Saturday, January 19, 2013

Battle Analysis: Tolvajarvi

The following slides are from my Battle Analysis this semester.  The picture in the first slide is from the cover of the game "A Frozen Hell" and the black and white maps are modified from the book "The Winter War: Russia’s Invasion of Finland, 1939-1940by Robert Edwards.  The terrain map is also from the war game.  A great deal of the statistics are quotes from his book.  The only material that is mine is the analysis and the slide arrangement.  This paragraph is only to explain up front which material is mine and which isn't. 

"Irg" pretty much was the same as National Guard or Militia Units.  They had almost no combat experience before this war and were drawn up only as Finland slowly realized how screwed they were.
 The Russian advance seemed at this point to be completely unstoppable.  There was simply too many men, too little supplies and no fortifications to stop them.
 This is NASTY terrain.  Horrendous.  Here as an interlude are some pictures from the internet about this terrain:

 And here we have our heroes running for their lives, throwing up feeble resistance and retreating across that tiny little land bridge.

It doesn't do much good.  Cheerily here come the Russians and drive the Finns from the peninsula, the large island in the middle of the lake and to the far side of the lake. 

LTC Pajarvi was a bad-ass.  I am in awe of the man.  He had a weak heart, he suffered from like 3 near heart attacks in this week long battle and yet he kept pushing himself to the bring of exhaustion making absolute certain that his men were in the right place with the right attitude at the exactly right time.  

His night raids completely destroyed Russian morale and organization while giving the Finnish troops some good news for a change.

The Russian troops were in poor morale to start with.  I mean hell, they had been told they would be welcomed by throngs of cheering communist sympathizers....not sniped at by the White Death, while trudging through waste high snow along booby trapped roads that cross the ice swamps that time forgot.

Then all of a sudden they smell sausage dinner and flip off their leaders and go eat something warm for a change.

And here you get to see LTC Pajari again.  A Russian REGIMENT has just stormed his soup kitchen flanking his defensive force and cutting him off from his relief.  What does he do?  He grabs a rifle and about 100 of his staff and they pin the REGIMENT in place until his relief can arrive.  This is less than 24 hours after he personally led a midnight raid across a frozen fog covered lake against an enormous Russian force.

And here is where the tide turns.  You know in movies where the good guys see some improbable hero stand up and charge the enemy and they all expect him to die...but he doesn't?  He survives just long enough that they begin to realize they might stand a chance?  That is exactly what frail ol'Pajari did.  And his men start to respond.

They drive back the regiment eating their dinner.  A young LT grabs a company and decides to ambush a battalion and succeeds.

The center position holds against a belated attack from the main Russian force.

And then the next day Talvela and Pajari counter attack and drive the Russians back.  Once they start to retreat back the route is on.  

Over the next few weeks the Finns will advance for the first(and only) time in the war.  Several Russian Divisions will cease to exist.  Wiped out to a man.

Edwards described the victory as this:
"...for a scratch unit, hastily assembled and critically short of equipment, to have routed and effectively annihilated two entire Soviet divisions was a feat of arms unparalleled in modern war, indeed it more properly belonged in the same order of importance as Thermopylae".

 This bit is only to explain the analysis to follow.

And there you have it.  Hopefully this will make you intrigued enough to read Edward's book or play the game.  I enjoyed them both and learned a lot that I had never even heard of before playing this game.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Frozen Hell

 So if you haven't been able to tell I've been posting over the past week/weekend about war games I played over the past year.  This was the second TCS game that me and Wulfa's dad played and I have here two photos from the two games we played.  Unlike Bloody Ridge(48 hrs), and Korellia(10 hours) this game is massive.  Absolutely massive.  I felt like we clocked around 120 hours each time we played it.

Just like Bloody Ridge this game requires you to write orders and abide by them.  And like bloody ridge one side is very good at implementing(the Finns) and the other sucks at it(the Russians).

