To Bremen or Not to Bremen…that is the Question – Turn 7 – 1940 Summer Allies
In hindsight, I made a critical mistake on this turn that may cost the Allies the game. I’ll see if you all can spot it, and then I’ll post about it in the comments. Of course, it may be true that the Allies lost this game when they lost almost all their fleet on the attack on Bremen. Nevertheless, I’ll point out a mistake I made on this turn that will end up costing GB dearly.
Germany and Italy looks like this:
Poland looks like this:
Every time the Allies go on the offensive they are always in danger of getting overextended. If the Allies get overextended then the Axis will find a hole and knock out France when the Allies aren’t prepared for that. I consider this a fine line dance between aggressiveness and realizing when it is time to revert back to defense.
This dance depends on a number of conditions, such as air superiority, the number of tanks the Axis have, and the placement of the airborne unit.
As you’ll note in the pictures above, the Axis took a lot of ground. But, they’ve left their airborne exposed. It can potentially be destroyed or put under a tank’s ZOC.
The Allies have carefully managed their BRPs to make sure that not only did they have the initiative, but they’ve maintained it. This prevents the Axis from having a double move. Any double move will for sure mean France dies.
I knew, from turn 1, that when I defeated Holland the Belgium, that ultimately the Axis would take those away from me. If I fail to retake them, then I lose the BRPs that I got for those countries. I have to take all of that into consideration when deciding whether or not I can maintain initiative on the next turn. And, I have to figure all of that out before I even start this turn. It’s a lot to think about as the Allies and with so many possibilities it can take a long time to think it through.
I’ve got my plan figured out.
France takes an offensive in the west for 15 BRPs and is now down to 64. France attritions on the other fronts.
GB joins in the offensive in the west for 15 BRPs and is now down to 117. GB attritions on the other fronts.
Russia, meanwhile, has nothing to do, so it attritions everywhere.
Poland has no ground units and there are no Axis air units to counterair, so Poland can’t do anything. Poland attritions everywhere. Warsaw will be occupied on the Axis half of this Summer 1940 turn. Poland will be defeated on the Allies Fall 1940 turn when the Allies fail to retake Warsaw and GB will lose 20 BRPs next turn in Fall 1940.
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN POLAND SURVIVE INTO FALL 1940? I haven’t, until now. This particular game, while not historically accurate, is certainly interesting.
Destruction of units: none
You might be wondering why I spent 30 BRPs to take an offensive option. From my perspective, the allies already had units inside Germany and next to his expensive panzers. My units are isolated. If I do nothing, they will die. That’s certainly an option.
But, if I take an offensive option and I attack, then there’s a chance I roll a 1 with my isolated units and I kill his expensive units. I’ve got two isolated tanks and an isolated infantry in Holland already, and I may be able to get good odds somewhere else.
I’ve decided that I’ve done enough damage to the Axis timeline that I don’t want to ruin my delays by trying to push into Germany again. So, while it is time to setup a defense, that does not mean sit back and do nothing.
Considerations for the Special Rules that Apply When Paris is Occupied
He won’t be into Paris this turn (Summer 1940), but he’ll be real close. He will probably be in Paris in Fall 1940. The rules require France to pass when Paris is occupied. So, what I need to do is arrange things so that when Paris is taken (and my opportunities are limited) I’ll already be in position the way I want.
France moves both its fleets in the Med to Genoa in Italy (hex U22). I know this one has Paul baffled. But, he’s probably seeing the same thing I am about France’s defeat in a turn or two and so why risk a battle with the French fleet that will one day be his. He decides not to intercept.
Russians: Any chance that the Germans would mistakenly leave less than 20 factors on the east is gone. It’s now time for Russia to back up and prepare for later when the Germans will attack. The 2nd line moves back.
German Airborne Considerations
The French tank near Brussels started on hex N24. This whole turn would have been different if that tank could have reached Antwerp. But, because it is in the German tank’s ZOC it cannot quite reach Antwerp. What I want is to put a tank on Antwerp in order to neutralize the German airborne unit. If I can neutralize the German airborne, then Germany will, at most, advance two hexes into my line and end his turn next to Paris, but not in Paris.
