I studied this scenario recently and wanted to share my thoughts on it. While I like the look of the scenario, as it would lend itself to tournament play, it also seems difficult to win as the Germans.
The German difficulties start with the location VP, and the three closest to the German starting hexes are:
Voin-1: 10 VP on 9 AM+
Shaino: 10 VP on 9 AM, 0 VP on 9 PM
Dumchino: 20 VP on 9 AM, 10 VP on 9 PM+
The maximum VP in these 3 hexes is 40 VP, but that must be achieved by the end of the first game turn. Voin-1 is sort of a freebie, but taking the other two on the first turn doesn’t seem likely, given that each German KG will need to spend one activation to get into position to attack, then their second activations attacking and (if successful) occupying these locations. The Soviet player can move HQ units into Shaino and Dumchino and declare No Retreats, on top of Stronghold and Village DRMs, which help to deny the VP bonuses for earlier capture.
So, the German needs to be prepared for a longer game that uses all of his available turns. Looking deeper into the Soviet defenses, the next VP locations are:
Mtsensk: 30 VP 9AM/9PM, 20 VP 10 AM+, +10 VP bonus
Karandakovo-2: 10 VP 9 PM+
These would yield another possible 50 VP, but taking them promptly in the manner dictated by the VP table will prove difficult. Mtsensk is worth special attention, as it is worth the most VP of these 5. It is surrounded by the river, so attacks will most likely be halved, unless the German player gets troops across the river and attacks the town from both sides.
The Soviet player can fill both hexes of Mtsensk (2736 and 2737) with stacks; the 5 Abn units, in particular, are well suited for this. The only nearby bridge, along the railway in 2938, should also be blocked, and the Soviet can put units along the approach to Mtsensk to take up time or simply German movement points (even Overruns cost MPs). Thus, the most likely situation that the German should prepare for is taking the minimum of location VPs, on the later dates, which would yield a total of 60 VP between the 5 villages. The following are possible as well, but as they are at the board edge, unlikely:
Snezhed: 30 VP
Bol. Kamenko: 40 VP
Of the two, Snezhed may be taken eventually by the 9 PM reinforcement group if the Soviet player leaves the location unoccupied and the roads unguarded. For this reason, the smart Soviet player will move units to Snezhed as well as Karandakovo-2, which will certainly delay the German attempts if not blunt them completely. Taking Bol. Kamenko requires an assault straight down the central road; probably impossible in most games. Thus, the German player will need to assume the worst-case scenario of 60 VP and consider other ways to get VP.
The Soviets have 141 possible casualty VP on the map. This includes 16 single-step units, 35 2-step units, 6 HQs, and 3 rocket units, as well as the fact that 3 units are step-reduced at start. The German also gets points for crossing the Zusha river, 3 VP per unit (not per step). The German has 51 combat units (including from Orel only the 1 unit that is released, and not including fuel trucks). This amounts to 153 possible VP. Crossing will be difficult, as there are few bridges. Getting to those bridges will be time consuming, and even an unopposed crossing at any point is unlikely. Nevertheless, it can be done.
To get into the Marginal Victory range (180-219), the German player must think as follows:
1. Take 60 VP in the 5 locations.
2. Get 50% of my force across the Zusha (25 x 3 VP = 75).
3. Inflict 50% casualties on the Soviets (approximately 70 VP).
The German also starts with 24 VP, which helps somewhat.
All of this would yield 229 VP, AND assumes no German casualties. This is an important point, as an A1/D1 or similar exchange result is often the worst result for a German player from a VP standpoint. Each ordinary (non-HQ, non-rocket) Soviet step is worth 2 VP, but each equivalent German VP is worth a 3 VP deduction. So, the German will need a buffer of some VP in order to achieve the minimum VP required to win the scenario, 180. Obviously, some of these figures are ballpark, as if the German takes Snezhed, or Shaino falls early, and so forth, the German will need to take inflict fewer casualties or cross fewer of his own units.
That said, this formula (take all 5 VP locations, inflict 50% casualties, and cross 50% of my own force) provides a good estimation of what are the most likely requirements to win this scenario. Another calculation is taking all of the victory locations for the maximum points; this would yield 160 VP, and is a very tempting way to look at it. In doing so, many Soviet steps will be lost, and many German units will get across the river. However, achieving all of this in 5 turns (10 possible activations per KG), and taking the towns in essentially the first turn or two for maximum VP, seems difficult.
The pink and purple KG are set up to attack on both sides of the road, aiming at Shaino and Dumchino. It may be tempting to attack on the flanks of the Soviet position. Even if both Shaino and Dumchino fall quickly, a big group of Soviets will still block the main road, hindering German supply. It may take a few more activations to clear out these Soviet units, who will most likely hunker down and wait for the Germans to burn activations clearing them out. Fighting the Soviets in this feels like fighting a bee swarm, as they can be everywhere, constantly in your face, and there always seem to be more of them.
One possible German approach is to give up the possibility of taking Shaino (which is unlikely on the first turn anyway) and concentrate all of his forces on the western side of the road. It’s important to note that 4231 is a supply source, and German reinforcements enter from that area. This may allow the German player to concentrate on Dumchino and turn that flank, while the reinforcements ensure that the roads to 4231 (and 4231 itself) are free of Soviet units. Even so, big Soviet stacks in Mstensk, with Strongholds and HQs to ensure No Retreats, will make the main German drive difficult.
Bypassing Mstensk and focusing on Snezhed is possible, but would likely yield 60-70 VP (Voin-1, Dumchino, K-2, and Snezhed), while avoiding the bulk of the Soviet force and drawing supply from 4231. It may be tempting to think that a rapier-like thrust that bypasses the Soviet force and aims at a crossing in the NW corner would be successful. However, 180 VP - 60 location VP - 24 starting VP = a 96 VP deficit; the German would need to cross 32 units (32 x 3 VP = 96), more than half of the combat units in his OB, to win in this manner.
In conclusion, this scenario is definitely a challenge for the German player, and yet I would certainly be willing to try it again to see how (or if) it can be won.
- Last edited Fri May 30, 2014 12:31 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Tue May 27, 2014 4:45 pm
You should expect to get 20 VPs easily from the near objectives on the south side of the river, even if you don't get extras for taking them early. You start with 24. The marginal victory threshold is 180, so you need 136 from other sources. The main city is worth 30 if held at the end of the game, no rush needed. The left flank objectives are worth 10 for the near side of the river and 30 for the far side in the northwest corner of the map. The deep objective on the far side of the river is another 40 but agreed that one is likely out of reach, particularly with the 6th Guards on that side of the river.
You are basically expected to take the town and force a river crossing in strength, or to bypass it to the northwest, also forcing a crossing in strength in that case. You are not expected to do both, but 40 more VPs from objectives are available either way. Assuming you got nothing extra for rapid seizures in the first couple turns, you need around 100 VPs from units across the river plus net VPs from losses inflicted exceeding your own taken, plus or minus 5.
You can't win without forcing a passage of the river. That is the primary point of the victory conditions. Straight along the road into Mtsensk is one way to do that. Getting across right near it to cut off the Russians in the city proper is a smarter and more likely way to succeed if that is the point of main effort. A heavy left crossing can also do it, particularly if you can get most of the force across.
Thanks. I corrected the Marginal Victory threshold (typo) to 180 and some of the calculations based on it, but the impact is minimal and leads to the same conclusions for me.