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JasonC

Operation Little Saturn scenario pack

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I am pleased to offer the following scenario pack on another major east front campaign, ready for testing at the Proving Grounds.

Operation Little Saturn Scenario Pack

After Operation Uranus successfully trapped the German 6th Army in the Stalingrad pocket, the Germans fought to free them in their own Winter Storm counterattack. As it played out south and east of the Don river, the Russians unleashed their long planned follow up offensive on the opposite, northern wing - Operation Little Saturn.

Little Saturn was a smaller version of the original ambitious plan to drive clear to Rostov and the northern reaches of the Crimea, cutting off the entire German right wing. The immediate scope was at first limited to hitting the Italian 8th Army on the left of the Rumanian positions destroyed in Uranus, and exploiting southward to threaten the rear area of the German relief operation.

Soon the offensive extended farther north to encompass a similar flanking attack on the Hungarian 2nd Army, and as it folded, the German 2nd Army all the way up at Voronezh. Before it was over, the entire Axis position along the Don was shattered, two more Axis minor armies had been destroyed, and the renmants of the German 2nd Army had to fight their way west out of encirlement.

This scenario pack depicts the fighting in Little Saturn through a series of 7 scenarios, depicting different stages of the fighting. The first 3 focus on Italian 8th Army, the next 2 on the exploitation south by the Russian 24th Tank Corps, and the final 2 show the fighting farther northwest against the Hungarians and the German 2nd Army.

LS 1 Not So Quiet Flows the Don

Russian Guards Rifle forces from 1st Guards Army attack across the frozen Don river against Italian 8th Army defenses.

LS 2 Nowhere Fast

Recon elements of Russian a mechanized corps exploiting the Don crossings collide with Italian reserves from the Celere motorized division, sent to seal off the penetrations.

LS 3 Eye Tie Pocket

Surrounded Italian Eighth Army forces and their supporting German infantry "corset" elements try to hold off concentric night attacks by Russian Guards and Tank forces.

LS 4 Tatinskaya Airfield

24th Tank Corps forces raid the German airbase at Tatinskaya, the last supply point for flights into the Stalingrad pocket.

LS 5 Last Stand of the 24th Tank Corps

The overextended and now surrounded 24th Tank Corps tries to hold out against concentric German counterattacks by panzer division forces.

LS 6 Small Town Magyar

Hungarian 2nd Army forces defend a small steppe town against more numerous Russian rifle forces.

LS 7 Landser Holiday

Encircled infantry elements of the German 2nd Army attempt to escape to the west by attacking through a Russian rifle screen.

http://www.the-proving-grounds.com/scenario_details_link.html?sku=1464

That's a link to the first, the rest run through 1470. Comments welcome, as always.

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I tried the two scenarios suitable for AI play, namely the Tatsinskaya Airfield raid (NB correct spelling !), and the LS 7 breakout scenario. Very atmospheric and impressive. Oh and I lost both times, of course.

SPOILERS

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Tatsinskaya: I rampaged, but a little too slowly, with infantry grinding forward until hit by desultory small arms, then tanks moving forward. The 88s took out 2 tanks, but were surprisingly easily taken out by tank fire. I captured one of the flags, and had broken into the control tower by the time the clock ran out. If only the field had been full of Junkers-52 to shoot up !

Breakout: because of snow, everything had to be move, not advance.

On the left, I tried a single plt. trying to sneak forward and exfiltrate. Of course, once cover ran out, it ran into Russian infantry, including an infantry gun, so had to fall back.

On the right, I had an infantry "fist" or column: one point plt, 2 weapons groups trailing as support, the pioneers, and the weakened plt. This is what happened

1. When the point hit something serious (HMGs in woods), the weapons groups moved forward, set up, and shot and mortared the HMGs away. The Co commander took over an assault group: pioneers, rifle squads, fts, which rushed the woods and cleared them with some losses, alas (good use of proximity fire by ft). The weapons groups relocated to these freshly cleared woods,

2. At this point, a few enemy squads appeared on the left, moving across open ground, but were driven back by the MG-42s, and also the left-hand plt, moving to catch the enemy squads in the flank.

