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  Korsun Pocket 2 Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey  Published by Pacific Rim Publishing  Operation Barbarossa had taken...

Korsun Pocket 2: Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey Published by Pacific Rim Publishing Korsun Pocket 2: Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey Published by Pacific Rim Publishing

Korsun Pocket 2: Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey Published by Pacific Rim Publishing

Korsun Pocket 2: Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr Designed by Jack Radey Published by Pacific Rim Publishing

 Korsun Pocket 2

Little Stalingrad on the Dnepr

Designed by Jack Radey 

Published by Pacific Rim Publishing

 Operation Barbarossa had taken place on June 22nd,1941. It had surged through the Soviet Union like a massive wave. The wave had finally broken against the Soviet defenses at Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov. In 1942 the Germans' Operation Blau was directed at the Caucasus and Stalingrad, or more accurately the Volga River. In late 1942 the Axis Allied armies were smashed and roughly 250K Germans and Allies were trapped in the Stalingrad pocket. There was a relative lull after the Spring fighting, and then the Germans launched Operation Citadel. This was to encircle and capture and crush the Soviet forces around Kursk. The autumn battles in 1943 saw the Germans forced back through the Ukraine. These battles had bled white both the German and Soviet forces. Unfortunately for the German forces, they were running out of replacements. The Soviets were still able to call upon a larger, but dwindling, mass of untapped manpower. This sets the stage for 1944 on the Eastern Front.

Just some Soviet Eye Candy

 The German Army Group South, commanded by von Manstein, was very depleted of men and armaments as the new year started. The Soviets had decided to not take a breather and saw an opportunity to encircle two Germans corps. The two German corps were the XI, commanded by General Wilhelm Stemmermann, and the XXXXII commanded by Lieutenant General Theobald Lieb, along with the attached Corps Detachment B from the 8th Army. The Soviet forces that were going to make the pocket were the 1st Ukranian Front, commanded by Nicolai Vatutin, and 2nd Ukranian Front, commanded by Ivan Konev. The reason there was a chance at all for the Germans to be encircled is that Hitler demanded that these forces stay on the western shore of the Dnepr River. The rest of Army Group South had already been pushed back from the river. To complete the encirclement the two Soviet forces would have to attack and move around 110 kilometers. The fighting would take place in January and February of 1944. Playing as the German player, you are trying to escape the pocket, or never let a pocket be made. Playing as the Soviet, you have to encircle the German forces as quickly as possible and defend against attacks from both inside and outside the pocket. So, onto the game.

 This is what comes with the game:

12 counter sheets of 200 die-cut backprinted counters each

Four 25 x 38 inch game maps

Six German Order of Battle Charts — III Panzer Corps, VII Corps, VIII Flieger Corps, XI Corps, XLII Corps, XLVII Panzer Corps

Ten Soviet Order of Battle Charts — 1st Ukrainian Front, 2nd Ukrainian Front, 5th Guards Tank Army, 2nd Tank Army, 6th Tank Army, 4th Guards Army, 27th Army, 40th Army, 52nd Army, 53rd Army

One 28-page Rules Booklet

One Scenarios Booklet

One Commentary, History, and Designer’s Notes Booklet

Two double-sided 22 x 34 situation maps (25 January, 1 February, 10 February, one blank for planning purposes)

Two 11 x 17 player turn record track cards

Two player chart and aids cards

One six sided die


Section of the Map

 No doubt about it, this is a monster wargame. The four 25" X 38" maps prove it along with the 2000+ counters. The situation maps are an excellent addition to the game, especially the blank one for planning. Even if you are playing the one map scenario you are still going to need a good amount of space for the Player Aids etc. So, this is a game that you are going to need space and are going to need to leave it on the table for a while. 

 I really like this statement from the designer Jack Radey:


If you approach this game as a dice and probability table contest, and push each counter separately without regard for organization, I think that you will not have much fun, and will spend a lot of time looking for just the right amount of combat strength to nudge the odds one column higher. Not my idea of wargaming. I strongly urge you to do serious planning, map study, and organize your forces as they were organized historically, or some variant on that. Thinking in terms of "this army has those objectives, and to gain them I will push this corps along that road, reinforcing it with these artillery units" you will do far better than thinking in terms of "where can I find another six points of attack strength?"

