This past weekend, I was on Facebook when I started to see some posts from David Thompson as he was playing through his upcoming game Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms on Tabletop Simulator and giving a kind of After Action Report including the play-by-play of the game. This game tells the story of the assault on the Post Office in the Free City of Danzig on the first day of World War II as German forces moved in to seize Polish installations. Two of the installations were on alert and under orders to hold out: the Military Transit Depot on the peninsula of Westerplatte and the Polish Postal Office No. 1. The personnel of the post office repulsed repeated assaults, and were forced to surrender only after a day-long siege, when the post office was doused with gasoline and set alight. Though German propaganda cast these acts of defiance as futile and a failure, they were viewed by the Polish people as symbolic of their stand against a materially superior aggressor.
In Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms the player will control the valiant defenders of Polish Postal Office No. 1 in the Free City of Danzig on the first day of WWII. Under your command, the defenders must fend off relentless attacks from the Danzig Schutzpolizei and two German SS units.
The game is scheduled to hit Kickstarter sometime in November and I am currently working on an interview with David Thompson as well as playing a prototype copy of the game and shooting a review video with my thoughts. I thought this would be an interesting and informative item to bring to you to give you a better idea of how the solitaire game works.
*Playthrough of Soldiers in Postmen’s Uniforms written by the designer David Thompson using a prototype on Tabletop Simulator. Note that these are prototype components and do not necessarily reflect what the final components will look like. Some of the art is placeholder art borrowed from Castle Itter. The final game will feature new art from Matt White.
We begin the game with the initial (morning) attack from the Danzig city police.
Setup. When playing Elite difficulty, enemy machine gunners start on the board and enemy riflemen are replaced by submachine gunners. I’m also playing with two tactics cards.
At the end of the first enemy phase, two assault groups have reached the wooden fence in the courtyard. Once they reach the fence, a grenade bundle card is shuffled into the enemy deck. Until the card is drawn, enemy counters will stack by the fence. Once the card is drawn, the fence will be breached, which can result in a stack of enemy counters rushing into the post office.
The defenders respond to the attack. The leaders (Konrad and Flisykowski) rush from the basement to the ground floor. The deputy director (Michon) carries extra ammunition to a submachine gunner. The superintendent (Wasik) moves from the ground floor to the upper floors. Submachine gunners on all three floors provide overwatch (place suppression tokens) of the three different paths. A rifleman on the upper floors takes aim and successfully attacks an enemy rifleman that had approached the fence in the courtyard.
Current situation in the courtyard and eastern approach after the first turn.
During the enemy phase of turn 4, the Fire Support tactics card is in effect when I draw the machine gunner positioned in front of the post office. The tactics card gives the machine gunner a second activation if they are successful on their initial suppression. The machine gunner successfully targets and attacks the same defender twice, resulting in the first casualty.
The defender was Bela, in the Red/White space numbered 6. You can see the disrupted token on him before he was targeted the second time. Because he is a postal worker with no proper military or paramilitary training, his loss results in a -1 morale for the defenders.
On the last round of the first (morning) attack, the grenade bundle card for the 3-4 assault path is drawn. You can’t see it because of the way the counters are stacked, but there are EIGHT! enemy assault counters stacked next to the fence. When the fence is blown, they rush forward. Fortunately there are six suppression tokens in the next space in the path and then eleven more suppression tokens in the position next to the building.
In the round earlier, the defenders saw the danger and prepared themselves as best they could. Defenders are staged in the interior with hand grenades. If attackers do make it through, the defenders should be able to fend them off.
The suppression is extremely effective. Six of the enemy assault counters are removed as they approach. That means the attack stalled right as the attackers reached the building. But the final card of the attack was a submachine gunner, which was placed in the 3-4 assault path. What’s worse is that there was a tactics card in effect (Assault) that meant a second submachine gunner was placed on the same path. That results in two enemy assault counters breaching the basement entrance of the post office. As they breached the entrance the defender in that position (Cywinski) becomes a casualty.
One of the defenders (Kupka) uses a hand grenade to kill the two attackers. That means the post office is clear of attackers at the end of the turn and the first (morning) attack is complete. In the end, two defenders became casualties.
