Sunday, July 12, 2020

Tigers at Minsk: The Woods - A 2 x 2 Crossfire Scenario fought with TaM

Readers will remember I posted a scenario idea for "Tigers at Minsk" where I tinkered around with the Dick Bryant "2x2 Crossfire Scenarios" taken from the excellent "Steven's Balagan" blog and site.  Tigers at Minsk and Crossfire are cut from very simliar cloths and are both excellent games in their own right.  I felt the scenarios would be ported over nicely.  I was right.

As a refresher, Steven posted an excellent scenario guide for Crossfire which I posted guidance and thoughts on for converting the Crossfire scenario to a Tigers at Minsk scenario.  I played through "The Woods" twice this afternoon, solo.

(flip back 2 x posts or simply click on the link to see the TaM scenario parameters).  This scenario turned out to be a really good one, and chock full of decisions.  The Germans must clear out the woods.  The Soviets, outmanned, must try to inflict enough casualties on them to stop them.  You respective task organizations follow:

Steven Thomas' "The Woods" Crossfire scenario for use at SELWG in the UK.  It found its way across the pond and onto my back patio to play the World War II game "Tigers at Minsk" gaming this afternoon!

Let's get to the action.

1100 Hours

German first platoon steps up to the Line of Departure.  Before them lies a series of wooded areas they must sweep through to clear out Ivan.
Tiny Mats from the UK.  Good thing I bought this before the shipping cost from the UK went bananas!

Lots of shooting as the Germans suppress likely enemy positions.  They score a number of pins and I'm thinking this is in the bag for them.  Or is it?

Soviets return accurate fire against the German positions.

Then their HMG opens up...

A German squad is pinned

Then 3 more German elements are pinned!  The Soviet HMG breaks down!  I allowed an action to fix it / reload ammo if a roll is secured.

Doubles!  Germans get "ambush" but no one is within 2 hexes.  Soviets get unpin, but no one is pinned any longer!
1108 Hours

The Germans send forward 1st and 2nd platoons, along with the attached combat engineer squad while the HMG attempts to continuously fire on the Soviets in the woods.  1st platoon sends a squad forward, with the combat engineers trailing a hex behind them.  The base of fire squads of 1st platoon a trying to unpin and sort out their situation, while the maneuver squad gets itself into a jam, finding itself face to face with another Russian squad. 

1117 Hours

The Soviets counterattack and send a squad forward on their left / German right to block 2nd Platoon.  It works and spooks the squad in contact into opportunity firing.  A great move by the Soviets to slow down the German advance.  The Germans bring up the next squad in 2nd Platoon to support their kamaraden!

White "opportunity fire" bead to try and stop the Soviets in their tracks!

1126 Hours

Germans on the left start shooting at the Soviets to their front but the fire is ineffective.  Meanwhile, the Germans on the right are either opportunity fired and cant' do anything, or out of command!  The Soviets will assault them!

Soviets assault into the German hex.  the fighting pins both squads and the Soviets pull back into the woods!

hand to hand combat and murderous short range firefights!

1137 Hours

The Germans need to make something happen here.  The Soviets have 2 units broken now and one more will end the game but the Germans cannot seem to bring it home!  The Soviets are fighting cagey here and putting up a hard struggle.  Both the Germans and the Soviets realize they haven't used their indirect fire yet.  The dedicated FOs will call for the larger tubes, and the PCs or CC's will call in for the company mortars.  Not a bad compromise.  I also used the Crossfire fire missions from the scenario, so 4 fire missions each of 81/82mm mortar fire, and 50mm mortar fire for both sides.  

The Germans switch tactics and attempt to knock out the resistance to their front on the left.  Again, more inconclusive shooting.  to make matters worse, they're "target rich" now and the Soviets get an extra shooting dice!  

combat engineers and landsers pinned!  

Everyone on the German right is pinned!

