Tuesday, December 3, 2013

STAVKA plan for operations in the next 180 days...

On a dark, dismal afternoon the STAVKA of the Moscow Front met to plan for the immediate future,
Marshall Zhukov and staff
concerning operations. As of this date all times, dates, operations and codenames are ALL SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.  Please refer to this and subsequent dispatches for changes.  Oh yes, there will be changes.

The intent is to let everyone know what is coming, and to be able to plan accordingly.  This is by no means a complete list. Again... there will be changes.

TENTATIVE DATE:  7 December, 2013

The STAVKA realizes that with the holidays coming up, much, if not most of our time will be with family.  We plan a light meeting day, no games planned as yet, but hope to work as a terrain making day.

TENTATIVE DATE: 18 January, 2014

Again, time is a precious commodity and we want to keep club demands as light as possible this month.  The Komissar will bring his Panzerblitz game, and introduce victims to the fine art of Avalon Hill wargaming.

TENTATIVE DATE:  15 February thru 22 February, 2014

Early spring is going to be busy with planning and executing an open FoW tournament, period and points TBD.  15 Feb. is our scheduled meeting date, and can be used to finalize tournament plans if necessary. the 22nd is the hard date of the tournament, additional details will be released as they are finalized.

TENTATIVE DATE:  28 February to 22 March, 2014

The Front will be conducting FoW infantry operations using the Infantry Aces format.  More details as they become available.

TENTATIVE DATE:  5 April, 2014

The Komissar is planning a midwar FoW event covering the battle of Prokohrovka using historical maps, a simplified OB, and FoW midwar rules.  The intent is to have all figures/models provided, but if you are interested and have MW German and Soviet armies, please contact the Komissar to see how you can contribute.  More details will be coming by early March.

TENTATIVE DATE: late May, 2014

The Font is making plans to possibly attend the HMGS convention in Olympia this spring, so the May calendar will be cleared. This is highly subject to change so stay vigilant!


The Front will plan/host a D-Day campaign/tournament in commemoration of the greatest amphibious landing in history.  Details will be released sometime soon.

There it is, a planning framework for the next few months or so.  We hope this helps, and hope everyone is able to assist and participate.  We realize that there is much deadspace in the schedule, please feel free to contact us via email ( moscowfront@yahoo.com ) to make suggestions and perhaps fill the gaps.  This club is what we make of it, and we all work for its success.

the Komissar

Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Review and some FoW Intel analysis...

Greetings tankmen!!

Today I want to introduce you to the the book "T-34 in Action: Soviet Tank Troops in WW2"
 Drabkin and Sheremet
By Artem Drabkin and Oleg Sheremet.  This is an account of oral histories, and yes, that should give the serious reader some pause.  Drabkin and Sheremet address that issue, admitting that oral histories, often decades after the fact (even minutes after the fact), tend to be a little "incongruent with other established facts". Relax, in this instance the "drift"isn't so bad as the the value of this book isn't necessarily in the details of where and when, but the what and how of these men's experiences.  

The book offers12 chapters, each focusing on the wartime experiences of 12 Red Army tank men of various ranks, from driver to battalion commander, how they entered the tank forces, their training, and their experiences at the front.  There are many parallels in each man's story, most were called to tank training after having some automotive or technical/mechanical experience. They were often whisked away to training centers, and/or deposited at the factories to assist in the assembly of their own tanks. With limited tactical training, they were swiftly left to their own devices facing down the panzerwaffe, often with dismal, grisly results. Most men have lost many friends and crewmates, as well as having several tanks shot out from under them.  Supplies were often scarce, having to do for themselves in many cases. The road west toward Berlin was a terrifying and torturous one, but they were survivors.  Even though their stories were sanitized and polished for the best possible effect, meaning nearly everyone was dutiful, dashing, brave, competent, and bold, one can find the nuggets of truth and piece together a picture of a tank man's life, short as it may have been.  Each story is entertaining, and can be riveting if the reader can sympathize with the storyteller.  As a former tanker, these stories are a bit richer and fuller in my view having shared many of the experiences they speak of. 

OK, so what about the "intel analysis"?  Having finished, I find a bit more clarity to the new changes to Soviet lists in Flames of War. Desperate Measures "luckier, smarter, sharper" is taken directly from ch 9. The book goes on and on about replacement vehicles and crews, how the new commanders never lasted long, and those who did survive went through a gauntlet of fire to get there. They continue in describing the horrendous losses they suffered, and how they kept battering the Germans with everything they had, despite how often they had very little to work with.

Clearly, much of the inspiration for "DM", from the Soviet perspective at least, is taken from Drabken and Sheremet, and if players can't wrap their heads around the new changes coming to the Red Army lists, I highly suggest reading this book. For the casual Soviet player, or opponents of Soviet players, much of the new changes may be a shock and make little sense. Agreeably, there are many preconceived notions about Soviet armor, and much of that may be the fault of a 'top-down' approach to research and game design. However, I was always struck by how 'bottom-up' FoW is, and how it is in constant struggle with 'top-down' game designs and 'top-down' game thinking. I can't say this is a whole new design perspective, using turret-side combat accounts versus the General's report to High Command, but in this case it may appear to make the Soviet forces a bit more realistic, and perhaps a bit more competitive with other LW lists.  Regardless, "T-34 in Action" was very entertaining, and enlightening.

I would give it a rating of  8 out of 10 spare track links.