Paper Factory – A Crossfire Battle Report from Krasny Bor

Jamie Wish and Chris Harrod played “Paper Factory” (KB1R), the second game of Krasny Bor, featuring the Blue Division in an epic Crossfire campaign. The Spaniards were defending the Paper Factory, in a loop of the Ishora River, against overwhelming odds. Jamie’s Soviets captured all three objectives and won.


Set up

The River Ishora features heavily in this scenario. It forms a loop with the Paper Factory complex in the centre. There are two villages on the outside of the river loop: Petrowschtschina and Watskorowo. Of course the whole table should be snow covered, but hey, all my kit is for summer. You buy me the snow covered terrain and I promise to use it. 😉

KB1R-003 Table - River Ishora curves around the Paper Factory

KB1R-003 Table – River Ishora curves around the Paper Factory

The only visible Spanish are “Survivors and Stragglers” from the first game. Given the Spanish had a rifle company and a HMG company on the front table, they get a rifle platoon and a HMG stand as stragglers. Chris deployed these between the Paper Factory and the river.

KB1R-005 Spanish Stragglers and Survivors

KB1R-005 Spanish Stragglers and Survivors

The Soviets deployed, visible, in front of the Paper Factory.

KB1R-006 Russian Deployment

KB1R-006 Russian Deployment

There were lots of Soviets.

KB1R-006-12 Soviet left

KB1R-006-12 Soviet left

Lots and lots of Soviets.

KB1R-006-13 Soviet centre and right

KB1R-006-13 Soviet centre and right

The Soviets have to capture three terrain objectives to win. The Paper Factory and a house in each of Watskorowo and Petrowschtschina.

KB1R-008 Objective 1 Paper Factory

KB1R-008 Objective 1 Paper Factory

KB1R-009 Objective 2 House in Watskorowo

KB1R-009 Objective 2 House in Watskorowo

KB1R-010 Objective 3 House in Petrowschtschina

KB1R-010 Objective 3 House in Petrowschtschina


Battalion Wave 3’s Battle

The game started at 1030 hours. Jamie has his third battalion wave on table, having used Battalion Wave 1 and 2 in the game on the front table.

KB1R-011 1030 hours

KB1R-011 1030 hours

Jamie started by pushing forward on the left. He immediately encountered Spanish.

KB1R-014 Soviets cross Ishora on left

KB1R-014 Soviets cross Ishora on left

KB1R-016 1045 hours

KB1R-016 1045 hours

After 15 minutes (game time) Jamie launched the main attack on the Paper Factory itself.

KB1R-017 Soviets cross hedge towards Paper Factory

KB1R-017 Soviets cross hedge towards Paper Factory

Chris had deployed troops right to the front. So as soon as Jamie came through the hedge and got to the buildings inside the factory complex, he found Spanish. In this case it was a Spanish Combat Engineer.

KB1R-019 Spanish defend every building

KB1R-019 Spanish defend every building

Jamie bounced back to his left and pushed forward another squad. Chris revealed more Spaniards, up on the nearby hill, and stopped the attack again.

KB1R-020 Attack develops on left

KB1R-020 Attack develops on left

Back in the factory, Soviet firepower began to take a toll on the front line Spaniards.

KB1R-021 Soviet fire power

KB1R-021 Soviet fire power

Chris had deployed in depth so there was always another Spaniard to stop the next Soviet rush.

KB1R-022 Spanish stop another Soviet rush

KB1R-022 Spanish stop another Soviet rush

KB1R-023 1100 hours

KB1R-023 1100 hours

The Spanish are heavily outnumbered in this scenario and one of the counter-balancing elements is Axis airpower. A random event brought a German Stuka overhead, with associated casualties amongst the Soviets.

KB1R-024 First time Stuka arrives

KB1R-024 First time Stuka arrives

KB1R-026 Stuka flies down Soviet front line

KB1R-026 Stuka flies down Soviet front line

As it normal with Crossfire, the defenders are safe until revealed. Once revealed the Spanish got hammered. A patter developed where the Soviets would rush to a new position, Spanish would appear and stop the rush, but then the Soviets would pound the newly revealed Spaniards.

