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Subject: Axis operational victory rss

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Sam Carroll
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What follows is the transcript of a game of Europe Engulfed played over several days, starting on Sep. 23. I had originally intended to record every turn, but that only lasted for a couple of years. After that, I've summarized the activity for each year. At the end is my commentary.

Optional Rules: Me-262s, Operation Overlord.


1939:
Sep-Oct: The Germans invaded Lublin with four four-step infantry corps, and Lodz with several three-step infantry, three four-step Panzers, and three GSUs. They kept three four-step infantry in reserve in East Prussia. The Poles, though they held out in Lublin, were quickly overwhelmed in Lodz. The Germans spent a Special Action to invade Warsaw, leaving their infantry behind in Lodz, but bringing their Panzers, GSUs, and three infantry corps from East Prussia. The Poles reinforced Warsaw with a cavalry block from Brest-Litovsk, which saved them temporarily, as the German assault was not quite able to clear the Polish defenders. Thus, the Germans were forced to spend their last Special Action for a Breakthrough Combat round. This had far-reaching implications.

The Germans had planned to use a Special Action to strat-move a considerable amount of their army back from Poland. Since they were unable to do so, Germany's western border was only lightly defended. The French, feeling lucky, took advantage of this. They sent a large army of infantry, supported by one tank and a GSU, into the Rhineland. They were able to take and hold it. To protect their supply lines, they shifted a few infantry blocks from Calais into Metz, and the British sent four infantry corps to help defend Calais.

Nov-Dec: Thor was smiling on the French, as the weather turned to mud. The Germans' production was hampered by their loss of the Rhineland, and they had insufficient troops to retake it. Instead, they seized the opportunity to break the Maginot Line. Five blocks of infantry moved into Metz, taking horrific losses, but surviving long enough to breach the Line. Meanwhile, the Germans moved most of their army back from Poland to Baden and Ruhr.

1940:
Jan-Feb: Now that the winter snows had come, Germany declared war on Belgium and the Netherlands, sending a couple of infantry and three Panzer blocks into the Netherlands. Since they had little infantry available for garrison duties, they sent an airborne unit in as well. The Dutch fell with little resistance, so the Germans attacked Belgium immediately afterwards. The Belgians were unable to halt the Panzers, leaving a German army poised on the French frontier. However, the combined French/British army in Calais looked too formidable to attack, given the weakness of the German infantry.

The French briefly considered attacking Baden with their army in the Rhineland, but, on sober reflection, decided to stay put. Their army in Metz kicked out the last German invaders, so they felt fairly secure, even though their vaunted Maginot Line had been breached.

Mar-Apr: Since the weather was muddy again, the Germans mostly spent this time building up their forces. They declared war on Denmark, winning easily. This put them in position for a potential invasion of Norway next turn.

The French stayed put as well. They did shift their Mediterranean fleet into the Atlantic, since Great Britain was sending her young men – and GSUs – to Egypt, leaving the homeland wide open to German attack.

May-Jun: Far to the north, the Germans concentrated their navy in the Baltic. One Special Action enabled them to invade Norway. Though only one airborne unit was available (the other being in the Netherlands on garrison duty), and though the Norwegians fought with might and main (inflicting three hits with four dice), the Germans took Oslo.
Meanwhile, to the south, great deeds were being done. “The hour is come!” cried the Germans. Building two infantry corps in Baden and some tanks behind the lines gave them enough of a striking force to invade Metz. Adding to this, they sent most of their forces from Belgium as well. After the French reinforced from Calais and Paris, they enjoyed a slight numerical superiority in infantry, but only had four steps of tanks, compared to the Germans' twenty. Two rounds of combat sufficed to clear the defenders. The Germans had lost one GSU, several steps of infantry, and only one step of armor. The invasion of Paris was carried out with ease, and the Germans spent their last SA to send a tank corps south to Marseille, thus conquering France.

The British were left with four full-strength infantry blocks in Calais. Clearly, they needed to leave France as quickly as possible, but where to go? Two of them were sent north to Trondheim, making an uncontested invasion, while the other two strat-moved down to French North Africa, one being parked in Algiers to protect against an Axis landing; the other going to Tunisia, possibly to invade Libya.

Jul-Aug: Secure in their control of France, the Germans declared war on Yugoslavia and ratcheted up production of strategic assets, namely U-Boats and bombers. They sent one Panzer corps to Marmarica, garrisoned France, and strat-moved the last few units to Austria. They also sent a Bulgarian block into Skopje to pin the Yugos there. Then they spent a Special Action to invade Belgrade with the Germans from Austria and some Rumanians from Ploesti. However, this attack did not finish off the Yugos, so they spent another SA to attack again.
The consensus is that this attack was poorly planned and executed. The Germans had had the goal of controlling Europe “from the Pyrenees to the Pelopennensus” by the end of the summer, forgetting that the winter weather would still be fairly suitable for an invasion of Greece. Had the Germans waited a turn, they would have saved not just one, but two SAs, as they would have built more units in Austria and cleared Belgrade on the first attack.
For that matter, even granted that the Germans did invade Yugoslavia in Jul-Aug, they should not have spent an SA to clear Belgrade. It gained them two WERPs and denied the Yugos one pip of infantry, but the rewards did not match the investment, particularly since the Yugos could not have traced supply to Britain to provide them with their WERPs.

Meanwhile, the British increased ASW to level three, built fighters, and moved a block of tanks to Tunisia.

Sep-Oct: A slow turn. The Italians attempted to invade Malta, but failed miserably. The Germans moved their army down to Skopje, reinforcing it with some fresh infantry. The British attacked Tripolitana from Tunisia, not quite clearing the Italians. They declined the opportunity to use an SA to finish the job.

Nov-Dec: The weather was snowy, clear in the Southern Weather Zone. The Germans declared war on Greece. They lost a few pips of infantry in Northern Greece, but went on to take Athens with no trouble. They also moved a four-step tank into Sirta. The Italians rebuilt their airborne unit (thereby getting around the rule about airborne units making airborne invasions on consecutive turns) and invaded Malta again, pulling an infantry block from Marmarica to do so. Since the British had not paid for Unlimited Reinforcements but left their four-step infantry at the three-step level, the Italians successfully took Malta with some impressive luck. (Two three-step infantry, one two-step airborne, and a GSU made an amphibious assault on a three-step infantry in a fortress and won. I seem to recall that the Brits got all of one hit from their six dice with three hit-bonuses, when the average would be four hits.) This, of course, increased the Italian fleet-supply capacity.

The British built fighters and flak, strat-moved an infantry block to Crete (taking one hit from Italian interdiction), and finished off the Italians in Tripolitana. However, since the Germans had moved into Sirta, the British did not invade there.

1941:

Jan-Feb: The Germans paid for Unlimited Reinforcements for their airborne units in Greece. Then they moved an infantry to Sirta, left a couple of infantry in Athens to prepare for an amphibious invasion of Crete, and moved the rest of their army up into Poland.

The British found that having French North Africa made their task easier, as they could strat-move a GSU through Morocco without running the gauntlet of Italian interdiction. They strengthened the garrison of Crete and built ASW.

Mar-Apr: The weather was snowy. The Germans continued to build infantry for Barbarossa. They made an amphibious/airborne attack on Crete, clearing Crete on the second round of combat. However, this left Sirta too exposed, so the lone Panzer corps there retreated to Cyrenaica, while one of the infantry blocks from Crete garrisoned Tobruk. Meanwhile, the main Afrika Korps in Marmarica attacked Western Egypt, breaching the Field Fortification there.

The British took Sirta, spent a Special Action to invade Cyrenaica, and declared an assault. The 4-step German tank destroyed the 3-step British tank, but the 6 pips of British infantry destryoyed the German tank with the help of their GSU. Then the British spent their second SA to invade Marmarica, cutting the Afrika Korps off from supply. However, Italian morale did not collapse, since they still held the fortress of Tobruk.

May-Jun: The Germans left two 2-step Italian infantry as a rearguard in Western Egypt. The rest of the Afrika Korps, plus a four-step infantry from Tobruk, made a desperate assault on Marmarica. The first round saw heavy losses, primarily taken by the Italian infantry (who were out-of-supply anyway), but since the British had no tanks, the German and Italian tanks fired with hit-bonuses. After one round, the British had two steps left. The Germans let the Italians rest and took another round of combat, barely clearing Marmarica. They also moved their two airborne units from Crete to Sicily, besides which they built two 3-step infantry in Austria and moved them to Venice, just in case the British should leave Algiers open.

The British promptly strat-moved two infantry from Great Britain to Cyrenaica. They would have moved more, but the German U-Boats were severely hampering the British strat-moves. They also attacked the Italian rearguard in Western Egypt, but poor dice meant only one pip lost for each side.

Jul-Aug: The Germans made an uncontested airborne assault on Tunisia (some poor British officer got put on K.P. for that blunder) and strengthened their forces in Marmarica. Meanwhile, on the Eastern Front . . .
. . . was Barbarossa. A small Rumanian force attacked the Russians in Bessarabia, while the Germans pushed into Lithuania, Lvov, and Brest-Litovsk. The attack in Brest-Litovsk went poorly, requiring a Special Action to finish off the Russians. Then the Germans attacked the Pripet Marshes, not quite clearing them, and sent six blocks through Kiev into the Dnepr River Bend, so as to cut off the Russians in Bessarabia. This strategy backfired.

The Russians cleared Bessarabia, even with an out-of-supply army, and invaded Kiev to cut off the German force in the Dnepr River Bend. With twenty free steps of infantry and a cadre bonus, their army suddenly grew to a respectable size. They reinforced the Pripet Marshes, causing a German colonel to tear out his hair.

Sep-Oct: Army Group North moved into Latvia, then proceeded to Novgorod, taking Estonia and Minsk along the way. In the center, they finally cleared the Pripet Marshes after three rounds of combat. In the south, they retook Kiev and left three infantry blocks in the Dnepr River Bend. And in Africa, they attacked Cyrenaica, having a respectable round of combat.

The Soviets did not sit still to let their army in Bessarabia be destroyed. They piled on forces for an assault of the Dnepr River Bend, taking heavy losses. When it did not succeed, they spent their Special Action and by good luck cleared out the last German – by the skin of their teeth. The ill-fated Germans had not saved a Special Action for reinforcement.

1942: Eastern Front: This was the high-water mark for the Germans. Early in the summer, they finally cleared the Soviets out of Bessarabia and the Dnepr. They took Moscow, the Ladoga and Onega Swamps, and invaded the Dvina Swamps but never took them. The Soviet forces in Leningrad were starved out over the course of the year. Late in the year, the Soviets attacked Moscow, but were unable to clear it. The Northern area of Russia turned into piles of Russian and German blocks sitting in Moscow and the Dvina Swamps, generally unwilling to attack. The Soviets sometimes attacked in Dvina during snow turns, but without great success. In the south, the Germans held Bryansk and the Dnepr River Bend, but never even attacked Kharkov, since the Russians had fortified it.

Africa: The Americans arrived to help out in Africa, but the Germans fought some astute delaying actions and lasted out the year with reasonable forces.

West Front: This was a hard year for the British. The Germans had done a little bit of bombing earlier in the game, but abandoned that now. However, their U-Boats beat down on British production pretty severely. The British were unable to send much aid to Russia, and what they did send had to go through Persia, and so was not the best investment anyway.

1943: Eastern Front: This year was fairly static. The Germans were able to keep up a steady stream of reinforcements to match the Soviet pace, even while they were distracted in the West. Big stacks in Moscow and Dvina Swamps were the order of the day. There was some movement in the south, but nothing decisive.

West Front: The U-Boats were knocked below 50 towards the end of '43. The Germans then stopped building them, concentrating instead on fighters and ground forces, since the Allies were bombing in force. The Western Allies landed in Belgium, since the Germans had not built a Field Fortification there. They were able to establish a beachhead, but were kicked off the next turn. They invaded AGAIN at the same place (it seemed to be the weakest spot.) This time, they held on through the winter, but couldn't build up many forces, since they counted double for tracing through a beachhead.

