The Jaws of Victory: BTac’s Notes and Considerations

The Jaws of Victory, the battle of the Korsun-Cherkassy pocket: January/February 1944. Designed by Milt Janosky, is a historical simulation of the Soviet’s winter offensive in the Ukraine in the early months of 1944 that trapped the better part of two German corps with a classic pincer movement by two Soviet Armies – and the German Army’s desperate response to relieve their beleaguered comrades in the pocket.

I would like to start by thanking Milt Janosky, Designer/Creator of The Jaws of Victory for spending a few hours on Skype and Vassal walking through strategy, operations, and tactics as both the Germans and Soviets. The intent of this blog post is to share my notes from a general standpoint of the system, movement, combat, engineering, and supply, as well as planning considerations throughout the game. This is one post of many that I will be posting on this simulation.

The next topics I will write on will include; “how to handle the gaps around 7th and 47th Korps”, “Combat”, and “Soviet link up of 1st and 2nd UKR”.

 I would hope that the one take away from this document is that this simulation is fun, that there is a lot to consider, and those considerations make the simulation’s replay value huge. Feedback is always welcomed so feel free to email your thoughts, or post comments below.

General Considerations, Rules/Thoughts, and initial Strategies 

  • The Map
    • This battle is focused in Ukraine, the territory of Korsun-Cherkassy consists of rolling farmland, streams, creeks, and rivers in this sector. Primary roads run headlong into villages and towns that are strategic to both sides and force battles around these locations prior to encirclement. As you review the map, consider the terrain your forces will move, attack, and defend 
    • The defensive aspect of this terrain is poor, so choose your defensive position/timing in advance. Rivers, Hills, Villages, Towns, and Streams will help you reinforce your defenses (Temporarily)
  • Considerations – West side of the map (Leaving this brief, pointing out major considerations to start with)
    • As the Germans:
      • Keep the 88th South of the Ross River as long as you can to keep the Soviets held – try to keep the defensive axis around Tarascha and Medvin for 2-3 turns.
      • Keep your Armor ready for reaction
      • Avoid large gaps
      • Dictate how the pocket will form
      • Bring your construction engineers up and utilize them when you can
    • As the Soviets:
      • You have multiple areas to attack, the historical route for me was the most appealing, people try variations on the attacks and opportunities, again, this is all circumventing around the dice and your luck in pushing the line and finding a hole
      • Attack with all you got first 2 turns and see where you end up, plan ahead a couple turns and decide from there the next 2-3 turns you want to be; ideally East-Northeast to cut off the German supplies and get into Korsun
      • After attacks succeed (or don’t) be flexible if necessary and adjust your next phases of attack
      • Soviet 5th Mechanized will be taken out of the game starting GT4, by GT8 they will return so utilize them before then!
  • Considerations – East side of the Map (Same)
    • As the Germans:
      • Capture K-Town, fast. Use 11th Panzer and 14th Panzer to do the job. 
      • Keep in mind that if you push hard north with your armor (effectively) and dice-roll-willing, 3rd Pz A and 47 Korps hold fast along the defensive live, you may have a chance to slow the encirclement and close width of the ring, thus stretching thin the Soviets
      • Bottlenecking the Soviets and keeping them away from the North is vital, it will eventually happen, try your best to keep it that way
      • P-Town is vital too, hold it as long as you can, the Soviets are going to 
      • Hold out as long as you can, make it difficult for the Soviets
    • As the Soviets:
      • Be cautious of the 5.SS Armor north of K-Town, you’re going to have a lot of factors to compete against
      • Be sure to move your infantry up and across the line/causeway, get your armor rolling fast toward Shpola!
      • You have heavy barrage artillery to support your attacks, identify your opportunities and use them to maximize your opening combats.
      • Try to take as much area as you can, as quickly as you can, Shpola is vital, the rail terminal there supports a large swath of area in the East, cut them off
  • The Pocket
    • Consider two types of principals mentioned in MJ’s Strategy guide, Big, and Small pockets
      • Bigger Pocket: Escape is easier, and you will spread the Germans thin
      • Small Pocket: Easier to manage as Germans, however, risk to rescue your beleaguered comrades will become higher. Thus making escape more difficult.
      • Do not lose Korsun before breakout
  • Both Armies throughout the game are nearly matched due to the attrition of prior operations. Meaning, you will be facing a near equal opponent. Soviet strength is on the mend, and the Germans are currently dealing with replacement and resupply issues of their own which are almost beyond repairable in terms of armor and manpower. 
  • Weather is historically reflected via the trt and die rolls which are modified as days/turns move on. This causes changes in your operational tempo which are realistic to the actual events that had occurred. As well, air visibility is vital to the outcomes of the simulation
  • German General Considerations
    • Time your withdrawals, these phased withdrawals toward Korsun must be timed, and will be vital to you holding out. Trying to dictate where the pocket will be. Remember, the further North the pocket resides, the wider the gap to be relieved.
    • Use your assault engineers wisely, you need them in vital hexes that are prone to penetration

