Deep Battle Design Notes 5 – Why Railway Lines are significant for Operational Warfare

I’m planning on having railway lines and roads on table for games using my, as yet unwritten rules, Deep Battle rule set. But do I need them? This is basically what Richard asked in a comment about my post Operational Terrain 3: Experimenting on a 4 Inch Hex Grid. Richard asked “do your roads/railways have any game significance? If they don’t you could take the bold step of forgetting them.” I think they are essential.

By coincidence I recently read “Thunder in the East” by Evan Mawdsley and if anything this reinforced my opinion that a set of Operational level wargaming rules must represent railway lines and major roads. I’ve explained my rationale below and shared a bunch of quotes from Mawdsley (2015) to illustrate the point in a historical context.


Why I think an Operational Wargame must have Railway Lines and Major Roads

On the Eastern Front railway lines were best way to transport supplies and troops. Units that got too far away from their railway heads ran out of supplies.

There were very few hards roads in the USSR during WW2 so railway lines were the focus. In fact in the late war the Soviets were even less dependent on roads than other nations as their armies had better cross country ability. The combination of American trucks and Soviet tanks allowed the Soviets to advance off road even in during the rasputitsa.

Western Europe had a much better road network and hence hard roads were more significant than railway lines. Roads were significant, however, for the same logistical reasons.

The logical significance of railway lines and hard roads turned them into military objectives. As you’ll see from the quotes below a lot of operations on the Eastern front were to capture transport hubs or, more simply, to cut railway lines. Viaz’ma is an early and classic example. Viaz’ma was only significant as a railway junction but the Germans and Soviets fought over it for 18 months.

[At the end of September 1941] behind the Soviet front lay the small town of Viaz’ma, the centre of a district (raion) of Smolensk Region. The history of Viaz’ma went back to early medieval times, but its population was only 34,000 in 1939, and the place was of little economic importance. Viaz’ma, however, had a great value to the generals as a railway junction on the direct route from Smolensk to Moscow; strategic railways also ran north from Viaz’ma to Rzhev and south to Briansk. The Germans and Russians would fight huge and largely forgotten battles for Viaz’ma over the next eighteen months; the Red army would lose it and then expend hundreds of thousands of lives in desperate attempts to take it back. (p. 89)

Both the logistic benefit and their role of an objective make railway lines and major roads essential for a set of Operational level wargaming rules.


Railway Lines and Roads on the Eastern Front

Mawdsley (2015) is a general history of the Eastern Front. What I found fascinating is how often railway lines, and to a less extent major roads, are mentioned.

The book is available from Amazon USA, UK, and Canada:

Mawdsley, E. (2015). Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War 1941-1945 (2nd Ed.). Bloomsbury Academic.

Russian roads …

Modern roads were few in Russia, and movement was brought to a halt during the spring and autumn thaws, the rasputitsa. Dirt roads turned to mud, and swollen rivers became major obstacles. Winter snow blocked roads, and frost disabled vehicle motors. The railways were potentially the best means for moving troops and supplies, but the Germans cold expect to have to rebuild the system slowly as they advanced. Their engineers would have to narrow broad-gauge Russian track (5 feet)to the European standard gauge (4 feet 8.5 in) before it could take German supply trains. The Russian railway system was not dense by European standards, but it was sizeable and had been further lengthened in the 1930s. The defenders would be able to use their railway system to move troops and goods to and from the deep hinterland, and from one part of the front to another; they would do this at a time when the invading force was still repairing the lines on the other side of the front. (p. 47)

Centre, August-September 1941 …

Another reason for the pause in the centre [during August-September 1941] was the need to ‘mop up’ after the early victories. Hitler was concerned with the number of Soviet stragglers behind German Army Group Centre. It took considerable effort for the Germans to eliminate the remains of Western Army Group; this was the first task of a new German 2nd Army established under General Weichs. German logistics, maintenance and deployment were a final explanation for the pause at Smolensk. Bock’s Army Group Centre had ploughed ahead hundreds of miles and fought difficult battles. The motorized spearheads needed to be refitted. Meanwhile, the bulk of the German infantry, marching on foot, had to catch up. The Germans now had very long supply lines stretching across Poland and then 450 miles across the western USSR., where the roads were poor and the railways had to be repaired and concerted to take German rolling stock. Truck-borne supplies had to to move great distances from the railheads along bad and damaged roads. The supply system had been set up to support all three German army groups, and it could not be quickly or easily rejigged for a narrow drive on Moscow. (p. 69)

