Patrick Bauer
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So, I embark on my first Vassal game with someone from outside my longtime circle of friends. Any good General needs a plan, needs to stick with until the enemy dictates otherwise and needs to have command over the situation. I will be demonstrating how to fail at that….sigh.

Right off the bat I decide there’ll be no shenanigans, I’m going to take Poland on turn one and invade Denmark to ready a paradrop on Oslo for turn two. The lowlands on turn two as well, then a traditional Fall Gelb against France. No Swedish Gambit, No Yugoslav Gambit, No Dolbee Gambit, No Sea Lion Gambit ---NOTHING.

I draw Axis variant #2: Irish Resistance and decide to set up for the Yugoslav Gambit … sigh

Fall ’39:
So the game’s afoot: I stick with the plan with Germany, but as you can(will) see, I’m rusty. I waste 3 factors of air on the assault on Warsaw. For all you noobs, Denmark is not going to conquered this turn and it’s tiny little air force can do things that need preventing, don’t waste units unnecessarily. By the end of my turn all of Germany’s air is inverted and Denmark will do something that will have repercussions later in the game … sigh. We’ll call that mistake #1.



Now Italy’s job in this whole affair is to draw as much of the British armed forces from England as possible; so that when the opportunity arrives, variant #2 will have its maximum effect. With the Yugoslav Gambit, I despise the Broad Front option as it tends to get Italy invaded and conquered. So if I’m going to do this in one turn, it’s benefits can be achieved in the Winter. So Italy does not DoW Yugoslavia and just sits there poised for attack. What I aim to do is create an inviting target of Italy that can still be defended but doesn’t look like I’m making it a target or look like it can be defended. An Allied flip-flop is possible but the cost of the DoW and a dual Mediterranean offensive will limit Allied building; Germany’s armor is placed in range of Rome and Italy’s fleet can sea escort to ports. So the bait is on the hook.

Germany’s builds show more rust on the olde cranium, too many armor, not enough infantry. This will stymie an effective lowlands assault and prohibit the invasion of D35 making the paradrop a risk of game elimination for 1Fsjr. Just sad – mistake #2. I leave no available BRPs for counter-intelligence (as Italy must save her spare BRPs to assure she has 100 at 1940 YSS) – mistake #3. Italy SRs the 1-3 out of Albania, which if you’re going to invade Yugoslavia turns out to be important – mistake #4.

But all in all, I’m thrilled to be playing and feel confident that I hold the initiative.





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Doug Poskitt
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Allied setup commentary

Noting my opponent’s conventional setup with Italy so as to be in position for a 1939 attack on Yugoslavia, I decide to setup aggressively in the Mediterranean. British armour is on board-ship at Port Said and Gibraltar. Not that I take it for granted that his defense of Italy will encourage a double-turn move against ill Dude, but it doesn’t hurt to be in a position to try if he defends Italy poorly.

I deploy the French armour in P25 to force him to use infantry on the east bank of the Rhine in his German setup (the French ZoC prevents construction in the three hexes in the German Construction phase of Fall 1939). A French 9-FF fleet starts at Cherbourg … just in case he gets hysterical and tries a surprise invasion of Britain!

I drew variant counter #7, which only becomes relevant after 1944, so that doesn’t affect my setup for the conflict. At least I knew he didn’t have variant counter #7 himself!
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Still reading your report, but just a technical point in case you don't know, if you put "original" or "large" after your image numbers, the images will appear bigger in your article (so the reader doesn't have to click on each one individually).

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dave65tdh wrote:
Still reading your report, but just a technical point in case you don't know, if you put "original" or "large" after your image numbers, the images will appear bigger in your article (so the reader doesn't have to click on each one individually).


I know the BGG administrators requested that the "original" feature only be used when necessary. But considering the advanced age and macular degeneration of the 3R community I have resized the pictures... I'M SORRY, I HAVE RESIZED THE PICTURES (that the closest to Reader's Digest font I can get.).
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As I await the time-zone musical chairs to allow Doug to post his Allied Fall 39 info. I must note, that I didn't really see the Allied set-up as a danger to Italy proper.

If I had, the ensuing Axis posts would be of a more conservative bent. Instead, a dazzling display of ineptitude is about to occur.
 
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Doug Poskitt
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Axis Fall 1939

(Allied commentary)

Germany opens with a DoW on Denmark, presumably with the intent of prepping for a Winter 39 invasion of Norway.

Italy remains completely passive and passes on all three fronts. No invasion of Yugoslavia this turn. As his forces are set up to invade, I can only conclude that he will launch a 1:1 attack next turn (albeit with a 83.33% chance of success). Either that or maybe my aggressive setup in the Mediterranean has put him off Yugoslavia altogether. We shall see.

Sure enough, one German infantry advances into northern Denmark, the other to bottle up the Danes in Copenhagen. Elsewhere, German forces move into position to attack Poland, while in the Mediterranean, the Italian airwing stages south to Naples to avoid a possible counter-air attack by the French airwing in Ajaccio.

With 15 factors in contact, the German western front attrition takes out two counters. That's no great problem.

In a surprising tactic, the German flies 11 AFs of GS over N35, making a 18:6 (3:1) attack on the Polish 2-3 Inf unit there. The Polish air in Brest-Litovsk is eliminated along with one German AF. The Polish defenders in N35 are blown away on a D result, and the German advances a 3-3 Inf into N35 along with a BH counter. The three remaining Panzer units move onto N35 ready for an exploitation attack on Warsaw. I am a little puzzled at this point, as the German is taking a risk with an attack force of air/armour in attacking Warsaw at 2:1. Though admittedly small, there is a 3% chance he will roll a 4,6 and the valiant Poles would survive. It further puzzled me why the German used 7 AFs of GS along with three panzers; that made the attack go in at 19:8 ... the only benefit there being to me, as had he rolled a 4,6 then 45 German BRPs would have gone down the drain, instead of 36 BRPs (4 x 4-6 plus 4 AFs). In his shoes, I would have taken a 2:1 on the cross-river attack on N35, using a 3-3 Inf, 4-6 armour and 5 AFs. Had that attack gone belly up, it would only have cost 26 BRPs. Moreover, Germany would still have had the option to recover by attacking the Polish 1-3 Inf at N34, using a 4-6 armour and 2 AFs (3:1), followed by a cross-river exploitation attack on Warsaw at 16:12 (2 x 4-6 armour plus 8 AFs GS). While a 1:1, it would have had an 83.33% chance of success.

Not that it ultimately mattered, as the German attack on Warsaw rolled an EX, with 2 x 4-6 armour going down in flames. Poland was a gonner, but it had cost my opponent 19 BRPs in casualties. I was satisfied with that.

The Axis Fall 1939 Construction phase saw an aggressive build program, with 4 x 4-6 armour and the airborne being built. While he had to compensate for the loss of two armour units in Poland, I did think four a tad extravagant, given that if (assumption here) he was planning to grab Holland and Belgium in Winter 1939, then two armour builds would have done. The upshot of his construction programme was that 10 AFs remained unbuilt. I wondered if he would come to regret that.

I also noted that, at this point, the whole southern flank in Germany was bare; surely that would be redressed in the SR phase?



Italy build all her available ground forces and deployed them in what I thought was an overkill fashion in the north. Though the Axis had yet to SR any units, I did look at the Italian deployment with a small glint in my eye. Hmmm ... given that he had in effect a three line defense against attack from the north, I would have built the 2-5 armour in X23, not U23.



If I was a trifle puzzled prior to the Axis SR phase, my puzzlement was compounded after it. Germany's southern flank, from Munich down to the Brenner Pass was bare. Southwards of two 4-6's in P28 there was nothing. Just empty German hexes ... lots and lots of empty German hexes! Berlin was garrisoned by an inverted Luftwaffe unit. Moreover, north-western Germany north of Frankfurt was empty as well. The road to Bremen and Wilhelmshaven was clear. At this point, I was having trouble getting my head around this German defense.