KB1R-030 As Spanish appear they get hammered by the Soviets

KB1R-030 As Spanish appear they get hammered by the Soviets

Jamie chose to advance across the entire frontage. 30 (game) minutes after the first attack went in, he advanced across the Ishora to his right.

KB1R-033 Soviets advance on right

KB1R-033 Soviets advance on right

Back on the left the Spanish were well positioned to blunt the Soviet attack.

KB1R-035 Spanish crossfire on the left

KB1R-035 Spanish crossfire on the left

However, the Spanish positions were so far forward that the Soviets could bring their own firepower to bear. In this case a platoon dug in in front of the Paper Factory, waiting to attack, lent some fire support to the attack on the Soviet left.

KB1R-037 But Soviet fire takes revenge from across the Ishora

KB1R-037 But Soviet fire takes revenge from across the Ishora

Jamie had allocated some of the divisional reserves, a SMG company, to Battalion Wave 3. Swapping out a rifle company for a SMG company is a bit of a gamble. The rifle guys are much better at shooting. But the SMG are much better in close combat and this is what Jamie wanted them for. With a +1 in close combat they are pretty good at it. Their job was to clear the factory.

KB1R-038 Soviet SMG advance

KB1R-038 Soviet SMG advance

But on the other hand Chris had a company of combat engineers. They are also very good at close combat with a +1 for combat engineer and another +1 for veteran. Give them an officer and they are nearly unstoppable. But any close combat result depends on the dice. In this case, Chris split his defenders making two close combats. Round 1 resulted in a casualty for both sides.

KB1R-039 Round 1 Spanish Engineers grimly defend

KB1R-039 Round 1 Spanish Engineers grimly defend

Round 2 of the close combat brought a Spanish victory.

KB1R-040 Round 2

KB1R-040 Round 2

Jamie’s attack on the left was faltering rapidly. The Spaniards on the hill dispatched the sole Soviet remaining across the Ishora.

KB1R-041 Spanish halt Soviets on left

KB1R-041 Spanish halt Soviets on left

In the factory complex, Jamie had another go at the house so staunchly defended by the Spanish Combat Engineer. By now the defender was suppressed so this looked like a walk over. But one of the charging Soviets was caught as it crossed open ground to the walls of the house. And, as we know, a Suppress turns to a Kill, when shooting at reckless chargers like the Russians.

KB1R-042 Suppress becomes kill on reckless SMG

KB1R-042 Suppress becomes kill on reckless SMG

The fail of the charge meant the other squads that had already reached the walls, were pushed back. Suddenly Chris had two squads, standing up in the open, just outside a Spanish held house. Luckily for him the Spaniards in question were suppressed.

KB1R-043 Other SMG pushed back

KB1R-043 Other SMG pushed back

But, just one pass of the initiative later and with smoke placed more judiciously, the Soviet submachine gunners went back in. Two SMG and PC will kill a suppressed squad most times. Even a veteran combat engineer. Even with a lower die roll.

KB1R-044 Soviet SMG go back in

KB1R-044 Soviet SMG go back in

Jamie then attacked again on the right and cleared the first woods beyond the river.

KB1R-045 Soviets clear wood on right

KB1R-045 Soviets clear wood on right

After that small success Jamie refocussed on the factory complex and sent forward another squad. More Spanish!

KB1R-046 Another building - More Spanish

KB1R-046 Another building – More Spanish

But the defenders went No Fire and that encourage a Soviet charge. More dead Spanish!

KB1R-048 Spanish No Fire invites assault

KB1R-048 Spanish No Fire invites assault

I was umpiring in the game which was not a very onerous responsibility. That’s why there are lots of photos of the action. But, for a change, I thought I’d take a snap over the battlefield. No reason beyond that I could. Aside from the light stand and cable in the background, I think it looks alright. This battle uses my generic building sectors after I refreshed the paint job. I think the effect is quite good … in a ruined sort of way.

