Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Operation Barbarossa Campaign

Young Master Hitler attempting to add Russia to his "list"

I think most wargamers in their heart of hearts would admit they enjoy making lists. 

Far more lists get written than are ever completed, but I think there's a certain "fantasy shopping" element to it. There is a pleasure to be had from building castles in the sky, even if we know in our heart of hearts that those castles will never be constructed.  It's a similar sort of impulse to the sort of day dreaming that a lot of folk indulge in - usually revolving around "What I would do if I won the lottery?"  Wargamers ambitions are usually more modest, coming to a few units of cavalry, a dozen tanks and so on, rather than jet skis and Ferrari's.

An excellent addition to the Memoir '44 stable

For those of you, who are familiar with Memoir '44 Campaign Book 1 - it includes a number of campaigns, a British and an American Normandy campaign (need some paratroopers before I can play that, better add them to the list) and a Barbarossa campaign which is epic in scale.  We've played the Barbarossa campaign before and it's a really slick piece of design.  Unlike the other campaigns in the book, it can be played by multiple players simultaneously. The German team takes control of Army Group Centre, Army Group North and Army Group South, while the Soviets command the resistance to the Fascist viper. The campaign is playable in a day and can, depending on the scoring, be resolved in three games or it can stretch out to five.  Unlike an Overlord game where the players are interacting all the time, in this campaign each player is playing their own one on one games, but is drawing on a shared pool of reinforcements and resources. 

It makes for a grand and epic days wargaming. However, when we played before, we'd only used the plastic figures provided in the board game.  I have a mind to assemble a rather more formidable show using 1/72 figures and tanks played on three six by four mats.  Du Gourmand has already booked a place on Stavka.

Now such an epic days wargaming requires some epic list making. I could muster the resources to play any individual game without any real difficulty, but running three of them simultaneously would stretch things.  With that in mind, I decided that I would compile a roster of what would be required to play each "stage" of the game. Once I'd done that, I could work out what the maximum number of troops required would be and plan accordingly.  Depending on how things run, in terms of wins or losses, the scenario that is played can vary - the scenario can be played at a different stage.   This complicates matters, but I think I've worked it out.

Should you wish to give this a try yourself, you'll find the troops count by stage below and with a final total at the end.

Stage One

Bug River - Raeinac - Brody

Soviets: Infantry 11  Armour 8 Artillery 1 Heavy Armour 7 Cavalry 2 Mechanised Infantry 2 Train 1
Germans: Infantry 6  Armour 12 Artillery 3 Panzer Grenadier 7 Brandenberger Commando 1

Stage Two

Smolensk - Pruzan - Ingermanland - Vel. Bridgehead- Russian Breakout - Pripet Marsh

Soviets: Infantry 26  Armour 5 Artillery 5 Heavy Armour 4 Cavalry 3 Sniper 3 Train 1
Germans: Infantry 13  Armour 17 Artillery 5 Heavy Armour 1 Panzer Grenadier 11

Stage Three

Kamenwo - Yelna Timoshenko Assault - Smolensk - Ivan Bridge - Luga Bridge - Lipovec - Kiev

Soviets: Infantry 29  Armour 10 Artillery 5 Heavy Armour 5 Cavalry 1 Sniper 2 Train 2
Germans: Infantry 20  Armour 13 Artillery 5 Heavy Armour 1 Engineer 1 Panzer Grenadier 9
Train 1

Stage Four

Gates of Moscow - Yelna Timoshenko Assault - Kamenwo - Baltic Islands - Starayarus - Tikhvin - Sea of Azov - Rostov

Soviets: Infantry 27 Armour 11  Artillery 7 Heavy Armour 4 Cavalry 3 Guards 3 Sniper 1
Germans: Infantry 25  Armour 18 Artillery 6 Heavy Armour 1 Panzer Grenadier 5 Fallschirmjaeger 3
Division Azul 1 Train 1

Stage Five

Breakout at Klin - Yelna Zhukovs Assault 

Soviets: Infantry 9  Armour 6 Artillery 2 
Germans: Infantry 7 Armour 2 Artillery 2 Heavy Armour 2 Engineer 2 Panzer Grenadier 1

Maximum Forces Required
Soviets: Infantry 29 Armour 11  Artillery 7 Heavy Armour 7 Cavalry 3 Guards 3 Sniper 3 Train 2 Mechanised Infantry 2

Germans: Infantry 25 Armour 18 Artillery 6 Heavy Armour 2 Engineer 2 Panzer Grenadier 11 Brandenberger Commando 1  Division Azul 1 Train 1

Thoughts & Conclusions

I'll be honest one of the reasons, I thought I'd tackle this project is the fact that it's a small self contained campaign that can be played in a day and that doesn't require an umpire and I was relatively sure I had sufficient troops. Having compiled the figure totals, it becomes clear that while I have a goodly selection of what is needed - there are still some gaps.

