Case Blue: Soviet Defense

The Soviets faced a grave situation. The extinction of their very nation, subjugation and enslavement. CB/GBII and OCS system in general attempts capture some of this through its dual edged sword that favors offensive action and supply efficiency, at a Divisional level and down  to Battalion level. With special rules for the situation, tactics, events and politics of the times.

Formation designatiors?
Formation designation markers

 Militarily how do the Soviets protect the homeland in a defensive mode under these circumstances? Pretty tough to achieve for a competent player with a boat load of AR 4-5 units and dozens of Panzer divisions. How will the slower, less effective but well supplied Soviets take advantage of the very benefits of the system? How do you then apply those benefits to a Soviet defense? When playing DAK2, I was truck by how fragile the Commonwealth was, and how they failed to use the game mechanics to reduce the Italians prior to Rommels arrival.   DAK2 Playlist on youtube has all of that in technicolor! ;).. but I digress. This situation would imply to me that you, as the Soviet player must attack! But wow..how, where, with what..and when? 2013-11-04 09.57.31 If you are attacking then the Germans are neither moving nor attacking what they want to be attacking! ahh…..that is it. Really is it not?

This is what Bill did to me in our few turns of TBL played so far! He stopped the German MOVEMENT! For it is not the fearsome -ness of the Panzers, nor the pounding of their Stukas. Nope.

It is their ability to encircle, to trap, to isolate.

A Eureka moment right here….. 2 Factors thus arise to be successful as the Soviet you must  be able to do both of the following:

1. Defense in Depth Elements : Terrain, Agility of Force, SP consumption of the enemy, allow stretching of the enemies supply logistics, and accept egregious losses! In 41/42 the Soviets must choose where to defend and be prepared to lose substantial numbers of units. The problem is that the Soviet does not have a huge abundance of units, even with fairly high replacement rates. However if the German player has to fight hard for a position then he burns supply that cannot be used to move and cut off Soviet units. As the Soviet we have to identify those positions that the German has to have to advance or has to have to pocket (and attrition out) Soviet units. 2013-11-04 09.57.38 2. Effective Counter Attack  Elements: Correct Location, Correct forces, Suitable Supply & Ideal Objective that maximizes pain to the enemy. Lynn Brower broke down his thoughts on Soviet Defense to me, as a ‘jouneyman’ player. Though I hardly call a decade plus long love affair journey man….sigh. So much to learn!

In that discussion I took away a deeper understanding of the 2 ideas above.  T Soak attacks used at the point where a real Counter Offensive or Counter Attack is to take place, that is another thing. We will not be making ‘random’ attacks along the line to attempt to chew up Axis supply. Nor I think, do I want to build dozens of level 1 airstrips to ‘force multiple sweeps’ and soak up German supply. I was thinking about this and while a good idea, it smacks of using the game system to gain advantage, versus some attempt at ….hmm I don’t know a noble victory? Is there such a thing? Maybe after I have played against someone and the stakes are up for grabs I will relent on this. Competitive play requires the maximal use of the mechanics and rules to your advantage versus the opponent to gain victory. This play is not for the ‘win’ however, this is experiential. >>Back to Lynn;s comments in response to my points in italics:

2013-11-05 09.23.32

“Exactly; absorb losses but only those from the combat results table. Losses on the attrition table should be every OPPONENT’s* goal. Your and our recent experience with the opening of the DAK campaign shows how absolutely critical it is for the British to attrit the Italians on the attrition table because they can’t do it by combat and they have to do to historical levels of damage to the Italians before the Germans and the withdrawals. In this case I don’t think it is gamey to attack the Germans merely to have them burn supply BUT it is probably counterproductive for the Soviets unless it further’s their goal of causing the German player to divert from his plan.
b. Force extension of the Logistical net of the Germans to invite errors and weakness

Again exactly.

c. Cobble together the counter attack as did happen repeatedly historically.

We cobble; but winning Soviet players attack precisely and devastatingly to upset German plans. Historically the Soviets weren’t that good either but they kept hitting and the cumulative damage put paid to the German effort.

What was interesting and speaks to both of your deep experience was the “location” aspect. Good stuff. Hence your interest in the Massive Assault rules.

I am convinced that choosing the best location to use very limited Soviet offensive resources is critical. It is interesting to tackle scenarios like Back Hand Blow or Hube’s Pocket and find the offensive shoe on the other foot. Even there static defense doesn’t cut it for the German player.

This sounds like a much more ‘agile’ defense and less static than some I have seen. I assume that you are still building defensive pockets and HH’ing key junctions & River crossings and the like?
Yes. It is difficult to be agile with the less agile force but I believe essential that the Soviet chooses his defense carefully and fights it tenaciously while keeping an offensive frame of mind. First assemble the force then pound the right spot.”

* key moment that led to my aforementioned aha moment re German movement denial.

The key as then is for the Soviet player to do two very difficult things:
A. assemble a soviet force with some offensive capacity (AR3/4).
B. select a place to employ that force with two objectives.
The selected location must be where the Soviet player can break through AND must allow the break through force access to a location that the German will have to respond to retake.
The Germans have a weak logistic network with possible locations for putting front line forces out of supply. OF COURSE competent German players should know where these locations are and provide necessary guards. <<
Lots to chew on here!

 

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