Perhaps sometimes in both war and crisis diplomacy a country’s present actions are cut out for them by the circumstances; their course is set on rails that can go only one way. In the current war game, simulating now the Russo-Finnish Winter War at its climax, it seems to me the Finns this turn have only one option, or issue: Can they or can they not retake Viipuri? Otherwise this game certainly ends on the Mar II 40 Soviet initial phase, per Rule 41G3d-NTO Scenario: End to Russo-Finnish War.

The Soviets have in Viipuri (4517) a total of 24 def factors and one pos flk unit. They can certainly add to this up to 2 factored def factors of DAS (using also the surviving DB-3t), for a likely grand total of 26 def factors against the Finnish counterattack. An enormous Soviet air arsenal is at hand based at nearby Leningrad/Kronshtadt. However, Viipuri is one of the rare clear terrain hexes in Finland; so finally, after all these game turns, the Finns maybe actually have a chance of counterattacking in the Winter War with a modified +1 attack die roll, using the +2 die roll modifier enjoyed by the Finnish Regular Army units and RVV Finnish Foreign Volunteer (FV) units, per rule 14I-Winterization, to offset the -1 TEC attack die roll modifier for attacking in Winter (Snow) weather.

As far as I can tell, the best the valiant Finns can do now is to attack Russian held Viipuri in the combat phase from four hex sides at 1 to 1 +1 odds, with the Soviets having a pltcl pol III in the hex, which would alter a DR into an EX. If the Finns wish, they can block with their ZOC’s any Soviet combat retreat avenues, which at best would eliminate the three retreating Soviet 1-6 inf cadres of the three flipped 5-6 inf XXs. But a counterattack at Viipuri is the only “reasonable” simulation option for the Finns in the war game at this time, excluding conceding the game in their initial phase, as if simulating a negotiated settlement done deliberately prior to the risky and frankly probably dangerous (both militarily and diplomatically) impending counterattack. Those interested can study the CRT and ponder the military and diplomatic implications of the current Finnish turn.

A Finnish counterattack at Viipuri requires the Finns to muster a giant attacking ground force in the Isthmus of probably at least 26 ground attack factors, and will require stripping the already paper thin Ladogan Karelia front of the stout 4-6 Inf XX 1, will require stripping to the bone what’s left that’s holding the remnant of the eastern segment of the Mannerheim Line, and will require almost all the turn’s available inf RPs to rebuild a needed 3-4-6 inf XX to throw into the battle.

Of course a Finnish victory resulting from a successful counterattack at Viipuri on the Mar I 40 turn would likely electrify the Western Allies and perhaps even neutral Sweden and Norway, assuming there were Finnish survivors after the 1 to 1 attack to occupy and take control of the Viipuri hex.

In the initial phase the Finns place the 0-1-6 Inf X Sisu (FV) and the pos flk unit, both Foreign Aid via Sea, at the ice free minor port of Hanko (4530). The Blen 1 A type air unit is brought on at Kotka (4521) and the MS.406 F type air unit is placed at the at start 3-cap permanent airfield at Lappeenranta (4318), along with the C.X A type and Glad F type air units already there. Per the SoS Errata Sheet 18 Jan 1999 the Finns receive 2 ARPs as production on the Mar I 40 air cycle. They spend one ARP to bring back on-map the aborted D.XXI F type air unit and place it at their 1-cap temporary airfield at 4518.

The Finns begin their turn with a new total of 2 ½ accumulated inf replacement points (RPs), and receive 1 inf RP as a reinforcement, for a total of 3 ½ inf RPs. The Finns replace the *3-4-6 Inf XX 9 and place it at Helsinki, with ½ inf RPs pocketed for later.

Prior to the reinforcement segment of their initial phase the Finns remove from the map the dummy guerrilla unit at forest road hex 2512 (just north of Soumussalmi), which they can do “at any time” per Rule 39D-Dummy Guerrilla Units. Then, in the reinforcement segment of their initial phase the Finns bring on-map the conditional reinforcement 1-8 Ski X Lapin guerrilla in combat mode and place it at woods s. rail terminus hex 2613, adjacent to the now black U-1 Soviet 4-6 Inf XX 81 occupying recently captured Soumussalmi (woods road junction hex 2612). Afterwards the Finns place at forest hex 2713 (just south of Soumussalmi) the dummy guerrilla unit they had just removed from the game map a little earlier in their initial phase.

