The Let's Play Archive

No Retreat! The Russian Front

by Tevery Best

Part 17: Turn 3 - Soviet Org Phase: Not a Step Back! First Leningrad.

AGN vs Leningrad
Combat odds: 11/3 = 3:1 - shifted -1 for City, -1 for Objective hexside - total of 3:2.
Roll: Heinz Guderian - automatic DR
Not a Step Back! converts the result to EX
Leningrad Front takes a step loss and is destroyed. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.
16th Army takes a step loss.

Heinz Guderian is recalled from command of 2nd Panzer after his failure to dislodge Caucasus Front from its positions and put in charge of the attack on Leningrad. He knows full well that the offensive will be difficult - the terrain hardly permits him to use his armour. The city is chock full of canals and dikes, not to mention the fact that he's certain the Soviets will fight hard for every street. He therefore decides to perform a shock attack with the 9th Army under his command, but does not anticipate that Order 227 has just been given to all Soviet troops. Between the increased propaganda effort targeted at the defenders of Leningrad and the activity of NKVD blocking battalions, the attack stalls with heavy losses. After a month of fighting, the 9th Army has suffered severe losses, but only managed to get a hold of the suburbs and a minor part of the Pushkinskiy district. However, the defenders are on their last legs and desperately waiting for men and supplies.

In the original timeline, Order 227 was issued on July 28, 1942 during Fall Blau. It authorised the NKVD units operating behind the main Soviet line to detain and even any "cowards". Commanders who didn't have the stomach to lead the fight from the front were also to be arrested, demoted and replaced. This was also instituted in 1941, but only to a couple of divisions in the Bryansk Front - now it went into effect all across the Read Army. While the NKVD battalions were definitely not some sort of friendly fire murder machine you could see in films like Enemy at the Gates - most of the time they would just scold the troopers, reform them and send them right back into the fight. Still, they had the power to pretty much court-martial the poor buggers: one estimate I read (admittedly on a short notice, I didn't have time for a very thorough research - sorry) claimed 158 000 killed as a result of the Order 227 during the entirety of the war, with further 427 000 sent to the penal battalions.

9th Army, 3rd Panzer vs Kalinin Front
Combat odds: 10/4 = 2:1 - shifted -1 for Forest - total of 3:2.
Roll: 6 - Defender Retreats
Not a Step Back! converts the result to EX
Kalinin Front takes a step loss and is destroyed. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.
9th Army takes a step loss.

The push for Moscow is similarly stalled in the woods by the ferocious Soviet resistance. The troops know they are close to their capital and are more than willing to fight for it. At the end of September, the Kalinin Front is completely unfit to fight, but it has managed to bleed out the fascist advance - the tired troops of the 9th Army don't even have the strength to advance into the dense woodland, while the movements of the 3rd Panzer are stalled per the decisions of the Army Group Command.

2nd Panzer vs Caucasus Front
Combat odds: 7/3 = 2:1 - no shifts
Roll: 1 - No Effect
General Gotthard Heinrici, who replaced Guderian for the duration of the attack on Leningrad, was a good commander - but thoroughly unprepared for the situation. While he sorts out the various logistical issues facing the 2nd Panzer Group, his half-hearted attacks against the Caucasus Front stall out and lead nowhere. It appears that after the initial successes, the ambitious Generalmajor Valkri of the AGN and AGC has ran into nothing but failures this month.

17th Army, 6th Army, 1st Panzer vs Bryansk Front
Combat odds: 13/3 = 4:1 - no shifts
Roll: 6 - Defender Destroyed
Bryansk Front retreats and takes a step loss, destroying it. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.

Meanwhile, his AGS counterpart has much less issue destroying the forces ahead of him. The Soviet forces that tried to relieve Kiev are destroyed in a series of engagements, but the mud prevents any major encirclements. Most of the Bryansk Front, however, never makes it out of the area.

