MEMOIR 44 SCENARIO 101: BREAKOUT AT LISYANKA (February 16, 1944 – February 17, 1944)
Memoir 44 is a tactical WWII game from Days of Wonder that successfully combines elements of both miniatures and board games. The game was designed by Richard Borg and uses his card-driven system of issuing orders to units on the board Featured in other games like Command and Colours, Battlecry and Battlelore). In 2010, DOW also launched an on-line version of Memoir 44 that mimics the board game perfectly.
Over the next few weeks I will provide you with my experience in playing Memoir 44 scenarios both at the tabletop and on-line, with my rating of the scenario and a few tips for play for both Axis and Allied forces. This week’s feature is the “Breakout at Lisyanka” scenario.
Breakout at Lisyanka
Victory Conditions: 7 medals
(Special Rules: engineers, frozen rivers, ravines)
In January, 1944 a large pocket of 6 German divisions with over 56,000 troops had been cut-off by the Soviet Army’s 1st and 2nd Ukrainian Front troops. For days the Russians continued the attack in an attempt to split up the pocket and destroy the German forces. Finally, on February 16th, the German forces made a bid for freedom and this scenario simulates an attempt by elements of the 72d Division and 5th Panzer Division to break through the Russian lines and escape across the frozen Gniloy Tickich River.
You have two strong points; – the line of hills across the middle of the board and a group of massed armour positioned behind the village of Dzhurzhentsy. You need to hold that central line where your infantry is entrenched. Failure to do so will allow the German player to exit units across the river. Tanks, exited in this way score 1 medal but infantry scores 2 medals. If your opponent is able to punch a hole in the centre and is lucky enough to draw a few infantry assault cards, you will be looking at a quick defeat; the Germans will take out a few units to force the hole and then finish the game by scoring medals as their units cross the frozen river.
As soon as you are able, move the armoured units based at Dzhurzhentsy to the centre, taking up positions to support your infantry in the hills from the inevitable armour attack that will take place there. You may want to base one on the far left forest in the centre in case the lone German armour unit on your left flank tries to break out through the clear terrain between Dzhurzhentsy and the hills. The armoured and infantry units in the village on your right flank are also useful.
You have two artillery units on the board so use them effectively to harry German units that advance in the centre to try and punch a hole through the hills. Where possible target their infantry as they are worth two medals if the cross the river. Also, if the German player does not move his units on your left flank early in the game, your artillery in Dzhurzhentsy can play havoc with them. You will be rolling 2 dice and retreat flags will score a hit.
In addition, you have some men on the frontline holed up in a ravine (centre left) and a forest (centre right). Engage the enemy with these put be prepared to pull them back as soon as they take damage; they are far more effective as reinforcements for your defenders on the hills.
If you can organise the defence of the centre quickly enough you should be able to break up the German Armour that threatens your centre with your infantry and if they start taking too much damage, you can send in your tanks to mop up and score the required seven medals.
Although getting your troops to cross the river can be a strategy, you are reliant on drawing cards that will allow you to continue to push your centre infantry forward (with the support of your armour). If you manage to score cards like “Infantry Assault” and “Move Out” early enough then definitely try and punch a hole in the Russian line that is defending the central line of hills. A big threat to this is the mass of Russian armour on your right flank, hiding behind Dzhurzhentsy.
If you opt to make a push for the river you need to make sure you don’t sacrifice your tanks taking the hills as they will be needed to match the Russian tanks when they decide to commit to the battle. You only have one standard tank unit on the right, so consider pulling one of your elite tank from the centre to the right to help out.
I have won this scenario several times by sending the German Infantry in Kormarovka forward to seize the nearby woods and the infantry in Khilki to take the ravine. From there, I have fought a long range war with infantry and tanks, chipping away at the units on the central hills. This usually ends with the Russians sufficiently weakened so that they are susceptible to an assault that will overrun their defensive position. If this occurs, and the Russian tanks have not already been committed, you will most likely force the Russian player’s hand, so make sure you have cards that will allow you to send your tanks in (an “Armour Assault” card is your best friend). Even when using this more defensive style of play, always be mindful of any easy medals you can obtain by crossing the river.
So, if you do take the hills and then mange to draw an “Infantry Assault” or “Behind Enemy Lines” card, use them to move infantry off the board. Alternatively try and use the forest behind the hills to give cover to your infantry from any prowling Russian armour before making a dash to the river (which is only two hexes from the forests).
Your biggest battle will probably be fought in the centre both on the hills and in the plain in front of the river. As stated, if you have taken the hills and your armour relatively intact at this stage you will have a good chance of winning the day. Don’t commit your infantry to the plains if the Russian has a strong armour presence – you may get a few god hits in but the tanks can carve you up quickly in the open. Use the defensive bonuses of the hills and forests instead and take the Russian tanks on with your own armour, until such a time that its safe for infantry to venture forward.
Scenario Rating: Three out of five stars