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Subject: Special Actions - 5 in a row too mighty? rss

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Jon M
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Alex

You soon find that your army becomes thinned out and a soviet couter attack at the base will put your entire army out of supply. You could certainly capture Moscow on the first turn with this tactic but marching on Bacu becomes impossible after you are cut off. This is also the reason why speed bump single step units in all soviet areas likely to be taken are very important. Without these the Panzers can widen the advance to such an extent that the soviets then cannot cut them off.
 
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marc lecours
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A determined German can take Moscow on the first turn of Barbarossa (usually july-august 1941). The usually proverb around here is that the German player can do anything he/she wants but not everything he/she wants. I find that 5 special actions is the minimum necessary for the Germans to do as well as Hitler actually did.

I the games I am involved in the Russians make it tough on the Germans:
1. The russian aim is not protecting Moscow (which will fall anyways if the Germans want it badly enough) but preserving the Russian army and positioning yourself for a counterattack.
2. The Russian defense we tend to use involves only having one point units in the front line. No matter how much you put in Brest-Litovsk, it can barely slow down the Germans. The best the Russian could ever hope for is to survive the first battle.
3. Lately our group has tried two other strategies:
a) I like to put half my front line Russian army in Brest-litovsk as usual and the other half in Bessarabia (including the GSUs). Now if the Germans try for Moscow on turn 1 , half my army can be rescued from Bessarabia (including the expensive GSUs). The Germans cannot both kill Bessarabia and capture Moscow on turn 1.
b) My opponent tried the strategy of placing his whole front line army in Brest-Litovsk, then when the German attacked he used his special action to retreat to the swamp. It was an interesting concept. I was faced with the whole Russian front line army in a defensible swamp. If the Germans march to moscow this army will hit their flank. If the Germans deal with this army then much of the German infantry will be tied up in the swamp. I don't favour this Russian defense since the Russians are less dangerous when they don't have their special action anymore. Though one possibility we did not explore is for the Russians not to take their 40 free infantry steps on turn 1 (wait a turn) in order to build back their special action.
4. The Russians must place speed bumps all the way back to Moscow. I leave latvia and a few other places empty.
5. I put all the russian strength in Moscow and the ladoga swamps. Sometimes I even build a field fortification in Moscow (must be built in previous summer)
6. Save that precious Russian Special action for somthing good.
a) Usually the something good is trying to cut the supply of the whole german army. The Germans are vulnerable to this if they take Moscow on turn one. The Germans are especially vulnerable if they use all their 5 special actions on their turn (A safe German saves one special action for reinforcing against a russian counterattack, but who ever heard of a safe German)
b) another something good is that once as the Russians, I was able to take Ploesti in July-August 1941. A game winning move. Needless to say my opponent is more cautious now.
7. I cannot remember if the Russians have a cavalry unit. But I would advise to save one and only build it on the turn that you use your Russian special action. The cavalry unit can then be build anywhere and is vey usefull to cut German supply lines.

Nothing the Russians can do can stop the Germans taking Moscow in July-AUgust 1941 except rolling a heck of a lot of sixes. But I find that if the Germans do take Moscow they will have a very narrow advance indeed. By having a lot of Russian units waiting in Moscow (+ a field fortification)the German player will feel obliged to attack Moscow with a big force . THis leaves less units to defend the German supply line. If the Germans do defend their supply line then no counterattack will take place and the Russians will have a special action saved up for the winter.

But in the early game most Germans I know build too many subs, lose too many units in France, or send a unit to Africa, or waste Werps in Yugoslavia, Greece, Norway. These are all good targets but the key is to take things cheaply. The biggest drain on troops is if the Germans have taken Spain and Gibraltar. If they do this then Moscow will no longer be a possible objective on turn 1. THere won't be enough infantry built to march on Moscow, pin the large Russian force in Bessarabia and protect the supply line to Moscow.

If the Russians get a chance to cut the supply line to the bulk of the forward German army they should do so. Some overcautious Russians think that even if they cut the supply line, they won't be able to keep the Germans from re-establishing supply. The point is that the Russians should cut supply by all means but not try at all to keep it cut. Cut the supply line with the minimum of troops necessary. The objective is to put the bulk of the German army (sitting in Moscow) out of supply. The Germans must then spend a whole two months (september-october) marching backwards to rebuild a safer supply line. Think of it .... you made the Germans waste a whole turn of good summer weather. Since a major German aim is to kill 40 to 50 pips of Russian troops per turn, he/she will have failed this objective for a whole turn. (which is why it is important for the Russians to cut the German supply line with the minimum units possible.)

Faced with a possible loss of supply most of my German opponents are now more cautious in Russia. They do one or more of the following (all of which help the allies)
1. SOmetimes they forgo SPain, Greece and or Yugoslavia.
2. My opponents rarely send Germans to Africa anymore.
3. In july-august they save one special action at the end of their turn for defense of the German supply line.
4. They move forward in a wider advance (thus not reaching Moscow)
5. Or they leave lots of troops to protect their supply line (3 to 6 per area).
6. Or they invest some special actions to take Bessarabia or cut off Bessarabia. Yes I end up posing these troops but they would have been lost in Lvov or Brest-Litovsk as well.

