The allies go first in 1939 Winter.
I’m not sure if these session reports will be more interesting if I tell you all the options I was thinking of and then post the pictures of what I did, or some other format. For you to appreciate the amount of time that goes into planning this all out, I think I’ll post some explanations first and then show you the pictures.
Before I even started the previous turn I had to figure out exactly where I would end up on this turn, not just with all my units, but with the BRP situation.
Thinking Ahead About BRPs in Spring 1940 after YSS and Strategic Warfare Spending
I then took it a step further and thought through the Year Start Sequence spending. I realized that there was a possibility that the Allies would go first in Spring 1940. But, the calculations all depended on three unknowns: (1) whether or not Germany defeated Poland; (2) how much each of us spent on strategic warfare during the Year Start Sequence; and (3) how much each of us saved (if any) to grow at the end of our turn. As you’ll see later I intentionally did not spend all my BRPs so that I would grow just enough to give me a better chance of going first in Spring 1940. I also was prepared to spend zero on strategic warfare in order to go first in Spring 1940. Giving the allies a double turn with the Axis not getting a double turn until possibly Summer or Fall 1940 is a big deal. It means France is going to survive an extra 2-3 turns.
Additionally, Rokeater has enough forces bordering Warsaw to spend 15 BRPs in order to take out Poland. However, he *might* spend nothing and simply attrition Poland. I thought he would spend the 15 BRPs and take out Poland. Turns out I was wrong. I did not know what he would do on the second half of Winter and so I saved BRPs to grow. As you’ll see below he chose to attrition Poland, which meant I was guaranteed to go first in Spring 1940.
DoW and Options
France declares war on Holland for 15 BRPs (down to 38 BRPs).
Russia declares war on Persia. I do this to open a second route to the eastern edge of the board, but also to open a route to Egypt for the Russians. You never know if/when this will be important.
Russia attritions in east, passes in west, attritions in med
France attritions in east, offensive in west, attritions in med. This costs France 15 BRPs and France is down to 23.
GB attritions in east, offensive in west, attritions in med. This costs GB 15 BRPs and is down to 51.
Poland attritions in east, offensive in west, pass in med.
I take a risk with my single 9 factor GB fleet in Egypt. I move it to Gibraltar. I hope the Italians won’t intercept. He might, and if he does, he has really good odds against me. Even if I counter-intercept the Italians with the French he still has good odds.
I figure it is worth the risk. If he does not intercept then I’ve got another 3 factors for shore bombardment on the attack on Bremen. If he does not intercept then I can use one of my GB infantry against the Hague and let GB get those BRPs. On the other hand, if he does intercept the fleet movement, and if he wins, then I’m going to have to have France try to conquer Holland alone. I’ve set up for both eventualities.
I am fairly certain that as soon as I declared war on Belgium last turn that Rokeater knows I’m going to attack through the north. I don’t know why he decided to let the British sail a single fleet unmolested to Gibraltar. Maybe he didn’t want to let the French counter-intercept and just lose a bunch of French and Italian factors (factors that he might need later). I’m guessing this was his thinking. It’d be interesting if Rokeater posts some axis strategy.
Here’s what it looks like in Poland after movement:
Poland moved a 2-3 from Warsaw SE one hex. This is vitally important for later. With the Russians positioned as they are I need to block off the German tanks east of Warsaw from trying to go south around Warsaw. I want the German panzer east of Warsaw to be forced to go north. Thus, I move one of my infantry off the capital and SE even though this unit will die next turn from being isolated. As you’ll see later, I’m trying to limit my opponent’s options.
Russia conquers Persia and rearranges its tanks and infantry. Basically, I know where I’m going to end with my guys. I know that if everything goes as planned then Berlin will be in allied hands (but there’s no chance I hold it). I know that Rokeater has some units in Poland that can reach Berlin for the counterattack. If Berlin is threatened he might decide to not have 20 units on the eastern front at the end of his movement phase and I want my Russians ready to attack if he makes that choice. I position the Russian tanks to perform two enveloping maneuvers around his units in Poland. If Russia gets to declare war in Spring 1940 then I want to be able to surround his eastern army.