My astonishment knew no bounds after ill Dude weighed in with the Italian SRs. Italy had SRd four ground units to Libya. Tripoli was stoutly defended, though against what I could not conceive; surely he could not be thinking I would spend 35 BRPs to DoW Italy and 15 BRPs on an offensive in the Mediterranean merely to grab five Libyan BRPs? Forces were massed along the Libyan-Egyptian border, including the 2-5 armour that had been SRd from U23. A look at the board image in north Africa plainly shows Britain's ground forces in Egypt were not deployed to sweep into Libya, so I concluded that this must be part of his preparations for launching an offensive into Egypt on a later turn, rather than a purely defensive posture.



At the sight of his denuded Italian defenses in Piedmont, my glint grew into a malicious swirl of fire. Milan, Genoa and the Po Valley ... all empty. Save only for a thin screen of infantry, a cavernous, gaping hole had appeared in southern Germany and northern Italy.



Sitting here in the UK at my Vassal screen, I began to rub my hands with glee. It was now the Allies turn ...

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Patrick Bauer
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Axis Counter Response to Allied Reaction of Axis Fall 39 Turn:

So here at least, I am controlling the actions of the enemy. I have essentially left the front door unlocked. The British 2-5 can not sea transport to France in the Fall as it would end its move in Marseilles. The front line is sufficient for the Fall and a second turn front door only assault could only net at best a 13:8 attack on Rome because the Italian air's positioning would take up 10 of the air stationed in Corsica which can only hold 15 Allied air. I am also presuming some sort of Allied invasion, this should invert a significant portion of the Allied fleets. Now it's a gamble but the Italian 3-3's are ready to sea transport,as are both armor; Italy should be able to make a counter attack.

Since my ultimate goal is draw as many British units as possible into contact and thus unavailable to put down the planned Irish revolt, I am prepared to move the entire German south to engage in a large scale exploitation. I forsee the possibility of a French screening wall -- thus the Italian armor could be engaged in a key soak off by sea transport to Spezia, Livorno or Venice -- to allow the German advance to Rome. My anticipation that one of these ports will be open and that the Allies will commit extra naval force for escort or SR and thus leaving Regia Marina free to act is unfounded. My optimism is based on my own bias of hating to see invasions aborted -- if I invade, I want the troops to at least get to the beach. Doug must play the same way right? sigh

I think my defense is subtle and that the Allies will take the bait. Tune in to the next Allied post to hear the answer.
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Doug Poskitt
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SewerStarFish wrote:
The British 2-5 can not sea transport to France in the Fall as it would end its move in Marseilles. The front line is sufficient for the Fall ...


Not so, the 2-5 armour is in Port Said with a 9-FF. With a Sea Transport mission to Marseilles, disembarking at Marseilles would cost 1 MF ... leaving the 2-5 (WDF) with four MFs left; enough to bring it adjacent to the single line 1-3 Inf unit(s) in Piedmont.

Militarily, a Sea Transport would be sound re: attacking the Italian infantry with the 2-5 from Egypt. The problem here stems from economics. 35 BRPs to DoW Italy leaves Britain with only 27 BRPs left ... and a Sea Transport mission of the 2-5 via Marseilles in order to attack an Italian unit in Piedmont would cost 30 BRPs (15 BRPs for the Western front "offensive" mission (Sea Transport to Marseilles) and 15 BRPs for a Mediterranean "offensive" mission (attacking in Piedmont)).

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dougposkitt wrote:
SewerStarFish wrote:
The British 2-5 can not sea transport to France in the Fall as it would end its move in Marseilles. The front line is sufficient for the Fall ...


Not so, the 2-5 armour is in Port Said with a 9-FF. With a Sea Transport mission to Marseilles, disembarking at Marseilles would cost 1 MF ... leaving the 2-5 (WDF) with four MFs left; enough to bring it adjacent to the single line 1-3 Inf unit(s) in Piedmont.

