- Robert CrawfordUnited States
This session report covers the period from November 1942 (the Allied landings in North Africa and the retaking of the Suez Canal) to the conquest of Germany in May 1945 (yes, despite conquering most of the map, the Germans could not hold out against the combined force pools of the Soviet Union and the Western Allies).
If you are interested here are the Links to my previous session reports that cover aspects of 1939-42:
I took notes as I went along, but it is not a comprehensive overview. There are gaps.
JULY 43—The American and British advance towards Tunis and the ports needed to launch an invasion of Sicily was slowed by bad weather, terrain, Italian resistance, and lack of units. The British were still heavily engaged pushing towards Tunis from the east and the American army is small in the beginning. In July, despite an attempt by the remains of the German surface fleet to intercept (Surface Action marker allowed to be placed in the Eastern Med because the straits had been reopened by a daring German/Spanish attack across the straits into Tangiers), the UK 8th ARM made an amphibious landing behind the German lines in Tobruk. The Germans are not trapped, however, and continue to retreat westwards.
SEPTEMBER 43— Tripoli falls with the help of Free Forces.
DECEMBER 43— The Moscow Treaty ends and Soviet tank engines rev all along the frontier. Limited gains made in the South but the Germans retreat slowly in good order. Most of the German Army had a by-year and most of it is committed to the Eastern Front (more on this later in the summary). The only thing unusual was a Soviet invasion of Turkey which grabbed Erzerum and pushed west. The Axis were using the Turkish army to guard various spots in the Middle East so there was a rush to get it back to defend the homeland.
Taking advantage of a lucky weather roll (a 1 for fair weather in the Warm zone), the Allies launch Operation Husky—the invasion of Sicily. They use two Surprise Markers to achieve two beachheads. This, and overwhelming air superiority, allows them to land with sufficient force to make taking the island a foregone conclusion (though the Axis didn’t make it easy with the Italian fleet and air force desperately trying to intercept supply convoys).
JANUARY 44— The taking of Catania in Sicily causes Italian surrender. Unfortunately, or fortunately because the Western Allies used all of their Surprise Markers invading Sicily they have none left to invade Italy proper. The Germans know that the Allies cannot make another amphibious assault until June. The Germans can continue to focus on the situation in the East. The silver lining for the Western Allies is that the debate on the “soft underbelly” vs. cross-channel has been decided in favor of the latter. US and British troops will not slog their way up the Italian boot this war.
MARCH 44— Turkey falls and the Soviets make a miraculous opposed landing across the Bosporus and move into Bulgaria. Unrelenting Soviet pressure along the huge Eastern front.
APRIL 44—German Army Group South retreats from forward positions on the Donets all the way back to the Dnieper; Kharkov is abandoned (was this vast withdrawal a mistake?). Bulgaria falls to Soviet armor. Romanian units hurry home to defend their country from the south.
The Strategic Bombing Campaign begins in earnest with three allied strategic bomber units available. Initially, the Luftwaffe tries to interfere but one unit is insufficient in bad weather to do much except waste production that is desperately needed by units in the Soviet Union. The Germans make the difficult decision to not contest the bomber offensive, giving the Allies a +6 drm to their strategic warfare roll. The Germans could have moved an air unit from from Norway but that would have given up a +1 drm and the air unit would have needed 3pp/turn to keep it in the air war. Was this a mistake? I will discuss my take on the strategic war at the end of this session report.
MAY 44—Huge Soviet offensive in the north (Surprise Attack marker). Heavy artillery, shock and guard tank armies push Army Group North and Center into an arc from Riga to Kiev. The Western Allies prepare in England for the big day.
JUNE 44— Axis declare on Vichy and Vichy surrenders without set-up. German unit occupies Marseille. Meat grinder continues in the east with the Germans losing 3 pz armies.