The combat engineers are eager to get a crack at the Soviets!  Their demo charges are primed and ready!
1147 Hours

This is it!  The Germans have to make something happen.  All firing is focused intently to mass against units to the front.  It was not to be.  The Soviets weather the fire!

1151 Hours

The Germans break contact!  A Soviet victory!

This game was full of decision making and required a bit of thought about main and supporting efforts, bases of fire, fire support planning, and gambling.  Plenty of gambing!  The one hour limit really forced the Germans to get a move on, and while the Soviets don't have alot of men, they make up for it with firepower. 

I really liked the Crossfire 2 x 2 scenario here and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun challenge.  There are numerous questions and problems to solve here both as the Germans and as the Soviets.  Do you defend forward?  or Do you take advantage of the open areas and force the opponent to come to you through kill zones? 

 I felt that I needed to try the game again and set up a bit differently than last time, with the German second platoon much further away than the first platoon.  Let's see how that plays!

1100 Hours

Soviet FOs scanning for targets!

German first platoon preparing to assault!

Base of fire element
 1107 Hours

German second platoon works its way up the right flank and is caught by a Soviet HMG and squad and unfortunately is "target rich" the Soviet shoot up their hex and both German squads are pinned!  Meanwhile teh Soviets eliminate the first squad from second platoon!

The Soviets opted to defend much further forward this time instead of further back, and utilized the forests in the middle of the table.  The Germans made contact almost immediately from some of their starting hexes!

German return fire eliminates a Soviet squad as all of first fire and an HMG concentrates on the Soviet squad to their front.  

The Germans move forward under fire!  note the 2 x copses to the front have Soviet squads in them.  The Germans advance under constant 82mm mortar fire, and 50mm mortar fire!

Germans working their way up the right flank.

Ouch!  The Soviets take another hit.  Do you lose the infantry squad - 1/3 of your combat power?  Or do you lose the FO - who is literally your link to the 82mm mortar battery and 4 x fire missions?  I chose the FO to be knocked out.

Soviet light mortar - I tracked fire missions with a red die

Fritz is moving over there comrades!  Adjust fire in the name of the Rodina!!!  A German squad is taken out by excellent Soviet shooting.
 1113 Hours

The loss of the German squad on the right has the men reeling!  The Soviets already have a unit knocked out.  Time to earn a few more!

1 Squad from 2nd Platoon is knocked out and 2 other squads are pinned!

HMG and squad in upper left.  Germans in lower right.

The Germans in 1st platoon on the right knock out the squad to their front and feel like the time is right to advance.  Pay close attention to the squad with the pinned marker on him!

German fire is furious from 1st Platoon and the Soviets lose another squad.  Soviet return fire is ineffective and the Germans from the previous turn rallied both squads in 2nd platoon on the right.  it's time to resume the advance!

1117 Hours

The game ends at the top of the German turn as they knock out another Soviet squad, ending the game.

German shooting with 1st Platoon is extremely effective and their target the Soviet Squad in the copse to their front.  The Soviets bug out!

So, how did this little experiment go?  Did the Crossfire scenario work out for Tigers at Minsk?  Absolutely - and quite well!  I was a bit afraid that the 2:1 advantage would be too unbalanced, but the Soviets can stay in the game if they play cagey enough, and the extra mortar fire missions really help.  

The games featured crazy reversals of fortune and it's interesting to see how things change dramatically with slightly altered deployments.  This gaming was alot of fun and I think with a human opponent it would be even more so.  

I really liked the multiple fire missions and I dont think it was too powerful or harsh, especially since both sides had equal fire missions.  I feel like this would be a good introductory scenario for someone wanting to play Tigers at Minsk that incorporated indirect fire, multiple platoon actions and a bit more responsibility and management.  You really have to move in this scenario as the clock is ticking and 8 or 9 hexes are a long distance to travel under mortar and machine gun fire!

Next step is to play some of the other scenarios in the Balagan "Dick Bryant 2 x 2 Crossfire" scenario pack and see how those go. 


