Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ukraine '43 (GMT) ~ "Campaign Game" Part 1

Game: Ukraine '43 (GMT)
Scenario: Campaign Game
Participants: Bob H, Myself
Time: Sunday, Mar 6th ~ 2.30PM - 5.30PM

After our diversion to the American Revolution, Bob and I are re-starting U43. Two or three years ago Bob and I played this game a couple of times, when we were just starting to warm up to Simonich designed games. After playing all of his recent releases and liking them, we decided to try U43 in lieu of EFS. We are thus far getting mixed signals on the EFS series and so decided to wait on it, instead going for a proven winner in U43. Additionally I want to 'test' my attention span, that is to say, can I stay with a game that will likely take 15-20 hours to complete.

Recently Bob and I played scenario #4 (Crisis on the Dnieper) which I wrote about. We didn't finish that game as it was increasingly turning into a rout. Right after we stopped that game, both of us re-read the rules. We were surprised to find that we had gakked several minor rules and one huge rule. First the small ones:

  • 9.10, Soviet attacks that role a '6' on the primary die roll have that re-rolled 
  • 23.2, Air, artillery and high magnitude attacks can only take place w/in 7 hexes of a HQ
  • 23.3 German Pz Corps get +2 on Defense (which we might have missed)
These are some pretty small rules to miss, but they certainly will have an effect on the game, primarily once the Russians break the river line, they are going to be more tethered to HQ's then what we experienced in our warm-up game.  The MAJOR rule that we missed was that for battle magnitude (8.4) where we were combining the number of steps involved instead of taking the single lowest number. This of course made a huge difference in that nearly every attack the Russians made was a magnitude 2 at least.

The Northern Shoulder, after Set Up
Set Up

We used the free set up as I had forgotten that the historical one was on the back of one of the cards, instead of in the rulebook which was where I looked. I think all our previous CG's were played using the historical set ups. Thus I was a little surprised by Bob's set up and where he decided to make his two main offensives. However I am also very interested to see where this leads as he obviously made his set up decisions based on my set up. The Russians set up all of their non-mechanized units first, then the Germans set up their whole order of battle, THEN the Russian player sits down and sets up his mech units as well as his artillery and other support units.
The Center, after Set Up

The Southern Front, after Set Up
Bob's Comments:
I really like U43 and have always had a good time with it so it was great to try the campaign after we both have a firm grip on the rules.  My strategy will be to attack were the strong Panzer Divisions are not in the hopes of establishing a firm bridgehead across the German fortified line for a push to the Dnieper.  It is also my hope to draw some of the larger formations away from Kharkov as it has to be taken because all the major rail lines on the northern portion of the board go through there and without rail lines my mech spearheads will stall out.

Turn 1: Opening Blows

Bob surprised me a bit in his choice of the Northern Sector of the Front as one of his main sites for his Offensive. This area is lightly held and without an motorized reserve for the Germans, however it sits next to the top of the map and thus is a bit easier for me to maintain a line. Also, its not an area that is rich in VP hexes and its easy for me to move my reinforcements into the line on the turn of entry without having to use rail movement, which disrupts them (if they used rail movement).

Bob did manage to do well in a couple of these attacks and broke my line. He was able to advance into a ZOC bond and this caused me some problems, eventually leading to my decision to pull back rather quickly in this area. A surprisingly strong resistance by the Hungarian 1st Division bought me some valuable time while costing Bob three steps to my two heroic Hungarian steps.

The Northern Shoulder, after the first Russian combat phase
Bobs attacks with the Voronezh Front also lead to a break out. Here though Bob got the first of several AR results as the 167ID fought off the initial Russian attempts and displacing them. Manstien was also available to un-disrupt the 57ID and push them back into the line, reinforce them and thus cut off the 5TK. This frontage was where Zhukov lead the historical attacks that lead the Kharkov falling.