Militarily, a Sea Transport would be sound re: attacking the Italian infantry with the 2-5 from Egypt. The problem here stems from economics. 35 BRPs to DoW Italy leaves Britain with only 27 BRPs left ... and a Sea Transport mission of the 2-5 via Marseilles in order to attack an Italian unit in Piedmont would cost 30 BRPs (15 BRPs for the Western front "offensive" mission (Sea Transport to Marseilles) and 15 BRPs for a Mediterranean "offensive" mission (attacking in Piedmont)).


Whoops jumping the gun -- I was looking at the wrong save. Thank goodness I had also accounted for the Western Front costs. I was presuming a French only front door attack in the Fall.

EDIT: and now Doug's second conquest of Italy is all an exercise in illegal move territory, because of a sea transport through Marseilles. But back to the business at hand.
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Allied Fall 1939

The USSR declared war on East Europe as usual, but much angst was expended over whether I should satisfy that glint-come-fireball in my eye.

With two 2-3 Inf units sitting in Rome, backed up by 10 AFs of DAS available in Naples and Taranto, there was no way I could amphibiously assault W24 and exploit to Rome in one turn. If an invasion was to be launched, it would require taking a double-turn over Fall-Winter 1939.

An important pre-requisite of attempting an invasion of Italy to occupy Rome is the ability to be certain of keeping it at the end of the ensuing Axis combat phase. In a double-turn over Fall-Winter 1939, if Italy is knocked out of the war, then in all likelihood, the Allied BRP-level would top that of Germany in the 1940 YSS and thus deny the German a double-move over Winter 1939-Spring 1940.

Italy's Replacement unit on the beach at W24 gives him three defense factors. A French 5-4 airwing in Ajaccio is placed to intercept the maximum 3 AFs of DAS that Italy could fly in support of the beach defenders. All of the Italian fleet units have been used, so could not intercept a seaborne invasion force; though his 5-4 airwing in Taranto definitely could hit an Allied fleet steaming into the Adriatic Sea. An invasion comprised of fleets/ground units from Gibraltar and Port Said would be extremely unlucky to not get ashore in W24, the invasion attack being at 3:1 or 2:1.

With 2 AFs of French air going spare at Ajaccio, it was feasible to hit the beach with the 2-5 (WDF) and 3 factors of shore bombardment, 2 AFs of GS (a little insurance there in case he chipped away a fleet factor with his airwing as it sailed past Brindisi) for a 2:1 attack; though exploitation combat against Rome itself would be out as the 4-5 armour could only receive GS from the French airwing (staging to Corsica from P21). That would enable a 9:8 (1:1) 50-50 combat against the two 2-3's in Rome ... to risky! However, exploitation north to Venice, or south to Cassino (via X23) would be possible, as would an exploitation attack against W23 (6:3 with 2 AFs of GS).

In the north, the French could muster a 3-5 armour, two 2-3 infantry and an AF to blow away the Italian infantry screening the border in one attack at 8:4 (2:1). That would open up the whole of northern Italy, so that French armour could drive along the River Po and establish blocking positions for Winter 1939, while British ground forces could be SR'd to the Alps so that they could drive south in Winter 1939 and aid the British forces in and around W24 in their attack on Rome.

Great stuff! I was having great fun imagining Pat's face becoming grimmer with each press of the "pg dn" key as he played back the Allied Fall 39 vlogs.

Then the sober dictates of 3R4 reality started to dawn. Germany had 75 BRPs, Italy 57. That made for an Axis BRP total of 132 BRPs. The Allied combined at-start BRP total stood at 210 BRPs; a lead of 78 BRPs. With Britain paying for the DoW on Italy and an offensive (50 BRPs), and the French paying for an offensive too, that lead would dwindle to a mere 13 BRPs!