 In simple terms the game will award you for playing historically. I am not talking about forcing you to do exactly as was done in 1944. It does what not enough games do and guides the player to wargame in a historical manner, instead of throwing all of your counters Willy Nilly across the map. This game will really impress the grognard who tries to play in a historical manner.

 We will now go through the components. The counters are a 1/2" in size. They have to be that size or almost no one would be able to play this game. The colors on them are muted. They do come with a good amount of information on them, but strangely enough they are still easy to read. The counters also have the correct silhouette of the tanks that were in each unit. I think this is a nice touch. Next up, we have the four full-sized maps. They are of paper but do have some kind of coating on them. This campaign was fought in the snow, so the clear hexes are white. The terrain in each hex and moving out of a hex is very well defined. The maps come with no ambiguities. The sixteen! Order of Battle charts are extremely well done. There is no bunching up of the different OOBs. They are made of hard stock and come in all sizes, from the small VIII Flieger corps of the Luftwaffe to two large page foldouts for some of the Soviet units. The Rules Booklet is in black and white and has two columns per page. There are no examples of play. The only illustrations show how to read the counters and all of the information on them. However, the text is nice and large. As was mentioned, it is twenty-eight pages long. It does not have an index, but with it only being twenty-eight pages long it is not hard to find what you are looking for, unless you are a member of U2. The Scenario Booklet is thirty-two pages in total. The first sixteen pages are for the actual scenarios. After that comes a four-page Example of Play, then an eight-page Historical Notes section. This is extremely well done. I would always say to read books on the battles you are going to play. However, this short synopsis is really all a player needs. The author also sneaks in the word 'mendacity'. I have been a fan of that word since first seeing Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I still hear the word mendacity in Burl Ives voice in my head. The Booklet is also in black and white with the same large print. The situation maps I have already touched upon. The different Players Aids are also very well done. They come with the same large type that the Booklets have. When you open the box you will be pretty amazed at the sheer amount of OOBs and Player Aids that are in there. The 2K+ counters are also a sight to behold. Be careful with the counters - they do want to jump of the cardboard sprues.

 The original Korsun Pocket was released in 1979 by People's War Games. So, Mr. Radey has had over forty years to tinker with the game. Most of the games made by People's War Games were and are as valuable as a gold bar. 

 These are the Scenarios:

Scenario 1 - Vatutin Attacks - This uses maps A and C and is 15 turns long.

Scenario 2 - On to Zvenigorodka - This uses maps B and D and is 15 turns long.

Scenario 3 - The Pocket is Formed - This uses all 4 maps and is 18 turns or longer if you use night turns.

Scenario 4 - "I Will Rescue You" - This uses map C only and is 21 turns long.

Scenario 5 - von Vormann Tries Again - This uses maps B and D and is 21 turns long.

Scenario 6 - Testing the Ring - This uses all 4 maps and is 27 turns long.

Scenario 7 - Massacre on the Gniloi Tikich - This uses all 4 maps and is 24 turns long.

Scenario 8 - The Korsun Pocket Campaign - This uses all 4 maps and is possibly 72 turns long.

"Sequence of Play:

Each Game Turn represents the AM, PM, or Night

portion of a day. At the end of a Night Game Turn

there may be an Extra Night Turn (20.0). The First

Player is determined by the scenario being played.

The player whose turn it is is the phasing player

and his opponent is the non-phasing player.

Each Game Turn consists of the following sequence

of actions.

3.1 Weather Determination If using historical

weather (7.2), adjust the markers on the Weather

Conditions Track to indicate the current

temperature, ground and atmospheric conditions.

If using variable weather (7.3), the first Player rolls

twice on the weather table for temperature and for

atmospheric conditions. If precipitation is possible

a third die roll is made.

3.2 Air Availability Phase Both players consult the

current weather and ground conditions and

determine which of their air units are available


3.3 Supply Phase Both players determine the

supply status of their units (15.21, 15.22).

3.4 First Player Turn The player designated First

Player by the scenario instructions becomes the

phasing player.

3.41 Movement The phasing player may move all,

some, or none of his units. (5.0 Movement)

3.42 Building and Demolition The phasing player

may initiate, continue, or complete building and

demolition (17.0).

