The Let's Play Archive

No Retreat! The Russian Front

by Tevery Best

Part 25: Turn 4 - Soviet Detraining Phase: Savages! New Conscripts. Hitler's Interference.

I've decided to allow the Soviets to put Bryansk in Strategic Reserve before Targets and Counterblows were announced, even though their movement phase just ended. This exception is because this is a new mechanic that has caused some confusion among the Soviet ranks.

The Stavka order an immediate conscription of several hundred thousand men from the Tula area, while also sending large armoured reinforcements to the units there. Between these men and the experienced remnants and officer corps of the Northwest Front, they now have a new and capable formation, which is renamed the Central Front.

The Ostatky 1 are sent to the turn track. They will arrive in the Soviet Organisation Phase of Turn 5.

As the Soviets prepare for their offensive, the OKH issues a general order to all units to hold their ground at all costs. They hope that in this way they will be able to withstand the underestimated Red Army attack and maintain better jump-off positions for an offensive drive in the spring. Hitler is completely on board with the plan and insists on delivering a recording of his speech backing up the order to the units on the Front. However, this delay and the political clout now surrounding the issue allows the NKVD to catch wind of it and report to the Front commanders, who can now better prepare their offensives and render the Germans' preparations mostly moot.

Hitler did not always fancy himself a brilliant commander. In fact, remembering that he never got above corporal rank in the Army, he initially typically deferred to the more experienced members of the General Staff. This changed after a few of his ideas turned out to be spot on and unexpectedly successful.

One of such situations came in 1940. When preparing for the campaign in the Low Countries, Belgium and France, German generals were wary about facing the numerous and strong French army. Pessimism was quite prevalent in the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and no-one had any really good ideas about how to tackle the now fully-mobilised French with an army that had to take quite a while to recuperate after the Polish campaign.

Hitler believed for a while then that an attack through the Ardennes forest and on to Sedan would allow for a decisive encirclement of a major part of the Allied forces and a severing of the supply lines from France to Belgium. However, as none of the other participants of the OKW meetings suggested anything of the sort, Hitler assumed it must have been an obviously bad idea for reasons that were apparent to everybody. Thus he said nothing.

Meanwhile, generals von Rundstedt and von Manstein, along with general Guderian, who just happened to be around, devised a similar plan. They agreed that the OKW is going nowhere with the original Fall Gelb and something had to be done. They started to push for their idea to be adopted by the General Staff, but everyone else figured that it was silly - Ardennes seemed like a bad terrain to use tanks in, and using them completely independently from the main force was still a novelty, which may have worked against Poland, but the French army was a lot stronger, so such cheap tricks wouldn't work against that, right?

It was January 9, 1940. A Wehrmacht officer, major Helmuth Reinberger, was partying up with his friends at one of the military casinos, despite the need to present important documents regarding the invasion plan to a division staff in Cologne. Luckily, one of his drinking buddies was a Luftwaffe officer who wanted to go to Cologne anyway - he needed the extra hours and had some laundry to drop off. He offered to take Reinberger there by plane, which the major readily accepted.

The next morning, however, due to horrible fog (and probably some hangover), the pilot got lost and suddenly found himself over Belgium. Having ran out of fuel, he crash-landed. Before Reinberger had a chance to burn the documents, the place was swarming with Belgian intelligence officers. This caused the Germans to postpone their invasion for a few days, but during that time the weather worsened and the attack was called off indefinitely.

Von Manstein, von Rundstedt and Guderian seized upon this opportunity and presented their version of the plan to Hitler. He was thrilled to see that he wasn't the only one to think about a thing like that and insisted that the OKW switch to an attack through Ardennes. Meanwhile, the Allied generals assumed the Wehrmacht would stick to their original plan, more or less, rather than try something weird. The result was an overwhelming German victory... and the fact that Hitler started regarding himself as far more competent than before.