If Britain built an extra armour unit (8 BRPs), no French armour could be built. If France built two armoured units (12 BRPs), then Britain could not build at all! France could build and seal off northern Italy with armour, but then Britain would have to rely on its 1939 invasion forces to do the job against Rome. Though in hindsight, while writing up this AAR, I realise that it may have been possible to have still pulled off a double-turn conquest of Rome, with very good odds of holding it against an Axis counter-attack, at the time I baulked at what I perceived to be a "too risky" affair and reluctantly put aside my plans for "Operation Western Fury". My turn to sigh.

For the USSR and the Western Allies it was attrition options on all three fronts. However, the Danes took an offensive. Their air force would be looking to pull a stroke against lax German port defenses in Kiel/Hamburg.

In their combat phase, the Danes launched their obsolete airwing against the German fleet in Kiel/Hamburg and caught Jerry napping. They reduced one 9-FF to an 8-FF. I commented to Pat in the vlog file "It might only be one factor, but this will prove to be a bloody nuisance to the Germans I would wager."

As far as the rest of the turn went, Russia declared war on East Europe and advanced to occupy the pact cities. Britain sent a 9-FF to Malta. France prepared for establishing an in-depth defense of European France, and Britain constructed a screen of Replacements around London, whilst building two 9-FFs at Rosyth.

The Soviet Union builds were aimed at the construction of a double line of defense.

The SR phase finishes the turn, with Britain establishing a powerful 4 x 9FF force at Rosyth, and two Mediterranean airwings redeployed to London, in case the RAF need to commit substantial forces to the defense of France. The 1st and 2nd BEF infantry units take their place in "The Line". France fine tunes her defensive deployment. In the Med, Britain moves the 2-5 (WDF) up to LL26, so the Italians can make no effective penetration should they attempt a move against Egypt.





A turn that began with fire in the eyes ends up pretty conventional and conservative. Pat's not the only one with a propensity to sigh.

Mind you, the 1st Armoured Corps had not left Gibraltar ... devil

PS Having turned down the opportunity to go for Rome, I also considered the option of going after Berlin instead. There was a massive gaping hole in southern Germany that was just begging to have Allied armoured columns pouring through it. A Fall 1939 attack on Q25 by French armoured and infantry units. French armour constructed in P25. British armour SR'd to Q23. In both cases, the armour would be supported by infantry of their respective nationalities.

In Winter 1939, French armour would slice through Bavaria via Berchtesgaden and attack P30. Exploiting French armour would drive through N31 and on to Berlin, displacing the 5-4 Luftwaffe unit there. British armour would drive on Berchtesgaden, attacking R28, and exploiting northwards to pin the Panzer units in central Germany.

The problem here becomes one of supply. Unfortunately, Germany could still draw supply from conquered Warsaw. An Axis Winter 39 base change to Konigsberg would enable supply to be delivered from Warsaw to that port, and then ferried over water to Kiel/Hamburg and onwards. With the bulk of his army able to move and counter-attack Berlin, backed by 20 AFs and the airborne, the Allies chance of holding the German capital would have been mighty slim.

With all that Allied armour out of position in Germany, my opponent could have wreaked havoc on the Western Allies over Winter 39-Spring 40; enough to maybe take them both out. "German forces in Blighty? Good Lord, God forbid!"
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Axis response to Allied Fall turn
Except for an annoyingly successful port attack by the Danes, the whole idea of intelligence and BRP granting (which had slipped my feeble mind) and Doug not taking the Italian bait; I'm still ignorantly pleased. I didn't really think he'd bite right away, no one wants to ruin a good game on the first turn.

I'm sure I can conquer Yugoslavia and have Italy start 1940 with 100 BRPs. If he won't come to me, I'll bring it to him.
 
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Winter ’39:
Germany having overbuilt armor and under built infantry opts to not declare war on Belgium, I just don’t want to risk too many units at this point and have to pay for mistake #2 at some point: I choose this instead of compounding my oversight. I do decide to risk the 1Fsjr in a drop on Oslo – if I roll the 4-6 combo on the 2:1, I’ll cry in my beer and curse those Viking bastards the rest of the game. Mistake #1 is already annoying me (Damn Danes and their port attack) – I am going to have to use the 9 factor fleet to protect Bergen after my glorious conquest of Norway but that will leave only an 8 factor fleet in Kiel. This means I can’t counter any foreign aid to Ireland until I build a new fleet; I have to hope he chooses someone else to bribe or my whole Italian initiative could be for naught.

