Krasny Bor Campaign – A Crossfire Campaign featuring the Blue Division

In mid-2003 the guys at the Shed asked me to set up a scenario for a weekend bash. The parameters they outlined were: WW2, Crossfire, 8-9 players (optional umpire), 4 tables, 2 real days of gaming, and BIG. Krasny Bor appealed to me for a number of reasons:

  • It involves the Spanish Blue Division
  • It is very BIG
  • There aren’t many tanks
  • It is seemingly one-sided, and I wondered if I could still make it a good game.

The scenario description is divided into these sections:

Historical Situation

Full Details

I have a full description of the Battle of Krasny Bor in my Blue Division section.

Setting: Krasny Bor, Russia; 10 Feb 1943

At 06.40 on 10 Feb 1943 a massive Soviet bombardment hit the positions of the 250th (Blue) Division at Krasny Bor on the eastern bank of the Ishora river. The Soviets launched an impressive force (over four divisions) to crush the Spanish defenders and clear the main Moscow-to-Leningrad highway upon which the eastern lines of the division were positioned. Facing them were a mere five Spanish battalions (5,608 men). Massed Soviet infantry and armour then flooded the Spanish lines. During the course of the day the Spanish suffered 3,645 casualties, equating to 75% casualties. They, however, inflicted about 11,000 Soviet casualties, a high price for the relatively small piece of land gained.

Overview of game mechanism

The scale of the real battle was huge, however, it could be sub-divided to focus on the key points. I divided the battle into four zones and two phases, thus giving me eight mini-scenarios (and tables) to simulate the progress of the battle. A special rule from Hit the Dirt called Human Wave Tactics meant that there was never more than a battalion on each side on any particular table.

The two phases have slightly different objectives.

  • Phase 1 is the Soviet attempt to breakthrough the Spanish Front Line troops and get as many troops as possible into the Spanish rear for use in Phase 2. It starts at 08.00 hours and is fought on the Front tables.
  • Phase 2 is for consolidation and each Soviet player has different objectives. It ends at 13.00 hours and is fought on the Rear tables.

I made no attempt to link the battles being fought in each zone so, in that sense, it is more a set of related scenarios than a multi-player game. This is in keeping with the Soviet Doctrine that didn’t really allow troops to move outside their defined zones and also in keeping with the fact the Spanish were on the back foot hence had little opportunity for applying reserves during the battle. Having said that team interaction was catered for by the pre-game planning imposed on both sides and by pre-session briefings held before both phase 1 and phase 2. What impressed me was how the two teams played the entire scenario strategically hence were willing to take losses on particular tables in the interests of gaining an overall win.

The key features found on each table were as follows:

Krasny Bor Campaign - All Tables

Krasny Bor Campaign – All Tables

The overall winning team is the side that wins the most Phase 2 games. If the number of wins is even, the team that wins on Table 3-Rear (Krasny Bor) is the winner.

See the detailed pages for descriptions of:

Soviet Pre-game Planning

The Soviet players must do the following before the game starts:

  1. Team allocates Players to Divisions and Zones
  2. Team allocates Central Reserve Assets
  3. Team organises Pre-Planned Bombardment (PPB)
  4. Player allocates Divisional Reserve Assets
  5. Player organises Battalion Waves

Team allocates Players to Divisions and Zones

The Soviets have four infantry divisions available, one for each zone. Two divisions are Guards, hence are Regular and have a SMG Company in the Divisional Reserve. The remaining divisions are Green.

Team allocates Central Reserve Assets

The Soviets have a number of assets that can be retained in the Central reserve or dished out to the Divisions. The Central Assets are:

Soviet Central Reserve Assets

  • 4 x T-34/76 C tank platoons
    • 1 x T-34/76 C with PC (+0)
    • 2 x T-34/76 C
  • 2 x KV-1 tank platoons
    • 1 x KV-1 E with PC (+0)
    • 2 x KV-1 E
  • 4 x FO for off-table 76mm Infantry Gun (12 FM each)
  • 4 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12 FM each)
  • 4 x FO for off-table Heavy Artillery (4 FM each)

Before the game starts the Soviet players must decide where each central asset is allocated. FOs are allocated individually but tank platoons are allocated as complete units. Assets can be:

  • Retained in the Central Reserve.
  • Allocated to a specific Divisional Reserve.
  • Allocated to a specific Battalion wave within a division. The Asset will arrive on-table when the Battalion wave does. FOs must be allocated to specific CCs or PCs within the Battalion Wave.

Team organises Pre-Planned Bombardment (PPB)

Historically the Soviets had masses of artillery and mortars to soften up the Spanish positions so the Soviets get PPB. Before the game the Soviet players must divide

Soviet Pre-Planned Bombardment (PPB)

  • 48 FM for PPB between the front 4 tables, and
  • 24 FM between the rear tables.

Player allocates Divisional Reserve Assets

Each Division has some divisional assets that can be retained in a divisional reserve or dished out to the battalion waves.

Only the Guards Rifle Divisions have a SMG company (Regular). These SMG companies lack the HMG and mortars of the Rifle companies.

All Divisions have a Pioneer Platoon (Guards Regular, others Green). The Pioneers are normal Engineers not Assault Engineers. That means they can be used to remove mines and wire but are no better in close combat than normal rifle squads.

Before the game starts the Divisional commander must decide where these assets are allocated. The choices are retaining them in the Divisional Reserve or attaching them to a specific Battalion wave. In the later case they replace a unit of equivalent size (platoon or company) from the battalion wave, i.e. you can only ever have 3 companies on table at the same time, each with 3 platoons.

