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Subject: Cohen vs Enrico AAR with opinionated commentary rss

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Alberto Natta
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Greetings,

After a long time of pause from this game, and my gaming pal undusted it.
We decided to add Dai Senso to the experience (which we had in Totaler Krieg only), did some "short games" to get rid of the rust of the rules (at least the big of it!) and then started for a proper game. The lack of experience in the Pacific Theather still showed massively.

We also adopt some "house rules", for balance sake. One is relatively house, as it is renown that Dai Senso favors a Japan aggression to Russia. The Errata of DS suggest a strong change (Too strong here) so we indeed halve the value of Soviet Strategic Hexes; but the Neutrality / Settlement card is discarded only for the nation it is used for. (Ultimately the Neutrality Card itself is 4 Infantry steps for Japan. A lot. The concept is that if they invade Soviets, and then perform Settlement on them, they cannot use Neutrality on the Soviets; but the British Neutrality remains playable as card).
In TK instead we alter the Axis "Support Nationalist" cards, whereas if there is no "Civil War Country" anymore (and thus Germany does not benefit of the influence removal / roll), Germany gains an additional INF step. (Conceptually, the equipment and personnel you'd send over to Spain is instead retained in Germany for your own use.)
Last but not least, the Stalin Line card is altered in accord to what we read on Consimworld. Until now it has been the default choice of the Soviet player in -all- of their games except the very first two ones in the far and distant 2011 or 2012.


Pre-Game Goals and Mindset

I am the Axis.
For Germany I sort of know what I want, to max out the Ceded Lands, play the last certain mobilization with as many Ceded Lands I can, and hopefully get to play also the last mobilization.

For Japan, the tale is different. I discard as thought to invade Sovietland - as their VP are much less worth, and I cannot settle + neutral them for good. That though implies that I cannot either go Neutrality with UK, as they've some Strategic Hexes of interest which Japan should grab with relative ease.

Now a big problem rose in my eyes - whoever I pick for Neutrality, will send without any form of limit to Europe all of their Support Units, one each time they get an European Commitment Event. That will be -bad-. Ther is no limit to that. Though, to play with 1 single game is bad as well since the West simply plays each "strongest" conference card they have.

Back to planning, I opt to first mob Mongolia, a nation that can be given as Soviet Minor (They have a different policy than Soviets) and subsequently go for China. And hammer them hard before the cards force my hand into Total War.


EUROPE:

1937:

Germany opens in a traditional way, supporting Nationalists. The first card can be a big game changer - because you know that the Allies can play Guarantee (The card that sets nations to Limited War if you fail a Demand roll) - as soon as they can. (They've ALL to gain to get in Limited War, why? Because France is a Minor Country, and it benefits of their minor country production).

So the alternative German play in my eyes is to skip helping the Nationalists, and start straight ahead with the 3 "Must" cards before you can start to play demands or anything meaningful.

These 3 cards are Goering Works (adds 1 INF per turn as Conditional Event), Military Purges (A dull and boring card!) and the first Rearmament. Meanwhile they're not litterally "must" cards, by how the game is, you have to play them to unlock other cards. So one may simply forget of helping Spain and have the first demand in Winter 37; and have the 2nd demand in Summer '38 (Which entitles you of a first roll before the Guarantee card kicks in).

Nonetheless, 1937 for Germany has been "Help Nationalist" (which resulted in 1 defeat achieved in the end of the day); 3 steps of INF in the Summer, a dull card of Military Purges where I remove other cards from my hand, and then I start to rearm.
The German army is as mighty as 6 INF and 1 ARM. The "Help Nationalist" card entitles Germany to do interesting things, if the Civil War is ongoing. That pesky Neutrality on Italy is removed; opening Italy up for the take.

Note: I firmly believe a non Axis Italy is a big balance issue, it would be like putting France as neutral and UK has to Influence it to bring it on their side.


In the while the Soviets opted for not purging their ranks, and followed Tukhachevski. They assisted the Republicans in summer (and Republicans won the Civil War. Quite amusing in all our undusting and unrusting games Republicans won the Civil War too. It's not only the "luck of the dice"; it's also the fact Allies / Soviets do not suffer that much to help them; meanwhile Germany is on a thight schedule to max out their forces. Political Purges (Which means the Soviets go for the Demands too for the most - it was discovered that the other option, to influence nations, is very random but mostly it gives multinational HQs, which simply turn useless the moment your minors get conquered and the Soviets are short of minor units to build up these HQs. Better to have a Soviet HQ that you can use always with your own, never short in numbers, steps.) Last card of theirs is "Five Year Plan".
On a note "Political Purges" for the Soviets too is a dull card. Where they remove simply an amount of other cards.
Five Year Plan instead gets them to roll on tables. And may neat nice results.

The West is harder to track later on as they use many recyclable cards.
"Change of Government" gives them French troops, Chamberlain Diplomacy starts their nice and juicy rolls, Britain begins to rearm. Then they work on Belgium (Not sure how wise, since double Influence result would not activate it).

Follow Up:

Germany starts by demanding Denmark - keeping Austria for later due to the starting Influence there making it easier. To get to the final target the Germans want, they discard the useless Demand Switzerland card (You'll just get Swiss troops there and they're hard, very hard to dislodged - and by when you can play that, it's 100% guaranteed the W.Allies have played Guarantee). Also Gau-Moselleland has to be discarded plus the 2 Ribbentrop Diplomacy. (Which could neat some good results but are highly inefficient, as per you require amazing luck in the rolls.)
The German gameplay turns into Spring-Demand Summer-Filler Fall-Demand Winter-Filler. Fillers can be Pact / Rearmament, or simply Support Nationalists.

38 Spring is Demand Denmark. Succeeds smoothly (Thanksfully!) and Allies gain 1 Influence in Norway.
38 Summer is Support Nationalist
38 Fall is Demand Memeland (Since it's closeby Soviets, it is still Rapallo and if they resist, I roll on the diplo-incident table and not trigger war).
38 Winter is Rearmament. By now Axis had to discard some tech cards, namely the Helicopters (which are pretty poor - unless you nail double Success. Again to excel you need extreme luck later on)
39 Spring is Polish Corridor. Amazingly enough the Poles resist, rolling on the incident - due to a Soviet Influence present there (Eastern Block card) it is Gradual Decline. Axis gains their Ceded Lands with some delay; Axis puts an Influence around to a polish neighbour - Rumania. But Poland gets to be an Active Soviet Country (Heck they just gained a massive buffer for Barbarossa.)
39 Summer is Soviet Pact - 6 steps of German troops! Now to screw a roll on a Demand card brings Germany to war with someone, as Soviet Union and Soviet Minors share the Pact Policy; and Uk, France and West Minors share the Guarantee Policy.
39 Fall is Demand Austria, it would fail only with a roll of 1. It goes smooth.
39 Winter is Support Nationalist card as pure filler.
40 Spring is Demand Czech. I am confident I can seize Czech in these 2 turns (probably only one anyhow - and instantly gain the Ceded Land via conquest - if Germany gets to war) But the roll succeeds.
40 Summer is Rearmament. 2 Panzers, 6 INF by default; plus as conditional event as many INF as your ceded lands. That's 5*3 = 15 INF steps
40 Fall is Support Nationalist as filler again. (Thanks to the House Rule, 2 INF steps instead of 1 for all these cards after the Spanish Civil War was lost).
40 Winter is ... Announcing I cannot play a card in Fall '40, when I need to select the Pending Card. Because in German hand I've only another Support Nationalist (Which cannot be played in sequence) and another Rearmament Card (Played one this year already).

That is where we stopped.
I did some math and planning ahead, and originally I was going to be a glutton, play in Spring 41 the Support Nationalist, and maximize in Summer '41 the last rearmament card (That is rarely used because you must be in Pre-War when you lay it down as Pending Card). Bear in mind I purposefully skipped 1 Rearmament year. I noticed though, by doing so I'd have 1 full summer only before I am to play the final Barbarossa / Sea Lion card. Something you cannot afford. It would imply to sit and wait for one year before to go France seriously; and then the summer after you are to go in Sovietland. (Or vice versa. Hitler did it. In this game you shot yourself in the knee if you do that in most cases).