Movement

  • [9.6] Reserve Movement: Less 1mp for infantry, and less 2mp for Armor/mech/at
  • [9.8] German Night Withdrawal: Don’t forget to do use this to get your armor ready for next turn
  • [9.9.2] One Hex Movement is vital in many circumstances, remember, you can adjust your line very effectively in this manner 
  • Mud Turns – Make sure you review the second MP Cost Column, don’t forget this.
  • [9.11] German Armor interception: Don’t forget you have the chance to take an optional shot at Armor that is moving a 2nd hex adjacent to German armor  

Combat

  • Important: [12.12.1] Anti/Armor: For some reason this has been trickery for me that causes my brain to hurt when looking at overall combat with armor/anti-armor
    • This only happens with ATTACKING armor units in the combat stage
    •  Attacking players adds the number of WHITE ASV dots on the Attacking Armor Unit(s) – (Note: Keyword, Unit(s) – meaning all attacking units) 
      • Resolution: IF the number on the ATTACKERS combat die roll is less than OR equal to the number, the Defending armor unit OR anti-armor unit with the Greatest number of total ASV dots must take a step-loss. 
    • Defending players determine the largest number of WHITE and BLACK dots on a SINGLE defending Armor/Anti-Armor, or Infantry unit.
      • Resolution: IF the number on the DEFENDERS combat die from the combat die roll is less than or equal to the the result, an ATTACKING Armor unit with the greatest number of white dots MUST take a Step Loss
    • Note:
  1. Only Attacking Armor units are subject to Armor/Anti-Armor combat
  2. If combat involves only friendly and enemy Armor/Anti-armor units, then do not apply any after or defender step-loss result from the CRT. Apply only Disorganized, Retreat, and Breakthrough results.
  3. Armor dots are determined prior to combat resolution
  • Consider soak off attacks along the lines to maximize your attacks along the front during the opening game turns
  • ZoCs and ZoIs – remember, they can be sticky! Units less than 3 Steps do not project a ZoC
  • ZoC rules for combat – any combat that has enemy hexes adjacent to the attacking unit(s) that are not declared for combat, are halved 
  • As the Germans
    • Time your retreats, crawl back, then walk, and prepare to run when needed. The terrain is imperative 
  • As the Soviets
    • You have a lot of hitting power on both sides of the map, remember, attack, attack, attack! All out attacks are important, find your exploitation’s through these attacks
    • Leverage your infantry and your artillery to its fullest capacity at the start of the game, this is imperative to increase odds to its fullest extent
    • As the game develops artillery becomes costly, you are anchored, so use it wisely.
  • Plan 2-3 turns ahead, and remember to adjust where opportunities arise in your advance, or retreat. Timing is everything.

Engineering (and Bridges)

  • Germans, do not forget to blow bridges during enemy Movement, Combat, Advance after Combat, and Engineering [15.2.1]
  • Engineering – it costs 1SP for construction of River Bridges and you have to be within 3 hexes to do this, as well as own the hex(es) [15.2.2]
  • Construction and Engineers are vital, keep them in range of areas that need IP construction, and mining

Supply

  • Artillery resupply: out of ammo is +1 SP to remove, and 1 SP to flip.
  • Germans, if you have a clear path to supply sources, you are in-supply
  • Supply will start to dwindle quickly, be prepared to lose momentum in certain areas (both sides), as you 
  • German Air Supply is vital to these operations, as weather degrades, so does your supply
  • Germans, do not forget the Korsun rule to convert Artillery units for RP/Infantry

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