ASL News by: Neal Ulen
September 1st, 1939 … the beginning of World War 2, a day that screams for an historical ASL module. We may very well see this, as not only is MMP currently playtesting the Marco Polo Bridge historical module for Starter Kit, they’re also playtesting Polish Eagle (tentative name) a module that captures the opening shots of the invasion of Poland. Polish Eagle aims to recreate the action of the Battle of Mokra, one of the first battles of WW2.
The Battle of Mokra
In the early morning of September 1st, 1939 Germany initiated the invasion of Poland. While the invasion itself was not a surprise, the speed of the ‘blitzkrieg’ was, even to the Poles who were prepared for the invasion as best as possible. It only took until later that morning for elements of German panzer and infantry divisions to reach the outskirts of Mokra, a village about 180 miles from the border. What they found was the well prepared and valiant Polish Volhynian Cavalry Brigade ready to fight for their homeland.
The battle in the forests and fields surrounding Mokra raged all through the day, with Panzer Is and IIs exchanging fire with outclassed Polish TKS tankettes. 37mm Bofors AT guns began taking out German armor, which quickly withdrew in lieu of shelling the area before assaulting again.
The arrival of Armored Train No. 53 on the tracks that ran through the area helped to temporarily bolster the Polish defense. Its 75mm guns and heavy machine guns opened up at close range on the advancing German armor columns composed of Panzer Is and IIs. Yes, Polish Eagle is likely to have an armor train involved in the action!
Throughout the day mounted Uhlan/Rifle Regiments fought the Germans in a series of engagements where they were usually dismounted from their horses, only to remount and shift to other positions. Despite all the conjecture, the Poles used their mounts for fast transport, not for charges against superior attackers (see below). As the day wore on dead horses began to litter the fields as elements of the Polish Volhynian Cavalry Brigade suffered heavy losses across all parts of the battlefield.
For decades wild speculation flowed, primarily due to German propaganda, that Polish ‘uhlans’ (light cavalry) had charged various panzer formations during the first days of the Blitzkrieg, including the Battle of Mokra. This has long since been debunked. Might Polish cavalry during the Battle of Mokra (and other engagements) have found themselves in desperate moments where they had no choice but to face down the barrel of a Panzer I or II while mounted? Quite possibly, but the notion that Polish cavalry would purposefully choose to charge mechanized units with lances/sabers held high is a bit ridiculous. The Poles faced an incredibly difficult task during the opening days of World War 2, but they were by no means foolish or irrational. They fought bravely and capably with what they had, and against what they faced.
Now, at it’s heart ASL is still a game. Will that keep you, as the squad leader, from possibly mounting an ‘against all odds’ cavalry charge aimed at the German armor in Polish Eagle? Certainly not. Because as ASL players we often do foolish things that fly in the face of history simply in the name of gamesmanship, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what makes Advanced Squad Leader an incredible system to play, and one that builds memorable narratives.
The Battle of Mokra was the first, but one of the last, Polish historical victories during World War 2. Conversely, it was the first defeat for the still untested German troops. Even though the Poles had repulsed the invaders around Mokra for the day, the defense was not long standing. The very next day the Blitzkrieg swept through Mokra, advancing further into the heartland of Poland.
But What About the Module?
Polish Eagle will be an historical campaign game for the full Advanced Squad Leader ruleset (sorry Starter Kit players, see Marco Polo Bridge for some SK love).
The subject matter may be a bit hit or miss with some players, as it will clearly involve early war OBs, including such things as: cavalry, motorcycles, possibly bicycles, ATRs, light tanks, tankettes, etc. Don’t expect many ‘big toys’ in this HASL module, except for inclusion of the Armored Train No. 53 and all the SSRs that will be needed to play it. Playing with a giant armored train sporting lots of guns might be worth the price of admission alone!
Just like the recent SK module I profiled, information is still sketchy other than Polish Eagle is in some state of playtesting. We know the subject matter (refer to above if you’ve skipped down), we know the time frame, and we can guess at the approximate size and scope of the OB … but we can’t guess on release date. MMP has been working on a Normandy based HASL module for years, with playtesting of that starting in 2013 (or earlier). Now nine year later we’ve still seen/heard nothing about it other than something is coming eventually.
So I won’t hazard to even guess when Polish Eagle might come out. Speculation is fun … but a bit futile when it comes to release dates.
Below are some photos and a VASL screenshot from the ongoing playtesting. From them I think we can surmise/assume:
- A single map of an area around Mokra, including a rail line
- ? scenarios played on various parts of the map
- 1-3 campaign games (usually par for the course for a full HASL)
- A campaign booklet, with special rules (for the armored train!!)
- ? sheets of counters (again, assuming the armored train is included … I hope!)
If there are any updates I’ll be sure to post up some news about it.
.END OF BRIEFING.
Original Words/Video Content © 2021-2022, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
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