Tikhvin, October 1941 …

The immediate crisis the Soviets faced was now at Tikhvin, 110 miles east of Leningrad, which forces of the German 16th Army moved towards in late October [1941] and which they took on 8 November. The remote little town – only 16,000 inhabitants in 1939 – was important because it controlled the last railway line to Lake Ladoga; across this lake Soviet supplies could be transferred into Leningrad. In the course of late November and early December, the Soviet armies, co-ordinated from mid-November by General Meretskov in a new Volkhov Army Group, were able to push the enemy back from the railway. Desperate battles were fought in the sparsely inhabited woods of the eastern Leningrad Region. On 9 December, the Russians recaptured Tikhvin. (p. 88)

Viaz’ma, September 1941 …

[At the end of September 1941] behind the Soviet front lay the small town of Viaz’ma, the centre of a district (raion) of Smolensk Region. The history of Viaz’ma went back to early medieval times, but its population was only 34,000 in 1939, and the place was of little economic importance. Viaz’ma, however, had a great value to the generals as a railway junction on the direct route from Smolensk to Moscow; strategic railways also ran north from Viaz’ma to Rzhev and south to Briansk. The Germans and Russians would fight huge and largely forgotten battles for Viaz’ma over the next eighteen months; the Red army would lose it and then expend hundreds of thousands of lives in desperate attempts to take it back. (p. 89)

Briansk, 1941 …

Briansk, where three major lines criss-crossed, was an even more important railway hub than Viaz’ma. (p. 91)

Tikhvin, December 1941 …

By December [1941], however, the Germans had been pushed back from their advanced position at Tikhvin, and this was to crucially important. Although for the defenders of Leningrad the route – via Tikhvin – to the central Russian ‘mainland’ was indirect and poor, it prevented the complete starvation and surrender of the city.

But the most direct routes to Leningrad, especially the railways and metalled roads, were still blocked. (p. 125)

Demiansk, 1942 …

[Following the Soviet Winter offensive of 1941-42] the Wehrmacht also held a smaller but deep salient around Demiansk (between the Toropets salient and Lake Il’men). From Demiansk they threatened, together with the German forces int he Rzhev-Viaz’ma salient, to decapitate the Russian Toropets salient, or or at least to cut its main supply railway (at Ostrahkov). (p. 147)

Stalingrad, August 1942 …

Stalingrad stretched along the western shore of the Volga River. The town of Tsaritsyn was named after Stalin in 1925 – because he had played a part in its defence in 1918, when anti-Bolshevik cossacks had attempted to take it from the south. Tsaritsyn (the ‘Red Verdun’) became a symbol of Bolshevik powers of resistance, and the martial qualities of Stalin (and the future Marshal Voroshilov, who was another of Tsaritsyrin’s defenders). Stalingrad was the administrative centre of a huge agricultural region and an important industrial centre, but not one of the very largest towns in Russian, in 1939 the population was 445,000, smaller than that of Rostov. The city had been heavily developer before the war, and in 1941-2, as a ‘safe’ war production centre, and by August 1942 it was crowded with refugees. Stalingrad was an important communications hub, near strategic railways and pipelines, but especially important was the river. In his directives and speeches, Hitler made much of the Volga as an economic artery. (p. 155)

Rostov, 1942 …

Stalin wanted to make a stand at Rostov and the lower Don, but the dangers of this exposed position were obvious. Rostov could (and was) outflanked from the east. `if cut off, the city could not be supplied, reinforced or evacuated by sea (unlike Odessa or Sevastopol). The supply line back from Rostov to central Russia would have been very tenuous, even had the Stalingrad-Tikhoretskaia-Rostov railway line remained in Soviet hands. (p. 164)

Kastornoe, January 1943 …

A week later (24 January [1943]), and about 75 miles further north up the Don, the rest of Voronezh Army Group and one army of Reiter’s Briansk Army Group began another offensive, against the large city of Voronezh on the Don and the important rail junction at Kastornoe behind it (between Voronezh and Kursk). Voronezh was the place from which Paulus’s 6th Army had begun its part of Operation BLUE against Stalingrad in June 1942. Now the Russians in short order captured Voronezh (on 25 January) and Kastornoe (three days later), pushing the German 2nd Army well to the west of the Don. (p. 246)

