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Bitwa Warszawska 1920

This is a mini club project which Peter and I came up with in the pub one night.
 
 You can find a download for the rules and the QRS at the bottom of this page.
 
Since 2009, the Phoenix club in Glasgow has put on a club multiplayer game every first Tuesday of the month.
 
 
 
While these are great for getting the shy or army-less players to mix and interact, they have the drawback of always playing to the lowest common denominator in the hobby - so in the first two years, we only had one proper wargame, a Seven Years War game based on the Battle of Hochkirk, which Alasdair, Peter and I put on.  All the other games have been the same sort of stuff which you see as last-minute 'display games' at shows in the UK designed to attract kids for an hours gaming while their dad goes shopping.
 
You know the sort of stuff, Dogfights, Ships, Gang based skirmishes, Sci Fi 'ships' (what the hell is the point of that BTW, I even heard them exclaiming a space ship was sunk the other night !) - all good fun, but not at all representative of the wargaming itself, and an active discouragement to anyone to put the time into producing a proper wargame army or to completing a project from start to finish and then arranging a game with someone for the following week.
 
So Peter and I came up with an idea for a series of games based on the theme of the Bolshevik Invasion of Poland in 1920.  We decided that if we produced enough core brigades for those who are not able to paint their own regiment to join in, we could then ask the rest of the club to make a regiment themselves, and join in with that, which should give a large enough force to get a real wargame out of.
 
Through a link to Phil Steel and thus some of the other UK clubs which I have from playing in the Armati competition weekends and being in the Society of Ancients, I was able to get hold of a promising set of rules called the Return to the River Don, which Graham Evans has written, and which seemed much more suited to our needs for a multiplayer game than any of the published rules which we could name.  I then took things a bit further, and titled our adaptions Return to the River Wisla (Powrot do Wisly).
 
Additionally, while in Poland over January 2010, I noticed ads for a new Polish movie on the war due for release October 2011. Bitwa Warszawska 1920 which looks just the thing to rekindle interest when it (hopefully) gets a UK release sometime in the New Year here (although I was hoping the same thing for Katyn, and that didn't make it up to Glasgow).
 
Peter claimed the Bolsheviks - a slight disapointment since I was hoping to find a reason to buy a new copy of Isaac Babel's Red Cavalry, which I hadn't read since I was an undergraduate.  However, descretion soon kicked in, and I decided that while I was lucky to get away with painting Teutonic Crusaders, I risked being kicked out of home if I started doing Bolsheviks as well, since she-who-must-be-obeyed takes a fairly traditional Polish view of the merits or otherwise of her homeland's neighbours.
 
I'll put up some pics once I have based the first few figures - I'm sticking to Peter Pig at this stage, with guidance from the Jackson Wargamers page.
 

Bitva Warszawska Trailer

 
(update - some pics)
 
Peter and I have almost finished out prep, and are on the home stretch with the figures now.  We have had some good trial games, and are pretty happy with the changes and the campaign strategy for the guys to join in with.  The only downside is that I was not consulted sufficiently on the timing of our next visit to Poland - and I miss the opening of the film by THREE DAYS ! I wouldn't have understood a word of it, but that is not the point.
 
Some of the promised pics - complete with game markers
 
 
 
 
 
 
A battle scene from the most recent game (note, we are catering for aircraft, armoured trains, armoured cars and little tanks), a Red advance (which I assure you was from the East, not the West), and some closeups of the Bolshevik invader and the gallant Polish regulars defending the West. 
 
(update)
 
Poles completed
 
I have now finished the compliment of Poles which I intend on producing. 
 
Peter was kind enough to allow me to put all the new toys onto the table against him in a distinctly one sided game to celebrate.
 
Some photos of the 'funnies' in action in particular, seemed appropriate.  We have also rejigged the rules again to reduce the number of markers (phew) and to simplify the tables and dice required.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Aircraft, the train, the armoured cars lead an assault, the cavalry sweep over an exposed flank.
 
I have made a download of the rules and the QRS available from the bottom of the page.
 
First game was Tuesday March 6th 2012.

First round battles.
 
Four battles were fought simultaneously on the first evenings play.
 
In the first table, a regiment of Polish regulars were managing to hold the split towns and road exits they were tasked with covering, until cosacks surged in from their flank-rear.
A pyrrhic victory, given the casualties received, but none the less, a victory for the Bolshevik invaders - bonus allocation awarded to the cossacks
 
In the second table, Polish militia, ably supported by the timely arrival of Polish lancers, managed to defend their central town, but had the road exit cut by the Bolsheviks who had cossack support.
At one point the cossacks had sucessfully charged into the town and cleared it, but the lancers were in position to counter charge and chase the cossacks back out of the streets just as the road exit was cut
the Bolshevik infantry commander was awarded the bonus as were the Polish lancers.
 
In the third table, a pair of towns positioned to support each other were taken by the bolshevik invaders without the need for additional support
- a combination of a pinning force of machine guns, and a long flank march seemed to bamboozle the defending militia who were defeated in detail.
The bolshevik infantry were awarded the bonus
 
While on the fourth table, the Poles managed to defend the rail junctions against an attack which included Bolshevik naval infantry.
Again, counter attacks were required to recover the rail junction at one point, but a wood covering the main line seemed to provide the additional defensive value required to hold this table
Both Polish forces were awared bonus assets for round two.
 
Cavalry proved their worth in the tables as they did historically - the ability to appear on the flanks late in the game was decisive, and stood as a lesson to those players habituated into hugging the table edge for protection.
Their vulnerablity under fire was also apparent.

