Polish Special Rules on the Table Top
||Polish Special Rules on the Table Top
by Bede Bailey
With the release of Blitzkrieg the Polish army of 1939 has begun to receive the kind of attention usually reserved for the five major powers of World War Two. Players can now choose to field four different types of Polish forces including tanks, mechanized infantry, infantry and cavalry. Along with these new forces comes a range of special rules to help capture the flavour of the fighting during September 1939. The aim of this article is to look at these rules in greater depth and to offer some advice as to how they can be best utilised on the table top.
Learn about Polish Infantry Strategy and Tactics here...
Fate of the
Fate of the
Nation allows Polish players to re-roll failed
platoon (or Polish company – see the Centralised
Control rule) morale checks if they have attached their 2iC. Although the
2iC does not gain all of the other powers of the CO, this does dramatically increase
the usefulness of this particular independent team. It is important to note
that the 2iC does not allow players
to re-roll motivation tests such as un-pinning. Despite this, there are several
benefits to this rule that can be utilized by the fastidious player.
The most important benefit is the ability to re-roll
failed morale checks without the risk of losing the CO. In games where you run
the risk of losing the game due to a failed company (or battalion) morale
check, this can be of major importance. As the CO is no longer at risk, players
should be less reluctant to re-roll these checks, which should result in fewer
points dropped due to platoon losses. It is important to deploy your 2iC with
this in mind; where are the platoons that are mostly likely to fall below half
strength going to be deployed? Where will they be on the table when they fall
below half strength? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you
The 2iC is now also valuable for his ability to keep
platoons (or companies) in the game for combat purposes. Many Polish units are
large, consisting of around fifteen teams. After losing half of their strength
they will still be as big as most of your opponents platoons, and as such it is
vital that they stay in the game. A Polish Mounted Kawalerii Company for example is still quite capable of destroying
a German Grenadier Platoon despite the fact that it has lost half of its
strength. With this in mind, the deployment and use of the 2iC becomes even
more important. Should it be deployed at the ‘tip of the spear’ to keep the
assault force in the battle or should it be held back to cover a number of
The final benefit to take note of is the synergy that Fate of the Nation has with the Polish Fearless morale rating. In the case of
British Guards forces, which also get a re-roll on their platoon morale checks,
the morale rating is only Confident so with the re-roll they still have a
relatively high chance of failure. For the Polish, however, a re-roll on a
fearless morale check dramatically increases the chances of passing. Players
may be less likely to hold their 2iC back to take over leaderless platoons (or
companies). However as the CO can still appoint new leaders this is not a major
Fate of the
Nation is not strictly a new rule; however, it
differs significantly from the Late War version. In the Late War period Polish
forces are given the special rule For
Your Freedom and Ours which allows any Polish platoon to re-roll failed
Platoon Morale Checks without the need for the CO or 2iC to be in command
distance. It pays not to get them confused. It is also useful to remember that
the 2iC cannot be attached to re-roll the morale check if the Polish CO has
already done so; you cannot re-roll a re-roll.
Bypassed is an interesting new rule, designed to capture the flavor of the confused fighting in Poland that occurred after the front lines had been broken and bypassed. A Polish player can elect to hold one small infantry or cavalry unit in reserve. Rather than appearing on the Polish side of the board as a normal reserve, the bypassed unit appears on the opponent’s side of the table. The deployment is random, however, and the unit must be deployed more than 8”/20cm from enemy teams. It is also important to note that the arriving unit cannot assault in the turn that it arrives. Bypassed gives Polish players the opportunity to get a soft unit across the board without having to suffer from causalities - a very useful rule indeed.
There are four unit types that can be held off board: a Mounted Kawalerii Company, a Dismounted Kawalerii Company, a Kawalerii Cyclist Company or a Piechoty Company. Any one of these even though just one platoon strong, would be a shock to the opposition player. Expecting a unit to arrive in the rear, they will be forced to defend soft targets such as artillery batteries and will be reluctant to leave an objective undefended. Even if an objective is defended, the thought of even a small Kawalerii Company just one turn away from assaulting is a scary thought indeed, especially when considering that they can re-roll to unpin at the beginning of their second turn on the table using the Hurah! special rule!
|The random nature of the deployment can also be seen as a positive. As
the opposition will be unsure where the bypassed unit will arrive they
will be forced to prepare for every eventuality or risk being put under
pressure. With this in mind Bypassed enables the Polish player to seize
the initiative and hold it as the opposing player will be forced to
choose between responding to the unseen threat or the main Polish
attack. For example, in missions such as Free for All and Encounter the
ability to have any combat unit arrive at the far side of the table,
regardless of which side, ties down the opponent’s attacking force.
The biggest challenge of this rule is that the bypassed unit will most likely be isolated. If it is deployed early, there could be at least three or four turns before support arrives. Without the support of the CO and 2iC, the unit will not have the benefit of morale or motivation re-rolls. This is somewhat alleviated by the Polish Fearless morale rating, but that is by no means a guaranteed pass.
