For our Saturday game, Dan Best and I decided to do another scenario from Kansas ASL's The Very Best of March Madness Volume 1. The selected scenario was one of Dan's designs and is titled "Ukrainian Mutiny". This scenario is based on a little known incident that occurred in July of 1943 at the Auschwitz Death Camp. The Ukrainian Guards within the camp had become concerned after witnessing so much horror, that they themselves may one day become victims. So on the evening of July 3rd, 1943, a group of Ukrainians seized weapons from the camp armory and fled the camp. The German SS guards pursued them to a quarry near Chelm Slaski in Poland. Despite fierce resistance they were ultimately overcome and later executed. Following this mutiny, the Germans removed all Ukrainian SS to other camps and other duties.
This scenario depicts the desperate efforts of the Ukrainians to hold out against a large force of German SS. Anytime you get the opportunity to play the designer of a Scenario whether as a play test or regular game, it's always good to discuss how they came up with the ideas for the scenario. Dan and I spent about a half an hour last night discussing it. To my surprise and interest, Dan had spent some time traveling in Poland and visited many sites around Crakow and Warsaw. During his visit and research, he came across this particular mutiny of the Ukrainian guards and when he received his copy of Paratrooper and looked at Board 24, it just immediately struck him that it was a perfect board for representing a quarry. And so a scenario was born.
For this particular game, I drew the Ukrainians and Dan the Germans. This particular scenario includes caves and sangars, which we don't normally see in an ETO scenario. The caves of course reflect the fact that much of the fight occurred in a quarry. The victory conditions were pretty simple. The Germans must eliminate every partisan/Ukrainian unit. With that in mind, I tried to put myself in the mind of the Ukrainians. They would have been very aware that they had to stay hidden and try to remain undetected by the Germans. The SSR's for this scenario allowed for most of the Ukrainians to set up HIP. So naturally, I decided to build my defense on keeping at least one Ukrainian unit completely hidden, while my other units would draw the Germans away from where that unit was hiding. You'll see if I was successful as this AAR rolls along.
The OOB's for both sides were starkly different. The Ukrainians would have 3-1/2 squads total vs. 11 German SS 4-4-7's. But the these would be needed in order to scour the board and find the HIP Ukrainians. Dan would deploy three squads at the start and these 2-3-7's would be extremely useful in covering a lot of ground, but would lack some necessary firepower during the encounters with my Ukrainians. This game also gave me the first opportunity to to use some of the Bounding Fire, SS 4-4-7's from Poland in Flames.
With only 5 turns available to him, Dan moved aggressively from the very start. I had placed my 8-1 officer, a 5-2-7 and my MMG in the stone house at M6. My plan was to stall the Germans at this crossroads for as long as possible. I had placed all but one cave towards the west half of the map. I placed none of my men there, but hoped that Dan would divert forces into that area in order to search all of the caves.
One of my questionable placements was putting a 5-2-7 under concealment in J8. I did this primarily to put some doubt in Dan's mind as to whether or not my other ? stacks were really dummy stacks. It didn't really work out the way I hoped, and my 5-2-7 quickly became prisoners.
Back at the Crossroads, my boys in M6 would begin their heroic stand. They would hold out for four turns and take a lot of Germans with them, before they were finally captured.
During the defense, one of the German 2-3-7's went Berserk.
My 8-1 managed to eliminate them with the MMG.
Undeterred by my boys in M6, Dan kept his troops moving ahead and searching. I was very impressed with Dan's search discipline. I could tell that he knew how to play this scenario and several times, I was glad I had not chosen certain hiding places as Dan scoured the map.
Dan also coordinated his searches with bringing his troops into position to encircle my boys in M6.
One of the bigger misfortunes for Dan centered on his MMG's. He malf'd and eliminated one and the other was stuck on the south board edge with a broken 4-4-7 that couldn't be rallied until Turn 3 when his hard charging 7-0 raced halfway across the map to get to them. This lack of heavy firepower would certainly benefit my defense.
It was at this point that Dan had accounted for all my Dummy Counters and all of my forces, except for the 2-2-7 half-squad with an LMG. And he very nearly stumbled upon me in the northern woods. His 4-4-7 searched adjacent to my HIP boys and then turned back to the south to explore the cave. Dan would not go back to that patch of woods, as he believed my unit was hiding in one of the western caves.
Oh so close...my Ukrainians could smell the sweaty leather kit of the Germans....but fortunately, they moved away without locating my boys.
My boys in M6 would continue to hold out against multiple attacks. My 8-1 would be DM'd and ELR. And per an available SSR would take his own life rather than allow himself to be captured. The 5-2-7 continued to fight on and repelled the Germans and even managed to win the Close Combat ambush roll and escape from CC.
Dan kept streaming forces at my M6 position.
After escaping to M5, my boys then went into close combat with the Germans in M4 who also had my other captured 5-2-7 with them. They got the ambush again and eliminated the Germans and freed their comrades. But it would be a brief moment of freedom only.
As the battle neared its end, Dan's Germans were engaged in three separate operations. #1 was eliminating my boys in M4, #2 was eliminating my boys in J2 and #3 was searching the caves for my still hidden half-squad that was in M2.
Dan's Germans were running out of time.
The fighting intensified in the German phase of Turn. My boys in M4 would finally be killed and captured. But my 7-0 and 3-3-7 in the fortified location of J2 would survive.
As the German phase of Turn 5 ended, Dan gave the concession. With the 7-0 and 3-3-7 still alive and the hidden 2-2-7 still unaccounted for, Dan realized his couldn't achieve the victory conditions. So my Ukrainians managed to secure the victory.
My own personal observation of this game was that Dan played it exactly like the German must. He successfully searched the entire map and just barely missed finding me hiding in the woods. The Caves have to be searched and my decision not to hide in the caves bore fruit.
Dan also made a great observation that the Ukrainian player has to not only hide, but also try and inflict losses on the Germans in order to slow them down and limit their searching opportunities. My 8-1 and 5-2-7 in the M6 House did this very well and I believe contributed the most to the Ukrainian Victory.
Another great game with Dan and already looking forward to next Friday's contest!