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Subject: Nazi-Soviet pact and Barbarossa 1940 rss

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Timo Kellomäki
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In our current game (CE, M/A 1940), the Soviets have massed their troops first against Romania and now Finland. This has left their garrison value very small. German army is deployed against France, but they could probably use M/A to rail their HQs and rebase planes east, and there's not much the Soviets could do in response with their single rail move per impulse, so the pact could be broken in the beginning of M/J 1940.

As we are all new players, we don't know if it makes any sense for Germany to go into a two-front war. The map looks like the Germans and Romanians could march on basically unopposed. I get the feeling that this move would either win or lose the game instantly so rather than trying it, I thought I'd ask whether it is insane for the Soviets to allow this or Germany to try this if allowed.

I'm also wondering in general what's the usual situation with the Nazi-Soviet pact garrisons. It also seems like a catastrophe for Germany if the USSR gets to DoW, but looks like Russia needs those units elsewhere, too. So who is usually trying to get to attack whom in 1940 or is anyone?
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I have seen two 1940 Barbarossas and Germany fell in 1943 and 1944 in them. The problem is threefold:

1) Attacking the USSR so early gives the Western Allies free time to go after Italy and Japan when they are relatively weak. Expect Italy to fall in 1942 or so, and Japan shortly after. Once they fall, you do.

2) USSR's reserves against Germany are generally enough to slow down a 1940 Barb. Attacking early also frees up his relatively cheap MIL for use.

3) Because of the new map, it is much harder to completely conquer the USSR. Anything less and you are celebrating Christmas 1944 in a gulag.

Generally, the USSR pushes the border issue before 1941, and then tries to avoid a 1941 Barb. In 1942 the sides are typically more even, with the Germans having a qualitative edge.

Finally, be honest in your skill assessment. If you are a better land player, you can be more aggressive and likely pull it off. If he is better, you have to manage risk.

In summary, I wouldn't recommend it except as an experiment.
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Wendell
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philreh wrote:
I have seen two 1940 Barbarossas and Germany fell in 1943 and 1944 in them. The problem is threefold:

1) Attacking the USSR so early gives the Western Allies free time to go after Italy and Japan when they are relatively weak. Expect Italy to fall in 1942 or so, and Japan shortly after. Once they fall, you do.

2) USSR's reserves against Germany are generally enough to slow down a 1940 Barb. Attacking early also frees up his relatively cheap MIL for use.

3) Because of the new map, it is much harder to completely conquer the USSR. Anything less and you are celebrating Christmas 1944 in a gulag.

Generally, the USSR pushes the border issue before 1941, and then tries to avoid a 1941 Barb. In 1942 the sides are typically more even, with the Germans having a qualitative edge.

Finally, be honest in your skill assessment. If you are a better land player, you can be more aggressive and likely pull it off. If he is better, you have to manage risk.

In summary, I wouldn't recommend it except as an experiment.


Agreed. A 1940 Barb accelerates the end-war and reduces the beginning-war phase that is advantageous to the Axis. If you fail with the knock-out punch - well then you get into why some of us like to play with the unofficial optional rule that the Axis cannot throw in the towel early.
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Timo Kellomäki
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So, if the 1940 Barbarossa is a bad idea, am I right that there is then not much reason for the USSR to put much if anything in the common border during the first part of 1940, and they can really concentrate everything against one of their aggressions on the neighboring minors?

The only reason for USSR to put anything there would then be that it ties some Germans that could otherwise be used in France etc. Even then the Germans won't need much defence since everything is doubled and they get twice the chits, too.
 
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Bruce Jurin
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Well sorry to disagree but a 40 Barbarossa, which I call 'USSR first' in the player's notes, is a very risky strategy, but it can and has worked. But it works ONLY if the Allies stick their collective chin's out and say, 'hit me.'

I had a detailed section on how to pull this off in my original Player's Notes, but because I had to take out so much, and this will always be a very rare strategy, it mostly got expunged.

One disclaimer – I've seen it work in Final edition (FE) but it is harder in in CE. However, the same ideas hold.

We have seen a recorded game of this. I don't remember all of the details, but it was on the Matrix WiFFE forums – I wasn't a regular there but my son showed it to me. It has a fascinating background.

One of the newer players said he could 'break' the game. His strategy was to move Wavell (and maybe the territorial) to France on the first impulse when Italy cannot DoW and attack it; and then stuff France with Gort, Wavell, and 4 more units creating a 'Fortress France'. (Apologies to those involved if I mess up some of the story, but it is likely still on the Matrix Forum).

The challenge was taken up by one of the grognards, who used the handle 'Centaur'; he (assuming its a man) is clearly a very strong player. Centaur used his Italians to conquer Egypt; he then screened the French border (which is only 5 hexes and easily defensible) and built for a USSR first. The key here is that his Italians aligned Iraq, Iran, and attacked the USSR from the vulnerable path to their oil.

So this is similar in theme to the original question -if the USSR puts no units in the West and say has them tied up in Japan and Iran, for instance, can this strategy work?

As you all have guessed, Centaur crushed them and the USSR fell I think in 1942. I often discuss two forms of a 41 Barbarossa, a 'normal' one and a 'kitchen sink one'; the kitchen sink approach is that Italy and Japan, and even Germany, build everything to defeat the USSR before the US and CW have enough offensive power to do anything about it – often an all or nothing strategy. A 40 Barbarossa is the same idea on steroids. If you don't knock off the USSR the game is over and the Axis are dead.

Did Centaur prove a 41 Barbarossa can win? Probably not – I think it proves that obvious that a great player like Centaur is going to beat beginners no matter what. We also had a situation, where everything went right for Centaur. Because Egypt was laid bear, Centaur likely started to build for the 40 Barbarossa right away. This is MUCH easier than an opportunistic attack if the Soviets later move units out of the west. The beginners made a horrible error by not DoWing Belgium, so the Western front remained at 5 hexes.

I don't remember if they contested the supply of the Italians and Germans moving into Iran; it takes either a LOT of HQ or sea supply, and with France still around the CW should be able to cause trouble. So once again,this is all out on steroids – if you are using this approach, you may need Japan to enter the war against the CW early.

Normally with a 40 Barbarossa, the CW isn't going to let you take Egypt. However, in Centaur's game the Soviets weren't off map in the East, he pulled it off with them anyway. However, if they had DoWed Belgium, the Germans would need probably about 15-20 corps in the West and a bunch of planes. This should leave about 20 corps for the East along with some guns by mid 1940 (around when France usually falls). (I had more details in the aforementioned article, sorry don't have it right now). You should have some 15 planes by now, use 3-4 for the west and the rest for the East. You can get the Finns to help out in most cases, this will be important. The Soviets have 10 reserves, two are divisions, and one sets up in Sverdlovsk and one in Tashkent. If the Soviets are defending only with this force Germany will win the game.

The hard part is to have that force ready – that is, if the USSR is moving units out of the West in mid to late 1940, and your army is mostly in France, you have enough force to win but only if it is sitting on the Soviet border ready to attack. So as many things in WiF, there can be a little bluff-counter stuff. As long as Germany is tied up, the Soviets are freer to move around.

Indeed, a 1940 Barbarossa will win even if the Soviets are prepared if the Allies don't help. The key to kitchen sink 41's and a 40 Barbarossa is to throw everything at the USSR before the Allies can react – but with no threat in the West, they can pour in lend lease. And they must – but if they do, the Soviets can replace losses very fast.

So the Germans have to win before the Western Allies have enough offensive power to counter (and Italy is getting beaten up badly at this point). If Japan does attack the CW the US will get in the war fast. So Germany must then also be fast – but remember, Germany has one more year now. I feel the key to winning a 40 Barbarossa is that Germany must cut-off the lend lease routes! In that case, they ought to be able to overwhelm the Soviets in time.

The fastest and best lend lease route is through Turkey – with France around the CW/French should control the Med. So there is one super-critical part of the 40 Barbarossa that I think leads to the most important objective – Germany MUST align Turkey! This gives a big army, supply benefits, leads to the Caucasus, and cuts the lend-lease route. You want your Finns to cut the rail line to disable the arctic convoys. What about the Iran connection? As I mentioned above, I think you need Japan here. This is all or nothing! Of course Japan is pressing in Siberia, and the Soviets will often calla peace.

The Soviet strategic issue if they are caught with their armies in the East is if they rail back their troops, they can't rail out their factories; and if they rail out their factories they can't get their troops back.