KB1R-050 View across the Paper Factory complex

KB1R-050 View across the Paper Factory complex

After that short message from our sponsor, back to the action. Clearing the factor complex was bloody work. Combat engineers pitted against submachine gunners. Sometimes the Soviets won. And sometimes the Spanish. Clearly this particular SMG platoon got caught by Spanish demolition charges when they got to the walls of the building they were assaulting.

KB1R-051 Spanish engineers smash SMG

KB1R-051 Spanish engineers smash SMG

With a victory under their belt, the engineers pulled out and redeployed to the flank.

KB1R-052 Engineers redeploy

KB1R-052 Engineers redeploy

Then Chris changed his mind and pulled them back to the small hill near the factory. This was to allow him to redeploy the Stragglers and Survivors out of the factory complex completely.

KB1R-053 Engineers pull back

KB1R-053 Engineers pull back

One squad of stranglers headed for Petrowschtschina.

KB1R-054 Straggler squad heads to Petrowschtschina

KB1R-054 Straggler squad heads to Petrowschtschina

Another squad of stranglers headed for Watskorowo.

KB1R-055 Straggler squad heads for Watskorowo

KB1R-055 Straggler squad heads for Watskorowo

Chris continued to redeploy the stragglers and survivors, but got interrupted by Soviet reactive fire.

KB1R-056 Long shot pins straggler

KB1R-056 Long shot pins straggler

Not content with blunting the Soviet attack on the left, the Spanish positioned on the hill shot up the Soviets facing them across the river.

KB1R-057 Spanish fire reaches across Ishora on left

KB1R-057 Spanish fire reaches across Ishora on left

Jamie’s attention then jumped to his right again. He pushed forward and found some Spaniards defending a field.

KB1R-058 Spaniards revealed on right

KB1R-058 Spaniards revealed on right

Back in the factory complex, the Spaniards halted a Soviet rush right at the walls of the factory building itself.

KB1R-059 Soviet rush halted at walls of factory

KB1R-059 Soviet rush halted at walls of factory

Of course, the Spanish who stopped the Soviet charge immediately became targets for Soviet fire.

KB1R-062 Soviets open up on the factory

KB1R-062 Soviets open up on the factory

That in turn created an opportunity for the Soviets to penetrate the factory building. The battle seemed brutal to this point but it was going to get a whole lot more bloody now the Russians were in the factory.

KB1R-063 Soviets penetrate the factory

KB1R-063 Soviets penetrate the factory

Chris responded immediately and brought combat engineers into the factory to clear out the interlopers.

KB1R-064 Spanish engineers clear the factory

KB1R-064 Spanish engineers clear the factory

Chris then brought in more troops reinforce the factory building. Stragglers were all that were available.

KB1R-065 Stragglers reinforce the factory

KB1R-065 Stragglers reinforce the factory

In his enthusiasm to clear the factory Chris left some troops at the front, visible to the Soviets outside. This, of course attracted fire with associated Pins and Suppressions.

KB1R-066 Soviet fire hammers factory

KB1R-066 Soviet fire hammers factory

On the right a Soviet mortar fired on the Spanish HMG on the hill.

KB1R-068 Soviet 50mm mortars fires on hill

KB1R-068 Soviet 50mm mortars fires on hill

The Soviet fire on the Spanish in the factory was intense and quickly caused casualties.

KB1R-069 Spanish in factory start to suffer

KB1R-069 Spanish in factory start to suffer

KB1R-071 More Spaniards die in factory

KB1R-071 More Spaniards die in factory

KB1R-072 1115 hours

KB1R-072 1115 hours

Then another Stuka arrived overhead. It concentrated on the Soviets still massed at the factory gates.

KB1R-073 Stuka returns

KB1R-073 Stuka returns

KB1R-075 Stuka leaves a trail of destruction behind

KB1R-075 Stuka leaves a trail of destruction behind

Chris pulled his troops back on the Soviet left. Jamie filled the vacuum with Russians.

KB1R-077 Spanish withdrawal allows Soviets to reach Petrowschtschina on left

KB1R-077 Spanish withdrawal allows Soviets to reach Petrowschtschina on left

The action on the Soviet moved moved to Petrowschtschina where a few Spaniards kept the Soviets at bay.

