Monday, March 14, 2016

Troubleshooting the Ponyri Station Scenario

I was recently able to play a playtest game for a planned, upcoming "Ponyri Station Mega Game" scenario this summer.

Using Alex's variation of the Neil Thomas 1 Hour Wargames rules, we were able to take my eastern front forces and assemble about a infantry battalion (+) on both sides, along with accompanying artillery, mortars, and armor.

Alex's rules, which you can download for free on the "AMWGroup" Yahoo Group, are a very well thought out and practical evolution of Neil Thomas' excellent 1 Hour Rules which allow you to get the feel of a battle from a chosen period without much fuss.  You can find the AMW Group HERE.  You can also find Alex's blog about his WWII rules HERE.  Alex has done a great job of taking these rules and making them appealing to wargamers.  (in my opinion, his rules offer you more tactical choices, are more visually appealing with 3 stand units, and also allow you to either assume an "overwatch" position with "ready" units, and conserve and rebuild combat power by rallying off hits - basically going Neil Thomas one better.)

When I spoke to Alex about playing my large Ponyri Station mega game (dreamed up last summer), he said his rules were easily up to the task with a few modifications.  While I had played his rules once before on the burning sands of North Africa, I wondered if they were up to the herculean struggle of the Eastern Front?

I think the answer is a resounding yes!  (da, or ja would also be accepted).

German jump off point.  The objective is the small hill beyond the large hill mass which would signify a German breakthrough of the Soviet line.
 While the game sits undecided, there has been some considerable action even though the infantry haven't yet closed.  Their initial objectives were the numerous copses of trees to their fronts.  Which they seized on schedule.
aerial reconnaissance shows infantry and armor concentrations on the Soviet lines!  
Each platoon sized unit is 3 stands, with 1 unique stand.  In this instance we used circular weapon or HQs stands as the unique stand and the look answers the mail, I think.

German jump off points.

The German left flank of the assault.  Marders.  Currently they're locked in a duel with Soviet light T-70s.  While their hits are doing some damage, they are teetering close to annihilation! 
 Alex did have to come up with some new features for eastern front warfare like heavy artillery, heavy tanks, and kommissars, but all in all the game played as I remembered it and I found myself thinking like a commander - worrying about my forces bringing their attacks home.  (right now 2 particular spots bother me on the battlefield.  Like me being "decisively engaged" on my right against a Gibraltar-like position,  And not having enough infantry to carry the hill in the center. )

The heavy Ferdinands go into action!  We gave them the same speed as infantry which isn't too fast.

German attack leading the way with armor.  They would engage the Soviet strongpoints at range, trying to help reduce them.

Soviet mortars and artillery impact around the advancing Germans

Kommissars preparing to administer the party's justice to "rally" off hit points as necessary!
 German forces in the center are getting too spread out and the center company dashes for cover using a wheatfield and small log farm house complex as cover prior to assaulting the Soviet positions.

We removed the house but you get the idea!  

4 hits on this infantry platoon.  Unit are eliminated after receiving 15 hits.  After 5 hits they get a -1 to their shooting.  After 10 hits they get a -2 I believe.

The Marders engaging in a tank fight with light T-70s!

We had to finish the game's first round just as Alex was committing his KV-1s on the Soviet left! This could be curtains for the German attack! 

The red die are permanent hits that can't be rallied off.

As things stand now, I have some salvoes left from the heavy guns in support (150mm) and of course I always have my light 75mm gun and mortars to help reduce those positions, but unfortunately Alex rallied off the hits scored from the preliminary barrage.  So for next time I'll have to remember to use those preliminary barrages when the "actual" attack is to go in, not as the operational forces are stepping off.

Also I'm afraid my armor is too spread out to make a big difference but time will tell.  We're hoping to finish the game quickly on Thursday night.


  1. I'm really liking how these rules seem to play out.

    A question on the Tanks - are they all just run according to the rules, or are there adjustments for lighter and heavier vehicles built into the scenario?

    1. KK,
      There are simple modifiers for Heavy Tanks, Medium Tanks, and Light Tanks. There are also some special rules worked in for range effects on the attack roll. So my Marders firing at those T-70s, even though I rolled a "1" still ended up inflicting 3 or 4 points of damage on that T-70 platoon in 1 round.

      Alex has built a very thoughtful and solid "evolution" of the concept, and you will spend most of your time thinking about concentrating your forces, counterattacking, and timing your artillery and mortars.

  2. Nicely done, will follow with interest

    1. Thanks Al - trying to get an epic game in eventually but there is much painting to be done!

  3. I can supply forces, Soviet and German, in 15mm to round out whst you'd need for your Ponryi game.

    1. Ooops I commented with my wife's account - didn't realize she was logged in.

      So yeah, Ken, I'll definitely take you up on that. There are some gaps right now in the forces that will be fighting. I have about a battalion for both sides and there will be about 4 x Battalions of infantry, not counting the tanks.

      I trust you will be commanding a Regiment at least? :)

  4. These look really interesting. Must take another look at the rules and the yahoo group.

    1. Darren,
      Even if you don't own the rules, I'd recommend heading over to the AMW Group. There are a ton of free materials and rules variants plus many knowledgeable people :)

      Also you are more than welcome to hop across the pond to play in July. That might be worth the prized Division Command slot for the Germans or Soviets ;)

    2. Sounds brilliant mate. I will look into that.. I can save £700 by flying from Dublin rather than Belfast?!?!? Go figure.

      I looked at the yahoo group. Is Alex's version of the rules the document that is marked up as '10/09/15 draft 8' and starts with a paragraph on 'gaming conventions'?

      I have the 1HWG book too, and your writeup makes me very interested (though I have Crossfire to try little time LOL).

    3. You have to love the oddities of the airlines...

      Yes I believe that's it but he has a more updated version, including some new "chrome" features for the eastern front (Heavy tanks, heavy and rocket artillery, etc).

      I will send you what I have as the most recent version.

      The 1HWG stuff makes for a fun game. Not a "staple" set but a fun set of rules where you focus on tactical decision and not on rules intricacies. In fact my March AWI game might just be a 1HW game as opposed to something that may take several days.

    4. Check these out, Darren: