Ever since Xenophon got stuck in the middle of Persia with 10,000 buddies and had to fight their way out, envelopment and pockets have been a feature of wars. Some the largest, most fluid and destructive pockets occurred on the Russian front during the second world war. In one, attacking Russians found themselves surrounded by German forces who were in turn trapped in a pocket! Only parts of India and Bangladesh may be more confusing to cartographers
Initially the Russians were being trapped by the invading Germans. Increasingly, from Stalingrad onwards, the Germans were pursued by Russians. Units of all sizes, from handfuls of soldiers up to entire armies, suffered being cut-off and surrounded in this vast and confusing war.
My gaming spidie-senses tingled as I was reading Eastern Front: Encirclement and Escape by German Forces, a Pen and Sword volume I picked on spec from the rather excellent Hyland’s Bookshop (the web-site is rubbish just head into the bonzer shop).
I thought, there is some good gaming to be had here.
Now WWII would the obvious choice to game some of these situations. But, while I have German forces for both Bolt Action and Flames of War, I don’t have any Russians and – I hope you’re sitting down – I don’t actually need a new project just now. But, I do have lots of 40K, so the seeds of the Kessel Run were sown.
My vision is a series of games that will capture some of the flavour of pocket-warfare. The reality of getting my gaming buddies together gives a useful constraint to keep things focused and contained. I’ve settled on two linked games that will be able to be played in a day, creating a mini campaign inspired by a trapped army attempting to breakout or be annihilated.
Game one: Breakout. Can the trapped forces succeed in escaping?
Game two will be either Rearguard, as those forces still in the pocket seek to exploit the gap and return to their lines, or Last Stand as the trapped forces make peace with their gods and seek to exact a terrible price for their death.
I’ve got some thoughts for each of these missions. I will post these separately. Ultimately I hope to have some game reports too.
See you on the battlefields.