Monday, August 20, 2012

Drive on Prokhorovka at Gateway 2012 Convention!

On September 1, 2012, I will run the complete Kursk: Drive on Prokhorovka operational campaign scenario at our local Los Angeles gaming convention, Gateway 2012.  I'll be using Piquet's Field of Battle :WW2 rules.

I posted the following on the event description:

"Ever wanted to try out an epic miniatures wargame before? This is your chance! Simple rules, complex decisions. Players can feel free to join or leave as their schedule permits. Wipe out your Soviet tank brigade in a desperate assault and then go grab a hot dog to celebrate. This battle featuring hundreds of 10mm miniatures pits 1st SS PG Division against the 5th Gds Tank Army in July 1943."

I thought I'd post some pictures of the elements of the game in an effort to tempt and lure players into joining.  Pictures of SU-152's and Churchill tanks are coming also!

Scenario description is here.

Some additional pictures of the ruined buildings of Prokhorovka are here.

If you want to review some of he Kursk articles, check the Kursk, WW2 tags.

If anyone is interested in participating in this experience, feel free to email me or post a comment to reserve a spot.

The battlefield from west to east.
Prokhorovka is on the distant horizon.

Quiet town of Storozhevoe surrounded by thick woods.

The entire Soviet force for the game.

9th Guards Airborne Division.  The circles are BN command stands.
  The hex stands are heavy weapon support markers.

Artillery spotting round markers.  Hexes are D10 artillery.
Circles are D12 artillery.  The HE template is self-explanatory.

The 1st SS Panzergrenadier Division.  

1st SS PG Regiment's three battalions.

2nd SS PG Regiment's two battalions.  It has a Tiger company.
It's halftrack-mounted battalion is with the tank regiment.

1st SS Panzer Regiment's two battalions.

1st SS AT battalion and recon battalion.
Engineer stands in front.

Casualty markers mark strength point losses.

AT gun bunkers.

More Soviet infantry.

Soviet armor ready for the counterattack on 12 July, 1943.

Soviet tank command stands using flags.
"Green, no Red..just attack dammit!!!"

These SU-76's are on the painting table,
but they'll be ready for the game.

These are being painted, but will serve as more
motorized infantry command stands for the Soviets.

Some more Soviet command stands.
  Leg and airborne infantry battalion command stands are all on foot.
Motorized units have jeeps or trucks on their command stands.

Soviet KV-1 and assault guns ready for action.

Lots of armor ready to flood onto the table!

This marker represents a suppression result.

The railroad embankment and railyard at Prokhorovka Station.

Close-up of Storozhevoe.

Soviet airborne companies defend the Brick Factory.

German engineers deploy to clear the minefield for the tanks.

Kursk: Drive on Prokhorovka Final Version

10 JULY 1943 – 15 JULY 1943


The game starts on the 10 July PM turn and ends on the 15 July PM turn. If the Germans capture all four town sections of Prokhorovka by the end of the game, the German player wins.

If the LAH 1st SS PG Division ever fails its Morale check, higher command begins withdrawing units from the attack as the operational focus of the II SS Panzer Corps begins to focus on encircling the Soviet Rifle Corps south of the battlefield. The reinforcements from the Das Reich Division (received on 12 July PM) are immediately removed. On each subsequent German Morale card, an additional German command is chosen by the German player and removed.

  • All woods are Class III woods.
  • All hills are Class II hills for movement purposes only.
  • The Oktiabrskii State Farm complex is a 6” by 6” Class II town section and can provide cover for 4 deployed units.
  • The Psel villages are each a 4” by 4” Class II town section and can provide cover for 2 deployed units. They are named (from West to East): Vaselivka, Andreevka, Mikhailovka, Prelestnoe, and Petrovka.
  • All other town sections are 6” by 6” Class III cover and can provide cover for 4 deployed units. Prokhorovka consists of four Class III town sections.
  • The Brick Factory is 2” by 4” Class III cover and can provide cover for 2 deployed units
  • The railroad embankment is a Class II linear obstacle that blocks LOS unless a unit is in contact with it.

Remember, vehicle units treat terrain as one class worse (Class II becomes Class III, etc.), so woods are impassable to vehicles and vehicles can't deploy in Class III town sections. They can be in them and drive through them, but they don't benefit from the cover. The exception to this are recon vehicles (see below).

The German player has a D12 Initiative die and a Superior deck. The Soviet player uses a D10 Initiative die and an Average deck.

Reinforcement arrival
German reinforcements arrive on the western short table edge and Soviet reinforcements normally (see special rule below) arrive on the eastern short table edge. Reinforcements can be deployed on the table edge at the start of their arrival turn. Reinforcements can also be held off the table. If they are held off the table, reinforcements can then only be deployed on the table on a friendly Move card. The newly deployed reinforcements can move on the Move card that deployed them.

AT gun bunker companies are deployed at the start of their arrival turn anywhere within 10” of friendly units and further than 5” from enemy units.

Adjacent divisions and special Soviet reinforcement arrival
An SS Panzergrenadier division was fighting on each flank of the 1st SS PG Division, Totenkopf on the left and Das Reich on the right.

Their slow progress constantly endangered the flanks of the 1st SS PG Division. A marker on the North and South sides of the gaming table represents the positions of each of these flanking divisions. The markers begin one foot east of the West table edge. At the end of each non-Night turn, the German player rolls a D6 for each marker. On a “6” the marker is moved 1' toward Prokhorovka (East). A +1 (cumulative) is added to the next die roll each time the die roll fails to advance the marker.

Normally, Soviet reinforcements enter on the East board edge. In each turn, the Soviet player can declare he is bringing on one reinforcing brigade on the North or South board edge. These reinforcements and the board edge must be announced on a Move card. The reinforcing brigade appears on the declared board edge on the next Move card at any position east of the SS Division card on its board edge. The brigade may not move until the next Move card appears.

Air Support
10 July: 1 German Air Support card (Bad weather!)
11 July: 3 German Air Support cards
Rest of game: 3 German Air Support cards, 1 Soviet Air Support Card

10 July: German (D10, D10, D12) Soviet (D10)
11 July: German (D10, D10, D12) Soviet (D10, D10)
12 July: Before AM turn begins, Soviets can drop a six template D12 artillery barrage. No drift.
German (D10, D10, D12) Soviet (D10, D12, D10)
Rest of game: German German (D10, D10, D12) Soviet (D10, D12, D10, D12)

The order of the artillery fire die strengths is important. That is the order in which the particular spotting rounds are placed on C&C cards. Once the Indirect Fire card is drawn, the sequence begins again.

Dug In
Units in the open (Class I terrain) or woods might be described as “Dug In.” These are not bunker companies. Dug In units enjoy Class II cover (unless surrounding cover is better) and do not have to fall back.

They can voluntarily leave their entrenchments only on an Even movement roll. They can only Close Assault on the Close Assault card.

Individual infantry units can dig in during Night turns on a Move card as long as they make a successful Engineering check vs. a D6.

AT minefields are 8” wide and 2” deep. Combat die D10 vs. vehicles, D4 vs. infantry. The Soviets can place 3 minefields before the 11 July AM turn. Mine fields must be placed west of the German advance. A minefields can be removed when 2 units in contact with the minefield make a successful Engineering check vs. a D10.

Anti-Tank ditch
One 12” long AT ditch can be placed on the table west of the German advance by the Soviet player at the beginning of any one AM turn. The ditch cannot cross the railroad embankment or be placed in woods. The ditch is impassable to vehicles and a Class II obstacle to other units. Once three separate units in contact with the ditch make successful Engineering checks vs. a D10, the ditch is removed.

Forward Observer: D12 Engineering: D10 Anti-Aircraft: D10

  • The Germans have 50 morale points for the entire division. They never gain morale points.
  • German units described as regiments are major command groups. All other German units not described below are battalion command groups.
  • All German command stands are D12 command stands.
  • German major command groups roll D12 Move dice as regiments, but can roll for movement as individual command groups on an Even move roll.
  • The German recon battalion is self-ordered, has no command stand and is always in command. They ignore command integrity and roll D12 Move/Rally dice as a command group. Recon units move through Class II terrain with no penalty. Recon units ignore the entrance cost to enter Class III terrain.
  • The German AT battalion is not a battalion command group and has no command stand. Its units roll D12 for movement and rally, but if they move, AT units must move toward a German battalion command group. Once they are within command range of a battalion command group, AT units are considered attached and can move and rally with that group's command stand.
  • Dismounted German panzer grenadiers benefit from ONE Superior Firepower card added to the German deck.
  • German infantry have Full(Integrated) AT capability
  • Germans are Combined Arms capable.
  • All panzer grenadiers attached to Panzer battalions are halftrack-equipped . All other panzer grenadiers ride in trucks.

Forward Observer: D8 Engineering: D12 Anti-Aircraft: D8

  • Soviet brigades, separate infantry battalions, and regiments are major command groups for morale purposes. Soviet major command groups have morale points equal to the number of companies in the brigade. They check morale individually. If they fail a morale check, they are removed from the table.
  • Soviet brigades and regiments roll for movement as major command groups. They cannot roll for movement as battalion command groups. Any major command group that includes armor stands rolls a D8 for movement. All-infantry major command groups roll a D10 for movement.
  • Separate infantry battalions move with their own D10 command stand.
  • Soviet tank brigades have two commands divided into an armor battalion command group (D8 command die) and an infantry battalion command group (D10 command stand). These command stands are only used for rallying and to determine command integrity. Infantry and tank companies from the same tank brigade can support each other.
  • Soviet infantry brigades have three battalion command groups (D10) command stands). These command stands are only used for rallying and to determine command integrity.
  • SP gun regiments roll D8 for movement, but they have no command stands. Their units may be rallied by any command stand within range (only once per C&C card).
  • AT artillery regiments are gun bunker companies with Class III cover. They never fail morale checks and fight to the death. They can be suppressed and lose strength points.
  • Soviet infantry have Limited AT capability.
  • Soviets are Combined Arms capable.

Order of Battle.

  • I/2nd PG (3 Infantry companies, 1 Tiger company, 1 D12 command stand, 3 trucks)
  • II/2nd PG (3 Infantry companies, 1 PzIV company, 1 D12 command stand, 3 trucks)
  • I/1st Pz (3 Panzer IV companies, 2 infantry companies, 1 D12 command stands, 2 halftracks)
  • II/1st Pz (3 Panzer IV companies, 1 infantry companies, 1 D12 command stands, 1 halftrack)
1st SS RECON BN (1 233 company, 1 222 company, 1 infantry company, 1 halftrack)
Each Panzer IV company starts with 1 SP lost.
The Tiger company starts with 2 SP lost.

26TH TB/ 2ND TC ( 2 T34 companies, 3 Infantry companies, D8 command stand)
  • 1502ND AT REGT( 1 76mm AT bunker company)
  • 48TH AT REGT ( 1 76mm AT bunker company)
169TH TB / 2ND TC ( 2 T34 companies, 5 Infantry companies (reinforcements from 285 RR), D10 and D8 command stands)

3/285 RIFLE REGIMENT (3 infantry companies, D10 command stand)

99TH TB/ 2ND TC ( 3 T34 companies, 2 Infantry companies, D8 command stand)

One BN FROM 11TH MRB/ 10TH TC (3 Infantry companies, D10 command stand, 3 trucks)

(cannot move until 11 July AM Turn)
(23rd, 26th, 28th GAR [9 infantry companies , 3 D10 command stands each])
26th astride Prokhorovka road to Oktiabrski State Farm, 23rd with 2 BN's south of 26th and 1 BN in Prokhorovka suburbs, 28th in reserve north of Prokhorovka.


58TH MR BDE/2ND TC ARRIVES ( 9 Infantry companies, 3 D10 command stands, trucks)
2/287th GUARDS RIFLE REGT ARRIVES (3 infantry companies, D10 command stand)


  • 3 battalions (3 Infantry companies, 1 Stug III company, D12 command stand, 3 trucks each)
1st SS AT BN (3 Marder III companies)
57th HEAVY TANK REGT (4 KV-1 tank companies, 2 infantry companies, D8 command stand)
301st AT ARTY REGT (1 76mm AT bunker company)


18th TANK CORPS (181st TB, 170th TB, 110th TB) NORTH OF PROKHOROVKA
  • 110th TB (3 T34 companies, 3 Infantry companies, D10 and D8 command stands, 3 trucks)
  • 170th TB (3 T34 companies, 3 Infantry companies, D10 and D8 command stands, 3 trucks)
  • 181st TB (3 T34 companies, 3 Infantry companies, D10 and D8 command stands, 3 trucks)
  • 32nd MR BRIGADE (9 infantry companies, 3 D10 command stands, 9 trucks)
36th GDS SEP HVY TANK REGT (2 Churchill companies)

  • 25th TB (5 T34 companies, 3 Infantry companies, D10 and D8 command stands, 3 trucks)
  • 31st TB (5 T34 companies, 3 Infantry companies, D10 and D8 command stands, 3 trucks)
  • 32nd TB (6 T34 companies, 3 Infantry companies, D10 and D8 command stands, 3 trucks)
  • 53rd MR BRIGADE (9 infantry companies, 3 D10 command stands, 9 trucks)

1446TH SP GUN REGT(1 SU-76 company, 1 SU-122 company)
53RD GDS TANK REGT (4 T-34 tank companies, D8 command stand)
127th GDS RIFLE REGT (9 infantry companies, 3 D10 command stands)
136th GDS RIFLE REGT (9 infantry companies, 3 D10 command stands)


  • 1000TH AT REGT ( 1 76mm AT bunker company)
  • 1529TH SP GUN REGT (1 SU152 company).


Appears on southern long table edge anywhere west of Das Reich progress marker:
  • I/3rd SS PZGR (1 PzIV company, 2 infantry companies, 1 D12 command stand, trucks
  • II/3rd SS PZGR (1 PzIV company, 2 infantry companies, 1 D12 command stand, trucks)



1. Soviet light tanks. The Soviet tank units still had an amazingly high percentage of light tanks in their armored battalions. Soviet industry needed something for their light industry to produce. Approximately 1/3 of the Soviet tanks were lightly armored T-70 tanks which were not capable of fighting the German medium tanks at anything but the closest ranges. These light tanks suffered tremendous casualties because they basically fought in the front line along with the T-34 companies. Some brigade commanders did try to organize the T-34’s into a lead battalion and the T-70’s into a follow-on battalion, but I’m not sure how much this helped.

I play this game using my 10mm miniatures and since Pithead has not yet produced a T-70 tank in 10mm, I don’t field the light tank companies. I basically just convert the T-70’s into T-34’s at a combat ratio of about 2:1. Also, when I consider the game scale of FOBWW2, I’m not sure it’s that important to model them. The corps commanders (i.e. players) really weren’t very concerned with the exact make-up of their tank mixes. They were more focused on the basic combat power of the tank brigades as a whole entity. However, if players do want to field these light tank companies and they want to paint tons of light Soviet tanks (and I know some will), I'm happy to provide the numbers. Just be aware that the Germans might focus all their fire on them because they’re easy pickings and cause disproportionate morale point damage to the Soviets.

2. Leadership. One of the neat aspects of FOBWW2 is the use of the Command die. A good Command die can be used to gain extra movement segments on Move cards, but it can also be used on the Command and Control cards to unsuppress units and more importantly, rally back lost strength points.

Lost strength points represent more than just killed, wounded, and destroyed vehicles. They represent infantry men who have lost the will to fight, lost a key leader who must be replaced, units that have run out of ammunition or fuel, vehicles that need maintenance or repair, personnel who need to recover from fatigue, and many other factors that can impact the combat effectiveness of fighting units.

The German battalions were well-led, their troops were motivated and well-trained, and the German recovery crews did an incredible job of getting damaged tanks back into action. Very few German tanks were knocked out of action for more than a day or two. To reflect this advantage, the Germans have very high command dice (D12).

The Soviet troops in general had poor communication. The few radios that they did have often became inoperable after the concussion of artillery rounds or near misses. The Soviets conducted an internal investigation into the causes of the high tank casualties at Prokhorovka after the battle. The investigation was very critical and highlighted some of the following defects:

  • poor dissemination of mission-critical information down to subordinate commanders,
  • the lack of pre-attack reconnaissance by tank commanders,
  • the inability of brigade and division commanders to maintain control of their armored elements or even know where they were,
  • poor control by company commanders who literally led their formations from the front and thus found it difficult to control their own formations,
  • poor use of terrain for avenues of approach to reduce the impact of AT weapons on attacking elements
  • poor use of artillery preparation against enemy AT defenses.
Not a great evaluation of the Soviet leadership. In my mind, the tank commanders earn a pretty poor D8 command die. This low command rating also makes it much harder for the Soviets to rally back their tank strength points, reflecting their inferior ability to recover and repair damaged vehicles.

