John Gordon
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Roger and I lined up a PBEM game of No Retreat on Vassal with my turn to play the Germans. In our previous game Roger played the Germans with an aggressive style so now it was my turn to be the attacker in Operation Barbarossa. I have written this session report from the German perspective with my best guesses at my opponents’ motivations. (Feel free to comment Roger!)

German Turn 1: My initial card draw included Luftwaffe support which I wasted on the Rumanian front. The overall assault did not go particularly well as I did not manage to destroy a single unit. The Northwest army retreated into Riga, the West army was surrounded, the Southwest army retreated and the South army on the Rumanian border retreated into Odessa. At least the enemy have less flexibility to reinforce when they have no replacements to bring on. Maybe I am just trying to see the bright side of my mediocre first turn!

Russian Turn 1: The Russians had to make do with the few troops available to try and slow the German onslaught. The Reserve army from Moscow along with the Bryansk army loosely held the gap between the Pripet marshes and the woods to the west of Moscow. In the south things look a bit more solid for them. The West army was left to its fate.


Situation prior to counterblows Russian turn 1

German counterblows resulted in the collapse of the West army and a Panzer advance into Minsk.

German Turn 2: On with turn 2, this is the critical turn for 1941, the weather is good and the opposition light, time to move fast and hard. A few handy cards available, Panzerblitz, Summer Campaign and Siege artillery.
I brought my 2nd Army (mechanised) on in Konigsberg and moved it into contact with the Bryansk army while the remainder of AGC plus the 4th Pz (from AGN) all moved on Smolensk. In the south I hit the Central (mechanised army) as hard as possible although this was distracted by a counterblow required against Kiev. Manstein helped here along with some good rolls for an EX against Kiev and the destruction of the Central army. The southern front was blown open. Meanwhile further north Smolensk was smashed and Panzers were able to advance to the gates of Moscow.


Situation at the end of German turn 2

Russian Turn 2: The weather next turn (turn 3) has changed to clear. Now the pressure is really on. The Russians brought replacements / reinforcements into Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Tula and Kalinnin. The Panzerblitz card allowed my armour to tighten the noose around the out of supply Bryansk army. A counterblow at Tula – the Caucasus army vs the 4th Pz at 1:2 was the critical combat for the turn.


Situation at the beginning of the combat phase Russian turn 2

Disaster for the Russians – the Caucasus army retreated and the Germans occupied Moscow. The Bryansk army surrendered in despair.

German Turn 3: Summer campaign gave me a large card draw, nothing significant but I do have plenty on hand for counterblows in the Russian turn. The weather is clear, time for a bit of cleaning up. In the south I hit the Reserve army hard hoping to then be able to cut off Kharkov in the advance after combat. In the woods north of Moscow I surrounded the Soviet Southwest army and also attacked the Causasus army located just east of Moscow. Hoping for an advance after combat into Yaroslavl – let’s see how the combat goes.

In the south a DR result and thankfully the Reserve army retreated to protect Sevastapol allowing my forces to take Dnepropetrovsk and the Panzers to close the noose on Kharkov. Near Moscow the Caucasus army managed to escape and retreat into Yaroslavl. Never mind; Moscow is consolidated and Leningrad and Riga are out of supply. The campaign is looking promising.

Russian Turn 3: First play is the Stalin Orders attacks card – more pressure! The Russians play Strategic Reserves to bring the South West army on in the far north. Relief of Leningrad is at hand? The Russians draw General Mud (ie: turn 4 = mud) so I won’t need those winter uniforms quite yet! They entrained their Reserve army (from near Sevastapol) and spent four cards to bring on the two surrendered units, one in Kallinin and one in Stalino.
The assault in the far north, the South West army vs the German 16th army is afforded maximum priority, No Mercy is declared. The Kallinin army moves to open a supply line into Kharkov and Stalins’ desires are met with attacks at Odessa, Kharkov and in the far north.
Desperate times deserve desperate measures; I ordered counterblows at Kallinin, Yaroslavl, Gorki and Kharkov. Seven attacks, Stalin should be pleased (?)


Situation at the beginning of the combat phase Russian turn 3

Russian success in the far north, a double EX destroys both units and opens the supply line to Leningrad. Success at Yaroslavl allow the Caucasus army to advance next to Moscow, however both Kallinin and Gorki fell to the Germans. At Kharkov the 1st Pz army is pushed back, the city is relieved. The Reserve Army detrains into Voronezh, perhaps there is hope yet?

German turn 4: Advance in the far north to assault the West army and cut the supply line to Leningrad once and for all. The Caucasus army near Moscow was easily surrounded, as was the city of Kharkov.
The assault in the north went well; with help from Guderian an automatic DR was sufficient to destroy the West army. The Caucasus army was destroyed with a DR. The Kallinin army near Kharkov was forced to retreat, again cutting off supply to the city. Stalino fell (DR) to a frontal assault and the budget assault against Sevastapol (with help from siege artillery) resulted in an EX.
I played Kesselslacht to eliminate the Kharkov pocket once and for all.


