Doing Plenty, Kinda Slow
- Jan 30, 2003
- Reaction score
- Snowiest place in VA
TY for the kind words.Hey Wayne! Great to see you back!
Your posts were always interesting - this recent one attests to that.
I also valued your rules advice on many occasions.
I hope you are back to stay (active).
I've no thoughts re, "being back," but probably not. Life is just kinda busy. Still, not saying Never Again.
I did historical research while a playtester for scenario U32, to include visits to the College Park National Archive for access to the (numerous) original German aerial recon photos of the area. I looked over a lot of the German daily field reports (translating some - found a good book on "how to read German") to validate the published U32 Ge OB (it's pretty good) and incidentally got also a fair gist of German contemporaneous perception of the whole thing. I also read some history by Glantz and Stavkov re the Russian perceptions/problems (there were =many=). At one point I wrote and published on Wikipedia a merged account of both sides perspectives from all my sources (see:
...which still an okay read and still kinda my own, but sadly no longer my crisp original; they'll let just anyone w/too much time go in and soggy-up good work -- shrug).
It was Jim's wish to keep U32 kinda true to the SL original. He did incorporate a few of my thoughts, and made a kind mention of that in some article later (thanks, Jim).
I thought a long while of doing a full redesign based on my work in the Archives et.al. After many months of casual work to that end, I let it rest. The problem was finding the right boards in the board library. The best fits were just poor, IMO. The other practical problem was SSR explosion -- a slippery slope. A better venue than a redone scenario card would be an ASL historical article with SSRs on bound page and a scenario card SSR saying "Dudari article SSRs are in effect."
Recently seeing boards 88 and 87 was almost like someone had "channeled" my wishes re the Dudari area. Nice. So I kinda wasted a night dashing off the "for example" post above.
re SSRs 8 and 10 above, it's a nod to the history that many of the Soviet paratroopers of the failed operation switched mission to "go Partisan" almost as soon as they realized their objectives were hopeless. German accounts mention finding some off-mission Russians in process of burying their heavy weapons w/intent to hike away "light" into the wilds. Russian accounts cite at least one airdropped officer continuing to operate post-battle for quite some time as a Commissar among the Partisans ahead of the Russian advance through Ukraine.
re SSR 10, the HtH CC bit is a nod to contemporaneous German accounts that the Russian paratroops were surprisingly good in CC, many using their spades (entrenching tools) as honed edged weapons (a habit of the Russian Stalingrad vets, many of which were p/o this op).
re SSR 11, it was Russian airborne doctrine to drop their officers from almost double the altitude of the others. That would give them some time and ability to choose their landing. Though a night scenario, there was at that hour and place and date a fingernail moon and enough post-sunset light to allow some choice to use parachute maneuverability in that regard. It also meant that it took many of the landed officers some time to link up w/their troops (Tom's tounge-in-cheek scenario name suggestion above is rather apt). I read contempraneous German accounts that more than a few of the recently dropped Russian troops were found aimless and doing very little, for lack of their leadership.
re SSR 11, as a game mechanic, it's going to give away to the German player where the (vulnerable) Russian leaders have landed, but I hypothesize w/out testing that it won't be that big a deal, especially given Russian player choice of a location.
re SSR 11, It crossed my mind to maybe add an Infantry Crew counter to each leader parachute (staff and security -- a small self-rally-capable MMC making sense in this context -- a Crew is also an Elite, re the DCs), but I did not want to over-tweak the counter-mix balance w/out a playtest first [for which I have no time (or opponent) just now].
re SSR 12 and Night Rules, I expect the terrain to keep the German vehicles close to road-bound.
re the terrain, I thought too of an SSR saying, re the board 88-87 hill mass, movement costs for elevation-changes are halved (precise wording TBD). That would kinda smoosh the "Korean" hill (that hill is really a bit too much, re the actual battle area). Even w/smooshing, given all the Broken Ground, off-road movement would still be kinda tough. Another terrain thought was that elevation change costs via Road movement are N/A. I'd try it first w/out either, though.
In the end, I'd like a game effect that encouraged the German player to fight the battle kinda road-bound. This was not an objective for =them= -- they just happened to be transiting toward the Dneiper when this all happened. OTOH, Soviet intent was to drop in and set up well ahead of the German movement toward the Dneiper.
[The Russian pre-jump operational blunder was that their best pre-jump aerial intel was three days old (owing to weather) -- the German move into the region was a complete surprise to them -- and their planned glider-delivery of ATGs never happened owing to logistics snafus. Their Russian ATRs proved effective though, enough so that contemporaneos German accounts frequently began w/a tally of how many ATRs had been captured the day prior.]
re the German OB addition, this armored division did have heavy SPA w/IR capability w/in range and about a march behind. There aren't many OP tank ASL scenarios, so I thought it would be an okay addition. Aside from IR capability, the OP tank is pretty weak.
re the Dudari "police garrison" OB addition, I found no direct evidence for this, save for contemporaneous notes that the Germans were awarding 50,000 Occupation Reich Marks (worth IDK what) to locals for info on the Partisans, et.all. That implies some local administrative liaison personnel w/"money guns and lawyers," so I added the 2x SMG Axis Minor HS and a 7-0 as a nod to the German use and disbursement of bribes in Ukraine for info on pro-Soviet elements (Ukrainians were not keen on the Russians as good invaders; I've read in other accounts that up to 50,000 Ukrainians fought in German uniform vs the Russians). Game-wise, the addition is close to same as the U32 Balance provision for the Germans.
re the "blown bridge" VC, I fault the original U32 VC as maybe a tad too bland. The alt-win condition is long odds but likely to boost the fun a bit. There are only 2x DC in the Russian OB, so the chance of actually getting one in position for the alt-win is remote at best.
re the SSR 5 Drop Points, 3x of the 4x defined are likely to result in near-all on-board landings, but there is no guarantee any given drop point will ever be randomly selected. There'll be games where the Soviet player has no chance owing to bad drop points and scatters (but all ASL Airborne-entry scenarios kinda have this problem). There's a better-than-average chance that the resulting drops in this version will give a pretty good game? [Note that the prescribed drop points will limit where the 2x Player's Choice drop points may be.] Players can scrap-and-do-over any horribly-bad All-Drop-At-Start ASL Airbirne scenario at only a small cost in player time. For a U32 bad drop stretched over many turns, sigh, that can waste a day of your gaming life. It's maybe (?) a good idea to adjust my SSR 5 to say that a drop point, once, selected, cannot be chosen again, but that would make the final drops maybe too certain, so I didn't write it that way. A compromise might be that the Player-defined drop points always come last (or first)? Owing to likely scatter, specifiying the player-defined points as =first= gives those likely-scattered units some time to move in as the better-aimed Wings come in later. That is also in keeping w/abstracting the (unrepesented) doctrinal Russian Pathfinders dropping in way-early to mark drops points for pilots of later Wings.
That's more than enough words for an unpublished/unfinished scenario. If I can find time to get the latest/greatest VASL setup going, I may check back in to find an interested playtester.