By the end of the movement phase the dispositions of the Finnish ground units north of the A weather line are as follows:

Kemijarvi (wooded swamp s. rail terminus hex 1514): 1-6 Ski III 41, never moved

Woods road hex 2114: *1-6 Ski III 2/LR: never moved

Woods s. rail terminus hex 2613: dummy guerrilla unit, from 2713

Woods s. rail hex 2614: 1-8 Ski X Lapin guerrilla unit in combat mode, from 2613

Woods road hex 2913 right on the A weather line: 1-2-8 ski X Rv, never moved.

At woods hex 4213, in southern Ladogan Karelia near its junction with the Karelian Isthmus, the 4-6 Inf XX 1 breaks down into its two component *2-6 Inf Xs 2 and 3 at the beginning of the movement phase. Later in the movement phase both *2-6 inf Xs move one hex southwestwards to rail hex 4314 and from there rail to hex 4416.

By the end of the movement phase the dispositions of the Finnish ground units in the vast Ladogan Karelia south of the A weather line and north of Lake Ladoga are as follows:

Forest hex 3113: dummy guerrilla unit, from 3213

Woods rail hex 3114, second dummy guerrilla unit from 3213

Woods rail hex 3212: *1-6 Inf X 4, from 3313

Forest L. Pielinen coast hex 3413: 1-8 Ski X Kraj guerrilla unit in combat mode, from 3514

Forest L. Hoytianen coast hex 3514: 1-6 Ski X Kymen guerrilla unit in combat mode, from 3413

Joensuu (woods rail junction hex 3613): *3-4-6 Inf XX 12, never moved

Woods s. rail/road junction hex 3614: 1-0-8 Arm II 1, never moved

Woods L. Ori coast hex 3714: 1-6 Ski III 1/LR, never moved

Wooded intermittent lake hex 3814 w/ a frozen all lake narrow straits hexside: 1-8 Ski III 1-2 J, regular moved from 4213

Forest hex 3914: *3-4-6 Inf XX 13, never moved

Forest L. Pyha coast hex 4013: *1-2-6 Inf III A, never moved

Forest L. Pyha coast hex 4114: *1-2-6 Inf III A, never moved

Woods hex 4213: *1-6 Ski III 2/KR, from 4313

Forest rail L. Simpele coast hex 4214: *1-6 Inf III A, from 4313. Note: Quite earlier in the game when the 4-5-6 Inf XX 6 was broken down into the component supported IIIs of the “A” Inf XX, the *1-6 Inf III A breakdown component was picked in error rather than the correct *1-6 Ski III A breakdown component. It’s too late now to fix this probably minor error.

Woods rail junction L. Simpele coast hex 4314: 3-4-6 Inf XX 21 and 0-1-5 Const III Kar, both from 4213.

In the Karelian Isthmus, at M.L. woods Lake Ladoga coast hex 4613, the 4-5-6 Inf XX 10 breaks down into its three supported component IIIs at the beginning of the movement phase. At G. of Finland coast hex 4518 the 0-1-5 Const III Kan spends 3 MPs to upgrade the 1-cap temp. airfield there to a 2-cap temp. airfield, adding to the 1 MP already expended the previous turn.

By the end of the movement phase, the dispositions of the Finnish ground units in the Karelian Isthmus are as follows:

M.L. woods Lake Ladoga coast hex 4613: *1-2-6 Inf III B, never moved

M.L. wooded intermittent swamp rail/lake causeway hex 4614: *1-2-6 Inf III B, from 4613

Woods hex 4515: 2-6 Art III 2 and 0-1-6 Inf III 66, both from 5614; 0-1-6 Inf III HaL, from 4613

Kakisalmi (wooded intermittent lake Ladoga coast hex 4514): 0-1-8 Cycle III VL, from 4614

Forest rail hex 4316: pos flk unit, admin moved from Kakisalmi

Woods rail hex 4445: *1-6 Ski III B, from 4613

Woods hex 4516: 4-5-6 Inf XX 8, two 1-6 Inf IIIs 22/63 and 22/64, all three never moved; 1-2-6 Inf III 22/65, from 4416; 1-8 Ski III 3-4 J, from 4515

Wooded intermittent lake rail hex 4416: 4-5-6 Inf XX 4, *1-2-6 Inf Cadre 11, and 1-2-6 Ski III 1/KR, all three never moved; 3-4-6 Inf XX 9, repl railed in from Helsinki; *3-8 Ski X RVV/1, from 4213; 4-6 Inf XX 1, reassembled here at the end of the movement phase from the two railed in *2-6 Inf Xs 2 and 3

Woods rail/sea causeway hex 4417: *1-2-6 Inf Cadre 5, from 4518; pos flk unit, never moved

G. of Finland coast hex 4518: *3-4-6 Inf XX 23 and 1-6 Art III 3, both from 4417; 0-1-5 Const III Kan w/ 2-cap temp. airfield, never moved

Lappeenranta (woods rail hex 4318 w/ an at start 3-cap permanent airfield): pos flk unit, from 4417; MS.406 and Glad F type air units, C.X A type air unit, all three never moved

Forest hex 4418: 0-6 RR Eng III Yhd, from 4417

Imatra (woods rail hex 4317): pos flk unit, from 4417.