This is the situation in the post office at the end of the first attack. While largely successful, the defenders burned through most of their ammunition for the submachine guns. Things won’t be easy for the next (midday) attack…
Second (midday) Attack:
Setup for attack 2. Between attacks, you remove enemy assault counters, suppression markers, disruption markers, and you flip the defenders from their exhausted side. Essentially you’re starting a second game, albeit with variable starting conditions based on how the first attack went.
This is the starting situation for the attackers at elite level. After the failed attack targeting the rear of the post office, the attackers have settled on an assault at the front. This time, however, they are supported by infantry guns, armored vehicles, and a howitzer (not represented on the board). The armored cars provide significant cover to the assault counters. And the infantry guns can damage the post office, reducing the defense it provides to the defenders.
This is the situation after the first enemy phase. Two tactics cards were in effect that synergized well for the attackers: Western Approach caused most of the attackers to appear on the 7 assault path, while Coordination resulted in a second rifleman counter placed any time a rifleman card was drawn. The end result is that the attackers made it to the gate in front of the post office in the first turn. They must still wait for the grenade bundle card to be drawn to make their push, but things are already looking grim for the defenders.
The defenders respond by shifting their forces from guarding the rear of the building to the front. A few well-aimed attacks drops three of the enemy.
Here’s the situation after the second enemy phase. There was significant progress on the 9-10 assault track. Now both armored vehicles have progressed as far as possible and are positioned in front of the post office, providing great cover to the enemies that advance onto those positions. At the same time, there have been three infantry guns drawn in the first two turns. All three attacks were successful, which has reduced the defense of the upper floors to it’s lowest level.
Here’s the situation in the upper floors at the end of the defenders’ turn. They have done a great job of putting their trained fighters and leaders in a position to be successful. But if the building is hit by an infantry gun or howitzer again, each of these defenders will be disrupted. It’s also time to start moving defenders – especially the untrained postal workers (white borders) – down from the upper floors to the ground floor so that they don’t become casualties.
The third enemy phase was basically a worst case scenario for the defenders. The enemy progressed all the way up to the building on the 11-12 assault track. There is no barrier on this track, so if any additional assault counters are placed on the track they will breach the post office.
A machine gunner card is drawn and suppresses one of the postal workers on the upper floors. Then the howitzer card is drawn. Every defender on the upper floors is disrupted.
And Binkowski (in the blue 2 position), who had already been disrupted by the machine gunner, becomes a casualty. Because he is an untrained postal worker, morale drops by a point.
This was the card draw for the next enemy phase. Because of this draw, the enemy pushed into the eastern entrance of the post office and breached on the ground floor, the grenade bundle meant that they blow down the front gate and are ready to storm the front entrance, and the infantry gun did the unthinkable – it hit the upper floors before most of the defenders could recover.
This is the situation on the assault tracks.
One enemy submachine gunner broke in through the eastern entrance. Note that in the prior turn, I had moved the custodian, his wife, and their daughter to this interior space on the ground floor, hoping to eventually move them to the relative safety of the basement. Now if the defenders don’t deal with the submachine gunner, they could be targeted.
This was the situation on the upper floors before the infantry gun attack.
And this is the sad state afterwards. Three postal workers were killed, dropping moral all the way down to 3.
Sigh. You can’t make this stuff up. During the defender phase, the first thing I did was move the custodian’s wife and daughter from the ground floor to the basement. Then I tried to deal with the submachine gunner. Rekowski (trained fighter with the red border) attacked and missed. Then Cygalski (the postal worker with the white border) tossed a grenade – and missed! Now when you miss with a hand grenade and are in the interior space with the target, you roll a single d6. If you roll a 1, you become a casualty. Guess what happened? Yep – Cygalski killed himself. This happened in the actual battle when Konrad – the leader of the defense – killed himself with a hand grenade he threw while trying to stop defenders that had entered the post office. Eventually one of the trained defenders that was in a combat position on the ground floor was able to kill the submachine gunner. In retrospect I shouldn’t have used the hand grenade with Cygalski, but I didn’t expect to both miss (with 3d6) and then roll a 1 with a d6. With Cygalski’s death, the defenders’ morale drops to 2 (panicked).