Exploitation on His Next Turn Considerations
On the Axis turn he will kill my front line of infantry at overwhelming odds. He will then probably take 2 or 3 hexes (3 if he is risky—but Rokeater does not play risky so most likely 2) through exploitation combat. It is the exploitation combat that I want to focus on. In the initial attack on my front line he will only risk German infantry units. But if he rolls an exchange on his exploitation attacks then he has to lose either tanks and/or air. I’ve cost him a couple of turns when I kept putting his army out of supply. France’s defeat is imminent, but I am now hoping he rolls exchanges and is forced into deciding whether to lose air or a tank during his exploitation phase. If he loses the air through an exchange on the exploitation attack then that will cost him more per unit, but losing air means German would end with 2 tanks on a hex, which will mean the Allies probably won’t be able to successfully counter-attack and occupy the hex he fought so dearly for.
On the other hand, if the Germans roll an exchange and Germany loses a tank, it costs him less per factor, but now he will end his turn with just one tank on the hex. If he does that, then on my next turn I can probably get at least 1:1 odds with 2 more factors than him so that I advance into the hex on any die roll except a 5. If he loses a tank on the exchange roll there’s a good chance that I will kill his lone remaining tank when I go. That is my plan for France’s defense since I don’t have the GB fleets to properly defend France. Basically, I hope he rolls an exchange on his exploitation attacks which will cost him expensive units and may open opportunities for me on my turn.
Remember, I’ve already deprived the Axis of getting a huge amount of BRPs for the 1940 YSS. He did not have Belgium, Holland, or even Poland. Nor did he have Denmark or Luxembourg.
French and British movement:
The French army in Italy retreats towards NW Italy and SE France. The French air move towards the Maginot line. Since the French tank SW of Brussels cannot reach Antwerp, I decide to move it onto Paris. I want to choose how and when that tank dies instead of letting the Germans dictate the flow.
The British air move to SE England so they can help support upcoming naval movement. I’m hoping the German will attempt interception and I can have my air take shots at the German navy.
In Egypt, I make a mistake. I know he’s got enough factors that he can successfully attack next turn and take Suez and Alexandria. I’ve known I’m going to lose Egypt from the moment I took that exchange on Bremen what seemed so long ago. I moved the 3-4 infantry on Suez, but I moved the 1-3 NW of Suez. I should have moved the 1-3 onto Suez as well. I missed seeing that if Italy takes Suez, and ends Italy’s turn with his tank on Suez, then my 1-3 infantry will be out of supply. I should have had the 1-3 move onto Suez, or had the 1-3 move onto Port Said. This was not the big mistake I referred to at the beginning of my post, but I feel this was not the best move in Egypt. I also moved the 2-4 air to Jerusalem. There it is far enough away that it cannot be counteraired, but can still provide DAS.
It looks like this after movement, but before declared naval and air missions:
*Note: I could not expand the stacks on Bonn and Frankfurt without covering up other things. Since I am not going to attack those hexes this turn I did not expand them. Germany has a 3-4 infantry, a 4-6 tank, and 10 air on Bonn. He has the identical setup on Frankfurt.
*Note2: For the picture I moved the units on Genoa SW one hex onto the sea so I could expand that stack and still see the French infantry in the picture to the NE of Genoa.
*Note3: That is a French 2-3 in Holland. It is partially obscured by the stack with the German airborne unit.
Note4: There is a 3-3 Italian infantry mostly obscured by the picture in the hex NE of the Italian air down in Egypt.
Before I show the combat, I want to explain my thinking about France. If you know France’s defeat cannot be stopped, and if you can foresee this ahead of time, then you have two choices (or a combination of the below).
Option A: Retreat into the French Colonies with the 3 tanks and the 10 air
It’s a risky move, but with 3 French fleets, in a single turn you can SR 3 tanks into Tunisia. You can also SR your two full 5-4 air into Tunis. When France falls there is a 50% chance Tunisia goes Free French and then the British player has those units forever added to his force pool on his scenario card. Those units can be rebuilt! If you want to talk about a game changer, that is definitely one. The British suffer from a lack of units in the game. It is hard to defend everything. Those extra tanks can really make life SO much easier for the British player.
But, with high reward, comes just as high a risk. If the colony goes Vichy, the units in Tunisia do not get halved when France falls. Meaning, if Germany activates Vichy, the German player suddenly has 3 more tanks and 10 air + whatever units survived the normal halving process in France. That would be a HUGE bonus for Germany. It’s a HUGE risk for the Allies.
Option B: Kamikaze French
If you know France is going to die, the other option is to send all your units (except two units on Paris and the RC counters) on kamikaze missions. Every time you roll an exchange you kill off his men (hopefully tanks).
Since I felt like I was winning (at least I had stalled the German timeline significantly), I did not want to risk giving the German player getting the units by sending them to Tunisia. I went with Option B.
For declared missions, the French air decide now is the time to go kamikaze. Germany has stacks of 10 air everywhere. I want to make him lose as much as possible. I only have 8 air. I split into two attack forces of 4 each. I counterair two of his stacks of 10, each time with only 4 of my air. The factor advantage gives him a +6 and the nationality modifiers puts France at -1 to the German +0. So, the most I can roll is a 5. The lowest he can roll is a 7. He will for sure win by two, probably at least 4. If he wins by 4 then all my air die, but he loses 2 air each time too. This costs Germany 12 BRPs and means he will get zero air when he activates Vichy.
*Note: I could have went kamikaze this turn or next turn. I decided this turn because he still has the airborne unit on the board and my naval mission (see below) might get intercepted. If it does, and if I don’t end with a tank next to the airborne, then there’s a chance he is in Paris this turn, and all my plans get blown up. Since I’m going to go kamikaze eventually, I decided certainty now was better than possibility later.
GB announces a naval mission. The 9 and 6 factor fleets on Portsmouth will sea transport the 2-5 tank from Portsmouth to Calais, and then it will move to Antwerp (assuming it arrives at Calais).
No other air missions declared. No other fleet movements. I don’t have anything on Gibraltar and he has a unit on a port, so at the end of this turn I need to put a 9 factor fleet in Gibraltar or else I’m dead real fast.
Rokeater emailed and said this was a difficult decision for him. He did not say more than that, so I’m interested to see what his thinking was and what he meant.
My guess is: if he sortied with the German navy, I likely would have counter-intercepted with the French. I also would have flown all my GB air at his navy. He ultimately decided not to attempt interception of the British sea transport mission. This means my 2-5 tank makes it to Antwerp, putting a ZOC on his airborne. You better believe that 2-5 tank is not attacking this turn and risking getting destroyed. That British tank guarantees France’s survival another turn because I’ve got two lines between him and Paris.
Germany did fly 2 points of DAS on his lone tank at O28 (the panzer next to the French tank). He certainly knows I’m going to attack with the French tank there so he wants to make it so that I only roll an exchange on a 1 instead of a 1 or 2. Good move there.
The counterair rolls go as planned for the French. I lost 8 air. He lost 4.
The lone French infantry in Holland attacked the lone panzer on L27. It was a 1:4 attack. I rolled a 2 (A). Crud. No exchange there. That would have been costly.
The isolated GB tank in Germany attacked the two 3-3 German infantry next to it. I had 1:3 odds, but rolled a 3 (A). Crud. No exchange there, either.
Finally, the isolated French tank in Germany attacked the 4-6 panzer + 2 DAS next to it. 3:10 or 1:4 odds. I rolled a 4 (A). Crud. No exchange there, either.
Well, I’d call the overall results a draw. I was able to get a tank next to the airborne and make Germany lose 4 air (12 BRPs worth), but all my other attacks failed miserably. I was hoping for at least one exchange by the isolated units, but all came up empty-handed.
The attrition roll in the Med forced the loss of the Italian 2-3 infantry on V23. Nothing big there.
Construction and SR
Before you can construct, you have to know what the BRP situation is. Actually, before you start your turn you should know where all your guys are likely going to end up, what you will construct, and what you will SR and where you will SR it. Anyway, the BRP situation is this:
Great Britain lost 10 BRPs for not re-taking Holland. It is now down to: 107
France lost 15 BRPs for not re-taking Belgium. It is now down to: 49
The Axis have: 85 (Germany) + 53 (Italy) = 138. The Allies have 156. The Allies can spend 18 and still maintain initiative so that the Axis do not get a double turn.