France takes some ground in Tripoli and puts the Italian infantry out of supply in Tunisia. I do this in order to threaten Tripoli. France can afford to expend one infantry in order to isolate 2 of his units and cause a 3rd Italian unit to have to come to deal with the problem. 2 BRPs occupies 3 of his units attention. Well worth the trade.
France places an airbase east of Brussels on hex M26. The French infantry down south retake the port of Marseille and move forward into NW Italy. The French tanks traverse northern Italy and end normal movement SW of Berchtesgaden in southern Germany. The French infantry in northern France move next to The Hague in order to attack. The French air get into position to provide Ground Support by moving to M26 and Paris.
GB drops an airbase on Brussels and flies 10 factors of air there. Those will provide GS or intercept on Bremen. Those GB air are also positioned so that they will be able to provide DAS on where one of my tanks will end up later so that it does not stand alone on the German counterattack. The British also fly some air to Antwerp and Great Yarmouth. Those are also available for GS or interception of the Germans.
GB moves it tanks into position to attack Bremen and exploit. Because that GB fleet made it to Gibraltar unscathed the 3-4 infantry in Holland will be used to attack the Hague, which will allow GB to get the BRPs for Netherlands.
*Note1: I moved the stack on Kiel east one hex so we can see them. They are actually on Kiel.
*Note2: There are two GB 5-4 air units on Brussels. I couldn’t expand them without them covering up other units.
I moved east in Egypt because I don’t know for sure yet if he will get a double turn or not. If he does, I want him to have to pay some BRPs to take out Egypt. I want one of my infantry to be on a port so it is automatically in supply. If it was near the Libyan border he could simply kill the weaker unit (the 1-3 infantry) and then isolate my 3-4 on his second turn (assuming he gets two turns in a row).
At the end of normal movement it looks like this in Egypt:
Here’s the whole map:
Poland: The allies score a hit on attrition. Germany loses the RC counter.
Air and naval missions:
France sends 3 air to counterair the Germans on Kiel.
France sends 2 air to counterair the Dutch.
France sends its remaining 5 air for GS on the Hague.
GB sends a 5-4 from Great Yarmouth and a 2-4 from Antwerp to provide GS on Bremen. The air on Brussels take a break as they may be needed during the German turn.
For naval missions, all my fleets from Gibraltar go to Portsmouth, rendezvous there with all the fleets from Portsmouth, and they all go together to Bremen (carrying a 1-3 GB infantry from Portsmouth) to do an amphibious assault on Bremen in conjunction with a land-based attack. The Germans choose not to sortie for a fleet interception. The attack will go forward as planned.
The French lost one air on the counterair on the Kiel hex. The Dutch lost their air while France took no losses.
The Hague battle consists of two french infantry (4) + one GB infantry (3) + five French GS (5) = 12 vs. 2 (doubled to 4). 3:1 odds. I rolled an EX. I lose the two French infantry, but the GB 3-4 infantry takes the Hague.
Up to this point, my whole strategy has been conservative (I think so anyway). For this to work I had to win a couple of battles where I was overwhelming favored. I had to kill the Italian tank (3:1 odds); I had to beat Brussels (actually 3:1 odds though I thought I had 2:1 odds there); I had to take out Holland (3:1 odds). The only *risky* part of this, in my opinion, was the battle on Bremen.
The French tank in southern Germany attacks the empty hex of Berchtesgaden and creates a breakthrough there. The other two tanks will move forward and exploit later.
*Note: I moved the stack on Kiel east one hex so you can see it. Also, there are two 5-4 british air units on Brussels. I did not expand those so you can see the infantry that are attacking this turn.
Here’s the whole map at that point:
*Note: I moved the stack on Kiel east one hex so you can see it. Also, there are two 5-4 british air units on Brussels. I did not expand those so you can see the infantry that are attacking this turn.
