Krisis in Kharkov: Megablitz, 9 June 2012

Megablitz megagame

As Jim Wallman said after the event “I say megagame because it fulfills the criteria – “teams of players with a hierachy of teams”. ” Krisis at Kharkov was by no means my first megagame (though the first in a loooong while), but it was my first experience of Tim Gow’s Megablitz wargame system – I’m pretty sure Tim would hate me calling it that, as it’s also been described as ‘kriegspiel with a few rules thrown in’! This blog post doesn’t attempt to tell the whole story, most of which I remain blissfully ignorant of. It’s a few disparate notes and pix of my own perspective.

As one of quite a few Megablitz virgins at this large game (nearly 20 attendees), my highly experienced CO (Martin Rapier) gave me the Rumanian 2 Mountain Infantry division to play with. This unit was described loosely as a ‘weak Rumanian division’, in comparison with yer average Rumanian division, which is necessarily ‘weak’. So double ‘weak’ then. At least expectations were lowered! Then the Russians deployed – something of a confirmation of low expectations.

Russian Steamroller

Russian Steamroller

At the front

I think that’s most of SW Front’s 28th Army on the left. Needless to say the 2 Mtn Div was shortly an ex-Division, and Martin re-deployed me briefly to the Rumanian Division to the right.

Megablitz is an operational level game in which each stand is a battalion or equivalent. With such a large scale it’s possible to do very large games – in Krisis at Kharkov we had 3 Soviet Armies versus two German Army Corps, one of which was a Panzer Corps. With Tim pushing the game on superbly, and all the players providing the right spirit and approach, we were able to complete 3 days of play (turns are 2 hours of game time long) between about 10:45 and 15:30, with 45 minutes for an excellent lunch (thanks to Keira). Players, especially senior commanders, are encouraged to ‘think big’, and each side duly obliged with sweeping breakthrough and encircling manoeuvres. As I was not directly involved in these, I simply applauded from afar and focused on my PBI.

My last action as the Rumanian commander was to report back to Corps HQ that the Russians were pouring through the gap on my left and racing forward towards the river line in our rear. This was completely in accord with the German plan for victory, which relied on luring the Russians towards Kharkov and into our trap. Of course as a Rumanian commander, I had absolute faith that the destruction of the Rumanian army would lead to a glorious victory for the Axis powers.

Day Two – the German sector

A switch to the German 11 Infantry Division showed the difference between the two Axis units. While Rumanian battalions were lucky to stretch to 2 Strength Points (SP) and had mostly 1s, the Germans had 3s! SPs represent combat capability – they give the number of dice rolled and are lost when hits occur. Combat happens mainly when stands are in physical contact, at which point you add up the SPs of the bunch of stands in contact plus its supporting artillery, tanks and so on. You give this number of d6 dice to your opponent to roll. The dice are rolled in a shielded combat box, so that you don’t know the details of the damage done to the opposing forces. Do this for the defending units too. Then cross-reference the stance of your troops with the stance of the enemy on a simple look-up table to arrive at a chance to hit for each die. A typical Attack versus Static (immobile defence) combat will yield each side a 5 or 6 to hit. When a unit reaches 0SP, it’s still in being, but cannot attack, and if it takes a further hit, it’s removed from play.

Combat Boxes and 10km rule

Combat Boxes and 10km rule

Fortunately for us in 11 Div and 19 Div, we were dug in, which allows infantry battalions to absorb the first hit. I say fortunately, because the Russian supporting artillery alone was adding about 12 dice to the point of main effort! In this game artillery was the big killer of infantry. The Soviet attacking infantry was not so lucky, and most of 28 Army infantry was written down by persistent pinning attacks on the German lines. All, I’m sure, in accord with Stalin’s grand design!

Most Of The Artillery Survived

Most Of The Artillery Survived

Day Three – Victory?

At dawn Army Command asked me to withdraw a division from the line to move or attack towards the left of our current position, in order to secure supply lines to the Panzer Korps, one division of which would be attacking from the north to link up with us. Tricky, given the number of Russian stands in front of us, but since we knew that most of the Russian battalions had already been hammered, we  reckoned they were too weak to break through our largely undamaged 19 Division. A re-shuffling of 11 Div to the left ensued, and I was able to commit about 6 battalions to a hasty defence of an unoccupied settlement and part of the original Rumanian trench line on the right hand side of the table I’d occupied at the start of the game. These troops were committed piecemeal, but the biggest difficulty was the Soviet Tank Corps to the rear of the new position. Their tanks arrived before ours, and while I like to think that a small pocket of Germans held out in the church till the panzers arrived, I fear that in reality the tanks were too late. Most of this portion of 11 Div was destroyed, but I’m sure the panzers linked up on day four.

11 Div End Game

11 Div End Game. You can just see the grey of the church tower top left-middle. The brown strip is a German minefield on the road. All the vehicles are Soviet!

19 Division’s position was intact. We had at least maintained the one remaining bridge over the river as a German supply line. With one Panzer Div returning to link up with 11 Div, the German position was secure, and the Russians doomed (at least that’s what they told me after the war was over!).

19 Div End Game

19 Div End Game

Thanks: Tim for running the game, Tom for the venue (DCC, Shrivenham) and the excellent tour afterwards, Keira for lunch, and all the players for a fun day, particularly to the experienced players who were happy to fill in us newbies with the technical details.


3 Responses to “Krisis in Kharkov: Megablitz, 9 June 2012”

  1. 1 Tim Gow June 11, 2012 at 16:27

    Excellent report Alan – glad to hear you enjoyed the game so much.

  2. 2 Donald Maddox June 17, 2012 at 04:00

    Great report from the Romanian perspective Alan….very enjoyable read and great photos!

  3. 3 Chris Kemp June 17, 2012 at 14:57

    Excellent after-action report! I was surprised not to hear more complaints during the game from the Romanians that their airforce was nowhere to be seen. Very stoical!

    Kind regards, Chris

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: