German 1st Turn
As the dawn arrived on December 12th, with it came the 17th Panzer division, reinforcing the 23rd and 6th Panzer divisions. As they formed up, the day began with the 2nd Rumanian division and 114th Mechanized regiment setting up on the left side of the front to eliminate the 81st Russian cavalry division, blocking the road to Novoaksayskiy. Following up, both battalions of the 11th panzer regiment (from the 6th panzer division) joined their brother unit, the 4th motorized, in preparations to attack the 302nd Russian rifle division. Preparatory fire was given by, on the left, a Romanian arty group (20bf) and in the center by the 76th artillery regiment (20bf). Both enemy units were disorganized and the opening moves of the battle commenced. 2nd Rum and 114th achieved surprise and outright destroyed the small Calvary unit with the 114th being able to exploit the gains. The elements of 6th panzer attacked and achieved a result of Ae4 DL1o2. The Russians reeled back two hexes and took a step loss (1/3) as all the 6th panzer units stood ready to continue their advance. As the exploitation phase came the 114th ran up the track and occupied Novoaksayskiy. The active elements of the 6th panzer chased after the 302nd Russian and commenced an overrun attack that resulted in the same DL1o2. With the Russian division reeling, the 6th pulled back some to a more defendable position. Expecting a counter attack, the rest of the 57th corps waits in reserve.
End German 1st turn
Notes: before I begin the Russian turn I can already see I’ve made some mistakes. I could have maneuvered the 11th tank and 4th motorized better. If the Russians had had to move through my zoc, they’d be in the dead pile now, not merely broken. Also I do question if the over-run was the right move. I wanted to move the 302nd further back from my front line to create some breathing room. However, I did use a solid amount of supplies this turn. I don’t have enough experience to know if I used a lot or not, but I know OCS isn’t kind about supply in general so we’ll have to see. Also I meant to move up 4 breakdown regiments from a 12-2-2 Rumanian division near the center but too late now. Hopefully my reserves are enough to cover the troops I have out on a limb.
Russian Pre-first turn thoughts
Well comrades, the fascist pigs have shown their hand. Intelligence was correct, the German breakthrough attempt has begun and it is our job to make sure we properly welcome our European friends! I doubt the German realizes how much of a fight he’s in for. I’ve just been informed that the 2nd Guard Army has arrived and with it several infantry divisions, as well as the 2nd Guard Motorized Corp! As we speak they’re already taking positions near Krasnoarmeysk. There they will defend our lines of communication as well as to set the hurt in our trap for axis friends. No our German friend’s defeat is certain, only the how remains.
As I look at the board I’m starting to wonder if Manstien drank regularly during these holidays (to keep warm of course). The Russians have the benefit of numbers, enough to make up for deficiencies in quality, as well as the benefit of tactical depth. As the Russian player the 2nd Guard Motor Corp is in perfect position to act as my operational reserve to counter attack any German gains. Meanwhile he’s securing the supply hub that’s feeding my entire army. The fascist will be hard pressed to take Krasnoarmeysk with that there. The real question I’m wondering about is what to do with the delaying action committed by the 4th Motor, 13th Motor, and 4th Tank Corps out in the field. Should they commit to the Aksai river line? They’ll be in striking distance of the Germans next turn, but behind the river it’ll be a tougher nut to crack. Or could they fall back to the Myshkova river? It doesn’t provide as much cover front wise as the Aksai, but it’ll force the Germans to waste another turn to get in position, give me another turn to get in position, and keep my armored forces alive another turn. In my opinion as long as the 4th Motor, 4th Tank, and 13th Motor stay in action the Germans have no real hope of breaking the line. They only have to create a hole on the 6th turn to win. If they knock out my mobile forces by the 3rd or 4th, they’ll have ample time to commit a breaching plan. Also there’s the question of that mobile force that attack the 302nd. It’s only 28 factors I recollect. It might be worth burning with a minimum force, depriving the Germans of man power.
Dam; I’ve just made a striking realization that the 51st army has located 7 and ½ SPs at Kapinskiy. I have nothing to move that much supplies with. If I fall back I’ll either have to destroy it or defend it where it is. I don’t want to do either, so it looks like I’ll have to hold the Aksai line. Also, it turns out the Nizhne-Chirskaya road is in game. I can probably let units from 7th Tank keep an eye on that, but maybe this won’t be such a cake walk after all.
Realizing that thinking won’t destroy tanks I begin to plan out my turn. We’ll begin by brining on 2nd Guard Army. It constitutes of the 2nd Guard Motorized Corp and about 5 different Russian rifle divisions of varying 12-3-3 and 12-2-2 quality. I’ll move nearly all of them up to Krasnoarmeysk. 2nd GM will stay there in reserve and the infantry divisions will later reinforce the Stalingrad choke hold. I’m leaving a 12-2-2 behind though to guard my supply entry point. From there I’m a little less focused in policy. I’m still deciding what to do, but regardless I’ll fuel all my motor and tank formations. In doing so I make a tour of both my armored south and the choke hold north and notice a few things.
The choke hold is manned by anyone with a rifle; navy marines, 11-1-1 divisions, bicycle companies, and some random (5)-1-1 “Area Defense” units (detailed by a “UR”). On the left shoulder of the blockade are some 5-4-8 independent guard tank brigades. If I can find some way to free them from line duty they’d be a great contribution to my mobile force. The Russian armor forces looked a lot more fearsome on paper. The 4th motor is in shape and on the line, but the 13th motor corps is nearly a farce. It’s only made up of two one-step tank brigades. I’m thinking of keeping it husbanded with the nearby independent tank brigades.
Moving on it gets weirder. 7th Tank corps is also only made up of two one-step corps as is the 26th tank corp. Worse off they’re all spread out watching one pathway or another. While the Germans have all their mobile forces concentrated, the Russians have half of their forces spread out watching the country side. In truth the only hard hitting Corps I truly have is the 4th (on the Aksai river) and the newly arrived 2nd Guards Motor corps in the rear.
This actually inspires a plan in me. I’ve decided to commit to trapping the German rescue force between the Askia and Myshkova River. The 13th and a few others will be a token guard force on the on the Aksai while the 4th moves back to right by Nizhne-Kumskiy. Meanwhile the 2nd Guard Motor Corp will take up a spot at Tsatsa, on the far right. The 13th will pull them in while the 4th and 2nd act as the jaws of the trap.
Russian 1st turn
The turns begin and I put my plan into motion. The 13th, 4th, and 2nd Guard Motor all form up and move out to their spots. The independents move out a bit too and the 302nd limps back to the lines. A few adjustments are made to the Stalingrad blockade, but nothing major. In the reaction phase the German player releases the 17th, 23rd, and 6th Panzer divisions and moves them up just short of the Askia River. They are probably in striking distance for their upcoming turn of the 13th Corp. Afterwards the only activity is some spoiling fire by a rocket brigade on the right side of the blockade. It DGs a stack and takes a step; not bad.
Note: Only a day late; not bad staff work in my opinion! Just want to let any readers know that now that I have my plans worked out for both sides their should be less conjecture and thoughts in these posts and more actual game play. It’s been a quiet first turn but the battle’s just starting up and it looks to me to be a fun one! I also want to apologize for the bad prose through out the piece. I wanted to delete most and rewrite it but that would mean not publishing this untill tonight: unacceptable! Thanks for the read comments welcomed (on anything from tactics to posting thoughts)!