Part 50: Turn 8 - Crimean Front Breakout. July/August 1942. Lost Victories 1.
The Soviets manage to complete a grand maskirovka in the south. As the Rumanians defending Dnepropetrovsk prepare to repel their advance, they secretly rail in troops and supplies needed for an offensive... from the west. Before the Axis commands realizes what's happening, they have an entire Front on their hands.
Meanwhile, seeing as the defences of Stalino have been weakened by the Battle of Lozova, the Stavka decides to replace the South Front with the 1st Byelorussian. Knowing that the Russian logistics network is simply incapable of handling such a great concentration of forces, they order the 1st Byelorussian to seize most of the South Front's supplies and pull the latter unit off the line. The operation nevertheless ends in a large logistic failure.
With this we conclude Turn 7.
Front line change
Yellow is last turn, red is current. For comparison, I've added the line at the start of the Fall Blau scenario (which begins at the start of Turn 7, so this is where the historical Germans were more or less a turn ago) - guess what colour it might be, harr harr.
Welcome to Lost Victories, a bonus series that I've decided to add to the LP. In it we're going to explore the possibilities of what could have happened if one side or the other had adopted a different strategy. For now, it's the Axis who have the largest array of possibilities, so we're most likely going to stick to watching them for a while and switch to the Soviets later on.
We'll begin with the German Turn 7. I probably won't go back beyond that, so if anyone familiar with the game has a STRONG OPINION on what the Axis/Soviets did wrong in the past, they should feel free to steal the banner and post their version the plan.
The plans I'm going to show to you are not necessarily going to be the best ones, or optimal ones, or whatever you call it. They might not be safe, sound or difficult to stop, but they are going to have one common feature: they're supposed to be spectacular. They're also intended to show off how to use and exploit the mechanics of the game, so you could say they're educational as well.
In any case, remember this?
It's the German situation after the Turn 7 Organisation Phase. Herpicle and co. decided to only move a little after this, shifting their troops towards Leningrad and forming a solid line in the south. They pretty much ignored the large Soviet salient around Voronezh, other than pouncing on the weak Bryansk Front and smashing it to bits.
Voronezh is interesting for one reason: it's isolated. The only other nearby supply sources are Tula, Moscow, Kharkov and Stalino. Tula and Moscow are resilient, but they can be separated from the Soviet units out west. Stalino is too far away to supply the salient around that hex where 1st Baltic is positioned. Kharkov is in German hands.
What we're going to try and do is cut off the 1st Baltic and friends from supply, at least for a moment. We have all the troops between Smolensk and Stalino, one blitz! token (the other is going to be used at Leningrad, remember?) and no particularly useful cards. It's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.
After you've done all the thinking about what you want to hit and why, the next part of a successful offensive is to move into position. We're going to start up north, near Moscow. The 2nd Panzer rolls out to approach the Southwest Front, while the 4th Army positions itself to block any approach the Reserve can make to the north. They won't be too relevant. The 9th Army sets south to keep the 1st Baltic pinned in place.
Around the south, we keep it fairly static. Rather than stretch out to keep the line in the south, we stay up north for the offensive. The 2nd and 11th should be able to hold it without much issue - or at least prevent a significant breakthrough. We're also going to pull off a "win more" offensive down there, if we get a chance.
Targets are placed (aside from Leningrad - that whole shebang is happening at its own pace in the background) on the Southwest, Bryansk and N. Caucasus. Some of you might be scratching your heads: didn't doing the exact same blind push on Moscow end in a near disaster for the Germans some turns ago? It did. But this is not a push for Moscow at all.
The question we want to ask ourselves now is: what do we want? We want to advance. Where do we want to advance?
Around Moscow it should be the 3rd Panzer that advances (so that the 2nd will keep the supply lines guaranteed to be open), but I was thinking about something else and fucked up. No biggie, in a pinch we can rail the 8th Italian there. Down south we smash Bryansk and ride all the way to near Voronezh. We can't advance into the city itself, as we're at the edge of where Advance After Combat permits us to go, but we're close enough. However, this advance demands that the Bryansk Front is destroyed or shattered so that it doesn't block us. Around Moscow, we just need a DR.
