. In my view this does not change the balance of the game, as the Pz IV has a lower attack factor at 5, but a greater range. As it is a support weapon, it is given H class, so it's good against soft targets.

So overall, the Germans have an excellent combined arms force. However, you will see there is a glaring problem. The overall attack factors of your force are pretty useless at destroying the Russian infantry. Going back to the original scenario, remembering that when armour attacks infantry the AF is halved, the 5 tanks together have a total AF of 15. Throwing in the MGs of the half tracks, both AT guns, the mortars and field guns and even the infantry firing their weapons, we can get to 2-1 odds against the Russian infantry. That is to say, even if you bring every weapon to bear in the entire German force on one infantry Coy, you are only a slim chance of destroying it completely. So you can see that the German is not going to win by chewing through the infantry units.
This may seem a massive hindrance, but it also points to the German plan of attack: you must attack the range weapons.

The key to the Germans chances is to study the Russian defence, has it any weak points? Is there a point where the line being maintained is dependant on one or two units? You must pick the best point of attack and hit it with the entirety of your force. Do not get held up scrapping with blocking units or infantry, attack the range weapons, open a corridor then defend against the responding infantry as the enemy tries to reorganise his defence.

You also must seriously consider the terrain, as discussed above. Board 2 will probably be the best defended, Board 3 covered by multiple weapons. Board 1 will be poorly covered by multiple weapons, but have very limited avenues of advance. The German advance could easily be bogged down moving through the gullies and slopes and held up dangerously by one well placed AT piece.

Other considerations could be a feint. Remembering the time constraints placed on the Germans, but you may be able to appear to head for one point of the defence for the first turn, then divert to another. This will get the Russian reserves moving toward the wrong place.
You also must consider cutting the lateral road, placing an AT piece or even the 75mm field gun to pick off or stop any trucks and wagons from moving units into 'the breach'.

In short, the Germans are up against it. You must pick the absolute best point of attack using the above considerations. You must attack that point with everything you have. You must consider placing units on the flanks to cover the lateral road in order to stop the Russians reinforcing their defence from areas not under attack.

An interesting point would be to try playing with the Germans having a 105mm howitzer. This could possibly tip the odds in the Germans favour in terms of balance, but may well provide a more accurate example of the combined arms warfare practiced by the elite German Pz Divisions at that time.



2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
Scenario 3: In Summary
As we have seen, this scenario is tilted toward the Russians in terms of 'balance'. However it is my view that if you are playing purely to 'win' you are missing the excellent lessons this game provides on the challenges that commanders on both sides faced in this era. This scenario provides an excellent example of the stoic but inflexible Russian defence, and the brilliant utilisation of combined arms when outnumbered by the Germans.

In my view this scenario is an excellent replication of the Germans desperate efforts in the massive battles of encirclement before Moscow in the Autumn of 1941; also showcasing the merits of the Russians last ditch defensive tactics.

The Russians are forced into defending 'up front' with no depth, as they did at that time. They provided a sometimes brittle crust into which the Germans fired their armour plated arrows, deep into the endless Steppe, encircling and destroying countless units all to no avail.

It also provides an excellent solo opportunity. I find it difficult when setting up the Russians, as I consider what the 'enemy' (ie. me!) might do I am already thinking ahead to the Germans attack. A good method it is to set up the Russians, then walk away for a few hours. Then come back, consider the defence (don't change it!) and plan your attack as the Germans.

As I said in the opener, the game can be won and loss before a shot is fired (or dice is rolled), any chink in the Russians armour can be exploited by the Germans, but gee they are up against it.

I will now try and put my method to practice, over in the 'Sessions' section of the Forum. I will post a proposed Russian defence, then later, recount my solo playing of said scenario!!

Cheers and good gaming,

Ned

Also, just getting into Vassel, would love an email game with someone, one turn per 24 hours would work best for me. Perhaps a novice (I'm no expert!) could have a crack at being the russkis.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Santiago M
Argentina
flag msg tools
Hi Ned,

Excellent and profound analysis of the Scenario! Provided me with important insights and lessons.

Looking forward to your AARs and pictures!

Good gaming,
Santiago
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Keith Plymale
United States
Winston Salem
North Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Sorry to come late to the discussion. There are better counters out there at Imaginative Strategist and gregpanzerblitz.com that do a much better job of representing Soviet infantry of late 1941 and the PzIII/IV models in use as well.

