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Subject: AAR: Conquering the world, part 5 - To the last drop of blood rss

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Filip W.
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"The Red Army and Navy and the whole Soviet people must fight for every inch of Soviet soil, fight to the last drop of blood for our towns and villages...onward, to victory!"
Josef Stalin - July 1941

Welcome back, dear Readers. This is the fourth part of the Axis' attempt at World Domination. If you're new to this you might want to begin reading at the beginning:
AAR: Conquering the World, part 1 - France must fall

or start from the previous session:

AAR: Conquering the world, part 4 - You have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down

There's also a hi-res map available for those of you who want to follow the bigger picture:


If you want to get right into the action, here's a short summary:

The Players:
General Wavell - A skilled but sometimes overly cautious player, world class ASL player. Plays British/US.
Marshal Zhukov (previously von Manstein, switched sides) - Big thinker and strategist. Believes in abundant reserves, defense in depth and hitting hard where the enemy is at his weakest.
Field Marshal Guderian - Me. Love optimizing and going for high gain plays but very risk avoidant. Liable to commit too small forces for too big issues. Plays Germans.
Reich Minister of Aviation Herman Goering - The new kid on the block. First time playing the Front-system but damn does he roll high for the Luftwaffe attacks! Likes the smart, twisty, out-of-the-blue plays that take the enemy by surprise.

The Plan:
Waste the frog-eaters, capture Africa, rush the Soviets through Persia. Shake hands with the Japanese in India, rename "Kremlin" to "Guderian's summer house".

As we ended our last session the situations for the Axis was strained but still in control. The Soviets had strengthened their troops over the previous months and launched a massive counter-attack on the Moscow front. They'd withdrawn from the Turkish border and set up defences on the river Araxes south of Baku. In the Mid East the British were pressed all the way back to India but had the temerity to venture a unit into Axis Persia. All in all the south looked good while the eastern front worried the Wehrmacht High Command but not enough to start dismissing generals - yet.

In the west everything was quiet with Gibraltar in German (well, Spanish) hands and a solid defensive line along the Atlantic and Channel coasts. Here's how things looked in the end-of-session panorama (you may have to view it at 100% to see anything):



February. The cold is terrible; anything metal is untouchable, catching fingers in an icy embrace that ends with frostbite or amputation. Tank crews siphon off diesel and light fires under the engines in order to start them. Track links become brittle and crack, horses are found dead standing up, frozen solid on their feet. German troops weave overshoes out of straw in order to save their toes. Tree trunks crack with noise loud enough to send nearby troops into cover, heavy artillery shells hit frozen lake with enough ferocity to send blocks of ice hurling hundreds of meters into the air but fail to find water.



In this weather the Soviet open their advances with barrages of Katyusha rockets. Lasting a mere ten seconds each barrage delivers over four tons of high explosive warheads, shaking the very pillars of the earth and registering as tiny tiny scratches on the instruments of the Berlin Seismic Institute thousands of kilometers away. Before the German defenders can recover they are overrun by white clothed Soviet ski troops which penetrate German lines south and west of Mogilev, cutting off the rail supply and stranding the furthermost Axis troops in Katuga, on the outskirts of Moscow, out of supply, indeed cutting them of completely. Things are not looking good for the Axis.



But heroes never rest. West of Bryansk the 20th infantry corps keeps on fighting against horrendous odds. Reduced to a mere cadre of supply personnel, tattered front line veterans and walking wounded they keep holding the vital supply corridor to Bryansk open after five months of Communist assaults. Hitler orders over a hundred Iron Crosses distributed but as the Storch carrying the medals approaches the final German held runway the pilot spots T-34:s at the edge and turns the landing into a steep climb closely followed by bursts from Soviet anti-air batteries. The medals are delivered post humorously, the defenders of an unnamed stretch of Soviet wasteland lie unburried. Zhukov has cut off Bryansk.