Africa: The Allies were too distracted by their landings in Belgium to prosecute the desert war properly. Italian morale did not collapse until the last turn of 1943, due to some adroit maneuvering. While the Allied fleets were stretched thin supplying a force in Belgium, the Italians made an uncontested landing in Algiers, which caused major headaches for the Allies, who had been tracing supply through Morocco for most of their troops. The Americans eventually wiped that force out, but it took two turns, due to Light Mud weather: one turn to strat-move forces to Oran, then another turn to attack.

1944: East: The Russians took the initiative and did little with it. About all they managed was to push into Bessarabia and formed another huge stack-off like the ones up north. This stack lasted well into 1945.

West: The Germans pushed the allies out of Belgium again in June, then built up their forces in France. Their U-Boats ceased to have any significance to the war effort, but the V-Weapons and Me-262s filled their place well. Towards the end of the year, the British finally liberated Norway, ending the supply of Swedish iron ore.

South: After the Allies were sent packing from Belgium, they finally got to work in the Mediterranean theater. A successful invasion of Crete paved the way for the assault on Italy. This was launched, paratroopers and all, against a well-defended Sicily. Clearing Sicily took (I think) two turns; then the Allies invaded Calabria in Nov-Dec. They held their beachhead, so Italy surrendered. Unfortunately for the Allies, there were several German blocks still there. Interestingly, none of them were in either Rome or Piedmont, so the Germans south of Rome were out of supply for a turn, but that was quickly remedied.

1945:
East: The Soviets finally made a serious threat to flank Moscow, forcing the Germans to withdraw. The German armor was forced to stay, since the only adjacent friendly territory was the Ladoga Swamps. When the Soviets took that, they cut off and destroyed about five low-strength German blocks in Moscow and Tula.
In Jul-Aug, the Russians kicked the Germans completely out of Russia, except for one three-step block in Leningrad. They had a large army in Minsk poised to march west, and little opposition was in sight: a few Hungarian blocks in Poland. Unfortunately, the Germans reinforced Warsaw and East Prussia during their turn.
In Sep-Oct, the Soviets finally broke the German stack in Bessarabia. A few Germans fled to Bucharest. They got a significant army into Warsaw, but there was exactly one pip of German infantry left when the snow came.

South: The Allies made little headway in Italy. The Germans withdrew as far as Rome, then stood firm. The Allies sent few reinforcements, being more interested in the Western Front. However, they were tying up several German blocks in Rome which were needed elsewhere.

West: In May-Jun, the Allies declared Overlord and invaded Calais with a huge force: five infantry, five airborne, two armor, and some GSUs. The Germans reinforced, of course, but the next turn they were utterly swept away. The British moved into Paris and then Metz; the Americans marched north through the Low Countries.

The Last Turn: At the beginning of this turn, the Germans held twelve resource areas: five in Germany, two in Italy, plus Marseille, Warsaw, Belgrade, Ploesti, and Athens. They fortified across the map, hoping to hold on.

The Americans and British went after Baden and Ruhr with everything they had, but in the snow, they were unable to make a significant dent in either one. The Americans in Rome made a futile assault and got themselves completely slaughtered. It was up to the Russians.
The latter took Warsaw in the north, saving their SAs for the south, where they planned first to take Bucharest, then Ploesti, then Bohemia. This would mean a Marginal Loss for the Allies.
However, when the Germans retreated their army from Bucharest to Ploesti, it looked like a tough nut to crack. Instead, they swung south through Bulgaria. Their tanks then went after Belgrade, taking advantage of the clear weather in the Southern Zone. Had Belgrade fallen in one round, the Soviet tanks could have blitzed through Austria to Bohemia for a marginal loss. However, the Hungarians and Germans barely hung on for a second round, saving the Operational Victory. At the end of the game, the Germans held Berlin, Bohemia, Rhineland, Ploesti, Athens, Marseille, Rome, and Piedmont uncontested; and Ruhr and Baden contested.