Pskov, Operation Polar Star, February 1943 …

The first of the co-ordinated operations of 1943, the first attempted post-Stalingrad battle of ‘encirclement and annihilation’, was Operation POLAR START (POLIARNAIA ZVEZDA). This offensive involved the Soviet Northwestern, Volkhov and Leningrad Army Groups, and very serious weight was attached to it, at least for three or four weeks. Marshal Zhukov himself was charged with co-ordinating the three army groups. The overall concept was that the Leningrad Army Group would now drive for Narva on the Estonian boarder, while – repeating the operational planned for the 1st Shock army in February 1942 – the left wing of the Northwestern Army Group would strike out for Pskov. The distance to Pskov was some 110 miles. Operational POLAR STAR had much in common with Operational URANUS at Stalingrad and Operation LITTLE SATURN/SATURN on the middle Don, both carried out two months before. Just as Rostov had been the strategic rail choke point for Hitler’s southern army groups, so Pskov as the choke point for his northern one. (p. 247-248)

For Operation POLAR STAR the Stvaka ordered General Khozin, who commanded a ‘special group of forces’ comprising the 1st Tank Army and 68th Army, to be ready for action of the middle of February 1943. POLAR STAR never happened because the Germans retreated and the rasputitsa started, but the original directive lists five locations on railway lines (Luga, Strugi Krasnye, Pokhov, Dno, and Pskov):

The basic task of the group of forces is to cut the communications of the enemy’s Leningrad-Volkhov group [i.e. the German 18th Army] by advancing to Luga, Strugi Krasnye, Pokhov, and Dno and not to allow enemy units to get through to help their Demiansk [i.e. the German 16th Army] and Leningrad-Volkhov groups. A group of forces [sic] composed of two rifle divisions, two ski brigades, two tank regiments, two air regiments of the Stavka reserve, and one engineer brigade are to take and hold the town of Pskov.

After the capture of Luga [and] Strugi Krasnye, part of the forces are to take the area of Kingisepp [and] Narva, cutting off the enemy’s retreat into Estonia. The major part of the forces are, in cooperation with the Volkhov and Leningrad Army Groups, to surround and destroy the Volkhov and Leningrad groupings of the enemy. (p. 248)

Rzhev and Viaz’ma, January 1943 …

The great prize remained the expposed position of Kluge’s armies in the Rzhev-Viaz’ma salient west of Moscow. The big Soviet-held Topets salient still hung north and west of Rzhev and Viaz’ma and threatened the German supply line back to Smolensk. Great Soviet resources of manpower and equipment had been thrown against the Rzhev-Viaz’ma area, notably in Operation MARS of November 1942, but with high losses and little success. Now, at the end of January 1943, there were two new factors: a Soviet advance west into Kursk Region after the Rossosh’-Ostrogozhsk breakthrough, and the surrender of the Stalingrad garrison. The first even opened the long southern flank of the 2nd Panzer Army at Briansk and Orel, which in turn covered the southern flank of the Rzhev-Viaz’ma salient. The second event freed up the Soviet manpower required for an attack. (p. 250)

Briansk, Gomel, Rzhev, and Viaz’ma, February 1943 …

Rokossovskii’s command was renamed Central Army Group, and he was told too move rapidly to his start position in the western part of the Kursk sector (underneath the Orel ‘balcony’), which was in the process of being liberated. The transfer was supposed to be effect by 15 February [1943] (nine days after the original 6 February order); from that time, Rokossovskii was to begin a rapid drive to the northwest through the little town of Sevsk, for a third and even deeper trust against German Army Group Centre. ‘On reaching the Briansk-Gomel’ line [the railway line running southwest from Briansk and 60 miles northwest of Sevsk] the main blow of the army is to be directed … towards Smolensk with the object of occupying the Smolensk area and cuttong off the line of the retreat of the enemy’s Viaz’ma-Rzhev grouping’. The ‘Viaz’ma-Rzhev grouping’ was the German 9th Army and the 3rd Panzer Army of Army Group Centre. Smolensk was to be the cork in the bottle, like Rostov in the south and Pskov in the north. (p. 250)

March 1943 …

Rokossovskii, with his new Central Army Group, was delayed by weather and transport problems; he had to cover a distance of over 500 miles from Stalingrad, and he had to rely on one-single track railway. Rokossovskii began attacks with the limited forces that had reached their assembly area, but they rang out of momentum in early March [1943]. (p. 251)

Kastornoe and Kursk, February 1943 …

The northern wing of this offensive [Operation STAR, beginning 2 February 1943] pushed beyond the Kastornoe railway junction towards the city of Kursk, and was ultimately the most successful Soviet advance of the late winder campaign. On 8 February the northernmost of Golikov’s right-flank armies, General I. D. Cherniakhovskii’s 60th, took Kursk. (p. 253)