Why's that? Because it's how the game works. First you want your Axis Tide, +1 to rolls. Then you want to max out your minors and countries. They're steps. They're new fronts that must be manned. They're not a must but they're a big benefit. Even if you just keep them around as antipartisan or to "tap" cities that you conquer. And when you start to retreat, they're the best loss soakers (Watch how you immolate your whole Rumanian Army in Soviet Russia before to retreat into Romania; because if you enter in Romania with big, multistep units, you break them down OR you erase all of the Romanians anyhow from the map. Smart hmm?)
There are things you want to do, VPs to seize and so forth. The Link "Italy has Rhodes, which gets in touch with Turkey, and a timed DoW from Axis implies Turkish troops can march unopposed into Iraq / Persia capitals...". You get the gist.

Now ... meanwhile the Axis seems to have a supreme German Army, what the Allies and the Soviets have done in the while? Surely they've not sat there knitting.

Meanwhile for the Axis you play your cards and if it goes well, you do as historical about; and if it is worse you immolate the double Germans lost in a war vs Poland, by failing a demand on Denmark or Austria ... the other factions have an array of political cards which sets them unleashed.

Poland, as mentioned, fell into Soviet hands. That due to a German action.
Italy, that was removed from the state of Neutrality by Axis, simply swung toward the Allies (1 Influence). So did the Belgium, but that is expected.
Hungary joined the Allies.
Finland got influenced by the Allies. Greece got influenced by the Allies. Norway got influenced because of demand of Denmark.

So, we're about the end of Pre-War status. The Germans performed about historically (they got Austria, Memel, Polish Corridor without a war, and Czech - plus Denmark being a dependant). They've not lost troops, they actually have a mass of steps.
Half of Europe though is influenced by the opponents (Soviets have marker in Spain, Poland is definitely communist, Hungary is under the protection of the democrats; Finland, Greece, Belgium and Italy are leaning toward them).
So if the Germans have luck, they perform as historical. If the Allies have unluck, they perform as historical. That's how the game is designed (Considering also you may be at the Urals with the Germans, and the Soviets gain the same steps if they're on the Vistula... the two main reasons that made me try to change game years ago. We hopped back there but this game already quickly undusted the bad vibes).

In the while too the Soviet army mustered 44 steps, 4 of them armoured (That includes 2 HQ). Plus 7 Poland steps. They have demanded the Baltic States; and Eastern Poland. (Yes they get E.Poland even if Poland is a Soviet Country).

France has 17 INF steps (including 1 HQ) and 6 Fort Steps (Maginot). Hungary has 6 steps. UK has 5 INF and 1 ARm steps.

Germany has 51 INF steps (2 HQ included) and 4 Panzer steps.

Winter 40 to play, Spring 41 will be the last German Rearmament; and Summer '41 the first Limited War card.
The options ahead are the two envisioned by the game - which are fair (This is a CHOICE; and an interesting one, not the tunnelvision of German cards of 1937 with the "must cards" or to simply pursue the path of Demands).
If to open the dances in the East first or to immediately go France straight away (being short of 1 Air Unit as it is activated on Limited War and the delay roll could not be very friendly). And to play immediately Case Yellow in Summer, or play another Case and keep the "Yellow" for Fall? With only 1 Blitz surely Hungary has to be screened to begin with or whittled away slowly - but that would require 1 HQ and many INF steps (which I am not sure I can truly devote)
To go for Soviet Russia? With 1 Blitz though it will be hard to smash into Warsaw and end the Poles now (Before they get stocked up over time with the Minor Production of the Soviets) AND at once exploit East Prussia / Memeland to actually begin to grind through the Soviet Hordes.
This is a strategical evaluation (Which though is only allowed because I got lucky with rolls and had a somehow historical situation with a large and efficient army. I've been in games where the war started in '38 because of Czech demand - and we always got stuck in WW1 trench war in France.)

But what happened in the Pacific?

Here me being a partly clueless ducks on cards of mine and especially of the enemy factions led me to think I can actually hammer China, and even so easily so to do first Mongolia!
What a tragic mistake.

Japan opens the dances announcing the Army (who leads the government) is following an expansion program! I get a nice HQ unit in the pool; and activate an Airforce unit! Woot! Then I demand Inner Mongolia, achieving such with some struggle.
West and Soviets begin with cards and like more than half of their cards have rolls. Rolls which can easily lead to a Cabinet Crisis. Which can easily lead to war.
My third card is probably a mistake, Navy Plot. It does not give me things, but I somehow oogled at the Truk Fortress unit, it's strong. It's a fort. It fits nicely on a VP spot. And my troops remain dry of replacements. I purposefully opted to delay the first Rearmament card (which in truth only expands the Force Pool and risks you war if you do not play Economic Program - a card now I feel a must but not for the roll, but for the subsequent War Production marker).
War erupts in '37, as historical. And Mongolia is a written tale. Japanese troops simply steamroll it, and even use airforce.
The play of Allied cards get the Communist Chinese side at war with me.

Still unaware of my earlier mistakes, the Navy demands Hainan, do diplomatic Ouvertures after I got my required Ceded Land for troops - and attentively do not build up the Kwantung Units (as they'd be locked in Manchuko).
The fact the road goes through a Neutral Hopeh implies Japan and Kansu cannot attack each other pratically.

In late '38 Hopeh is victim of a declaration of war, and Japan slugs in, taking some turns to seize it. That brought me to war with Nationalist China.
Sinkiang joined the Communist China.

With Peking, Nanking and Ulan Bator the VP marker goes Rising Sun! +1 to rolls. Woot! I exult, in the while the army has expanded further (both Limited War Army Expansion - which makes you discard the other 4 Expansion cards. Frankly that is a -too harsh- choice; it should be at 1:1 ratio the choice / discard; more so than 1:2)
Japan proceeds rearming. Puts neutrality on Russia. Attempts in two Summer season to create puppets (and only succeeds -once- out of a 50% chance per roll).

Despite 2 HQ, having 1 ARM unit (But Japan lacks Blitz cards to exploit them, only Imperial Offensive before to go to Total War), and the best armies around (you get 2 additional 3-3-1 armies with the two Army Expansion); only thanks to the Imperial Offensive Card the Japanese manage to conquer Kiangsu. (That at the end of the session - so in Fall '40).
It was a slugfest. A quagmire. I am not complaining to -that- aspect. But another problem hit me like a hammer.
Even with your best army investment you're going nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. You lack replacements, your cards give you 1-2 steps per card (if you're lucky); you have some boosters which may give you many steps (rearmaments in summer can neat you 6 steps, neutrality 4). But what is the boon of the enemy, til you do not have a puppet is useless to you.
Islands were empty - with just detatchment (and thanksfully I brought two steps there for Truk and Saipan fortresses, the first in the pool and the next planned somewhen).
Meanwhile Japan struggles with troops, China litterally snaps finger and have them appear. Ontop of any potential card of the Soviets / Allies, once in Limited War they gain 1 step each per Seasonal Phase. PLUS they get the help from Lend Lease (or Aid to China). There will be the point where China attacks simply because they have maxed force pool, and their 1-2 losses will be replaced next seasonal turn. Japanese troops? Alas, no.
The failure in making many puppets also burned steps. Many steps. Japan Minor Country Production was sitting there, in the strategic box, simply "unused" because Japan had no minors.

Same here as for the Axis, meanwhile Japan was struggling to advance few hexes and now is sort of stalled to a wall of Szechwan units (plus the Kiangsu formed HQ - that is a Pan Chinese unit so it did not melt away when Kiangsu got conquered); and Kansu Sinkiang units (Which pratically cooperate fully if you just consider they cannot stack and exert ZoC to each other).
And the cards of Soviets and West are simply deadly, a lot of results are extra steps for China, or murdering your Japanese Colonial Unit, or hitting a Japanese unit in a Japan dependant, etcetera.
Currently I've lost more steps due to Minor Country Politics, Allies Support Resistance and such events than in fighting vs the Chinese. Amazing eh?

Soviets clearly were sitting. They got their neutrality so they play politics, and as soon as they get planes or so, bam, straight to Europe.
The UK did the same already with a surface fleet once they failed to challenge Japan.
China fights hard, and Yunnan is still to be activated.
USA challenged Japan. After the embargo. USA has only 1 INF for now, and already landed in the Marshalls.
Japan - who had Imperial Offensive card turning up as Current just after USA Challenge - reacted by using Saipan garrison to seize Guam; and from Japan they invested their scratch convoys to take Wake Island.

Big problem is, USA is at war. Which means no Indochina. (Should Germany place a defeat on Russia now? But to have Shakalin as dependant would not improve my VPs, as there is already Tannu Tuva now that is a Soviet VP).
The OIL Embargo adds to the delays.
And Japan is far from geared for amphibious operations. Scratch Convoys suffering a +1 to delay; and being so few. Thus, Economic Program now reveals its use, not just 1 extra scratch convoy - but the Economic Expansion reduces of 1 your delays. And without your airplanes you don't go far in China unless you wish to suffer grand losses.

If with Germany I feel confident (safe rolling 6s in combat!) to achieve anything, Japan feels already on the defensive, unable to ship troops across the sea to its islands (You do not have troops, you do not have enough convoys - but the latter could be about my choices); and you cannot even push inland despite having (supposedly) bolstered your army.

Obviously, IF the Usa were not able to challenge Japan... but then does this mean Japan needs to not go to Rising Sun until they're Total War? Otherwise you're screwed already?
Another thing I realized - with introspection - is that both Chinese Pan-National HQ are "Outbreak of War" units. Henceforth to go Mongolia first is a bad, bad idea. You can gain that Strategic Hex, sure. And in the time both Chinas gain HQ and extra production and are too fat to do much.

Thus, with the insight of the Challenges, and the VP score ... Mongolia is a VP ripe to be taken later (Unless it goes of the same Policy as Soviet Russia!); but at the beginning you cannot afford the big push in China AND then suddenly have USA rampaging (with 1 unit but as many fleets as you if not even more fleets - bear in mind Navy Program gives you 1 fleet; so if you play Economic Program Japan either has 1 less surface fleet or 1 less HQ!) through your VPs and islands.
And you are supposed to take Philipines quickly. Before USA reinforces them (What hopes you'd have to bring in these sensible forces with the few scratch convoys you have, and oil embargo?)

I studied history of the WW2 to a certain degree, and I know very well it's the "War of the Tiny Nations wanting to be great" vs the "Big Big Nations, and if their homecountry is not big enough they make up for that in colonies"; but currently I feel -already- hopeless with Japan. And I know already that no matter how deep Germans go in Sovietland; Soviets will still get 12-18 steps per season plus the lend lease.
But Germany at least gets to rise. Japan seem to not have the forces for that too. And thin down your troops in China (and they'll be thinned down in due time) and China starts to attack 1-1 or 2-1 alike, because Japan still gets 2 steps per Card, and China gets 2 steps by default (one per "Faction) per season. That ontop of all the other forces the Soviets and Allies may get.
Sure Japan later has the added replacements of their Mandate card (or the Total Victory card), but that comes halfway in Total War.

For now I think, before any update kit is released, this game needs serious balancing and playtesting; and I understand some results of tables are to be negative. But when almost every result of your and enemy table is against you, it's not fun. And you play a game to have fun.
The design that "Axis was lucky historically so they need to be lucky too in game to do what they historically did in average; but the Allies were unlucky, so if you're unlucky you do as historically they did." has to go. The mechanic has extreme potential - dull cards should be reworked, cards can make interesting choices (some are too heavy choices like Japanese program). There can easily be a card that emulates the Directive Table result allowing you to apply a Tech-Success on a Tech (Directive, etc) card played already; that allows you to take a counter from the list of a card that you have discarded. It can come later on in game (Like the Fleet of the Navy Program enters the game anyhow at Total War. Truk Fort or that HQ of the Army Program should have similar fate).

Finished this game in fact (we'll play on obviously) I shall suggest Enrico to play the Axis side. (Then after he feels the Axis side - as he always favor play Allies and I Axis; in any WW2 game we play! - we can work maybe on more house rules).
But an expansion kit of something "broken" (And I mean enjoyment / balance, mechanics and ideas are fantastic in their inception! I love the cards and to select the pending one; rolling on the tables for random results; how easily represented are naval clashes and air battles - because in the end you conquer with boots on the floor and rolling tanks, the rest is projection of power in function of land forces; etc.) seems a bit the same as making a step longer than your leg. Fix the base first please - it has all the ingredients there already; like a good dish, where too much salt or pepper has been poured. (Or too less).
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oystein eker
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Thanks!
Great read!!
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Erwin Lau
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Great AAR.

We had games of Dai Senso where Japanese earned Japanese Mandate 3VP before taken down.

It is also possible to defeat both Chinese factions too. Provided that great care is taken to time weather and air power availability.

Kiangsu can never be conquered. No need to remove any Kiangsu unit during turn end.

I suppose you know that a convoy unit can move two 1-step ground units in a turn (movement and reserve movement) across the same sea zone, right?

 
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Alberto Natta
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Greetings,

Thanks for the tip for the AA first of all; and the many likes

About the Convoy Unit, indeed I know it can move two steps in a single turn. The problems are that:
A- Japan is short of steps to move around. Very short.
B- The convoy can move a 2nd step BUT the convoy marker remains in the same Sea Zone. Sometimes you just need to move longer distances the single step you have at avail.

I missed the part about Kiangsu, but ultimately it means their units do not disappear AND that they cannot receive new replacements if all of their cities are occupied by Japanese troops (and neither they can get partisan bases in their land since they're de facto not defined Conquered).
Or better, that is a very Pro-China rule, since a HQ allows replacement of Kiangsu units within Kiangsu, making them virtually always able to receive troops as long as their Pan-National HQ is in Kiangsu.
 
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Alberto Natta
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A 2 hours afternoon session before Enrico had to go! This evening we ought to play more.

Europe:

In Winter '40 Europe is still at peace (Going into 1941!) and the West continues to play a cycle of Chamberlain / Churchill diplomacy.
Axis has no card to play in Winter.
Soviets plays a "Forces to the East" (To perform pesky demands!).

In Spring we enter Limited War; because Germany has played its last Rearmament.
I explained already in my first post why I should not have played that in Summer. Then I had to brood, think and ponder.
4 INF steps and 2 probable PZ steps or the possibility to wall up in the future the Rhein?
Ultimately I opted for a more flamboyant and aggressive play, by taking the extra steps of mobile forces. Which, if in France won't be felt, in the ample spaces of Russia surely they will.

During Spring the Allies keep playing their rotation; and the Soviets build 3 INF steps.

UK starts to ship troops into Egypt. They mass already in El Alamein 4 steps; and have as many in UK. They also have at avail 2 Fleets (1 comes from DS map through Europe Commitment), 1 Airforce.
Also through Chamberlain / Churchill cards, Allies also Influenced Turkey (nice eh?) and they even got a Partisan Base already (Despite them being a PAC, no nation been truly conquered, only "ceded", since the last mobilization of the Germans sets us to Limited War, the Allies Support Resistance event entitles them to put in their pool a Partisan Base)

Design Comment: I feel the rule should be "If there is a Conquered Country AND you're not a PAC.
First no nation would start to think "Let's fund partisans" when there is no need for that. Can you imagine UK and France, after having made their "division count on the paper" and laughed at Germany, not being even at war, to start already planning how to fund partisans of nations Germany would conquer?
The being a PAC is also a requirement historically fitting. Communist partisans never started any activity in occupied lands before Barbarossa. Simply their "head" at Moscow was keeping them down, because Soviets and Germans were in good terms by then.


In Summer '41, Axis boldly reveals Case Yellow firsthand.
I am currently planning the "how to" - and this is the situation in screenshot:



I admit I was exulting already as I saw the French HQ at 3 hexes of German units. I noticed few moments after these hexes are not rail hexes, and thus they cannot serve as airbase.

The blitz marker is not placed yet but I think it will go there.
The point is that Germans have a 50% chance for it cast a retreat of 3 hexes.
The most suitable result would be to not place any Airforce for now (Germany 3, UK 1), have a retreat of 3 hexes and then jump on the French HQ which will be on its own. (Retreat has to be via Calais since it has no ZoC).

Otherwise the problem is that if the Belgian army retreats of only 2, there is no way to crush that HQ. If the HQ gets toasted, Paris will get a Blitz Marker in due time and should fall. Hence the French HQ is primary.

Alternatively I may for a more risky approach - which envision usage of 2 if not all the AFs. Attacking Brussels with only 1 stack + HQ and use the other troops + HQ to attack a French stack and begin to grind them away at higher risk for my panzers. But I suspect I will keep the AF at the ready for Paris and get a smaller headstart. France can put only that many units in Paris and unless they luck the Delay Roll of their 2nd HQ (well if they do that there is little the Axis can do, the game turns into trench war in France) .

Also, instead of activating anything, I'll have to use the 2 Influences (Paris Threatened Event, and France Surrender - assuming I'll do good) to remove West Influence in Italy / Turkey and / or the Republican Spain marker.

Pacific:
Due to some mistakes we redid the last turn in the Pacific.
We realized Convoys are markers and not support units (thus not subject to the Delay +1 of Oil Embargo).
Also we miscalculated supply for Chinese (They ZoC each other); and Kiangsu was treated as conquered.
So Kiangsu suddenly regained their Port-a-Fort unit; and some combats were undone; the turn played that Japanese lost 1 ARM and 1 INF, for the last Kiangsu unit (the said Port-a-fort) and 2 communist steps.

Both sides established a strong defensive line. Japan lacks the push to go anywhere against these beefed up Chinese.
Especially as they had to divert forces elsewhere as the rising threat of the USA is ascending. USA seizes more of the Marshalls; and sets an HQ so to be ready later on to support an attack at Eniwetok.
In the while the Japanese - subtracted a quality army from China - have invaded the north Philipines and started to besiege Manila (Which in turn, just timely received colonial reinforcements).

Battle for Manila started to rage, seeing the Japanese gaining an edge (destroying 1 step; but another colonial promptly arrived. Garrison gone, but 2 US Colonials there).

Short of troops, short of oil, short of convoys, Japan is unable to lead a meaningful offensive anywhere (Except the Philipines! Figure out).
The USA is as well locked and unable to attack because the Japanese have a fancy interceptor which serves nothing except block their things (Thanks to the Army Expansion tier2), which can be placed to contest a Surface Fleet even if in that sea there is already a Carrier Fleet (if I've read that correctly) - as long as there is an AirBase.

Pacific situation before to play Summer '41 (We do first Europe and the Pacific for the time being, season by season, for commodity.

but as war is on both maps we may go turn by turn):



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Alberto Natta
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Europe under Axis heel:

Case Yellow Turn 1:
The attack on France starts with a push toward Brussels (Blitz marker on it), and the Luftwaffe embattles the RAF over Lille; where panzers too attempt to cross the Meuse river. Ultimately the Luftwaffe spends 2 AF and the RAF 1 (with 1 successfully placed).

Axis starts with the attack on Brussels. 50% chance of 3 hex retreat, and it's nailed. The German units slip through in exploit, leaving a 2 step INF in Brussels; a 1 step PZ in Calais and the 3 step PZ army in Amiens.

Lille's attack sees the Germans suffering 1 panzer step loss, for 2 french infantry.

Amsterdam falls with no losses for Germany in the Blitz phase.

In the regular combat phase the Germans insist in their attacks, the 8 strong Panzer army in Amiens attack the lonely French HQ in Reims; pulverizing it at the cost of 1 step.

The Germans shoves away also the remaining Frenchmen in Lille and inflict some losses.

Revelation: the West has not played Dyle plan but Churchill Diplomacy again!
The French pull everything off the Maginot line, produced 2 new steps, and counterattack the German panzers. Germany moved in range a HQ in the reserve movement; and elects to use it. It's an exchange, French lose 1 more step for 1 step of the German HQ. A 2nd attack could not have been very good as any loss would have sent to the delay the HQ or the PZ. (I'd have lost the INF component of the PZ multistep though).

During turn 2 of the Case Yellow card a Blitz marker is placed on Paris. The Axis elects to use an AF to push the combat ratio to 9-1 to minimize panzer losses. And Paris fall. In the Conditional event phase all the French folks surrender.

During the 3rd turn Germany attempts to place a Beachead in the Channel, promply contested. The Luftwaffe will take a 6 in delay whereas the UK gets a much shorter delay. It seems Sealion is fated not to happen. Thus the last blitz of Case Yellow card goes on Budapest, German forces vanquishing the resistance of the Hungarian hollw armada.

In the while the West kept rolling on their Churchill Diplomacy!
The first was a Minor Country Politics - got down to Iraq. Seeing that the Axis can choose what to do, they merrily passed on the roll.
Iraq would have been beyond help or assistance.

The 2nd roll was again Minor Country Politics, but Enrico changed mind and elected to do it in the Northern Zone. Finland emerged.
Finland has a West Influence, -1 on the rolls; and ontop the Soviet card is Demand Finnish Frontier. (Til then the Red Army was following a historical process, with a -2 to their rolls because of the VP track and the West Influence).
After some evaluations I elect to roll. I cannot get Border Wars due to the -2; Coup would activate the nation as Allied with no mobilization; Free Passage AND Neutrality both erase the West Influence; or I get to roll on another table. Only 1 result would be pretty bad for me (Coup). The outcome is Free Passage. The Soviets only have a -1 to their roll now but I sort of want them to get the Ceded Land so Finland gets an Influence of mine!

Though, the Soviet Army under the reforms of Tuckachevsky seem to perform worse than a purged one, rolling thrice in a row bad enough to get a Country Resists. That's a total of 6 steps burned for the Soviets.

Spain and Italy Western Influence (or support Republicans to be precise in one case) got erased via the Paris Threatened and Case Yellow.

Fall '41

Operation Weserburung see swift demise of Norway.
BUT the Allies have a Partisan base at the ready which they place (I think we did a mistake here though as the country reactivates and Narvik turns West immediately - whereas the West wanted to go Axis Tide to play their Lend Lease card).

Germany spends their Airborne unit to seize Norway; and subsequently keeps shipping units in Norway to deal with the pesky partisan.

UK in the while keeps shipping units into Suez. Dyle Plan is played now, with not grand effect as the Brits have no one to attack.

Soviets demand Bessarabia - which has an Axis Influence (Curiously enough I suspect it went under the radar of the Allies, that with a ton of Neutral Pressured they got, they never erased it).
Romania - differently from Finland - is greatly scared of Soviet Russia, bends the knee at the instant the request is made abiding to the old rule "If it's bigger than you, do as they say". And quickly seek protection of Germany after (activated as Axis Minor).
Pleasantly enough I roll 6 on the mobilization roll.

Winter '41
Axis start with their political cards to ally up nations.
Italy is the first of the list. With grand joy Mussolini immediately agrees to follow the ascending star of Hitler; and shows that Italy is verily ready for war (another 6 for Mobilization roll)

Allies and Soviets loiter around; meanwhile Germany keeps pushing troops in Norway to deal with the Partisan (This all due of that Partisan Base earned being a PAC in Limited War).

The 2nd political roll envision Sweden activating as Axis Minor. Norway is very important in this game, with 2 Strategic Hexes, and Sweden troops will do good in securing them. Another good mobilization roll happens (6, exceeding the expectations and allowance of Sweden).

German-Romanian troops mass on Bulgarian Border.

Spring '42
Operation Felix see Bulgaria rolling on the Diplo-Incident table. Coup d'Etat. I hoped for Border War, but amen. Bulgarian troops are trampled rapidly and the Axis expedition masses on Greek border.

Italy begins to ship troops down in Afrika.

UK gets the Lend Lease and pressures Spain - which gains again a West Influence.

The roll for Operation Felix gives Mandate Offensive in the 2nd turn (The mud one). We may have done a mistake there because the rule, as I've read it later, says explicitly it has to have an armoured unit in the attack. Or you destroy an armour step.
The Germans subjugate the Norway resistance, at the cost of 1 step.

Design Comment: Frankly, that's bullshit. There was only 1 unit attackable unit (The Norway "res" unit, being the Partisan); so we just enforced the attack there. I fully agree that if you can attack with an armoured unit, you must, but in case you have nothing to attack with armoured units but with regular units you attack with regular INF units. And if you cannot perform any attack you do not attack. IF you refuse to attack you lose the step. The concept behind the event of Mandate Attack is well understood (Hitler commanding to attack enemy units beyond the limits and stretches of his own forces - historically happened an amount of times, "keep attack, keep pushing, you'll win!")
But to just "burn" panzer units because they have -nothing- to attack and are in standby (or just conquered Bulgaria...) is silly.


Rule Question:In the process of playing we also saw how imbalancing is to have an extra Support Unit from the map that does not belong to it. It is not well clear in the rules if a unit of DS when sent to TK map via European Commitment (or vice versa) returns to the original map when used. We opted to play that way - since the UK could easily use their 2* Surface Fleet + Carrier Fleet + 3 Airplanes quicker than the German 4 Airforces and Italian Regia Marina and de facto land already anywhere close where they've a naval base.

At the last turn of Spring '41 Axis declares war on Greece.

Summer '42
More politics for the Axis.

They go after Spain, with success. West Influence is removed.

The Med theater fills slowly with troops of Axis and West. Greece is left to its own to face the descending troops of the Axis - which will rely on Italian shipping later on to get supply.
Athens faces the brunt of two attacks, costing 3 Greek steps and 1 German Panzer (Why I've sent precious panzers there without blitz markers???)

West and Soviets simply keep their building up, Poles included (Which I remind, are Soviet Minor).

