This game was run by me at a convention for the two players who had
previously not played Red Actions. I wanted the
game to be fairly small and simple, yet have a bit of flavour to it,
rather than just a simple slug-fest. Also, by making the game lop-sided
I could ensure that it would be played to a conclusion, rather than
just drag on into the night.
This was given to both sides, and left for
any passers-by to read as well. The "research" is straight from
With the defeat of the
White armies almost complete at the start of 1920, Soviet Russia
increased its forces facing Poland. That front had been largely a
side issue for Lenin ever since Piłsudski
had informed him that he would restrain his troops until the defeat
of the Whites.
With the Soviets
sending hundreds of thousands of extra troops towards them, the Poles
realised that they needed every soldier they could get. One volunteer
to their ranks was Stanisław Bułak-Bałachowicz (or, in the
Russian Stanislav Bulak-Balakovich), a man with a chequered past
fighting the Soviets with the Estonians and White
“North-Western Army”. He brought with him a motley
mixture of men, mostly of
Russian or Belorussian origins, and was permitted to recruit in areas
captured by the Poles. The Bułak-Bałachowicz Operational Group grew to
nearly a division, but always remained a
somewhat cut-throat outfit.
Poles sent them to the Pripet marshes area, where their irregular
style was more useful. In June 1920 they were sent to the
area, just on the Belarussian side of the modern Belarus-Ukraine
border, but then the front line.
June 30 Bułak-Bałachowicz broke through the enemy lines and
attacked the village of Slovechno (Sławeczno in Polish)
the supply depot of the Soviet 2nd Rifle Brigade was stationed. That
is the action being recreated here.
A 1960's era map of Slovechno,
right on the Ukrainian border (in pink)
Well, you’re not a Pole for a start, though you wear their
Actually your men are almost all Russians or Belarussians. Most of them
are ex-Red Army deserters or other men displaced by the war.
Discipline is not your strong point, so the following rules apply for
– You must lead in person, to set a good example, though not
necessarily in the front line. This can be on horse back or foot.
– Any of your units not inside your command radius (12" if
visible, 4" otherwise) will exhibit “Mob” like
due to looting every time they:
a) enter a new building;
b) rout an enemy unit in hand-to-hand; or
c) contact an enemy supply wagon.
Looting means that on a d6 = 1 or 2 at the start of their action
segment that they will refuse to do anything except defend themselves.
This will continue until they throw a d6 = 3+.
You are about to attack the village of Slovechno, which contains a Red
Army supply base. Your aims are to:
a) capture as many supplies as possible;
b) capture any high ranking enemy
c) capture the village itself.
Destroying enemy units is not a priority.
The attack must be conducted as quickly as possible, as reinforcements
from surrounding areas can be expected. You hope that the attack is a
The terrain is flat. You will be exiting from the woods to the west of
the village, and can deploy anywhere along that edge, except that your
artillery must be deployed within 6" of the road.
Any large area of open ground not worked as fields may be boggy: you
cannot determine this without entering it.
All buildings count as hard cover.
Three cavalry squadrons, each of 4 bases. One of these may be
designated as your bodyguard unit, and it ignores the looting rule
above. Your cavalry is far superior to the enemy cavaly in hand-to-hand
Two infantry battalions, each of three companies, each of 4 bases. Each
battalion also has an MG base. Your infantry is superior to the enemy.
Two horse artillery guns. You have 8 rounds of artillery supply for
each (unless you capture some enemy 3" shells).
(Total = approximately
points using my lists.)
You command the Soviet 2nd
Infantry Brigade. Nothing special in terms of quality. You are under a
surprise attack by Poles, approaching from the west. Your pickets have
raised the alarm and units have rushed to defend the town.
You must, in order of priority:
a) escape capture, and prevent secret
b) prevent the enemy from capturing or
c) prevent the enemy from capturing or
your armoured train;
d) defend the village;
e) destroy the enemy units.
The terrain is flat. Any large area of open ground not worked as fields
may be boggy: this will be determined by the umpire at the start of the
game (and kept from the enemy).
All buildings count as hard cover.
You must designate (secretly) one building as your HQ and an area in or
around the village as the supply dump.
All your units will start in the village, hidden from enemy sight.
– Your units suffer –1 to all morale throws until
an enemy unit suffer a serious reverse.
– It will take 3 moves for your staff to destroy all secret
– It will take d6 + 2 moves for each supply wagon to be
for movement. There are six.
– It will take d6 + 4 moves for the train to bring sufficient
steam up to be able to move.
A cavalry squadron of 3 bases. This is inferior to the enemy
A regular infantry battalion of three companies, each of 5 bases, with
two attached MG bases.
A field gun battery of 2 guns. You have 2 rounds of artillery supply
for each gun until they can locate their supply wagon, which will occur
on a d6 = 6, whereupon you will have an additional 6 rounds per gun.
An improvised armoured train. It has a field gun carriage at the front
which fires at 22.5º to either side, and a MG carriage which
at up to 60º to the side. The other carriages carry essential
You may expect reinforcements, mainly infantry, to arrive from
surrounding villages within 8 moves. They may come from any direction
except the west.
(Total = approximately
points, plus the train, plus reinforcements.)
The table as seen from the Polish side: it is 1.8m deep by 2.4m wide
(6' by 8').
(The pictures are
size to fit all monitors – they will be larger and more
if saved to your computer.)
substantial area not
covered in fields was diced for. On a "1" it was boggy: though only the
Soviets knew this at the start of the game.
how it went
The Soviets have absolutely no
chance of holding off the attackers, though this depends a bit on how
suited the village is for defence. I found straggling the houses out a
bit increased the tactical options for both players. The Polish player
needs to be quite aggressive, or the game just relies on him using his
superior numbers. That was why I added a time element, by requiring him
to try and capture the supply wagons before they could leave.
However d6 + 2 moves for the wagons to get moving was too little. Even
if the Pole had been a bit more offensive and a bit luckier, he could
not have got around to prevent the wagons leaving in time. I think d6 +
6 would have been better.
The game played for the three hours or so I had planned, which wasn't
too bad considering that the players were complete newbies. I finished
it by a somewhat arbitrary arrival of Polish reinforcements to cover
their withdrawal from the village. That would have been about turn 12.
At the far right of the picture the Polish cavalry
are attempting to turn the town, to prevent the supplies leaving. The pink cards mark Soviet units not yet declared. Many of them are
dummies, to keep the Poles guessing. I find this method adds to the
realism of the game, as the attacker has to attack to locate the enemy
before engaging him, and also speeds the game up, since the defender
deliberately doesn't move or fire units early to keep the attacker in
the dark about his actual dispositions. The small black dots in the fields indicate whether they are boggy or
The view from the Soviet side. The transport vehicles can be seen
leaving down the road, and the armoured train has now been declared.