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Europe Engulfed» Forums » Sessions

Subject: A Strange Plan......No Idea if it will work. rss

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Jon Murdock
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Chargetheguns and I played the tournament EE scenario a few months back and decided to try the whole campaign. Yesterday we finally got around to starting.

We played with the 13.0 optional rules (including the designer's later additions to them) but not the 14.0 ones.

I played as the Axis. I decided to try for a non-standard plan. I decided to try to conquer France instead of Vichying it, invade Spain, and grab Gibraltar. Then hopefully seal the Med. Then go for Sea Lion if possible.

My early builds focused on getting airborne units and armor with as many U-boats as I could squeeze out. Italy got a little support but built little. The rules we played under give Italy no production until they are at war except for what Germany sends.

I started with the standard conquest of Poland and took low casualties. I turned the army around to take France and Norway. Airborne units and infantry took Denmark as soon as the phony war was over and then were ferried over to Norway. My invasion of France went well and I hit and eliminated enemy forces at Pas de Calais in two rounds of combat. I then decided to push east to flank the Maginot Line (into about 8 blocks rather then driving straight to Paris. I did this for two reasons. It bypassed the river for the move to Paris and if I did decide to go for conquest of France I needed to mop up more of the French army. The French special action saw them retreat to Paris and I pushed on after them. I came out the better in the battle but I could not win in one round and was out of Special Actions. Not taking Paris meant a delay in bringing Italy and the Axis Minors in which frustrated me as I needed to get Italian fleets and Special Actions going.

I conquered Paris in the next turn and began pushing south. I considered having the Italians march on Marseille but figured the odds were not good and the Germans eventually took it after wiping out almost every block in the French army. I sent damaged units to guard the French beaches and pushed the army south.

I was able to hit Spain on the last turn before light mud hit the southern zone so I could break through to Madrid. I also made a terrible blunder. Gibraltar was ungarrisoned and I did not push on to claim it immediately. Realizing the error it was quickly garrisoned.

I started building an army to take Yugoslavia and launched an invasion of Malta to ease my supply situation so I could hopefully take Egypt. At great cost (including trading fleets with the Allies) I took Malta but could only leave a single wounded unit there and the British counterattacked and retook it.

This ruined my supply situation and I threw everything at Gibraltar on the last turn we played to defeat it and allow me to transfer an Atlantic fleet to the Med. With lucky dice and a lot of special actions I took the Rock despite some weird situations (including a whole round where neither of us scored a hit). The British found their supply situation compromised due to the loss of Gibraltar and a battle between Rommel and a few Italian units and British armor and infantry went south for the Allies when I rolled 8 dice needing sixes to hit and rolled five of them and wiped out most of the British army in Egypt.

The U-boat war dice were very hot. I did roll a few ones but it was mostly fives and sixes and I only lost U-boats once so far due to bad ASW rolls. My bombers all tried to pound Britain in 1940 and died with minimal disruption (one hit).

The last turn played was April/May 1941 (if I remember right).

Now I am building up forces in coastal France for a possible SeaLion invasion and looking at the Soviets with trepidation. The costs in Special Actions and troops in Spain and taking Gibraltar and Malta ate away at my treasury and my Barbarossa army is not ready. I also find myself having to garrison a lot of Spain. I might be able to seal the Med very soon but Yugoslavia is still Allied (though about to fall) and I have done nothing about Greece yet. In addition my invasion of Spain means Turkey can be bought into the Allied fold in 1943.

I have been very lucky with my die rolling and I am pretty sure I would not try this strategy again. With more even dice I would probably still have taken what I have but would have less of an army left. My armor is almost entirely built out but I need more infantry. I am trying to transition over to letting the Italians garrison Spain but that will take time and Italy is short on blocks at the moment.

We also realized after we finished that I had not taking the economic penalties in the economic optional rules so to balance it I will need to cut my income a bit in the next few turns to even it out a bit.

We have talked about rules changes we think might make the game better (additional penalties for invading Spain to represent the rougher terrain and supply situation, rules for acceding to Franco's stiff demands and bringing Spain in as an Axis Minor). The game will probably continue in a few weeks and we will find out how the war with the Soviets will go. I am hopeful but very concerned.
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Matthias
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Great session report!

I always thought about invading Spain and Gibraltar to cut off the Med but never came around to test it out. So I'm very interested to hear of your next session. And good luck with Barbarossa! You'll need it...

 
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Alan Richbourg
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In this game, going through Spain is like cutting butter with a hot knife. No way even for Britain to send a BEF. The only thing I'd do differently so far is garrison Gibraltar with a 4 strength armor instead of infantry. With the dice having been what they have, I don't think we'll see Barbarossa; Sealion should do the trick.
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Andrew Harding
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Spain (for Gibraltar) - transfer fleets - Sealion used to quite strongly favour the Axis. 1941 Russia can't hit particularly hard or fast, especially if deployed in depth, so it's not terribly hard to stave them off long enough to see whether Sealion succeeds or fails. If it succeeds, the war in the East is irrelevant since you just won; if it fails you can fight on for a while but are fundamentally doomed, so if you do go for victory in the west there is no point in holding anything back, it will decide the game.
The key change that made Sealion unviable as a main plan (though good to keep the option open for and to attempt if offered the opportunity) was the introduction of restrictions on the transfer of Italian fleets out of the Med before it is secure. As too much has depended in your game on that ability, I wouldn't revise, just check and remember for next time. It sounds like you've had fun, so you're ndoing it right by that metric.
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Paul Schulzetenberg
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Great report. I've also never had the gumption to try for an invasion of Spain -- I never managed to get through France quickly enough to try it. Please do keep us updated on how this turns out.
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Alan Richbourg
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I was thinking the Axis could transfer a fleet point from the Med to the Atlantic in each of the Initial and Final Supply Determination Phases, and I totally missed "Axis transfer from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic additionally requires either that the Allied player currently has no Fleet Points in the Mediterranean or that a current state of war exists between the Axis and the Soviet Union." Neither condition applied during the dark times (for the Allies) in 1941.

In the event in our game, Jon took a different approach. His Sea Lion turned out to be a bluff, and he never transferred an Italian fleet to the Atlantic, as far as I can remember. He did transfer several the other way. I guess we will never know if Sea Lion would have worked in this situation, but by the above rule it would not have been as strong as I feared, which is what Jon believed also.

The dice gods changed their tune in our session today. There was an epic struggle for Alexandria, at one point involving both German and Italian 'Hail Mary' airborne strikes on Sinai and Upper Egypt. I have to give Jon props for going all out on that one. Ultimately the British held on in Egypt (but lost in Greece), the U.S. joined the war, and Russia declared war on Germany (Jan '42) instead of the other way around. Jon is as good an opponent as any I've ever contended with, so this turn around (I felt certain I'd lose the game today in short order) feels like one of the greatest comebacks I've ever experienced in a game.
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Jon Murdock
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Yeah, we played again and got through about a year. I toyed with trying for a Sealion but doubted I could get ashore before American might showed up. We made it through Mar-Apr 1942 (I think).

My plan to close the Med ended up failing. The death of most of the British army cleaned up their supply problems and fresh troops poured into Alexandria where I had the last of the British engaged but I lacked the numbers to fight well. I brought in both German and the Italian Airborne and attempted a desperate two-pronged aerial assault to cut off supply to Alexandria by flanking on both sides. I lost the battle in Upper Egypt and the plan failed. Now that 1942 has hit and the Americans can provide troops. It would take a miracle to close the Med now.

On the other hand Italy is still pretty safe. With Gibraltar in my hands every unit the Allies operate in the Med takes a whole Atlantic fleet to keep supplied plus fleets in the Med to supply that route. That should delay the fall of Italy and I can be very obnoxious in my retreat back towards Tobruk. Italian troops are moving to garrison Spain and Gibraltar is well defended.

War came with the Soviets but so far it is a phony war. I have to decide whether to go for a full defense or push for a limited offensive and see what happens. I have built out most of the German force pool except for a few elites and the lost airborne units. If no combat hits soon Germany is going to be building out minors and building fortifications.

