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#4449191 - 11/17/18 04:07 PM The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE)  
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An AAR documenting my questionable decision to invade Russia, re-posted from the Historical Strategy forum. A full AAR is called for, but more than I am willing to do. So this thread will instead be reports, snapshots in time, broken down in to three or four week segments. It deserves edited screens, like in Para_Bellum's fantastic AAR from 2011 , but it will have to do. The reader will need to make sense of what is shown and some knowledge of Russia and the war in general will certainly help makes sense of it all. I apologize for this, but hopefully it won't prove too detrimental.

Let's see if I can pull it off. The vast distances, the weather, the terrain, the enemy and the colossal challenge of keeping my army supplied as they drive deeper in Russia will challenge me. It's my first go at this (I did start one aborted run that lasted all of 2 turns), so feeling rather unqualified for the lofty position I hold as the Grand Poobah of the German armed forces, I will do it anyway. To the east!

Gary Grigsby's War in the East

Played German vs AI on normal. No Soviet Combat Bonus. FOW off. 260 Point 1941-1945 Grand Campaign

"Every leader and soldier is to have hammered into him for this eastern campaign the foremost order: above everything else swiftly and ruthlessly forward!" -- Fedor von Bock, Commander, Army Group Center

First three turns June 22 to July 3

Army Group Center

I kicked the thing off with the air phase, which caught the Russian on the ground, inflicting devastating losses. 3700 aircraft destroyed, including 3500 on the ground.

[Linked Image]



We then lead the ground attack with a double envelopment in AGC's sector. I sent Hoth's 3rd Panzergruppe (light green) along the north edge. The idea was to center this northern thrust on Vitebsk, to hopefully continue on beyond and strike at Smolensk, as well as clear the way for the southernmost of my two Baltic rail spurs. I needed one of his panzer corps to help seal the north side of the Slonim pocket. Guderian's 2nd Panzergruppe (light blue) helped seal the south side of the Slonim pocket on turn 1, and then pressed on, splitting to take Minsk and heading for the Dnepr crossing at Zhlobin. They were held back a bit to keep them in supply range, so that they could get some during the logistics phase. In the first run they went all the way to the river, but were then out of gas and useless for turn 3, which lead to the restart. It's only a few hexes in some cases. Every time an HQ unit is moved I next check the supply details for the unit and make sure that HQ is within 25 hexes of a rail head. Movement points also play a part, and in areas with lots of lousy terrain, or during mud and snow, then 25 hexes may not longer be enough. But here in the open spaces of the western Soviet frontier the 25 hex limit works. The closer to the rail head the better of course, but it's smart to always check this every time you move one of your corps HQs. And then ensure all subordinate units take up positions within 5 hexes of that HQ. There will be times when I think the objective is worth the out of supply positions (two of which will soon follow in this AAR!), but on the whole I'll try to stick to this rule of thumb.

Having unleashed the fury of Army Group Center, the Russian formations opposite us are trapped in a pocket.

[Linked Image]



Having sealed virtually the entire Soviet Western Front in the Slonim pocket, and having captured the city of Minsk, I turned my attention on the Russian defense of Smolensk. In run 1, he made a stand, and the line of the Denpr was heavily reinforced. This time the enemy did not get nearly so many units in to position, and at the end of turn 2 my panzer groups sat resupplying around Minsk and west of Vibtesk, I could see the chance of a breakthrough near Orsha. If I could do this, it would allow my armor to run through the landbridge and either take Smolensk, or run the southern half of a pincer to encircle the defenders south of Vitebsk, and hopefully fulfill each of those objectives. Hoth's panzers to the north (Schmidt) would have to punch through Vibtesk, which isn't easy as they aren't ideally suited for this. But I had two entire panzergruppen and their hour had arrived, As a result of this assessment, I kept the southern of Hoth's panzer corps near Minsk to give extra weight to the attack at Orsha, instead of sending it north to rejoin the rest of 3rd Panzer. I also cashiered the commander and replaced him with Hermann Balck. He is the Germans' best commander of mobile forces that starts without a command. As a Major General though it costs 26 admin points to appoint him to command a corps. That's a heavy price, but I can't resist this sort of move. The combat value of all of the divisions in the panzer corps instantly improved when he arrived. These are the tip of my schwerpunkt and he will put the finest edge on LVII Panzer Corps. Kuntzen was the man dismissed. I plan many more command changes, ruthless as I am, but the admin points keep you honest.

This shot introduces the dashing and capable General Balck, shows some of the positions at the end of turn 2, as well as the weak defense of the upper Dnepr. The Russian would strengthen it during his turn a bit, but it's a far thinner line than in my first aborted attempt at the grand campaign.

[Linked Image]

The plan to breach the position on the upper Dnepr worked to perfection. By holding my leading units back a bit to end turn 2 it enabled enough momentum to score a fantastic success on turn 3.

[Linked Image]


Using the full weight of Schmidt's XXXIX Panzer Corps we punched past Vitebsk and sealed the northern half of the pocket. Using XXXVII Panzer Corps (Lemelsen) we blew it open at Orsha. The newly installed Balck then lead LVII Panzer Corps through the breach, sealing the pocket. Schweppenburg's XXIV Panzer Corps then raced through to to capture Smolensk! It went off so spectacularly that I could now decomit Vietinghoff's XXXXVI Panzer Corps from this operation and send him south toward Gomel as part of my effort to seal the Pripet marshes and link up with Army Group South. A solid pocket has been formed, but the screenshot shows a glaring mistake I made. I have no unit in Orsha, blocking the railway there. Hopefully the ZoC of the units there will prevent the encircled troops from breaking out here. If the Soviets try to breakout by atttacking from both sides the ring may break. Could be a very bad mistake. I don't want to let this bag o' Ivan escape.

In all this operation far exceeded my expectations by turn 3. To be in Smolensk is a best case scenario. It's a calculated risk to leave these valuable forces in a spot that's out of supply, but I felt it had to be done. Another turn could have seen the Russian reinforce the position along the upper Dnepr in front of Smolensk. I believe these units can pull some supply from the city. But if I can hold the encirclement and keep Smolensk it was certainly worth the gamble. This is the reason all of those tank formations were put in AGC in the first place right?



Army Group North

In the north the singular overriding objective is Leningrad. But there are some key lesser objectives along the way. To take Leningrad not only denies it to the enemy as a population and production base, it gets Finland fully in the war. To have the Finns helping hold the northern part of your front allows you to strengthen other parts of it. Taking Leningrad is therefore the number on thing I want to accomplish in '41. I hope it isn't all, that I can also take Kiev and Rostov, Kharkov and Moscow. Even Sevastopol. But Leningrad is the key for me.

The attack was launched, holes were opened and Hoepner's 4th Panzergruppe was unleashed.AGN has the least armor and this is the only panzer group, which limits our flexibility for mobile operations One panzer corps, the XXXXI under Reinhardt was able to capture Riga on turn 1! Manstein's LVI Panzer Corps was sent toward Pskov. The rail repair teams were put to work and I am trying to take advantage of the lower Baltic zone repair cost by building a line Riga-Pskov-Leningrad. And another to the south, though Polotsk and on to Vitebsk and Smolensk. All reinforcements from Germany (7 infantry divisions so far) were sent by train to this front, where they detrained and were split up among the various infantry corps, again careful not to overload the command capacity. AGN is the only Army Group that doesn't start seriously overloaded, so these troops were sent here partly for this reason, and also to add weight to the attack on Leningrad.

On turn 2, Manstein was able to capture Pskov, but low on fuel he would have to halt in this position for a turn. Pskov is an important rail hub in this sector so worth the effort. Reinhardt's corps, having taken Riga, then raced along the coast and captured Kallinn on turn 3! and still had the momentum to shuffle up against the defense southwest of Leningrad along the Narva river. A spectacular advance. The Riga rail line will support them and I am hoping to work toward capturing the east shore of Lake Ladoga while the infantry continue to move toward Leningrad. They are still several turns away, as this is quite a distance. In all we were able to take full advantage of the relatively weak Russian defense in this area. Evidence shows they are gathering near Velikiye Luki and this could pose a threat. The infantry continues to arrow northeast and some can be shifted here if necessary.

The screenshot shows Manstein halted in Pskov and Reinhardt standing on the Gulf of Finland! The strength of the defense at Leningrad is formidable, and growing. But they are running out of time to keep doing so.

[Linked Image]




Army Group South

The south. Honestly, I really don't know the best way to approach this front. It's complicated, with far-reaching objectives, a mix of German forces and satellites, has the slowest rail repair along with just a single FBD unit (rail repair), and a terribly overloaded command. It's easy to say I want to take Kiev, Sevastopol, Rostov, Karkhov and Dnepropetrovsk, hereafter known as Dnepro. It's another thing to do it, as this will surely be the front that feels the most stretched, in all directions. The terrain in the Ukraine is wide open, but the enemy, logistics and river crossing after river crossing will test the limits of our ambition.

One immediate complication is much of the force at your disposal in the south begins the game frozen. The Romanians, the Slovakians and the Hungarians are not available and will all join in the coming turns. Some of the German motorized divisions are also frozen. AGS is the largest Army Group, in terms of troops, but still well short of the armored strength of Army Group Center. So how to crack it? I made Kiev the first real target. The plan was to drive behind Lvov, encircling the defenders, then pivot east to cross the Denpr at Cherkassy. If a bridgeghead could be won, the units across would wheel north and follow the right bank of the river to take Kiev from the rear, trapping the defenders I would expect to have gathered in front of the city.

The first move I made was to load the FBD here on to a train, and sent him on a ride to the Romanian border, ultimately to a town called Ugenny to begin construction of the rail spur. This single spur will support the entire AGS, or so I hope!

The attack opened with two infantry corps smashing open the front south of the Pripet marshes. Kleist's 1st Panzergruppe has three panzer corps, and these were sent through the gap. One cut south past Tarnopol toward the Dnestr river. It could not close the remaining distance to the Romanian border, and the rail line there carried out much of the force defending Lvov. The pocket was closed the following turn, but by then many had escaped encirclement, and seemed to be sent to Zhitomir where the Russian was anchoring his defense, barring the direct path to Kiev. A second panzer corps was sent east to take Rovno, which was done. The third panzer corps went southeast past Tarnopol, then probed east toward Vinnista, capturing the city on turn 2!. The infantry near Lvov was sorted, with some re-assignments to cure corps-level overburdening. I attempted to use them to seal up Lvov, but not much progress really.

By turn 3 the Romanians had entered and breached their front to march on Odessa and protect the right flank of the panzer group. These troops aren't powerful, and seem to move much slower (all horse-drawn?), but they should be sufficient to take Odessa and then on to Nikolaev. Their air corps is also nice to have. With the Lvov pocket now sealed, the infantry set about trying to reduce it. It proved difficult, as the best Russian tank units are deployed in the south, but eventually Lvov was taken and the last few remnants of the forces trapped are being eliminated. I was able to send a few infantry corps east to support the armor, but the majority of it has been mired around Lvov.

The enemy's decision to stand at Zhitomir however was a mistake of the first order. The Russian has obviously underestimated the speed at which blitzkrieg moves. The ability of our panzer formations to cover ground, especially here in the Ukraine, is phenomenal. An amazing opportunity appeared. With some luck, Kleist's tanks could outflank the enemy's main line to the south, and take Kiev almost unopposed, negating the need to cross the Dnepr and accelerating our time table by weeks. The force near Rovno could try to strike at the northern flank of the enemy's line, hopefully preventing large-scale retreat in to the marshes (grrrr) and with good fortune breakthrough to form the northern arm of an encirclement together with the two panzer corps sent to take Kiev. That trap could not be completed yet, but we are laying the foundation. If the units threatened with entrapment don't react immediately, the chance for a tying a huge noose around the bulk of the Red Army in the south beckons.

Like the decision to go for Smolensk, here was a chance to capture a major prize at the earliest opportunity, and potentially ensnare a huge gob of enemy divisions, but would leave these advanced units in an out of supply location. Like Smolensk, I am banking on the ability to draw supplies from the city itself..These units also displaced a number of enemy airfields on their way to Kiev, capturing enormous quantities of fuel, including 31 tons at one particular airfield, so they should still be useful next turn, even out of supply range. The fact that my infantry lags so far behind is a problem, it will be hard to form a solid ring for a few more turns. I doubt the Red Army will sit and wait for it. But if I can take Kiev, and prevent a large migration in the the marshes it will be another spectacular success, though I fear I will have outrun my ability to make it the victory it could be. I love how this game continues to ask questions, and the player needs to continually adapt to changing events, threatening situations and golden opportunities.

Maximum momentum of attacks is best achieved by selecting from the units you are committing to the operation, the ones furthest from the point of attack to launch it. Doing so allows those units with decreasing MPs to force the front, and those with the most MPs to plunge through the breach. So that's what I did here too. Jumping off from positions near Vinnista, I broke through the weaker defenses south of the enemy's main line, and using both of the southern two panzer corps, Mackensen's III Panzer Corps and Kempf's XXXXVIII, outflanked the enemy's main effort and we drove straight in to Kiev, routing the relatively small force defending the city, and Kiev was captured! Wietersheim's XIV Panzer Corps moved to strike the northern end of the enemy's line along the southern boundary of the Pripet marshes, but no breakthrough was possible by the end of turn 3. If these two forces can link up next turn, and if some additional help from the infantry arrives we could see a huge haul of prisoners. I doubt though my ability to do this in time. We will see.


In all a smashing success in the south. My infantry is too far behind, and we will soon outrun our rail lines. But to have Kiev in our hands already is awesome. To the east!


Here you see Kiev in our hands and the armor at the north edge. The mass of our infantry is still around Lvov however.


[Linked Image]


Here are the ground losses for both sides through July 3rd. The Russian has lost almost three quarters of a million men and 5100 tanks. I don't show it, but he has lost 4400 aircraft to our 70 or so. Additional encirclements promise another big haul if things break our way.



[Linked Image]


And here is the 'strategic view', showing the depths of our advances. All of our units appear as white and the Russian in gold. This seems a solid start smile




[Linked Image]


Animals flee this hell, the hardest stones cannot bear it for long. Only men endure
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#4449192 - 11/17/18 04:07 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Turns 4 through 7, July 10 to July 31

Army Group Center

In the center, the month of July was spent catching up. With 2nd Panzer capturing Smolensk on turn 3, an advance of nearly 500 miles, the infantry was far behind. So 2nd and 3rd Panzer were halted. They were out of supply range, and the infantry was still west of Minsk after finishing off the last remaining units of the pocket sealed in the opening week. Time would be needed for them to close the distance, and take up a line along the Denpr. The powerful panzer units could fend for themselves, but no sense sending them even further ahead to risk isolation and running them out of fuel. The infantry, mostly comprised of 9th and 4th Armies would need to catch up and form a proper line. Once in place, and supplied, the second phase of the march on Moscow could be attempted. The shape that took would depend on what the enemy did in the mean time. In the center, we have two Panzer Groups, 2nd under Guderian, and 3rd under Hoth. 4th Amy under Model and 9th Army under Strauss are the most powerful infantry armies in the German commitment in the east. With such a force, operational plans could be flexible, but I would need to see what Ivan was up to and exploit it as the situation permitted.

While 4th and 9th Armies moved up, 3rd Panzer was used in a short operation to clear Velikiye Luki, and position for the next phase.

Two more generals were replaced, with Weiss and Rendulic getting promoted to command infantry corps. These are two of our finest commanders, and they replaced less capable men in AGC. More organizational work was done (and on all three fronts), with support units being transferred in and out, and construction batttalions being sent to more static Headquarters to start filling in the loops. By doing so they will make our rail network more partisan-proof, less vulnerable to being cut in any one place. But they do little to help me keep up with our blitzkrieg. For that we have four FBD units, railroad repair units, and the player must choose which hexes they repair. This is likely the single most important process in a German campaign beginning in 1941. Every tank and landser on the front is dependent on these rail lines. It's another element of strategy within the game. In a sense, your offensives are guided by your rail heads. Stray too far, and your units will soon run out of fuel and supplies. You can use your Auntie Ju's to fly supply drops, but they are just a drop in the bucket compared to the needs of an Army or Panzer Group. Combat is very important in War in the East of course, it is a war game after all. But command and control and especially logistics are even more so. It's all intertwined anyway, and makes for a fantastic game.

But I botched it. I built the rail line to support AGC toward Vilnius, but when I got there I got fouled up with a hex I couldn't repair. Unable to figure it out, I sent my FBD back to start again slightly north. After a few turns the same thing happened. At this point I researched it better, and got it squared away, seeing my mistake. But at least 3 valuable turns were wasted, and the rail line for AGC was lagging behind. It's a mistake I will make only once, chalk it up to being a noob. But it is very costly.

By turn 7, July 31st, all forces were in position for the second phase. The Russian had failed to get enough boots in the line. He erected a thin crust, but German Panzer Groups eat that for breakfast, and there is nothing assembled behind the front. I'm not sure what lead to this, if my earlier actions had vacuumed up the forces that should be here, or if the Russian is prioritizing Leningrad, which we will get to momentarily, but there is not enough here to stop a determined assault by the powerful forces assembled for the task. Look at Moscow. How can I resist such temptation?

By the end of turn 7, the forces poised for the attack have been resupplying and using the Headquarter Build Up (HQBU) mechanic. This allow the player to designate certain forces for priority supply. You'll use this on your panzer groups in preparation for a sortie behind the lines, to buy them an extra turn or two out of supply. Perfect for mad dashes and encirclements. The tradeoff is they cost a lot of admin points, get more of your motorpool destroyed and it has a ripple effect across all of your forces. Less for them. So like most things in this game, there's an opportunity cost as well as a tangible one. So the player needs to be smart about it, but it is a very powerful thing indeed.

Here you see the defenses along the front. My forces are 3rd Panzer (light green). 2nd Panzer (light blue), 4th Army (dark blue) and 9th Army (dark green). One infantry corps of 16th Army (lavender) is here, when it really should be at Leningrad as will be shown, but that's another story. I will wait to see how the enemy reinforces the line during his turn, or if he falls back on Moscow and then decide the best way to crack it. The spring is coiled tight.

[Linked Image]

The Pripet marshes have been a constant worry to me. How will I deal with forces that gather there, blown aside by my initial assault? I decided I could not afford to let them sit there and threaten my flanks, rails and interior. The time to deal with it was now. So two infantry corps of 4th Army were given the unenviable task of clearing it out. It would be a long slog through poor terrain. It was quite risky even. But I decided it had to be done. When, and if, they emerged at the eastern end, they would be in more or less the right spot anyway, if not several turns behind due to moving through the swamp. I decided to do it because after the thrust on Moscow in the center, and the attack of AGS to the south, a void would exist between these moves centered around Kursk. These emerging 4th Army troops would pop out in line with this objective. So I decided to go ahead and send them to clear the marshes. This is why you see just one 4th Army infantry corps in the screenshot (dark blue), at the south edge along the Dnepr near Zhlobin. These troops would be used shortly to force a bridgehead here for future operations by 2nd Panzer.


Animals flee this hell, the hardest stones cannot bear it for long. Only men endure
#4449193 - 11/17/18 04:09 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Army Group North


I will begin by quoting a phrase surely uttered by generals though the milennia

Are you freakin' kidding me?

Since getting in to War in the East I have read lots of AARs, and many posts, often with the goal of trying to work out what I could expect when attacking Leningrad. I skipped this primer scenario before jumping in to the grand campaign (and Kiev for that matter too). So I got a good idea of what I might expect, and a few ideas on possible approaches to the problem. I stated earlier that Leningrad is my number one priority for 1941. More important than Moscow, or anywhere really, since it fully commits the Finns, and I need them to be holding the north end of my line before winter. It's like the AI had been reading my posts. It knew that my priority was Leningrad, and has seemingly thrown the full weight of it forces in the north half of Russia in to it's defense. In no AAR or post that I read did I see anything like what I got.

On turn 5 Finland entered the war. They had two major objectives. Clear their own coast, and both sides of Lake Ladoga. Until Leningrad is taken, they will only attack up to the 'Finnish no attack line', which makes them fairly useful, but not fully, My overarching goal for them is to move south along the eastern shore of Ladoga, to eventually meet up with my tanks to seal Leningrad in a pocket. I don't want to attack the defenses of the city with the defenders at anywhere near full strength, I've transferred my heaviest artillery, and plenty of the smaller 105/150mm and werfer battalions to this attack. But the goal is to isolate Leningrad and starve them for a few turns. Once their supplies have dropped and they have suffered the isolation penalties, it should prove a much easier job.

But I had failed to imagine the extent of the Russian commitment to the city. Remember the lack of defenders in front of Moscow? This is where they are. They are digging in.

This is how it looked on turn 5. My forces are approaching from the west through Narva, crossing the river and establishing a bridgehead, and from the southwest from Pskov. This second axis has vulnerable flanks on both sides, and this is the line I will run my rail along, so this had to be protected as well as get forces in front of the city. That 16th Army corps that is down near Smolensk should be here. I failed to commit enough forces really, but I didn't expect what I found. One of the maxims of command is never to base your plans on enemy intentions, but on their capabilites. I failed this and Leningrad will be a hard battle. My real hope is that if I can seal this entire force in one gigantic pocket, I could pull off an amazing victory here. Or even the threat of encirclement may cause some units to pull back to the east before they are trapped, lightening the load in the effort to take the city.

Our rail line in the north is making good progress, passing now though Pskov from Riga. At the end of turn 7 Manstein's tanks were just 10 hexes off the railhead. I anticipate no logistical concerns at least for the attack on Leningrad. They will be well supplied.

[Linked Image]


On turn 6 I attempted to send my armor on a thrust to the coast to the west of the city to pin the defenders between the units coming from Narva. It ran out of steam just short however, and I failed to slice off the western side of the enemy's defense in a pocket. These tanks were nearly cut off, and withdrawn behind the lines the next turn. They would fall back to the west of Novgorod to HQBU to stock up for an intended push to the east in an effort to reach the Finns southeast of Lake Ladoga. The first attempts to break through near Novgorod to get in the open country behind have failed to make much headway. I could really use that wayward infantry corps now. I feel like I arrived near Leningrad in good time, but I need to get the city isolated as early as possible. I'm feeling a bit despondent on this front. I may have to detach one of 3rd Panzer's corps to reach the Finns and that has it's own risks, not to mention diverting it from the Moscow front. This is a move I had to make either from the start or not at all. To send them north at this point, far behind the lines is risky and could see them run out of gas before reaching the Finns. If successful though, this sort of move could unhinge the entire Russian northern front. Still, I'd rather punch through and use what's already at Leningrad. But it should be stronger than what I sent. To my number one objective. Smooth commanding there Bond.

This shot shows the defenses and the aborted thrust to the sea by Manstein's tanks, and their positions at the start of turn 7. They were nearly cut off. Infantry attacked to open it out and they were withdrawn to HQBU as mentioned around Batackaya.

[Linked Image]


Animals flee this hell, the hardest stones cannot bear it for long. Only men endure
#4449194 - 11/17/18 04:09 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Army Group South


In the south we have seen remarkable progress. Virtually every operation has come off. In the last update for AGS I showed 1st Panzer in Kiev, and the enemy forces to the west near Zhitomir. I hoped to attack to the north from both sides of Zhitomir to seal this huge force in a pocket, which would be the majority of the enemy's commitment to the south. If I could pull it off the way would be clear nearly to the Don. Kharkov would be virtually defenseless. But I also mentioned how my armor at the north edge of this pocket-in-waiting was unable to break through. Some powerful Russian armor was sitting on the last remaining rail junction leading out of the pocket, and a large part of this force would escape by rail to the north and in to the marshes. See, I knew it! #%&*$# marshes smile

But quite a few did not make it out. On next turn the ring was closed and a good encirclement was still attained. In this pocket were some of the best tank units in the south, a nice haul. In all this pocket contained

6 Rifle Divisions
4 Tank Divisions, including the very powerful 12th Tank Division.
2 Airborne Brigades
3 Motorized Divisions
1 AT Artillery brigade
1 Cavalry Division.

[Linked Image]


My infantry moving east after having eliminated the Lvov pocket were just colliding with the western side of the newly formed pocket, and these formations swept it away. This allowed 1st Panzer to move back toward Kiev and resupply for the next phase. At the same time the Romanians along the Black Sea coast took Odessa against moderate opposition, and also Nikolaev on the same turn! This unhinged the Russian's southern wing (and the displacement of a huge air corps gathered there, with a massive haul for us in fuel). These enemy units began falling back to the northeast toward Denpro and Cherkassy. Cherkassy was one of my turn-one main objectives, to cross the Dnepr and turn north behind Kiev. The early capture of Kiev from the west meant it no longer had the same urgency, but it was still a primary objective. The Dnepr formed a natural barrier to the enemy retreating towards it, and I felt that if I could pocket them to the west of the river I could score another spectacular encirclement.

If I could pull this off, there would be little standing between us and the Crimea and the winter line objectives of Rostov, Kharkov and Kursk. My forces available for this ring though were not quite strong enough. Encirclements in this game are an art form. You have to be able to recognize and cut all possible places the enemy could break though. All they need is a one-hex wide path traced back to national supply and none of the units inside will suffer the penalties of isolation, meaning you have a fully supplied beast in the center of your probably too-thin ring. You in turn become vulnerable to isolation. Even so, at this stage in the war virtually all of the German's divisions are a match for an attack six times the size. The Russian units are just weak in the first summer. Some dangerous units do exist, the 12th Tank Division we trapped near Zhitomir had almost 500 tanks. This new pocket west of Cherkassy has more of the same strength. These are units that need to be cut off and captured. To even rout them out will see them return later to cause pain. In the first summer, the absolute goal I think should not be geographic locations, but simply encircling as many Russian units as you can. I've read that a sort of guiding target is to kill and capture at least 4 million Russians in 1941. This figure is considered adequate to give you a good platform for jumping off in the '42 campaigning season. Or so it seems. So that's what I am aiming for, and to reach that sort of number I need to create pockets.

To illustrate what happened with the pocket west of Cherkassy, three screenshots are needed. The first shows my initial effort to seal the pocket. I closed the ring, but too tenuously as it proved.


[Linked Image]


The second shot shows that after the Russian turn, they had broken the pocket in four places. They were not cut off, and suffered no isolation penalty. Instead, my units were cut off and isolated.

[Linked Image]

After looking it over at the start of the next turn I realized something unusual, or so I thought. The Russian had broken in to the pocket, not out. They had sent units from the east, some from over the Dnepr to relieve the pocketed units. So now even more Russian units were sitting west of Cherkassy. As you might recall, 1st Panzer had been sent to resupply around Kiev. Having done so, they were now poised to strike, and turn the situation on it's head. My isolated units were relieved, this pocket would hold, and the bulk of the Russian force in the south are trapped.

[Linked Image]

By the end of turn 7, we would have elements of 1st Panzer in the Dnepr bend, approaching Zaporozhye and Dnepro. Once across the Dnepr river the way to Stalino and Rostov and the Crimea appears open, although the Crimea has a guard along the entrance to the isthmus. The fact that I have FoW turned off gives me a hell of a lot more confidence to perform risky maneuvers than if it were on. There could be 5 armies near Stalino for all I know. But with it off I can see there is nothing there. The ability of the Russian to reconstitute his smashed divisions is legendary however, and during 1941 the Russian has zero admin points cost for doing so. So even though nothing is there now, it could be formidable by the time we arrive, albeit with green enemy forces.

Our rail system in the south is looking OK. I sent one of the Baltic FBDs by rail to Romania, wasting more turns, but I now have three working in the AGS sector, though one is Romanian and will be withdrawn after a bit. The Romanian unit is connecting the Ugenny line to Odessa. I will then connect the rail from there to the Crimea. This should give me a very solid line, boosted by a port, with a relatively short run to support whichever forces are tasked with the siege of Sevastopol and the defense of the Kerch crossing. Speaking of which, most AAR's I;ve read seem to use the Romanians to take the Crimea, and while that makes sense from a positional viewpoint, since the Romanians are probably always going to be the right wing at the start of the invasion, I wonder if I should commit heavier forces. There is no way to cut Sevastopol from the sea, to isolate it, and I believe it is the highest level fort in the game. Perhaps 11th Army is enough. Hopefully I can transfer the artillery from my successful taking of Leningrad to Sevastopol. Yeah right.

The other rail lines are headed for Kiev and Dnepro. The main issue rail-wise is that the gaping hole before us in the south can't be supplied by rail yet. If logistics were not a thing I reckon 1st Panzer could be in Baku inside 10 turns. But it is a thing.

So turn 7 ends with with the German army in good shape, especially in the south, but also in the center. Next turn should be good, with AGC ready to roll and the Cherkassy pocket to be reduced. Only the north gives me a headache at the moment. Cracking the puzzle at Leningrad is the key to this entire thing. There must be more than a million troops there now. If I could encircle them....




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#4449195 - 11/17/18 04:11 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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A few corrections of errata, an update on losses so far, and a report of a rather significant omission from the last update.

First the errata. In the last AGC update I talked about the 4th Army infantry slogging through the swamp, and how the moves of AGC and AGS would form a void centered on Bryansk. This is too far north, this void is actually centered on Kursk, and these troops will emerge opposite this city, not Bryansk. (original post edited to reflect this)

A second, more embarrassing error is the fact that there are TWO wayward infantry corps near Smolensk, that should be in Leningrad. I probably could have sealed the city by now if these corps had been kept with the Leningrad force. Aside from my AGC rail mistake, this is the biggest mistake I've made so far. But just hold my beer.....

And now the omission from the last series of reports.

Army Group Center

August 8, 1941

In the last report I showed a screenshot of AGC, the "spring is coiled tight" shot. This shot was taken at the beginning of turn 7, not the end. Here it is again.


[Linked Image]

The enemy had failed to install a solid defense, and I aimed to take advantage, and not afford them the opportunity to reinforce Moscow, nor erect a line of defense before the city. I also realized my botched rail line in the center could not support this thrust. It was a gamble, but one I was willing to take. To capture Moscow in July would be an achievement beyond anything I had envisioned at the outset. My original timetable had us assembling for the assault on Moscow by the end of September. Being new to the game, and this being my first real run in the grand campaign, I don't know precisely what the reasons were for the situation that presented itself. Why was the defense of the enemy's capital so weak? Is it the result of the encirclements we affected on the march to this point? Was it, as I speculated earlier, a reflection of the enemy's conviction in holding Leningrad?

