This 48 page book, available as a PDF or an e-book, is a campaign supplement written by Chris Stoesen for the Chain of Command World War II Platoon level rules from Too Fat Lardies. It is worth noting that this supplement is not a complete game in itself, and you will need both a copy of the main Chain of Command Rules and the At The Sharp End campaign rules in order to play, along with a copy of the Big Chain of Command rules.
This book is actually two campaigns in one, as it follows the fortunes of the German 57th Division and 101st Light Division as they advanced on the Russian city of Kharkov in October 1941.
The Soviets were attempting to evacuate the city ahead of the German advance, and a rear-guard consisting of the Soviet 216th Rifle Division was tasked with holding the German forces until the evacuation was complete.
The supplement starts with a 6 page introduction to the battle, which gives the background and details events between the 20th – 25th October 1941.
The campaign actually consists of two ladders – one for the 101st Light Division and another for the 57th Infantry Division – each of these campaigns has 6 rungs.
German forces for the campaign include a Light Infantry Rifle Platoon and a STuG Batterie, which consists to STuG IIIs and SdKfz 250 Half-tracks. (With the potential of using some captured T-34s).
Soviet troops include Infantry, Motorised Infantry and Light and Medium Armoured Platoons. The Soviet Player also gets to use a rather unusual armoured vehicle in the KHTZ-16 Self-Propelled Gun – a 45mm Anti-tank gun on a tractor chassis.
One thing that is a little different is that Chris has chosen to make support list choices potentially more difficult to come by, by defining where the support for your forces are coming from: Company, Battalion, Regiment, Brigade/Division or Outside. As you may imagine, supporting units from Company assets are somewhat easier to obtain than those from Regiment or Division. This adds an extra kink when selecting your support choices.
The book contains 12 scenarios for the campaign – and provide details of: background to the scenario, amendments to the Patrol Phase Deployment, support choices for German and Soviet forces and Terrain
I do have a couple of little niggles with the supplement:
First off, the scenario maps are all presented using period aerial photographs, which are in black and white. Whilst these look great from a presentation and ‘period feel’ point-of-view, I did find myself wondering on more than one occasion ‘what the hell was I actually looking at’ – especially as a couple of the photographs are blown up quite large and the resolution has suffered quite dramatically. It’s not all bad – some are definitely far worse than others.
However, for the sake of clarity, I believe a drawn picture of the table (or even a photograph of the actual gaming table) would have been much better.
Also, whilst I known the major aim of the Soviet player was to hold the German advance up for as long as possible, there don’t actually appear to be any victory conditions in the supplement – you may well have to refer back to the At The Sharp End campaign rules for further advice on this.
In conclusion, this book contains a lot of detail on the Battle of Kharkov – Chris has obviously done his research on this, and the results are presented in an accessible and readable manner. This supplement looks to provide gamers with enough content to play for two or three months – that’s a great deal of entertainment for the cost, so this book is well worth it.
Chris provided me with a copy of this supplement for review purposes