PWG, KORSUN POCKET (1979)

KORSUN POCKET is an operational simulation of the battle between the advancing Red Army and the Wehrmacht called the “little Stalingrad on the Dnepr.” Beginning on 25 January and continuing through to 17 February, 1944, the game simulates the Soviet encirclement of the German XLIInd and XIth corps near the town of Korsun, and the subsequent desperate relief attempts by the Germans to extricate their forces from the steadily tightening grip of the Red Army. Based on the popular WACHT AM RHEIN Game System, KORSUN POCKET was designed by Jack Radey and published by People’s War Games (PWG) in 1979. KORSUN POCKET was the Game Designers’ Guild Select Award Winner for 1979.

DESCRIPTION


KORSUN POCKET: Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr January 25th to February 17th, 1944, is a historical simulation, at the battalion level, of the attack by two Soviet Tank Armies that cut off the last German toehold on the upper Dnepr River and, in the process, led to the encirclement of 80,000 Germans in the Korsun Pocket. What followed was three weeks of ferocious fighting. As the game box description notes: “eight panzer divisions attacked repeatedly to try to relieve the pocket and cut off the Soviet spearheads. With the German panzers stopped a few miles short of their goal, the encircled troops attempted to break out. Most of the men and all of their equipment was lost when the retreating columns were overrun by tanks and cavalry within sight of the German lines.”

KORSUN POCKET offers eight different scenarios. The first seven are comparatively short mini-games that use one or more of the four map sections to simulate the operations of the particular German and Soviet forces operating in those specific sectors of the battlefield. These scenarios begin on different dates and offer individual snapshots of the battle as it developed. The eighth scenario ties everything together into a Campaign Game that uses all of the German and Soviet units and all four of the map sections. The Campaign Scenario starts on January 25th and ends at the conclusion of the February 17th turn (72 game turns in all). For the truly ambitious, however, the games’ designer invites players to play on beyond 17 February if their interest and stamina have not given out. In addition, the designer suggests that players experiment with the many possibilities the game system makes possible, and design their own scenarios using the game and its components to replicate other actions that could or did take place in the last years of the “Great Patriotic War.”

A PERSONAL OBSERVATION

KORSUN POCKET, in my opinion, is a “monster game” in the best sense of the term. The interaction of the logistic and artillery subroutines mesh well with the overall design to produce a complex, but playable simulation of a truly large-scale East Front slugging match. This is a game in which the two contesting armies both have opportunities and challenges; and despite the actual result of the battle, the Germans, with skillful play, have a surprisingly good chance of avoiding the disastrous historical outcome.

Design Characteristics:

  • Time Scale: three turns (am, pm, and night) per day
  • Map Scale: 1 mile per hex
  • Unit Size: battalion/regiment
  • Unit Types: infantry/ security/ rifle/ guards rifle, airborne, machine gun, cavalry, mechanized rifle/panzer grenadier, reconnaissance, tank/panzer, motorcycle, ski, engineer, construction, bridge, antitank, antiaircraft, artillery, cavalry artillery, self-propelled artillery, nebelwerfer/katyusha, maultier, supply, supply dump, headquarters, air points, and information markers
  • Number of Players: two or more (teams recommended)
  • Complexity: medium/high
  • Solitaire Suitability: low
  • Average Playing Time: 30–125 + hours (depending on scenarios and assuming two teams of experienced players)

Game Components:

  • Four 24” x 31½’’ hexagonal grid Map Sheets
  • 2400 back-printed ½” cardboard Counters
  • One 8½” x 11” Rules Booklet with Scenario Instructions
  • Three 17” x 22” Situation Maps (Jan. 25th, Feb. 1st, and Feb 10th)
  • One small six-sided die
  • Three 5½” x 8” Airbase Cards (two Soviet and one German)
  • Two 5½” x 25” Turn Record Tracks
  • One 5½” x 25” Set of Play Aids
  • One 8½ ” x 14” Sheet of Errata
  • One “Zip-lock” plastic Bag (purpose unknown) One 113/8” x 143/8” x 1½” cardboard Game Box

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