D-Day: The Western Allies land in Normandy again using two surprise markers to establish two beachheads. Two beachheads are necessary because of the German strength in the west. Again, overwhelming allied air superiority is crucial on attack and defense. By the end of the month a solid foothold has been made in Festung Europa. The Western Allies use their last Surprise Marker to amphibiously invade Valencia in Spain which knocks that country out of the war and causes the Germans to abandon the jewel of their conquests, Gibraltar (again, using all of the Surprise Markers in a single turn surrenders the ability to tie down German units by threatening a follow-up invasion—there is just not enough shipping says Roosevelt!).
JULY 44—The great retreat in Russia continues. Western Allies attempt to expand beachheads and take ports necessary for supply.
AUGUST 44— Bucharest falls and Romania joins the ranks of the liberated. Western Allies breakout of their beachhead. Paris falls. Germans attempt to avoid encirclemen--everywhere. How the mighty have fallen! Still, the Allies have only one year to force a German surrender. It seems a long way off.
SEPTEMBER 44— German 3 Pz tries unsuccessfully to break out of encirclement east of the Dniester. German willpower is eroding due to unit losses. Germany now up to 6 factories lost to SW. Lvov is liberated and now all former Soviet territory is under Red Army control. Soviet forces lunge forward to take Warsaw and establish bridgeheads over the Vistula. The east front now runs roughly along the Vistula in the north to just outside Budapest in the south. There is a pocket of German units trying to make their way over the Carpathians.
Brest is occupied, finally putting an end to the German +2 SW drm. British forces push up from Barcelona to the Rhone. I French ARM takes Metz and moves into the Ardennes, threatening Aachen. 7, 9, 3 US armies align from Antwerp to Brussels. 1 US Army arrives in Calais. (Unlike the real event, the US is taking the northern approach into Germany).
OCTOBER 44— Weather is the crucial variable. C=SV; M=P; W=P. Not great for attacking. The eastern front stabilizes and the Germans rationalize a defense in depth and deliver sharp counterattacks that manage to destroy two Soviet units on the western bank of the Vistula. Belgrade falls to Soviet follow-up forces.
The Western Allies attempt to cross the Rhine in the north with the help of paradrop. The attack is repulsed and the Para unit is destroyed (on that dreaded 6). How historical! Everything slows down in the poor weather.
NOVEMBER 44— C=P; M=SV (!); W=P. Really lousy weather for attacking. Again German counterattacks get lucky and force Soviet units back from Vistula.
British garrison units finally arrive in Northern Italy. US 9 Army in a “miracle on the Rhine” succeeds in crossing NW of Dusseldorf in horrendous weather. Prepares for strong SS counterattacks.
DECEMBER 44— C=SV; M=P; W=P. 6SS Panzer fails to dislodge US 9. Every Luftwaffe unit has six sorties and there is little hope that it will change. Incompetent Soviet attack on Budapest fails. Soviet generals shot. The heavy artillery used was so mishandled that it will not be available for another 6 months! Soviet advance stalls all along the front.
US Surprise marker placed in the Ardennes (turn-about is fair play) and 1 FRENCH takes Aachen. British forces occupy the Bremmer Pass in the Alps and take Venice.
JANUARY 45— C=P; M=SV; W=P. Again, Russians repulsed at Budapest. East front is stalled.
German FJ army executes brilliant counterattack against UK 2 ARM to avoid encirclement and make its way back towards Frankfurt. Otherwise, all quite on the Western front.
FEBRUARY 45— C=P; M=P; W= F. German Will is now 20 with 30 VP worth of German cities left to be taken. Even a Surprise Marker fails to inspire the Soviet attack on Budapest which is repulsed for the third time. The Eastern front with its high unit density and relative immobility is starting to look like WWI.
In another “miracle on the Rhine” the 1 CAN Arm takes Frankfurt. Dusseldorf holds but the Rhine frontier is beginning to look untenable in the north and south.
MARCH 45— C=P; M=SV; W=P. More severe weather on the front that matters. I note that the entire German Force Pool is on the board. Budapest finally falls (and with it Hungary) because the Germans withdrew--unwilling to lose another unit. The rest of front is static.
The weather prevents any change to Western front. Desperate counterattacks against the Canadians in Frankfurt fail.
