We all gathered early Saturday AM to assess the board Pete had set up. He and I would take Axis while Cisco and Brady were the defenders of the Rodina.
I am reminded of just how large this game is. It is not a mini monster. It is a monster. End of story. The counter density is bearable, but the vastness of Russia slaps you hard.
Pete and I had a rough plan.
Use Mobile Assaults and air to bludgeon our way thru the first defenses. Invest a turn or two in pocketing. Then allow the Mech to move on, heading for Stalingrad and picking up the minimum VP locations required to avoid Soviet Auto Victory.
If you were not pocketing, forcing retreats or killing something. You got no support, no supply and you moved either 50% if mech or full [but no attacks] if infantry no combat for you! With this discipline we had spare air for Interdiction and even saved one or two Supply points for Army activations later on.
We also agreed that given we had Causcaus for Hitler Objective Turn 1 that driving as deep towards Stalingrad and avoiding all the annoying Don River triggers was a good idea. As was NOT attacking areas until we had to, so we can avoid their activation or at least make the activation rolls harder!
No plan survives contact…. Right!
I did take of for a quick stab at Voronexh with the Gross D….. and it was a disaster,
while doing that I triggered reinforcement release but not the doubling of replacements. Phew!
[ This whole red starred Don River rule is either played wrong by us or too gamey. You can flood 20+ regiments across the river but not more than 6 multi step units…umm ok. So that rule needs to be house ruled if we understand it correctly. A date CERTAIN or # of combat factors is a better solution, just as Event/Action + Date are used for many other aspects of the game.
[Soviet Players view point:
I strengthened my Don River defenses while trying to slow down the German spearheads as best I could.
Meanwhile huge battles for Rostov were developing, with Brady stacking up the troops to confront the Germans. After much bloodshed, Pete finally managed to take Rostov, and he revealed that due to the chit pull (Hitler’s demands), he had to take Rostov by that turn, or else face a court-marshal
AGS pressed thru the hills, while 6th Army and 4th Panzer isolated, killed and bounced via mobile assault their way along the South Eastern bank of the Don. The Soviets followed like Darius following Alexanders horse at Gaugamela as the line and the flank got longer!
At all times I was concerned about a counter attack, from the Eastern side of the Don. Warily both forces watched each. In the Don Valley dozens of Brady and Cisco’s units gave their all to slow the tide.
Nos stretched thin, and Interdiction slowing movement the Soviets shove ANY unit they can into the gaps. In the South the German and Italians are trying to weave back to Rostov after getting caught up in the hills.
Their activation forces a pause for 4th Pzr, who refits a few units after surprisingly light casualties. The worst effects have been when isolated Regiments of mech are swarmed by Soviet low value/quality units and retreat is cut off. The loss ratios are seemingly highly skewed.
[The Russian Northern Player’s (Cisco) take:
When Kevin got to the Don river, he immediately tried to take Voronezh “on the run”, but it failed and his troops got knocked back. Kevin then made attempts further north on the River, and got through after a couple attempts. After the Axis breached the Don River, I started building defenses further back – but then a curious thing happened …
The Axis suddenly became very interested in Stalingrad, and the main forces for the Axis started driving hard for Stalingrad, and in front of the river all we saw was dust in the distance as the roar of tanks got fainter and fainter. “They’re going for Stalingrad!” I shrieked!. I started pouring all the troops I could off to Stalingrad and to Brady’s command to start building defensive lines, while leaving the Don river weakly defended – as I was “pretty sure” the Axis weren’t too keen on fighting in that area. However there were enough Axis troops left along the river and breaking through further north that I had to keep a couple armies in the area fighting.
Then Hitler had a change of mind. A new chit pull revealed the new goal. Suddenly Kevin’s panzers turned left and crashed into the Don River further south, smashing my few lonely divisions that were guarding the river in that area. He started heading straight for some victory point hexes in the area, so I pulled back troops from Stalingrad and started building up defenses to keep him off the VP hexes . But then he veered again! A sharper left turn, and started heading towards Moscow.
Then I realized I had been had. Kevin bamboozled me twice, and twice I fell for it. When he made his final change of direction, I had difficulty moving troops further north, and since I had weakened my Don front, there weren’t many troops in the area. Kevin won the game by driving several divisions off the map in the direction of Moscow. Awesome gameplay! ] -Cisco
Quietly in the North the 2nd Army masses a ½ a dozen divisions of infantry for an assault on the perimeter of Voronezh. The plan is to encircle it. Rostov still has not fallen.
We have one turn to make it happen. Or it is literally a strategic Soviet Victory. – GAME OVER!
Rostov falls on the last die roll…..That was close. We pause to see what to do next. Do we go deep and prepare for new objective in the South or can we make the Moscow objective and win the game early?
We must hold Rostov, Voronezh and exit the 6 multi step units.
Vor. Is surrounded and should fall, this means there is a chance to pivot and try the Moscow gambit!
We keep pressing SE and talk up a big game of cracking Stalingrad.
I refit my units and allow Peter to continue the Stalingrad pressure. Nearly all Soviet units go to the GAP area between the Don and the Hills.
Cisco begins leaving bridges open to entice me to another dumb move and passing the six unit limit for the Don Crossing. I press a few units up and joke with hom a bit about it.
Then we check one more time on the rules, the distance to the exits and the ranges for HQ’s. Go time!
I take lots of air, and use mobile assaults everywhere, and even take risky four factor attacks with a 50/50 chance of failing the mobile assault. It is all or nothing!
The Infantry screen the Armor on both sides, and create a channel. While remnants of 2nd Army jump into ZOCs with the Russians to bog them down up along the river line.
Its pretty much game over at this point. One exit hex is blocked by reinforcements. No problem and we power thru turn 16 with all the Supplies going to 4th Pzr etc. Valiant counter attacks kill several steps, but the Axis shove Infantry into the maws of the Soviets and extricate the armour.
I think we enjoyed this. We think there is lots of value in the smaller scenarios. I am not sure however that without some VC or rules edits that I would engage in the campaign again. The game seems pretty heavily biased to the German side, or we have not yet figured out how to play the russkies effectively.
The Don River rule needs to change, or someone please advise how to play the Russians!