Situation at the end of German turn 4

Russian Turn 4: Surely there is no hope, but the Russians doggedly struggle on against the German tide. Reinforcements / replacements arrive in Novorossiysk, Rostov, Saratov and Yaroslavl, Stalingrad and the east edge near Gorki. Soviet Manpower problems however cancel the arrival of the Southwest army into Rostov. Leningrad and Riga surrender due lack of supply.


Situation at the end of Russian turn 4

German Turn 5: Winter has finally arrived. The 16th army is replaced and entrained for the front. The German 4th army walks into Leningrad, the 6th army, Sevastapol and the 11th army, Kharkov. Yaroslavl is surrounded for a massive assault, as is Voronezh. Both cities fall in winter assaults. The VP level moves to 28 with two more in easy reach (Riga and Finland).


Situation at the end of German turn 5

So, that is the game – a short and sharp one, perhaps not to be repeated. Some good cards and some good weather make the German army pretty difficult to stop. The only obvious mistake I can identify is that the Russians should not have allowed AGC a full move on turn 2 to then attack Smolensk. It would have been better for them to be forward (and destroyed without me moving far) or else in woods (where advance after combat is limited) or further back and out of reach.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this session report. Any geek gold, comments or advice from experienced players is most welcome.
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David desJardins
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Yeah, defending in Smolensk on turn 2 is very problematic.
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Carl Paradis
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I would rather defend like pictured below. The Soviet Central Front uses a Rail move to get up north (first picture)

Optionally you could keep the NorthWest Front in Riga, in this case the Leningrad front is moved on hex South-West (second picture).

Of course this will probably mean that you'll have to sacrifice the Bryansk front killed OOS next turn: They are all heroes. devil

Since the Russians did not lose any units on turn 1 (wow) they should have a full hand to replace losses next turn.

It's usually not a good idea to defend too far back (No Retreat!). Or else just do not defend at all! Also, always try to keep at least one unit in the Rail move box to react/plug holes at the end of your turn: the German has some pretty nasty move cards.

If you do get Mud on Turn 3, things should be rosy.



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Roger Lai
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Really opened my eyes. Didn't realise the russians could be rolled so easily! Well done John and thanks for the tips guys.
 
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Carl Paradis
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rlai wrote:
Really opened my eyes. Didn't realise the russians could be rolled so easily! Well done John and thanks for the tips guys.


The first few turns are critical for the Soviets, then the first few turns of good weather in 1942 too: They could suffer disaster there too if not careful.

You could really put a big dent in the German advance in 1941, but this means taking some chances, and if the German has the right cards, it could spell disater for you, but not taking chances means that you'll probably suffer big losses, too... So... And again: you cannot defend everything, try to have one strong sector of the front, and be prepared to loose ground in the other in 41/42. I prefer to stand fast in front of the largest Panzer concentration (Center), and give ground in the South. The awful terrain in the North means that if you can fortify Leningrad in time, you should be OK for most of the war, barrking a killer German card combination up there (Siege Artillery/Guderian/Von Manstein).

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Ken Richmore
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Good AAR John. One has to say that the weather gods certainly shone on you for the battle and combined with your card draw, I could barely imagine a more perfect combination of circumstances with the weather and cards such as Stalin Demands Attacks and the extra movement cards etc.

Combine that lot with the defence of Smolensk and it's all over red rover!

Regards

KR
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Carl Paradis
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KenRich wrote:
Good AAR John. One has to say that the weather gods certainly shone on you for the battle and combined with your card draw, I could barely imagine a more perfect combination of circumstances with the weather and cards such as Stalin Demands Attacks and the extra movement cards etc.

Combine that lot with the defence of Smolensk and it's all over red rover!

Regards

KR


Very true. and this could ave happened historically, too. BTW the Soviet defense of Smolensk and its area was one of the decisive events of the Barbarossa campaign, and is well covered in this excellent game: Panzergruppe Guderian
 
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Matt
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I haven't played yet, but have to say that I'm not keen on the variable weather rules. My intent with my first few games is to play with the variant that stipulates a fixed weather table.

What are the rest of you doing?
 
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David desJardins
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madhatter wrote:
I haven't played yet, but have to say that I'm not keen on the variable weather rules.


Hitler must have felt the same way. robot
 
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Matt
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DaviddesJ wrote:
madhatter wrote:
I haven't played yet, but have to say that I'm not keen on the variable weather rules.


Hitler must have felt the same way. robot


Well, it's a good thing I can Monday night quarterback and he can't.
 
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Carl Paradis
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madhatter wrote:
I haven't played yet, but have to say that I'm not keen on the variable weather rules. My intent with my first few games is to play with the variant that stipulates a fixed weather table.

What are the rest of you doing?


Yes, sure.

Mind you, the very first version of the game (VPG edition 2008), had no variable weather.

I play my games 50/50 with/without variable weather.
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