It is the second winter on the Eastern Front. In the easternmost part of the Soviet Union see Wehrmacht jackboots during the war, the forces of the 1st Panzer Army have been stalled in their advance. Having set out with great fanfare during the Fall Blau assault six months ago, the panzers and half-tracks are now frozen in place on an ice-blasted desert. The great maelstrom of death that is the Battle of Stalingrad still rages to the north, sucking up supplies that are a necessity for the tanks to continue their drive for the Caucasian oilfields. Soviet high command sees an opportunity: a classic winter counterattack. The stage is set for Graviteam Tactics’ newest DLC: Pivot Point.
15th December 1942
1400hrs, vicinity of the village of Shefatov
Troop Disposition and tactical musings
For this AAR I will be commanding elements of the Soviet 44th Army in their drive to dislodge German forces from the hamlet of Shefatov and force a bridgehead over ‘Lenin’s agricultural canal. Doing so will provide Soviet forces with a springboard for an assault on Mozdok, a junction town whose capture will greatly shift the expulsion of German forces from the Caucasus.
My command includes elements of two rifle divisions, the 320th and the 409th, as well as the 2nd tank brigade.
First thoughts on consulting the strategic map aren’t necessarily positive. My tanks and infantry in the north are faced with a wide open plain to advance across, with minimal defilade. My eastern flank looks slightly more promising, with a seemingly unoccupied hamlet, labelled ‘Bezorukin’ on my map, appearing to be a good jumping-off point for an assault on Shefatov. I quickly decided that my first moves on the map will be with the goal of setting such an assault up in mind.
The 409th Rifle Division in the east appears to be tailored for such a goal. Four infantry companies of the 684th rifle regiment, supported by two 76mm artillery batteries and an anti-tank company are situated within a stone’s throw east of Bezorukin. South of them, the 675th Rifle Regiment is poised to advance northwest up the ‘Lenin’ Canal that splits the map. Their goal will be to cross the canal and fan out on it’s western side, capturing an unoccupied victory point and digging in to await the results of the attack on Shefatov.
The clump of units in the north are the combined elements of the 320th Rifle Division and 2nd Tank Brigade. For this first turn, my focus will be rotating several of my tank platoons into position to support an attack of Shefatov from the east, and slowly moving the 320th’s infantry units south to take advantage of any breakthroughs made by the 409th. I am hoping that the lack of enemy units on the open field north of Shefatov means a tactical battle won’t be triggered as my infantry move up. My men will be cut down in the open should that happen.
With my plans in place, I go about my orders on the strategic map.
The turn cycles and my men make their moves. Somewhat surprisingly, not a single tactical battle is triggered and I am free to make further moves as the second turn begins.
Having not encountered any German scouts on the eastern approaches to Shefatov and now bolstered by seven T-50 tanks and a single T-34, I feel the 684thRR is in a position to advance out of Bezorukin and probe Shefatov. The 675th to their south, who secured the victory point I had sent them after, will remain in place in order to fix some defensive positions. Support for the 684th will come from elements of the 320th infantry division who have pushed forwards over the steppe during the last turn. Two companies of the 476thRR and two tank companies consisting of lend-lease Stuarts and T-34s will envelop Shefatov from the north. If the attack from the east fails, these men will be sent into the breach.
Once again I make my orders and hit the end turn button.
As it turns out, my infantry was unable to slog far enough through the snow to make contact with the enemy before the turn ends. By the start of turn three at 22:00hrs, I have approximately nine infantry companies and several tank platoons in position surrounding Shefatov. Not wanting to conduct my first battle of this campaign in the frigid dark, I elect to have my men hold their positions for the next two turns. If possible I want to conduct an attack on the village from the north and the east at daybreak. No enemy attacks on my positions take place overnight, and by the start of turn five at 0600hrs on the 16th of December, I am ready to launch my assault.
Dispositions on the morning of the 16th of December
By a quirk of Graviteam’s battle generation, the tactical battle the game generates only encompasses a small part of the eastern wedge of Shefatov. This includes an open space to the south and a couple of houses and orchards. I have three infantry companies, a platoon of T-50 tanks, and a small artillery section. My goal will be to capture the orchard on the northwest edge of the tactical map, which will enable me to funnel men into the centre of Shefatov over the next couple of turns.
I hope these planning phases were enjoyable, I hope to join you next time as we get into the real meat and potatoes of this game: the tactical battles!