Due to illness I had managed to miss two games in a row that I was due to attend… I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be three in a row as the next one on my calendar was Paul Howarth’s Hold the Line ’39. Based on the invasion of Poland that kickstarted the war in Europe, it was to be played using the block based rules set that he had developed last year for Czech mate ’38 (see previous blog post). For a bit of a change I decided to sign myself up as a tactical player at the map. Usually I prefer command roles in these types of games but I fancied a change.
As a lowly German player I was assigned my sector and given my order: advance through the mountains from the south then sweep round the back of Warsaw to apply pressure on the capital. This was to be the diversionary attack with the main effort coming in from the west to trap and defeat the majority of the Polish forces whilst a push down from East Prussia would take the capital. At least that was the plan that the high command team had come up with. They had also opted for a longer build up and mobilization. This gave us more units and resources to start with but gave away our intentions to the Polish players: quite what bonus that gave them we were unsure. Still, for once, such decisions were above my pay grade.
The setting for the game was once again the wonderful, and fitting, Encliffe Hall in Sheffield. Paul had done a great job with the blocks and maps, shame our deployment onto the maps was a bit hamfisted… due to the Poles taking too long then some of the blocks being ‘tidied’- as such my deployment ended up being suboptimal with ramifications for the rest of the game.
As you can imagine it was slow work trying to force the mountain passes. Whilst they were lightly defended it did take much for the combat modifiers to stack against me, also my mountain troops weren’t where they should be due to the botched deployment.
The game system is now fully mature and was very nice to play. Given I was on a side map I didn’t see much of the rest of the game other than watching the growing amount of blocks being committed in the centre, that and the shouts of either joy or despair coming from the other side of the ballroom where the attack from East Prussia was going in.
By the end of the game the Germans had managed to get units into the capital of Warsaw; but with much heavier casualties and in a longer time span than what the Germans achieved in 1939. Nice to be rolling dice at the table for a change but on balance I prefer the command roles. As such I request one for when the next version of the game system is rolled out next year for the invasion of France.
I did take Nicola along as an observer- she was really interested in the idea but felt she lacked enough game experience to take part. I explained that the higher command roles are more about decision making rather than game rules; she seemed more taken with that. Hopefully I’ll persuade her to take part in the France game.
Thanks to Paul for putting the game on, and extra thanks as always to the control team who helped out.