Another challenge is that you cannot assault on the
turn that the bypassed unit is deployed. This means that the unit will have to
take at least one turn of fire before it can assault the soft targets in the
enemy rear. If the opposition has deployed shrewdly, they will be able to bring
a lot of firepower to bear which means the unit could be facing a morale check
before they get the chance to do anything. The survival of the unit depends a
lot on the mission, terrain and the enemy deployment so deciding whether or not
to make use of Bypassed is game
dependant. Can you afford to have one platoon less on table at the beginning of
the game? Make sure your decision to use the rule fits in with the rest of your
Night Counter-Attack utilises the night fighting rules from page 154 of the main rulebook. Polish players who are attacking in a Fair Fight mission have the option of choosing to start the game at night. For example, in missions such as Free for All and Encounter, if the Polish player rolls the highest number when determining who is the attacker and defender they can elect to attack at night. There are a number of benefits to this for the Polish player and it also shares a synergy with the Bypassed special rule.
As with Bypassed the primary benefit of Night Counter-Attack is giving your troops the chance to close with the enemy without suffering too many casualties. With three of the four Polish company types based on large units of infantry or cavalry, the ability to get them into assault range with minimal losses could be a game-changer. If you are an aggressive commander, this would most certainly play to your advantage as one of the major benefits of playing with a Polish force is making use of the large platoon (or company) strength. When combined with Bypassed, the Polish commander has the opportunity to put the opposition under a lot of pressure with two or three large bodies of troops crossing the board under the cover of darkness and another, albeit smaller unit about to arrive from behind. The opportunity to snatch the initiative lies squarely with the Polish.
|Another positive aspect of Night Counter-Attack is the ability to slow the opposition down. If the Polish commander elects not to go on the attack, they can sit patently and dig in while the opposition slowly makes their way across the board. This tactic would be particularly useful against a tank army as they would be forced to move at slow speed for the first few turns. That would give the Polish player time to dig in and to have reserves arrive in an Encounter mission. Most players would prefer this to being hosed with machine gun fire from light tanks in turn one!
It is important to note the restrictive use of this rule. It can only be utilised in Fair Fight missions and only then when the Polish player is the attacker. In a typical tournament there might only be one chance to make use of Night Counter-Attack so it is not something to be relied upon when planning tactics. Rather than being a special rule whose use can be allowed and prepared for in force design it will mainly be a bonus when faced with a particular mission and opponent combination.
Although similar to the British Mid War and Late War special
rule Night Attack, Night Counter-Attack differs
significantly in that the Polish player can only use the rule during a Fair
Fight mission. The British can elect to use their rule when attacking in a
Defensive Battle mission.
for the Polish
There are two special rules that apply only to the
mounted Polish Kawalerii. Both of
them are worth noting as they offer significant benefits to any Polish
commander who elects to use these mounted soldiers.
Hurah! allows mounted Polish
Cavalry to re-roll motivation rolls to unpin. This is a powerful benefit as not
only are the Kawalerii rated as Veterans, they are also Fearless. With the
re-roll they become very difficult to stop. Although this is a rule that will
be used whenever the applicable situation arises, its availability should encourage
a valiant commander to adopt more aggressive tactics.
|For example, a player would be far more likely to attempt to cross the battlefield under fire if they knew they had a high chance of not stopping and surviving incoming attacks. A full-strength Mounted Kawalerii Company of fourteen teams, supported by the 2iC, would be almost impossible to stop until every element is destroyed considering they can re-roll motivation tests to unpin and morale tests to stay in the game. Fate of the Nation and Hurah! make a very powerful combination indeed. It also works well with Bypassed as the cavalry would be without the support of the CO or 2iC who would otherwise allow them to reroll to unpin.
It is important to note, however, that Hurah! does not apply when pinned down by defensive fire in assault. In that case the assault would fail and the unit would have to remain pinned during the opponents turn before attempting to unpin at the beginning of the next Polish turn.
The Lancers special rule allows mounted Polish Cavalry to make a devastating assault. If a Mounted Kawalerii Company launches an assault the Polish player must check to see if there are any enemy tank teams within 5cm/2”. If there are none, the cavalry roll to hit on a 2+ in the first round of the assault! This means that the first turn of the assault will be incredibly deadly and could possibly break the opposition in the first round.
Lancers encourages you to keep your troops mounted and to attempt to get into assault while mounted. The Polish commander will have to tread a fine line making sure not to throw his lancers away in futile charges. Mounted Kawalerii could be particularly useful in a do-or-die situation where they have small numbers and are attempting to clear an objective at the end of a game. By almost guaranteeing a high kill ratio on the first round, the advantage goes back to the attacker, assuming they can get through the defensive fire. The synergy between Lancers, Hurah! and Fate of the Nation are strong – get some big cavalry units and get them across the table as quickly as possible!
With the publication of Blitzkrieg players can now look forward to adding a Polish army to their collection. Utilising the wide range of flavorful special rules explained above, they will not only be fun to use but will also be very difficult to beat on the model battlefield. Despite the ever-growing collection of metal in the cupboard, I can already see the pounding of hooves in my mind’s eye!
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