Analysis:
The major reason for the German Operational Victory was Soviet passiveness. The Western Allies did not fight too well, but had the Soviets been more aggressive, the game would probably have been an Axis Marginal, possibly a draw.

The French invasion of Rhineland worked out well, particularly since the weather was muddy on both variable turns that winter. They might have done better to pull more of their forces back to Metz after a turn or two; many blocks of their army both in Calais and Rhineland never fought once the Germans invaded. However, the Germans took some substantial losses breaking the Maginot Line during the winter, which meant that their losses were about at par. From a WERP standpoint, the Germans lost four turns of Rhineland production, totalling 24. This allowed the Germans to invade the Low Countries in Jan/Feb, gaining at least four WERPs from what they could have gotten otherwise, so the French decision meant two fewer blocks of Panzers to send east. In short, this tactic worked out well this time. Had the weather been snowy, it might not have done so. I don't believe I'll use it frequently, but maybe pull it out when I feel adventurous.

The German decision to conquer France rather than accepting Vichy did not work out well. As I've pointed out in a forum post, it's not a great decision economically. You would not otherwise hold Marseille until the Allies declare war on Vichy, so you gain at least 16 WERPs, possibly as many as 20. However, your investment is 5 for a Special Action, at least 2 for a garrison unit (probably more), plus you give the British a Fleet Point worth 10. Briefly, you'll just about break even. The major advantage is that you can send more Germans to Africa; the major disadvantage is that the British get French North Africa (and the Levant, which is far less important). They can put a large force into Africa, being supplied through Morocco, while a small force just plays defensively against the Italians in Egypt. Their fleet supply capacity will be far less strained. In this game, the Germans did not at first realize this. If they had, they would have conducted matters a great deal differently.
I think that conquering France is useful if you also invade Spain. Then you can make airdrops in French North Africa. The Allies must garrison Morocco, Oran, Algiers, and Tunisia against airdrops, giving them a much smaller striking force. In this game, the Germans did not invade Spain, nor did they really use their ability to beef up Africa. They might have sent more than one unit per turn by Italian sea-transport once, and I don't think they ever had equal numbers with the Italian units. Fortunately, the Allied incompetence meant that they didn't pay too much for their blunder.

The desert war was somewhat influenced by good Italian luck in taking Malta, but still the Allies could and should have won it a good deal earlier, especially given that the Brits held French North Africa. Had they kept garrisons in Algiers and Tunisia, things would have gone a great deal better for them. I also think that the Germans made an illegal move by going from a contested Western Egypt to a British-held Marmarica. Had we played correctly, Italian morale might have collapsed much earlier.
In any case, the Allies should have invaded Italy a year earlier than they did, before the Germans arrived to supplement the morale-less Italians. Unfortunately, they were too busy bleeding themselves in Belgium.

Yes, Belgium was the major issue for the WAllies. Their two early invasions hurt more than they helped. They did not distract much German attention from the Eastern front, and they did strain fleet-supply enough to delay the invasion of Italy. They would have been better off building more fleets and Strategic Assets and waiting to invade.
If the Germans have a strong force in France, it seems to me that one should wait until May-Jun 1944 to invade. That way, you can send infantry and paratroops in, eat the counterattack, and then bring in lots of American tanks with the second American SA, following that with an assault round on a level playing field. Query: how many fleet points do people here usually have in the Atlantic when you invade France/Belgium?

The Soviets could have done a great deal better, but they were too passive. In late '43 or early '44, they should have been disengaging their stacks from the Germans and trying to encircle them, rather than sitting there staring at each other. At the least, the Germans would have had to retreat. As it was, they suddenly broke the Germans in mid to late 1945, but didn't have enough time to roll across Poland. Also, by the time the Soviets really started moving, they were paying extra for ground units, which made it hard for them to keep their juggernaut rolling.

Despite the lopsided win, it was a most enjoyable game for all parties.
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