Reverse Engineering Case Blue from the beginning, by Joey Sabin
Recently while starting a fresh campaign game of Case Blue I stumbled across some very revealing and quite awesome information that turned the game around from a jumble of units all vying for supplies and victory locations, to a well organized well oiled machine moving with a distinct purpose and achieving its goals with relative ease.
As I often did, I looked at my Axis forces and wondered what the purpose of this unit is or that. I couldn’t seem to make heads or tails of the number of wagon or truck points and seemed mystified by the number of supply points in the various columns. I was in the middle of moving my jumbled mess of headquarters units and infantry divisions when I began to ask myself, “…what HQ did that division belong to…” and, “…I wonder how many of those assault gun battalions there are and who they were getting their orders from…” when I began to notice a pattern emerge and developed a theory.
I thought that if I could locate an order of battle (OOB) covering the Axis October 1941 Army Group South region I could better understand every units function in relation to all the others and if I could do that I could better understand what to do with each unit and how.
After receiving help gathering all the Axis OOB information and tabbing each unit on the VASSAL PBEM program, things began to unfold in front of my eyes in a way I had not experienced in a wargame before.
I realized there were 3 German infantry armies and one panzer army, the 6th and 17th near kharkov, the 11th in the area of the Crimea and the 1st panzer group in the middle of it all.
How best do I deploy these forces, I often thought with the usual player flair for the drive upon Kharkov as my only answer.
A little more digging into the games numbers and I noticed eleven wagon points. “Rather odd number don’t you think?” I asked myself and I realized I wanted to know more. I looked at what all is done with wagon points which let to the question of truck points as well.
Long story shortened, I discovered that initially there are 11 wagon points making two extenders. One extender is needed right away in A21.22 to support the 6th Army attack Kharkov. The other is needed to initially support both the 17th Army attack Izyum and the 3rd panzer corps swing south on the east side of the Volchia river to encircle the Soviet forces in a pocket there.
By placing the second extender in A23.03 I achieved the two most pressing needs for an extender I had.
Without realizing it I also uncovered the easy money run to Stalino for my panzer group.
Oddly enough I was still puzzled by the 11 wagon points until I began to see the OOB unfold. There staring back at me was the answer.
Four additional wagon points arrive per the reinforcement schedule adding to the extra one point already on map and voila! My third extender was formed.
I searched for the best location to place it and B19.24 stood out. This hex was the most able hex to maximize distance and efficiency and provided support for both the 14th panzer corps (the southern end of the encirclement) and the elements of 11th corps and the Romanian forces assigned to 11th corps.
Once in place a sudden counter stood out. The extender at F35.35 suddenly became available and I could now reach Rostov! All my trucks were assigned depot duty at each rail head for the remainder of 1941 a job they excelled at ferrying supply points back and fourth to the extender hexes.
- 3 active armies and an average supply roll of 3 supply points per turn, coincidence?
- 3 extenders and 3 active armies, coincidence?
- Just enough truck points to cover the rail heads, coincidence?
- An even ratio of 3 infantry divisions per infantry HQ, coincidence?
- One AG Bn per Army, coincidence?
- Two motorized AT units per Army, coincidence?
After assigning 3 divisions to each HQ and dividing the panzer and motorized units among the two panzer corps headquarters I could see the objectives clearly:
A big open terrained (Panzer friendly) corridor running south east all the way to Rostov and three stubborn city regions left to the Infantry to slug it out.
Against one of the most ruthless Soviet players I have ever known, this route and assigned missions have resulted in the seizure of Stalino, the frontal envelopments of Izyum and Kharkov and the breaching of the Crimea all by mid October with hardly a combat save the Crimea. Saving supply and units in the process!
Khar’kov under pressure:
- Feb 2nd: Paulus Surrenders,Operation Uranus [Stalingrad Pocket II] (meshtime.com)
- Background to the Stalingrad Pocket – Prelude to Uranus (meshtime.com)
- No Retreat! AAR & Brief Review (meshtime.com)