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Posted on Nov 6, 2004 in Armchair Reading

Braunschweig – An After Action Report

By Zachary Hutchinson

Braunschweig 7.1
Designed by: Daniel McBride
Hex Size: 5km
July 22, 1942 – February 16, 1943

Menschenfresser playing the Soviets
Foggy playing the Axis

(Editor’s note: TOAW is the common acronym used for The Operational Art of War, a hex-based wargame system used to play hundreds of scenarios varying from tiny engagements to complete campaigns in a variety of time periods.  This is the same system used in the Europe Aflame Interactive Combat Story.  For those interested in more information, there is a thriving TOAW community you can visit in our forums, located here!)

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Readers:

This AAR takes for granted one of two things: either you have the scenario open in front of you and can follow along by scrolling across the map or you are very familiar with the Caucasus region. If you do not have TOAW, I suggest looking here:

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/commonwealth.html

They have some particularly good maps that cover the area. I also suggest that those interested in this scenario but have yet to play it, read the scenario briefing, which can presently be found at the Rugged Defense site. It details the rules and events of the scenario, gives some historical background and helps with some player advice.

Pre-game suppositions:

I’d say that this game is in some respects far more daunting as the Soviets than DnO. I say that because of the sheer space involved. In DnO, it isn’t too hard to defend everything with at least something. In Braunschweig, as the Soviets, it is impossible. You find yourself with one unit trying to guard 100 kilometers worth of river…or something to that effect. As the Soviet you have to predict which roads, passes and bridges the Germans are hoping to take, and at least through the beginning of the scenario, you cannot hope to hold them for more than one or two turns. The moment you turn and face the Germans, you are surrounded. Now while this is true for the Soviets, it is also true in a way for the Germans. They cannot take everything in force. By the time they hit the mountains in the south, unless they’ve kept a close watch, their divisions are miles from each other.

Stalingrad is a cookie of another sort. It is what you are used to in TOAW…defend in depth, watch your flanks, and all the while pulling tired units out and pushing green ones in. While it isn’t the game winner, Stalingrad does play host to the big battles. It is where the Germans lose the most men and where the Soviets have the potential to win.

To anyone contemplating this scenario, READ, LIVE, EAT and SLEEP with the briefing. It’s invaluable. Do this and you will still make mistakes, but at least you will know what awaits you. The Germans have to take either Baku or Erevan for an automatic victory, while the Soviets have to take Rostov for the same. My opponent chose to activate the 11th Army in the Crimea, which as a side effect takes Erevan off as an automatic victory. In effect, I don’t have to worry all that much about the Turks now.

Preplanning: I am going for the automatic win. I hope to hold at least one bridge across the Don by the time the German attack runs its course and I start to get massive reinforcements. Once I get the chance, I’ll hit the Germans somewhere around Stalingrad with all I have. I expect my opponent will try to flank the city, and I also expect him to send quite a lot south…probably more than was done historically. While one can simply play for points, I see no reason as the Germans not to dive straight for one of the two auto victory cities.

Turn 1

Figure 1-1

Figure 1-1 shows the Don River situation I open to on turn one. You can see at the bottom of picture the north side of a forming pocket. Much of the 62nd Army and 13 Tank Corp will end up trapped there.

Figure 1-2

In 1-2, the turn’s end, you can see the pocket is left for dead while I’ve pulled back all I could to hold a bridgehead over the Don. Farther north, you can see where I am holding a line well off the river. I’ve more or less taken the advice of the briefing, which states that it is better to wear out the Germans on the move toward the city than pull back and hold the city itself. The next line of defense, once I see whether or not this one will hold, will be the east side of the Don. From there, I’ll pull back to the city.

The south is in a general retreat.

[continued on nextpage]

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