Megagame Report: Hold the Line, Poland 1939.

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.



16 comments on “Megagame Report: Hold the Line, Poland 1939.

  1. cptshandy says:

    Sounds fascinating, one day, I’d love to take part in a megagame…

  2. Chris Kemp says:

    Everyone thinks they don’t have enough experience. that’s part of the fun 🙂

    Regards, Chris.

  3. Looks good Pete! Glad you enjoyed the game! I’ve not long finished reading bits on the Polish campaign so it all made sense to me!

    • Pete S/ SP says:

      Thanks John, it makes for fascinating reading- the Poles fought so hard but were ultimately doomed by the Nazi/ Soviet agreement. Shame that there aren’t more books published on it really.



  4. Nice post Pete and glad that you got a chance to play. Very interesting mega game! One interesting aspect is that the Soviets only signed the Ribbentrop accords once the fighting at Nomonhan was over. Of course, outside of Japan and the USSR, no one knew that major battle was happening.

  5. Mike says:

    Looks like it was a hell of a game. Definitely a nice history lesson. Hope you’re feeling better.

  6. Paul Howarth says:

    Great write up, thanks for doing that Pete. Yup, the delayed offensive allowed the Poles to have faster mobilisation than historically, which combined with some less than stellar German decisions on the Western map meant that actually fighting into Warsaw proper would have been a big ask. The Polish high command seemed very thorough and assured. Ultimately irrelevant though as we stopped just a day before the Soviet offensive started in reality.

    And you can have a command role next time Pete – Belgian, yes?

    • Pete S/ SP says:

      Yeah the Soviet Steam roller would have been pretty one sided to play really. Though a couple of binbag of the spare blocks piled up with a suitable sign could have kept the Polish team on their toes.



  7. Looks like a Very fun wargame. Wish my club could do this. Love the Dice markers. May I ask what it all means on the Dice I’m sure the one is Dug in. What’s the others?
    Thanks your friend
    Dave In USA

    • Pete S/ SP says:

      Thanks Dave. A smaller version would be a suitable club game. I’ll ask the designer Paul if it is OK to forward you the handbook so you can read the rules properly. Basically the sides are Move/ attack/ disorded. Troops get dug in and armour gets exploit. Hope that helps.



  8. […] Paul’s idea was to run a game a year based on the events of 80 years previously, see here and here. For the 1940 game what could be more iconic than the invasion of western […]

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