Friday, 6 April 2012

Kursk (North) designer's notes

The Final Kick?
The Northern Flank of the Battle of Kursk, July 1943
A Megablitz game

      In summer 2004, I realised that it was nearly four years since I had run a large Megablitz game in the tradition of the games I had previously run in Newark, Bedford, Coventry and Wellingborough. These had involved up to 20 players and scary numbers of (mostly 20mm) toys. In addition to games set in France, Tunisia, Sicily, Salerno and Sinai (1967), we had visited the WW2's Eastern Front on two previous occasions: Firstly, in 1997 we had "Kick in the Door (... and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.") - a quotation from Der Fuhrer himself, reflecting his views on Soviet Russia. This game concluded with a breakthrough by a Soviet Cavalry Army. This was followed in 1998 by, er, "Kick in the Door 2 - The Drive on Wellingrad" which featured a plethora of similarly iffy place names and an assault by a German Army numbering seven divisions.

      When it came to planning this most recent game, I decided that a return to the East was called for, and having played the Southern flank of Kursk (the bit with II SS Panzerkorps and XXXXVIII Panzerkorps) a few years ago with Chris Kemp using his NQM (Not Quite Mechanised) rules, it seemed a good idea to have a look at the Northern flank. This sector had less in the way of Panzer Divisions and no SS, but don’t despair, as a number of interesting units were present including two battalions of Ferdinand (later known as Elefant) SP guns, one of Brummbar assault guns, and a Russian armoured train!

      The players for this extravaganza included a number of Megablitz veterans and pleasingly, some first-timers. An impressive 23 people turned up on the day. Senior commanders Ian Drury (Model) and John Armatys (Rokossovsky) were ideally suited to their roles by virtue of being veterans of many a Megablitz game, and had added considerable authenticity to their roles. Ian by having spent the previous week in Germany and John by immersing himself in 1940s Stalinist culture by working for a local authority somewhere in South Yorkshire.

      For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Megablitz, it is a set of rules (I prefer to think of it as a 'toolbox' for umpires) for fighting large (i.e. corps level and upwards) actions of the Second World War. A player generally commands at least a division, and it is nice in large games to have actual chains of command, more experienced players representing corps and army commanders. The toys (a vehicle and/or 2-3 figures on a stand) represent battalion-sized combat units, recce companies and artillery regiments, so a typical panzer division consists of around 18 stands. Logistics are an important aspect of the game, in that players ignore this issue at their peril! For the Kursk game, however, I decided to downplay the significance of logistics, as both sides had been planning for a major action in the area and had large quantities of fuel and ammunition stockpiled close to the front. Although the locations of both sides' positions were well known, reconnaissance was to be no less important than in previous games as the actual strengths of units varied widely.

The Orders of Battle

The orbats will form subsequent posts and be presented in the following format:
Strength points
AA (anti-aircraft), EP (engineering), LOG and POL points
Artillery ranges and notes


Paul said...

Great post Tim. More please I am learning heaps.

Tim Gow said...

I'll try to ensure you have plenty to read while you're laid up. More pics and full orbats still to come.

Don M said...

Impressive Tim, I'm going have to order a copy of the rules....)

Tim Gow said...

Don M
I've just been looking through the orbats - there's a lot more than I remember!

Don M said...

Well you had enough for 23 players
so I'd be shocked if the ORBATs were small!

Tim Gow said...

Don M
And some players served in more than one role during the day...