Athens resists through the Summer.
Spain is aligned to Axis first (and rolls 3 for Mobilization), and the next is Yugoslavia (rolling 6 for Mobilization. With Bulgaria, Hungary and Greece to man vs Partisans, and access via Hungary to Soviet lands that's pretty interesting to have as anti partisan duty / city covering duty).

I wished Turkey - but alas it has to get Axis Country or German Dependant. Rhodes is an Italian Dependant, not an Axis Country. With the conquest of Bulgaria and the pending one of Greece, it seems Turkey cannot be activated by Germany in that way.
There is one more card for politics, and the question is if to activate more minors or play the one for Russian Colonial Forces.
Minors that Axis can still grab are Vichy (No Influence), Finland (Sweden is Axis Country - and there is no Influence) and Portugal (Spain is Axis Country and no Influence in Portugal). I feel I need to read well about Vichy activation as Axis country.

In the while Norway got well manned, with full compliments of Sweden Army (except one in Gotaborg); 2 German INF and the multi-step Alpine Army. The Alpine Army can be migrated to Finland on occasion.
Also to have Sweden implies Germany can reinforce Norway in much easier way. (And to have Sweden you need to Demand Denmark earlier on in Pre-War otherwise Denmark is not a German Dependant).

The West has a total of 11 steps in Egypt; and 3 in UK.
The point is that Axis cannot do Sea Lion at the moment, since UK has the same Support Units than the Axis. By the looks there will be a long stalemate in El Alamein.

Gibraltar got under siege by the newly formed Spanish Armada; which is receiving German compliments (mostly for Air Bases) and German troops are massing in Sicily in the hope to seize Malta if opportunity rises.

We finished the session with Summer '42 played. 3 more Axis cards before Barbarossa. Operation Marita (Portugal? Volountary end Pact Policy and have headstart on Poland?); Anti Comintern Crusade / New World Order are pretty much 2 of the 3.

The Pacific:

This is more "dull", and I just discovered as well two mistakes. One is quite major, Neutrality on Russia implies Japan has a border war - that was short of 3 steps (Which is hefty).
The other is that I got tricked in the reading of the USA settlement card, which requires the VP track to have Rising Sun (It's there!) but then I understood you need the Strategic Hexes in USA or its dependants, and not in the SAC zone (Which is USA and Minors - that includes NEI and Indochina.)
So I was already scratching my head and looking puzzled at how to get to Midway and to Dutch Harbour in time to get Indochina then as Dependant (I'd rather avoid to keep 3 steps to garrison the place!)

My mistake in planning has led me to send more troops in the Pacific than possibly necessary - which sort of makes up for the lack of Manchurian garrison. Since the US invading power tends to be limited by how Japan preserves their Support Units more so than brute force.

Said that, the Japanese grinded their way - at grand costs of 2 steps - into Manila; and the successfully invaded the NEI (Getting rid of the Oil Embargo penalty).
NEI is resisting in Palembang presently.

Otherwise the game has been quite stale with some ineffectual political rolls; a Japanese offensive to retake Majuro (Which anyhow if I settle the USA returns Japanese...) - which in turn costed to the US a step in the counterattack to retake it.

A push in China - a pair of attack as China left their HQ exposed in the front lines - granted Japan the seizure of a lowly guarded Chunking (Paired up with a Chinese Incident rolled by Japan which temporarily weakened the HQ hex).
The seizure of Chunking can be quite significant, as now there are 4 Strategic Hexes in China / Mongolia; and Philipines and Saigon will neat me a total of +6.
That ontop now of 1 free Influence (which will be like toilet paper since anything except like Tibet has already an Influence of the West - both Yunnan and Siam).

Of note, it happened the battle for Miday, an attempt of the Japense to seize them. The CV fleets clashed and USA spend their airplanes to fend off the incoming Japanese surface fleets, and the Japanese CV fleet went 11 turns on delay on the Turn Track!





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Tony Doran
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Thanks for posting this. I got these games a couple years ago, then offloaded them when I got cancer. Now that I am cancer free, I keep wondering if I should get them back and really try to grok them. I am especially intrigued because of the impending new material being prepared.

Anyone here have an opinion with reasons?
 
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Alberto Natta
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As said already, this game has extreme potential.
Especially with a "campaign builder" which may alter the WW2 premise (A WW1 German Victory where they also retain the Kaiserliche Marine could be quite interesting; on the other hand Austro-Hungary army in the game seems very sub-par to what they may have if they'd be winning WW1.)

But my main idea is that first things should be fixed in the "WW2" game, before to expand it.
If you put into the shelf the games for long, start playing them to get the vibe. Let the being intrigued on extra material wait for later, after you honed the mechanics and explored the existing games.
 
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Erwin Lau
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Quote:
Rule Question:In the process of playing we also saw how imbalancing is to have an extra Support Unit from the map that does not belong to it. It is not well clear in the rules if a unit of DS when sent to TK map via European Commitment (or vice versa) returns to the original map when used. We opted to play that way - since the UK could easily use their 2* Surface Fleet + Carrier Fleet + 3 Airplanes quicker than the German 4 Airforces and Italian Regia Marina and de facto land already anywhere close where they've a naval base.


I believe transferred support units stay in the destination map. It won't go back to their original map after being contested.
 
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Alberto Natta
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The game went on, albeit for not much - we reached the "doorstep" of Barbarossa, being the next turn current card. (Hard to guess, Summer season and Axis having litterally the two Barbarossa / Sea Lion and the Ostland Accord / Peace Offer cards in his deck!)

We also got hindered by myself screwing up a card badly (not understanding the fullest meaning of a "Political Option" so we just hopped back of a few turns. A long due debt I have with Enrico as we did that for him when playing WiF in the past).

This time I shall start with the Pacific.
In the last game we played the Europe Summer '42 already but had the Pacific pending.

Summer '42
A well learnt experience, since the Allies have already 1 Partisan Base, was to not attack the NEI unit in Palembang the seasonal opening turn.
Japan uses the last Diplomatic Ouvertures - managing to erase the UK influence in Yunnan.
In the second impulse the NEI falls. As a bad notion, I lack the detatchment for naval bases in their dependants!

The Allies loiter, and so the Soviets (Cards for rolls for the Soviets, or for 1 USA step or rolls.

Japan begins to shift forces toward French Indochina.

Fall '42
General idle, Japan plays Tripartite Pact for troops, Allies loiter.
Japan Declares War at the end of their 2nd turn to France. (Since US is at war, French Indochina is not a dependant. Yet at least!)

Winter '42
Navy Plot for Japan. UK start to get an amount of colonials via Military Aid. UK ships troops in Singapore; and readies an Australian corp and Indian troops occupies Rangoon as defensive maneuver.
Japan scored a neutral pressured - getting an Influence in Yunnan; I begin to appetize aligning it with the coming Settlement; alas the Soviets roll a Chinese Incident and apply Influence in Yunnan as well.

Imperial Japanese Navy escorts landing at Saigon which falls.
Japanese troops invade French Indochina from China.
On the 2nd turn of the Winter, Japan declares war on Siam.

Fall '43
USA settlement; French Indochina, Wake, Guam and Philipines are Japanese Dependant.
USA troops withdraw from Japanese Dependants (Marshalls namely).
Japan applies Influence in Yunnan.
VP score is 2 for Rising Sun now (Balikapan, Davao, Saigon, Chunking, Peiping, Nanning) whereas Batavia and Manila both are secured in Japanese hand.

Japan troops begin to pour in Siam.

USA has a total of 5 steps, being 1 HQ + 1 INF in USA; 1 INF in Midway and 1 INF in Johnson Island.
UK has 2 Australian Colonial INF in Australia; 1 INF in Singapore (plus the Fortress that is there at the beginning of the game) and 1 Indian Colonial INF at Rangoon.



The Japanese forces appear already overstretched though, and Japan badly needs more troops everywhere!

EUROPE

Fall '42
New World Order Card; more attempts on Neutrals.
Finland promptly aligns with Axis; and a 3 is rolled. The two forts and 1 INF are full strength; 1 INF is understrength.
German troops shift toward Finland (the MNT Army in Oslo is undone and moves toward Finland)

Germany insists in attacking Gibraltar, seizing it and losing 1 Spanish step.
Athens, with the help of the Luftwaffe is finally conquered without further losses from the Axis troops.

The West begins to approach Axis positions at Halfaya Pass.

Vichy aligns with the Axis, a grand score because of the fleet and additional convoy. Alongside Spain that shields the Med from the Atlantic side.

