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Subject: [8 july 1942 campaign] Turn 84, April 22nd, 1943 rss

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Magrubas Gnröthe
Sweden
Stockholm
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Second half of April 1943, and the Rasputitsa has made motorized movement really difficult, especially for the German player who during "Mud" is actually paying more MP's than his opponent in certain terrain. The fact that movement is so limited has had the positive side-effect that we managed to complete two whole turns last session, and 1.5 turns this session, raising our hopes that we might finish the scenario during the spring 2012. We still have 12 turns to go, and the spirit of both teams is high again, after some doubts this winter about the point of continuing fighting. The last session also scored higher than usual in geekiness; we played four hours on a Friday night and some of us even had brought beer. Gaah.

See the picture below for the overall situation. The cities of Rostov, Kharkov and Stalingrad are victory point locations. There's another two VP awarded for Sevastopol and the German Strategic Choice, either Stalingrad or the Grozny/Maikop oilfields.



Bad weather has no impact on the effectiveness of artillery barrages and large-scale city assaults. Realizing this, the Red Army commanders invested a whopping 70 tokens worth of supplies in two storming attempts. The investment gave some immediate yield, and after the first of these city assaults, Voroshilovgrad is now finally back in Soviet hands, since April 19th. The city has been besieged since sometime around Christmas, and the previous attempts to take the city have resulted a truly impressive death-toll for the Red Army, estimated to just over 20 steps of infantry. The German attempts to break the siege was also a real killer for the motorized formations participating, on both sides (see previous posts on the "Winter Tank Battle of Voroshilovgrad").

An interesting note on the siege of Voroshilovgrad is that the Luftwaffe managed to supply the city by air with relative ease, despite a really massive Soviet fighter umbrella projected over the city. The German players even managed to land some additional troops there ("Congrats! You've got promoted with a new exciting command in a foreign country!") when the defenders numbers dwindled. The mechanism of an escorted supply drop mission is rather forgiving for the phasing player, and a lesson learnt is that just isolating a city and hoping the defenders will starve to death is not a very effective method, at least when the defenders are Axis troops using the Case Blue rule 2.4 about Fortresses (no need to pay defensive supply, making it much harder for the attackers to "bleed" the defenders to death.)


Further North, the next strong-point in the Soviet axis of advance was the small village of Kupyansk on the Oskol river (the fourth arrow in the picture above). This place is an important railway junction, with five railway lines interconnecting. The German defender (a.k.a. "Lord Hogmaster") cowered (from Old Scandinavian "kura", not at all related to "coward") with a mix of Italian bicyclists, a German infantry division, a 1-5-2 Tiger Coy and what not behind a lvl 3 hedgehog. The airbase here was expanded to lvl 3, mainly to give additional modifiers on the flak rolls. The initial artillery barrage of 127 points scored a 1 step loss, and the subsequent assault April 19th took another 2 steps toll. Another 99 Combat Factors assault the next turn April 22nd killed off the last two steps defending. Just across the plains to the west Lord Hogmaster has built up a continuous line of defense along the Donets (hats off to him), with some powerful mobile divisions poised to strike at anything in open terrain between the rivers Donets and Oskol, so despite the successful storming of Kupyansk, the future looks uncertain for the Red Army in his area.

In between these locations, the quiet town of Izyum lies on the Donets, with the famous five-domed Baroque cathedral of the Saviour's Transfiguration (1684). Its remarkable similarity to the old cathedral of Kharkov suggests the hand of the same master. The cathedral was renovated in 1902 and restored in 1955. The churches of Ascension (1819-21) and of St. Nicholas (1809-23) rank among the finest Neoclassical buildings in the region. Anyhooo ... for those of you who have read up on your WW2 history, this was also the setting for the disastrous events in May 1942, where a large Red Army salient was eliminated by Axis forces in the Second Battle of Kharkov. In our campaign, this spot also marks the gap between two fronts and thus two commanders. Both of them simply thought "Izyum is the other guys responsability", so when the spearheads of 3rd Gds Mech Cps arrived, the SS tanks stationed there had no gasoline to put in their Panzers. A successful airstrike reduced the defenders, and despite an effective counterattack, the city is now under Red Army control.


The Soviet side has been making some cautious advances across the Don towards Rostov, but have been severly punished for that by strong German forces striking out from positions around the city. April 22nd saw the destruction of 18 Tk Corps and the 73rd Guards Rifle Div. Isolating the city and thereby cutting off the entire Axis army down in Caucasus isn't really an option, mainly since the ports in the Azov sea can provide trace supply for the Germans. Also, the Soviet army lacks the numbers and force to hold on to any position in open ground, and the area around Mariopol/Taganrog would be nothing but a killing zone for the Axis panzer units.

The Axis offensive towards Novorossijsk has now reduced the defenses to the city hex itself, leaving the coastal highway open for German motorized columns. The port is still functional, but has been the target of a countless number of air-raids and artillery bombardments. The German command suspects some ingenious communist device averting the bombs and shells, such as quays and piers made of latex.


In the far South, Soviet cavalry raids managed to cut the railway in strategic locations early Apil, sealing off a good portion of the German defenders around Grozny. Weather conditions (mud) made it difficult for the German motorized response unit to respond, and after a couple of turns out of supply, the last German defending unit is now in safe custody in a prison camp off-map. The recapture of the Grozny oil wells was quite important for the Soviet supply rolls, and the railcap limit is now a real problem for the first time.
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Jem Ruggera
Australia
Perth
Western Australia
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Have just read your entire campaign. Sensational, one of the most fascinating, compelling AAR's I've ever read! I salute your devotion to the hobby, and look forward to reading about the conclusion of the campaign.

 
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Magrubas Gnröthe
Sweden
Stockholm
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Thanks, nice to hear that you enjoyed the reports. We actually finished the campaign sometime in late March (play time 1943, real time 2012), I will write some closing remarks when I find the inspiration. And the camera with the pictures from the last turn.
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Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
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So, how did this finally turn out? I hope you guys made it to the end, considering how far you came!
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