In both games I played the Russians.  In the first one(seen above) I absolutely dominated.  Unfortunately this was because I was reading the rules exactly as written and was abusing a key watch tower to use my artillery to demolish the Finns.

The second game, seen below went a lot slower as we(after a short chat with the designers) adjusted that rule and forced me to spot for my artillery up close.  I still think I would have won but the game ended on a draw as we were forced to take a 2 month hiatus due to school overwhelming me(he's retired he can play anytime :P unlike me).

Still I had a lot of fun and this game led to me learning a WHOLE lot about the Finnish Winter war of 1939 which was and is AMAZING.  Seriously if you love hearing about how a bunch of rag-tag underdog farmers stand up against 7 to 1 odds with equipment nearly a century old vs an empire with crack new equipment ....and win.  Then read about the Winter War.

The Finns lost territory in the settlement but ask Poland, the Balkans, and the Baltic States..... what they got was nothing less than a mind blowing victory.  Screw Asia...never fight a land war in Finland.

Also, buy "A Frozen Hell" and play it.  Lots of fun if you like highly detailed, crappy terrain, slog fests at -20 degrees Celsius over frozen lakes rolling with fog.


Over winter break it snowed.  Which is a pretty rare thing around here.

The munchkins wanted to play in it so during the night they placed plastic buckets outside to try and capture enough for playing snowball fights.

It worked out pretty well for them and resulted in about an hours worth of outside snow fun before the cold and wet got to them and forced a retreat inside for coco and cartoons.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bloody Ridge

This is a picture of the much more complicated Tactial Combat Series(TCS) game system from multi-man publishing.  This is the smallest TCS map and resulted in a game that took approximately 48 hours worth of game play(split up into about 8 six hour sessions).

In this game system you have to write orders in advance and then roll to see if you can implement them and your tactical moves have to follow and abide by your strategical written and implemented orders.  Which leads to the occasional fits of frustration when your opponent has done something clever and you keep failing the implementation to counter it and he is free to exploit the hell outa you.

In this particular game the Japanese Player(yellow tokens) must be aggressive and plan way way in advance.  If you do not attack from as many angles as possible as the Japanese(they start on the far left of the picture) you will find yourself where the player in the picture is....with far too few troops to take the ridge and the US artillery ripping you to a thousand little pieces.

The US player on the other hand has to spend the first few in-game days in utter panic.  He has amazing implementation rolls and good troops but only two battalions vs three Japanese regiments.  They will hide in the jungle, flank you and choke you out.  If they kill your artillery it is probably game over for you as that is really the only thing you have that can stop them with any reliable success rates.

We played two games.  The first one the Japanese player completely screwed up his orders and was in an un-winnable position by the fifth in game hour.  The second one lasted the full game and looked like it would be his victory but once the US got all of its artillery it wiped out two whole regiments in about four barrages.

Probably the shortest and simplest TCS game around.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Korellia'44 review

I got this game for my birthday/Christmas present from the in-laws.  We played it two times over Christmas and a third time over new years.  In terms of game play each game seems to run about 30-40 min a turn with a full game on average lasting 14 turns.

"On Average" is easily calculated thanks to the type of game that this is.  You see unlike every other war game I've played with Wulfa's dad this one has a variable number of turns.  To the right bottom you see a small box with numbers and a marker.  This represents Stalin's patience.  Each game turn the Russian player rolls 1d6 and on a 3 or lower Stalin loses one point of patience.  At zero patience the game is over and you count victory points(The red hexes).

Without that randomness this game is a walk for the Russian player... you just meander forwards slowly and your troops out number and overwhelm the Finnish(who the entire game will have meager resources and be running around sniping at the Russians).

But with the patience system the intensity is kicked up.  You know you have to move your troops quickly, you know that each delay, each failed battle is you losing the war significantly....each successful boss roll is a reprieve, each failure devastating.