So if the Soviets lose their Siberian resources, have the Arctic and Iranian convoys cut, and face Turkey with the German might, can't rail out factories, yes Germany will win as the Soviet economy is shredded.

Now I've presented the 'ideal' plan. Obviously things can go wrong. It is harder in the Collector's Edition I think, the larger map may it harder to make progress. Another issue (as discussed in a recent thread) is if this strategy isn't contemplated immediately, and the Soviets claim Bessarabia and Germany allows the secondary claims, then the Soviets won't be able to align Romania since France won't be defeated – this makes the attack much harder.

I tried it twice solitaire, I'm 1-1 (Final Edition) – but circumstances were different (and i have to admit I fooled around a bit in these). But having done the math and tried it, this is a long winded way to say, 'No, I wouldn't' leave just one unit facing Germany in 1940.'

I think its success depends on just how much force Germany can get to the border and how much strength the Soviets have left facing them. But I can almost assure that if you have played a lot of WiF, and haven't done this, it will be fun! Seriously, Germany is fighting the clock and if Japan does DoW the CW in 1940, the US by 1944 will be a terrible sight!
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Timo Kellomäki
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Breunor wrote:
But I can almost assure that if you have played a lot of WiF, and haven't done this, it will be fun! Seriously, Germany is fighting the clock and if Japan does DoW the CW in 1940, the US by 1944 will be a terrible sight!


Thanks for a very detailed answer, Bruce! I will think more about the details before our next session to see whether the USSR is exposed enough.

The problem here is exactly that we are not experienced players - it is our first four-map game with 5 players so we don't yet have any clue how the game normally plays, and it would be sad to possibly spoil it with something as weird as this. Otherwise I would definitely go for it just to see what happens.

But it is also annoying if the USSR can decide not to defend the border at all only because it would make our game too weird if I then attack.

It would be interesting to hear how much garrison value the experienced players typically have on both sides during 1940 - especially those who are not at all afraid of Barbarossa 1940.
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Interesting read...thanks for adding that point of view to the conversation. I thought the crucial point was the strength of the German player vs. the Soviet one. With a strong German player and a weaker Soviet one, Germany will likely win whether it is 40, 41, or 42. But the two defeats I saw were at Wifcons, with strong players on both sides. I wonder how that scenario might have played out if the German and Soviet players were switched?
 
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Bruce Jurin
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Daemou wrote:
Breunor wrote:
But I can almost assure that if you have played a lot of WiF, and haven't done this, it will be fun! Seriously, Germany is fighting the clock and if Japan does DoW the CW in 1940, the US by 1944 will be a terrible sight!


Thanks for a very detailed answer, Bruce! I will think more about the details before our next session to see whether the USSR is exposed enough.

The problem here is exactly that we are not experienced players - it is our first four-map game with 5 players so we don't yet have any clue how the game normally plays, and it would be sad to possibly spoil it with something as weird as this. Otherwise I would definitely go for it just to see what happens.

But it is also annoying if the USSR can decide not to defend the border at all only because it would make our game too weird if I then attack.

It would be interesting to hear how much garrison value the experienced players typically have on both sides during 1940 - especially those who are not at all afraid of Barbarossa 1940.


I get it.

One of the issues with almost every wargame is what I call a 'polar' solution. By that I mean that a player takes a super extreme strategy. A point about these super extreme strategies is that they may break the game, or often, they are a 'surprise' tot he other layer and that player can't figure out how to stop it at the time of the game.

An example is the computer game civil War II. I saw on the forums one of the players said the Union should completely ignore the entire front and put everything into a drive on Richmond - no troops in in the west! This is a classic case of the Polar solution.

I have never done a 40 Barbarossa in a real game - but I studied it for exactly the case you say - if I can't do it, how do I stop the Soviets from doing all of their objectives and leaving NO troops against Germany?

The same issue applies to Sea Lions. I had a thread a few months ago talking about Sea Lion can be hard, but German players MUST learn how to stop the CW from sending every corps out of the UK or from overbuilding planes without land troops.

The solution to a polar strategy is often another polar strategy. so the beginners who 'broke' the game by sending Wavell to France got beaten when the correct response was found. Abandoning Egypt to stuff France is another 'polar' strategy.