We're not worried about Counterblows - if it lands on 1st Baltic, the worst they can do is force us to retreat. We can then move into Smolensk, and they cannot advance into it. We have a supply route open, while they move even further away from theirs and pretty much ensure they start their turn out of supply - especially if we get smart about detraining the Italians. They could place themselves NW of their current position, putting ZOC between the armour and Smolensk, but if we advance the 3rd Panzer instead of the 2nd (which, once again, is what I should have done ), that's not even a real threat.
Net result is this: we're next to Moscow, next to Tula and next to Voronezh. All these cities are empty, which means our ZOC blocks supply from flowing out of them. That means that next turn, all the units in between are left unsupplied.
But what about the enemy?
Preventing this from happening is - luckily for the Soviets - very easy. All they have to do is drop their Strategic Reserve into any of the cities we've approached. The supplies can then flow out of it and keep their troopers active.
However, it might put them in a very nasty fork - if Leningrad comes up EX, for example, and is left empty at the end of our turn, with Operational Reserves in German hand. Moreover, they are thus responding to our actions, rather than consolidating and preparing offensives of their own.
Should an offensive against N. Caucasus be successful (in my case, it wasn't, I just rolled a CB), it can also form a giant wedge in the south, which would be a very pressing matter to respond to.
If they decide that they can just rebuild something in any of the cities and have their units back in supply at the end of their turn, we can pop up Kesselschlacht and eliminate 1st Baltic right at the end of their Supply Phase. Naturally, that would require Herpicle to not have discarded it at start of turn.
Finally, it leaves us in decent position to exploit some offensive counterblows, or swing around and attack the south, or maybe do some nasty tricks with those Operational Reserves we picked up later. The world is not our oyster, but there's quite a bunch of possibilities.
So what are the odds?
Ignoring the part where the Soviets decide whether or not to allow the most destructive parts of the plan to happen, the general success chance of the offensive is exactly 25%. Near Moscow, we're attacking at 13/5 = 2:1 combat odds, shifted -1 for Forest and +1 for Blitz! and we need a DR or better, which at that odds happens at 4+. Against Bryansk, we're looking at 14/3 = 4:1 odds with no shifts, but we need it to at least shatter - 4+ again.
In my case, it worked on the first try, so it's not that outlandish. What's more, if the attack against the SW Front fails, we can opt not to advance towards Voronezh, but rather figure something else out instead. A hook to the south or an attack towards 1st Baltic, perhaps?
And now back to regular programming.
It is now Turn 8. The Turn Event is Germans +1 card, which means the Germans will draw an extra card in their Draw Phase. Simple as that.
Their VPs stand at 21, with 2 of them being Event VPs. The Germans need to reach 26 VPs before the start of next turn to trigger Sudden Death. They receive two Blitz! tokens for the turn.
The Axis have one card, so they don't have to discard. They draw 5.
After they draw their second card, there is only one card left in the draw pile. That card is not drawn, it is reshuffled alongside the discard pile. The Germans finish drawing.
The ZOC of the Stalingrad Front blocks supply flowing out from Smolensk. The stack near the city was only supplied from there (supply from Minsk needs one more hex to reach them, supply from Kharkov would be in range, if the 1st Baltic's ZOC didn't block it), so it goes out of supply.
6th Army, 16th Army and 18th Army are all eligible to be Improved back onto their full-strength side. This costs 2 cards per unit.
The Axis receive two new units this turn. One is the Kampfgruppe 2, which immediately goes to the Cadre Units Available Box. It is identical to Kampfgruppe 1. The other is the returning 4th Rumanian Army.
They may also opt to replace the 11th Army, which got destroyed in the fighting.
The new and rebuilt units have to be placed either in any City in Greater Germany, or at a friendly map edge. The destroyed units (i.e. 11th Army) can also be placed instead of the Kampfgruppe 1. If they return in this way, the Kampfgruppe is eliminated to the Turn Track, returning on Turn 10, but the unit does not arrive Disorganized.
I need discards and placements for these units from Logicone. Remember to assign the newly arrived and rebuilt units to an Army Group. Also remember that you may now move units between commands.
The deadline for this is Monday, February 3, 8 PM GMT.