Saturday 20 April 2024

Smolensk Campaign

 What follows is the narrative of a campaign started in the dying days of 2022 and finished three days ago in 2024. It was set against Operation Barbarossa and the German actions in the Smolensk area in 1941, I am well aquainted with these as I was asked to produce the maps for Volume 4 of David Glantz's Barbarossa Derailed. So without more ado, off we go.......

Game 1: Yartsevo

The Russians attack and not from the direction I expected. This was the first game and shots were traded by both sides but my fear of running out of men did not help and I chickened out. This was Anastasia the snipers first gig and she was a pain in the backside.

Game 2: Miheykovo

I find myself on the defensive now after the result of the Russian attack, I am down several men and have to use Reserve Points to boost my support. Matt came on in fine style bringing a BT-7 light tank and very soon I found myself once again on the back foot and morale falling. I had brought Bruno the sniper after Anastasia's success last game, if it had been 1945 Bruno would have been shot.

Game 3: Kurtsevo 15 Feb

I had my back against the wall and faced certain defeat on game 3, only one table stood between the victorious Russians and my base, I had to win. I had an excellent defensive position and Matt bravely tried to attain it. The Russians took heavy casualties while I was happy that I had played better and had had better luck than the poor Reds.

 Game 4: Mikheykovo

Being on the offensive I got slightly more support points and brought a Pz 38(t). Matt set up in a very defensive position on his table edge, this allowed me to concentrate on reducing several Russian supports and their morale plummeted, the Reds withdrew.

Game 5: Zaborye

The blitzkreig continues, I again brought the Pz 38(t) as support and attacked the Russian line, I waited and preyed for a double move to initiate Plan B and eventually I got it, I surged forward. Soviet officers began to hit the dust and the effect ruined Russian morale, once more the Ruskies retreated.

 Game 6: Suetovo

It was time to bring the panzers to the fight, I took the armoured platoon and expected victory. Matt once again suprised me and as well as his own tank platoon (BT-7's) he brought what would become my nemisis, a KV-1e. I really lost the plot in this game and did nothing right, the German thrust had been halted.

Game 7: Zaborye 

I was on the defensive but managed to bring a Panzerjager I and an anti-tank rifle as more and more Soviet armour was turning up. Sure enough two BT-7's were on the field, and they started duelling with the tank destroyer. This turned out a very close fought battle and the Germans only just held on. 

Game 8: Yertsevo South

I got carried away again here, on the attack I just presumed I would win having cut the Soviet supply line. I failed to appreciate the terrain and simply could not get an attack off the ground which would have survived, yes, the KV-1 was there and added to my false confidence, I lost.

Game 9: Mikheykovo

This was the big one for both of us, if Matt lost this I had a chance of attacking in game 10 and securing a minor victory, if I lost this then Matt achieved a Major Victory resulting of course in Barbarossa being derailed due to the Soviet resistance, which actually happened in the battles around Smolensk although the Germans had already lost but didn't know it.

I got a lousy 4 points of support and used up my last three reserve points to get seven, I knew Matt was going to bring the KV-1 again so I had to buy my best anti-tank weapon, the 5cm A/T gun, I was tempted to also get the heavy anti-tank rifle but instead took a medium machine gun to help my defense. Sure enough Matt brought the heavy tank along with an extra mortar, an adjutant and a sniper (Anastasia who had been on leave since she last appeared, or perhaps more training).

The Soviets move forward.

My nemesis.

I set up in the northern woods with the Russians coming on and keeping out of the way of my firepower until the KV1 turned up, this episode forced me to abandon the wood edge and hide my own troops. I now managed to get the anti-tank gun into action and managed several shots at the steel monster which all ultimately did no good whatsoever, along with the tank Matt turned his mortars on the gun crew and successfully killed them all in a couple of phases, it looked like game over to me as there was nothing I could do against the tank now. As luck would have it Matt also threw sixes with great regularity and managed about five or six extra turns in the first half of the game, but remained reluctant to commit his infantry, I just waited.

High hopes for this gun were dashed.

The bloody village of Miheykovo.

Looking good, for about fifteen minutes.

Eventually the Russian infantry came forward and I moved up my squads and the machine gun to engage, this turned into a bitter firefight which produced a lot of casualties on each side, the Russians lost two full squads and were reduced to six morale from eleven. I lost one and a half squads along with all my supports so my starting morale of eight took some big hits. Before it did I actually thought I might have a chance of breaking the Russian morale while holding on grimly, it was not to be, at one point I fired 40 shots and managed 3 Shock, it was a shock to me! I was also down to three command dice and managed each time to roll a six which is useless on its own in Chain of Command. Despite hurting the Russians I just could not hold and Matt came away with a Major Victory Anastasia also managed to hurt my reduced squads, bloody snipers, and a woman Reg.

