Chris Buhl
United States
Leeds
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
"Panic makers and cowards must be liquidated on the spot. Not one step backward without orders from higher headquarters! Commanders...who abandon a position without an order from higher headquarters are traitors to the Fatherland " - Order 227

BitE Dortmund Campaign AAR, pt 5
Soviet July 1941



I am playing out a solo campaign of Blocks in the East using all optional rules. As I play, I'm taking photos for a session report, which I hope will function also as a review of this game that I have become enthralled by. This is Part 5.

Past installments: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4

Sargent Yushin had been cut off before. In Finland, near Tolvajärvi. He and his scouts were behind the Finnish lines for 9 days longer than they had supplies for. Nine days of cold, snow, dark... Those damnable skis, they let the Finns move so quickly. Every time Yushin found a break in the enemy pickets, it closed again. He never panicked then, and his small detail made it back to HQ. And they'd won that war. If Yushin had his way, they'd not have accepted the terms they did, which seemed to him overly generous. And now they were fighting the Finns again. But that was long ago, and far from here. Even after thousands of kilometers, even in this hot and dusty part of the Fatherland, not all things changed. For over a week now, Yushin led his men during darkness, searching for a way back to friendly troops. Through field glasses they watched hundreds of their former comrades rounded up, surrendering, marching off to German POW camps. They'd all vowed never to surrender, and Yushin meant to keep that promise.

In working on the Russian defense, at this early stage I'm thinking about one thing - “Winter is Coming.” I want to hold the Germans back until those first snows. Once Siberian shock troops start showing up, some local counterattacks might happen. Until then, I'm just looking to throw speedbumps down in front of those German tanks. The photo below had the replacements I rebuilt face up.




I built 10-1 step infantry, 3-1 step armor (6 yellow and 6 red PP), and 1-4 step artillery unit. That may have been an extravagance, but I think I can force the Germans to fight for Kiev. When they do, they'll have more than a thin line of infantry to deal with. I also added 2 black steps to a Russian fighter (making it a 3 strength unit) in case the Germans try again to send unescorted bombers to the front. I started work on 2 Russian armor factories, and used 15 more steps to add strength to Russian units that I think might have a chance to hurt the Germans some as they sweep eastward.




I think I've started to build a somewhat credible defense in three parts. In the north, Russia is trying to create a “bubble” around Leningrad, and one around Moscow. In a past, aborted game the Germans were able to shut down the Road of Life more easily than they should have. That is a supply path from Leningrad across Lake Ladoga. If you want to read a fascinating account of how that functioned, and a really good (but epic) book, I highly recommend The 900 Days: The Siege Of Leningrad, by Harrison E. Salisbury. Fantastic book, just the right mix of detail and readability inside of a truly big work. Reminds me of Blocks in the East.

So, if the Germans are able to cut Leningrad off, Russia will lose access to 2 yellow PP and 3 red PP per turn. The optional rules allow the Russians to “scorch the earth” when they lose resource centers (those that produce yellow PP). When Germany captures a city or mining area, it must spend 3 yellow PP, max 1 per turn, to repair the center. Then they can gain those PP. That's why in a previous AAR I talked about spending a yellow PP for the Germans to being repairing Lvov.

The Russians are also allowed to relocate factories. For the cost of 3 SRM, they can move a single factory to a new location. They must then spend 2 yellow PP (again 1 per turn max) to “assemble” the factory. They lose the PP while it's in transit, then get it back. I am hoping to strike a good balance between relocation and bringing troops to the front lines.

In the south, I'm forming a line that is mainly behind rivers and or in easily defensible terrain. I realize that I haven't talked in any specifics about combat yet, I'll do that in the next AAR. If you've played block games there won't be too much that surprises you there, but a couple of interesting twists that I really appreciate. In any case, Odessa is basically lost. Sevastapol is a beast, and there are a line of swamps and/or bunkers guarding the entrance to the peninsula. If I can get even a thin line of troops there soon, I should hold that city for some time. In looking at my photo, I realize I've neglected that area, I'll have to re-do a couple of Soviet SRMs and try to get that part of the defense operational. That will, I hope, force the Germans to fight more tightly contested battles, and bleed them of more steps than they hope for.




And the other thing I hope to accomplish now, as the Soviet commander, is to stop the Germans from encircling massive numbers of troops. We saw 14 units surrender at the end of July, fortunately only 3 or them armored and no HQ's this time around.