Player organises Battalion Waves

Each Soviet player has a division at their disposal. Each division can field four battalions during the course of the game; unfortunately due to the constricted nature of the battlefield only one battalion can fit on each table at one time. Each Battalion Wave comprises a standard Early War Russian Leg Infantry Battalion. Guards battalions are Regular and others Green. Assume for simplicity that all battalions are organised in the same way. One squad per platoon has ATR. All HMG, FO, and ATG must be attached to a specific commander (CC or PC).

The benefit of having a division is that you can send in waves of battalions – an advantage the Spanish dont have. The fewer Battalion Waves the Soviets use the better they’re doing. Battalion Wave 1 is dedicated to phase 1 of the battle; similarly Battalion Wave 4 is dedicated to phase 2. The Soviet objective of Phase 1 is to Infiltrate Battalion Waves 2 and 3 through the Spanish lines for use in Phase 2. The Spanish objective is to prevent this infiltration either by blocking infiltration routes and/or inflicting enough casualties on the on-table Battalion Wave to force its replacement under the Human Wave Tactics rule. Once a Battalion Wave has been withdrawn through the Human Wave Tactics rule the next battalion wave can and must enter the table.

Remember that Divisional Reserve assets replace Rifle Companies and Platoons; they are not fielded in addition to the standard complement.


Spanish Pre-game planning

The Spanish must first allocate players to zones and then allocate their forces to the 8 tables – both front and rear. In general troops are allocated to tables by HQ, company or battery, and not lower level units such as platoons, squads or sections; in particular HMG companies are allocated as a group. Every table must have at least one rifle, sapper, recon, or ski company/squadron. All HQ must be deployed on one of the rear tables.

The Spanish have the following troops spread over the 8 tables. All troops are Veteran.

Spanish Order of Battle

  • 6 x Battalion HQ
    • 1 x BC (+2)
    • 1 x SMG Squad
  • 11 x Leg Infantry Companies1 (as per 1943 organisation in rules)
  • 2 x Assault Engineer Companies1 (as Leg Infantry but get +1 in close combat)
  • 2 x Machinegun Companies
    • 3 x HMG
    • 1 x FO for off-table 81mm Mortar (12 FM)
  • 4 x Anti-tank Battery
    • 1 x PC (+1)2
    • 4 x 5 cm Pak38 ATG (optional tow each)
  • 8 x FO for off table 10.5 cm (Heavy) Artillery (4 FM)
  • 1 x FO for off table 7.5 cm Artillery (12 FM)

Notes:
(1) 3 squads per infantry or sapper company have an AT-Rifle. These are either all in the same platoon – hence can group fire – or are divided one per platoon. You will have to note how your companies are equipped before the game.
(2) The PC of the Spanish ATG is for rallying not group fire.

Table 3-rear, i.e. in Krasny Bor itself, also gets the HQ of 262 Regiment and a SMG platoon. The latter represents the men of the 1st Light Artillery Group who were stationed in the town and ended up fighting hand-to-hand.

Spanish in Krasny Bor

  • HQ of 262 Regiment
    • 1 x RC (+2)
    • 1 x SMG Squad
  • 1st Light Artillery Group
    • 1 x SMG platoon: PC (+1), 3 x SMG squads

All HMG, FO, and ATG must be attached to a specific commander (CC or PC). Unless otherwise specified company level assets are attached to their CC.

Special Rules

These special rules apply to all tables and games.

Special Rule 4: Moving Clock

The Moving Clock Special Rule 4 from Hit the Dirt – is in use. The clock advances 15 min on 5+ on 1d6 at the end of any Spanish initiative.

Special Rule 5: Bogging Down

The Soviet Pre-planned Bombardment churned up the ground throughout the battlefield and the tanks had some difficulty in moving through the mud and snow. As a consequence all vehicles will bog down (Special Rule 5 from Hit the Dirt) when moving through difficult terrain (Fields, Rough or Woods, Anti-tank Ditch). Roll 4- to bog down; 5+ to un-bog; 1 to become permanently mired. (If you play the House Rule allowing vehicles to use multiple actions, then don’t for this scenario – the mud would prevent this freedom of action.)

Human Wave Tactics

Human Wave Tactics are another rule from Hit the Dirt. Basically it is a mechanism to replace an entire infantry battalion (or company or platoon) during the player’s initiative. This is the only action that player may take during his initiative. The process goes like this:

1. The phasing player removes all the stands of the unit from the table.

2. The phasing player declares the path each platoon of the replacement unit will trace from the deployment zone to a destination point. Both the destination point and route to it must be:

  • Within the area of the table the phasing player has been before.
  • Outside LOS of enemy.

3. This continues until the phasing player has redeployed his entire unit.

Any surviving central assets are removed from the table along with a Battalion Wave being replaced, however, they are immediately attached to the subsequent wave and are moved on-table again as above. FOs must be allocated to specific CCs or PCs within the Battalion Wave. This does not apply to Divisional assets (SMG or Pioneers) which come and go with the Battalion Wave they are attached to.

Soviet Armour command and control

Soviet armour can group move and must obey the same Command and Control restrictions as the Soviet infantry, i.e. any move must start and end within sight of the relevant PC. Soviet armour cannot group fire. If the PC is killed, another tank can replace them (as normal), however, none of the platoon may take an action in the initiative the replacement happens.

2 comments to Krasny Bor Campaign – A Crossfire Campaign featuring the Blue Division

  • Jo

    Hey Steven, I know that this is a very old entry, but I was wondering if you ever revisited it, aswell as how fun it was when you played it.

    • Steven Thomas

      Jo

      The game was fantastic. Everybody involved, eight players, had a great weekend. And of course it was immensely satisfying for me as well – re-fighting the biggest Spanish operation of WW2.

      I have not revisited, although I have always intended to make the eight games into stand alone versions. This would enable the battle to be refought with fewer troops, over a longer time, with only two players. A project for 2017 perhaps.

      Cheers

      Steven

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