Manstien helps cut off the 5TK while the 167th holds the line (end Russian 1st turn)

Bob's dice got colder the further South he went in his opening combat phase. But he did manage a couple of nice attacks alone the Northern Donets River and Marshal Zhukov was able to convince the units in his area to advance. Bob is firmly across the Donets in this section and is making progress in the rough terrain. The price has been steep though and I have most of my armored units in this area.

Progress in the South, end of Russian turn 1
Bob's Comments:

I decided to attack on the north edge of the map because it appeared it was lightly held and Steve made a mistake in his initial set up letting me slip around one of his divisions.  I really did not have much hope of a wide open breakthrough in the area because it so close to the map edge and there really was not much there.  I just wanted to get across the fortified line and force his left flank out into the open area.  I was successful in getting across the line and would have made more progress if not for the  1st Hungarian Division with stopped me cold in the breakthrough segment.
West of Kharkov the 5th TK Army broke through the defensive line giving me a nice foothold in that area.  Further South on the Donets Front not much progress was made but Zhukov with the Shock Army got across the difficult terrain and defensive line.  Steve had strong Panzer reserves in the area so I knew I would not get far but it was my hope to keep them in the area not further North.  A note on my use of Zhukov in the South on the Donets.  My thought was that because of the increased attrition associated with his use it would be to my advantage to use him with infantry attacks and not with the armor around Kharkov to preserve my mechanized forces.  In hindsight I was wrong.

Turn 2: Adjustment

During my first turn I am able to get a couple of panzer divisions started in the direction of Kharkov, but I hold the 3PZ and 2SS corps in the South to help me deal with the Russians advances in this area. I am able to keep several divisions in position on the Donets (and thus in their fortifications) by moving the Pz Corps in the help hold the supply lines open. Also, Bob is having trouble quickly reinforcing the penetration across the Donets with mechanized units (because of the river).

In the North, Bob finds the 5TK out of supply and several of his attacking units from the prior turn disrupted, allowing me some breathing room to bring in a panzer corps and a couple of panzer divisions to help shore up this line. The 75ID repulses the attack on Byelopolye (3206) which really helps stem this side of the front.

The Northern Shoulder at the end of the Russian 2nd turn
In the South Bob continues to advance across the Donets and Zhukov again attacks at great expense to both of us (3 steps lost to Bob, while I lost 2). But again I have several strong mobile formations in the area as well as some air units on defensive support, so his progress has been slow and costly. I have yet to counter attack with any Panzer Corps as I am deathly afraid of loosing steps in a magnitude two or three attack at low odds.

The Southern Front at the end of the Russian Turn
Aside from these two areas Bob has not pushed me off the initial German line. We paused at the start of the German 2nd turn and will resume this coming Thursday.

I have started tracking all the combats in the game as well, bellow is a view of them thus far. I think we can all agree that Bob needs some new dice. Three AR's, two C's and three EX's results are not to be expected and I fear that the dice gods will turn this around in the near future. Bob has lost 22 steps, while he's getting four replacement steps per turn, I have lost 10 steps and am only getting one a turn as replacements. Thus far Zhukov is doing fairly well in costing Bob 5 steps while he's inflicted three on me, just the kind of return you need from the Marshal.

Bob's Comments:

I attack with 5th Tank and other mechanized forces west and north ok Kharkov with poor results.  A substantial number of my attacking forces ended up disrupted witch would hamper any future attacks for a least a turn.  I can’t do much up north but hold on to my breach of his line with infantry units.  In the south I continue to attrite his forces with Zhukov steadily pushing West.  As I mentioned earlier this was not intended to be the major push but rather a diversion to keep stronger forces in the South.  I was partially successful but some strong units have been moved North.  The series of A1 results I goy around Kharkov have really slowed me down and will allow that area to be reinforced next turn so it appears that it will be a slug fest to take the City.

A looks at the Combat results from the first two turns


  1. A 15-20 hour game? You've come a long way Steve! ;-)

  2. Nice replay, guys. This is rekindling my interest in one of my favorite games!

    -- Tom Gregorio