Finally, up north in Finland, I tried to get perhaps a little cute. A Russian unit moved to cut supply to the strong Finnish ski troops near Murmansk. I failed to notice that it would be easy to move those troops back into supply for Finland, and also to cut the raiding unit off. So I'll give Russia a mulligan in the south and transfer some units by rail to the Odessa front instead of the Kharkov line, but I'll make the Russians deal with their mistake in the north, I think. Let's hope they have their own Sgt. Yushin (who recognizes the name?).





The next installment will give more details about combat, and talk about reinforcements as well. The German war machine is about at the height of its power right now, so we'll be focused on driving hard toward our objectives.
11 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Rogers
United States
APO
US Armed Forces - Europe
flag msg tools
Chris,

This is a really great AAR that showcases the features of the game. I'm glad that you're doing this!

One thing I noticed which was puzzling...the German mountain units up north appear to be one space farther than what they should be since every move forward in the boxes cost 3MP. If they start in Narvik, they're in Tromso in June, Petsamo in July (assuming the Soviets don't make a bold play and try to take it), and can then attempt an assault into Murmansk in August.

I'm looking forward to reading more of the continuing saga...

Playing solo has its own tricks of the trade. I keep both sides' HQs and Air units face up at all times just for convenience sake. It helps on block on block stacking problems too when gravity wants to take over. Plus, for Air Recons, I roll the success die first before rolling for the AA so I don't get the opportunity to see what's behind the stack (I'm forgetful so by the time the next player turn rolls around I don't remember what the Soviets have anyway) unless there's actually been a "chance" of success.

Greg
5 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Buhl
United States
Leeds
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
grogers64 wrote:


One thing I noticed which was puzzling...the German mountain units up north appear to be one space farther than what they should be since every move forward in the boxes cost 3MP. If they start in Narvik, they're in Tromso in June, Petsamo in July (assuming the Soviets don't make a bold play and try to take it), and can then attempt an assault into Murmansk in August.


Thank you! On my table, I placed the Axis sub/bomber strat units that are deployed to the Arctic in Narvik by chance. So when I went to set up for this play through, I didn't notice that space and set the mountain troops up in Tromso! I will have to play the time machine game and re-do a few things up north, that makes a pretty big difference. Thanks for the idea about the Soviets going for Petsamo, I'd not thought of that.

As a general comment, I'd like to say that if anyone notices any mistakes I'm making, or has ideas about strategy or whatever, please do post them in these AARs. I am interested in playing the game out as it's meant to be played, and learning how to do it right, my feelings won't be hurt if anyone makes corrections or suggestions.

Quote:
Playing solo has its own tricks of the trade. I keep both sides' HQs and Air units face up at all times just for convenience sake. It helps on block on block stacking problems too when gravity wants to take over. Plus, for Air Recons, I roll the success die first before rolling for the AA so I don't get the opportunity to see what's behind the stack (I'm forgetful so by the time the next player turn rolls around I don't remember what the Soviets have anyway) unless there's actually been a "chance" of success.

Greg


I am lucky enough that I'm forgetful too, so although I always have some vague idea of what's where, I usually don't know precisely. I use the same mechanic that you describe with air recon rolls as well! I should post a photo of what a battle hex looks like after a 3 unit combat element attacks a city with four blocks, then sends in a fighter and bomber unit, to which the enemy reacts with a fighter. It's like the tower of babel. Fortunately, I have no cats.

Thanks for your feedback and kind words!

Chris
3 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Buhl
United States
Leeds
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have received another correction from the designer. I wrote that

Quote:
They must then spend 2 yellow PP (again 1 per turn max) to “assemble” the factory.


That is not correct. It takes two TURNS, but the process happens automatically, without spending any additional resources.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Rogers
United States
APO
US Armed Forces - Europe
flag msg tools
I wouldn't endorse a Soviet move into Petsamo in June 1941 but it is something that can be done. The production center could be destroyed, rendering it unusable by the Germans until it gets fixed. A move into Petsamo would certainly keep the Germans from immediately moving one of the two mountain units out of the area and into the main theatre (at a time when it is relatively inexpensive for them to do so). But, the downside is:

the German mountain units could attack that unit in Petsamo in July 1941 instead of in Murmansk in August 1941 and it would be 100% clear that it is only two steps because there would not have been time to reinforce it (no Soviet reinforcements in June 1941). If it gets lost completely in fighting in July 1941, Murmansk is then completely empty which means that the Soviets would need to rail yet another unit into the area just to cover empty space. July 1941 is the time when the Soviets need every available unit to fill space and the loss of yet another could spell disaster...
2 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Buhl
United States
Leeds
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hi Greg,