1943 …

Overall [after the 1942-43 Winter campaign], the Russians had had to face the problem of advancing rapidly in mid-winter after several months of combat. It was 300 miles from Stalingrad even to the Mius River line west of Rostov, and another 200 miles further on to the Dnepr. Forward units were now very far from their railheads, and Soviet logistic resources were still limited. (p.256)

Prokhorovka, 1943 …

[At Kursk] a major battle was indeed fought southwest of the small railway station at Prokhorovka. (p. 261)

Briansk, August 1943 …

on 5 August [1943], Rybalko’s tanks entered Orel, but General Model had successfully pulled the German 2nd Panzer Army and 9th Army back to the HAGEN defensive live. This line covered, among other points, the vital rail junctional at Briansk. Rokossovskii could not immediately fulfil Stalin’s order to break across the Desna River and cut German communications from Briansk to Gomel’. (p. 263-264)

Nevel’, October 1943 …

The rest of German Army Group North’s position held firm, although in early October 1943, two shock armies from Eremenko’s Kalinin Army Group would finally overrun the important defended rail junction at Nevel’, on the demarcation line between Army Group north and Army Group Centre, and the next step west after Velikie Luki. (p. 266)

Odessa-L’vov railway line and Mogilev-Podol’skii, March 1944 …

Konev now in mid-March 1944 pushed southwest at right angles to the river lines, past Uman’ (scene of a terrible Red Army Kessel in 1941). He now had under his command three tank armies, two guards armies and four other infantry armies. The Southern Bug was crossed just after the middle of march, and beyond it the main railway from Odessa to L’vov and central Europe. German divisions scuttled westwards to escape the trap. Konev reached the Dnestr River and the Border of Modavia. Here was the town of Mogilev-Podol’skii (capture on 19 March) and the last major rail line of out the Ukraine. (p. 273)

Chrnovitsy, 1944 …

Driving ahead with the 3rd Guards Tank Army, the 60th Army and the 4th Tank Army, Zhukov captured on 29 March [1944] the town of Chrnovitsy (Cernǎuți). With this, he cut the last direct railway connection from the Ukraine to the Reich (via L’vov). (p. 274)

Staraia Russa, January 1944 …

The southern part of the German 18th Army was attacked at the same time, by Popov’s 2nd Baltic Army Group. Some 100 miles up the Volkhov River, the 59th Army of Popov’s army group encircled the ancient and now ruined city of Novgorod, after bitter battles in severe winter weather. The German garrison was able to break out, but the town was taken on 20 January 1944. Staraia Russa, to the south of Lake Il’men, finally fell on 18 February 1944. This was the strategic railway town that had been a major Red army objective since January 1942. (p. 282)

Pskov, March 1944 …

German Army Group North was fighting a very confused battle without clear lines. The considerable Russian partisan force in the southern and western part of Leningrad Region was now brought into play. The advancing Russians took the important rail junction at Luga on 12 February 1944. Hitler now, in mid-February, became more keen on a retreat to the PANTHER line, and in the end, Model feel back there. The Russians turned to the southwest, reaching the outskirts of Pskov and Ostrov by 1 March 1944, as the 2nd Baltic Front finally began an advance to the west. Pskov had been the main communications hub of Army Group North [the] throughout war. After approaching the outskirts of Narva and Pskov, the Russians, however, were able to make little further progress due to German resistance and the very early rasputitsa. (p. 282-283)

Moscow-Leningrad Railway, January 1944 …

The Soviet offensive had, after twenty-seven months, completely transformed the position around Leningrad. The opening of the main Moscow-Leningrad rail line on 26 January 1944 marked the final end of the terrible siege of Leningrad. (p. 283)

Dno-Nevel’-Vitebsk-Orsha lateral railway, October 1943 …

Vatutin’s breakout at Kiev in November 1943 shook the southern part of this line, which had to pull further back beyond the town of Gomel’, and beyond the Dnepr River. Meanwhile, north of Vitebsk, the Soviet capture of Nevel’ in early October 1943 represented a major victory, creating a significant bulge in the enemy line at the boundary between German Army Groups North and Centre; the advance cut the Dno-Nevel’-Vitebsk-Orsha lateral (north-south) railway. (p. 290)