3.43 Counter Battery and Surprise Attack The

phasing player may conduct counter battery fire

against enemy artillery units that are both 

observed and In Battery (14.71). The Phasing

player may conduct Surprise Attacks (10.33).

3.44 Defensive Barrage The non-phasing player

may now conduct Defensive Barrage (14.72).

3.45 Combat The phasing player is the attacker

and may now conduct Combat in which the nonphasing

player is the defender (9.0, 10.0).

3.5 Second Player Turn The player who was the

non-phasing player now becomes the phasing

player and the sequence of phases 3.41 through

3.45 are repeated.

3.6 Fatigue Reduction Phase Both players reduce

the Fatigue Level by one for each of their Tired or

Exhausted units that is not in an Enemy Zone of

control (20.7).

3.7 Game Turn Indication Phase The Game Turn

marker is advanced to the next turn and play

proceeds unless it is the last turn in which case the

players should engage in lively banter about the outcome."

Weather Variables

 Weather is a large part of the game. However, so is visibility which is usually not taken into consideration in wargames. This is the combination of what Mother Nature can throw at you.

1. Ground Condition

Frozen Ground

Muddy Ground

Deep Mud

Snowy Ground

2. Atmospheric Condition







3. Temperature



One of the Situation Maps

 While both sides are forced by the rules to do their utmost best to keep an intact line of counters or zones of control in a unit's area. The German player is allowed to breakdown his battalions into companies.



18.1 Battalion Breakdown

18.11 Only German full strength non-artillery

battalions may be broken down into companies.

Battalions that break down into companies must

break into companies of the same type as the

battalion — for example, foot mobile infantry

break down into foot mobile infantry companies,

motorized infantry into motorized infantry

companies, etc.

18.12 To breakdown a battalion into companies, at

any point during the German player’s movement

phase remove the battalion counter from the board

and place it on the player display in the “Battalion

Breakdown” box.

The German player pays two movement points to

breakdown a battalion. Replace the battalion on

the board with company counters of the same type

according to the Battalion Breakdown Chart on the

German Turn Record Card.

18.13 The companies placed on the map have the

same number of movement points that were

available to the parent battalion at the time the 2

MP cost was paid, and may continue to move, in a

stack or individually, after breaking down.

18.14 The number of battalions that may

breakdown is limited by the counter mix, if there

are not sufficient number of company counters of

the same type available, a battalion may not break


 This game has one of the highest ratings for complexity on BoardGameGeek that I have seen at 4.43. While there is a lot going on each turn, I think that is a bit high. The Rules Booklet does add a few rules for each scenario, which is totally normal, but this does not push the complexity up anymore. If you are used to the large soapbox games from SPI, you should be able to play this game. As I said, there is a lot going on, but the rules are written out to hold your hand while playing. Is this game for everyone? Of course not. Some like higher complexity games and to others they are an anathema. The Korsun Pocket battle or campaign was a different sort of animal than a lot of wargames. The Germans and the Soviets are like two fighters in the fourteenth round. The German player is not going to run rampant with his tanks. A Panzer Division was lucky to have forty tanks at this time. The Soviet player has one strong army (4th Guards), but his other units are as in bad a shape as the Germans. This game is a nail biter about taking the next hex. You are not going to be racing around the maps. The German player has to work to get the most out of his units trying to get to the pocket. At the same time, he has to keep the Soviets from crushing the pocket. The Soviet player needs to think about stopping the German reinforcements while still looking over his shoulder at the pocket. The fact that the game was designed for the players to use their counters in a historical manner is the icing on the cake. 

 Thank you, Pacific Rim Publishing, for allowing me to review this excellent game. I have to go because I have one more hex to take before I can link up with the skeletal remains of the pocket. Isn't this why we got into wargaming? While I am thinking about it, how come Grognards do not have a special day?


Pacific Rim Publishing:

Pacific Rim Publishing (

Korsun Pocket 2:

Korsun Pocket 2 | Pacific Rim Publishing (

Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes:

Korsun Pocket 2 Designer Notes by Pacific Rim Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things

My Review of 'Across the Pacific':

Across the Pacific by Pacific Rim Publishing - A Wargamers Needful Things