Jamie Wish and Chris Harrod played “The Swamp” (KB4R), the fourth game of Krasny Bor, featuring the Blue Division in an epic Crossfire campaign. The Spaniards were defending the second line – near the Leningrad-Moscow Railway line – against overwhelming odds.
Summary: I thought it would be over in 1 hour, but in an awesome David and Goliath contest Chris’s reinforced company of Spaniards held Jamie’s three battalions of Soviets for 2.5 hours of game time and 7.5 hours of real time. The Spanish defeated the first Soviet battalion but eventually the Soviets ground their way through the Blue Division lines. The time ratio, 2.5 hours of game time in 7.5 hours of real time, demonstrates how grindy it was – not for the faint hearted.
The Embankment was the front battle in Zone 4 and this one, The Swamp, is the rear table battle in Zone 4. My recommendation for two players is to play both games in each zone, thus giving a local result, before moving onto the next zone.
As usual with the my Krasny Bor games, the table is 6’x4′. This scenario is unusual because the battle is fought down the length of the table. So the Spanish have a narrow frontage to defend. That would be critical.
There were three objectives: Hill, Farm, Forward.
All of the objectives were in the Spanish deployment zone.
It was a typical Crossfire table with lots of terrain. The centre had a depression and this essentially left a big open patch in the middle and forced the Soviets to the flanks.
One of the objectives, the Hill, had long lines of sight over the depression and a large chunk of the Spanish deployment zone.
Chris put his “Stragglers and Survivors” on the hill near the Soviet deployment zone. I dubbed this “Straggler Hill”.
The orders of battle were based on pre-campaign decisions and the results of Phase 1.
- 4 x Pre-planned Bombardment
- 3 x Battalion Waves (2, 3 and 4) from a Rifle Division (Morale = Green)
- 1 x KV-1 E
- Battalion Wave 3 has reserves from the Central Reserve
- 1 x FO for off-table 76mm Infantry Gun (12 FM);
- 1 x FO for off-table 120mm Mortar (12 FM);
- 1 x Leg Infantry Company
- 1 x FO for off table 10.5 cm (Heavy) Artillery (4 FM)
- 1 x Battalion HQ
- 1 x BC(+2)
- 1 x SMG Squad
- Stragglers and Survivors from Phase 1
- 1 x Rifle platoon: PC (1/0), 3 x Rifle, one with ATR;
- 1 x HMG stand
- 3 x Snipers
The orders of battle were very one sided. And the fact that 75% of the Spaniards started hidden made it look even worse. Only a single Spanish platoon – the “Stragglers and Survivors” from phase 1 – started visible. One on-table platoon to stop and entire on-table battalion. 10 to 1 odds.
This was a big game and required considerable thought by the players. Particularly Chris who had to stop a Soviet hordes with a handful of troops.
But Jamie had his challenges too. He had a whole battalion on table and two more behind it. For him the question was how to leverage his overwhelming numbers.
Jamie had a small pre-planned bombard. He picked three features and the shells came roaring in. One SUPPRESS and two PINS, assuming anything was in those features to begin with.
At 0930 hours the game kicked off with a firefight between the Soviets and the Spanish Stragglers and Survivors.
The Soviets came off worse.
Jamie smoked off the Stragglers and Survivors.
Then the Soviets pushed up the right flank.
And also on the left flank.
Back in the centre the Spanish Stragglers and Survivors take a hammering from Soviet mortars
But the real pain came when the KV-1 got line of sight.
First one squad of stragglers got killed.
The Spanish were definitely starting to look a bit more straggling than surviving.
So Chris pulled the surviving stragglers back to the Forward Objective.
That encouraged Jamie to advance but the Stragglers and Survivors still had some teeth in their firepower.
So Jamie smoked them off again.
The Soviets pushed a platoon up to Straggler Hill but didn’t take it.
On the right Jamie was moving troops around and this drew reactive fire from a new platoon of Spanish.
The Spaniards when NO FIRE and to my surprise Jamie didn’t charge in for the kill. Chris was lucky.
Jamie’s attention flicked to the left and he kept pushing forward.
Jamie also curved troops into towards the centre. He was heading for the crest lines and the depression.
But a scout from 2nd Company got stopped by Spanish fire. Chris had revealed a squad just forward of the Hill Objective.
Jamie tried again with another squad but got stopped even earlier.
So Jamie then started directing troops straight forward on the left.
The Soviet then took out the Spanish squad.
Chris then revealed the rests of the platoon the shot back.
The Soviets had advanced far enough in the centre to spot Spanish entrenchments on the far side of the depression. That was a bold move for Chris. These guys wouldn’t be able to withdraw without attracting fire. We’d see if that would be significant.
The following photo shows the extent of the Soviet advance. They had roughly reached the middle of the table. A bit further on the left. A bit less in the centre near Straggler Hill.
Jamie smoked off the Stragglers and Survivors again. Then he moved his KV-1 forward.
Soviet mortars finish off another straggler.
And then Jamie follows up with the KV-1. A kill
A kill followed by a kill. The Stragglers and Survivors were now reduced to the platoon commander.
In the right centre Jamie was pushing troops toward the depression. His forces were lined up on the crest lines.
Jamie still hadn’t taken Straggler Hill in the centre but both flanks were advancing.
Then the German Stuka finally arrived. And they flew right for the Soviets lined up on the crest nearest the depression. The targets already had a sprinkling of SUPPRESSes and I guess Chris was hoping to turn some of them to KILL.
Boom. A kill.
And then another kill.
The moving clock advanced and Chris got a Pz IV. But the Soviets got their go first.
Jamie pushed a squad onto the Forward Objective.
