February 2nd, 1943 was a significant day. Field Marshall Paulus surrendered the German 6th Army in the ruins of Stalingrad and Stalin launched Operation Star and Gallop, 1,000 km's to the west. This latest Soviet operation had a much more ambitious goal than those that preceded it – the complete destruction of German forces in Southern Russia and the Ukraine.
Launched from the march, Voronezh & South Western Front's threw no less than 6 armies and 11 tank corps at a German line that was only just reforming after the constant retreats of the prior three months. Despite the arrival of the elite Gross Deutschland and three SS Divisions from the West, the German position was dire with a 40km gap in the line between Izyum and Slavyansk. Through this gap was pushed 1st Guards Army and the 4 tank corps of Lt General Popov's Mobile Group with orders to exploit into the rear of 1st & 4th Panzer Army's and ultimately cut their lines of communication.
With the capture of Kharkov by Voronezh Front and 25th Tank Corp approaching the critical Dnepr River crossings, the Soviet Stavka thought that finally the decisive moment had come. For German Field Marshall Manstein, it was all a calculated gamble - hold tough on the shoulders and allow the Soviets to punch into thin air and then as the Soviet forces over-extended, launch a counter offensive – the Backhand Blow.
So successful was Manstein's offensive that the Soviets were driven back beyond their starting lines and the front was in hiatus for three months till Kursk. Join the swirling battles in the Ukraine from the desperate defense at Kharkov to the open steppes in the Donbas as the two protagonists fought in deep snow and mud. Can you deliver the death blow to Germany or will you celebrate the last victory in Russia?
Panzer Campaigns: Kharkov '43 covers the three major offensives during the period from late January through mid March 1943:
- The Soviet Offensive: The Star & Gallop Operations - Feb 2nd to Feb 19th
- Manstein's Backhand blow against the South Western Front - Feb 20th to Mar 5th
- The German recapture of Kharkov and the shattering of the Voronezh Front - Mar 6th to Mar 18th
There are 30 scenarios in total including eight campaigns, each Explicit Supply capable:
- Operation Star – 149 turns
- Operation Gallop – 179 turns
- The Initial Soviet Offensive – Operation Star & Gallop - 179 turns
- Drive on Belgorod – Golikov's Right Hook - 57 turns
- Manstein's Backhand Blow - The German Riposte – 69 turns
- Stemming the Flow - Vatutins Desperation – 99 turns
- Manstein Pushes North - The Road to Kursk – 129 turns
- Kharkov Envelopment – Disaster on the Donets - 80 turns
Additional scenarios ranging in length from 9 to 80 turns, averaging 25 turns, will provide players with plenty of challenges and battles of variable length and size.
Game features include:
- Game scale is 1 hex = 1 km, 1 turn = 2 hours, with battalion and company size units.
- 30 Scenarios – covering all sizes, all taking part in a winter landscape.
- The Master Map covers 95000 hexes expanding well to the north the area covered by the previous (2000) Panzer Campaigns: Kharkov '42.
- An Order of Battle with over 3000 units from two Soviet Fronts and two German Army Groups including units from German, SS-German, Hungarian and Italian Divisions as well as Guards and regular Russian Army units.
- Order-of-Battle and Scenario Editors which allow players to customize the game.
- Sub-map feature allows the main map to be "chopped" up into smaller segments for custom scenario creation.
- All new images for unit art on both sides, including guns and vehicles.
- Exceptional Designer notes with historical write-up.
Kharkov '43 provides multiple play options including play against the computer AI, Play by E-mail (PBEM), LAN & Internet "live" play, and two player hotseat.
Changes in the Panzer Campaigns series new to Kharkov '43:
- Added new Bunker and Mine Prob Parameter Data Values and allowing non-bridge engineer units to construct Bunkers.
- Change so that Interdiction attacks have twice the chance of Disruption and can cause the loss of up to half the movement allowance in movement points.
- Added a range 1 hard target artillery fire modifier (see Users Manual under Firing).
- Added Optional Rule for delayed reporting of enemy Disruption.
- Change so that towed AT gun unit which changes to Travel Mode without expending any movement points prior to that change will not trigger enemy Opportunity Fire.
- Added Quality Fire Modifier Parameter Data Value which applies to quality A and B units.
Here are some files from the game:
- Campaign Notes (3 MB PDF file)
- Getting Started Help File (2 MB PDF file)
- Planning Map (7 MB JPG file)
- Scenario Design: David Freer (Lead), Eric Baker, and Phil Niven
- Project Coordinator: Glenn Saunders
- Original Order of Battle: Rick Bancroft
- Game Map: Dave "Blackie" Blackburn
- Playtesters: Panzergruppe Saunders
System RequirementsWindows XP, Vista, 7, 8, or 10
Processor: 1 GHz
Disk Space: 1 GB
Memory: 1 GB
Kharkov '43 is available for sale at the John Tiller Software Store.