A Few Recommended Rules Changes for WAR IN THE EAST
OPTIONAL RULES CHANGES
1a. Railroad Repair Units (changes to Rules Case 6.6):
|German military train.|
1b. Optional (Experimental) Rules Change: Repair of “Neutral” Rail Lines (changes to Rules Case 6.6):
|T34 Rail-borne tanks bound for the front, WWII.|
All other railroad rules stipulated for use in the standard Campaign Game of THE WAR IN THE EAST remain exactly the same. Thus, except for the specific changes outlined above, all other regular game rules which pertain both to Rail Movement and to Rail Road Repair Units, as well as all rules pertaining to the Finnish Rail System remain unchanged.
|European gauge versus Russian broad gauge rail.|
|Russian railroad tracks.|
|German panzer division advances in Russia.|
Third, and contrary to the designer’s guesswork regarding the operations actually required to effect rail line repair or conversion, the greatest hindrance to repair — then and now — is not the laying of new ties and rails, but the repair of roadbeds, bridges, trestles, and tunnels. Thus, besides the construction of railroad bridges and the digging of tunnels, the single most significant obstacle to actually building a railroad is not the physical process of setting down track, but the surveying, clearing, grading, and preparation of the roadbed on which the track will ultimately be laid. The soldiers of the withdrawing Red Army did (as the defenders of the original repair rules argue) burn trestles, bridges, and railroad ties; and they did bend rails and destroy rolling stock; but retreating Red Army units rarely, if ever, had either the time or the equipment necessary to seriously damage the roadbed, itself.
Fourth, the argument that the Germans failed to allocate sufficient railroad repair assets at the start of “Barbarossa,” because they anticipated a short military campaign, also fails to hold up to close scrutiny. While it is true that the OKH did not plan for extensive ground operations past the autumn of 1941, they did plan for a permanent occupation of all of European Russia west of the Urals. Also, because Hitler viewed the war against the Soviet Union both in ideological and economic terms, a large-scale, functioning rail system within occupied Russia was seen by the Germans as a critically important adjunct to the long-term goal of robbing the Soviet Union of its resources and of then transporting them west to the Reich.
In the final analysis, for all of the excuses and designer “double-talk,” the standard game’s Railroad Repair Rules were nothing more than an “outcome-based” design trick on Dunnigan’s part to limit the depth of the German offensive during the first year of the war. Clearly, the designer had decided, in the design process, that he did not want the Germans to capture Moscow in the course of the first summer. In addition, he had also decided, it would seem, exactly where he wanted the frontline to form when the fall rains finally stalled Hitler's armies in 1941; thus, the ridiculous and unhistorical restrictions on German railroad repair units, in combination with the game’s regular supply rules, pretty much guaranteed Dunnigan the game results that he wanted.
|Russians in trench, Battle of Leningrad.|
Probable Effects of Recommended Changes:
|Kleines Kettenkraftrad, driving through mud on the Eastern Front.|
|Axis winter dead, 1941-42; |
the coldest winter in 40 years.
|German soldiers, Battle of Leningrad, 1941.|
|Battle of Moscow, first successful Russian counterattack.|
2. Kampfgruppen and Battlegroups (changes to Rules Case 10.3):
|Russian guard lights two German POWs cigarettes.|
a) All regular German infantry divisions (6-5s) and Finnish divisions (4-5s) form a BG on a die roll of 1 to 6.
b) All Soviet Guards rifle corps (5-5s) form a BG on a die roll of 1 to 5.
c) All German security divisions (6-3s) and regular Soviet rifle corps (4-4s) form a BG on a die roll of 1 to 4.
In addition to the above changes in the procedure used to determine BG formation, individual BG die rolls may also be subject to certain adverse adjustments. These die roll modifications (DRMs) are cumulative and are applied in the following combat situations:
a) +1 DRM: If the unit is eliminated while defending against an attack (Finnish divisions defending in “Old Finland” are not affected).
b) +1 DRM: If the unit is eliminated (whether attacking or defending) while unsupplied.
c) +1 DRM: If a German (only) unit is eliminated (whether attacking or defending) during game turns 21-40 (the first Russian winter), inclusive.
|Russian Siberian soldiers, Battle of Moscow.|
|Russian troops on the march, December 1941.|
|Russian column on the move in winter, WWII.|
Probable Effects of Recommended Changes:
|Nazi graves near Leningrad, 1943.|
CONCLUSION TO PART I
|German cavalry, WWII|
Finally, for those players who prefer to leave the ‘rules writing’ to others, I offer a word of warning: some of the rules modifications recommended herein have been tested fairly extensively, but some have not (much like most commercially-produced games). For this reason, those readers who are tempted to actually experiment with one or more of these optional rules are urged to proceed with caution; some changes, as already noted, will have only a modest effect on the game, but others have the potential to affect play and play-balance significantly. Consider this “a word to the wise.”
Recommended ReadingSee my blog post Book Reviews of these titles which are strongly recommended for those readers interested in further historical background, or just go ahead and get the books:
Book Review: Battle of Kursk , Book Review: Panzer Battles, Book Review: German Army 1933-1945
, Book Review: Genius for War, the German Army ,Book Review: Command Decisions