O'Connor's Offensive crushes Axis troops in Afrika.
Wise placement of UK Airforces and successful attacks where the Allies have HQ+AF and Axis has rough terrain only hammers the Axis; having them retreat in a stack of 6 units for 1 hex. 2 German INF and 1 Italian INF melt away due to overstacking / attrition.

Winter '42
Axis idles, Help Nationalists cards (which without the Civil War, for our House Ruling, makes Germany gain 2 INF steps).
Finns are reinforced and their multinational MNT Army is formed.

Axis brings troops on the borderline of Portugal; one of the last minors around in reach - and that's worth a VP.

Rommel - well present already in Afrika but not in its HQ form yet ... - proceeds into rearranging the defences, unable to counterattack (UK has airplanes, multistep units and HQ vs "multistep" Italian units and German onesteppers).
Also as the losses were dire, the Axis has to ship more troops, and the 3 German corps in wait for attacking Malta are shifted to Taranto and gradually to Afrika.
Tobruk is manned by 5 INF steps (4 Italians, 1 German), at Benghazi we have 2 Panzers and 1 Italian Mech; other troops are coming from Tripoli.

O'Connor though is relentless. The first assault on Tobruk is supported by the RAF; and 2 Italian INF units melt away.
Subsequently, as the Axis cannot reinforce Tobruk via sea (the AF hinders the port!) the West attack again, nailing the 3 step loss required to obliterate all the remaining defenders.

In 2 seasons the Axis have lost 8 steps (3 German and 5 Italians) for 0 step lost of the Allies.

Sping '43
Axis plays Fall Marita, calling for Portugal to roll on the diplomatic incident table. Border War! Since there is no other neutral country around for Portugal to aggress, Portugal activates as Axis Minor and that's it!

Observations on the map by Rommel induces the Italo-Germans to withdraw further into Lybya, toward Tripoli, afar from the onslaught coming; meanwhile more troops are coming - the Germans sent in Spain to invade Portugal are withdrawn rapidly except 2 INFs (Which may as well stay just to serve as airbases in case of contingency situations).

The many Yugoslav armies take the anti-partisan and anti-landing role in Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary; meanwhile the Romanians march to their front from the conquered Greece.

Afrikan Situation:



Last but not least, Germany has made grand preparations for Barbarossa; and it seems their fielded forces are so fat their Force Pool totals 18 INF, 2 Armies, and 5 Panzers (Plus whatever they'll get with the card).
Considering all the armies on the map are full strength (3 steps) and so are the HQs, the Germany sure is ready for the push.
But so are the Soviets, with their mighty armada, and the Poles which will be a good if not even excellent speed bump for the Germans, soaking "Barbarossa Turn 1" impact in the middle.

Axis stays at Axis Tide 1; with 5 VPs (Amsterdam, Paris, Oslo, Lisbon and Athens), which will neat them a -1 to delay rolls.
After Barbarossa though, Total War cards come into play. It is known Axis has to play Mobilization Limits and Speer card before next summer; which leaves 1 card "to be decided".
That is a tricky decision; since Italy may well use their Partnership; Jet Fighters can be appealing that early - especially if luck wants for double success (or eventually, for a later added success via the Partnership card if you get to roll on other tables), or obviously added push with Typhoon, for 1 Blitz when the Soviets are still staggering (Will they?)

On a good note, the Soviets played already "General Mobilization" card; thinking they were to get attacked during Fall '42 turn (Since Axis can place a Support Unit adjacent to Russia or a Soviet Country and volountarily end the Policy). Which means they Summer '43 card is either pretty tame; or if they want to Blitz they've to forfeit some Siberian Shock Troops for good.

Barbarossa Preparations:


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Alberto Natta
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A "short" session - mainly because Barbarossa opened and the turn length extended greatly!

We played Summer and Fall in Europe and Summer only in the Pacific.


Pacific:

Here nothing of relevance happened.
The Japanese kept shuffling troops around, had to waste some naval assets to create Beacheads to bring troops in places where they had no detatchment - like Majuro that was USA occupied til they got to "surrender" via the Settlement card.
It's one of the mechanics we need to get used properly; that a port is not a naval base and you cannot even land troops into it, unless it's homeland or has a detatchment / unit.

The Japanese card brought in 3 INF steps total in the Conditional Event phase; got a HQ and the Imperial Guard Port-a-Fort unit; the Soviets amazingly had a production card (!!!) and the West had a "Roll and be lucky" card. West managed to erase the Japanese influence in Yunnan.

For now, it's Sitzkrieg in Japanese style.

Europe:

As you know the Barbarossa card was to be played.

The MedFront was quiet in apparnce. But with Total War coming, Axis benefits of a -1 to the Delay Rolls.
Regia Marina, swiftly aided by the Vichy fleet began to attempt placing a beachhead by Tobruk. It would have been good, if not even amusing, to land behind the UK lines which reached El Agheila.
The Brits though have more than enough assets to stop these attempts; and the Brits scored 2 Military Air in the process, fuelling more colonials and troops in the secod.
Vichy was the benefitter of the +1 Axis Minor Production, to build their expedition mechanized unit and bringing it to Taranto with grand haste - simply because that way they may place the fleet too.

As the Brits foiled the Axis attempts, the only meager satisfaction is that Regia Marina rolled 2 for the Delay and the UK counterpart rolled a 6+6! Dare say, the Italian Navy achieved an amazing result there!

Rommel and PanzerArmee Afrika arrived, but both sides keep distance and look at each other.
The UK seem to fuel more and more assets in the sector meanwhile the Axis, with the launch of Barbarossa, is entirely starved of replacements where even the Italian troops are sent on partisan duty to the east.

Also the 2nd submarine unit came into play, to help the "cycle" of West units into the delay box. Til USC does not hit and come to help the Brits, I've the edge there!



Barbarossa & Typhoon

The openings of Barbarossa were already very uncertain.
The Soviets had the big plus of having Poland as buffer. And they had also the big penalty of having already wasted their Mobilization card which would have neated them countless of troops!

As Axis - having worked my way to 5 Strategic Hexes all across Europe; my main goal is to reach the 9 Strategic Hexes and then play in the next Summer either Festung or SS Europa.
Because of the "buffer" of Poland, I feel I must play as pending card for Fall "Operation Typhoon" for some extra push.

The German forces advance against Krakow and Warsaw, both with a Blitz marker so to be sure to get rid of the Poles as soon as possible; and a third Blitz in the northern sector. Minsk is in easy reach at first and there is a thin line, and I got plenty of pushing power there.
That for the Blitz phase. The rolls are not that great except a 1 rolled vs Soviets where a HQ is involved; melting away both HQ and the 2 step INF.
Warsaw and Krakow fall both, albeit Warsaw roll of 5 costs me an armour. And in the normal combat phase more armour will be lost.
The 2nd northern HQ (Minsk sector) too escaped its grim fate, when attacked directly in the regular phase, via a poor roll of the Germans which costed 1 panzer for 1 HQ (INF) step.
The Luftwaffe, strong of 3 units, embattled the Soviet interceptor and placed 2 air units.

End of the first turn on Summer, Poland is conquered, Germans are 2 hexes away from Minsk; and seized the hills in E.Poland bordering Hungary. Not that it matters much - the Soviets plan to run.
With much surprise (well not really as I had seen the 1 Factory Card for the Pacific but I was puzzled why Soviets did not play one of their recycle cards of Pre-War / Limited War production) the Soviets have a wasted card, Forces to the East.

I took that as a blessing and "balancing" move where this Pro-Allied game can be somehow evened. Now, IF there was the regular Mobilization card, the Soviets would have gained 3 Armour steps and 26 INF steps over the course of Summer. That's a -hefty difference-.
On top of that, my Germany is presently in a state of extreme luck (before Barbarossa) with an additional mobilization card that is rarely played because of Pre-War ending at some "Country Resists".

The Emergency Moblization (Total War triggered conditional) brought in an amount of Soviet troops in the delay box; Turkey influence of the West was removed (and anyhow placed again in Fall as the West played the Lend Lease card, offering them a Neutrals Pressured for free!)

The Soviets assemble a defense line at the Dvina and Dnestr river respectively; leaving Minsk poorly garrisoned on purpose.