I tend to agree with you about the Soviets not taking Petsamo. However, I have made six different German attacks on Petsamo in my different aborted games. In four of those attacks, the Germans won on the first turn they invaded, facing between2 and 4 soviet steps each time. The German mountain troops were chewed up badly, but with the Finns moving in it becomes impossible for Russia to reinforce the area. In one game it took 3 months, and 4 separate attacks to take Murmansk. The Germans went in and retreated, the Finns went in and retreated, then the re-fitted Germans, then the refitted Finns. In that game October was good weather, and by Novemeber the Russians were down to one step so even the first winter Malus couldn't save them. In the other game, the second attack, by the Finns, took Murmansk.

Emanuele has said that in his opinion the Axis can't win if Murmansk doesn't fall, so I make that a priority in my Axis planning. For the Soviets, I don't presume that the reverse is true (that they can't win if Murmansk does fall), but I think it's an important point to hold. As you said, though, getting a unit up there is tricky before the Finns cut the rail line, so it's usually a matter of re-fitting the units. I did once have 2 units in Murmansk, but only a total of 4 or maybe 5 steps. I wonder if I should prioritize that more in my defense for Russia. Against a more skilled Axis player, perhaps that would be more evident?

I haven't yet played past 1942, and in that game, it seemed very likely that Germany was already dead in the water. I don't think I'd have gone as far as they did historically. In this current game, I already am wondering if I've too greatly divided my resources by splitting AGC, and think I may be already slowing down too much. And I say that perceiving myself as playing the Soviets kind of poorly. If I'm right about that, then I'm not sure if my play as Germans gives an adequate assessment of how important Murmansk is.Time will tell.

I would be most interested in any specific experiences you've had playing that seem relevant, or thoughts on how this game progresses (from Greg or from anyone else). I've played a number of block games of WWII as the Germans, mainly Europe Engulfed but also Eastfront II and a playtest of Sturm Europa. In all cases, I performed more poorly than they did historically. Since they lost, I'd like to at least get as good as they were some day.

Thanks again for replying.

Chris
1 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Greg Rogers
United States
APO
US Armed Forces - Europe
flag msg tools
I think that Murmansk is extremely important in the long term. If the war extends over two years, then the extra PPs are critical. But...Murmansk only has value if the railway is open. If the railway is lost, Murmansk has little value. Lend Lease can go straight to Archangelsk in the summer months. In the winter months, the Lend Lease can't go anywhere if the railway is gone. Of course, if the railway is held but Murmansk is lost, then...Stalin will have someone's head.

If Murmansk is lost, or the railway is lost, a max. of 12 Armor and 6 Air Lend Lease points will be lost during the six winter months. These special Lend Lease points really act as 12 Armor, 6 Air, and 18 Yellow PP if the Soviets had to compensate for them via the normal channels of production. That's a lot. On average, German strategic warfare against the Arctic Lend Lease will destroy 7/6 PP a turn. Over the 6 winter turns, that's 7 PP. Given that, the Soviet could expect 11 total Special Lend Lease PPs for the six months, or 11 Red/Blue and 11 Yellow for the six months.

So what is it really worth for the Soviets to try to save the railway, or Murmansk? The fact that the Red/Blue Lend Lease PPs can be used for production in any major city in the Soviet Union, and not those tied to the particular type of industry/factory, can be very important. But...railing units up to the area to try to defend it also costs 1 Yellow PP for each SRM. This is a tough decision. I believe it is in the Soviet Union's interest to keep the railway open. After an expenditure of 20 Yellow PPs from July to September/October it should be clear if it is going to work or not. Throwing that much up there also keeps the Germans forced to do the same, either by reinforcing the mountain units there or by giving PPs to the Finns who will probably break one or both of their ski units from the 5 step to the 3 step while trying to get to the railway.
2 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Buhl
United States
Leeds
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
And once again I'm reminded of a rule, only placing new units in cities that produce that type of unit.

I'm never quite able to really do the math on things like this, but your numbers are very helpful. I'll try to give some more thought to that in the future.

I'm very interested in how Lend Lease might happen in linked BitE - BitW game.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.