Soviets move against the German line.

More Reds.

Succesful until Anastasian turned her attention on them.

So there we have it, nine games with a Russian win, a big thanks to Matt for staying the course through real life tribulations and a well deserved victory. We are looking at another campaign for mid May when he returns from more travels, and maybe the odd game in the Dungeon for me.

That donkey must be Russian.

The last gasp, good try lads.

What did I think of the campaign, now there is an ask. I thought the use of seven tables and multiple attack options very good and the best part. The way the game is played the Russians always get a full squad and the difference between the forces also allows them six support points in every game to add to the die roll and any Reserve Points they might want to use, this makes them a very hard nut to crack, and if the Germans are on the defensive their options are very limited. The KV-1 is frightening, but is unreliable and will come to a halt if a double one or two is rolled while it moves, this alas is no big deal, as it can get just as far on one dice and nothing happens, that needs looked at as the crews at this point were pretty bad and ran the engines into the ground which along with mechanical problems was a big headache for the Russians. I also think the availability in every game is a bit generous, but then I would having been on the wrong side of it three times.

How did I do, not great, I husbanded my forces in the first couple of battles and retreated fairly quickly, this turned out not to be a big problem as you can alternate between two platoons and can switch and eventually you get reinforcements, so I only lost a couple of men most of the time, I should have been more aggressive as you really are on the back foot as the defender in this campaign. I also screwed up at least once by not taking note of the terrain and leaving myself a mountain to climb. I only used the armoured platoon once and wasted it to be honest. I also forgot about the actual victory conditions, I was hell bent on cutting the Russian supply line and forgetting to take the three middle tables. This was a help though as Matt could not then use his Reserve points until he had re-established his supply line.

So, while not a Guderian I did enjoy the campaign immensly and again a big thanks to Matt for playing and the author for superb entertainment. Matt has let loose his inner comedian :)


Anastasia is awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union.

What else is going on, I have a second Stradiot unit for the Italian Wars on the paint table along with some Nuns who may or may not be used in my next Chain of Command campaign set in France in 1940 (The Gembloux Gap). I dug out all my spare Germans from my lead pimple of shame and offered them to Matt, I did however rescue three figures which I will add later. I have just finished another eight men and some 5cm mortars to add to my early war Germans, no I probably didn't need them but when did that stop a wargamer doing stuff.

Map work had slowed right down but I now have a 27 map project on WWI waiting for the go ahead while another large project awaits the final OK from the author (Peninsular War) to send to Helion.

Next week brings an Italian Wars game at the club then one here with Julian the next day so I now have a chance to try out the scenario book I got some time ago before the War Room was ready. My friend Robert is also in the area and I promised if he gets the time on his rounds I can put on a game of Chain of Command, so once I pack away the Italian Wars game I will quickly transform the table into somewhere in NW Europe.

I see the fact that GW has introduced a female into the Emperor's elite Custodes guard has caused eruptions in the WH40K universe and even made the papers, surprisingly my favourite movie critic has also stuck his oar in Don't laugh, we are next!


  1. A hard fought campaign there George most entertaining to follow, the summary was a useful addition to the post. I hadn't picked up on the GW development I shall have to go and see if it delivers the same angst as the BA 3rd edition announcement has.

    1. An enjoyable series of battles against a good opponent Phil.

  2. Watching this series of games unfold was quite interesting and enjoyable. Including a thumbnail summary of each encounter helped a lot to reacquaint myself to your games. Hard to believe that it has been two years in the making. Your Germans seemed to have a tough fight in almost every encounter. That seemed especially true once the KV-1 appeared.

    Great job to you and Matt!

    1. Thanks Jonathan, we both enjoyed it. The author did a good job on it and it could be used again for a different year, although I do have my doubts about the KV-1.

  3. That's a wonderful post George, bringing the whole campaign into focus before the report of the climax. I'm looking forward to many more reports of games from the Warton War Room now it's up and running!

    1. Thanks David, the games are building up, two next week on the same day. And another campaign in the pipeline.

  4. Splendid stuff George…
    I really must get a copy of Chain of Command… It looks like it will work well for Dads Army style games…

    All the best. Aly

    1. I can recommend the Pint Sized Campaigns to play along with the rules, I have found wide ranging results with individual games. I have one on Wednesday evening so it will prove interesting as my opponent is a seasoned player.

  5. What a great campaign George. A well deserved win for the Russians.

    1. You know I was the Germans Ray? But yes, a good campaign and a good win for Matt.

  6. Thanks of course George for hosting and running the campaign, great fun and great to get your collection on the table…..i think it would be hard for any wargamer not to include the KV when the opportunity is there. Has your antitank gun be lucky it could have taken it down first shot !

  7. I think you are right about the KV, might put the brakes on it if I play again. The gun crew if not already on the Eastern Front would be sent there.