During the summer of 1941, the forces of German Army Group North appeared to be advancing irresistibly toward Leningrad, the second largest city in the Soviet Union, and the birthplace of the Communist revolution. But Leningrad was a long way from the German border, and the closer the Germans got to it, the more difficulties they encountered with terrain, their own lengthening supply lines, and stiffening Soviet resistance.
In mid-July, approximately 100 miles south of Leningrad at Soltsy, a surprisingly strong Soviet force of about six divisions struck the German armored spearhead and pushed it back. The 8th Panzer Division did not suffer the catastrophic losses claimed by the Soviets, but the attack did cause the Germans in this sector to halt for three crucial weeks before resuming their drive on Leningrad.
In August the Soviets launched another counteroffensive, this time with ten divisions, against the German flank south of Staraya Russa. Just as the German offensive against Leningrad renewed, the Germans diverted critical motorized reserves to deal with the threat, winning a strategically barren victory far from their true objective. When the Germans did reach Leningrad, they lacked the strength to break into the city itself.
The battles of Soltsy and Staraya Russa may well have saved Leningrad.
Roads to Leningrad is a package consisting of two separate operational level games on WW II --the Battle of Soltsy and the Battle of Staraya Russa. .Both games take place on the road to Leningrad during July and August 1941 and both simulate the large-scale Soviet counterattacks that the Germans encountered. Roads to Leningrad includes an exciting formation activation system to reflect period warfare conditions in Russia. As with earlier games of this series, mechanics feature supply restrictions, fluid ZOC, combat refusal, defender reaction movement, combat coordination, unit efficiency comparison, ranged artillery, retreat through enemy ZOC, exploitation movement, and fortifications. Air units have a variety of missions and must coordinate with ground action. Players must also choose between Mobile and Assault combat results tables.
As always with the Operational Series, the research is superb. The game maps, at a scale of 2.0 km per hex were developed from a variety of Soviet maps. Time scale is half a day per turn. Most units are at battalion level scale although a number of units are shown at company level. This means you will find a wide variety of unit types including: armored, motorized, 88mm guns, artillery, HQs for both sides, rocket units, road construction troops, armored cars, motorcyclists, even a bicycle unit, and of course a variety of aircraft.
#1. The Battle of Soltsy: Manstein’s LVI (Panzer) Corps was assigned the road through Soltsy and was told to advance rapidly east to Novgorod and then north to cut Leningrad off from the rest of Russia. Manstein was on such a quick and tight schedule, he had no time to cover his flanks - a fact local Soviet commanders quickly exploited.
#2. Counter-Blow at Soltsy: Led by the powerful and highly decorated 70th Rifle Division, the Soviets quickly surrounded German armor at Soltsy, stopped German motorized infantry in the swamps to the north, and raided German supply columns to the German rear. Von Manstein, unflappable in a crisis, organized a counterattack to allow the 8th Panzer to escape. The German 8th Panzer Division permanently lost about 30 tanks (with many others damaged) and retreated 25 miles. It was a Soviet victory that might have saved Leningrad.
#3. Battle of Staraya Russa: In early August, the Soviet High Command prepared a surprise counter-offensive south of Lake Ilmen to relieve pressure on the increasingly hard-pressed armies defending Leningrad. Within two days, Soviet mechanized units had penetrated 35 miles and threatened to surround German X Corps. The Germans will clearly need reinforcements; can they hold on until Manstein's motorized troops arrive-
#4. Manstein Attacks: To solve the deepening crisis at Staraya Russa, the German command called on Manstein's LVI Corps. On the 19th he struck, crushing the Soviet flank division in one day. In three days, he surrounded Soviet 34th Army, forced most of it to surrender, and then pushed on east. German play in this scenario depends on the mobility and timing of Manstein's troops. The Soviet player knows he is about to be trapped but maybe one more push would break the German infantry to the north.
Contents: Three sheets 5/8 inch counters (528 total), Rule Book, One 22"x34" Mapsheet (front & back), 5 Player Aid cards, Play Book, 1 ten-sided die. Box size approximately 30 x 23 x 4cm
Ages: 12 & up
Author: Vance Von Borries
Publisher: GMT Games
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