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Subject: Stalled in Crimea rss

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James Lowry
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After our previous exploits, the next thing we went for was the simplest full-map scenario from Crimea: "The Road to Sevastopol". My dad again took the Russians, leaving me to batter my head against the defenses leading out of the Perekop isthmus and into the interior of Crimea.

Well, my head hurts, and I didn't gotten very far after 9 turns (sadly, that is as far as we got in the vacation time I had). Considering the track record of the offense in every East Front Series game I've played so far, I'm starting to wonder if there's something I'm missing.

Now, I will point out that the weather has not helped. Mud and storms on turn 2 (GT 61), mud on turns 3, 5, 7. In fact, now that we're in the Mud Climate, we've only now had two dry turns in a row (GT 67 & 68).

I have realized (too late) that my biggest mistake has not been pushing on the Naval Interdiction, to cause alarm and dismay over shipping losses. The rules talk about the range limitations on various aircraft, but there's nothing said about how far away the Naval Interdiction box really is. So, thinking purely in terms of the single-engine Bf109s, I avoided worrying about Naval Interdiction, and stuck to Interdicting the 51st Army Headquarters and making sure there was plenty of air support for my attacks.

I eventually realized that the two-engined Ju88s were a good choice for the job. With six He111s available, I had a good amount of CAS ability, and the '3' air rating of the Ju88 meant that it could go out alone, and probably come back all right. This had an immediate and dramatic effect, as several ships took damage from poor Naval Loss rolls on the Air Interdiction column. Two turns after I finally realized this, most of my aircraft were recalled to the Kiev to Rostov theater.

Meanwhile, my dad got the most out of the shipping rules. Without the immediate need to use the warships as artillery platforms to protect the ports, he used them not only to transfer supplies from Map T, but to ship units across the bay from Sevastopol to Yevpatoriya and Saki. This got the troops considerably closer to the action at the entrance to Crimea, and helped the defense stiffen admirably. Using the anchorage at Saki might have been a mistake, as the +2 modifier to readiness rolls makes getting out again hard, especially for an R4 unit.

As for the actual action on the ground...

The main drive is naturally in the west, and has been slow going, with me never gaining more than one hex per turn. Since the Soviets already have prepared defenses, and build a new strongpoint a turn, I have yet to have a combat that wasn't against a strongpoint. For most of the time, I was shutting down the headquarters with interdiction, but near the end the other two headquarters showed up, most of the Luftwaffe left, and I've had had to start facing No Retreat orders too.

That said, the breakout is always tantalizingly close. The Soviet line is solid, and on the west end anchored by a minor river. The east end, at the edge of the lakes is more thinly held, and I've been hoping for a breakout there. I didn't realize until now, looking over the map again, that I could attack the end of the Soviet line and not have to attack anywhere else because of an intervening lake. Despite the slow progress, I did finally get out of range of the super-heavy artillery, and just got it available again after moving it up.

Over in the east, I've been trying to make a go of it, pouring in an extra division, and all of the Romanians. Sadly, the results have been very costly for me, and I've lost the initial German division (since half-way rebuilt with replacements), and all of the small Romanian units. Since the motorized infantry takes two points to get back of the Cadre Box, they're not coming back, and I decided to take all the Romanian replacement points as RSUs, and use them to replace losses in the 1st Mountain Brigade if needed. I've really tried to push on this side, hoping that the pressure would attract enough attention to cause the Soviets problems on the main front. However, I've moved up about two hexes and stalled, have not gotten more than one truly good combat result over there.

Here's a look at where we had to leave off:


In all, it was good, and I think being aggressive against Soviet shipping from the beginning would be a big help (or at least slow down the initial pace of reinforcements). But I do wonder about the combat in EFS. It seems to be very hard to get over about 3-1 odds against any sort of prepared position, and that column can be very punishing with a bad roll or two. Getting better modifiers would help, but the main method for that seems to be air power, with air combat and AA fire, that can't be counted on at the best of times.

What I'm trying to get at is, there have been combats where I have been surprised by how bad it was for me, but not really any where I was surprised by how bad it was for the defender. I really do wonder if I'm missing something, between the slog here, the slog in "Odessa", and 0-5 record "The Tartar Ditch" has for the Germans in my experience.
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Iain K
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As you break into the peninsula your advance should be about a hex a turn. I suggest you reread rules re engineers and siege/super heavy artillery - you will need both to get the combat results necessary to push the Soviets out of the way. It also sounds like you misplayed the manner in which strong points are built, allowing them to be built too quickly.

Until you break through, the weather doesn't really matter.

Again, I hate these sorts of battles Rindis, as you well know I enjoy free wheeling battles of maneuver filled with opportunities to throw spanners into your opponents best laid plans. Here in B: Crimea, one really needs to understand and "get" the various combat modifiers in order to make progress ... i.e. you need to know more rules / modifiers.

I don't have the rules in front of me, but for example, engineers are CRITICAL. IIRC they completely negate strongpoints. super heavy artillery ... note the -1 in the red circle ... discover what that means.

Also, not many ships can transport units / supply, "warships" certainly can't. The Axis can use it's air interdiction to put a world of hurt on transport operating in the pennisula's northwest. Such loses will really hurt when the breakthrough happens and Soviet supply is super critical.