Mogilev and Orsha, 1944 …

Russian military historians divide the first phase of the Belorussian offensive into three parallel breakthrough battles: the Bobruisk operation, the Mogilev operation and the Vitebsk-Orsha operation. Bobruisk, Mogilev, Orsha and Vitebsk were the four towns on the Dvina-Dnepr line, with 40-60 miles between them. There German ArmyGroup Centre had formed its new strategic line of resistance, roughly Hitler’s Ostwall line. In late 1943, Bobruisk, on the lower Berezine River (a tributary of the upper Dnepr), was the southern German anchor. Mogilev was on the rail line to Baranovichi; it had been the Tsar’s Supreme Headquarters in 1915-17. Further north on the Dnepr was Orsha, on the south side of the ‘Orsha land bridge’, and astride the Smolensk-Minsk railway; it was at a staff conference at Orsha in November 1941 that General Halder of the German General Staff had argued for the final drive on Moscow. Vitebsk, on the Dvina, was the second biggest in the Belorussian SSR, with a pre-war population of 167,000. All four were among the borderland towns that Hitler in march had specially designated as ‘fortified places (festen Plätze). (p. 293)

Molodechno, July 1944 …

South of Minsk, the Right wing of Rokossovskii’s 1st Belorussian Army Group moved on to Baranovichi (8 July, D + 15) and to Brest (28 July, D + 36) on the 1941 state border. Cherniakovskii’s 3rd Belorussian Army Group raced on to the important rail junction of Molodechno and then to Vil’nius (13 July), and Kaunas (1 August, D + 40) in Lithuania. (p. 294)

road and railway junctions, 1944 …

As we have seen, this concept had been unsuccessful in the Ukraine, where the fortified places were quickly overrun. Three months later, the doctrine was still in place in Belorussia. To be sure, these places were not simply points on the map, but road and railway junctions, usually on river lines, which, if held, might be expected to slow the Soviet onslaught. However, this strategy depended on the Red Army being unable to move rapidly ooff the few major roads, something which in fact became easier with the improvement of Red Army transport, notably the availability of the big American trucks. Even more important, the fortified places strategy depended on the Germans having sufficient mobile forces available both to fight the main battle and to mount a counter-attack. the strategy had had some success in France and the Low Countries, where the German held on to key ports to prevent their use for Allied Supply ships, although this slowed only marginally the American and British advance. (p. 297)

‘Union’ versus ‘Western European’ gauge railway lines, 1944 …

The Red Army was now [1944] operating over very long supply lines, just as the Wehrmacht had been in 1941, 1942 and 1943. The extreme case was that the Soviet formations that advanced across the ravaged Ukraine, through Romania, and into Hungary. The logistic problems were nearly as great for those army groups that crossed Poland to the Oder. Especially important was the need to transfer goods from ‘Union’ (i.e. Soviet Union) gauge railways (5ft) to ‘Western European’ gauge (4ft 8.5in). This led to much conflict when the ‘friendly’ civil authorities, for example when branch line were torn up to prepare the right of way for the east-west trunk lines needed to supply the Red Army. The Wehrmacht, for its part, now had shorter and more secure supply lines behind it, and in the eastern part of the Reich those railways and road systems had not been badly damaged by air attacks. (p. 308)

L’vov, July 1944 …

As the tank columns on Konev’s right wing were racing west to the San and the Vistula, other forces on his left wing encircle a concentration of 40-50,000 Germans troops near Brody. Rybalko’s tanks did not succeed in taking L’vov off the march, but the city was encircle and fell on D + 14 of the L’vov-Sandomierz operation (27 July 1944). L’vov had a pre-war population of 340,000, mainly ethnic Poles, and it was an important transport hub, the junction of the east-west and north-south rail lines. (p. 316)

Poznań, February 1945 …

Stalin’s confidence in Marshal Zhukov in January 1945 had not been misplaced. Zhukov’s part of the Vistula-Oder operation is called the Vistual-Poznań operation. The 1st Belorussian Army Group bypassed the Poznań (Posen) area. The big industrial city and key railway junction, held by 60,000 defenders, fell only after a lengthy siege on 23 February [1945]. (p. 326)

Salonika-Belgrade railway, 1945 …

The Soviet 57th Army moved rapidly across Bulgaria and threatened the German rail line of communications from Greece, the Salonika-Belgrade railway. (p. 334)

Skopje-Kraljevo-Sarajevo road and Railway, October 1944 …

For the Germans, Yugoslavia was especially important from the late summer of 1944. Through its territory ran the only route that could be used to extract the big Wehrmacht garrisons in Greece and the Mediterranean islands (German Army Group ‘E’). This protracted evacuation began on 10 October 1944 and ended on 31 December. (p. 335)

Skopje-Kraljevo-Sarajevo road and Railway, October 1944 …

[In October 1944] the German front in Yugoslavia then stabilized about 50 miles west of Belgrade and, further south, around Kraljevo. The railway had been cut, but the Germans were able to continue pulling their troops out of Greece along the Skopje-Kraljevo-Sarajevo road.