As a final point:
A field fortification in Moscow really focuses the mind of the opponent. He/she imagines that if the German army does not take Moscow in July/august 1941 then the russians will upgrade it to a full fortress (I forget the technical term) in the russian july-august production. Many Germans start thinking: "If the field fortification gets upgraged then it will become impossible to ever take Moscow in the future. Therefore it is now or never." then against their better jugement they attack moscow on july-august 1941 even though last game they swore they would never do that again.

Recently in our games, the German Barbarossa looks surprisingly like the historical Barbarossa. Fascinating ! ! !

Caveat: If the Germans have had a very good early game (1939,1940) ten they will have a large number of infantry to work with. They can then take moscow AND protect their supply line and do anything else they want. The Germans have then a good chance of beating the Russians. It may be to strong a statement but "the battle for Russia is fought in France". If the Germans do especially well in France then Russia will have trouble.
 
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Kristian Coff
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The Russians will be able to muster a large enough force to protect Moscow against all but the most determined German player despite the Germans having 5 SAs.

In July/August '41 the Russians could have a field fortification in the resource area just next to the Urals (forgot the name) ready to be upgraded into a Fortress, as well as a Fortress in Moscow.

While the Russians need to place half their blocks at the border, that doesn't mean he has to place half his army strength there.

With 2 field fortification and 1 Fortress build, the Russians have around 85 or so WERPs to spend on infantery with which they only need to defend 2 areas and the swamps to survive: Moscow and the resource area next to the Urals.
If you buy 1 cadre for every full strength 4 pip infantery, you'll have around 12 - or approximately 50 pips - of inf along with the forces they start with.
Inside a Heavy Fortress, the Russians are able to hold what they wish.

To take a Heavy Fortress you need a minimum of 2 times the defending strength, 3 GSU's in support role, enough panzer to ensure 3 units at full strength as well as 3 rounds of combat.
With 50 pips in a fort that means the Germans needs at least 100 pips to take it. Anything less will become a grim Phyric victory at best.

Both sides are able to either hold or take Moscow if they truly wish, but it takes the upmost of determination. It's "all or nothing".


If indeed the Germans muster such a force and take Moscow, the Russians will have yet another Fortress ready to prevent a decisive victory. Even if the German is lucky with the dice in Moscow, the Russian can always pull the emergency brake and issue the extra conscription ready to be placed in the Urals marching into the Fortress.

Building up in the Forts is a safe, however boring, way of securing the Russian army for their offensive in '44. But playing as Wallies, patience is a virtue directly linked with your success against the Axis.


I use Moscow as an example, as it's - in my mind at least - much more important than Baku due to the fact that if the Russians loose Moscow, they loose 4 strat-moves.
They already lack SAs and WERPs. If they loose their flexibility as well, the danger of them cutting the Axis supply is much smaller.
In my experience Moscow is crucial to the Axis offensive as well as their slow retreit later in the game.


Using this strategy naturally means that the Germans will have almost free access to the rest of Russia, but it's a reasonable loss given the above.
 
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Alberto Natta
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First of all I advice you to play with the optional rules.

Having a stacking limit for swaps is more realistic.
Having the withdrawal fight prevent the russian army to just withdraw from the German attack at start without suffering heavy casualties.
German benefits of surprise bonus in 1st combat round.

On the other hand the German player in the 2 turns loses 1 special action (6 on 1st turn, and 3 more only in 2nd turn due to building limits).

About the "power" of 5 SA, tbh they're something minimal compared to the boost of troops the Russia gets.
I often use 4 out of the starting 6, next turn I build 3 more to go back at 5, needing to being able to pummel the 20 free inf + production of the Russian player.

Heavy Forts could be good IF you're able to keep them supplied.
To imo a good German player in the 1st turn will be happy (and safe) with the 3 WERPs nearby Dnepr River Bend.
Moscow is a "not to go", with many swamps around with Russian troops difficult to dislodge, the German will find itself forced to keep a good garrison of his precious blocks, and being fully exposed to the Winter (I use the optional rule here as well).

Baku could be an option if the Russian allow it. But it's risky.
Usually in 1941 the German should prepare for 1942, when the real confrontation happens. The Russia lost his bonus troops, and is still limited to 1 SA, the USA are just gearing up and eventually provoking problems in Afrika (assuming UK didn't got it already).

I managed to get Moscow or Baku (mostly cause the Italian front in Afrika were crumbling and getting Persia would save their morale) often in 1941. But I didn't found myself well, out of all those games I won only once cause the Russian didn't pushed in the winter AND I build a field fort in Moscow AND the Russian player wasted more blocks than me keeping a massive force in all the swamps around Moscow.

 
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Kristian Coff
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@Alberto Natta
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"Baku could be an option if the Russian allow it. But it's risky.
Usually in 1941 the German should prepare for 1942, when the real confrontation happens. The Russia lost his bonus troops, and is still limited to 1 SA, the USA are just gearing up and eventually provoking problems in Afrika (assuming UK didn't got it already). "

It is my belief that the Germans need to pound on the Russian forces as much as possible if they wish a successful campaign. The more units you can get from the Russians - without risking your own army - the longer it will take for them to be able to pose a serious threat.
I see absolutely no reason why you should be placid with the Germans when you have the upper hand. It's a race against time - eventually the Allies will have superior forces. The more you can delay this and the more you can conquer before this happens, the higher the chance of having a successful end-game as Axis.
The Russians can do very little in '41 and '42 as well if you've managed to keep their numbers down. Use the opportunity!
 
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