Battle of the Bands?…In Smolensk?

These re enactors are portraying events in Smolensk during Napoleons Russian Campaign. While the drummers seem to be pretty feisty I am not sure who will come off worse for wear there!  Says something that the drummers are beating the line troops into the skirmish!

Which brings me to my actual topic.

Smolensk.

1941.

Guderian and Hoth had their hands full attempting to push on the gates of Moscow. Smolensk stood in their way. Fighting over the very same terrain that that this re enactment likely takes place.

Much has been written about the battle, but only one game has ever captured the action as a stand alone title.

Panzergruppe Guderian. 1976, S&T magazine 58 (I think). Put together in less than 12 months, a new game system is expelled into the gaming world. It becomes over time a classic. Spawning many new titles using the same system and derivatives. Possibly the most famous was Operation Typhoon.

While a lot is available about the history of the battle, there is also a decent amount of content about the game too! More on that topic later.

The first company to address the battle since SPI was MMP. With the aptly named A Victory Denied. A game that uses the AVL ( A Victory Lost ) system, with enhancements and tweaks to suit this particular battle.

It is worth noting that the game scale for maps, and turn duration are different, but some of the mechanisms are similar especially in the opening moves.

So I thought it might be cool to examine how each game represents what happened, turn by turn. I’ll do my best to keep stuff in synch and we will see what transpires.

I’ll post more details on each game and some background on the battle over the course of the next week or so. Map detail. Of each title, as well as

Skip Franklin wrote this about PGG back in the day:

“As usually happens in PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN among equally-matched opponents, it more often than not comes down to the final Player Turn. In the dozen games seen here the Germans plow through Soviet infantry like a large truck through football fans, but the Soviets have a preponderance of men and the interdiction marker which can put the Germans out of supply for three turns.

This game is balanced so well that most games are decided in the last three game turns.

The German player must be ready to  absorb losses in panzer units in tight situations and the Soviets must just be ready to lose lots of men. Considering that half of the German tanks were in this part of the Eastern Front, it is no wonder the Soviets had such a hard time.

When Hitler sent the panzers south to help out in the Kiev Pocket the prize of Moscow was lost. With Moscow and its transportation hub gone, the war may have well been over.

After a winter of survival the German could have attacked out of Moscow to take the Crimea, Leningrad, Stalingrad and the oil fields.

The Germans had four enemies on the Eastern Front: Time, Mud, The Sons of the Soviet Union and Hitler.”

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