Combat Mission: Barbarossa to Berlin After Action Review

By Scott Parrino 22 Jun 2003 0

Introduction

Early in December, Ciril suggested we play a PBEM game of CMBB. I accepted, and we discussed the parameters of the game in email. Ciril wanted to play the Allies, and let me choose the scenario, suggesting we try a player-made scenario, and providing me with some links to web sites which collect and even rate them.

The first one I looked at was the Combat Mission Scenario Depot, which offers a great deal of information on each scenario, including the scenarios that come included with the game, by way of a database which players can add their scenarios and comments to. Being a realism fanatic, my main gripes with most CM scenarios are the short time limits and close starting positions, which guarantee intense action at the expense of room to maneuver and time to act with historical caution. Skimming for scenarios which were given a high rating for PBEM play and a relatively long turn length, I selected "Breakout from Borisov", a scenario 40+ turn scenario based on a Squad Leader scenario whose title I vaguely remembered, but no details, from many years ago when I played that board game series. The two players who reviewed it as a PBEM scenario gave it a 9 and a 10 out of 10 rating for PBEM, and made it sound like it would be a very good scenario.

Having chosen a scenario right away, I didn't explore other scenario sites very much, but some others include:

The Scenario

"Breakout from Borisov" is a 1941 meeting engagement. Both the Germans and Soviets are attacking at the same time, with fairly large combined-arms forces. There are five victory locations spaced evenly about the map, but not in the large swamp covering the southwest sixth of the map. Because the map is a fairly literal translation from the Squad Leader isometric map boards, the landscape looks a bit unnatural when viewed as a whole, but the map details are quite well done, and it is much more believable from down at fighting level, and retains the careful design for an interesting tactical landscape.

The whole game map from above.

German Setup

The German forces must set up in the urban area of the map, where there is one objective. Two of the other four objective locations are directly ahead in a town and some buildings, and the remaining two are far off in some wooded hills on the Germans' distant right flank.
The German forces consist of:
* a platoon of three Panzer III H
* one Panzer IV E
* one Panzer 38T(E)
* one StuG IIIB
* one PSW 222
* one 251/10 halftrack with 37mm AT gun
* five 251/1 halftracks with MGs
* six trucks
* four tractors
* one 50mm AT gun
* two 20mm heavy AT rifles
* one engineer company
* about 2-3 companies of infantry
* four spotters of 105mm howitzer support

Being unsure of what the Soviet force strength and starting locations were, I decided to concentrate on trying to take the two objectives directly ahead, leaving strong forces in the town as reserve and to protect that objective from attack. I decided that the objectives in the wooded hills on the right flank were too distant to split my force to try to take all of the objectives, particularly because the 40-minute time limit would mean my forces would have to advance into hostile territory at an unsafe speed, inviting ambush. I also reasoned that a consolidated force might be more able to out-fight the Soviets, so that 2-3 objectives would be enough.

I anticipated that the Soviets would probably have forces starting on the map edge opposite from mine, and would be advancing on the same first objective that I was, in the town. Therefore I had my Panzer III platoon and the armored infantry advance cautiously towards that objective, while the other forces made a fortress of the heavy buildings of my starting area.

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