Winter is Coming – offside from Bernie
Winter is Coming was a committee game run by Mukul at the September 2015 Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group (CLWG) meeting about the siege of Leningrad. Here is Bernie’s offside report.
Winter is Coming by Mukul Patel
This was Mukul’s committee game on the approaching horror that was about to befall Leningrad in the late summer of 1941. Winter is Coming was a game with many interesting aspects:
Three of the most appalling Soviet leaders were present: Andrei Zhdanov (most famous for his opposition to the music of Shostakovich but at this time Leningrad party boss), Klementi Voroshilov (the civil war general who if he had any ability was by 1941 well past his prime) and the upcoming Georgii Malenkov (creature of Beria and used as leader in numerous commissions to investigate failings in others). I played Malenkov in I hope a despicable way as possible.
How do you organise a city for defence when you operate in a belief system that no siege will take place and the enemy will be easily repulsed?
How do you use the “spets” (specialists) who actually know how things work. In this case we had Rob (industry), John (NKVD – yep specialists in their own grim way), Nick (Navy) Jon (Agitprop). They have skills and ability but had to use them carefully within their remit.
We also had Neil as Popkov, the Mayor of the city (“What plan” being his watchword) and to back us all up Dave as “the Boss” Stalin.
Mukul’s design was based on a large map of the western Soviet Union with the Germans (sorry Nazi vipers) off map. We moved to a group discussion, decision making element and resolution. There was a lot for Mukul to do (perhaps too much for 1 person). The tempo of Germans being very far away to a mere river line away in a couple of decision-making rounds. Discussing evacuation of children, relocation of factories, how much military production to be sent to Moscow, where to allocate locally produced resources. To show popular support had a simple 1-10 track which was modified by news from the front and our actions.
Much ink has been spilt (and blood) on the fate of the worker volunteers who were used to create a number of Red Guard Divisions. Think WWI Pals battalions, but unlike the Accrington Pals who had least had half a year of poor training before being destroyed on the Somme, these divisions had days of training, little heavy kit and thrown into the maelstrom and were rapidly destroyed. I think we created 50,000 worth of these volunteers, many party members and more use in the factories and if properly absorbed could have provided reliable NCO cadres in the Red Army.
As befits survivor of the purges we hung on every word of Stalin as a means of guiding our actions. We were all pleased that he mentioned “setbacks” as we had a goodly number of them!
Hope Mukul revisits Winter is Coming as he has a cracking game