Warsaw 1920 was a higher level multiplayer wargame of the defence of Poland’s capital. It included Operational Level command (Bob and John with maps and messages downstairs) and tactical resolution (6 players with toy soldiers on a big table upstairs) …
Ian Drury and Richard Brooks umpired and were kept busy all day.
I took the role of Franciszek Latinik in command of Polish 1st Army, tasked with holding Warsaw and somehow tying the Russians down on the Narew/Bug line so that Nigel (as Sikorsky/5th Army) could counter attack round their Western flank.
My Eastern flank was secured by Alex (Roja/2nd Army).
The game started with map moves on a pin board in headquarters until active umpiring identified that formations were hitting contact ranges – and then, one by one, we were called up to the tactical level and started putting toys out.
The line of the Narew/Bug could only be crossed by marked bridges or in the BUA squares – and although most of the Russians threatening the sector were the other side of the line, there was a weak point that I had to keep control of, stretching me forward.
These three bridges were key in stemming the flow across the Narew (as although there are plenty of the lighter blue rivers, they are not going to hold the enemy up).
(you can see how Warsaw is defended to the north by the Narew and Bug rivers … the game map shows how this requires me to hold the three bridges – and the gap between my flags which shows that I don’t )
Once the game goes tactical, it is very hard to plug these command gaps and I never did manage to concentrate the troops defending my sector.
Indeed, the movements that called me to the table were precisely against this sector, as occasional over flights confirm … 1st Army is in a lot of trouble.
My game quickly degenerated into a dogfight for this sector with a seemingly endless flood of Russians.
Two things saved me … the action in the game is card driven and the Russians stall on some cards (although I couldn’t stop them, ‘friction’ could) … and there was no threat directly from the North (so as Roja’s North Eastern defence collapsed back into the City’s entrenchments, it freed me to feed my reserve units in North West of the City to bottle the enemy up on his bridgeheads). Nice one, Alex!
(the blast markers show where the Russians have burst through the centre of my sector defence – but you can see a line of 3 brigades who have come out of Warsaw trying to drive them back to the bridges)
This is pretty much how the game ended … we had planned another day’s action (in which an Eastern counter attack would match our Western encirclement, so trapping Tukhachevsy’s armies) but the pace at which we completed the 2 hr turns was never quite brisk enough to take us to the final day.
We played enough to decide the the Poles had held Warsaw but not enough to see if our plan to win the Vistula campaign would be decisive.
I think, as a muliplayer game bridging the Operational to Tactical divide, this game would have worked perfectly had we all been familiar enough to churn through the turns quick enough – as it was, some players (me included) needed a little too much Umpire engagement and so we were left just short of a conclusion when we needed to debrief.
But it was clear enough what would have been achieved had we been as adept at the beginning as we were at the end (isn’t that so often the case …?) ..
Nevertheless, this game ticked a lot of boxes and I appreciate all the work that went into staging it.
As a biographical note, Latinik was one of the few survivors from this war, most of the officers on both sides falling to the grim policies of either Stalin or Hitler. RIP. I hope we honour them by remembering their part in the history of their countries.