Another interesting gambit I am considering (and I do not feel he can do much about it so I am not afraid to share) is an attack on Turkey. Turkey would ally with the British meaning the Soviets could not reinforce them and if the British and/or Americans want to reinforce them it will multiply their supply issues. Have to think over whether it would be worth it. Turkey will probably be bought by the Allies at some point (price of taking Spain) and attacking means it happens on my terms. At the rate the game is going we may violate the neutrality of every nation before the game is over. As it stands only Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland are left and I am considering hitting Sweden to prevent them capitulating later if the war goes badly. Probably not worth it but still something to think about. Switzerland makes no sense at all so I expect them to survive. I do think the Allies might invade Portugal to secure an easy landing to retake Gibraltar.

Looking forward to the next game when I expect the war with the Soviets to go hot one way or the other.
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Jon Murdock
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An Unsuccessful Plan

In Europe the Germans advanced through the border forts thrown up by the Soviets. There are a lot of them as the Soviets had nothing else to build. Then realizing how outnumbered they are they fall back to a mountain and river defense. The Soviets push across the Vistula with a large portion of their armor and a lot of their infantry.

With the bulk of my armor in Romania I decided on a daring and foolhardy plan. The bulk of the German army decide, in the middle of November, to rush through the snow and cut a swathe through the Soviet lines and break through to Lithuania to hopefully weaken or eliminate the Soviet army in the back. It took a Special Action I could not afford longer to get there then planned and my fallback for the bulk of the army to the relative safety of East Prussia fails.



While the pocket is complete losses from the snowy assault are high and the Soviets are able to supply a few units through the Baltic. With these units and fresh recruits the Soviets punched a hole in my lines. This trapped the bulk of my armor and some of my best infantry in Lithuania. Only a small portion could be evacuated and forces were not in position to break the pocket.

In North Africa I reinforced my army and pushed through to take Alexandria and close Suez. The British have a tenuous supply line through Persia but the Med is very much my lake. I got the miracle from my last post.

In the Middle East a combined German/Italian/Bulgarian force declares war on Turkey before they can declare war on us. The plan is to seize Istanbul and hold there. This would force the Turks to cross the straits to threaten me. I hoped the preemptive strike would keep them on their heels for a while. The plan did not really work. Soviets swarmed into Turkey and the multi-national force held for a few turns but is near collapse with little hope of reinforcements.

Meanwhile the Americans and British landed in Morocco. Italian reinforcements engaged in the desert and the battle is still in question. Then they landed in Andalucia to threaten Gibraltar. The Italians pulled out of the area to reinforce other areas. I am considering falling back to the mountains to try to hold there.

In the war at sea the u-boats experienced large-scale success (lots of 5 and 6s) while taking minimal ASW losses until March 1943 when the tide began to turn. It is questionable whether I should continue the U-boat construction program.

In the air the Americans have brought their economic power to the air war and bombers are multiplying. The German flak defenses have been upgraded and are effective so far but they cannot keep up with construction.

In the East the loss of the bulk of the German army has put the Axis in trouble. The Soviets and Turks are also ready to swarm into the Balkans to further complicate the situation. I need to decide where to fight. I am unsure whether to fall back to Germany itself or fight in the Balkans.



In the west the Italians are fighting in North Africa and the Allies move into Iberia. The Atlantic wall is ready but could it hold with support from the panzers in Paris?



In Egypt a combined German/Italian force guards Suez but British reinforcements are coming in slowly via Persia.



I am hoping to last long enough to avert a Allied Decisive Victory. The game is about to enter the summer of '43. I think I can keep the Allies out of Germany (except for E Prussia which has already fallen) until winter hits. I doubt I can survive through '44 but I am going to try. Hopefully another update next week.
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Rick Young
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Great report! We are on the edge of our seats.
 
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Alan Richbourg
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I call this the Raiders of the Lost Ark plan. Jon has Egypt completely secure, and he's just taken Transjordan.
 
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Jon Murdock
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I think one of the funnier parts of the game is Alan mentioned that if he could he would have gladly had the Soviets ship lend-lease to the British.
 
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Jon Murdock
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Well, we got together tonight at the last minute for another session of EE.