Whatever the cause, a golden opportunity was laid out in front of the forces arrayed for the task, the powerful armor of 2nd Panzer and 3rd Panzer together with the infantry of 4th and 9th Armies. 3rd Panzer had performed a HQBU and was well-provisioned. They had the ammo, supplies and fuel to make this thrust. The problem clearly was the inability to keep them in supply until the rail line, still west of Polotsk, could be repaired to closer to Smolensk. It would also be necessary to hold this corridor open, or the forces sent to take Moscow would be cut off and isolated.

So the plan was to blow holes in the line to the east of Velikiye Luki on the northern shoulder, and to the south, from positions just west of Vyazma. Hoth's 3rd Panzer would force the corridor open to Moscow, and Balck's LVII Panzer Corp would assault the capital, and if all went well Moscow would be in our hands before the week was out.

That was Phase One. If this went well, Phase Two would then use Schmidt's XXXIX Panzer Corps, currently holding the Moscow corridor open, to turn south toward Bryansk, and Vietinghoff's XXXXVI Panzer Corps, which had been cooling it's heels near Zhlobin since the end of June, would then breach the line from the bridgehead here (remember the comment about using 4th Army to force a bridgehead here for 'future operations by 2nd Panzer'?) This is that plan coming in to action. XXXXVI Panzer Corps would then thrust through and turn north to Bryansk , meeting XXXIX Panzer Corps and sealing the defenders along the east bank of the Pronya in a pocket. So Phase One, take Moscow, Phase Two, trap the forces to the south between Bryansk and the Dnepr river.

If all went well, the cities of Rzhev, Moscow, Vyazma and Bryansk would fall, the enemy's defense would be unhinged, and Tula would be left exposed.

At dawn on July 31, the front exploded in to action. Infantry blew holes open and Balck took Moscow against light, but determined opposition. We have captured Moscow!!

[Linked Image]

I never would have thought we could have done it so early, or so easily. The job is far from done. In subsequent turns it will be shown that the enemy was determined to cut the Moscow corridor, under mounting pressure from both flanks, and I would have my hands full keeping it open. Phase One was complete, and Phase Two will be shown in later reports. Moscow, how lovely it is in the summer biggrin

I need to learn how to make sense of the production data. What effect did this action have? Did we capture it before the industry could be evacuated to the east? How badly did capturing Moscow in July injure the Russian? Will his tank and aircraft production be permanently reduced? Or did he get the factories out in time? One big onion, I tell ya.

As the reader may recall, turn 7 ended with the forming of the Cherkassy pocket and, as just shown, the capture of Moscow. As a result, we had our most successful turn yet, especially since the destruction of the Red Army must be considered the primary objective. On this turn alone we caused 420,000 Russian casualties, plus the enormous figure of 2900 tanks! That's gotta hurt. This the end of turn 8, after having reduced the Cherkassy pocket (still a few left there) and also the troops you see pocketed by the thrust to Moscow.

Ground losses as of turn 8. The Russian has lost 1.8 million men and nearly 12,000 tanks. Air losses, which I will show at some point are roughly 8000 to 500. On the left you see the enemy losses, broken down by type. I am happy to see a good number of T-34s and KV types in the list. Not sure how important this is, but it's the sort of stuff I focus on. Their losses have been massive, and more are shortly to follow. Aside from Leningrad, the enemy is on his heels.

[Linked Image]


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#4449285 - 11/18/18 11:35 AM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Man, i picked this monster up a few years ago. Managed through some tutorials and started on Russia. As much i wanted to slog through i just didn't have it in me to soldier on through what i realised would be months of near overwhelming depth. Hats off and i have a suspicion it won't be as easy as you are making it look biggrin


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#4449297 - 11/18/18 01:39 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Thanks Ajay. Yes, it is quite a game! Complex, yes, but a lot of fun.

I think the primary reason for the success so far is just the ascendancy the German holds at this point. Even when the Russian is able to muster the forces to attack, my divisions shrug it off. As the ring closes around Leningrad, the enemy tries to keep me off balance with some attacks at certain points. He will commit six divisions and heavy support to the attack, so 120,000 Russians, supported by aircraft and heavy artillery against a single division of 16,000 troops, also with air and artillery support, and we just repulse it with light losses. The time is coming soon though where the Russian divisions will be more of a match. In 1941 we have the ability to stick our necks out with little fear of having it chopped off. I'm trying to take advantage and get in to good positions before winter. This is happening except at Leningrad, which is like a magnet, pulling more and more troops there and upsetting my plans. I need to get that operation over with, but it's proving a far more difficult proposition than I had anticipated.


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#4449348 - 11/18/18 09:01 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Turns 8 through 10, August 7 to August 21


Army Group Center

Having made the lunge for Moscow, we now had to reinforce it. The infantry was still a bit behind. Over the next few turns the Russian got his act together a bit on this front and began putting boots in the line. and exerting pressure all along the Moscow corridor, with the intention of cutting the lines of communication for Balck's LVII Panzer Corps in the city. We had our hands full keeping open, The pressure was strongest on the northern shoulder, and the enemy succeeded in occupying Rshev with strong forces. Counterattacks from 9th Army infantry units eventually won that city back. As they arrived, infantry divisions were thrown in to the corridor, Determined enemy attacks from the northwest side of Moscow nearly severed the line. It would be another turn or two before I could get sufficient forces in the line to start pushing back and opening the corridor out. LVII Panzer Corps was still out of supply range, but that was nearly over as the rail line had finally reached Vitebsk. Once it reaches Smolensk, and as long as the corridor was kept open, the forces in and around Moscow would begin to be resupplied, albeit at the very end of the chain. They were still well stocked in provisions and ammunition, but had been essentially out of fuel since taking the city on July 31. They were strong enough to defend the city, but unable to press any attacks. LVII Panzer Corps has been my main maneuver element since the attack on Smolensk, and to this point have had very little combat. They were still full strength, with loaded racks, but would need fuel to once again get on the move. As a result I could do little to prevent the enemy from creating a half-circle line to the east of the city.

After the taking of Moscow by Balck, Phase Two of the operation could commence. The objective here was to use Schmidt's XXXIX Panzer Corps, until now largely responsible for propping the corridor open, to arrow south to Bryansk, where they would meet Vietinghoff's XXXXVI Panzer Corps coming north from the bridgehead near Zhlobin, trapping the enemy still defending the right bank of the Pronya river south of Smolensk. As has become standard operating procedure, the infantry blew holes in the line for each arm. It's best to blow these holes open at least 30 miles wide, so that the mechanized forces pouring through can avoid running through any enemy ZoC and therefore not wasting any movement points. Both halves of the operation went off well, and the Bryansk pocket was formed. This pocket would hold and the forces within eliminated next turn, though the enemy can just fly his aircraft out, but any damaged airframes are lost. Phase Two was complete.

[Linked Image]

As mentioned the rail line is nearing Smolensk, and once it reaches there one spur will continue on to Moscow and a second will split off south toward Orel (which our infantry has captured in the wake of Phase Two) or Kursk. Satisfied with the progress of the Leningrad line, and seeing as how no further movement will happen near there any time soon, I put that FBD on a train to meet up with AGC rail repair team and help get this line moving. So with two of them here, I can run the split from Smolensk. Currently the entire central sector of our long front is well out of supply range. This needs to be corrected as soon as possible, and with a line coming southeast from Smolensk and one coming from Cherkassy to Kharkov, it will eventually sort itself But this will take time, as you can't really repair more than 4 hexes per turn. Logistics of course were a major problem for the German army during the war, and this game does a masterful job of presenting that same challenge to the player. There is never enough of anything, and choices have to be made. Hard, important decisions on how to approach it. I'm always second guessing myself and making changes on the fly. Most strategy games have some sort of supply mechanic, but nothing I've played comes close to approaching the level of War in the East. Just brilliant.