I did want to give the Soviet infantry some of that stubborn, resolute peasant quality that Russian infantry has been famous for, so I rated the infantry commands as a D10 command die. Even the Germans were impressed by the defensive determination exhibited by the Soviet infantry during the Kursk campaign.

3. Tank-riders!! I think they are cool and a bunch of infantry piled on the back of a T-34 is definitely an iconic image of the Eastern Front, but when I tried to write rules for tank-riding, it became either too powerful a game mechanism or required 200 words of rules just to clarify all of the possible things that might happen. In the end, I decided to just let the rules handle tank-riding.

During the game, if an infantry unit rolls 3 movement segments, it can move 24”! That’s a lot of walking when you consider all of the equipment an infantry company brings with it. So, if the infantry company rolls 2 or 3 movement segments, I just assume that they ended up hitching a ride on some tanks somewhere along the way.

If you don’t like that answer and insist that you have to have a freaking tank-riding rule, you might want to treat them like truck-mounted infantry for all combat purposes, but allow them to mount and dismount during the day turns like halftracks. There!! Are you happy now?!

4. Soviet defenses. There are several different types of Soviet defenses that the Germans will have the pleasure of encountering during their attack. The two biggest defenses are the anti-tank ditch and the anti-tank minefields. I made a design decision and gave the Soviet player the option of where to place the minefields and AT ditches. Even more annoying for the Germans, the Soviets don’t have to decide on the location of the AT ditch until they see where the Germans are on that morning turn.

Some German players might think that’s pretty gamey, but let’s really examine what the situation was at the time. The Soviets had been preparing the defenses in the Kursk area for months before the attack. Their engineers knew the lay of the land and were specifically focused on obstructing terrain that was ideal for armored movement.

The chances are that as the German tanks attack during the scenario, the little 10mm tank commanders would naturally move along the best terrain for their little 10mm tanks. What to us giant players looks like a flat green terrain board is actually a rolling prairie crossed with small gullies, ravines, dips, washes, runs, and ridges! So when the Soviet player plops that AT ditch down right in front of the spot where the German player’s main armored thrust stopped moving the night before, we can soothe our sense of historical realism and explain to the fuming German player that the Soviet engineers would have definitely obstructed such an obvious approach route for the tanks.

As for the minefields, I don’t make an effort to hide them from the Germans. Minefields the size of these fields would have been very apparent to German scouting parties so surprise is not the issue here. The minefields are intended to delay the German tanks. The German can always just drive through them and take his chances, but the cautious player will call up the engineers and make that minefield-clearing Engineering roll.

It’s important to place these obstacles where they are at least observed, but even better yet, under effective direct fire from Soviet defenses. They should also be more than 5” from Soviet defenders to keep the Germans outside of Close Assault range. Even if the Germans gamble, leave their armor behind and close assault with just their infantry, the unsupported infantry will be vulnerable to close assaults from Soviet armor.

And finally, it’s important to not block your own Soviet armor with your obstacles. Leave a good, defended route through your obstacles so you can sally forth into close assault range where the T-34’s can fight on a more equal footing with the German tanks.

The final Soviet defense is one that is probably the most annoying for the Germans: the AT bunker companies. These bunkers represent destroyer anti-tank artillery regiments in heavy entrenchments. They also present the Germans attackers with the kind of fortified anti-tank defenses the Soviets installed in the defensive belts established throughout the Kursk salient. The bunkers have 180 degree fire arcs, never surrender or fall back, fire using artillery templates, and have Class III cover. When placed on a hill, these bunkers can be very difficult to destroy with direct fire.

They have one weakness. They are very average in close assaults. If you leave your AT bunkers unsupported by other nearby defending infantry units, they will be overwhelmed and destroyed. An excellent defense is an AT bunker on the top of a hill with defending infantry companies dug in on the hill below it. The infantry companies block close assaulters and the bunker can fire over the infantry at targets that are further away.

5. Merely a gameplay suggestion: I use two stand units to represent the companies in the game. When a unit is “dug in”, I reduce it to 1 stand to show its new status.