Unfortunately in your game the Soviet player is causing the problem. Of course you shouldn't' do a 40 Barbarossa in your first game, you should do a 41 Barbarossa. But if the Soviet player is going to leave no troops defending against Germany, and can then fight in Iran, Japan, Finland etc. with little concern, he is getting too much of an advantage.

Btw if you are new to the game you may want to try the 41 Barbarossa campaign or Waking Giant - these make the polar strategies unlikely. I do think they will ease you into the game better.
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Bruce Jurin
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philreh wrote:
Interesting read...thanks for adding that point of view to the conversation. I thought the crucial point was the strength of the German player vs. the Soviet one. With a strong German player and a weaker Soviet one, Germany will likely win whether it is 40, 41, or 42. But the two defeats I saw were at Wifcons, with strong players on both sides. I wonder how that scenario might have played out if the German and Soviet players were switched?


I don't doubt both were stuffed. The issue is whether the German players said and telegraphed 'I'm doing a 40 Barbarossa' in which case it is hopeless against competent play. The Soviets will build for it just as the Germans do, and with France not defeated, it is kind of crazy.

But the situation here is not whether a 'standard' 40 Barbarossa works, but whether a 40 Barbarossa works when the USSR player says ' I know you can't do this so I'm totally ignoring the German front'. Did either of the WifCon games have no Soviet troops on the German front?

The tricky part is figuring out how weak a force the Soviets can leave behind. Are 5 corps enough (say by M/J 1940)? Not sure. But I'm pretty sure that it works if the Soviets are sticking their chins out and saying 'hit me.'
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I cannot say I would think a Soviet player failing to guard the frontier in 1940 was getting any kind of advantage no matter what opportunities they were pursuing elsewhere.

As an Axis player I would almost certainly not invade Russia in 1940 for the good reasons given above but I would be interested in breaking the Pact and invading as early as possible in 1941 or at least having that option. That means building up the largest possible invasion force on the border in time to start - half measures won’t help.

Faced with a resolute Axis player, the Soviets have their usual dilemmas of where to position their forces, forward or further back. Stuffing the border doesn’t seem so likely to work if the Soviets have been over ambitious in 1940. They are more likely to have had a combat loss or garrisoned some real estate elsewhere or they may just be slow in transporting forces back to where it matters. If you cannot stuff the border you have largely conceded control of the timing of a breach of the Pact. I think the first few turns of the invasion (in 1941) are so hyper critical in WiF that any kind of failure by the Soviets to optimise their defence in terms numbers, Position, and delay imposed can have decisive consequences.

That is not to say one should do nothing with the Soviets in 1940. Nor do I think there is a need to have a large garrison in Poland while France is still in the fight but generally the Soviets must be busy preparing their defensive system in the latter third of that year remembering the winter turns may be short and the Germans can redeploy faster than you can.

More experienced players may disagree and they may be sufficient disciplined with the commitment of Soviet forces to be able to carry out some additional missions beyond the norm (East Poland, Baltic States, Bessarabia, Persia and possibly Finland in my reckoning) but I would want to be conservative and only do what is really necessary.

 
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Timo Kellomäki
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Thanks. We'll discuss this with the group.

Breunor wrote:
Btw if you are new to the game you may want to try the 41 Barbarossa campaign or Waking Giant - these make the polar strategies unlikely. I do think they will ease you into the game better.


We have some played some Barbarossas and a 3-player Classic Fascist Tide so we are not all completely new to the game, just the 4 map Global War and Deluxe.
 
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Breunor wrote:
philreh wrote:
Interesting read...thanks for adding that point of view to the conversation. I thought the crucial point was the strength of the German player vs. the Soviet one. With a strong German player and a weaker Soviet one, Germany will likely win whether it is 40, 41, or 42. But the two defeats I saw were at Wifcons, with strong players on both sides. I wonder how that scenario might have played out if the German and Soviet players were switched?


I don't doubt both were stuffed. The issue is whether the German players said and telegraphed 'I'm doing a 40 Barbarossa' in which case it is hopeless against competent play. The Soviets will build for it just as the Germans do, and with France not defeated, it is kind of crazy.