Bremen Battle Considerations
There are basically 3 outcomes that are possible. I have 32 factors attacking (20 shore bombardment + 1 from the infantry on Portsmouth + 4 for the GB tank + 7 GS). He has 10 factors defending, but they are tripled since this is a sea invasion. He is tripled to 30. 32:30 is a 1:1 attack. I have enough so that even if I roll an exchange I still can make it ashore.
Possibility # 1: I roll a 5 (Attacker dies)
Odds of rolling a 5: 17%. If I roll a 5, then not only do all my guys die, but the German western army is still supplied, Berlin is not occupied, and I’m completely out of position. It wouldn’t matter how I tried to build and defend France under this possibility. France would fall to the German western army in Winter 1939.
Wouldn’t you know it, I rolled a 5. I surrendered. I discussed with Paul the other two options (see below), and we agreed to play on as though I had rolled a full exchange.
Possibility #2: I roll a 6 (Defender dies) or a 2 (counterattack) or a 3 (counterattack)
Odds of rolling a 2, 3, or 6: 50%. If I roll a 6, he dies. I lose nothing. If I roll a 2 or 3 (counterattacks), he has an 83% chance of killing himself on the counterattack. Even if he rolls a 1 on the counterattack, I lose almost nothing on the small exchange since he has only 10 factors when he is not tripled.
I had a 50% chance of taking Bremen without losing anything (or almost nothing).
Possibility #3: I roll a 1 (Big Exchange) or 4 (Big Exchange)
Odds of rolling a 1 or 4: 33%. If I roll a 1 or 4 I have to lose 30 factors worth. I could lose all my ground and air and save my ships. However, doing that would mean no unit takes Bremen, which means no exploitation into Berlin, which means his western army is still in supply, which means France dies in Winter 1939. That’s not an option.
Before I planned out my double move, I made the decision that even if I rolled a big exchange I would take the losses from my fleets so that a unit would make it ashore. Before I planned this move out I also made sure that I could have at least 31 factors attacking Bremen in case I rolled a big exchange. I thought it would be fun (so far it is) to see how a game plays out where GB does not have her fleets.
I lost 7 air, the 4-5 tank, and 19 factors worth of fleets for my 30 total in losses. Since the fleets were shore bombarding that meant I had to lose 3 fleet factors for each point. I lost a total of 57 fleet factors. BUT, my 1-3 infantry from Portsmouth made it ashore, which allowed all my tanks to exploit.
Berlin sits empty. If I take it, I cannot hold it. But I must take it so as to threaten Germany’s defeat and to draw resources towards Berlin and away from France.
The French tanks exploit. The first goes due NE two hexes, and the second goes due east two hexes. The second French tank exerts a Zone of Control over hex P32 in SW Poland. No supply from the German minors can get past my French line of tanks.
The GB tanks exploit.
The first tank (2-5 tank) moves one hex east and ends just south of Kiel. I know that Konigsberg still can provide supply. He will move a fleet to Konigsberg and designate it for supply. That will get his single tank on Kiel back into supply. I leave a blocker on the hex just south of Kiel so that his tank on Kiel might kill it but he’d be stuck there.
The second tank (4-5 tank) exploits, duplicating the first’s movement and then continues to end on Berlin. With Berlin gone as a supply source, with all the German minors blocked by the French tanks, and with there being no land route between Konigsberg to Germany yet, all of his units in Germany are out of supply except for the air and navy. In fact, some of his units in Poland are even out of supply (the ones west of Warsaw). The ones west of Warsaw were getting supply from Berlin. Only his units east of Warsaw and the infantry on Danzig are in supply.
I have one more GB tank that can exploit. He has an infantry on Danzig in Poland that is in supply from Konigsberg. That infantry has enough movement to make it next to Berlin and attack. That infantry and the tank east of Warsaw could make it next to Berlin. He will have a unit eligible to advance into Berlin. With his air from down south in Italy he will retake Berlin even if I put both tanks on Berlin. The units next to Berlin, although out of supply, can still attack. They will add their factors to the Berlin battle on the German’s turn. There’s no way I can hold Berlin.