South Front vs 4th Rumanian Sideshow Special

An excerpt from the script of The Battle of Yakovka, a 1995 Rumanian animated musical

GENERAL CONSTANTINESCU-CLAPS chants while donning armour
What can you expect from filthy little heathens? Here's what you get when the classes aren't diverse! Their banners hellish red, they're only good when dead, they're vermin, as I said, and worse: they're...

4TH RUMANIAN CHOIR sings while reaching for their rusty pikes and flintlock rifles
Communists! Communists!

Barely even human!

Communists! Communists!

Drive them from our shore! They're don't like cash and me, which means they must be evil, we must sound the drums of war!

4TH RUMANIAN CHOIR, playing the drums and marching out of their camp
They're communists! Communists! Dirty shrieking devils! We must sound the drums of war!


This is what we know: the Axis are against us. It's time they pay the wages of their greed! Over their weaker side to Dnepro we shall ride!

I wonder if they'll even bleed!

They're Rumanians! Rumanians!

Barely even human!

Rumanians! Rumanians!

Killers at the core!

Destroy their evil race until there's not a trace left! Now we sound the drums of war!


I guess I should talk them out of killing each other and point out the meaninglessness of hate and war, shouldn't I?

Yes! Go! And let the spirits of the State Alcohol Monopoly guide you!

South Front vs 4th Rumanian
Combat odds: 3/2 = 3:2 - shifted +1 for Shock!
Roll: 4 - EX
South Front takes a step loss and is eliminated. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.
4th Rumanian takes a step loss and is eliminated. It goes to the Turn Track to arrive as reinforcements in the Turn 8 German Organisation Phase.

5 HOURS LATER. The VILLAGE OF YAKOVKA is a burning field strewn with corpses and scattered artillery guns. POCAHONTASCU arrives and notices she is late.

Oh no! I never should have stopped to purchase those delicious, delicious value meals at Borscht King, now at just 2,59 leu (including VAT!).

The movie was very poorly received by the critics.

I hope you don't mind this little Christmas present, but seeing as this battle is kind of a sideshow I figured I can afford a little joke in between all the serious write-ups.

Southwest, Moscow, Reserve, Central vs 9th Army
Combat odds: 16/3 = 5:1 - shifted +1 for Shock! marker, -1 for Forest for a total of 5:1
Roll: 2 - EX
Moscow Front takes a step loss and is eliminated. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.
9th Army takes a step loss and is eliminated. It goes to the Destroyed Units Box.

At Moscow, the combined might of 4 Soviet Fronts is brought to bear against the 9th Army. The Germans fight hard, but they just cannot stop the brutal Soviet onslaught. By December 19th, the Army is split by the Red Army advance into two battle groups, both of which try to break through to their allies independently. The western group pushes hard towards Smolensk, suffering horrible casualties. Most of the troops never make it there, with everything but 3 divisions surrendering to the Soviets or being butchered to the last man. The other group - about corps strength - breaks out of the pocket and joins up with 3rd Panzer Group, which might turn out as nothing but an extension of their demise. Soviet casualties are grave as well, however, and the Moscow volunteers are unceremoniously dumped into trains and shipped off as replacements for other Soviet units taking part in the operation.

Soviet Removals Phase
Disorganised Marker is removed from Bryansk Front.

Soviet Detraining Phase

The Soviets have two units in the Rail Movement Box now. They are free to rail in any one of them, none, or both. If they only rail Bryansk back onto the board, the Strategic Reserve marker can be shifted to Leningrad at the start of the Axis Turn.

I need Fangz to decide where they go to, if anywhere. Meanwhile, HerpicleOmnicron5 should start thinking about which of his 3 cards he will want to discard at the start of his turn (due to having more than 2 cards in hand). The answer may be posted in the doc or in the thread.

The deadline for this is Sunday, December 22, 7 PM GMT. I will then hold a brief Year Summary to both talk about the events of 1941 campaigns and to slow the thread down a bit for Christmas.

Soviet current card hand: 3 cards
Axis current card hand: 3 cards