The Soviet armour is unusual, as I have quite a bit, but what is required is early war stuff like T-26s. What I reckon I do is use T-34 and KV-1 as Heavy Armour and everything else as standard armour units.  I have a couple of T-26 and T-70 light tanks, so I'm going to keep my eyes peeled on eBay for some of those cheap diecast armoured cars and tanks that were available at "The Works" recently.

The infantry and artillery are no problem, though I'm short the cavalry.  Fortunately John Cunningham set me up with a set of Revell Soviet Cossacks (which are probably a little later than Barbarossa, but they look well), which will do the trick. I'll add a truck to a standard infantry unit to show Mechanised Infantry and a Commissar figure to Guards units.

I have plenty of German infantry and will use a mixture of Panzer I, II, III and armoured cars to represent German armour. Heavy tanks will be represented by a pair of short barrelled Panzer IV from Armourfast.  I'll need to do an exact count, but there shouldn't be too much difficulty in finding some early war German armour to plug that gap.

Hanomags and other half tracks will mark Panzer Grenadiers. Engineers will be marked by a flamethrower armed figure, though I might add some clump foliage flame to make them stand out a bit as a 1/72 scale flamethrower can easily get lost in the mill of troops. The Division Azul will be some German troops with a Spanish national flash added in paint, though perhaps something more flamboyant to make them stand out might be in order.

Realistically, that isn't too bad of a list. We may be seeing Barbarossa before long.  


  1. That's a great idea to play the campaign with multiple players. I've got the book, but have never gotten through that entire campaign, although it does look good.

    1. It's not bad at all - but I've been looking for campaigns that you can play as a group. There's a breakthrough one in the second book I think that might also fit the bill.

  2. List making is one of the many pleasures of the hobby and you are off to a very good start on yours! Best wishes on your planning.

  3. Love the Doctor Seuss cartoon - never seen that before.

    1. He did a lot of Second World War stuff - mainly for propaganda purposes.

  4. Good luck, should be a real treat to the eyes when you get it sorted


  5. What a marvelous thing, a true wargame fest that will be memorable to you for years. I wish I had some 1/72 to send you - look forward to hearing more.

    1. Thanks norm - I think we've everything sorted.

      Hopefully it should be a good one.

  6. Conrad Kinch,

    Unfortunately I don't have a copy of the Scenario Book 1 as I came to Memoir '44 after it was OOP. What you are planning would be exactly what I want to do with my own much-planned-for-but-as-yet-unfinished Operation Barbarossa Campaign, and thanks to yopu I am now on the lookout for a downloadable copy of the book. (I found a copy of the Scenario Book on eBay ... for £192.00!)

    I will follow you progress with great interest.

    All the best,


  7. Conrad Kinch,

    I've managed to acquire a copy of this scenario book from 'Days of Wonder' as a PDF for about £10.00. From what I have seen, it is well worth the cost.

    All the best,


    1. Heartily recommended - Barbarossa is probably the best of the campaigns, but Normandy is good too.

  8. It all looks and sounds epic. . . and a great deal of fun too.

    Best Regards,


  9. I'm just noticing this now. I have a pair of Pegasus fast-build BT-5s that I could be convinced to finally paint and lend to you for an indeterminate period.

    1. On the strict condition that you take part in the festivities once we fix a date. Drop me a mail and we'll sort something out?

    2. I appear to have unintentionally misled you. They are in fact BT-7s.

      It's a shame you aren't doing this in 15mm, as Soviets were my first Early War list for FoW and I've got a full Battalion of T-26s with a company each of T-70, T-34 and KV-1s.

  10. Lurking, and following with great interest :-)

    Regards, Chris.

  11. Çonrad Kinch,

    Any idea when you are likely to write a report on how your campaign went?

    All the best,