While the German infantry struggles in the Russian steppes their armor has punched through to Persia, hitting the Soviets from below and driving the British towards India. But for all is not lost for the Allies. Rebuilt units form up in Karachi and start their long, slow trek to retake the Persian oilfields. Between then and their goal stands a locus: Qum. The second most sacred Islamic city in Persia it is surrounded by wooded hills and dry gulches, terrain made for ambushes. The British, meanwhile, set up their units for the attack on the plains of Kerman.

Guderian pours over his maps. March brings with it heavy rains in the East and the German defenders get a respite from the relentless Soviet attacks. They pull back, reorganize and strengthen their positions for their summer counter-attack. This leaves Guderian with a new problem: after the setbacks of the winter Hitler is impatient for news of victory, perhaps impatient enough to remove a meek general from command. Guderian decides to throw his dice. He orders the DAK and supporting armor and infantry in Qum to make a lightning strike, hitting the Allied units in Kerman.



The battle catches the Anzac brigades and the rebuilt Palestinian force by surprise. German tanks tear through their exposed lines, breaking through, flanking and enveloping. To Guderian's surprise the Anzacs fall but the Palestinians hold, letting the southern forces retreat to India and sacrificing themselves for the greater good of the Empire. Not that it does them much good; by the end of March the British presence in Persia has been wiped out with negligeble losses to the Germans and the Axis troops move north to Teheran, beginning to set up the Summer offensive.



Meanwhile the Italians have moved into Somaliland, securing a small strip of land along the Bay of Aden for their forces waiting in Saudi Arabia. The British rush a unit across the Horn of Good Hope and into Kenya, threatening to roll on Alexandria. Cunning but cowardly Mussolini orders his troops back and the stale mate is renewed.



In March, as the East Front dissolves into mud the Turks finally decide to join the Axis. Hitler is jubilant but Guderian has his doubts. The Turkish troops are welcome but they aren't battle tested and they refuse to move far into Mother Russia. He orders them into battle even so and, lo and behold, the Turks to great, charging the surprised Soviets and capturing Batumi. Now the entire Black sea is in German hands and Guderian isn't slow to use that; as primitive cranes unload panzers in Georgian harbors German morale rebounds while the Soviets tremble. At least that's the picture painted in Berlin where the lost German divisions are quickly resurrected on paper and filled with fresh conscripts.



April. German troops flounder in mud up to their knees. Tanks sink beyond the tops of their threads and desperate crews bail as mud flows into engines and hatches. Trucks are mired, rows of Axis soldiers slog like ants across the horizon carrying bundles of supplies on their backs. Each shell fired has to be lugged by hand up to the artillery position, each round blasted out of a rifle as passed through twenty hands before getting to the front. Battles ground to a halt in the everlasting quagmire.



May comes with sunshine and the steppes dry out transforming into the greatest tank battlegrounds in the world. Hitler listens to the meteorologist's reports and smiles. He leans forward, across the map table and taps a spot. "Angriff," he says, his mustache quivering.

A thousand miles away another dictator leans over a map table. "Attack," he says, mustache quivering. Zhukov nods. The steppes will flow with Fascist blood.

The two armies clash in a furor of shells, shrapnel and screams. Tanks fire at ranges close enough to cause projectile to pass clean through their opponents, infantrymen shoot, tear and club at one another. The battle shifts back and forth but the Soviet lines hold and the German lines don't.



"Cowards!" Hitler screams, making his generals cower. The German panzer thrusts have been blunted by Soviet defences and while the panzers still live the German front along the northern edge of the Pripet marshes suffers the full brunt of the Soviet attacks. Bobrinsk falls. Slutsk falls. the 5th infantry corps at Baranovici holds out through pure miracle preventing Soviet units from racing across the dry farmlands and cuting off millions of German troops north and east of Minsk. In desperation Guderian throws all available reserves into the fray, strengthening Baranovici and pulling back from the disastrous attacks around the Dnepr.