Army Group North

Leningrad continues to be a hell of a battle. Not only have I not sealed the city yet, as September approaches, the enemy continues to counter my every move. Continued attacks near Novgorod by 16th Army and the full weight of 4th Panzer have made little headway against determined resistance, bottling our attempts to break out to the east and swing up to meet the Finns. Just when I think one of their units is isolated, the next turn I find out it's me who is, thereby preventing these motorized units from resupplying and as a result unable to make more than local progress on the following turn. It is essential that these units of 4th Panzer finish a turn in good supply, so that the possibility exists to reach Lake Ladoga, and not run out of steam in between, where they could be isolated with little hope of relief.

So I needed a new plan. It was obvious that I had failed to commit enough forces to this operation. The sheer strength of the Russian defense is preventing me from making headway and carrying out the operation according to plan. reinforcements were needed, or I would be unable to close the ring. There are just so many enemy counters, and covering such a huge piece of territory, that I simply don't have enough to encircle them. I had expected a strong enemy doormat in front of the city, but not the carpet that is actually there. So Weiss' VI infantry corps from 9th Army was started north. This is one of my appointees, a very capable commander, who I have given a good deal of support units to, artillery, FlaK, pioneers and assault gun battalions. I have attempted to spread my support units around through out my armies, but there are several infantry corps and panzer corps who have gotten special treatment, making them the fist of any operation as they are considerably more powerful than other similar formations. Of course these are also commanded by my finest generals, and in many cases men who I had promoted from the ranks of the unemployed. This combination is cool I think, and makes me feel I've had a strong hand in their success.

Aside from Weiss' infantry, the two by now famous Wayward Corps of 16th Army were also started north to get them back where they belong and thereby adding a total of three infantry corps to the attack on Leningrad. Before that could happen though, they would have to slog through the enemy, forests and rough country to the southwest of Leningrad. To add even further weight to this movement, Schweppenburg's XXIV Panzer Corps of 2nd Panzer was also sent on the operation. This is a major commitment of armor and infantry, but time is running out to seal off Leningrad. I must punch through to the Finns and begin reducing Leningrad's defense as soon as possible. The enemy on all three sides of my attempts to break out east of Novgorod have been able to prevent it. So a plan was hatched to make them pay for their insolence.

Using the aforementioned infantry and XXIV Panzer Corps, we cut a line through the forest and trapped the entire enemy force south of Novgorod, thereby slicing off a big part of our problem. This would relieve the reliance on a single supply path for Hoepner's 4th Panzer, one that the enemy had cut several times, and hopefully result in full tank tanks at the start of next turn in 4th Panzer so they could begin the move toward the Finns and finally get Leningrad isolated.

[Linked Image]


Army Group South

We have had so much success in the south, that there is no semblance of an organized defense. There is simply nothing in the way to stop us. The only thing that can stop us is the tether to our supply chain. During August, AGS has taken Dnepro, Kharkov and Zaporozhye with extremely light losses. We stand at the gates of Kursk and Stalino. At the outset I had hoped to get AGS up against the left bank of the Don and Donets before winter, and at present, that looks to be a certainty. 11th Army has breached the defense guarding the Crimea and will be approaching Sevastopol if all goes well. The thrust toward Rostov though has blown some enemy units in to the Crimea, stiffening the resistance there.

The rail lines are making progress, but the Odessa-Nikolaev-Crimea line will not happen according to plan, as the Romanian unit assigned to it will be withdrawn in two turns. Too bad, that. At least the port of Odessa has been connected to the rail network. As a result the line running to Dnepro will now be routed to the south to support the Crimea operation and the move out to Rostov, and perhaps in '42, to Stalingrad. The third line is now in Cherkassy, and will head toward Kharkov. I had originally intended to run it to Kiev, but that is so far behind the front now that another plan was called for.

During turn 9, Kleist's 1st Panzer, against no opposition really, surrounds Kharkov, and presumably the tank factories there (how do I see this and know if they have been evacuated?). Kharkov is a major objective, not only for the industry, but because it is a huge city in the center of AGS's area of operations. I am thinking it will make a great spot for 1st Panzer to spend the blizzard turns?. It is the anchor of the whole effort in the south.

[Linked Image]



Here you see a shot showing essentially the entire situation in the south as of August 21. In the one turn since the previous shot, the noose has drawn a little tighter around Kharkov, and elements of 1st Panzer are probing towards Stalino.

[Linked Image]


And finally, the strategic view at the end of turn 10, one day shy of the end of the second month of our invasion. The front is so long that I cannot get it all in to one screen at max zoom, so Leningrad is missing. But there are enough shots of that mess to not be missed.


[Linked Image]

Reinforcements and Withdrawals

In bold but not sure why, just wanted it to stand out I guess. This is a very cool part of this game, and one you need to keep a few steps ahead of. When new units arrive, where do you send them, and under whose command? Security units, infantry divisions, support units, fighter squadrons and everything really arrives over time, and the same can be said for withdrawals, as these forces are sent to "other fronts" or wherever they go. Of immediate concern is they are no longer fighting in Russia, but you had better have known about it a few turns ago to cover for their absence. There is a report showing the exact schedule for all of this, you just need to keep checking it. So it's a fun part of WitE. Ever since we launched the invasion back in June I've kept muttering to myself that I could use another panzer corps. A German commander can never have enough panzer corps right? Well next turn we get one, XXXX Panzer corps. Only two panzer divisions, plus the Corps HQ. But what a welcome addition! So now the fun starts. You have to decide first to which sector of the front will you commit them? Aside from operational considerations, the command capacity of individual organizations must be factored in. If a command is overloaded it suffers some heavy penalties, and every subordinate unit is affected, so this command capacity must always be a primary factor.

Once you know what Army Group sector, next is what Army or Panzer Corps? Or assign it to OKH as an 'independent' unit? And with just two tank divisions, room exists for strengthening. Perhaps you detach a motorized corps from another command, or will you combine some infantry to give this unit more versatility at the cost of mobility. Who will you choose to command this force? And finally, where do you send it in to the line? I find this level of detail and control fantastic and highly interesting!

Where should XXXX Panzer Corps go? Any thoughts?


Last edited by DBond; 11/18/18 11:17 PM.

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#4449414 - 11/19/18 07:32 AM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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***Where should XXXX Panzer Corps go? Any thoughts?***

Wherever there be Romanians, reinforce or preferrably replace them.


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#4449445 - 11/19/18 01:58 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Excellent suggestion Heinkill. I've ruled out the north. It is true that AGN has the weakest armored component of any Army Group and the attachment of another panzer corps would not put them over command limits. But the terrain restricts mobility, and I feel like the Leningrad situation is soon to be cracked. So while two additional tank divisions here would help, I don't see it as the best choice. Once Leningrad falls (if it does) then the additional armor will not be needed among the swamps and forests of the north. That said, a unit can be re-assigned at any time, admin points notwithstanding, so any attachment can be temporary.

AGC already has the strongest armored force, although one panzer corps (XXIV) has been committed to breaking the stalemate at Leningrad. Otherwise I think AGC is in good shape.