Italy declares war on Yugoslavia and discovers the error of mistake #4 as the Yugoslavs set a western defense leaving a straight 1:1 on Belgrade with only the 2-5 armor. For you noobs, see that little 1-3 in Albania is supposed to be placed so that if Yugoslavia sets the Western defense then the 2-5, 1-3 and air force give Italy a 11:8 attack instead of the 8:8 I have. That way an EX still causes Yugoslavia to fall. But if Italy fails to take Belgrade, I decide that Spring ’40 will have Italy declare war on Britain and the Germans can grab Belgrade as that still fits in with my grand strategy to draw British force to the Med.



The combat phase sees just about everything go my way: Oslo, Copenhagen, The Hague, Luxembourg and even Belgrade fall. A host of minors eliminated. Things are going swimmingly. Italy will have 100 BRPs for 1940 YSS and thus be able to DoW and offensive in the same turn: a clear and immediate threat to British interests. But I want to draw him in: he tasks me, he tasks me and I will have him. So I redeploy Italy’s forces to Libya but set them up offering eastern Libya on a plate. Doug doesn’t know me, maybe he’ll think I’m a timid Axis player in the Med. My armor is forward enough to counter attack a sloppy British attack though. I just want to engage Britain at Libya’s widest point so he’ll have to uses a lot of units. I think Italy itself is defended enough to survive a flip-flop assault – mistake #5, and this will doom me.



But for now I am in ignorant bliss, thinking that this is going really well. The first bait didn’t work, maybe this new bait will. I have no BRPs to spare for foreign aid, so now I’m at a deficit that may harm Barbarossa – mistake #6 (is any one seeing a theme?)


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Here's a preview of the Allied end of Winter 39 shots:



 
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I'm going to jump the gun a little and post my Spring 1940 info before Doug post his Winter 39 comments:

1940 YSS
After taking credit for conquering Belgium in my YSS, I receive a gentle reminder from Doug about how games need rules and how I must actually conquer Belgium to get the BRPs; I redo my YSS. Germany is a little behind the BRP schedule thanks to mistake #2 causing me to forgo taking Belgium in ’39 but it shouldn’t be a big deal, right? … sigh

Spring ‘40
Unaware that mistake #5 is creeping up behind me, Italy has a choice to attack now or to wait just one more turn hoping to get the Allies to spend the 35 BRPs and really help the cause. I decide to wait, and in hindsight this has to be put down as mistake #7. If Italy advances on Egypt, the Allied player is ever so much less likely to get adventurous. The Germans would reinforce the Italian mainland and secure the early game. Oh I will pay.



Germany sweeps through Belgium creating a bulge into France and secures a BH across the Rhine. The BEF is now in contact with the front lines, I am confident I can isolate them and add to the not available for Ireland order of battle.



Overconfident and certain I will be pressing Paris soon, I cast an eye towards unguarded Rosyth. If the Allies try a flip flop, I may be able to use my return flip flop to paradrop into the port which I will presupply with the 8 factor fleet and then SR a unit in with the 9 factor fleet (if it moves successfully) then the 2nd turn of the flip-flop will see a sea transport attempt to add more units for a push towards London. Plymouth stands open too but the 1Fsjr will have to eliminate the replacement at L21 to allow SR to the presupplied port, but he probably won’t be expecting it and won’t fly DAS there so it might be viable. Playing variant 2 at that point (either port taken) could well eliminate Britain or so soften London that I could take it. Never trade Italy for France but always trade her for Britain. All I need is for Doug to try the flip-flop and for Rome to hold just one turn, one damned turn. …sigh

Mistake #8 is Germany spending half her BRPs in the spring build. I want Doug to go for the flip-flop with a slight edge – I offer him Italy on a platter.

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