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Subject: S'43: The Bad Man Stopped rss

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Scott Ohman
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This is a continuation of "W'41: Make the Bad Man Stop."
To briefly recap our story thus far:
- In S'41, the Germans cut off Leningrad and engaged Odessa.
- As winter set in, the heroic and valiant German Army rolled on, pushing to within one hex of Moscow, and focused on local actions while preparing for the spring thaw. When it came, they blitzed on both active fronts, cutting of the relief effort directed at Leningrad, and encircling the forces being evacuated from Odessa.
- In S'42, we pushed closer towards our eventual victory, taking Leningrad, Odessa, Gorky, and entering Moscow.
- As W'42 came on, we brilliantly blocked the Russian offensive in the North, and prepared for the summer offensive by strengthening our position in the south, taking Kharkov. Unfortunately, the desperate need for more troops in the siege of Kharkov forced us to abandon Gorky, and with it the dream of encircling Moscow and putting an end to their dogged resistance. This was perhaps my first REALLY BIG mistake – not pouring everything into the encirclement of Moscow.

This brings us to Summer of 1943. The year of German victory. Oil flowing out of the Caucasus, Parades on the streets of Berlin and Hitlerburg (aka Leningrad). Grateful Russians welcoming us with flowers and candy on the streets of Moscow. Flags and fireworks had already been ordered. I mean, it would be wrong to deny me total victory after I ordered fireworks, right?

German Preparation: It all started well. On the first fortnight, I fiddled with the troops around Moscow, pulling banged-up units out and pouring fresh units in.
At this point, I didn’t expect to win Moscow, but I wanted to keep him on the ropes there as much as possible, so he wouldn’t have the power to stop my offensive in the south. I certainly wasn’t expecting him to take any serious offensive action. I’d essentially owned the last two summers!

Russian Counter-attack: To my surprise, the Russians had the strength to blitz north of Moscow, but fortunately, I had placed a 4 strength infantry there, recognizing the lack of depth in my lines. It was a brilliant strategic decision, and not merely (as my opponent might claim) a "lucky" moment. They certainly weren’t planning on moving into Moscow themselves. Delaying that offensive for a turn certainly wouldn’t have resulted in the Russians punching through to an undefended command post. In the center he moved a single unit into a space I needed to have open, for my plan to encircle a large group and cut his forces in half to work.

“No problem,” I thought. I didn’t need to eliminate those guys. I’ll just move immediately to what was originally my step 2 – the elimination of his southern forces. It wouldn’t be coupled with a pleasant tank drive through the hills behind Moscow, as I’d originally planned, but it should still work. In the second fortnight, I unleashed my assault in the south. I (judging by his facial expressions and moaning) caught the Russians off-guard with a two-pronged assault. The southern group, blitzing towards Nikolaev failed to destroy their opposition until the blitz phase (blitzing gives you the option to move, attack, move, attack, unlike the usual sequence of move, attack). North of this action, I blitzed out of Kharkov, smashing through his lines, and nearly encircling most of his southern front. I sat back, smug. To understand the pain the Russians were in, you have to understand that each of these assaults were with 3-4 blocks at full strength, including infantry, mech, tanks, and the dreaded SS divisions (in other words, the maximum force the game allows). My notes at this point say that the “Russians counterattacked at Melitopol.” As I recall, this failed to create any serious problems.

Mindful of the need to keep moving, I made what might have been a mistake. After the blitz, my commanders were exhausted (strengths of 1 and 0). I burned a valuable OKH command point to get another strong HQ down to the region. Heck, nothing major has happened around Moscow for a year, I thought. Why not put that guy where he can do some good?

Instead of staying around and graciously allowing themselves to be encircled, the Russians started pulling out towards Sevastopol, in what even their own propagandists now refer to as the “total evacuation of the south.”

In the second fortnight, I desperately tried to prevent the Soviets from slipping away. I had my SS Tank Group, a full strength 2nd Tank, and the 55 Mechanized across the Dnieper. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the southern group into the single, crucial hex that gave the Soviets a path to freedom. Stalin (er, I mean Rusty) continued pulling his troops out and formed a line further back. Not exactly the smashing victory I’d hoped for, but I had moved way up on production, from 88 to 97 points (with of course, an equally significant drop for the Russians.)

August: Perhaps morale at this crucial point was lowered when, during build-up, I chose to liquidate a damaged unit in Moscow, as hex-side limits would have prevented me from pulling them out and pouring fresh troops in. Their, um, heroic sacrifice for the Fatherland will not be forgotten…or whatever. I virtually eliminated his units in the south, but couldn’t get across the straight to harass the guys running towards Sevastopol, as a little squiggle I hadn’t previously noted on the map meant that I couldn’t actually move that direction. I made a valiant effort to claim it was a river, but even Goebbels couldn’t have made a convincing argument – it was part of the Sea of Azov. More death in Moscow – there’s really nothing to exciting to report there. Foolish, perhaps, but it’s really hard to have a bunch of Infantry and Tanks in Moscow and not order them to shoot. Even when you’re thinking “this is not a good idea.” Even when the odds are against them. It’s like a case of whisky in front of an alcoholic.

At this point, I stopped taking notes. Things started to get ugly. I was tired. My HQ’s were spent. I just had to pray he didn’t have the strength to do anything. But he did. Sometimes, it went my way, as when he foolishly sent single mechanized units against my SS divisions and other tough guys around Karkov in September, only to see them vaporized in a single turn. He pushed a harder counterattack in November, but once again failed to achieve much.

Oh, by the way, I mean the counter-attack in the south. You might be thinking about that other counter-attack. First, let me state categorically that the Germans did not “run away, gibbering with terror.” We loyally carried out our hold-fast orders. We merely, what’s the phrase, “strategically re-formed our lines.” Or we reeled back like a punch-drunk fighter. Whatever. So, yes, I failed to take Moscow. I failed to cut his forces in half. I failed to liquidate his forces in the south. Most importantly, my forces are thin enough in the north that there’s a very real danger of having my Moscow salient encircled, and perhaps even losing Leningrad. Nonetheless, the truly important facts are this:
- It was an off-chart victory for the Germans.
- My enemy refers to it as the “Summer of Horror.”
- I have twice his PP’s, and nearly all of my units are at full strength
- I’ve had enough left-over points to bring units back in and build them up, to the point where I’m only missing perhaps 4 units from the initial Barbarossa group (and when you consider the replacements I’ve received, I’m well above the Barbarossa numbers).

So why do I feel like I’m the one teetering on the verge of collapse?
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Philippe Sergerie
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Man, this is exciting stuff! I think I'm going to pull out my EastFront games and do a solo. This is truly inspiring! I just wished I had another ... volunteer to play.
 
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Tim Taylor
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Wonderful continuation of a great session report! Are you going to go on with this session?
 
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Jeff S
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Nice report. Hopefully I'll get to pull EF out tomorrow at the club. One of the great thigns about the game is that both sides feel like they are on the ropes at one time or another.
 
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Scott Ohman
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Thanks for the encouragement. This was my first session report.
Herr Niemand wrote:
Are you going to go on with this session?


Yes, assuming Rusty's amenable, I'd like to keep going at least until a) I capture Moscow, or b) Rusty gets off the left map edge (i.e. driving on Berlin). That said, I've been reading Marshal Zhukov’s memoirs. Apparently, in late S'41, the Russians set up a "reserve supreme HQ" and reserves well behind Moscow, and Stalin may have even briefly fled to this HQ when it looked like Moscow would fall, so maybe the capture of Moscow is not enough to ensure Russian capitulation. Also, if I recall, there is some sort of arbitrary end point to the scenarios that we'll have to contend with.

Unfortunately, Rusty was unable to play last Saturday, as he was "sick" and claimed to need something called "sleep" so he could "take care of his kids in the morning," whatever that meant. Some people have no sense of responsibility.
 
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Rusty McFisticuffs
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humboldtscott wrote:
Also, if I recall, there is some sort of arbitrary end point to the scenarios that we'll have to contend with.

The way things went last night, it looks like that arbitrary end point is going to be when I run out of units to feed you! (I'm guessing September.)
 
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Scott Ohman
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The next installment (W'44) can be found in:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/130908

(I couldn't think of a single funny thing to say here.)
 
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