Near the end of the initial phase the Finns send the D.XXI F type air unit from the temp. airfield at 4518 on the CAP mission over the Viipuri hex. Immediately afterwards the non-phasing Soviets send the two I-153 F type air units based at Leningrad on the CAP mission over the Viipuri hex; the Finns refuse to intercept the two I-153 air units with their fighter also on the CAP mission in the same hex.

In the combat phase the Soviets send seven SB-3bis’, two SB-2’s, the R-10, and the R-5Sh on the DAS mission over the Viipuri hex with three I-16’s, two I-16/t10’s, and the I-16/t17 as escort, all from the Leningrad/Kronshtadt zone. The two Soviet I-153 air units flying CAP over the hex decline to switch to the escort mission. The Finnish MS.406 and the Glad from Lappeenranta, and the D.XXI flying CAP over Viipuri all intercept the Soviet DAS mission.

In random drawings an I-16 pairs with the MS.406 and aborts it; the formidable French fighter misses. An I-16/t17 aborts the Glad and the British biplane misses on its roll. An I-16/t10 pairs up with the D.XXI, but both F types roll misses. This time Luck flies with the Soviet fighters.

The Finns, perhaps having a fill of bad luck this turn with aerial combat and just wanting to get on with the Viipuri counterattack, decline to send any GS to the Viipuri hex.

The Soviets add two SB-2bis’ tac factors and the DB-3t’s tac factor (raw total of 4), modified by poor weather to 2 def factors, to the 24 def factors of their ground units defending Viipuri for a grand total of 26 def factors. The Finns throw in everything they’ve got into the counterattack, minus a GS attempt, and attack Viipuri with 26 attack factors from all four hexes 4516, 4416, 4417 and 4518, with inf XX ZOCs coming from the two important encroaching hexes 4516 and 4518, at 1 to 1 +1 and roll a 4, which modifies to a 5: AS.

From here on the polished diplomats again take charge to quickly put and end to what’s so far taken place this winter in snow covered Scandinavia. Perhaps we can imagine scenes at the Viipuri sea causeway transportation line hexside at hexes 4417/4517 similar to the pictures on pp. 148-151 of Richard Condon’s The Winter War: Russia Against Finland, showing the Finnish diplomatic delegation crossing the Karelian Isthmus front line under the truce flag, as if phantoms from a bygone era wanting to make the former world come back again. Perhaps back at Helsinki the brave internationalists of the 0-1-6 Inf X Sisu (FV), who along with the reinf pos flk unit admin moved from Hanko into the Finnish capital, will still have a chance to proudly march down its streets, as if attempting to convince all Europe that this recently borne and still juvenile and immature continental conflict is, after all, just a kind of enlarged Spanish Civil War embroilment that will run its course and eventually sputter out, and not at all a preliminary troubled sleep interlude transitioning into the incredible total war nightmare of WW II.

All the above in no way intends to disparage the Finnish effort in the Winter War. The Finns, I believe, fought for their national sovereignty and dignity and the best intentions of the prewar Versailles peace paradigm. Keep in mind the Soviets in March of 1940 probably wanted peace quickly as much as the Finns, and then had no intentions of fighting on to Helsinki. They treated with the bourgeois Finnish government, forgot all about their puppet Finnish National government, insisted their occupation of Hanko was temporary, harped mightily on the defense of Leningrad aspects of their territorial demands, and on their own initiative gave back to the Finns Petsamo.

Having said all that, I’ll spare the EA the rebasing details of the various air units involved in the Viipuri counterattack, or the interesting fact of the large number of forward Soviet ground units in the Ladogan Karelia in Finland between hexes 3812 and 3212 inclusive that become black U-1 in the Finnish initial phase due to advancing beyond their supply line back to the Murmansk railway, or the fact that the recently arrived Blen 1 air unit at Kotka does a transfer to Kuopio (3417) in the exploitation phase.