Playing 'Chicken' with the Panzerwaffe. Clash At Borisovka TKO in 2.


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Mar 3, 2005
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Taipei, Taiwan
Since I started playing ASLSK scenarios, I have posted AARs (usually brief, but occasionally with more detail) under the "So what Starter Kit Scenario have you played recently?" thread. But a number of illuminating observations were made in the setup and playing of S-21 ("Clash At Borisovka"), that I thought it should have its own thread.

This was Mike's second game of S-21, and my fourth, so as is usually the case, I gave Mike the (Russian) balance, which is that the Russian tanks get their full MP allowance on turn 1, instead of the usual requirement of entering the map having expended half of their MPs. This is HUGE, as it allows the Russians to get well within range of exiting the south edge during their turn 2 MPh, without having to resort to CE movement. This started an intriguing discussion of whether or not the Russians should even bother to fight the Germans at all, and instead simply remain in motion, and try to exit more than they lose to German fire.

The VCs require the Russians to eliminate more German tanks than they themselves lose, with an exited tank counting as an eliminated German tank. The Russians have 10 T-34s (6 M41s and 4 M43s), the Germans have 4 PzIVF2s and 2 PzVIEs. So, if the Russians were to exit 6 tanks, they are guaranteed to win, since the most the Germans can then eliminate will be the remaining 4, final score 6-4 Russians (and all the while without destroying a single German tank!!). If the Russians manage to eliminate just 1 German tank, and exit 5, that will also guarantee a win for them, final score 6-5.

So, the theory went that the Russians should enter CE, and exploit the 1/2 MP road rate to their best ability, remain in motion, and BU in the APh. The Germans are not very likely to kill even 1 tank in their turn 1 MPh/AFPh, and in the Russian turn 2 MPh, the T-34s simply dash for the south edge. A pretty simple theory, that we discussed and pondered over at great length. Take a look (below) at the Russian positions at the end of their turn 1. It looks pretty scary from the (bottom) German side of the map!!!

View attachment 49096

My Germans had a lot of ground to cover if they were to stop an instant Russian win, and the 2 hex wide level 1 hills at the south end are a real problem. There is no summit; you're very much like a mouse on a billiard table - you can only see down 1 side at a time, which makes it very difficult to cover all the routes of the T-34s swarming for the south edge. So, what can the Germans do? Well, the most important thing is to take away the 1/2 MP road rate by putting each PzVIE blocking the roads, and then cover the remaining channels the best I could with the PzIVF2s. The Russians had the greatest strength on the right side, so I entered 1 hex wide woods, so as to allow my PzIVF2s to have LOS on either side. If they happened to Bog, well that's just too bad. A minimum of AFPh shots were taken, since a MA malfunction could really put the Germans in a very deep hole. Here is the map at the end of German turn 1, and so the stage is set for the turn 2 big Russian charge for the south exit........

View attachment 49097

The first Russian tanks to exits are the group of 4 to the far right. The first 2 are hit and wrecked by PzIVF2s, but the third exits safely (with a malfunctioned MA, as its BFF aspirations fail miserably - no mind, a Russian tank exited with a malfunctioned gun still counts just as well as one with a working gun). The fourth also exits safely, so the score is 2-2 (remember that the German wins tied scores at game end). Next, the pair of T-34/M41s in uK7/uL6 rush for the right corner, but they must cross the hill to exit during turn 2, and that brings the PzIVF2 in uF2 into play. Unfortunately, he malfunctions his 75L on its first (non-APCR) attempt, and I can only watch them leave. Worse yet, one of them hits and kills the PzIVF2 in uB8, which makes the current score 5-2 Russian. This now means that if even 1 of the 4 remaining Russian tanks exit, they will have a guaranteed victory (as there simply will not be enough remaining Russian tanks for me to eliminate to even the score!!). The 2 T-34/M43s in uM2/uL1 scoot past the currently useless PzIVF2, hoping that they get at least 1 past the PzVIE in uB5. The Tiger eliminates the first one, hits the second in its hull front with an intensive fire shot, but the TK DR is '11' and the shot bounces off, and I have effectively played my last trick as the lucky T-34 exits off and clinches the game for the Russians.

I guess I could have enjoyed a bit more fortune during the mad dash, no APCR showed up, no ROF, and a first shot malfunction was a little less than ideal. But in spite of the result, I did at least feel that my defense gave me a very decent fighting chance that unfortunately didn't go my way this day. I know that this might be a lot of writing for a scenario that essentially took less than 1.5 game turns to determine, but the discussions and debates that it generated between Mike and myself made it a very rewarding undertaking and we both got a great amount of entertainment from this playing.

John Knowles.
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