A Campaign Game Spring ’43 Turn for the History Books!
Part III: Prancing Panzers and Grim Guards
By Alan Emrich with Jeff Nyquist
In Part II of this series, we examined the bowing Axis lines in the Vitebsk sector and explained how the Axis gave the Soviets a nice smack. Afterward, Stalin’s Legions responded in greater measure and were left pushing this sector of the line to very dangerous levels for the Axis. As this exciting single game turn (June I ’43) of Frank Chadwick’s ETO vol. I: Thunder in the East rolls from north to south down the line, we examine the brouhaha around Kursk which began with The Ride of the Valkyries and ended in a Russian Peasant Dance.
This article series was written prior to the "ETO-izing" of the rules. We will try to note the changes as they appear.
The Axis had a strong contingent of Heavy and Motorized units in this sector of the line, having relinquished Voronezh and then Orel (pictured, centered) to inexorable Red Army pressure. The onslaught of Soviet Guards units concentrated in a block of eight hexes looked invincible, but with lofty expression and unfurled plans, the Axis saw opportunities and reached for a can opener to the Soviets steel-plated front line.
It was in this sector that there should be glory on this turn, and the Axis gamely stepped up to their Special Movement Phase in search of it.
Battles Along the Kursk Sector Part I: The Axis Attacks
Composed in equal measures of Blitz and Krieg, German Panzer Corps concentrated at the hole in the Soviet lines, oozing one Panzer Corps into the gap and dropping a full “hammer” (our term for “big attacker shift possibility” operations, such as those with three bolts supporting it) on the Soviet Guards Infantry Army holding the door closed. In case the Soviets responded with Defensive Air Support, the New Model Tanks (“Panthers”) deployed by the Axis also chipped in another white bolt where Major Heavy (i.e., Panzer Corps) units attacked; one rarely sees four-bolt attacks (as 3 is the maximum number of Support Dice that can contribute to a battle), but – ensuring the extra would help blunt Soviet VVS delusions of rescue – the stage was set.
Supporting the big push were two Battles to the north at low odds (3:2) trying to capture some “key hexes” (i.e., those whose position it would really help you to take – such as to straighten your line, help create or relieve a small pocket, or to capture some vital ground or an Objective hex).
The Luftwaffe definitely came out to play with two double red bolt Ground Attack air units (Stukas) in the skies, and the Soviets dutifully intercepted them both and tossed a single red bolt bomber in to help defend their key hex near Orel. Like Caesar crossing the Rubicon, it was time to “Throw the dice high!”