In the 2nd turn the Germans have only 1 Airforce free, which is placed west of Pskov.
Mistake of math of mine, forgetting Talinn is always an open port of the Soviets as Baltics are ceded, a grand operation begins to seize Riga and maul the cospicuous bolshevics present there; including 1 HQ and 2 Armoured Cavalry armies.
Alas many German troops got stuck behind, with Warsaw previous turn combat having a DR1 result, and Poles being still there to "ZoC" troops for the reserve movement.
The German push was limited, but this time I managed to roll decently at least. And 1 German Pz.Armee swept across the river and into Vitbesk that got left vacant from the Soviets.
West of Vitbesk there was the Soviet HQ with other troops, that got attacked, and grinded away some. Another Pz. unit was smashed in the process.
Exhausted the HQ of the Soviets the Germans attack too Dvinsk, crossing the river with grand success in the blitz combat. The Soviet forces retreat north - seeking supply via Talinn.
In the regular combat phase the HQ hex and Riga are stormed. A Soviet INF army is surrounded and OOS in Liepja.

Minsk fall, and the Soviet meager forces retreat behind the Dnepr - between Gomel and Smolensk.

In the south finally the Romanians see some action, attacking hex 3307 (Dnestr riverline) meanwhile the Germany (besides helping the Romanians!) strike at the hills by Ternopol.
The Soviets have 1 HQ at Vinnitsa and are to choose where to place it. They opt to use it vs the German-Romanian pointe (mostly because any retreat there would simply have the unit cram into the HQ itself).

In the regular combat phase, the slaughter of Soviet units continues, and so the panzer graveyard piles up.

The Soviets readjust once again their lines, but the shortage of troops on the field is clearly felt.
Around and in Kiev they've a total of 4 INF armies (2 in Kiev and 2 in the swamps north).
Smolensk is left vacant, a thin force of 2 HQ (1 freshly reformed), 1 Armoured Cavalry and 1 Mech is what stands between Germans and Moscow there (Plus Moscow Fort).
On the other hand Leningrad looks inviting, and mostly the Soviets have made a mistake... they have got 1 unit alone, a 1-1-3 ARM, in Volkov!
In the far south Odessa is manned by a 2 step INF, and there is a big group of 1 HQ and 2 INF (total 6 steps) east of Cherkassy.

On a very relevant note, in this game Partisans are quite strong and effective. (Admittedly any game including partisans have them overpowered. Like designers do not read history well in this case and how much impact partisans effectively had.)
Poland got a Partisan Base immediately and so did Bulgaria. That simply means I have to garrison or zoc every and single mountain hex of the occupied regions. Why? Because if I do not, with antipartisan forces then I may well struggle to destroy 2 partisans steps (Yes they start with 1 but if you leave them be they grow up in numbers, and then you'd have to divert -ARMIES- to deal with Partisans.)

This time the Luftwaffe has 2 planes but the Soviets got their Airforce (the one coming from the Emergency Mobilization). Leningrad is the way to go.
A German INF sweeps from north of the Ladoga to simply go and sit north of Volkov, and a vacant Novgorod is taken. The plan is to attack Volkov, force the unit to retreat into Leningrad (the Luftwaffe got placed on Luga on purpose) and then attack Leningrad and hopefully seize it.
The 9-1 attack on Volkov is nice enough, Dr3/1. Which means that armour unit crash in Leningrad and then the fort stops the retreat and they lose 3 steps. Nice. The fort alone is left in Leningrad. Which will be attacked in the regular combat phase, for a total of 3-1. 50% chance to take it.
It does not happen. I lose 1 panzer and the Soviets lose 1 step.

In the southern sector Kiev falls, and German spearheads surround in ZoC and cut OOS in the reserve movement the Soviet HQ + 2 INF group north of Dnepr-City (I call it this way). And with the Blitz marker on Kiev, the Soviets find also to get a stack of troops (6 steps!) in the Pripet. Out of Supply.

When the Fall comes, Operation Typhoon starts, target is Leningrad that has been reinforced with the units that were taking supply from Talinn. Now there are 5 steps in Leningrad. And 2 steps around Talinn (wisely retreated from around Leningrad before I attack them and shove them into Leningrad for more losses again). The Luftwaffe has 2 Airplanes, placing them 1 in Odessa and 1 in Leningrad to prevent production there. Both of the cities fall anyhow. (Blitz around Leningrad).

The Germans begin to maul also the HQ stack north of Dnepr-City and exploting reserve movement and the fact there are empty spaces all around, arrive in Rostov, Leningrad, Tula, and Voronhez.

The Germans manage only at the start of Fall to destroy the Bulgarian partisan base having committed an amount of minor countries land forces (Yugoslavians and the Romanian Expedition CAV) to it. Poland Partisan was erased the 2nd turn of Barbarossa.

The Soviets cry misery despite the abundant replacements that their industrial relocation allows.
Axis Tide will get at +3 in Winter; having taken Minsk, Kiev, Leningrad and Rostov.

In the Mud turn the HQ stack north of Dnepr-City is totally erased.

The Panzer Losses are tremendous.

Germany started with 4 + 4 Pz steps on map (plus 1 in Afrika) at Pre-Barbarossa turn (4 single step, 4 from the 2 "big" panzer units), gained 5 more from the Barbarossa card (1 had to be converted into INF step), and 1 later for Typhoon card.
So a total of 14 panzer steps. At the end of Fall Axis has only 5 panzer steps. That's 60% losses of panzer.

Ostfront Situation - End of Fall '43 (First year of Total War - Russian Invasion)


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Alberto Natta
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Fall & Winter '43 - Pacific

Another small session - whereas the Allied player seems to be "losing" interest in the game due to the Axis growing rampant (A situation I've seen in WiF already; but in this game even if the Soviets are in the Urals their production derivates from cards which are not affected by factories or resources; so I do not see it that "black" for him).

In the Fall, Japan churns 6 infantry steps in preparations for the Plan Z; and then I was not sure if to use it in Winter or not.
I had still a "Plot" card as filler; and the Peace Offers (which is a bit of a risky jolly! But with the +2 it erases the risk of the Soviet Option that may end a policy).
The extra pair of turns would have given me time to get more units in position, but ultimately I opt to set the Plan Z card as my pending one.

A good roll on the "Change of Government" card table gives me Japan Supports Nationalists. The Indial Colonial at Rangoon goes into the delay box!

A "lucky" decision as I was caught pants down when the Allies reveal Arsenal of Democracy.
Having the USA "challenged" (went to war) against Japan earlier, they had their Plan Orange already set down, and with Total War in Europe ongoing they had the ability to trigger Total War in the Pacific. That would have burned me the possibility to select as pending card the Plan Z one.

Thanksfully I had all my assets at the ready to counter any dirty play of the Allies, which instead reinforced promptly their islands, issueing USA troops (Marine and INF) at Tarawa, and 1 Australian colonial in Rabaul.

In Fall I mulled and thought what I could do but opted simply to bring forth more troops of the many sitting in Japan.
It is Total War, which translates in Japan having a -2 on their delay rolls and the West having none. I start to threaten landings which are blocked by the USA assets. The British surface fleet now is in Europe and their absence is felt.
In the while seen the abundance of troops in Japan that I cannot ferry over I built some more Kwantung troops to man the Russian Border.

That actually was soon put in question, when Enrico asked me "How do I get the Soviets in war?" Soviets have Neutrality, and by the looks there is no way they can enter the war proper unless the Axis wants? (Much to my relief)
If I am to consider what the Soviets have and what the British have, it seems a no-brainer to Neutral always the Soviets and not the Brits. (Given Soviets to operate in Asia would have required troops and Factory points for cards that do not go in Europe).

Question: Is there any way for the Soviets to get rid of their Neutrality? When Victory in Europe is triggered? Or they're just out of the game and they play cards for the Communist Chinese and for the political dice rolls?



When the Plan Z roll came, with a nice +2, Base Damaged to the West, a +1 to their delay will come handy.
I roll on the Diplomatic Incident for Yunnan as part of the PlanZ. I end up after a few "hops" of tables with Japan supports Nationalist - and the Australian troop in Rabaul takes a journey into the Delay Box.

Japanese forces march into Rangoon, attack Singapore with a Totsugechi Blitz and AF, and attack the Marine left on its own in Tarawa (The USA INF with the Marine went into Rabaul).

The bad weather prevented me to approach Rabaul properly so Japan operated strongly in the Solomon and in the 2nd turn of the Z Plan proceeded deeper into Western Samoa seizing an unguarded strategic hex (of dubious value, since I am far from sure to be able to keep it for long).

In the second turn a big mistake of the Chinese placement set their Nationalist HQ relying on a frontline City for supply. An Airforce got there and that city was attacked with the Totsugechi Blitz. Szechwan also fell victim of the Japanese aggression and got conquered (I expect heavy partisan activity though. Too many mountains there).

The USA reinforce heavily Midway and Johnson Island.
In the far and cold north (due to Z-Plan) the small island of Attu is seized by a Japanese SNLF regiment overwhelming the token garrison of the island.

