I have uploaded some additional commentary of our play written by Joe Beard.
)There is some treasure in the following, but since you did not witness the play, you'll have to use your imagination a bit.)
I hope those who wish to learn this great game success and many hours of fun. Mr. Beard was so gracious and humble, a true gentleman. He is a rarity and I cherish immensely the time spent playing .
There are btw many good guys like Joe. Check out BPA play-by-email tournaments- these events are ongoing year around.
(On the whole this is a pretty good Russian defensive move. The one major change I would make, if I were playing the Russians, would be to shift one of the 5-7-4s from X19 to bolster the 4-6-6 on U20. X19 can only be attacked from one hex, so two 5-7-4s are more than adequate to discourage an Axis low-odds gamble against this position. However, a single 4-6-6 on U20 invites a German 1-1 (with an advance, if successful), followed by a 1-2 versus V19 from W19. The Axis player would be placing 22 factors at risk, but a bit of luck with thee two low-odds attacks would again create serious problems for the Russian defense of the southern Nemunas.)
(As I'm sure you realize now, you left the Nemunas a little undermanned. On the other hand, the Russian defense of the south seems to be holding up pretty well; of course, given how far Galacia is from the Russian replacement cities, the Soviet commander can only afford to feed the Germans a limited number of 4-6-4s before it begins to really bite, so we will see.)
(I understand why you re not keen to expose the northern Dnepr to Axis attack, but I think that the approach you have chosen is a bit too risky. In my view, if the Russian player decides that he absolutely has to defend in the open, then he should consider stacks of three. This is because: attacked from two hexes, an undoubled stack of three 5-7-4s cannot be attacked as a mass, or even two of the three because of the soak-off. Of course, if you opt for this approach, be prepared for a "big" 1-2 against two units and a 5-1 against the remaining 5-7-4; but at least, in this case, you have the chance of collecting a soak- off or two.)
(There are things that I like about your latest Russian move, and things that I don't. First, the things that I like: I think that you have handled the loss of Smolensk very nicely, especially given the constraints imposed on you by the weather. In addition, I think that you have defended the central Dnepr about as well as could be expected under the circumstances. On the other hand, you still seem to have trouble constructing a "stable" defense of the Dvina; and the 6th Tk. in MM19 should have been reinforced by one of the 5-7-4s in K21.)
(This Soviet move is much better than its predecessor: granted it gives up fifteen Russian factors to AV's, but it does manage to hold onto important ground in the Dnepr Bend and to the southeast of Smolensk. The key to the Russian game going forward is how economically you handle the retreat from the southern Dnepr to the Kursk-Kharkov-Stalino Line.)
(Except for the weakness at Z27 (I would have reinforced this hex with one of the 5-7-4s lining the southern Dnepr), a reasonably good Russian defensive move. Of course, now that the front is starting to lengthen, things should get a lot more interesting, and soon.)
(The Russian decision to hold onto the southern Dnepr for as long as possible creates an interesting game situation; I'm not sure that I agree with that line of Soviet play, but we will just have to see how things develop over the summer and fall.)
(Abandoning Leningrad probably makes a certain amount of sense, particularly after the fall of the Valdaii Hills south of the city's main defense line. The trick, for the Red Army, now becomes holding the Wehrmacht away from Stalingrad without, at the same time, losing too many units. The endgame should be interesting.)
(The German assault on the Kursk-Kharkov Line begins pretty much on schedule; now, the general flow of the game will change as the Germans finally switch to an "attrition" strategy. From here on out, it is going to be a "toe-to-toe" slugging match until either the Russians run out of units or the Axis runs out of time.)
(Statistically, the Axis should -- using a combination of AVs and low-odds attacks -- be able to grind the Red Army down in the time remaining. Of course, luck inevitably will play its part: if the Germans get lucky, then things should pretty much go according to plan; if, on the other hand, the Russians catch a few breaks, then they just might pull it out.)
(The Soviets take care to stay out of the Wehrmacht's way for a turn, so the German Army will push the pace a little. It should be noted that there is no compelling reason for the Axis to gamble on low-odds attacks quite so early in the game; nonetheless, it is probably worth a risky attack or two just to test the Soviet defenses. More to the point, if the Axis player leaves these sort of attacks until too late, then, often he ends up rolling badly without enough time left in which to "try his luck again," if things don't go quite as well as they might have. )
(Thank you for your kind words. I hope that you feel that you learned something from all this.
So far as your STALINGRAD play is concerned, it has improved steadily as we have worked our way through our several matches. So I am convinced that, with additional work, your understanding of the game will continue to improve. That said, allow me to offer a few final thoughts .
First, in expert play, the outcome of a STALINGRAD match should virtually never be determined before the winter of 1942/43. The "short" game -- typical of matches featuring inexperienced German players -- always favors the Russian player, so it should come as no surprise to you that, when facing a master Axis player, the game will almost always hinge on the strategic choices made by the two sides once the Dnepr has been breached.
Second, although conventional wisdom will usually call upon the German player to gamble during the early game turns, it is actually far more important for the Axis commander to conserve his rifle strength for the middle and endgame (I like to have 220+ factors available after the Dnepr has been breached). Early gambles against the Nemunas or Prut although appealing, will usually -- because of premature German losses -- come back to haunt the Axis commander during the truly critical phases of the campaign.
Finally, STALINGRAD is a little like "high stakes poker" in that, for a German player to be consistently successful, he must be prepared to "change up his game" so that his opponent can never really know what he plans from turn to turn. This, in many ways, is the hardest thing for learning players to understand and master; yet it is essential when competing at the "masters" level.
Best Regards, Joe