  1. Cool stuff Steve! Always a fan of that type of infantry engagement. They're always tough and unforgiving.

    1. Thanks, Ski! I love these rules and they always give a good AMD different game.

  2. Thanks, Steve! I may give this scenario a try.

    1. I recommend it for an interesting challenge, Jonathan. The nature of the terrain almost forced the Germans to bunch up in the attack and that gives the outmanned Soviets a chance at a "target rich" attack.

      Forgot to mention it but your QRS worked great!

  3. Hi Steve, a ton of pictures and a good story told. Always a moment when the HMG breaks down, you get bitter sweet of a good fire result, but at the cost of the HMG.

    Good to see that play over the two games showed a balance and also both gave a good cat and mouse game, especially for the under strength Soviets.

    Your hex mat is very nice, giving a lovely table.

    1. Thank you Norm I had really wanted to put this on the table but we have Shiloh still set up so outside i went.

      I tried to allow the Soviets an opportunity to repair or resupply the gun using an action and roll during the first scenario. But I like the tension created by removing it completely. These kinds of things happened all the time.

      I was nervous it would be a walk in the park for the Germans, but it was not. There would have been more than one iron cross handed out after this battle!

  4. Great stuff Steve.
    Norm's rules seem to hit the parts other rules can't reach.
    I'm still thinking how good they would also be for Vietnam / WWIII. Wow - great stuff.

    1. Darren, Vietnam asymmetric combat may pose an interesting challenge for TaM since all infantry are the same with no differentiation between training and morale. The only differentiation is firepower. I would be interested in Norm's thoughts on bring TaM to Vietnam.

    2. Jonathan, I think one of the problems with TaM is that it does not adequately differentiate between infantry types / training. A 1940 infantry section looks and behaves rather like a 1944 one. In that regard, i imagine that an improvement in that area would be a pre-requisite to transfer to the Vietnam theatre. From my own perspective, other areas of WWII, such as 1940, both east and west would grab my attention first.

    3. Norm and everyone,
      I agree on the troop type and quality being a major factor in counter insurgency operations, but on those rare opportunities where "Charlie" or "Sir Charles" chose to fight, or for stand up fighting against say the NVA in Hue City I do believe TAM would shine as an excellent representation of infantry fighting where the principles of cover, and fire and movement are vital. Those tenets of warfare dont change much, even today. Besides the equipment, I feel you could take a squad of Marines from Fallujah 2004 and plop them into 1968 in Hue and they could probably be somewhat commutative in terms of their expected performance.

      For TAM you would have to add a troop type or a special unit for guerilla type fighters and rules to enable them to succeed against the free world allies.

      That said - perhaps this conversation was long overdue if, say, you were to take TaM to the jungles of the south Pacific in WWII? :)

    4. Great chat guys.
      I'll bear a lot of this in mind as I go through the rules.
      Cover & bounding seem to be prevalent in the rules, so there has to be a way of working in asymmetric elements.
      Now that you mention Hue and Fallujah (Stalingrad...Mogadishu too?), I'm thinking 'squares' for city-fighting rather than hexes.
      Getting ahead of myself ...haven't played a game yet LOL

    5. Darren,
      Alex and I played with squares and it played no problem!

    6. The one thing that seems important is not to put too much firepower into a scenario, as too much fire in a small scenario, too quickly drives the other sides morale down to zero!

      Steve, I agree that with the right figures and right buildings / foliage, the visuals would set the scene that would allow TaM to to be broadly used without too much issue. I imagine that most battlefields would have more cover, which will impact on hit and recovery rates and that ambush / stealth might become things that need highlighting.

  5. Nice job on the battle reports! And a VERY nice hex board, I could only see the hexes when trying to. I love it when that happens. 😀

    1. Thank you, Stew, you are too kind sir! I am enjoying catching up on your blog, btw.

    2. Thanks! It’s a very amateur affair but I like it. 😀