The mandatory coercion requirement for the Bolsheviks also produced the occasional mutiny - in the case of one cossack commander, having his tchanka's rout from the table probably prevented him from inflicting the hits necessary to secure the town he was assaulting.
But as the rest of his force had been severely mauled, one can understand the reluctance of the crew to obey the orders of a commisar safely waving his pistol from the rear while exhorting them to follow his orders but not his example.
 
Regrettably, I neglected to photograph any of the tables in action.
 
Despite a couple of hickups when conveying the rules to players, they seemed to have managed to get a good evenings play out of the affair, and by and large the rules stood up to an intensive test by a dozen novice players.
 
We wil be reviewing the rules for any appropriate updates next week, tweaking a couple of things which came out of play - you should be able to sport when those updtes to the rules are available by the date modified.
 
Round two 3 April
 
With some pictures this time (not many, just the same poor excuse as last time, I am afraid).
 
Table one saw the Bolsheviks attempt to advance down the rail line - or rather, avoid the rail line in fear of the Polish armoured train sitting there.
A massed attack down one flank was defeated by some stout Polish defending, mostly due to the performance of the Cavalry.
 
 
 
 
We can see the rail line battlefield here (train bottom right corner), with a close up on the victorious defending lines from much later in the game.
 
Table two was the poison chalace of the defended river.
 
Part of the feel of the period which we wanted to capture was the strategic value of cavalry - which we sought to capture by allowing cavalry to appear from the flanks of the table during the game.  As such, while advancing Bolshevik infantry still have to fight their way across the bridge (the river was non-fordable), no such restriction applied to the Red cavalry, who could just appear behind the Polish flank.
 
 
 
 
 
This they soon did - badly maulling the regiment of infantry and coming within touching distance of the bridge before the defenders were able to reorganise themselves.
But the supporting attack from the Bolshevik infantry stalled, and allowed the Poles to reorgnaise a defensive line - and once the cavalry had lost their initial momentum, the found themselves vulnerable to defensive fire, and were soon dispatched, enabling the Poles to claim a deserved draw on this table.
 
All in all, a great day for the Polish defenders.  Unhappily for them, things did not go well elsewhere in Poland (ah, the grand strategy, alas it is beyond the control of these few gamers), so the final game will be played out on a single table representing the gates of Warsaw.
 
Assets were awarded to one Bolshevik and all of the Poles who did not already have one.
 
Other than the train, we also saw an aircraft return to base after its bombs jammed in the rack, an armoured car become surrounded and abandoned, and a rather ineffective little tank potter about the table.  The most useful asset proved to be the artillery (since it rolls on the normal morale activation, rather than the machine actions table).  Exactly the sort of unpredictability we were hoping to achieve in these games.
 
Final Game - the Battle for Warsaw
 
Poland is saved !
 
The Gallant Poles managed to see of the Bolshevik hordes in a cataclysmic encounter at the very gates of Warsaw, as the final game in our club campaign.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 The overall table - Bolsheviks in green from the left (East), some close ups of Bolshevik armoured cars, and the gallant Poles behind the wire.
 
 The game openened with a 2 - 1 Bolshevik advance beginning against dug in Polish Militia.  The Poles were counting on some air support at the opening stages, only to see the two-seater promptly return to base on the first sighting of the enemy.  Bolshevik hearts were cheered, as they waited their expected cavalry sweep appearing from behind the Polish north flank.
 
What they were not told, but the Poles were told, was that the umpires had determined to allow the historic radio interceptions that enabled Piłsudski to plan his counter thrust into the over extended Reds.
 
Rather than Cossacks in the rear, the Poles were allowed to plan on their best infantry and cavalry to appear in the rear of the Bolsheviks from the third turn - the infantry were determined to be 'repeating the Marne' and trucking to the edge of the battlefield usign the same cavalry rules.
 
 But they first had to hold the Bolshevik thrust.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Here we see the Bolshevik hordes lined up for the attack, and the infamous Polish bomber, and the opening thrusts by the reds - and the first Polish reserves deploying in to the front line - the first clue the reds were given that their cavalry may not arrive, as this road was their indicated point of arrival.
 
The red attack started pushing deep into the table, troops started to apprach the wire when a Polish cavalry brigade appeared on an exposed flank of the Bolshevik right flank.  Slow deployment and swift reaction from the reds enabled them to shake out a firing line and preserve their flanks, but immediately there after a division of Polish infantry with air support soon appeared in the rear as well, and the writing was on the wall.
 
Highlight of the counter thrust was the (eventual) charge by the Polish lancers which overran the entre regiment it faced and pursued onto the supporting Garforth armoured car.  While that 'melee' was indecisive, the overall sweep of the charge was sufficient to enable the Poles to cover the main communication road remaining to the Bolsheviks with machine guns before the reds could begin to secure their line of retreat - some untimely mutiny results from the reds in reserve (who clearly wanted to get their hands on the promised 'women and gold' in Warsaw) ensureed that we were able to declare that this particular Tukachevsky did not match up to his historic counterparts noted ability to withdraw while in contact.
 
The table itself looked so good, we are considering taking it to some of the demonstration games around Scotland later this year.
 
The rules themselves are available at the bottom of this page.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Final images - The lancers arrive, the high water mark of the assault, you can see how exposed the reds attack was (lancers in the left of shot), and the de-bussed Polish infantry signal the jig is up as they appear on the communication roads.
 
Ċ
Mark Grindlay,
2 May 2012, 01:07
Ċ
Mark Grindlay,
2 May 2012, 01:08
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