Bryan Henderson has written a set of CAAT rules for Combined Arms Assault Tactics that this situation is tailor made for.

Very good discussion. All my comments IMHO and recognize YMMV.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Read
Thailand
Bangkok
Please choose a state
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for this Ned,
I'm late to this thread, but I really like your approach to scenario analysis here - I think this is real reason to game solo. PZB is so easily playable that, once the rules are familiar, it's possible to just appreciate the tactical situations rather than try to 'win them'.

Situation #3 isn't really a good one for competitive play, but I like your phrase "pure scenario". It's interesting that the original Tactical Game #3, Scenario #1 presents a similar situation, with the sides reversed. Even with the roles reversed, and the 'bloody' Tac 3 rules, it's still a much deeper problem than it appears at first glance.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juan Valdez
msg tools
RFSU wrote:
The Panzers are quoted as Pz IIIs, which can be created by halving the range and attack of the Pz IVs provided. You can also use actual Pz III counters if you have them, here you will gain a point in AF but lose one of range and defence. I like to get really creative and have four Pz III and one Pz IVd/e. This represents the forces of a heavy coy in the Pz battalion of 1941.


Arvold published a revised German OOB for Situation #3 with 9 Pz IIIg, 1 Pz IIId, 2 Pz IVe, and 2 Pz IId.

ImStrat has these counters.

I haven't played the revised OOB yet, but I suspect against a good Russian opponent, it's still a very tough problem for the Germans.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ned JSP
Australia
flag msg tools
mb
Thanks for the replies/encouragement guys. I'm going to be lazy and cut and paste reply I did on this subject in another thread. I might be repeating myself a little from above, but here it is.


To balance it I believe the Germans just need artillery, either use "Wespe" or "Hummel" counters as towed artillery (as per original scenario #12), or have off board artillery (range starts at edge of board/designated hex).

This gives them the firepower to take on rifle/guards units, which they can't really do with their mix of units.

This is also realistic: a gruppe such as this, as the main fighting element of a division taking into account attrition by late 1941, would surely be assigned some if not all of the divisional artillery of the Pz Division. The only reason it wouldn't is if the spearhead had far outpaced the main body of division and was now out of range of the artillery, which is not unheard of.

Greg's Panzer Blitz ORBAT shows the 90th artillery regiment of the 10th Pz. Div. as having the standard 4x 105mm batteries and 2x 150mm batteries. So my suggestion would be conservative and give Ze Germans 1-2 105mm batteries/wespes, depending on the skill of the German player.

This gives them an extra 80 AF or 4-1 against rifle/guard units presuming they combine tasks.

Still should make for a balanced scenario, as the Germans have to reach and systematically destroy the Russian units holding the line.

Depending on what indirect fire rules you are using (if any) you may have to add a CP as well to act as the Forward Observer.

I don't necessarily agree with Mr Arvold's change (but then I am certainly no expert!) as this represents almost all of 7th PR's armour at full strength. No doubt this does balance the scenario, but I would suggest that by this point the panzer strength of the regiment was down below 50%.

Definitely has my vote as the best introduction and most realistic replication of an actual scenario!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Juan Valdez
msg tools
mtngrown wrote:
RFSU wrote:
The Panzers are quoted as Pz IIIs, which can be created by halving the range and attack of the Pz IVs provided. You can also use actual Pz III counters if you have them, here you will gain a point in AF but lose one of range and defence. I like to get really creative and have four Pz III and one Pz IVd/e. This represents the forces of a heavy coy in the Pz battalion of 1941.


Arvold published a revised German OOB for Situation #3 with 9 Pz IIIg, 1 Pz IIId, 2 Pz IVe, and 2 Pz IId.

ImStrat has these counters.

I haven't played the revised OOB yet, but I suspect against a good Russian opponent, it's still a very tough problem for the Germans.



Update: I've played this situation at least 3 more times:

1. As Germans with original OOB, marginal win against inexperienced Russian player. I was able to mass enough armor to halt Russian infantry and take out a field gun emplacement. He didn't have another long range gun emplaced mid-board, cost him the game.

2. As Russians with Arvold OOB, same opponent as previous. I won this because he split his forces and I was able to hold the line.

3. Repeat of Game 2, another win for me by using transport to get infantry far enough forward fast enough to hold the line against massed German forces.

I have some adjusted victory conditions and suggested handicaps for this scenario which help rebalance between players of different experience levels. May post them later.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.