Sunday, January 8, 2023

Reconnaissance by Assault at Ulianovo - Getting Closer!

 Played games 8 and 9 of the Ulianovo fight, and one of them was against a real, live human being!  

For those of you just tuning in, I'm preparing a game to play at the upcoming NJCON hosted by On Military Matters and am going to host the Ulianovo fight using Flames of War with a historical scenario, itself based off the "Red Recon at Ulianovo" from the "Skirmish Campaigns" book entitled "Red Guards at Kursk."  Confused yet?

I've been playtesting the heck out of this scenario to try and perfect it with the aim to give a memorable and fun game to the participants and make it challenging but yet possible for both sides to win.   The scenario is loosely based off the "No Retreat" mission in the FoW rulebook but with a twist.  

The Soviets are 3-5 now after last night's game and game 9, which is on the table now, has been a nail biter so far..  I think I've finally got a good unit selection down for the points (a mere 40 for both sides) with the OOB looking like this:


3 x "Hero" Rifle Companies (10 stands ea., 1 Kommisar, 1 HMG, 1 Flamethrower)

1 x SMG Company (7 stands ea., 1 Kommisar, 1 Flamethrower)

1 x Battalion HQs stand (2 rifle stands)

1 x Mortar platoon (3 stands)


1 x Grenadier Company HQs

2 x Grenadier Platoons* (9 x Rifle/LMG stands eac, 2 x HMG ea)

1 x 81mm mortar section (2 stands)

1 x sniper

*1 x platoon starts in reserve and must be rolled for to arrive.  The other starts within the trenchline.

1 minefield 

I rather like smaller games in FOW because I feel like they're more intense and this sharp, bloody infantry action has been perfect so far.

After talking to Dave last night, he initially suggested giving the Soviets one or two SU-76s but I fear that would go against the "Recon in Force" or "Reconnaissance by Assault" ethos that I'm going for. (in all seriousness, read that PDF by Phil Yates - it's excellent).

Last Night's Game

It's been awhile since Dave played FoW, and he made some decisions that allowed me to get closer to the trenchlines with more stuff than I had before.  Last night I did not know which of the houses his Command Post was located in (suprise surprise, I assaulted the WRONG side of the battlefield so ended up farther than 8" from the objective and technically losing the game but oh well).

Dave setting up the Germans - my Soviets are in position!

Custom built trenchline!!!
I was able to Pin Dave's platoon in the trenchline and pretty much keep them pinned for most of the game so Dave's Grenadiers were shooting with practically 1D6 per stand most of the game.  Also my shooting was uncanny and I was rolling a bunch of "6s" which is highly unusual for me.

4 x companies assaulting!  Note the right where one is going over the top!

Soviets going into the assault

Sbackground - Sneaking the SMG company around all this carnage.  "Dont mind us, comrades!"

meanwhile from the Soviet left, plenty of shooting from "the woodpile" with this company failing to unpin for most of the game.

Long story short, I eventually made it into the trenches and gobbled up BOTH of Dave's Grenadier platoons (SMGs are really, really nasty in shooting and close combat in FOW) but the NO RETREAT victory conditions mean that by end turn 6 i needed to be 8" away from the objective (which I had no idea where it was being in one of three buildings)  While keeping it secret is cool, it's not easy to guess and as the Soviet commander you have enough to worry about so I have a cool idea - I'm going to institute a "spotting roll" to try and spot the German CP each turn.  You wont know where your objective is, initially, but each turn it'll get easier to spot it.  Think like Turn 1 roll a "6", Turn 2 roll a "5,6" etc.  Only command stands can spot.

I was a bit rusty so I relearned, reset, and had a go this morning.  That game, still in progress, has been a huge nail biter with lots of drama and reversals of fortune so far.  (and, if i do say so myself, really good pictures :)

Germans awaiting the Soviet onslaught

Which doesnt take long to appear.  Look at that mass of humanity!

Soviet assault moving out - same strategy as before - all companies online and assaulting abreast

The Center company is making better progress than last night and the Germans will be kept busy fending off assaults on their left and center each turn starting on turn 4!

Multiple Soviet attacks are beaten back but they keep coming.  It's brutal!

The Soviet right company keeps the HMGs attention

While the center company (checkerboard styled formation) goes for broke!

The German reserve platoon is fed into the trenchline now, instead of counter attacking they're dealing with a penetration of the trench!

The Soviets attack and push back a German platoon, beating it in close combat!  Note the guys who are out of the trench!

These guys would go on to beat back 3 x direct assaults against them to hold onto the their part of the trench.  Brutal!!!

Germans counterattack and are beaten back

One the other side, the reserve platoon counter attacks and is also beaten back.  These Russians in the trench are tough!

More bad news, there's a pre registered target marker under one of these guys for the Soviet mortars!

So I've left off at the top of turn 6 now with the Soviets closing in on the German CP.  Haven't finish this game (#9!) yet but will keep everyone posted.  I think this is going to be a really fun game for the convention.  Right now I need to label the stands that have special characteristics (Soviet Company Command stands, German platoon integrity - thinking blue and red dot stickers) and then there's the matter of the flame throwers - which I'm thinking of using "green stuff" and sculpting some.  I've always wanted to try that so stay tuned!  Should be fun.

Also - I'm going to put a PDF of the Ulianovo FOW scenario together so stay tuned!  More solid Eastern Front action to come!

PS If you're reading this and you're going to that convention, stop by.  I'll be the guy who looks like he's never GM'd a game before at a con!


  1. Superb mate. Those pics are epic - and the game has a real russian front feel to it. I would you'll be the guy at the convention attracting a lot of attention, because of the slick and superb looking game .

  2. A goodly amount of testing Steve seems to be showing something that is fairly well balanced. A human-wave type scenario does hold the potential for both sides to become emotionally connected to the game as desperation for both sides begins to climb, with every die roll starting to matter.

  3. Cool stuff man, and it looks great, that trenchline makes a great centerpiece, really evocative with three companies' of Russkies coming!


  4. Even if you do say yourself, you are right - the pics are great! Funnily enough, I have just spent a week or so constructing trenches myself and they are very similar in design to yours - just posted some pics tonight of them with various figures alongside!

  5. Lovely looking game Steve and one with just the right amount of terrain for a show game, so you don't have to carry too much about with you. Always good to play a scenario through in advance and even better FtF.

    1. Thanks Steve! Great point about carrying stuff! (Hadn't thought of that)