KB1R-079 But the few Spaniards in Petrowschtschina keep Soviets busy

KB1R-079 But the few Spaniards in Petrowschtschina keep Soviets busy

Chris, feeling the weight of numbers, used the cliffs on the Ishora to transfer reinforcements into Petrowschtschina.

KB1R-080 Chris uses cliff top to reinforce Petrowschtschina

KB1R-080 Chris uses cliff top to reinforce Petrowschtschina

And the fight continued.

KB1R-081 Fire fight in Petrowschtschina

KB1R-081 Fire fight in Petrowschtschina

Then Jamie launched a fresh attack on his right. A SMG platoon got into action and cleared out the field in front of Watskorowo.

KB1R-083 SMG guys get to work on right

KB1R-083 SMG guys get to work on right

This enabled Jamie’s forces to enter the outskirts of Watskorowo.

KB1R-084 Soviets enter Watskorowo

KB1R-084 Soviets enter Watskorowo

Jamie also cleared the hill nearby. It wouldn’t do to have Spaniards impinging his access to Watskorowo.

KB1R-085 Soviets clear hill on right

KB1R-085 Soviets clear hill on right

Jamie advanced rapidly through Watskorowo.

KB1R-087 Advance continues in Watskorowo

KB1R-087 Advance continues in Watskorowo

The advance in Watskorowo halted when a Soviet squad got caught in the open.

KB1R-088 Spanish fire stops advance in Watskorowo

KB1R-088 Spanish fire stops advance in Watskorowo


Battalion Wave 4’s Battle

At this point Jamie was in both Petrowschtschina and Watskorowo. He was also massed outside the factory. But he didn’t have any objectives. He did a quick stocktake of his forces (16 dead fighting stands) and decided to bring on Battalion Wave 4.

KB1R-089 Soviet casualties at 16 fighting stands - time for Battalion Wave 4

KB1R-089 Soviet casualties at 16 fighting stands – time for Battalion Wave 4

Chris had take a similar number of casualties (14 fighting stands), but would not benefit from any reinforcements, beyond those provided by random events.

KB1R-092 Spanish casualties at 14 fighting stands

KB1R-092 Spanish casualties at 14 fighting stands

Using the Human Wave special rule, Jamie pulled all his forces off table. Then he started bringing on fresh troops. A bunch massed outside Petrowschtschina.

KB1R-093 Soviets mass outside Petrowschtschina

KB1R-093 Soviets mass outside Petrowschtschina

Jamie also brought up some supports into woods near Petrowschtschina.

KB1R-094 Jamie reinforces left

KB1R-094 Jamie reinforces left

Of course, Jamie also brought a large contingent into the factory complex.

KB1R-096 Soviets mass outside factory

KB1R-096 Soviets mass outside factory

And on the Soviet right, Jamie’s troops swarmed through Watskorowo.

KB1R-097 Soviets swarm through Watskorowo

KB1R-097 Soviets swarm through Watskorowo

Chris decided he couldn’t defend everywhere and abandoned Watskorowo. He used those troops to reinforce Petrowschtschina on the other side of the table.

KB1R-099 Spaniards abandon Watskorowo for Petrowschtschina

KB1R-099 Spaniards abandon Watskorowo for Petrowschtschina

With a strong force outside Petrowschtschina, Chris decided to advance into the village to ensure he kept that objective.

KB1R-100 Spanish advance into Petrowschtschina

KB1R-100 Spanish advance into Petrowschtschina

In the centre, Jamie’s troops edged nearer to the Paper Factory. They lined a crest line.

KB1R-101 Masses of Soviets lurk behind crest line outside Factory

KB1R-101 Masses of Soviets lurk behind crest line outside Factory

Then over the crest to a hedge line. From here they could see the factory building.

KB1R-102 Soviets close to the hedge

KB1R-102 Soviets close to the hedge

Since Chris had abandoned Watskorowo, there was nothing to stop Jamie taking the village.

KB1R-103 Soviet secure Watskorowo

KB1R-103 Soviet secure Watskorowo

Jamie redeployed his troops in Watskorowo so they could lend support to troops fighting near the factory.