The second fortnight in June the Germans fare little better. Leaving their forces to starve across the Dnepr Guderian concentrates his defenders, strengthening where he may, and awaits the Soviet thrust. It is late in coming, only scattered Soviet units reinforce their fighting comrades but surveillance flights show numerous forces marching toward the front. July will not be a good month for the Germans.



The DAK's attack has stopped the British cold - but the Soviet Baku front is still holding strong. Repulsing two attempts at cutting off the Soviet forces along the Araxes the defenders dig in awaiting the German panzers. The inhabitants of Tbilisi watch as Soviet forces dig tank traps along the perimeters of their town. A German trust just south of the city is stopped and reinforcements rushed in from Baku itself, depleting the Stavka's reserves but miring the Germans in a sea of Soviet corpses. The Georgian oil fields are still safe from the Fascists.

Ok, things didn't go as I planned. Not at all. While I realized that the winter would be tough it proved to be disastrous, costing the Germans eight completely wiped out units and the Soviets nothing at all. The entire area gained in August-September of ´41 has been retaken and the Soviets threaten to cut off the Germans completely. The northern front (Leningrad) still holds but the Soviets keep attacking and I haven't got enough units (or strategic moves) to do much about it. I thought I saw a way to cut the Soviets off in May and blitzed but thankfully I failed to break through. Thankfully because I would have lost four panzer units as the Soviets were way, way, way too strong for the Axis. I blame tiredness and frustration at not being able to do anything against massive Soviet forces for that mistake.

I've put too much forces into the Med and Baku fronts to be able to push through in the East and now it's payback time. The Soviets are rested, ready and really angry. I might be able to hit Baku but Zhukov might be able to conquer Berlin in the same time as the Baku attack has stalled due to a lack of forces and an abundance of defenders. If I can't fight through I'll be in deep, deep trouble there with nowhere to retreat.

And the Allies have started rolling for Second Front, meaning that my minor allies, like Italy and Spain, stand the risk of being demoralized and surrendering just when I can't afford it.

I know I've said that things were looking bleak for the Axis before but now they start to look bleak for real. It might be that the Axis will have to go on the defensive already in 1942...

Here's how things looked at the end of July 1942 (you may have to view the image at 100% to see anything):



So what's in store for the future? Is there still hope for Axis tanks taking Moscow?

Spoiler (click to reveal)

I've got two possibilities: try to claim the Ukraine or go for Baku. The Ukraine forces Zhukov to activate HQ's and move his units south. It's clear terrain, which is good for the attacker, but there's nothing vital there. I could use the attack to destroy some Soviet troops but that's it - and the Soviets will have both defenders advantage and a surplus of troops as everything they own is on the board. Another danger is that he'll get his last reinforcement in July and if I don't kill something of his every month he'll be able to reserve the cash for the Soviet steamroller - and Soviet tanks firing Triple Fire (and mech firing DF) will surely spell disaster for the Axis.

Thus Baku is the goal by default. If I can take it not only does Zhukov lose 10 PP's, he's hit where the Axis has any chance to compete with the Soviets: HQ costs. To make that happen I'll need several things: I'll need to get the DAK north, get across the Araxes in strength and open the rail supply along it. Most of all I need another HQ, an East front one at that.

That I'll get by railing AGC to the West front in turn I, then railing it all the way to the Baku front in turn II and I'll have another, full strength, HQ there in August. That means that I'll have a local command superiority and I'll be able to blitz Rommel on turn II and still have enough HQ points to activate everything in the following turn (or blitz if I find that to be more convenient).

I'll need to use 4 OKH supreme moves to set everything in motion: one for the Turkish mountain infantry into combat east of Nakichevan so my armor coming from the east using another supreme isn't repulsed there (AGE will move the two remaining armor corps into combat one hex north-east of there and move the Persians into flank protection positions south of the Araxes mouth). Another one will go to move the German infantry waiting in the Turkish mountains all the way to Tbilisi and, here's the coup the grace, move the German infantry in the mountains south-east of Maikop onto the rail line above it. That way I'll be able to move it to cut off rail the rail lines going west out of Grozny and force the Soviets to send reinforcements the long way around. And I'll be able to threaten to cut rail supply to Baku off completely.

