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WHERE THE IRON CROSSES GROW

Spearhead on the Eastern Front 1941-1945

by Hans H. Johannsen


Where the Iron Crosses Grow Cover

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


Table of Contents

...just to give you a taste of what's included


Book 1:
Getting to Know You... 1941-42

  • Counterattack on the Dvina
    Russian heavy tanks attack
  • Closing the Ring
    Russian break-out effort
  • Pity the Poor Infantry
    German infantry & Stugs face Zhukov
  • Into the Hornet's Nest
    German bridgehead under heavy attack
  • All Quiet on the Northeast Front
    Mobile forces in a meeting engagement
  • Summer Fury
    German panzer offensive
  • Imbroglio Italiano
    Germany's allies swept away near Stalingrad

Book 2:
Ride the Tiger 1943

  • In the Shadow of Disaster
    German attack on Russian bridgehead
  • They also serve....
    German infantry & engineers face tank attack
  • Clash of Titans
    Armored meeting engagement - Kursk
  • Once More into the Breach
    SS panzers rescue a Kessel
  • Retreat to the Dneipr
    Surrounded Grossdeutschland attempts a break-out
  • A Patchwork of Panzertruppen
    Panzerjager face tanks on the steppe
  • Save What You Can
    German fighting withdrawal...with a twist

Book 3:
The Heart of Darkness 1944-45

  • The Devil's Cauldron
    Heavy panzer regiment escorts a convoy out of a trap
  • Holiday in Smolensk Oblast
    Russian infantry attack on a German infantry position
  • Clash of Colonels
    Panzergrenadiers try to seal off a breakthrough
  • A Soldier's Work
    Thrust and parry on the banks of the Vistula
  • To the Shores of the Baltic
    Russians attack Volksgrenadiers
  • The Courage of Despair
    Last gasp of IV SS Panzerkorps
  • Twilight of the Gods
    Panzers try to rescue civilians from Russian armor

 

The SPEARHEAD Website is edited and maintained by John Moher. SPEARHEAD is © 1995-2000 Arty Conliffe. The contents of these pages are © 1997-2000 John Moher, Arty Conliffe, Hans Johannsen, John Kovalic, and/or the appropriate Authors and Contributors.