Part 86: Turn 86: February 4, 1943
February begins and with it the blizzard starts to wind down.
The only place this makes a big difference right now is in Hungary where the German line is just 20 miles from being in snow weather rather than blizzard. This is actually very good for me, if I can break through the line to the west I will break through into the snow weather which has a lighter MP malus than the blizzard hexes.
Another pretty large change, the cavalry corps are reformed adding over 100 tanks which brings the total tank complement for a corps up to 183 tanks including support units. With over 100 of those tanks being T-34s this makes Cavalry corps potent combined arms forces. Add to that the fact that nearly every cavalry corps on the map is a Guards formation with 60+ morale and you've got some extremely valuable counters. The Red Army right now has 25 cavalry corps, 23 of those are guards with 20 of those corps having a morale higher than 60.
I'm not sure if I've explained just how important morale is for Soviet counters, more than anything else morale determines how well a formation fights. A counter with 30-40 morale is basically combat-ineffective and should be railed 100+ miles behind the line to take a few weeks off. 41-49 is workable, good enough to hold a spot on the line and fight but not great. 50+ is a counter that is usable in offensive operations while 55+ morale counters are almost always Guards, elite (airborne) troops or specialists like mechanized, cavalry or tank formations that are in good shape. Most of my normal counters are floating around 50-54 morale right now with a few outlier divisions that have slipped into the mid 40's and a good number of rifle corps that are up in the 57-59 range but can't be promoted to Guards status because of the cap.
The lowest morale counter on the map is the 263rd Rifle division that arrived this turn with 42 morale. They're apparently not too happy about being railed in from the far east to fight the Germans, nobody has told them yet I've already got around 40 rifle divisions over 200 miles from the front line waiting for trucks to support them.
And the highest morale is the 14th Partisan Battalion who have a shocking 96 morale. I'm pretty sure they've spent the last 2 years just hanging out near the German border getting drunk.
Uh with that tangent out of the way here's this. The Don front has been renamed to the Central front and got a new lime-green color. Good name change for once and a good color, I like it.
The Germans are running out of space to retreat up here, now I just need to drive them into the sea.
The Leningrad cuts off two infantry divisions, one on the coast and another against a lake. The Germans can free both of these but I'll probably be able to scoop them back up next turn.
And the Volkhov front makes a push for the river before it starts to thaw. 30 miles to go and 2 months before the mud, I think I'm safe.
Rails are still miles and miles behind, I cannot wait for the mud here just to give me a chance to fix my supply lines.
The Kalinin front makes contact with the primary German line but doesn't have the MP or the supply to launch any real attacks. I'm at the very edge if not beyond my effective supply here but I'm glad to be in contact just to cause attritional damage.
Same story on the Southwestern and Bryansk fronts. Low on supply, lots of Germans, fun.
I'm sticking the Central front reports in here for now because this whole front is now going to swing north and make a 90 degree bend in the line above the swamp. Some of my best armies are in the Central front and I want them out of this goddamn swamp before the summer starts. While they're at it they encircle a German infantry division which I don't think will be escaping.
The difference visually between fronts that are mostly composed of corps (the volkhov in blue) and divisions (north caucausus in green) is pretty shocking.
With the Central front swinging north out of the marshes the Urals M.D. marches into their swamp to hold the line against a possible German attack. A shitty job but someone needs to convert those hexes to Soviet control.
One more hex syndrome strikes the Volkhov front and the Southern M.D. as they fail to re-encircle that German mountain division and the 4 divisions the Germans sent to rescue it. I think some of these will escape without help, with luck I'll keep 3-4 of the counters.
And the Southern front pushes north out of the mountains. I haven't run into the real German line down here yet and probably won't for another turn or two. I'm getting very curious about where that large panzer force ran off to, I bloodied their infantry but the tanks are mostly untouched.
The Germans have pulled back a single hex to straighten out the line where it was weakest but with 50 miles to Budapest they're running out of ground to give up.
In the mountains I drive back a Hungarian security division and most of the Transcaucasus front makes it out of the mountains. The only army still in the mountains in force is the 39th army which is composed almost entirely of mountain divisions, so they're in their element.
The 2 divisions get re-encircled again. This pocket absolutely will not hold but I'm just trying to keep them in one place until I can cobble together something that can withstand an attack for a turn or two. The northern border of the bulge is now held entirely by the 2 cavalry armies of the Volga M.D. who are rapidly tiring. Luckily the relief force is on the way and will begin to take up positions on the line next turn.
The western front takes the border city of Szeged and advances 10 miles towards the new German line but fails to make contact. Luckily the German line to the west looks much weaker than the one to the north so I should be able to tear it apart even after I advance 1 hex next turn. All 3 tank armies in this region have been pulled off the line to refit this turn, no real attacks were made so there was nowhere for them to be useful.
In the north both pockets are opened with heavy Soviet losses as mobile German forces swoop in to rescue the trapped formations.
Part of that mysterious panzer army re-materializes in the south to prevent my attempted encirclement, but I don't think the Germans thought this through.
Wow this is way more of a reaction that I thought this pocket would illicit, I guess I'm not re-encircling those divisions after all.
And some Germans slip across the Yugoslavian border to re-occupy Szegod. The downside for them is they're not allowed to trace supply through Yugoslavia anymore so they're effectively cut off.
Ugggghhhhhhh stop running away.