There are four ways to get more boss points(you start at 3).  Two consist of getting rid of troops, and two consist of capturing the first two finish defensive lines.

Since you start at 3 points then by about turn 6 if you haven't captured the first line it is game over.  If you did capture it then by turn 8 if you haven't captured the 2nd line the game is over.

And those two lines together only count up to 10 points... of the 20 you need.

The one game we completed, I was playing Russian and on turn ~18(we weren't counting) I had 94% of the map and just barely had 21 points.  And it wasn't a guaranteed victory...I still had two boss points but he still had reinforcements and might have taken some of the VP's back.

Absolutely love this game and recommend it to anyone at all who plays war games.

As a note it can easily be played as a 3 player game if you split the Russian army into two players who are playing as a team vs the Finns.  The game mechanics which limit interaction between the armies make this a simple adjustment.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dec 16th 1944 Near the Our River

The weather is bleak wintry fog soup with a side of nasty.  US air is grounded and no one is expecting any movement.  Then the guns begin drumming from across the river and suddenly nightmare weather gives way to nightmarish numbers of German troops on a counterattack.

The US forces near the Our River just a day's march north east of Bastogne are overwhelmed as 8 infantry divisions and 5 armored divisions come pouring across the river.

Four brigades of artillery are dissected like dead frogs due to lack of infantry screens and the middle of the front collapses.  The 106th is quickly pushed to the river and only about half its strength makes it across.  The 14th Cav brigade that was acting as advance scouts is lost, presumed dead.

To the north near Eisenborn and Kalterharberg the 99th and 2nd infantry divisions begin a careful retreat hoping to hold on until the 5th and 7th Armor Divisions and 1st ID can arrive.

To the south the 28th ID is driven off the line but manages to maintain its strength if not its battle lines.  In the extreme south elements fall back to Ettlebruck as they begin to be separated from the rest of their Division.

A few garrison units move up to try and delay the German breakthrough but without more US reinforcements the future looks glum.

My in-laws moved here back in like March of last year.  One of the plusses from their move is that we have been able to play board games regularly and in between semesters we've been able to get through quite a few.

Here is the game we are currently playing on Day 2, Mid-day, German Turn, US Barrage phase.  I'm about to respond feebly with my artillery(I am the US) after he has burst through the feeble defenses I start with.
The green lines are my basic planned defensive lines now after his break through.  If you click on the image and look closely you will see light green counters(US), grey counters(Germans) and black counters(SS).

The blue circles are the supply depots that I have and will be attempting to defend.  The Grey lines are my perception of his planned attack vectors.

He rolled quite well on his first turn and managed to wipe out entirely 4-5 of my artillery units before they fired a shot.  Additionally he overran several of my blocking infantry leaving the middle of the map wide open to exploitation.

I am pretty concerned because compared to the previous games we've played this one seems like a pretty bad position.

I have a TON of reinforcements coming though and I've been advised the German player is playing uphill in this setting.

Still.... that's a LOT of Germans with no-one to stop them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The difference between Should/Rather and Am.

What I should be doing right now:

Rewriting/building my engineering capstone project's code from the ground up in order to make it more organized and clean.

What I'd rather be doing right now:

Cheerfully finishing up the last pages of an amazing novel that I just wrote*.

What I am doing:

Writing a blog post.

Saturday went splendidly in the manner that I overslept, but still went to work.  When I got to work I became very grouchy for being at work and not getting work done fast enough.  Then I came home to my house where everything is dirty.

So now I'm in the garage trying my best to ignore Matilda from the living room and trying not to be a complete #($* about how much I don't like this house or the stuff in it or my weekly schedule(lack there of).

I tried to look back at the early portions of this blog to see if I had always been as downer as I have been recently and I can't really tell because this blog was originally a game based blog it is really hard to tell.  Although I am fairly blarghed by the content of my early posts and how just ...... I'm not even really sure what to use to describe it.

*I haven't written a novel.  I just wish I had.