A post from BGG with permission from BGG user and wargamer : (Arcology)
So, I buy Case Blue, punch and clip the counters, and dive right in. My first choice is Scenario 6.1. As it happens, by pure coincidence, I played this while reading about the actual history in a related chapter in David Glantz and Jonathan M. House’s Armageddon in Stalingrad.
Everything about this scenario is different, and wonderfully so. It takes place on the very different Map K, which just feels like the Caucasus. The scenario is a one-mapper, but it’s 25 turns. You’ve come to expect an overwhelming Luftwaffe presence, but you can forget that when you cross the Kerch. The Axis gets only 4 total planes, and two of those are Ju-52s. Plus, the Axis have a menagerie of units worthy of a traveling circus, ranging from Finnish SS, a yellow AR5 parachute unit, 4 panzer divisions, and camels. The Soviets stand out with their AR4 Guards units, many air units, and the South Edge Box. And to top it off, each side will average about 2 SP per turn. This all adds up to a unique OCS experience, and not like the Eastern Front battles you may have seen before. Down here, on the edge of the world, is a weird war.
For all that, it is a somewhat intricate scenario that requires careful planning, and some advanced thinking. You may want to play a few turns on your own before playing competitively, and the more experienced player may want to take the German side. With these points in mind, I’ll give you some points to consider below.
One main thing both players need to think about is how the South Edge Box works. It’s important because Soviet reinforcements arrive in this box, and so the box can be used as a staging area before units get on map. See Case Blue rule 1.8b, case 6, and note that there are no other reinforcement entry points on Map K.
The other thing to realize about this special holding box is that it’s not like the other holding boxes you may have seen before. For example, if you’ve played Beyond the Rhine, you will recall those off-map air bases that the Allies get in Normandy and England, which are great. You can fly units on map to an Air Entry Point, run a barrage mission or do a fighter sweep, and return home in time for tea or a pick-up baseball game. In contrast, the two level 3 airbases in this holding box have one major disadvantage: units that fly over the mountains on Map K can only do so as one-way trip: “Units can move into the box or out of it in a given turn (but never both).” So forget hiding your Il-2s in the off-map box, barraging, and returning home; things are much harder in the USSR, and we like it that way. However, you could keep your planes safely in the Southern Edge Box and bring them on map when they’re ready to be used. Fighters can rebase and remain Active, but other planes (such as those Sturmoviks) will have to go Inactive.
Another important aspect to the boxes is that they can be blocked. Note that per Case Blue rule 1.6b, “all the ‘star’ hexes leading to the South Edge Box are supply sources except when occupied by German combat units.” Also, units can move from the box onto the map by “normal movement” via the star hexes, and so if a star hex is blocked, a unit can’t enter (assuming you and your opponent define “normal movement” as not including Overruns from the South Edge Box; such a thing would just be too weird).
The Soviets can use these mountain passes to stage counterattacks and threaten the German supply lines. You’ll see from Illustration A some of the supply paths that the Soviet HQs can throw from the passes (and other places, all of which assumes no blocking Axis units). You’ll also note that the passes can be easily blocked, and from certain locations, a German HQ can easily keep such a blocking unit in trace supply, even those as far as the two western star entry hexes. The German player should consider attacking up these passes and forcing Soviet units off map, removing this potential threat entirely. Even if German units don’t get to the star hexes and close down these entry points completely, units in the positions shown (yellow counters) would effectively limit Soviet trace supply to the passes themselves, or hexes adjacent to those tracks, if Axis ZOCs don’t otherwise interfere with such paths.
Getting supply on map is a little tricky for the Soviet player. With two truck points and 1 Rail Cap, they have more than enough transport capacity to do so. The problem is that the trucks can’t enter the map and also exit it in the same turn. So, in most cases they will have to load up in the box, drive on map, deposit their load, and return to a star hex to move off map in the next turn. In that turn, trucks that were on map have to stay in the South Edge Box. This seldom applies to other ground units, which will typically make a one-way trip onto the map and stay there. It should be noted that “normal movement” probably doesn’t include retreat results, and Case Blue rule 1.4b says, “units forced off the map for any reason are destroyed,” so be careful; a unit taking an Do1 result on a star hex may be destroyed, or forced into a mountain hex where it can find itself out of trace.
Illustration A. Red X markers indicate the extent of Soviet supply trace from HQs in the positions shown; blue show the same thing for German HQs. Note that the yellow Axis units would block the supply paths completely, limiting the extent of Soviet advances from these routes.