So the south (near the Romanians...and Italians,,,and Slovakians,,,and Hungarians,,,), it is. Not only to prop them up, but also because the south is wide open, and the panzer divisions can use their mobility to the full. But even more than these reasons, there is another reason that folks may not be aware of or consider. Historically, Army Group South was split in to Army Group A and Army Group B when the Germans were poised to strike for the Caucasus. Fall Blau (Case Blue) was the operation to seize the oil fields near Baku. This split occurred in summer of '42, but in the game the trigger is the capture of Rostov and the surrounding towns. And as it appears those conditions are imminent in my campaign, I will send XXXX Panzer Corps toward Dnepro in anticipation. AGS has three panzer corps (1st Panzer), so adding a fourth will mean I can then give two to each of Army Groups A and B.

Thanks for the suggestion.


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#4449490 - 11/19/18 07:06 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Nice work! Well on your way to the elusive rank of Oberkriegkaboomfuhrer.

#4449495 - 11/19/18 07:37 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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Is that a promotion from Grand Poobah? If I survive the winter I won't care what my rank is biggrin


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#4449511 - 11/19/18 08:56 PM Re: The War in the East [Re: DBond]  
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A new War in the East mega-campaign AAR! Yay!
Excellent write up!

Dare I say it? (yes)

Winter is coming.


looks very modernishy-phoney-windows eighty-tabletty like

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#4449579 - 11/20/18 08:16 AM Re: The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE) [Re: DBond]  
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Enjoying the read. thumbsup


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#4449642 - 11/20/18 04:07 PM Re: The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE) [Re: Cold_Gambler]  
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Originally Posted by Cold_Gambler

Dare I say it? (yes)

Winter is coming.



Don't I know it smile

Thanks for the comments!


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#4449643 - 11/20/18 04:07 PM Re: The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE) [Re: DBond]  
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Turns 11 through 14, August 28 to September 18

Army Group Center


In the center, the efforts to open the Moscow corridor continued. The enemy was attempting to punch in from three sides, though the pressure was greatest along the northern shoulder of the salient. The infantry of Strauss' 9th Army and Model's 4th had begun to arrive, and with little fanfare or subtlety, began to hammer back, direct assaults to push Ivan out and open the narrow corridor. It was becoming evident that my intention to push the line east of Moscow before the snows fell was i jeopardy. The meager supplies, trailing infantry, and intensifying enemy resistance had ground the offensive to a halt. Still, I could take solace in the fact that Moscow had been taken, and I could concentrate on a shortening of the lines, attempting to cut off or out any enemy salients that developed. We need the line to be as straight, and therefore as short, as we could manage before the snows fell.

On turn 11, August 28, the enemy nearly succeeded in cutting the vital lifeline for LVII Panzer Corps in Moscow. A single hex is all that remained open, but that is all that is needed. This would be the high water mark for the enemy and his effort to isolate Balck's armor. Strauss and Model were arriving in strength.

[Linked Image]




This shot shows the overall situation in the center three turns later, and how the corridor has been opened and the infantry is in place. There no longer existed a threat to Moscow, for the moment anyway. South of Moscow is the important city of Tula, and the enemy shows signs of gathering here in strength. Preparations were begun for a double envelopment of this mass, with 3rd Panzer striking south from positions around Moscow, and 2nd Panzer completing the ring driving from the south


[Linked Image]



All of my plans in the center though were dashed when partisans cut the rail line near Polotsk. I have the cities near there garrisoned, but even this did not prevent the sneaky bastages from severing the rail line, and putting all of my units in the central sector of the front out of supply. It's hard to imagine a more devastating development short of the blizzards arriving now! Moscow had only just come within supply range, but the cut at Polotsk added a dozen hexes to the supply range, and any plans of offensive action from Moscow all the way to Voronezh had to be cancelled. Not only did this cut supply, but rail repair has a limit in how far you can convert the rail from the nearest railhead. Those FBD units now splitting at Smolensk were stopped in their tracks (clever pun). One would have to be sent back down the line to repair the cut, and the other could do nothing but wait. So not only were supplies cut, but no progress could be made in extending the rail lines until repairs were made. And the way it works is your FBD repairs a rail hex, but only down to one point of damage, so you then have to wait until the next turn for the last point to be automatically repaired and supplies can flow and the rail can be extended. The bottom line is this cost me three additional turns along this ill-fated rail line. One for the turn it was cut. One for the return down the line of the repair unit, and a third for the actual repair of the rail.

All of my plans in the center were impossible now, all due to a single partisan unit. I have cavalry units stationed throughout the rear areas to deal with partisans, and this one was quickly eliminated, but the damage was done. Now, no offensive actions could be taken, supplies, fuel and ammo had to be conserved for defense, and with the growing enemy strength near Tula, preventing a breakthrough, even a local one, was of vital importance. The spot the partisans struck could not have been chosen better. A devastating setback.

Army Group North

Leningrad

With the commitment of the three additional infantry corps and XXIV Panzer Corps, and after the pocket was closed south of Novgorod, things began to percolate on the Leningrad front. Eliminating the enemy to the south succeeded in allowing 4th Panzer to end a turn in good supply, and on turn 12, September 4, Manstein's tanks succeeded in contacting the Finns! It's a tenuous link, but this move cuts off the last remaining port on Lake Ladoga, and as a result Leningrad itself! We have been aiming for this for two months, and the ring has finally been closed

This shot shows the position of the Finns, and the linkup with 4th Panzer. The Finns are standing on their 'No Attack Line'. Oddly, they can move south of there, but cannot attack. Still, they would be useful in helping to seal the encirclement, but not in beating back the enemy. This shot also reveals the scale of the challenge before me, the sheer size of the defense in and around Leningrad. This was going to be brutal.


[Linked Image]



After vicious fighting to the east and south of the city, fantastic progress had been made. To this point I would estimate that around 800,000 prisoners have been taken from the Leningrad front alone. And yet, the hardest fighting is still ahead. Those hexes in the city are heavily fortified. Each counter on the map reveals some info. On my counters (all colors aside from gold), the bottom two numbers represent Attack Combat Value (CV) and Movement Points. In the upper left corner of each one you see a color. These are the soft factors, and in this case it is set to supply. So at a glance you can see which units are in good shape and which are not. This can be toggled to show fuel, or morale or several other soft factors, but I tend to leave it on supplies. On the enemy counters the corner color is the same soft factor, but the numbers at the bottom show Attack CV and Defensive CV, so you can see the counters that have the highest number on the right are the hardest nuts to crack.

After very heavy fighting, using the full weight of Luftlotte 2 in support, and with all of the artillery I had transferred to this front, the first few belts of the enemy's defense in front of the city were penetrated and eliminated. Only the city itself remains. If taken, this will release the Finns to join fully in combat operations.


[Linked Image]


Army Group South

AGS just continues to roll. One of my main objectives at the start of this campaign was to capture Rostov-on-Don. I didn't know if it would be possible, this is a long way from Lvov where we started. But the fantastic success in the south has allowed the capture of Rostov to become a reality.

First, on turn 13 Stalino is encircled. Finally, a little resistance from the enemy in the south! This small garrison is no match for the full weight of 6th Army, the bulk of the11th and 17th Armies plus 1st Panzer though.

[Linked Image]

And on turn 14, Rostov receives the same treatment.

[Linked Image]


The reason that Rostov was so important to me is capturing this city, and the surrounding towns, is the trigger to split Army Group South in to Army Groups A and B. Historically this happened in the summer of '42, as the Germans were poised to strike for the Caucusus, on the operation Fall Blau (Case Blue). With the fall of Rostov, those conditions essentially exist for us too, though any thoughts of taking the oil fields near Baku are distant. It's unrealistic to expect this in 1941. Perhaps next year, if we make it that far! The creation of a fourth Army Group is huge. What this will allow me to do is finally cure the overloaded commands we have suffered through for the first four months of operations. It will take a lot of effort (and a hell of a lot of admin points) to reorganize the German army. But when done, none of my commands will suffer any longer from the penalties of an overburdened command structure. To get this done before winter, and any counteroffensive the Russian may have in store, should prove a tremendous advantage.

