The Let's Play Archive

War in the East: Don to the Danube

by uPen

Part 4: Turn 1: June 22, 1941

So, before we start let's take a look at the map and get an idea of how our army is deployed.
Click for HUGE

The Soviet army at the outbreak of war looks great on paper but it is going to become rapidly apparent that it is completely ineffective in combat for several reasons. High command of the army falls to STAVKA, or Main Command of the Armed Forces of the USSR, we're just gonna call it STAVKA. From there command is split into Fronts or Military Districts. Fronts are huge commands that are in theory capable of organising and commanding several armies and their supporting forces. Military Districts are smaller commands that generally only command a few corps, if that. As the front moves STAVKA will create more Fronts and upgrade existing Military Districs to Fronts as needed. Under the Fronts are Armies which are made up of several Corps, which consist of several divisions. Let's let the Germans do their thing and see if this structure holds up in combat.

Well that's certainly a mess, who's responsible for this?

Oh, well then. I'm sure we'll track down a few more cowards and traitors in the coming weeks.

Before we go to the front we've got try to fix our airforce. The airforce is getting absolutely mauled by the Luftwaffe, so we're going to pull the entire airforce back to be reorganized in the coming turns. As it stands they're not going to be much help in a general route and the Luftwaffe rules the skies anyways. The only thing our air force can accomplish right now is losing more planes so we're going to pull them all back to reserve so we can spend an eternity rebuilding it in a turn or two.

The Northern Front is a complete mess. There are very few troops here relative to the other fronts, and they're going to be tasked with defending Leningrad and Novgorod from 2 German armies and a Panzer army. The only way we're going to accomplish this is by falling back faster than the Germans can advance and digging deep into the extremely defensible marshes and forests of the North.

Most these encircled units are dead. Attempting to rescue them would just get more soldiers encircled and captured. For the forseeable future any soldier that becomes encircled is going to spend the rest of the war in a German PoW camp. The bright side is these units (but not the men) will come back, any counters we lose in these first few months will be reformed for free in the far east as an empty shell.

Only this unit, the 22nd NKVD Rifle Division is able to break free. It'll probably just be instantly re-encircled next turn but it's the thought that counts.

For the rest of the Northern front it's retreat. Non-essential units (HQ's and airbases) retreat on their own. They're fast enough that they can keep ahead of even the most aggressive of Panzer units. Any units that routed in the initial German assault are also going to retreat on foot. They can't be encircled because they'll just displace past the German lines, so they're in no danger of being forced to surrender.

Infantry divisions and other valuable units are evacuating on rail. I need these units to start digging fortifications now so that when the Germans show up we might be able to put up some kind of fight. We have a limited rail capacity but right now getting these units out of danger is more important than evacuating factories.

The beginning of a defensive line, perhaps this one will show a bit more resistance than the one formed on the German border.

In the far North the majority of the Northern Front stares accross the border at the Finns. The Finns have not declared war on us yet, but it's only a matter of time.

The Center is an unmitigated disaster. Nearly the entire front has been encircled in a pincer formed by the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups who have advanced nearly 150 miles to the gates of Minsk. Perhaps they've overextended themselves?

Outrunning their support, the 7th Panzer and 20th Motorized divisions are easily cut off. There's no way we can actually attack them (28=28!) but this will prevent them from being resupplied next turn, slowing the rate of their advance. Unfortunately the 2 divisions that cut the supply line (the 161st Rifle and 26th Tank Divisions) will almost certainly be encircled and captured themselves. Godspeed brave counters.

All the units in this pocket are doomed save one, the 10th Army HQ has been encircled. HQs have the ability to relocate themselves to a random space far away. You don't really know where it'll end up, just that it'll go somewhere else and it will probably go East. This is because HQ units can't surrender, since if an enemy unit walks up to them they'll just relocate as if they had routed so being able to do it manually prevents another human from gamily keeping your HQ units in tiny pockets but never actually touching them. It does come with... risks however, let's give it a shot.

Phew, normally when I do that the commanding officer gets killed, nothing personal guy, I just wanted that chit back now. I could technically do this for the encircled Corps HQs as well, but I just can't bring myself to care about them.

The rest of the Front retreats to the landbridge between the Dvina and Dnepr rivers. If we can hold the landbridge against the Germans they'll be forced to cross the massive river, where we'll hopefully be able to cause appalling casualties.

This mad dash for the rivers is going to have consequences though. We've left Minsk virtualy defenseless and we don't have the time to rail the industry out, so it's all going to be lost when the Germans take the city next turn.

I also throw up a few fortified zones in the urban hexes of Moscow. I desperately need the admin points but I'm also pretty keen on Moscow being an impenetrable fortress come October.

On the southern border of the front we've got the Pripyat Marshes. A huge expanse of nearly impenetrable terrain that would take months to wade through. So the Germans are going to drive around it and any units left in here are going to starve to death. Everyone worth saving is going to hop on a train and get out pronto.

The Southern Front contains most of our best and most experienced divisions and it shows. There's something resembling a front line and there are only 6 encircled divisions. This is pretty typical vs the AI, against a human there's a bunch of more efficient openings that result in ~1/3-1/2 of the southwestern front being encircled on turn 1. I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth though, so everyone get on those trains before the rest of 1st Panzer Group wakes up and finishes the job.

And partway through the evacuation we run out of trains, everyone from here on out is walking.

The fortress in and around Kiev are the rock on which we're going to build our defenses down here. If we can hold and fortify the east bank of the Dnieper we may be able to do some damage to the invader, and it won't hurt that our units down here are actually worth a damn.

On the southern edge of the theater the Southern Front is engaged in a staring contest with a combination of Romanian forces and their German overlords, who have yet to cross the border. When will they invade?

In the North the Axis forces blast unopposed accross the Daugava and take Pskov. On the plus side they have far outrun any hope of supply and are running low on fuel, they're going to have to slow down, I hope.

The massive pocket in the Center begins to be reduced.

Minsk burns as the panzer spearheads of Army Group Center drive towards the landbridge.

In the south the Panzers prioritize driving towards Kiev over pocketing the retreating masses of the Southwestern Front.

A disastrous week for the Red Army. We're going to have to slow down the Axis rate of advance or they're going to be in Moscow by Christmas.