Budapest, 1945 …

Hitler, as might be expected, had forbidden the abandonment of the Hungarian capital. Budapest lay athwart the main entry route to Austria and Bohemia. It was the main railway hub of the region and also the largest Danubian port. The Red Army could not bypass it. This was the first time in the war that the Red Army had to lay siege to a major city. (p. 339)

Sea, 1944-45 …

[In 1944-45] the north was protected by the closed Baltic, which the German Navy and the Luftwaffe still controlled. Command of this sea also allowed the Germans to supply isolated armies in Kurland and East Prussia, and to move forces along the coast. In the west, the Rhine and its fixed defence served as a stout barrier, although beyond that, in central German, y the terrain was relatively open and a developed road network could be used by invaders. In the east two main avenues, north and south of the Carpathians, led to the heart of the Reich. (p. 350)

Poznań, February 1945 …

[Zhukov] had achieved this [rapid success] by bypassing centres of German resistance. The most important such place was the city of Poznań (Posen), which controlled the rail routes to the west. Poznań, with nineteenth-century fortifications, would hold out for a month, and the German garrison only surrendered on 23 February [1945]. (p. 355)

Scheidemühl, Poznań, Glogau and Breslau, 1945 …

More practical problems must have had an effect as had been the case on the Vistula-Narew line in mid 1944, the Red Army had advanced beyond its supplies. Soviet engineers had to build bridges across the Vistula, and repair damaged railways and road bridges across Poland. The Germans clung on to communications hubs at Scheidemühl (Pila), Poznań, Glogau and Breslau. There was a sudden thaw at the start of February 1945 which clogged the roads, thinned river ice and closed the improvised forward airstrips of the Soviet air armies. (p. 356)

Poznań and Breslau, February 1945 …

[In February 1945] Konev had a German strongpoint astride his rail communications at Breslau, presenting a problem similar to the one Zhukov had with Poznań. Rather than sending all his forces west, Konev had to use the 6t Army and the 5th Guards Army in his centre, supported by the 3rd Guards tank army, to encircle Breslau. (p. 367)

Remagen, March 1945 …

The surprise capture of the Ludendorff railway bridge at Remagen on the Rhine (south of the Ruhr) on 7 March 1945 allowed the Americans to establish themselves on the far side of the river. (p. 373)


References

Mawdsley, E. (2015). Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War 1941-1945 (2nd Ed.). Bloomsbury Academic.

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6 comments to Deep Battle Design Notes 5 – Why Railway Lines are significant for Operational Warfare

  • jdalton3au

    Wow, that is some serious level of evidence! should make for some interesting op-level scenarios.

    • Steven Thomas

      Yup John, lots of scenarios there. Mind you, the book I referenced did cover the entire Eastern Front. 🙂

  • Julian Donohoe

    Excellent work here. Out of curiosity, have you played Firestorm Bagration? Rail lines are key to supply in that game and the system (or a similar one) may work well with your rules.

    • Steven Thomas

      Julian, I’m familiar with Firestorm Bagration. In fact I merged all the various published sources to write a generic Firestorm Campaign System. Nice elegant system but uses Bath Tubbing to down scale the forces on table. I want to go the other way … have units that behave like corps and armies on table.

  • You’d find enough evidence a generation earlier. Railway lines, and more important connecting hubs, had a major strategic role in the Polish-Soviet war. Eastern Europe is big and empty compared to the west – it’s why cavalry armies dominated for so long and the pattern of warfare has always been different to Western Europe.
    Some of it is transport, but that’s heavily connected to the force:space ratio. You can look at similar problems in the Western and Eastern theatres of the American civil war. Big spaces with relatively small numbers prioritise movement and self reliance, smaller spaces and bigger numbers put the stress on logistics and defense in depth.

  • Bill Barker

    Steven,
    a belated comment – and one also related to your earlier post on logistics… railways are also key to keeping formations supplied. I’m currently looking at adding logistics to the rules I use for WW1, as I’m wanting to use OP14 for WW1 Middle East operational games where logistics (and especially water supply) are a key element. Your analysis of logistics rules presented me with the PanzerGruppe ideas – thank you!
    Bill

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