I evacuated my elite infantry from the pocket in Lithuania and left the rest to die. Sadly the Soviet fleet intercepted and in a large clash the Axis Baltic fleet and the Soviet fleet annihilated each other sinking my elite infantry. I had to pull a fleet out of the Med to the Atlantic to keep the Norway garrison in supply.

I rushed Axis troops to keep the Turks and the hordes of Russians from pouring into Europe out of Turkey. Axis troops began to abandon Spain and fall back to the mountains.

As the Axis now outnumbered the Russo-Turkish forces the Allies pulled back. Then the Soviets struck in Hungary. In overwhelming numbers they overran Ruthenia. We both screwed up her and forgot the stacking limit in rough terrain. In Poland the difference in numbers was beginning to tell for the Axis.

I began evacuating German troops everywhere and the Axis forces in Turkey left behind a few Bulgarians and Italians and rushed west to preserve the army.



At this point I imagine the Baltic Axis began practicing their Russian accents and calling each other comrade. Tito's partisans were about to free Belgrade.

In Spain the British and the Americans overran most of the country. They starved out the lone German cadre in Madrid. Franco offered to take control of Spain again but was politely rebuffed. The Americans assaulted Gibraltar. My de-airborned airborne unit there was assaulted. It had 6 dice and hit on three and higher. I rolled five 2s and a 1. The Americans then crushed it. Gibraltar was in Allied hands and the Med could start filling with Allied fleets again. On a related note the garrison at Malta got its first supply shipment in about a year. Special actions had allowed replacements for them to keep them alive but I wonder what they ate. We do know that there is absolutely no cannibalism in the British Navy.



German troops were evacced from Africa, Spain, Italy, France, and Norway to try to form a defensive line. The Atlantic Wall was largely abandoned due to the more pressing threat of the Soviets. The Italians garrisoned what they could.



My dice were not hot and it seemed that no defensive line could hold. One notable exception was the Bulgarian and Italians left to keep out Turkey. They rolled 3 dice....3 6s. They still died horribly but they put up a good fight.

Hungary and Romania surrendered and Bulgaria was going to fall shortly. The Italian heartland was abandoned, any amphibious assault would have to rely on the Italian navy (admittedly a good bet at this point) to guard against a Soviet invasion.

The Germans formed a thin shield but the door was wide open for an invasion of France.



At this point we called the game. The Allies had another turn of clear weather and may have been able to defeat the entire German army. If not then it would have fallen on the next turn even with bad weather. The war would be over by Christmas of 1943. Goebbels had a hard time spinning how this still qualified as a thousand year reich.

Surveying the situation I stroked my Charlie Chaplin mustache, started ranting at my senior staff for their incompetence, and then got out my sidearm and did the dishonorable thing. Before I left this mortal coil I turned the government over to the one branch that never failed me. Admiral Doenitz and his U-boats were spectacular so I gave him the country.

He enjoyed it while it lasted:



Good game. I would not try that gambit again. The cost in special actions kept me from building up the eastern front and the situation ended up drawing off too many units for offensives in Africa and the Middle East plus the need to garrison a lot of beaches in Spain.

I think I would try for a more straightforward strategy if I played again but maybe not. I would probably get restless and do something stupid. I was always looking for a new offensive opportunity. It worked in the beginning but it also got me overextended in my ill-advised encirclement and cost me the bulk of the German army and possibly costing me a whole year and averting an Allied Decisive Victory. Sadly this was not to be.

Alan and I ( but mostly Alan) are also working on a variant that provides penalties to invading Spain due to Mussolini losing confidence in Hitler for invading an ideological friend's nation. It also has rules for giving in to Franco's demands and having Spain join as an Axis minor at a pretty steep cost (around 6 WERPs a turn and Germany giving up a special action to represent the food and fuel he would have to send). It should show up in the variants section soon.
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Alan Richbourg
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Good game, Jon! I really enjoyed the experience, and I hope we get to explore it again sometime.

I played out the final Allied turn to see how it would go. Here is the final position in October 1943.




It looks like Munich and Vienna are both behind the Iron Curtain. Also, Tito managed to liberate all of Yugoslavia. Turkey has gone Communist, and Mussolini has some fast talking to do.
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