KB1R-104 Soviets in Watskorowo prepare to attack towards Factory

KB1R-104 Soviets in Watskorowo prepare to attack towards Factory

Initially there was some desultory fire between the Soviets at the hedge line and the Spanish in the factory building.

KB1R-105 Fire fight at Factory

KB1R-105 Fire fight at Factory

Then Jamie assaulted into the factory building. A couple of rifle squads made short work of the defending HMG, particularly as it didn’t have line of sight to the attackers.

KB1R-106 Soviets penetrate Factory again

KB1R-106 Soviets penetrate Factory again

Jamie brought more troops into the front of the factory building.

KB1R-107 Soviets attack front of Factory

KB1R-107 Soviets attack front of Factory

Unfortunately for Jamie, putting troops into the factory building just made them accessible to Spanish combat engineers. Including the company commander!

KB1R-109 But the Spaniards still have a bite

KB1R-109 But the Spaniards still have a bite

Chris continued to counter attack in the factory building. By 1130 the building the cleared.

KB1R-110 Spaniards continue counter attack

KB1R-110 Spaniards continue counter attack

KB1R-111 Spanish counter attack falters abruptly

KB1R-111 Spanish counter attack falters abruptly

For the third time a Stuka appeared overhead.

KB1R-113 That Stuka arrived a third time

KB1R-113 That Stuka arrived a third time

This time the Stuka targeted the Soviets lined up on the hedge outside the factory building. Chris threw quite well; a perfect score.

KB1R-115 Perfect score by the Stuka

KB1R-115 Perfect score by the Stuka

In Petrowschtschina on the Soviet left, Chris continued to hold grimly.

KB1R-116 Spaniards hold onto Petrowschtschina grimly

KB1R-116 Spaniards hold onto Petrowschtschina grimly

Spanish fire also started hitting the Soviets still reeling from the latest Stuka attack.

KB1R-117 Spanish start gnawing on Soviets outside Factory

KB1R-117 Spanish start gnawing on Soviets outside Factory

Inside the factory building neither side looked particularly strong.

KB1R-118 Just a weak platoon of Spaniards still in the Factory

KB1R-118 Just a weak platoon of Spaniards still in the Factory

But the Spanish were strong enough to clear the factory building once again.

KB1R-120 Spanish clear the Factory again

KB1R-120 Spanish clear the Factory again

In Petrowschtschina the Soviets continue to expand their foothold.

KB1R-119 Fighting continues in Petrowschtschina

KB1R-119 Fighting continues in Petrowschtschina

The Spanish counter-attack in Petrowschtschina failed miserably.

KB1R-121 Heroic Soviets in Petrowschtschina make Spanish suffer

KB1R-121 Heroic Soviets in Petrowschtschina make Spanish suffer

However, the Spanish managed to blunt a Soviet attack elsewhere in Petrowschtschina.

KB1R-123 Equally heroic Spaniards return the compliment

KB1R-123 Equally heroic Spaniards return the compliment

KB1R-124 1145 hours

KB1R-124 1145 hours

At 1145 the Soviets cleared the Petrowschtschina objective using firepower.

KB1R-126 Soviet fire clears the objective in Petrowschtschina

KB1R-126 Soviet fire clears the objective in Petrowschtschina

Chris tried to bring more stragglers into the factory building, but reactive fire suppressed them.

KB1R-128 Careless Spanish movement brings suppression

KB1R-128 Careless Spanish movement brings suppression

KB1R-129 1200 hours

KB1R-129 1200 hours

At 1200 hours the Soviet Battalion Commander entered the fray to inspire his boys fighting it out in the wreckage of the factory.

KB1R-130 Soviet Battalion Commander enters the fray

KB1R-130 Soviet Battalion Commander enters the fray

Chris opted to chase easy pickings and went after the Soviet platoon that had been hit by the last Stuka.

KB1R-131 Spanish clean up after the Stuka

KB1R-131 Spanish clean up after the Stuka

Chris then tried to clear the factory building one more time. However, inspired by their battalion commander, the Soviet garrison held firm and wiped out the Spanish attackers.