This will hinder me in the Ukraine and Soviet mainland but, if I can threaten Zhukov enough that he'll become desperate and push for Berlin instead of reinforcing Baku then I do have a good chance to win.

Here's hoping.
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Great AAR. You're right, the Soviets in the winter are just brutal, and if they get the Steamroller...forget about it. I just finished a game as the Axis where I was at full strength in the east in June 1943, and had taken Leningrad and Sevastopol. The Soviets got the Steamroller on the first try...I resigned in April 1944 with my army in the east completely trashed. In my defense, I think we rolled mud once during October, November and March combined but still...

As for your plans:

Spoiler (click to reveal)
I don't get what the Soviets are doing in the Caucasus. There are mountains in Persia, there are mountains around Baku, but the Soviet wants to fight it out in clear terrain?? If he keeps doing that than yeah, go for Baku.


 
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oeh, tough one. But Ukraine is also worth 10 points for you (8 for the Soviets).

For the underdog (Axis this time):
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Only, the way you made your choice for Baku seems similar to the choice for Kursk in reality: it is the most obvious target. You can expect he will reinforce everything there that he can, and unless you engage those cities he will rebuild cadres there. Moving that German infantry to Armavir E1 is a must to cut the railline partially in the first turn, and another must to move it in the second turn to Ordzoniki NW1 (pity that it moves only 2). This infantry is maybe even more important than moving those HQs to the Caucasus because that infantry eliminates rail supply to Baku and leaves an HQ there on sea supply (+5/+10PP cost), further reducing command possibilities for the Soviets. ugh. only I forgot that it doesn't count In or Adjacent to a Major port in Secure Sea supply. sorry. Maybe you can get a cavalry to where that infantry is standing now? It could hop in one go to Ordzoniki NW1, and after that march onward to Astrakhan?
 
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Zhukovs view: blood is cheap and plentyful
Filwi´s AAR is enjoyable as always. It´s really hard to avoid reading the secret plans and checking the pictures for unit strengths, but that will have to wait until we are finished, sigh.goo

During the winter , after pondering the upcoming german summer offensive I suddenly realized that the Soviets could actually afford one more attack month before turning to the defensive. We threw everything into the effort and now there is an electric buzz in the air, Lady Luck smiled upon the dice! Almost every roll went in my favour and after a german counterattack that also was subdued by good soviet rolls, things were looking up again. Not only was the German offensive stalled, but it seemed possible to continue with my attacks in the first summer month as well.

Sacrificing Murmansk and jeopardizing Baku was a gamble but has now paid off in a strong Russian line around the Smolensk bulge. Shunting more units along the Pripetsk northern part has put serious pressure on AGN and AGC and they are in serious risk of being cut-off along the line Pripetsk-Baltic Sea. I have managed to keep the pressure up and the sortie from Pripetsk limits German choices seriously.

My take on German strategies next session.
Arctic/Finland: No gains to be made and no serious chances of success. Nothing will happen there.

Baltic/Smolensk/Pripetsk: The panzers and HQ are still located here. The force is not strong enough to break through to Moscow/Leningrad and is also in danger of being cut off. Germany will try to reinforce the current positions or pull back to shorten the front (guessing on second alternative.)

Ukraine: Scarce forces to stage an attack and even a successful attack would not pose a serious threat to strategic objectives. Nothing will happen.

Baku: Forces coming from the south and west in a two-pronged attack focussing on russian oil reserves. I have a problem assessing their strength. Two HQ:s and panzers may have a chance to succeed. There are problems with the terrain and supply and an attack here will probably cost a lot of PP.
My guess is that this will be the main effort for Germany.

Soviet strategy is still dependent on the German choices, we cannot dictate the battle - yet!

