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WHERE THE IRON CROSSES GROW
Spearhead on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
by Hans H. Johannsen
The work which follows is a series of scenarios developed specifically to complement Arty Conliffe's magnificent set of World War II rules, SPEARHEAD. They are, however, readily adaptable to any set of rules which uses the platoon as the smallest represented unit and the battalion as the main organization of fighting and maneuver (COMMAND DECISION springs instantly to mind), or, with a bit more work, can probably be scaled up or down to allow virtually any set of rules to be used.
The purpose of these scenarios, besides providing interesting gaming, is to introduce to the Russian Front players who may not know much about it, while providing veteran Ostfronters with as many varied but typical situations for play as their reading of history entitles them to expect in a good World War II game. The present volume consists of three books which group the scenarios by the three critical time periods which illustrate the changing nature of the combatants and their relation to each other. While there is absolutely no need to play these scenarios in anything like chronological order, it is my belief that to do so will provide players with an insight and understanding of the war in Russia that cannot be obtained by reading alone but which will be doubly rewarding when coupled with the reading of a good book or two.
Book 1, Getting to Know You takes the players through a series of situations which developed between the opening days of Barbarossa through the fateful second German Summer offensive. In common with the two succeeding books, few scenarios actually attempt to recreate a specific historical battle but attempt to replicate the range of problems confronting German Divisional or Russian Corps commanders. It will be quickly apparent that, as in reality, the Germans do not always have things their own way.
The forces involved in Book 2, Ride the Tiger are probably the most overtly balanced. German forces are generally powerful and in reasonably good shape but are often in tactically awkward situations or else are confronting Russians in great number. It is hoped players of the German side will get the feeling of having a tiger by the tail.
Book 3, Heart of Darkness pits small German forces, armed to the teeth with all the sexy weapons so beloved by WWII gamers against a Red Army resurgent with plenty of sex appeal of its own. Among these scenarios are most of my personal favorites. Our group often refers to this book as Panthers and Tigers and Stugs, oh my!
The maps which accompany each scenario were designed for terrain boards which we use at the New York Wargamers Association (NYWA). They are not meant to be the last word but they have been carefully put together to try to represent the landscape in the part of Russia being dealt with in the scenario but also, and probably more important, to present some tactical problems and opportunities to both sides. Use whatever terrain is available to your group without necessarily adhering slavishly to what I have drawn, but do try to at least approximate the major features in terms of wooded ground and rolling hills or open steppes. Significant changes in terrain could have an impact on the balancing of the game. Also, in those scenarios which require one side to cover a certain amount of ground in a given time to achieve victory, be sure you look at the relationship of terrain, table size (each map sector is 30" square) and movement rates if you are using rules other than SPEARHEAD.
Finally, frequent reference is made to Standard Reserve Rules, Flank Marching and air power. Whatever rules you use probably have something restricting the size of your reserve and how to use it and will probably work just fine. The same goes for air power, just be aware that a sortie is intended to be one attack by one aircraft model though that one attack can often strike more than one target. Flank marching is more problematic if you use anything other than SPEARHEAD because I don t know of any other set of rules that allow for it. SPEARHEAD uses the flank march to open up the table by allowing entry of forces on more than the traditional two opposing sides. Additionally, by making it easy for the Germans to do but much more difficult for the Russians, it gives the Germans the tactical flexibility which they had and which is often indispensable for victory, both historically and here in game terms. If your rules don t allow for flank marching, I urge you to come up with your own system. Better still, play SPEARHEAD.
I doubt you'll go back to your previous rules.
Hans Johannsen, New York, March 1996
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