I played a reasonably quick game of Red Actions this afternoon.
Since I’m a lazy guy I haven’t painted the Russian Civil War figures for my battle. So I used Risk figures on a 3×2’ corkboard with green felt over it. The result was a gaudy array of blue, yellow, red (the communists of course), green and grey infantrymen and cannons. Of course I had to use my imagination. Red infantry were the communist regulars, yellow infantry was the Polish legion, and different coloured cannons were mortars and machine guns, and so forth. 3×2’ is much smaller than your normal Red Actions board, and a single risk figure much smaller than your normal base, so I simply changed all measurements from inches to centimetres, which worked very well. It also made my game small and portable: I could just lift the corkboard up and carry the game away!
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Poles, in many different time periods, probably because they were the valiant underdogs fighting for an admirable cause (a homeland) at great odds. So I decided to have a decent-sized Communist Russians versus Poles conflict from the Russo-Polish war which happened during the Russian Revolution. The communists were attacking a Polish-held village.
The Poles were a little light on infantry- they had two companies of regulars and a company of Polish Legionaries, with five machine gun detachments and a Renault tank! Plenty of heavy weapons to go round! The tank and the machine guns were deployed around the village while the regulars garrisoned the town and the Legionaries guarded the loose left flank.
The communists had four companies of Red regulars, a Cheka company (secret police), a Latvian company (quality troops), three machine guns, two mortars (for blowing up the buildings) and a Garford Putilov armoured car, to blast through enemy infantry.
The battle really centred on the duel between the Reds’ armoured car and the Poles’ Renault tank. Funnily enough, the armoured car actually fielded the heavier weapons- apparently Renault tanks had rather light guns and machine guns. The Reds also pushed most of their quality troops against the Polish legionaries on the left, since they were out in the open.
Despite being considerably outnumbered, the legionaries held out quite well. Unfortunately, the machine guns supporting their position were vulnerable to enemy small arms since they were just lying out in the open. So nearly all the Polish machine guns were routed by concentrated communist fire. A couple of platoons of Reds were killed on the left before a regular company from inside the village hit them in the flank and started to make real headway. The Latvians lost three commanding officers, one replacement after the other!
Unfortunately for my beloved Poles by now it was all over. Despite their heavier armament, armoured cars are quite vulnerable to close range machine gun fire. The Renault tank, feeling pretty impervious to mortar or armoured car fire, rushed forwards and although it caused a bit of pain among the vulnerable red infantry, a lucky mortar shot destroyed the tank (it needed to roll boxcars- and it did!). The loss of the tank and nearly all the machine guns pushed the Poles past their flight number, and the battle was over.
Red Actions games are always fun. The rules are fast and easy, especially if you don’t mind umpiring for a few borderline calls every now and then. It was a pity the game ended as it did however because I felt like the battle was just beginning. However, with only three infantry companies and one machine gun detachment left, the Poles would have been very hard-pressed to hold the Reds back, so it makes sense that they had to withdraw.
From a strategy perspective, the Reds sometimes wished that their armoured car had been facing the open Polish left, where the car could have sent the infantry routing away, but the real flaw lay in the Polish defence, which allowed vital and vulnerable machine guns to be mowed down in the open, instead of protecting them inside the village buildings. It was unlucky that they lost the tank as well.