My final GB tank (4-5 tank) therefore exploits SE two hexes towards Leipzig. I do this so that the GB Tank’s ZOC extends over Leipzig. This, coupled with the French tank’s ZOC link up to form an enveloping layer of allied controlled hexes putting his entire Western German army out of supply. This might seem redundant, but it is not. Since he will retake Berlin no matter what, this second layer of cutting his supply off means he stands to lose his entire western army.
The map looks like this after exploitation movement:
BRP Considerations up to this Point
Here’s another reason I took the gamble to attack Bremen. If I landed on Bremen I destroyed his 3-3 infantry, a 4-6 tank, and his paratrooper. That is 20 BRPs worth of units.
I had cost him 20 BRPs worth of men. I thought for sure Germany would lose its western army, which would be four 4-6 tanks + five 3-3 infantry (four of those infantry border France and the final is up north near Wilhelmshaven and Bremen). That would have been another 47 BRPs worth of men. Total BRP losses for men would have been 67 for Germany. That’s a huge number.
Plus, since Germany would not have his paratrooper on the board to start his Winter turn, even if he got a double turn he would be less lethal than if he had the paratrooper to start. Finally, the German infantry SW of Bremen would start out of supply and even though it could kill my 1-3 infantry on Bremen it could not advance. I did not see a way for him to get his western army back into supply even though he would take Berlin.
So, I had a 17% chance of rolling the 5 (attacker dies) in which case I lose the game real fast.
I had a 50% chance to take Bremen without any losses.
I had a 33% chance to take Bremen by losing most of my fleet.
I basically thought I was guaranteed to destroy at least 67 BRPs of German men. Plus, under either the 50% scenario above, or the 33% scenario, I would get the BRPs for Holland and Belgium at YSS. He would start 1940 without Belgium, Holland, or Luxembourg (costing him 30 BRPs there). Normally the German starts with around 200 in 1940. I would have indirectly caused him to have to go all of 1940 with only 170 BRPs (assuming he did an offensive in the east and took out Poland). That’s another 30 BRPs this maneuver would have cost him.
Another bonus was I had eliminated Rokeater’s brilliant move of conquering Poland the way he normally does. This is so because of the GB Tank on Berlin. If Rokeater attritioned on the east and made me lose my Polish infantry, he would not be able to sea transport his tank from Kiel to northern Germany and then have that tank walk into Warsaw like he normally does. He would not be able to do that because I had a tank on Berlin which exerted a ZOC that would stop him.
In other words, he could defeat Poland before the 1940 YSS, but it would cost him 15 BRPs to take an offensive on the eastern front to do it. He normally doesn’t spend 15 BRPs for an offensive in the east. So, killing 67 BRPs worth of men and forcing him to spend 15 BRPs for an extra offensive on the east was 83 BRPs of economic damage to Germany.
In my mind, he had two units that would be able to do anything (the infantry on Danzig and the tank east of Warsaw). By moving the Polish infantry SE of Warsaw, the German tank had to go north around Warsaw. Even though his tank could kill the French tank the furthest to the east that is not the one causing his western army to be out of supply. The first French tank that exploited to Prague had its ZOC linked with the GB tank. He couldn’t reach the first French tank with the German tank or infantry in Poland. I thought I had his western army defeated for sure.
With only two units able to do anything of consequence in Poland I thought he would have the infantry on Danzig retake Berlin and spend the 15 BRPs to have the tank in Poland advance into Warsaw. That’s what I thought he would do. He didn’t do that.
Finally, I knew the Italians and/or the German infantry in Italy might try to open a hole. I would SR my French tank from Berchtesgaden down towards Italy so that any attempt by the Italians to sea transport a guy into Venice or Trieste would end short of getting his army back into supply. I thought that there was no way he could get his western army back in supply.