By the looks Japan will need to play Mandate otherwise I see it very hard to defend the islands (and it adds a lot of units to the force pool - the forts! I've way too few detatchments and units to man them all!)

Now, meanwhile the West Player see it pretty black (That also due to the staggering Soviet situation because of their ill card play for the Barbarossa season); I am not as confident.
First - the West in the Pacific has already a card Total War (so they're 1 ahead of me, as the order of play was "Change of Government" > Pick Limited War ZPlan Card > "Arsenal of Democracy" > Total War > Pick Pending Card which can be Total War too.
My opponent did not went for a "red" card though and kept to Riviera Conference. (More USA troops though! And by the looks anyhow a prerequisite to play other cards.)

Now, as I did some math, Japan has 10 Strategic Hexes. One of them is barely tenable even in the short run. 9 of them are pretty much "bagged" for now. So I plan to rush the Mandate as soon as possible and to begin to fortify the Pacific Perimeter, with the last offensives to focus on Rabaul there which is seen as a key to the local defence of the Perimeter whole. As long as the Allies keep Rabaul and the northern zones of the New Guinea, to have Majuro, Wake and so forth is a bit redundant.

Otherwise eyes may as well be placed to India, that at the present appears terribly undermanned (2 steps of Brits beyond what they have as Garrisons)

Soon I'll get also the Logistic Marker; and I am undecided if to put it in the Pacific proper or about Rangoon or Bangkok.

Pacific Situation:

Pacific Situation:



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Alberto Natta
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Festung vs SS Europa; Japanese Mandate vs Hakko Ichiu

Potentially a mind bogging decision, but often situational dependant in Europe and more of a no brainer for Asia.

In Asia for me it's very simple. The extra Japanese steps I'd have problems shipping them around (at least in the current setup); Japanese troops are not that exellent - and I'd lose my single minor extra troops which is a good loss soaker in China.
Forts instead enable me to ship 1 and convert into 2 steps, cheaper and quicker to man isles that way. And you got way too many islands to defend.
Last but not least - actually maybe major factor - islands and VPs are oft important points of passage / naval bases. Therefore with 5 forts usually you can "lockdown" 1-2 sea zones (forcing the W.Allies to attack one of them at least).
To play Hakko Ichiu would require an excellent position, but not only - an instrinsic weakness of the W.Allies which surely is not present in this game, the USA actually are quite beefed up because of their successful Challenge, which granted them a large amount of additional steps.

In Europe the tables flip entirely - mostly because it's not a "chokepoint" map and some forts can easily be skipped (Not that it differs once a perimeter zone is breached in the Pacific). France for example offers a much wider maneuvering zone for the W.Allies; and same is for Sovietland!
Also there is much more ground fighting - and let us not forget how this game is shaped. Like two boxeurs getting at each other. Sovietfront will equal exactly to that - both sides attacking rabidly in Total War year +2 (Historically would be '43, Kursk summer). Germany will need steps. Lots of steps. And the SS provide exceptional units, the very best 2 steppers of the game (which can blitz too in Winter!).
To play SS Europa first and Fall Blau next allows (if you play Fall Blau in Winter even - because you can well opt to be quiet in the winter and use Fall Blau next summer, and Zitadelle in the historical '44 Summer instead of the V-Weapons) to still be a threat with blitzes in the coming Winter as you have plenty of SS units. And you can attack, attack and attack more. The more you attack, the higher are the chances the Soviets are less pressing you in turn.
In my situation to have a range of 5-7 extra steps for an amount of seasons vs the 2-4 steps of Festung Europa will mean a lot.

I give up the Axis Minors production. Fair do. I can live with that. And my SS will be hit by Allies Support Nationalists. Axis minors tend to anyhow be immolated over time - for two reasons. One is that the Allies will obliterate them with their countless events of Allies Support Resistance or Minor Country Politics. The other main reason is that as the front gets pushed toward Germany you'll fight in these countries and you'd rather have spent all of their forces before to get there, or you face another decision: to bring multistep Germans in their country, or fight with 1 steppers plus the minors?
Though I will also instantly free up an amount of garrisons (Poland, but also Hungary as other option will just be included into Greater Reich. I could opt for Holland too - but I need to garrison these cities anyhow as they're on the beaches). My best bet is Poland because then I have cities closer to the Soviet front.
I also get an additional Logistic; and an Airforce instead of an Interceptor.
I already mentioned the truckload of SS troops you get, for a 6-6-3 Army that you do not get.

Long in short, I feel that in Asia the "Hakko Ichiu" option is not really viable. Meanwhile in Europe I do not feel viable Festung Europa unless you are maybe at 2 VPs, in that case it may be worth to have the forts.

That is obviously my opinion - but Europe gameplay and combat chars suggest that the game is not favoring one who simply defends. Even the Soviet mid-game Total War swing is to trade 1:1 losses with Germans (where they emerge as winners on the longer run). SS Europa mitigates that greatly. And if the Soviets are not as strong you get more forces to throw at the W.Allies as well.

The other "hard" decision I'll have to make soon is the Partnership. Italy has the best troops but equals to get both eggs in a basket (considering Operation Avalanche); Spain is not as strong as Italy but W.Allies can only "Avalanche" 1 Minor.

 
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Alberto Natta
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The Battle for Rabaul (instead of Guadalcanal) proceeded relatively smoothly for the Japanese - who for now still enjoy better delays than the W.Allies and a better positioning.

Not for long alas; meanwhile Wewak fell - with the loss of the Australian defenders a northern approach of USA forces lets the Japanese smell an impending counteroffensive.

Tarawa was hastily fortified, and with the next turn being Japanese Rabaul should fall. On the other hand what the USA may be doing is something entirely different and unknown to me!

In China also Japan made some measly progress against the Communist Chinese; the Allied player also realizes he has not played yet the Aid to China card!

Situation before to play Fall '44 (Total War started Summer '43):




In Russia the Soviets faced the brunt of a powerful offensive at Moscow - Gorki, that litterally wiped out in 2 turns their entire "macro pocket". (1 HQ, Moscow Fort, 6 Inf Armies, 1 Arm-Cav Army - total of 19 steps)

With the fall of Moscow in the 2nd Summer of Barbarossa, Axis attention steered north to Archangel where lend lease arrives and where an army of the Soviets was in the process of mustering.
For unfathomable reasons (to me) armoured forces were issued by Stalin to the Finnish front (???), and ultimately they got wiped out of supply. By opening with force their path north against feeble Finnish resistance the expedition went to enhance Murmansk defensive cordon.

Considering these forces out of supply, the OKH commands the Germans east. Probably with a way too large amount of forces, by the end of the Fall the outskirts of the Urals are reached, where Soviets have massed renewed forces in preparation for their Uranus counteroffensive.

The Germans in the while have proceeded to develop the Me262, alas not in mass; the Soviets aimed to strategic bombers. With much thinking I opted (not sure too wisely) to skip a winter counteroffensive (despite having the SS units for!) and keep teching things!




The Allies though were somehow concerned of the Soviet situation, and opted to invest grand naval assets and resources (especially as the Battle of Atlantic went favorably for them) - still retaining an extra British fleet that was since long dispatched from the Asian Theather to Europe.
Emptying the UK of troops, the W.Allies land in the southern zones of Portugal.

Now both factions here face problems:
The W.Allies are short of air bases for now. And have to rely on shipping via Convoys.
The Axis is short of "big" troops to send to battle, and even if they had them, to create multistep units in Portugal or Spain equals to the immediate obliteration of their armies (or the emergency breakdown - but that sort of defeats the need / want for german multistep units!).

The W.Allies expand their beachead some despite the mud weather - and seem to have the intent of getting a hook of some Strategic hex to at least not have the Axis be sitting at 4 VPs (and 7 steps per Season due to SS Europa)



Question:

Which kind of AAR style is preferred?
Regular text with plain images?
Images with the big textbox?
Images with "notes" on the map?
Images with "notes" on the map and a big textbox?
(Admittedly I just go with how I feel at the moment though!)
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Marc Hanna
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You are doing a fine job putting all of this together!

Images are always good and if you can annotate them with text, great, but I don't think the entire AAR can be put on the images if you want to provide sufficient detail.

 
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Tony Doran
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Honosbinda wrote:
You are doing a fine job putting all of this together!

Images are always good and if you can annotate them with text, great, but I don't think the entire AAR can be put on the images if you want to provide sufficient detail.




Yes, but putting them in "sessions" still makes them available to one and all.
 
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