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No Retreat! The Russian Front» Forums » Variants

Subject: Early Barbarossa? rss

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Glenn Martin
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One of the fascinating What-Ifs of WW2 is the fact that the Germans originally wanted to launch Barbarossa in mid-April rather than late June. Historically the Germans got within 30 Km of Moscow. What would an extra six weeks have done for the outcome?
It's not necessarily an advantage for the Germans. They would have had to do without some troops and an extra six weeks of the wear and tear they were experiencing wouldn't have left much of an army. The Soviets could always bring their Siberian troops west earlier but would that mean they would face the Germans before winter really bit which is when they had the greatest experience advantage.
If the Germans had a slower start would they have a larger attrition rate? But would this also encourage the Soviets to deploy their reserves farther forward and delay their decision to evacuate industries; leaving both vulnerable to fresh German forces available by June?
It's a fascinating topic. Any ideas how it could be played as a variant for NR?
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I have thought of this kind of variant too. Closest I came to something was to create an extra turn at the beginning of the game (turn 0) so the Axis would have one additional turn prior to the first winter.

Other variants that I thought to add to this;

1)Restricting Romanian troops from moving until turn 2.

2)Limit advance after combat to 1 space for all units on turn 0 to maybe represent the logistical difficulties of launching early.
or
3)Randomly or selectively allowing the German player a limited number of units to move to represent the logistical difficulties of an early start to the campaign.

4)Restricting card draw for Germans on turn 0. Maybe something like 2 cards for turn 0, 4 for turn 1, and then normal drawing thereafter.

Never played this variant but have thought about during game sessions.
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David desJardins
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fluffyevil wrote:
One of the fascinating What-Ifs of WW2 is the fact that the Germans originally wanted to launch Barbarossa in mid-may rather than early June.


I think you mean "rather than late June".
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Carl Paradis
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Here is what I recommend you try:

1- Germans get only 4 cards at the start of the game.

They will still need to spend some resources to "shore up" the italians in the Balkans and to keep an eye on Yugoslavia.

2- Start the game one turn earlier. The Weather will be Clear, but the German advance after combat will be limited to a maximum of two hexes, and there will be no Panzer combat bonus shift.

The April-May season was unusually wet, and the parts of Poland where the campaign will start were rather muddy in spring 1941.

3- The Two Romanians cannot move out of Romania at all in 1941, the German 11th Army cannot for the first two turns.

4- The Italian unit will never enter the game.

5- The Hungarian unit that is supposed to enter in 1942 will be set-up and stay in Budapest until the "Oil" event is triggered.

6- Germans units cannot set-up in Yugoslavia when it is activated by the "Oil" event.

The Balkans are NOT secure, so the Romanians will not Commit early, Yugoslavia will still be under the influence of the British, so the 11th Army will also stay "in reserve" to keep an eye on them: The Italians will continue to suffer against Greece, and the Bulgarians will stay out of the war, too.

7- All the Soviet reinforcements of 1941 arrive one turn earlier. Soviets can also fortify one turn earlier.

8- Use the Stalin counter and rules from the Solitaire module in the game.

This means the German player will get one less "City objective" VP to his total as long as Stalin is in Moscow, and one extra when he is not. So lower the German total Victory Points by one at the start of the game (as Stalin sets-up in Moscow).
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alan beaumont
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All Quiet on the Far Eastern Front?
Quote:
7- All the Soviet reinforcements of 1941 arrive one turn earlier.

This is questionable, the Siberian troops for the December counter attacks were only moved west when the Japanese chose the 'Navy' option and attacked the United States, rather than resume hostilities against the Soviet Union.
 
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Carl Paradis
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misteralan wrote:
Quote:
7- All the Soviet reinforcements of 1941 arrive one turn earlier.

This is questionable, the Siberian troops for the December counter attacks were only moved west when the Japanese chose the 'Navy' option and attacked the United States, rather than resume hostilities against the Soviet Union.


I respectfully do not agree.

There was not really that many Siberian troops sent to the East in the Winter of 1941/42. Certainly not to warrant changing my reinforcement timetables. There was a few Siverian Divisions around Moscow, but IMHO the extensive historical research id did while making this game allowed me to find out they did not have the decisive effect that some history books wants us to believe. Anyway most of these divisions were transferred well BEFORE Pearl Harbor!

This web site resumes it pretty well:

http://www.operationbarbarossa.net/Myth-Busters/Mythbusters3...

"In short, of all the divisions transferred west after August 1941, only three rifle divisions originated with Siberian personnel and only two went into the Western Front defending Moscow"...

"Most sources claim the information from Sorge’s spy ring came in October 1941 at the earliest and November 1941 at the latest. Yet it is apparent that the decision to move the vast majority of available divisions west was made well before this time and no new rifle divisions were actually shipped after October."

"Only 14 divisions transferred west from August to December 1941"

"So the question is; who stopped the Germans in December 1941 if it couldn’t possibly have been hordes of newly arrived Siberian or East Front troops? The answer is a massive number of newly mobilised and deployed divisions and brigades. The Soviet land model shows that 182 rifle divisions, 43 militia rifle divisions, eight tank divisions, three mechanised divisions, 62 tank brigades, 50 cavalry divisions, 55 rifle brigades, 21 naval rifle brigades, 11 naval infantry brigades, 41 armies, 11 fronts and a multitude of other units were newly Mobilised and Deployed (MD) in the second half of 1941. If Mobilized and Not Deployed (MND) units are included then this list is considerably higher.(2) Even if the few Siberian divisions exhibited a higher than average combat proficiency in the winter of 1941/42, their contribution was almost insignificant compared to the mass of newly mobilised units. There is no doubt that the 1941 Soviet mobilisation programme was simply the largest and fastest wartime mobilisation in history. The multitude of average Soviet soldiers from all over the USSR that made up these units saved the day, and definitely not the existing units transferred west after June 1941, or the mostly non-existent and mythical Siberian divisions."

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alan beaumont
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Stavka Reserves
This does indicate that the 'Siberian' reserves weren't necessarily Siberian, but it does not necessarily follow that they will become available earlier as they may have feared a Japanese Summer offensive, not a possibility by August. More to the point the reserves were available earlier, but not released.

'By the middle of November the ground had finally hardened... [by November 28] The leading [German] units were now only twelve miles from the centre of Moscow.... Zhukov had very limited resources to hold the attack.... 240,000 men. There were 500 tanks for the whole front, and many of them were light tanks.... The initial defence of Moscow was conducted not with fresh troops.... but a scratch force....fragments....non combatants... Moscow militia and hastily trained men from the townships around the capital.'
-xxx-
'Early in the morning of November 30 Stalin telephoned Zhukov with orders to mount a Soviet counter-offensive to end the threat to Moscow. Zhukov protested he had neither the men nor the weapons, but Stalin would not be moved.'
-xxx-
'The counter offensive was planned for the first week of December, before German units could move dig in for the winter......Entirely unknown to the enemy, the Stavka had been holding in reserve no less than twelve armies for just such a strike. Some had been deployed in November .... [but] fifty eight divisions were being held behind the front, some of them withdrawn from from eastern Russia, to strengthen the counter-stroke.' Richard Ovary, RUSSIA's WAR Penguin 1997, pp115-118.

So these forces had been available, but not released (and apparently were unknown) to Zhukov, before the German attacks petered out and until a counter offensive could be made in Winter conditions.

I suggest these forces not be made available unless Moscow is threatened, or become available in November/December, as normal.

Edit: dig, for move.
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Carl Paradis
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misteralan wrote:

I suggest these forces not be made available unless Moscow is threatened, or become available in November/December, as normal.


Perhaps (and I don't think so myself), but far too much "chrome" for a simple game that is overburden by it already.
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David desJardins
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misteralan wrote:
I suggest these forces not be made available unless Moscow is threatened


Please don't encourage lurking or manipulation of such things. The worst thing for a wargame is mechanisms like, you need to stay X hexes away from Moscow because if you advance to within X-1 hexes then you know some reinforcements will appear. That kind of cure is far worse than the disease.
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alan beaumont
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DaviddesJ wrote:
misteralan wrote:
I suggest these forces not be made available unless Moscow is threatened


Please don't encourage lurking or manipulation of such things. The worst thing for a wargame is mechanisms like, you need to stay X hexes away from Moscow because if you advance to within X-1 hexes then you know some reinforcements will appear. That kind of cure is far worse than the disease.

I respectfully suggest that had Moscow been similarly threatened a turn early those reinforcements would have been made available a turn early; it's not going to be a rule needed for any other circumstance.
 
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David desJardins
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misteralan wrote:
I respectfully suggest that had Moscow been similarly threatened a turn early those reinforcements would have been made available a turn early


Of course. The problem with rules like you suggest doesn't have anything to do with that. The problem is the effect of the rule on how people play. If you create reinforcements that pop into existence when the Germans come within X hexes of Moscow, then the Germans start figuring out how they can maximize their threat to Moscow while still staying X+1 hexes away. Or, the Russians contract their defenses of Moscow, because they know that the Germans can't move closer to engage those defenses without triggering the bonus reinforcements. You create incentives and styles of play that are wholly artificial and unrealistic.
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alan beaumont
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No Retreat!
DaviddesJ wrote:
You create incentives and styles of play that are wholly artificial and unrealistic.
Well it depends on whether you are playing as Zhukov or Stalin.
 
