EDIT: Note and a major update. Now that we have finished this game I want to share some thoughts that occured going into the game and the outcomes from it over a series of posts that cover our campaign play. So coming back to this opening set of moves please see comments in italics as an update and focus on strategy in the game play.
Knowing Steve a little allows me to make broad guesses about his strategy and likely approach to a given set of choices. When presented with the unexpected he will often revert to defensive play until he identifies where the real threat is.
The Soviets have simple victory conditions – kill more Finns, take VP locations [The Hotel, bridges, village and if massively successful capture the Finnish Supply Source on the West edge of the map for an Auto Victory.] Those of you who have played and / or know the history understand the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the harsh conditions it was fought it. The Soviet player must achieve a lot to win big, given his numerical and firepower advantages.
To that end we could say that there are two Points of Gravity or Weakness for the Finns. 1st the Supply source, without it the Finns are degraded and bad things happen i.e. they lose. The second is more subtle. Morale, if the Finns are battered enough the game can be ostensibly considered over [a personal morale check fail when faced with a VP count that is unrecoverable]. The Soviet forces while large are not inexhaustible and are not sufficient to really pound the Finns without a cost [ i.e. bringing tanks in costs VP’s.]
So if our goal is to have Steve fail his personal morale check OR lose to auto victory we have to pre empt his strategy, get him into unfair fights, dislocate his power and divert his strength from my goal areas.
By heading around lake Taivaljarvi, we hope to push the Finns back without too much of a fight. Thereby husbanding resources for the battle of the Hotel.
So as stated above we first up look to dislocate Steve by seeking to beat him out of terrain I need without a fight. The sweep around the first bridge creates a rude choice in the early part of turn 1 and 2, he must cover the maneuver or retreat.
They do indeed pull back but leave a road bump. The Soviets attack and force the retreat. During turn 1 the Soviets have a 1R column shift for morale bonus. They dont know how bad they suck yet!
No big deal thinks the Finn player. Let the battle for the Hotel begin! But lets look at what we did. By using space and time we force the Finns to move and give up easy victory points and expose the Island village Saarola with just one combat. The challenge now is to quickly capture the Hotel without losing too many troops and all before night fall. There will be no getting away from a few rounds of combat here, so getting the best odds, and limiting retreat options is critical.
So now the fight for the Hotel the the bridge. If the Soviets can force their way onto the ‘other side’ within 8 turns they have done well. Losses…meh, we can deal with that.
The choke point of the isthmus leading to the Hotel is fought for valiantly. But to no avail. The Soviets mass units and attack! Pressing towards the Hotel.