During the next enemy phase, two leaders and a submachine gunner breach the post office from the eastern and front entrances. In addition, a machine gunner killed one of the postal workers, dropping the defenders’ morale to 1. One more casualty of a postal worker or noncombatant and the defenders will lose.
The custodian flees the ground floor to the basement, while the second in command of the defense (Flysykowski) and the superintendent (Wasik) move in to help in the defense. Finally the defenders catch a break as Klinkosz expertly attacks the enemy with a hand grenade – killing all three! This was hugely important, and not simply because of the obvious imminent threat.
This is the situation after the last enemy phase. A submachine gunner made it into the eastern entrance. A machine gunner gunned down Konrad (the defenders’ leader) on the upper floors. Konrad’s death actually increases the defenders’ morale. This is due to the fact that during the actual battle, after Konrad died, the defenders were bolstered to continue their defense. After Konrad’s death, another defender on the ground floor was killed by a different machine gunner. So the
The defenders were able to clear the submachine gunner from the ground floor. This is the (extremely dire) situation in the post office at the end of the second attack. They barely made it to the third (evening) attack. Things don’t look good.
Third (evening) Attack:
Here’s the situation for the defenders. After the upper floors took hits from infantry guns and the howitzer, the defenders were forced to flee down to the ground level. Most of the trained defenders were on the upper floors when it took a direct hit and became casualties. That leaves very few trained defenders. Supplies are also running low. The defenders only have a small amount of ammunition left for their submachine guns and a single hand grenade. The custodian’s wife and daughter are in the room in the basement with an exit. In the unlikely even that the defenders are able to clear an escape route for them, they are ready to make a run for it.
And here’s the situation for the attackers. Submachine gunners are set on the starting positions of each assault track. Defenders can try to escape during this third attack period, but for them to do so the entire assault track connected to the building entrance must be clear and there can’t be any enemy machine gunners with line of sight to the defenders. In other words, the defenders have a LOT of work to do.
After two turns, the attackers have made slow but steady progress. What you don’t see here is that the howitzer has hit the building twice, doing significant damage to the ground floor. The basement is still relatively safe, but it’s extremely difficult for the defenders to rely on just operating from the basement.
After the first two turns, the defenders have positioned themselves in the ground floor so that they can cover both the front and eastern entrances. In the basement, the defenders are trying to build up enough firepower to clear the enemy from blocking escape via the courtyard.
At the end of the enemy phase for the third turn, the enemy made a heavy push at entering the post office. Fortunately heavy suppression prevented them from entering – though they are literally on the doorstep.
Meanwhile, the howitzer hit the ground floor again. One of the defenders had already been disrupted from a machine gunner, so he became a casualty. Everyone else on the ground floor was disrupted, because the ground floor’s defense can no longer be lowered. The defenders will need to spend all their actions this round trying to recover from the howitzer, but that means they’ll make no progress in trying to escape.
In the next turn, the enemy finally breaches the post office. The interior of the ground floor is lightly defended. The postal workers (Budziak and Ellwardt) flee to the basement. Klinkosz and Mylnski are disrupted and can’t help the defense. Banaszkowski takes the defenders’ last grenade and uses it to excellent effect, killing both the SS rifleman and submachine gunner. I’ve now given up on trying to have any of the defenders escape. I’ve turned my attention to just trying to keep them all alive (especially the postal workers and noncombatants).
This is the draw for the next enemy phase. The fire engine card signals this will be the last turn. The defenders are extremely lucky – the machine gunners target different defender combat positions.
Had the 3 or 4-5 position in the basement been successfully attacked again, the defenders would have instantly lost because their morale would have dropped to 0. One enemy submachine gunner broke into the post office, but they were killed by Rekowski.
At the end of the turn, the defenders surrender. These are the survivors. I score 1 point for each postal worker, 2 points for the custodian and his wife, and 3 points for their daughter. My score of 16 is a minor victory (a score of 15 or lower would have been a draw).
These are the defenders who gave their lives to save the others.
Thanks to David for taking the time to put this playthrough AAR together to give us a better idea about how the game plays. As I mentioned, the game will be going to Kickstarter in November and I do not have a link to share at this point.
In the meantime, we are working on a written interview with David Thompson to get a better idea about the inner workings of the design and we have a prototype copy that we will be playing and then doing a preview video for the campaign.