Check Yourself Before You Terek Yourself
If you study the map, you’ll see that the rivers cross the map laterally like fingers. This makes the German approach clear, as rivers reduce attack strengths by 1/2. It seems like a no brainer, then, to go south, and approach the VP cities from their western sides. You’ll note in Illustration A the big red arrows. These show what seem to be the ideal attack routes for the Germans.
The Germans should probably focus on Ordzhonikidze first. With an average of 2 SP per turn, it’ll be difficult to get all 4 panzer units working at the same time. You also need to maximize your SP and spend them carefully.
You also get only two infantry divisions, and these are important because they can attack in the Minor City hexes at full strength. The Wiking division actually has the best infantry units in the game, as its three 8-strength, AR4 infantry regiments can combine to form effectively a 24-4-3 infantry unit, better than either infantry division. (Wiking also has an AR4 artillery unit; that’s really weird.)
Another weird thing about this scenario is that the Germans can’t count on air support until October 5, and even then you get only one Stuka unit. So, many times you’ll need to count on artillery to DG units. Thus, with 2 attacking infantry divisions, and at least one 26- or 30-strength barrage, you’ll need to have 3 SP ready for the Combat Phases. The German player will need to keep this in mind; with potentially 4 panzer divisions in play, but key attacks taking at least 3 SP, but receiving only 2 SP per turn, you’ll have to have some pauses to build up supply. Move panzer divisions judiciously; using Strat Mode or releasing Reserves in Exploitation should be considered to get the most mileage out of that 1 SP spent on fuel. You may also need to postpone an attack if artillery doesn’t achieve a DG; attacking full-strength defenders may be considered a waste of supply under most circumstances in OCS, and it certainly is here. As a DG effectively doubles your attack strength, it makes attack supply all that more efficient.
The Germans can also use the rivers to defend their long exposed flanks as they approach Grozny and the oil fields. If the Germans have taken the time to block the passes, this also prevents a Soviet run into the German rear. Also, as they advance, the Germans also need to take their time and use all 25 turns wisely. Fortunately, the Soviets aren’t too mobile, and their ability to strike deep is somewhat limited by the distance that the Soviet HQs can throw supply (see red X markers in Illustration A). That said, a German unit that gets too far forward could be cut off by the 4th Guards Cavalry Corps; keeping some panzer units back will make a Soviet player think twice about such a thrust. All the while, use your RR unit to advance the rail line to Ordzhonikidze. HQs in the positions shown can draw trace from key towns, and the Germans can even rail supply with 1 Rail Cap into Ordzhonikidze after the line is regauged.
Fly the Deadly Skies
Another important and interesting sub-game within this larger battle is how to use the air units.
The Germans will most likely want to overrun the bases at Pyatigorsk and Georgiyevsk before the Soviets can destroy them. Then, the German player will probably want to upgrade one of those two bases; the 8-0 HQ should head to one of these hexes in order to do so. Upgrading to a Level 2 airbase will allow all four German planes to refit with a single token; if to planes were at two separate Level 1 airbases, that refit cost would double to 2T per turn.
After the Germans take (or rebuild) the base at Ordzhonikidze, the two Ju-52s can fly in their loads of 2T. From their western bases, the Ju-52s can fly up to half their range and double their loads (OCS 14.9e, case C). However, also note that this is limited by the unload capacity of the receiving base; if Level 1, the airbase at Ordzhonikidze can unload only 2T per Movement Phase, or in other words the full load of just one Ju-52 (OCS 15.0b, case C). Note that one Ju-52 could make the round trip in the Movement Phase, and then the other in the Exploitation Phase, or even Reaction Phase. Also note that the base at Ordzhonikidze is outside the patrol zone of bases in Grozny, that their home bases in Pyatigorsk and Georgiyevsk are outside the 20-hex operational radius of Soviet planes, and that supplies delivered to Ordzhonikidze are within draw distance of a German HQ in say, K24.09, as shown in Illustration A. The Axis should consider using its camels to transport supply between K1.23 and its bases. With an MA of 8, the camels could pick up 1 SP in K1.23 (1 MP), take it to K7.21 (6 MP), and unload (1 MP), although the planes wouldn’t be able to also carry it in the same movement segment due to leapfrogging restrictions (OCS 12.2a). The Germans get one non-organic truck point, which seems most useful for making those long runs between K1.23 and the German forward supply depot.
