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Subject: Operation Uranus or Winter campaign in southern Russia rss

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Miikka Rytty
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It was time to play EastFront again. The choosen scenario was that of winter -42 and I was playing Russian side. The German setup was pretty standard and was aimed to defend Stalingrad from encirclement. Directly behind Stalingrad there were two stacks of units, which most likely were German panzers (they were as I was soon to find out). Since Russian side barely had enough units to hold the line and have a meager force for attack, I decided that the only viable option was to attack towards Rostov and hope that the line would be shortened that way (any pocketed Germans would be a bonus). Since Stalingrad had a strong reserve, the historical solution, Operation Uranus followed by Operation Little Saturn was out of the question.

My initial plan was very incompetent. I was going to go straight to Rostov, cut the supply from the whole Axis army in Caucasus and win the game before February. So far so good, but the initial operational plan called for the separate thrust: one from north by crossing Don and one from south starting near Grozny. The idea was that even if one would get stuck, the other would threaten the rear area. However, the souther pincer (althought succesful) was literally middle of nowhere with no real chance to reach Rostov. It was pretty much a waste of resources, even if it did surround a couple of German unit and tied down some.

Anyway, my northern pincer was a success. It blitzed and easily crossed Don and reached Donets. It completely threw Germans out of the balance even if no units were cut out (some were in south, but they would have been eventually). Only a lone Panzer corps could be sent to defend the vital Rostov, the lifeline for the whole Caucasus.

Since I had wasted too many units for the southern pincer, my northern thrust was running out of the steam. So the best I could muster was to throw a ingle unit into Rostov and thus cutting the Rail/Sea-supply. Here I made a rule mistake but since it made the game more competive and it favoured my opponent, it was probably OK. The mistake was that we forgot the siege sea supply rule and thus allowed now engaged Rostov to be an active supply source with 2 hex land supply radius. A strange dance followed for a couple of turns: I threw a unit into Rostov, which cut the supply for Caucasus. Then Germans counterattacked and opened the lines again and rebuild some of the lost units. This saved the Axis army in Caucasus and the lines finally settled near Donets. Without getting the rule wrong I guess I would have eventually overcame Rostov and the game would have practically ended - there was nothing that could have stopped me from marching into Ukraine or the rear area of Army Group Center, but now I couldn't do it since the Axis units in Caucasus threatened my flanks between Don and Donets.

By the beginning of February my offensive had finally stalled. Thus I started to start to build a frontline and move units toward Kursk area where I planned to open a new offensive. But the weather turned and we had five consecutive mud fortnights. That time was basicly used to shuffle units and rebuild them.

It is hard to estimate but I think that at the start of the summer Soviet army was in much better shape than German. During the winter lots of units were rebuild - and the most importantly I had almost completely build tank corpses. The German forces had also recored their strength but their problem was that a big chunck of their forces were still trapped south of Rostov - in supply, but unable to threaten me. The following summer campaign was started by German blitz offensive near Voroshilograd. It pierced my front and took my 3 step HQ by surprise, thus I lost 3 HQ steps. Luckily for me I had another HQ and tanks nearby and I easily cut off the German spearhead with a blitz. Near Kursk I started an another attack with the objective of threating Army Group Center and South. The Germans reacted with a desparate blitz that tried to sever my lines of communications for that attack. They came one hex short and at the same time opened their own flank. Thus I easily poured my tanks thru the hole and cut the supply all units between Bryansk and Kharkov. This was the final straw and Germans sued for the peace.

Summa summarum: It was a really fun game althought I made grave mistakes and I was lucky to do as good as I did. We played from December -42 to the end of June -43 and it took about 3,5 hours of playtime (including the set-up).
 
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Gotthard Heinrici (prev. Graf Strachwitz)
Germany
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A very exciting review of one of the most exiting games ever!

I immediately feel like playing again!
 
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