You will take casualties as the attacker, but you can force the peninsula and should break in around turn 3 IIRC. In fact, you can break-in on turn 1 in the eastern portion of the line.

The longer it takes, the stronger the Soviet forces become, so again, understanding what you need to do in turn 1-3 is critical.

If you have vassal log files, send me a couple and I'll look for specific gaffs.
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James Lowry
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citizen k wrote:
As you break into the peninsula your advance should be about a hex a turn. I suggest you reread rules re engineers and siege/super heavy artillery - you will need both to get the combat results necessary to push the Soviets out of the way. It also sounds like you misplayed the manner in which strong points are built, allowing them to be built too quickly.

No, the Soviets get one per turn. It starts in the Soviet Engineering phase, and then completes in the next Soviet Engineering phase. With an advance of, at best, one hex per turn, and a construction rate of one hex per turn, I could not get ahead of the construction rate, and with extremely rare exceptions, I was always facing strongpoints.

citizen k wrote:
Until you break through, the weather doesn't really matter.

It generally probably hurt the Soviets more than me, but it does inhibit the ability to shift concentrations from one part of the line to another, towns become +1 terrain in mud, and the mud and storms on turn 2 grounded the Luftwaffe pretty thoroughly on the turn that was probably my best chance to crack the line.

citizen k wrote:
I don't have the rules in front of me, but for example, engineers are CRITICAL. IIRC they completely negate strongpoints. super heavy artillery ... note the -1 in the red circle ... discover what that means.

Engineers can give a -1 to counteract fortifications. SHA can give a -1 to counteract fortifications. Most of the time, I didn't need engineers, since I had the SHA to counter the fortifications, and that's all those mods are allowed to do. When I did need engineers, I promptly lost steps with asterisk results. Sure, German replacements aren't too bad, but the infantry divisions were tending to gobble them up.

citizen k wrote:
Also, not many ships can transport units / supply, "warships" certainly can't. The Axis can use it's air interdiction to put a world of hurt on transport operating in the pennisula's northwest. Such loses will really hurt when the breakthrough happens and Soviet supply is super critical.

All ships are rated for transport capacity (in stacking points—third number). Most DDs and CLs can carry one or two points; the BB is almost the only ship with a zero capacity in the game. Since Zaps and most of the reduced stack starting in Sevastopol are 1 stacking point each, they work very well at this.

citizen k wrote:
You will take casualties as the attacker, but you can force the peninsula and should break in around turn 3 IIRC. In fact, you can break-in on turn 1 in the eastern portion of the line.

Didn't even come close. Though combat rolls of '10', 10', and '2' on the first turn did not help. The last helped me push up in the east, but I could never get another good result there.

citizen k wrote:
If you have vassal log files, send me a couple and I'll look for specific gaffs.

It was played FtF. I just transferred the final situation into Vassal for later analysis (and that screenshot).
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Allen Simon
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atilla66 wrote:
Rindis wrote:
citizen k wrote:
As you break into the peninsula your advance should be about a hex a turn. I suggest you reread rules re engineers and siege/super heavy artillery - you will need both to get the combat results necessary to push the Soviets out of the way. It also sounds like you misplayed the manner in which strong points are built, allowing them to be built too quickly.

No, the Soviets get one per turn. It starts in the Soviet Engineering phase, and then completes in the next Soviet Engineering phase. With an advance of, at best, one hex per turn, and a construction rate of one hex per turn, I could not get ahead of the construction rate, and with extremely rare exceptions, I was always facing strongpoints.


I agree with Rindis. From the Playbook, page 4, 3.23d.

Quote:
d. The Soviet player can start the construction of no more than one Strongpoint per turn, unless the scenario states otherwise.


I did not see any exceptions stated for scenario 3.

It usually takes one turn to complete a strongpoint as stated on page 30 of the core rule book.

Quote:
18.35 Construction Procedure.During the friendly Engineering phase, place the Strongpoint with its “Under Construction” side showing. There is no additional cost to enter a hex with a Strongpoint that is under construction. During the next friendly Engineering phase, turn Strongpoints that are under construction over to their completed side if the construction hex is still in General Supply (if the hex is not in General Supply, the Strongpoint remains Under Construction). The construction process is now complete. Soviet construction can be speeded by engineers [23.1].


In fact, as implied by the last sentence, a strongpoint can be completed in less than one turn by an engineer unit. Looking up 23.1 we see the following.

Quote:
23.11 A Soviet Engineer unit can place a completed Strongpoint during the same turn it is received [18.35]. Place a completed Strongpoint marker under any engineer in General Supply during the Soviet Engineering
Phase.


I did not see any Soviet engineer units on the set-up table or reinforcement table for this scenario, but if engineer units were present, the Soviets could place a completed strongpoint every turn. As it is, the Axis player gets a one turn reprieve before the strongpoint is
emplaced.


Yes, Rindis. I've been reading the rules. Once I finish some work stuff, I'm going to set-up the play through scenario in Kiev to Rostov.





I look forward to the solo playthrough description and the match-up between you and Rindis. Although I have to admit there is a joke in there somewhere in having a chance to play Barbarossa: Crimea

during your Winter break...devil
 
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James Lowry
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We can do either. The main motivation for this scenario is my copy of KtR wasn't punched yet. And I was already familiar with it.

Of course, my copy still isn't fully punched, but it's getting there.
 
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