Neither player can use their supply planes for off-map supply airlift, per Case Blue rule 1.4a, and this limits the Soviet’s player to use its single Li2 for such efforts. This plane could airdrop supply, but those could get lost, or the plane could fly in troops to on-map airbases. As to the rest of their planes, the Soviets should consider doing a lot of Trainbusting, as the Germans will be using its 1 Rail Cap to transport 50% of its supplies per turn; a successful Trainbusting mission around Ordzhonikidze, for example, would limit this to 2T. Note that Trainbusting doesn’t require a spotter, which can be a limiting factor for the Soviets, as they are on the defense and may spend many turns out of contact with the Germans. Also, such choke points are within the 20-hex range of Soviet air units operating out of Grozny.
The Soviets should consider using the airbases in the Southern Edge Box as a safe haven, and then putting planes in the on-map bases as the Germans get closer. The Soviet planes will almost always lose in Air Combat against the German’s Bf-109g: with a German Air to Air rating of 5 vs a Soviet strength of 2, the Germans will win with a DR of 5 or more. Knowing this, the Soviet player may want to make sure there are several planes at several bases. With just one available fighter, the German can sweep only one Soviet base per turn; with fighters are two or more bases, the Soviet can be assured that there will always be one fighter Active to project a Patrol Zone or Intercept. With a defending strength of (1), the German player may not risk Air Combat with this highly effective barrage-capable aircraft.
Conversely, if the Soviet player does have multiple fighters at multiple bases, the German player may want to send the Messerschmitt as an escort for the Stuka to protect it in the same mission. This will force the Soviet player to decide whether to Intercept, and as only one plane can be used in an Interception mission (per OCS 14.5), the odds will be against the Soviet player in this tactical situation.
Illustration B, showing the results at game end of a solitaire playing. This was a draw.
The Soviet player, too, should play the long game and take steps throughout to prepare for the final battles. To win, it’s important to realize that the German player must control Ordzhonikidze, Grozny, and all the oil fields. The Soviet player can’t win just by holding onto one of these hexes but most control all of Grozny plus at least one other victory location. This is important, because it means that if the Germans control one hex of Grozny, the Soviets must counterattack to take it back in order to win. Having units and supply ready to do so is key.
Another important aspect is that the Soviet can frustrate German attacks by using artillery barrages in the Reaction Phase. With only two Reserve markers and few mobile units, this seems like a good tactic. Also, Grozny forms a sort of mini-Stalingrad; the Soviet player can feed units into Grozny from the eastern side of the river, keeping them fresh.
As the Soviets will typically receive two SP per turn, this seems ideal for saving up to make and improve Hedgehogs. Putting hogs in the victory locations and defending them will make them harder to take. However, note that hogs can also be used by the Germans, which in turn can make a hex like Grozny difficult to retake.
The Soviets also may want to consider building or improving airbases. The bases in Grozny seem a little too far forward, and they can even be hit by artillery fire (without a spotter, even). I put one in K37.10, but putting a base in some of the star hexes also may be worth thinking about.
A key German vulnerability is their supply line, and the Soviets should consider attacking it. Getting a Soviet unit into K28.08 would project a ZOC into the path between a HQ in K24.09 and units outside Grozny. Or, attacking into the oil field in K30.08 from the south is another possibility. Attacking across the river will be difficult, though. If the German has taken steps to occupy and shut down the star entry hexes in K11.01 and K20.00, it may be difficult to get into the German rear; the red X markers in Illustration A show the limits of Soviet throw ranges from the hexes occupied by Soviet HQs; it doesn’t take a Tukhachevsky to realize that this is not the best situation for deep battle. Even so, it’s interesting to note that in the historical battle, 13th PzD got cut off and had to roll for Breakout, and the Soviet player here may similarly be able to cut off German units.
“Edge of the World” is a fascinating scenario that will test players’ OCS abilities and tactical finesse. Despite the number of turns, with relatively few units on each side the scenario is fast playing, and it would be a challenging scenario for two experienced players in a tournament weekend, or maybe a long day of convention play.
At the same time, it’s not the easiest scenario in the world to figure out, and some thought should be given to it in advance. I’d caution introducing new players with this scenario, as the supply difficulties, especially for the Germans, can be difficult for even an OCS veteran to get right.
Thus, approached in the right way, the intricate subtleties and overall weirdness of Scenario 6.1 can be fully appreciated and enjoyed. I hope this write up helps you do just that.