But the situation here is not whether a 'standard' 40 Barbarossa works, but whether a 40 Barbarossa works when the USSR player says ' I know you can't do this so I'm totally ignoring the German front'. Did either of the WifCon games have no Soviet troops on the German front?

The tricky part is figuring out how weak a force the Soviets can leave behind. Are 5 corps enough (say by M/J 1940)? Not sure. But I'm pretty sure that it works if the Soviets are sticking their chins out and saying 'hit me.'


Yes, one of them did, simultaneously attacking Persia and Finland. But he was the strongest land player I have ever seen, so he may have been tempting the German player to do just what he did. When the bluff was called, it made for an exciting 1940 and 1941, but went downhill shortly afterwards.
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Bruce Jurin
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This is good background information. I'm guessing that being in Finland isn't as bad as being caught in Iran or Japan as you can get out of Finland to the main front faster.
 
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John Bibler
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If the Soviet player isn't risking stuffing in 1941 he's already back at the Dnepr and Smolensk anyway with just a few blocking units. The garrison is small, but the German just can't go running in. If you can get to the Dnepr before he can form a line, then the USSR player deserves what is going to happen to them.
 
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Adam Jurin
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I can't speak for anyone else, but at least when I play the Soviets, I rarely stuff and I never start behind the Dniepr. Five steps back, and a phased retreat centered around keeping local air superiority (or at least parity) and forcing the Germans to waste a bunch of action limits constantly bringing up new planes is way better than either.
 
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Bruce Jurin
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Sorry everyone, changed my mind here!!

I had playtested WiFCE with WIFFE pieces, since we didn't have the WiFCE pieces. But now that I'm actually playing with WiFCE pieces, there are now so many more GE reserves in WiFCE that I'm now doubting that a 40 Barbarossa can ever work. I'm not totally shelving it but it is looking impractical to me.
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Timo Kellomäki
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Breunor wrote:
I had playtested WiFCE with WIFFE pieces, since we didn't have the WiFCE pieces. But now that I'm actually playing with WiFCE pieces, there are now so many more GE reserves in WiFCE that I'm now doubting that a 40 Barbarossa can ever work. I'm not totally shelving it but it is looking impractical to me.


Interesting. So as a consequence, when playing USSR would you then just keep the German border pretty much empty to e.g. threaten Japan and maximize your forces in Finland/Bessarabia/etc?

By the way, I decided to go with the traditional attack on France.
 
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Bruce Jurin
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Probably not, I'm conservative. But you can probably get away with if you did; still I don't like taking chances without testing.
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Late to this thread, but we're playing a CE game (I am Russia) with an experienced German, CW and US player and new Japanese player (we had another experienced Axis, but he had to leave before the game really got started). All of us played a lot of FE a long time ago, but this is our first CE game.

I joined in after the S/O had been played and the prior Soviet player had pretty much /everything/ against Finland. I think there was 1 CAV on the Soviet-German border. The German player was not pulling things FROM the border, but moving things up...so in N/D I managed to get a few more units (the Soviet MECH, some additional GAR and CAV and a few planes) to the border to at least present some semblance of a speed bump for him.

He did not declare war in J/F, in part due to horrible weather. I relaxed and figured we were going to be safe. However, in M/A '40 in the snow, he declared war. He had some supply issues as he had moved at least one HQ to Belgium border in N/D or J/F, but still managed to take out all of Eastern Poland. Russia had not demanded Bessarabia or the Baltics yet, even (in part due to excellent US entry chits that I was told to 'not mess with') .. and, in part, because there were still a ton of Soviet units in Finland (though we did have Petsamo).

We're still only in M/J '40, but the Soviets are outproducing Germany 22 BPs to 16 BPs. We're playing with oil, but no Divisions and no SiF. Germany chose to invade Norway (???), grabbing Oslo but allowing the UK to get ashore in the minor ports ... so he will have a 3-front war, not including any pressure against Italy.

The downside to all this is that the Axis have generated one and only one USE chit (the automatic one from Poland). Every other US entry roll has been an 8, 9 or 10, leaving the US with very few chits (though apparently very good ones). So while Russia looks to be doing ok /now/, I know that they will likely be doing the only real fighting for a while as France and the UK can only bomb and tie up forces for now. Hopefully that will be good enough.

-K
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