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Subject: Lessons Learned rss

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Michael McCalpin
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This was my second game of The Barbarossa Campaign, after the first was an Axis disaster (Berlin fell in 1944: once things starting going badly, they went very badly indeed). I had learned some of the lessons of this game in that first outing: for example, blunt Soviet counterattacks by using your panzers and elite units in critical areas, use rivers lines where practical, and keep the line as smooth as possible to prevent exposed salients.

So when I came to this second game, I felt better prepared for victory, but the game had a few more lessons to impart.

Things started well. This is the status at the end of the Axis Combat Phase on turn 1 (apologies for the blurry picture):

I was able to get 2 VP but no more. In retrospect, I realize that I didn't do very well in Capture Bonuses for cities (see photos below), so getting to +6 Initiative was difficult.

After reaching Leningrad with the panzer spearhead, I turned them south to meet the panzers coming from the Smolensk area. As other authors have noted, it is not easy to encircle Soviet units after the first turn, so it took a while before I could really concentrate on Leningrad and Moscow, but then the gaming gods granted me a gift: four green chits in a row to take both Leningrad and Moscow on the same turn (Moscow had previously been fortified, but I had reduced it the previous turn)! This changed everything.

I moved the panzers south in hopes of taking Stalingrad for the win, but I didn't know how much I was depending on Stalingrad's capture: with only +2 VP, my chances of winning weren't really very good.

I tried and tried through 1943 and 1944 to take Stalingrad, but the closest I could come was to reduce its fortifications. The Soviet counterattacks, the Romanian weakness, and then a couple of turns of initiative attacks meant that I was plowing the ocean. I took the following photo at what I figured was the high-water mark: Spring or Summer 1944.

Indeed, that was almost the high water mark, excepting that I took Archangel (though there were only two markers on the Lend-Lease track: at least it wouldn't get any worse). In the all-important south, I could not make any progress and struggled to maintain my position. Once armor superiority left me, my punches got weaker. I even tried intentionally losing cities that had no Capture Bonus in hopes of getting one when I recaptured it, and that worked a bit, but then the partisans showed up (sapping initiative), some of the newly recaptured cities (now with Capture Bonuses) were taken yet again by the Soviets, and generally, I realized Stalingrad was never to be mine.

I mentioned earlier that I was going to be hard-pressed to win without Stalingrad: why did I say that? Because with only +2 VP, I stood a good chance of getting a draw, since I would lose one or two VP if initiative was between -6 and -13. With -14 Initiative on the Soviet Economic track, -2 for OKW Directives, and -1 for Allied Strategic Bombing, and my poor Capture Bonus luck, keeping Initiative to -5 was going to be tough, and indeed, I just barely made it, squeaking by with -4 initiative and a Marginal Victory.

Look then, at what a Marginal Victory can look like (disregard the VP marker, I had misplaced it when I misread the method for calculating victory conditions):

So, lessons learned so far: keep lines smooth, defend with the panzers and elites, grab those VPs while you can, don't try an encirclement if you cannot be reasonably sure it will stick, and most importantly, draw better cards! laugh
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Menin Gate at Midnight, Will Longstaff, 1927.
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"At the landing, and here ever since" - Anzac Book, p. 35.
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Awesome! Nice photos to go with the report.

I actually just pulled this out again last night and started re-reading the rules in preparation for setting it up and playing it tonight. Now I'm really eager to get going!
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Jason Sherlock
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Looks like you did a great job.

The thing that I have learned about Barbarossa Campaign is that one initiative point can be the difference between doing well vs getting a VP; advancing vs holding ground; or holding your ground vs sliding down the slippery slope into retreat.

My 2 cents is that OKW directives will kill you. Avoid them if at all possible, especially before 1943. Luftwaffe counters and economic warfare can get the green X's back.

Also, I see that you got your Berlin Logistics. Using Logistics planning early can get you those early victory points (1 for having you mode set to planning, 2 if the planning actually happens). It sucks to fall one initiative short of getting your VP.

The other thing is if I get the Alternate Planning card, I will almost always take Defense. These are as good as capture bonus cities, generating 1 initiative point a turn.
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Michael McCalpin
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jackalope wrote:
My 2 cents is that OKW directives will kill you. Avoid them if at all possible, especially before 1943. Luftwaffe counters and economic warfare can get the green X's back.

Also, I see that you got your Berlin Logistics. Using Logistics planning early can get you those early victory points (1 for having you mode set to planning, 2 if the planning actually happens). It sucks to fall one initiative short of getting your VP.

The other thing is if I get the Alternate Planning card, I will almost always take Defense. These are as good as capture bonus cities, generating 1 initiative point a turn.

Thank you. Those are some excellent suggestions, particularly now that I have learned how essential it is to grab some extra VPs while I still can. I'll bet that using Logistics early might have gotten me another point in this game, and I didn't get any tanks from Tank Production anyway.
 
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Jason Sherlock
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The last suggestion I will throw in is doing in winter what you were doing towards the end of the game, leaving non scoring cities open to recapture, and then taking them back hoping for a capture bonus.

There will be losses in the winter, might as well try and get something out of it.

Yes, this may be gaming the system, or it may be building up propaganda concerning a city that was so hardly fought over.
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Michael McCalpin
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Hey, in a solitaire game, gaming the system is totally fair, since the entire system is built to be "gamed" by the player.
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