APRIL 45— C=SV; M=P; W=SV. No changes anywhere. German will is at 18 with four turns left. Unfortunately for them, there will be clear weather soon and the Allied air forces will come out to play.
MAY 45— C=F; M=F; W=F. Clear weather! Start your engines! In what turns out to be a huge error, the Germans use their Surprise Marker to try and dislodge the Brits from Frankfurt. Bad die rolls and Allied air power doom the effort and inflict casualties on the attackers (two AA results!). This allows the US to in turn place a Surprise marker 2E of Dusseldorf and a giant breakout ensues. The Brits run over the depleted German Inf east of Frankfurt and surround the German 2 PZ destroying it. Essentially, the center of the German line is blown open and US forces race all the way to Leipzig! Bremen is also taken. Unit/city loses bring the German willpower down to 3. In clear weather armored forces backed by air superiority and “Isolation” bonuses regularly receive +6 drm. A better result in the counterattacks against Frankfurt would no doubt have helped but the combination of clear weather, surprise, and armor is deadly.
The end comes when the Soviets destroy three field units on the Eastern front. German will drops to zero.
Sorry for the glare, but here's a photo of the final board:
SUMMARY: What a fun solo game! The Germans did as well as they possiblly could have--taking Gibraltar, Suez, and Basra; having Turkey and Spain join their side—and still that was not enough. Should the Germans have done something more with that gift year, August 42—December 43? Should they have tried to conquer Britain while the East was under the Moscow Treaty? The problem of course was the US Navy and Air Force had joined the fray and getting across the channel with no navy save the Italian, and an Air Force limited by the Home Defense Policy, made it a very risky proposition. But maybe it would have bought just enough time to survive until August 1945. What I really enjoyed about the game was that it allowed me to think about these issues (and others such as whether to have an Italian campaign or not). The Germans goose was cooked once the Americans entered the fray and the Allies stuck to unconditional surrender as their strategy. It always was a matter of time—and this game doesn’t allow any ridiculous sudden death victory conditions for taking one more city in the Soviet Union (the Germans never conquered more than 5% of the Soviet Union’s land mass ). This might make it problematic for some, as the Allies have to deal with a grinding battle to end it, but as an historical, solo experience it was one of the best games I’ve ever played,
STRATEGIC WARFARE: Without some game mechanic to represent the POL problems the Germans faced due to strategic bombing and the loss of Polesti, the SW portion of the game seems to be too easy on the Germans. Even with a strategic bombing that went uncontested by the Luftwaffe, the SW roll against the Soviet Union would often undue the bombing’s negative effect—even with the positive Soviet drm due to the large number of conquered minors. Often, the Germans simply used a sub marker to halve the soviet roll, ensuring a result that added back the German factory that was just lost to strategic bombing. The SW war against Britain, on the other hand, was very effective. German air in Norway, and control of Brest and Basra at one point brought CW production into the single digits.
I look forward to playing against another person.
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- Salvatore Vasta(svasta)United States
Thanks for the great AAR! I'm glad you had fun.
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- suPUR DUEper(TedW)United States
- Going from memory but doesn't a surprise marker in '44 allow two beachheads?
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- Salvatore Vasta(svasta)United States
TedW wrote:Going from memory but doesn't a surprise marker in '44 allow two beachheads?That was changed in errata. It was found to be too powerful for the West..
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- Timo Kellomäki(Daemou)Finland
Thanks, an interesting read. Sounds like the Western front collapsed suprisingly easily. Do you think the German force balance between fronts was off or was it more about good luck for the West and bad luck for Soviets combined?
Inspired by your post, I'm currently doing some calculations regarding the strategic war. I'll probably post something more detailed in a few days. But unless I'm mistaken, the Soviet war effect is on average +/-0, if Germany has 9 conquered counties and the Norway bonus (3 vs 1). The subs are more efficient against the West if they bomb Germany heavily.
The other factions also have markes to use in strat war, though the ultras are not that useful when the bombing gets heavy. Especially if the Soviets used all their partisans for combat bonuses, it's no surprise that Germany has it easy on the strategic front.
Edit: I just posted the analysis in the strategy subforum here.
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