Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Guest Blog: Battle of Stallupoen

Battlefield: looking to the north east

I recently had the pleasure of running a playtest of my Stallupoen scenario at the local game shop (Lost Legions Games in South Charleston, West Virginia, USA). John was kind enough to invite me to say a few words about the game as an After Action Report.

A prelude to Tannenberg, Stallupoen was the first major contact between the Russians and Germans in August 1914. The German war plan entailed awaiting the Russian attack, defeating it, and then counter attacking. On August 17, 1914, the Russian 1st Army crossed the frontier into East Prussia, where they were assailed by the German I Corps. Contrary to prewar planning, the I Corps commander believing his troops to be superior to the Russians sought an open-field battle with the Russians. Historically, the Germans inflicted about six times the casualties or prisoners taken on the Russian forces. Calling it a win, the Germans quit the field. The subsequent Battle of Gumbinnen was a direct result of Stallupoen.

The game was played using the Command Decision – Test of Battle miniature rules. Command Decision: Test of Battle (TOB) is the fourth edition of the venerable rules set Command Decision (CD), first published in 1985. The CD rules focus on maneuver warfare, which is to say combined arms warfare during World War Two (WW2). The CD rules are tactical, for engagements at the battalion, regimental, and brigade level. With 25-years of development, TOB is a mature and elegant rules set.

In 1990, a supplement for CD entitled Over the Top was published; it covered the entire gamut of WW1. Over the next twenty years, while multiple editions of CD were published, no additional material on WW1 was forthcoming. In 2011, The Death of Glory – France 1914 (France 1914), covering the opening campaign of the war in the west, the Marne Campaign, was published. This Stallupoen game was a playtest for a new WW1 scenario book, Great War East – 1914.

Armies collide south of Stallupoen, Germans to the west (left)

The game was played with a division bathtubbed to a battalion. Thus, the Germans had two battalions representing the two divisions of I Corps. A 77mm field gun battery was assigned to each battalion. The regimental HQ, similarly had a battery of 150mm guns attached. Likewise, the Russians had two regiments of two battalions representing the 3rd and 20th Corps. Each Russian regiment/corps had a battery of 76mm field guns attached. The Germans were rated Experienced, Morale 9, and the Russians - Trained, Morale 8.

Key move to the north

The attached photos show the terrain for the tabletop battlefield and several highlights from the game. There were three victory conditions in the scenario:

(1) Terrain points - 1pt for farm, 2pts for town; 6 terrain points total.

(2) Inflict casualties - on troops

(3) Inflict casualties - guns

Heavy casualties ensue

The game was a tie for terrain points, each side having three. The Germans were awarded conditions 2 & 3 - a German victory. Most importantly, the players had fun.

Army positions in the centre at the end of the battle

Battle Report by Jessee Scarborough


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