KB1R-133 Finale in the Factory

KB1R-133 Finale in the Factory

That was the end of the game. Jamie had all three objectives for the cost of 14 fighting stands from the on table battalion wave.

KB1R-134 Soviet casualties

KB1R-134 Soviet casualties

Chris had lost 24 Spanish fighting stands.

KB1R-135 Spanish casualties

KB1R-135 Spanish casualties

Despite losing the three objectives, Chris was still on the table. But he didn’t really have the oomph to recapture anything from a relatively fresh Soviet battalion.

KB1R-137 Table at end game

KB1R-137 Table at end game


Observations and Conclusions

Another very long game. I set up the table in advance so we could just start playing when the guys arrived at 8 PM. None-the-less we didn’t finish until 2 AM the next morning. Luckily I had the day off. But the guys both went to work. Sorry guys. Next time we’ll play during the day, on the weekend.

The game itself, like the first one, was fantastic. Knife edge stuff as the Spaniards grimly try to hold back the red tide.

Jamie, despite being a relative novice, played well. He remembered to use smoke to shield his advances, he knew when and where to use his shock troops (SMG), he timed the replacement of Battalion Wave 3 with Battalion Wave 4 perfectly. Solid play and a deserved victory. If there is one thing I’d point at, improvement-wise, is I’d recommend he pick one axis of advance rather than spread his focus across the whole table.

Chris fought like a champion. He is a good player and played well in this game. I think, in hindsight, if we had played the game on the front table to completion, Chris may well have taken the victory on table two. Even so it was a tight run thing.

Despite being a “random event”, the Stuka was key to Chris’s chances of victory. Chris got air support three times and used it well each time. Each time a whole Soviet platoon (more or less) got suppressed.

My generic building sectors still serve well. The repaint helped bring them alive.

In the following week after the game, Jamie and partner had a baby, so who knows when we’ll next get a game. However, this is part of the reason I suggested playing each zone of Krasny Bor in turn rather than each phase. We played Zone 1 to completion with a victory to Jamie. Following our guidelines for playing Krasny Bor with two players, we expect to player Zone 4 next, and “The Embankment” scenario specifically. But, if we don’t manage it, we have already got to a form of completion for the campaign with a clear victory for Jamie.

And it is great to finally get my Blue Division back on the table. As Spaniards, and not as Germans.

Viva la muerte

6 comments to Paper Factory – A Crossfire Battle Report from Krasny Bor

  • PABLO JESUS CALAHORRA GONZALEZ

    A very interesting after action report, Steven. However, there are two things that (visually) are quite odd. Do you think the soviet commander could enter in the factory mounted on his car? And second, despite the nice touch of the spanish flags, I´m afraid you are using the wrong ones. These are modern (1981) “Constitutional” Flags, those used by 250 Division were of the 1940 type, with an eagle (nicknamed “chicken”).as an aside each infantry battaliion had its own smaller, quadrangular flag (or “guion”). yellow with the eagle again and black lettering.
    As usual, your telling of the combats, makes me read again Ruiz Vadillo´s “…Y lucharon en Krasny Bor”, best book about this bloody battle.

    Best regards,
    Pablo

    • Steven Thomas

      Pablo

      I put a vehicle on most of my battalion commander stands so distinguish then from company commanders. The vehicle is a marker, not real.

      regarding the flag, I probably used whatever I could find at the time. Can you point me at a 1940 flag?

      I wish my Spanish was good enough to read Vadillo.

      Cheers

      Steven

  • M J

    As ever a really nice report and well laid out.

  • Jose Manuel Ventura

    Nice table and report. Need to do – sometime in the future – this campaign.

    On the flag, I believe it’s this one https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ae/Flag_of_Spain_%281945_-_1977%29.svg/1200px-Flag_of_Spain_%281945_-_1977%29.svg.png

    • Steven Thomas

      Thanks Jose. In hindsight that is the image I used as the basis for my flags. Judging by the URL it is the flag for the period 1945 to 1977. So a few years too late for the Blue Division.

  • J Wish

    Great write up (as usual) of a hard fought battle.

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