Breaking the Nazi-Soviet Rules Considerations
Next, the Polish attrition roll killed his RC unit. He only has 26 total factors on the eastern front after the RC died. If he moves both his tank and his infantry out of Poland then he would end his movement phase with 19 factors on the eastern front which would allow Russia to declare war on Germany. Before I started my double turn I knew that Poland had two chances to attrition and if either time I killed one guy then he’d be unable to move both his infantry and tank out of Poland without breaking the Nazi-Soviet pact rules. If Russia jumped into the game I would win again quickly.
I said in a previous post that Konigsberg ended up being something that saved him. Well, take a look at the board. There is no direct land route between Konigsberg and a normal supply source. Thus, the rules say that Konigsberg still acts as a supply source for Germany. If Konigsberg had lost its supply source on the German player’s first turn (e.g. if the German had taken more land in Poland and connected Danzig to Germany) then Konigsberg would not be a supply source. In that case, ALL of his units would have been out of supply and I would have won the game in Winter 1939. As it was, Konigsberg did still have supply, which made it more interesting.
Hypothetical # 1: Germany has defeated Poland in Winter 1939
I was not sure if he would spend the 15 BRPs to take out Poland or not. Before I can construct I have to know what YSS will look like. Italy will have 75. Germany will have 150. Germany might have 20 for Poland. If the Axis take Poland then they will have 75 + 150 + 20 = 245. That’s before spending for strategic warfare. The allies BRP situation looked like this: GB will have 125 + 10 for Holland for 135. France will have 85 + 15 for Belgium for 100. That would put the allies at 235. That’s only 10 BRPs behind the axis at 245 (assuming Germany took Poland).
I decided therefore, to have GB end with 10 BRPs so she would grow 3. I had France end with 7 BRPs so she would grow 2. Now the allies would end with 240 to the Axis 245 (assuming Germany took Poland).
That would mean that Germany could only spend 4 BRPs on strategic warfare and be guaranteed to go first in Spring 1940. In other words, this whole gambit of taking out Bremen might additionally have the benefit of limiting German SW builds to only 2 units.
The other possibility I considered was that Rokeater would do the same math I had done and realize that if he saved some German BRPs he could grow some and still spend fully on SW and go first. That was a possibility that I could not do anything about. For every 10 he didn’t spend he would grow by 5. If he intentionally grew some the net effect would be a guarantee the axis go first in Spring 1940, but it would have meant less units on the board to start with for Germany since he wasn’t building out fully.
Hypothetical # 2: Germany does not defeat Poland in Winter 1939
If Germany didn’t defeat Poland until later, then those 20 BRPs would go to GB for the YSS. The allies would then have the lead going into YSS with 260 BRPs (100 from France and 160 for GB) compared to the axis 225. In that scenario I could spend fully on SW and the allies would go first no matter what.
Now that I knew what the BRP situation possibilities were, it was time to build.
GB builds 1 fleet (27) + 3 of the 3-4 infantry (9) + 5 RCs (5) = 41. Leaving GB with 10.
France builds 8 infantry (16). Leaving France with 7.
Russia built out the remainder of its army.
He might get a double turn. The first of his double turn would have his western army out of supply. He might not get a double turn. Either way, his western German army would be isolated so France was relatively safe.
I had to SR a French tank from Berchtesgaden down to Italy to stop the Italians or Germans in Italy/Africa from sea transporting in and opening a hole through to the western army. The French tank covers that spot.
The rest of SR is setting up as best as can be to prevent losses from a potential double turn. The 9 factor GB fleet I just built has to go to Gibraltar.
I’m going to lose Egypt eventually and 25 BRPs. I’m going to lose Poland, Holland, and Belgium too. I’ll lose the BRPs for those so I can’t spend like a madman. I just have to pretend that those BRPs don’t exist. The main thing is I’ve cost Germany a lot of BRPs worth of men, a lot of BRPs at YSS, and bought some time for France.
The board looked like this after construction and SR:
Here’s the full board:
It’s over the axis for Turn 4 – Winter 1939 Axis.
Edit: fixed a typo for GB BRPs in one portion of the above.