3. Within the (not-so) freshly cleared woods, the assault group moved to the edge of cover, the heavy weapons (MG-42s, mortars with smoke) relocated to provide overwatch. Smoke to isolate a corridor, then fire on enemy infantry in the body of woods opposite.

4. Clock is running out: all-out stampede. Alas, too late: total defeat. The point units are about 30 m. from exit zone.

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Thanks for the reports.

To clarify, you should be able to play any of these against the AI. Not saying a human wouldn't give you a better game, but they will all work.

Recommended sides for human vs. AI play -

LS1 - human takes Russians.

LS2 - human takes Russians (relatively easy)

LS3 - human takes Russians.

LS4 - human takes Russians.

LS5 - human takes Germans.

LS6 - human takes Russians.

LS7 - human takes Germans.

The second featuring recon forces from both sides, the AI will be relatively passive and make less use of its advantages than a human would. You can actually try that one with the human as Italians, also - but as the Russians, while you will probably win (who minds that?), you should find it atmospheric as you put it, and enjoyable.

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Oh, great. I look forward to playing as the heroic 24th Tank Corps !

Little Saturn does give a whole series of varied scenarios, but there's a sense in which the whole thing might be better for a slightly higher-level game, something like the old "V for Victory" series

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As for the details of the AARs, here are my content comments -

Spoiler alert ****

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In the airfield scenario, you found the 88s easier than usual to knock out because they are not dug in.

As for Ju-52s, obviously we don't get any, but there are conscript trucks strewn about the field awaiting knockout points, in places where you'd find parked aircraft.

You make no mention of the role of the armored cars and motorcycle recon in that one. When those are used right, there is little excuse for losing tanks to the 88s. If a screen goes first to find targets, they should see them before a tank enters LOS in the fog. Then exploit their slow turn rate and your multiple angle entry to bounce them with a T-34 from behind.

Yes the tanks should be pretty aggressive. But the motorcyclists can be positively suicidal and will get you plenty of info. As well as gumming up German repositioning moves by infantry, and shooting up the odd truck.

"Motorcyclists?" Those Recon C guys. Get in the jeeps...

As for Landser Holiday, sounds like you almost made it, and the approach you took is sound. Setting up the first major position and using the mortars is a key idea - they are very accurate from just out of LOS in the dusk snow, with a spotter ahead.

But once into the Russian position, you can't afford to dawdle setting up another careful "set piece" for the next patch of woods. Yeah you have 60 minutes, but it is full snow. Your morale is in the stratosphere - you need to use it and push hard with the leg infantry once into the defense.

The Russians really can't stand up to you in any firefight while you are in cover. The ranges will all be short enough and your quality high enough, that a platoon will shoot the heck out of anything they can see, as long as they have some cover against the reply fire. So once in the first woods you took, you should have just lined the far edge with squads and stepped out, no further prep and no thought of smoke. The HMGs and snipers can hold off anything that comes at you from the rest of the map - the squads should all be focused ahead, at max sustainable speed.

Glad to hear you got some use out of the pioneers, incidentally. And thanks for the sp correction on the other one...

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In the Tatsinkaya scenario, the MC troops moved not in front of the tanks, but as a parallel assault group (stupid, I know)-- unloaded their guys, then zoomed back.

ACs: I thought they might get holed by Flak, so kept them hanging back behind the infantry, sometimes keyholing them to buildings etc to silence or pin. So all in all, not quite the rampaging cavalry raid this should ahve been.

Landser holiday: actually cover was less important than "laying alongside the enemy", in the end: a full plt "steaming" forward, well spaced out ( while others (in cover, yes) fired and pinned) moving into range.

Incidentally, is there any real life evidence for mortars being used this way, i.e. marched out of covered but hidden by fog or mist or dusk or snow or distance, but within command distance (shouting distance ?) of a spotter with binoculars or whatever, who calls down mortar shells on a position ? I would have thought the mortars really too exposed-- to e.g. enemy arty fire, or a counter-attack.

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