During this period of fantastic gains, the cities of Kharkov, Kursk, Stalino, Rostov, Voroshilovgrad, Belgorod and even Voronezh have fallen to the glorious troops of the German army. I had elements of 17th and 11th Armies, plus units of the Romanian army converging on Sevastopol in the Crimea. They had breached the defenses at the entrances. And then I took a step back to consider this situation. Sevastopol is a fortress of the first order. To take it would involve a strong commitment of forces, a lot of time and a lot of blood. And even then there was no guarantee it would fall, especailly considering there is no way to isolate the city, unlike Leningrad. I then considered well why is it so important to me? Prestige, yes. The Crimea is a threat to the flank security of AGS, yes. But then I thought about how there is no naval component to War in the East. And also that I don't have to be concerned with the enemy using to stage air strikes against Ploesti, at least I haven't seen anything like that yet. So it occurred to me that perhaps it would be better just to forget about Sevastopol in the first place. Well, not completely, it would still need to be sealed off to secure our right flank. But that could be done at the narrow entrances to the Crimea. And perhaps would be a perfect spot to make use of my erstwhile allies, the Italians and the Romanians.

So I made the decision. We would cancel the attack on Sevastopol. The units from 11th and 17th Armies could then go in to the line, stiffening it before the winter, instead of being stuck at the gates of Sevastopol. From a role playing perspective, this decision gives me some trouble. But from a gameplay standpoint it makes good sense. If there were a naval component I think I would feel compelled to take the fortress and deny the enemy the naval base there. But in it's absence, what value is there to me in taking it, and committing so much of my force to the venture? A few victory points perhaps, yes, but the reward is not in concert with the investment. So 11th and 17th Armies were withdrawn from the Crimea, and the Romanians and Italians sealed off the exits. To win this campaign I need 260 victory points. At this stage I have 229, and that without having taken Leningrad yet. The 3 or 5 points or whatever that Sevastopol might be worth isn't going to be the difference in whether I win or lose. But a winter breakthrough in the south by the enemy, while my forces are tied up outside of Sevastopol would be regrettable.

Here is the Crimea, and after having broken in to the area, the troops there would be withdrawn and sent to the northeast.


[Linked Image]

In all the campaign has gone exceptionally well, aside from the Leningrad front, but as shown that nut is cracking. But the Happy Times are over. The supply situation in the center has put the brakes on all offensive operations. Winter is coming. First mud, and nothing will get done then. And then the blizzards, where I expect reverses and, as we generals are fond of saying, "a contraction of the lines", even if that is forced upon us. So the goal now needs to be to get our winter positions in order, and to get the railheads as close as possible to the front, before the mud and snow renders our line troops powerless. Blitzkrieg is over.


Animals flee this hell, the hardest stones cannot bear it for long. Only men endure
#4449700 - 11/20/18 09:30 PM Re: The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE) [Re: DBond]  
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wheelsup_cavu Offline
Lifer
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Lifer

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IF you can keep it from being a war of attrition you might have a shot but I suspect the game mechanics are heavily weighted in that direction.


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#4449786 - 11/21/18 01:48 PM Re: The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE) [Re: DBond]  
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DBond Offline
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Quite right wheels. We could not win a war of attrition. The ability of the Russian to rebuild his shattered forces is amazing. If my analysis of the numbers is correct then it appears the Russian has raised something in the neighborhood of 3 million new soldiers since the war began, essentially an entire new army. The only way we can keep ahead of this is encirclements, and luckily we've had some success there. The goal was to reduce this number as much as possible during the summer, because when we become stuck by mud and snow, the Russian will have the time to sit and build more. If we make it through the winter, by spring I expect an even larger force opposite us than we faced on June 22nd. In 1942 I expect another series of encirclement battles, but that is looking too far ahead.


Animals flee this hell, the hardest stones cannot bear it for long. Only men endure
#4449796 - 11/21/18 03:37 PM Re: The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE) [Re: DBond]  
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DBond Offline
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Reorganization

With the split of Army Group South in to Army Groups A and B, a welcome opportunity to reorganize the overloaded command structure of the Wehrmacht was available to me, Having a fourth Army Group could allow redistribution of the forces throughout my command and alleviate the penalties that come when an organization is over the command capacity. At the start, only Army Group North does not suffer from this, but the other two do, and especially so in AGS.


This is a major undertaking, and the player must embrace the micro to attempt it. I failed to mention it yet, but the very first move I made in this campaign was to replace Halder at OKH with Kluge. Model then took Kluge's vacancy in 4th Army. And as mentioned, many corps commanders have also been replaced.


The creation of Army Groups A and B saw Rundstedt shift to AGA and Halder made a return as commander of AGB. But only very briefly as it turned out. The man cannot catch a break. He was immediately cashiered and replaced with Kesselring, who left Luftlotte 2 for this assignment.

The scope of the changes I made are too broad to recount in detail here, but in general terms I looked to make each army group structure the same. That is, each one would get a Panzer Group and two infantry armies. With the recent arrival of XXXX Panzer Corps, we now had 11 Panzer Corps, so one Army Group would be shortchanged.

In the north on the Leningrad front, no changes were made to Leeb's AGN in terms of commands attached to them. Hoepner's 4th Panzer would remain, as would 16th and 18th Armies. Because of the terrain, and the fact we have been tied down near Leningrad, 4th Panzer would be the one shortchanged, with just two Panzer Corps.

Bock's Army Group Center on the Moscow front saw some shuffling. XXIV Panzer Corps, the one from 2nd Panzer sent to the rescue at Leningrad was reassigned to Hoth's 3rd Panzer, raising it to three Panzer Corps. AGC had three infantry armies, the 2nd, the 4th and the 9th. So the 2nd was reassigned to Army Group B. This left AGC with three Panzer Corps and two infantry armies

Kesselring's newly formed Army Group B was assigned the sector around Voronezh. The recently arrived XXXX Panzer Corps was attached to 2nd Panzer, bringing it to three Panzer Corps. 6th Army was reassigned from Army Group South to AGB. So now AGB had Guderian's 2nd Panzer along with 2nd and 6th Armies.

Rundstedt's newly constituted AGA would be assigned the southern front, the right wing, and given responsibility over the region around Denpro and Rostov. Kleist's 1st Panzer (three Panzer Corps) remained, as well as 11th and 17th Armies.

All satellite armies were reassigned to their national headquarters.

With these moves the rough cuts were complete. No Army Group was overloaded any longer. However some overloading remained at the Army level, especially in 9th Army, but also minor overloading in 16th and 18th as they continued to hammer at Leningrad. This should be worked out in time, but I can only wish I had one additional Army headquarters, which would solve all remaining issues.

In all it was a massive undertaking, down to individual divisions, brigades and regiments being shifted to various corps, corps to various higher headquarters, and additional changes were made to corps commanders as I continue to try and get my most capable men in the best positions. All of these moves costs a lot of admin points, over 200 having been spent on this reorganization. With mud coming I felt I could spare the points with few HQBUs being needed as panzer units would be pulled back to refit.

The strategy gamer/micromanager in me absolutely loved the whole process, and the penalties had been eating at me since June. To have it (mostly) sorted at this point is very satisfying. It should prove of some worth come winter, and in to the '42 campaigning season.


Animals flee this hell, the hardest stones cannot bear it for long. Only men endure
#4449935 - 11/22/18 05:35 AM Re: The War in the East (Grigsby's WitE) [Re: DBond]  
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Posts: 26,260
wheelsup_cavu Offline
Lifer
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Ooh, looking forward to the next update to see how your reorganization worked out for you. cool


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