France builds four 2-3 infantry (8) + one 3-5 tank (6) + 1 RC (1) = 15 BRPs and is now down to 34.
GB builds a 3-4 infantry (3) = 3 BRPs and is now down to 104.
Russia builds 11 foreign aid to Hungary and SRs it there. By the way, I forgot to construct and send foreign aid during 1939 with Russia. That was a mistake. I was so focused on the double turn that I forgot I could build foreign aid. I should have sent some to Bulgaria and Hungary in 1939. But, that is not the big mistake I was talking about earlier in this post. Russia ends the turn with 106.
The allies end with 138. The Axis have 138. Even if the Axis attrition everywhere, the Allies will get to go first.
That’s when I remember that if he takes Suez and Alexandria I will lose 25 BRPs immediately. Taking an offensive in the Med will cost him 15 BRPs, but I’ll lose 25 BRPs. So, I need to end with 10 more than him if I want to keep initiative. Otherwise, he could attrition in the west, attack in the Med, make me lose the 25 BRPs in Egypt and then go again.
So, France does not build its tank and two of the infantry, increasing France’s BRPs to 44. Now the Allies have 148 and the Axis have 138. I will be guaranteed to go first next turn.
For SR, GB sends its 9 fleet to Gibraltar, and its air to Liverpool and Plymouth (far enough out of reach) so it cannot be counteraired, but within reach of the beaches in England.
France SR’s its fleet from the English Channel to the Med (at this point in time I was still unsure if I would evacuate completely next turn and do option A (take the risk on the Vichy roll for the colonies) or option B (kamikaze). I figured I might change my mind, so I wanted all 3 French fleets in the Med in case I did.
France also sent one tank to Africa to hex DD13. This was a mistake. I forgot that French units draw supply from Tunis. The Italians can cut that the French tank’s supply off. I should have sent the tank onto Tunis instead of DD13.
I’ve got a two line deep defense in NW Italy with the French infantry and RC counters. I’ve got a 2 line deep defense before the Axis can even get to Paris. And I’ve got the airborne in a ZOC. France cannot fall next turn. France will not be defeated until Winter 1940 at the earliest.
At the end of SR, it looks like this:
*Note: I could not expand the stacks on Bonn and Frankfurt without covering up other things. Germany has a 3-4 infantry, a 4-6 tank, and upright 10 air on Bonn. On Frankfurt he has a 3-4 infantry, a 4-6 tank, 6 upright air, and 2 inverted air.
*Note2: For the picture I moved the units on Genoa SW one hex onto the sea so I could expand that stack and still see the French infantry in the picture to the NE of Genoa.
The whole map looks like this:
Long Term Considerations
Although the German timeline has been severely hampered, the lack of a British navy still means France will fall no matter what I do. Additionally, the Axis will eventually get a double turn. It won’t be next turn, but they will get one. I’ve been able to stall for a long time, buying Russia time at the expense of the British Navy. I’m holding on just barely in the west in an ordered retreat and trying to inflict as much economic damage as possible.
The Axis will advance two hexes on their Summer turn. Then to start Fall I will go kamikaze in a blaze of glory (or not). You’ll have to see the rolls go in an upcoming session report to see how many Germans the French take down on the Allies Fall turn. Then the Axis will go in Fall and they will be into Paris. There’s nothing I can do to stop them getting into Paris in Fall 1940.
Knowing all the above, I’ve made a serious error. The above is how the game will play out, as you’ll see in future session reports. BUT, there’s a much better move for the Allies this turn, that I only realized in hindsight. I’ve made a serious blunder with the Allies. Can you spot it? If you want to venture a guess, please post what you think would be a better thing to have done this turn for the Allies rather than what I did do.
I’ll stop here with the post. I’m interested to see if anyone figures out how this fairly decent turn could have been even better for the Allies.
Once the session report gets posted to the forums and a day or two have passed, I’ll post what I think would have been a better move for the Allies this turn.