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David desJardins
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misteralan wrote:
Well it depends on whether you are playing as Zhukov or Stalin.


Which one is supposed to be which? Your theory is that Zhukov would intentionally weaken and contract the defenses of Moscow so that the German Army would draw closer to it so that Stalin would release more reinforcements to him and he could fight back better? I don't think so.
 
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alan beaumont
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DaviddesJ wrote:
misteralan wrote:
Well it depends on whether you are playing as Zhukov or Stalin.


Which one is supposed to be which? Your theory is that Zhukov would intentionally weaken and contract the defenses of Moscow so that the German Army would draw closer to it so that Stalin would release more reinforcements to him and he could fight back better? I don't think so.

No, I think that as Zhukov you would have to make do until Winter, or needlessly risk an early German assault on Moscow, after which you get your counterblow.

So it's agreed, we are Zhukov are we?
 
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David desJardins
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misteralan wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
misteralan wrote:
Well it depends on whether you are playing as Zhukov or Stalin.


Which one is supposed to be which? Your theory is that Zhukov would intentionally weaken and contract the defenses of Moscow so that the German Army would draw closer to it so that Stalin would release more reinforcements to him and he could fight back better? I don't think so.

No, I think that as Zhukov you would have to make do until Winter, or needlessly risk an early German assault on Moscow, after which you get your counterblow.

So it's agreed, we are Zhukov are we?


I don't understand the point you are trying to make. Is it intentional that you are trying to avoid explaining it (that's fine), or do you want it to be understood (in which case you would have to explain it)?

I can only keep making guesses. Is your point that Stalin didn't have the power to move reinforcements to defend Moscow until German troops advanced within a certain distance of the city? I certainly don't agree with that.
 
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alan beaumont
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DaviddesJ wrote:
I can only keep making guesses. Is your point that Stalin didn't have the power to move reinforcements to defend Moscow until German troops advanced within a certain distance of the city? I certainly don't agree with that.

No, I'm arguing that Stalin is part of the game mechanism and that the player is Zhukov, so you don't get the Stavka reserves unless you 'need' them, or the snows come.
 
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David desJardins
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misteralan wrote:
No, I'm arguing that Stalin is part of the game mechanism and that the player is Zhukov, so you don't get the Stavka reserves unless you 'need' them, or the snows come.


So do you think there was a real historical possibility that Zhukov would contract the defenses of Moscow so that German troops would threaten it more so that Stalin would release more reinforcements? It seems farfetched to me.
 
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alan beaumont
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DaviddesJ wrote:
misteralan wrote:
No, I'm arguing that Stalin is part of the game mechanism and that the player is Zhukov, so you don't get the Stavka reserves unless you 'need' them, or the snows come.


So do you think there was a real historical possibility that Zhukov would contract the defenses of Moscow so that German troops would threaten it more so that Stalin would release more reinforcements? It seems far fetched to me.

None, but he was ordered to form the defences without the Stavka reserve (and had to give his assurance he could hold the Germans at bay) and ordered to counterattack in ignorance of them as cited:

'Zhukov protested he had neither the men nor the weapons, but Stalin would not be moved.' Ovary; ibid p117.

He apparently learned of the reserves only later that day in the Kremlin.
 
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David desJardins
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OK, so isn't that an argument against a rules framework where the Soviet player deliberately contracts the defenses of Moscow to draw the Geramns closer to Moscow so that he can get more reinforcements?
 
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alan beaumont
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That's all folks
DaviddesJ wrote:
OK, so isn't that an argument against a rules framework where the Soviet player deliberately contracts the defenses of Moscow to draw the Germans closer to Moscow so that he can get more reinforcements?
This is your straw man, I'm just arguing that not all Soviet reinforcements get moved up a turn with an early start, but that in extremis they are triggered. The players (especially the German) already have way too much knowledge of the Soviet capacity, but if they insist on the Moscow attack they get the consequences.

I suspect the reserves weren't simply held around Moscow for purely military reasons, but it was the military situation that got them released - on Stalin's terms. The fact that the Wehrmacht force was overextended, exhausted and unprepared for winter, seems crucial in his decision. If the Germans hold off, then surely these winterised formations will appear in Winter as usual, rather than earlier.

I think we're done now.
 
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David desJardins
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misteralan wrote:
This is your straw man


Why is it a strawman? What kind of rule would you use for releasing these reinforcements that would not be subject to manipulation?
 
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