Then he moved the rest of the platoon into the wood.
In the centre the Soviets tried to move forward of the crest line but got stopped by Spanish fire.
That gave the Pz IV an opportunity to advance.
And open fire.
Jamie decided to use his KV-1 to neutralise the Pz IV so pushed it onto Straggler Hill. But the big tank face off never happened.
The Soviets eliminated a squad defending the depression.
Then Chris pulled his Pz IV back.
Then the Spanish got lucky (again) and got another German Stuka over the table.
The Stuka made a bee line for the KV-1 and knocked it out. We were using the Hit the Dirt indirect fire on vehicles rule.
Jamie then tried a charge, but the Spanish fought it off.
None-the-less the Soviets were were pretty far advanced – about 2/3 of the table. They were at the depression in the centre and further forward on both flanks, particularly the right.
Jamie tried advancing a platoon across open ground.
The platoon was whittle down to a single stand.
But Chris also had troops in the open. In this case they were ground hugging but it didn’t save them.
We don’t see it often but even single rifle squads can get a KILL, particularly if the target is already SUPPRESSed.
In this case it was a Soviet rifle squad shooting at a HMG.
Then Chris charged. Or, more accurately, his Pz IV charged.
The Pz IV killed a squad.
Then another one.
Jamie tried to isolate the tank with smoke.
But the Pz IV still had visibility to the front and caused further aggravation.
Then the Pz IV started chewing up squads again.
Jamie tried to get on the tank’s flank, using smoke to block line of sight.
But the charge wasn’t successful.
And then Chris drove the Pz IV straight forward, further into the Soviet lines.
Jamie had another go at charging the tank but this was blocked by Spaniards on the Hill Objective.
But it did convince Chris to pull the tank back.
Another Spanish platoon turned up at 1045 Hours.
But then Jamie decide to do a Human Wave. This is a Hit the Dirt rule where an entire unit – in this case a battalion – is completely replaced.
The replacement cannot deploy into a feature that is visible to the enemy. So we placed dice into every feature the Spanish could see. These were no go zones for the on rushing human wave.
The then the Soviets flooded back. Jamie had a fresh battalion, but had lost a bit of ground in the exchange.
When a play declares a human wave, they only thing they can do in that initiative is bring on the human wave.
So just after a battalion of Soviets came on table, the Spanish reinforcement platoon also arrived. Kind of typical for this campaign …. Soviets get a battalion, and the Spanish get a platoon.
With the Soviets back a bit, and feeling giddy with his new found might, Chris retook the Forward Objective. With a squad.
But the Soviets destroy the squad immediately.
So all that the Spanish had near the Forward Objective was a sole platoon commander.
That wasn’t so impressive so Chris set to with his Pz IV again.
And then he does it again.
Chris was mighty pleased when the clock ticked over to 1100 Hours. He got a second Pz IV.
This Pz IV came onto the Soviet right flank.
The original Pz IV scored another hit.
But the Soviets were attacking up the right.
Chris counter attacked with the second Pz IV.
But a Soviet flank attack knocked out that Pz IV. Chris was back to one tank.
Time passed rapidly.
Adam turned up around this time so my photographic focus was limited as we chatted. I just captured a few kills – all Spanish.
At midday Chris pulled his spare platoon commanders back behind the Farm Objective.
The Soviets charged this objective, discovered the Spanish battalion commander, and died.
Then the Soviets lost another of stands.
Before a Stuka arrived. The third in the game.
The plane found another line of Soviets and caused mayhem.
But the Spanish were running out of infantry. Another squad lost near the Hill Objective.
And now the Soviets recaptured the Forward Objective, unopposed.
Jamie had another go at the Pz IV on the left, but failed again.
The Pz IV swung its turrent and killed another squad.
And another squad.
But that gave Jamie a chance to bring new stands into the Pz IVs flank, and knock it out.
Then Jamie charged and killed the Spanish battalion commander.
So Jamie now had two objectives.
Indirect fire took out the remaining Spanish squad on the Hill Objective.
The Spanish still inflicted another casualty, probably from indirect fire.
But they couldn’t stop the Soviets taking the final objective.
End game. Soviet victory.
Conclusions and Observations
Well, that was a surprise. I had predicted this game would be over in an hour. I figured the Soviets would just roll over the Spanish. I was so confident that I’d prepared the next game as that we’d get two done in a day. But three things prevented that: Jamie played cautiously, a large number of Spanish reinforcements, and Chris playing a brilliant defensive game. It ended up taking 7.5 hours of real time. Longer than any other Crossfire game I’ve been involved in.
Jamie played a solid game. He conserved his forces and made steady progress. But with three battalions to play with he could have taken a lot more risks. He won in the end but I do believe the game could have been quicker with more aggressive Soviet tactics.
Because the game lasted so long time, the Spanish benefited from a high number of reinforcements. Two platoons of infantry, two Pz IVs and three Stukas. Chris played a brilliant defensive game but if he’d only had his original force he would have lost much quicker. Chris’s panzer charge was a masterpiece of aggressive play. And the Stukas lent a realistic flavour to the conflict, “The Luftwaffe are here!”
A ratio of 2.5 hours of game time in 7.5 hours of real time is a pretty poor simulation in my books. But I figure this is okay as a one off. Normally Crossfire flips that ratio around.
As a simulation of a the David and Goliath conflict, with a tiny Spanish force facing a giant Soviet force, I think the game was a success. The Spanish managed to defeat the first Soviet battalion, tore it apart. But, of course, Jamie had another battalion behind t hat one and kept the pressure up. Eventually Chris just ran out of infantry.
The next game in the campaign will be El Bastion in Zone 2. That should be more of a challenge for the Soviets.