1. Defending Baku is very important. Germans must pay dearly in time and PP to get it and their units will have a long way to get back to Europe when the Allies attack. My problem is to get reinforcements there but thankfully there is not much room for manouever. Prio A.
2. Attack north of Pripetsk is a cost and time effective way to use Russian units. They are already in place but so are some serious germans. Prio B.
3, Finland/Arctic is a possible sideshow, Liberation of Murmansk, killing Finland and pressure on Narvik. If the Germans pull back from Leningrad there are several available S. units in the vicinity.
4. Ukraine is quiet. To attack here I need to start some major reshuffling of armies and the fascist enemy has an impressive double line of defence.

So, safest bet is the big show will be around Baku.

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Craig Besinque
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Filwi,

Simply an awesome AAR. Super-interesting game, lots of great fotos, fun to read. Kudos and thanks!

Craig
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(Allied player writing)

End of June 1942. "Somewhere" in the hills of Baluchistan and still almost dark in the early morning, General Wavell looked on a row of tents. Hidden behind bushes with sometimes a foxhole but mostly a sangar built of small stones thousends of well trained troopers from all over the Empire came awake. Soon small fires indicated an early teatime everywhere in order to get the nights coolness away.

Wavell once again thought back...how could things go so bad in Egypt more than a year ago. Nothing could stop the German tanks that time. Speed...he thougt. They used the speed and didn`t care about losses. Uncivilized way of fighting...!Barbarians! Huns!

Anyway, after loosing the oilfields and a final hasty retreat into India we finally stoped them. A houndred yers ago Clausewitz said: "An offence will always end after loosing it´s initial power, sooner or later...! Wise man, Now It´s time for revenge. Should I press the buttom now with the forcess I have or wait for further build up? Thats the question? Speed before safety?

General Wavell suddenly cold hear singing voices aproaching down the road. It sounded different. After a few secunds he realized it was yet another company of the French Foreign legion arriving to the assembly area after a nightly forced march. Battle hardened in Morocco, appearing "from nowhere" in the Gulf defending the oil and now present in India...this is my nightmare I will give to Rommel he thougt. Soon, or maybe next month...speed before safety...do I need more bulid up..maybe? General Wavell turned to his orderly and ordered him to get the Jeep ...I must get back and calculate my timetable again he thought.
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Filip W.
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Goran2 wrote:
Barbarians! Huns!


Errr... Yeeess?

Don't worry, the German High Command is working on a way to get the Frenchies their soil back - about six feet of it
 
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Hey there Filwi, Wingnut and consorts,
did you guys manage another session? I'm curious
 
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Filip W.
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Juan_de_Marco wrote:
Hey there Filwi, Wingnut and consorts,
did you guys manage another session? I'm curious


Yeah, but I've got my hands full right now so it will be a while until it's posted.
 
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Juan de Marco
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I almost hesitate to ask - have you got time yet?
 
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Filip W.
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Both my wife and daughter are sick. Maybe in the weekend or next week.
 
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Oh sorry, best wishes and good health then. soblue
 
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Tapio Talvisalo
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What was the outcome of this game?

-tapio
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Filip W.
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tapio wrote:
What was the outcome of this game?

-tapio


In short: I had to pull out due to real world(tm) concerns. Wavell invaded Portugal and gained a foothold. Spain went down the tubes and Göring decided to make a stand at Madrid instead of pulling back to the Pyrenees.

In the East Göring attempted to push north out of the Baku pocket with disastrous results, basically grinding the panzer divisions to pulp. The Soviets held a shallow line there and put everything into a massive pronged attack north and south out of the Pripet marshes.

Göring attempts to ship more units from the EF to Spain, and fails to keep pressure on the Soviets who start their buildup.

Both sides decide to end the game just as the Soviet steamroller is about to start.

Some day I'll post a longer version, if I remember what happened. I've still got some unposted images and a long story about how Guderian too Baku and resigned his commission...
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This was a really good AAR and very fun to read. First time I read it about over 1 year ago. Hope you guys make a new game and new AAR. Really interesting to read and clear on what happened.
 
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