2nd Army, 11th Army, 3rd Rumanian vs Dnepropetrovsk
Combat odds: 11/5 = 2:1 - shifted +1 for Blitz!, -1 for City - total of 2:1
Roll: 6 - Defender Shattered
Southwest Front retreats two hexes and goes to the Shattered Units Box.

The main coup for the AGS is, however, the attack on Dnepropetrovsk. Even the blocking battalions could not help the Soviet defence, given that their positions were completely overwhelmed with artillery and air support. Afraid of being cut off from the Dneper - and thus of a retreat route - the Front commander orders a retreat. He is, however, shot in unclear circumstances and the manoeuvre turns into a rout. Most of the units making up the Front are still combat-capable, others have to be merged, but as it is the unit lacks any cohesion. Meanwhile, the Axis march into the city. Axis VPs now at 21.

Axis Removals Phase
Nothing to be removed.

Axis Detraining Phase
Nothing to detrain.

The Soviets have nothing to discard, so...

General-polkovnik Fangz woke up that morning to an intense headache. That was not a typical katzenjammer he knew and hated from his "strategic meetings" with comrade Stalin. No, this was the Migraine of Bad News, a trait he inherited from his grandfather. It meant that something was about to go awry.

He looked at the papers on his desk. The numbers were all fine, everything added up. None seemed to be gone, especially the important ones. He didn't recall any visits from his in-laws scheduled for today, either. He shrugged and looked out of the window of his apartment on the Tverskaya street. All appeared fine. No German artillery shells exploding, people going around after their daily businesses. Paper boys selling Komsomolskaya Pravda. People hanging banners asking for people to work in support of the Autumn Offensive... Wait. What Autumn Offensive?

Fangz ran out into the street and bought the first newspaper he could get his hands on. Sure enough, on the front page it said "Autumn Offensive will throw away the fascist bloody dogs!". He got to reading the article. It praised the long-prepared attack plans, huge supplies earmarked for the operations, and the complete element of surprise the attack will no doubt achieve. All by the orders of Comrade Stalin.

He slowly started to puzzle together what happened. He ran into his office - and sure enough, there they were. Orders from up high to commence an all-out offensive.

"Well," said Fangz, "looks like we're in for a ride, cokerpilot." His aide was already there, sipping his morning vodka coffee. "Can you at least tell me where to get all those earmarked supplies we're promised?"

Cokerpilot looked at him with a smile, like you would make towards a child that asks whether zebras are black in white stripes or the other way around. "What supplies?"

The Germans play Stalin Orders Attack!

Soviets draw 4 cards and immediately play Za Rodinu! to draw 2 more.

Everything is in order.

No units eligible to be flipped.

The Soviets receive three new units: two regional infantry units (Moscow and Sevastopol) and a Cadre unit, the Ostatky. Both Regionals can be flipped to Fortresses later on, but Sevastopol is remarkable in that if it is placed in Sevastopol this turn, it arrives on its Fortress side. For free!

Cadre units are a bit different from others in that they do not go onto the map when received. Instead, they land in the Cadre Units Available Box, from where they can be placed on map in place of a unit that was eliminated due to an EX or a DD result. Why do that? Well, for one, it plugs a hole in your line. But you can also use them as a basis from which to rebuild units: in other words, you can place replacements on them as if they were a City hex. That kills the Cadre, though. As an added bonus, a unit rebuilt this way does not suffer from Disorganization. If eliminated, the Ostatky go back to the Turn Track and come back to the box next turn.

Here are the units in the Shattered, Destroyed and Surrendered Boxes.

You know the drill. I need discards and placements from Fangz. He can also shift units between commands now. Deadline: Saturday, December 7, 8 PM GMT.

As a bonus, I've dug up some pieces from the single player module and placed them on the board. They have no effect on the game, but they look nice. I think.

Stalin is absurdly relaxed in the face of ~250 000 Germans knocking on his door.

Hitler, meanwhile, seems concerned with how his underlings conduct operations.