War in the East – After Action Report
German infantry finally begins to catch up with the Panzers. Bob captures Mogilev, an objective in this scenario. Vitebsk, another objective, is in danger of being bypassed. North of Vitebsk the swamps impede the Panzers and channel their advance. This terrain imposes severe penalties on both the movement and combat abilities of mobile units. Velikie Luki, also an objective, lies east of this difficult terrain. The Soviet defense in depth gets shoved back in both areas but cannot be easily pocketed.
The adverse terrain north of Vitebsk continues to stymie Panzer Group 3 despite infantry support. Vitebsk itself, however, is pocketed.
In response, I launch savage counterattacks with fresh forces in Northwestern Front and these restore the line. The exhausted Panzers cannot withstand these and are forced back with heavy losses. I had appointed very strong leaders in this area, comparable in quality to the Germans, and the terrain heavily favored my rifle forces. West of Smolensk, Zhukov leads a counterattack against Panzer Group 2 and succeeds in pushing these back as well. Quite simply, the panzers have shot their bolt and need a rest.
Turn 7 is a quiet turn, as the Germans pull all their armor from the line to rest and refit. Flush with success, I try to sustain the results of last turn and launch one attack on an exposed German infantry division with a half dozen rifle divisions…and fail miserably. The Landsers, unlike the Panzers, aren’t tired and can hold their ground. Duly noting this result, I take a breather myself and await developments.
Bob unleashes his rested Panzers with dramatic results, finally pocketing Smolensk. He concentrates both panzer groups in this direction. Time is running short, and while Velikie Luki is an objective, Smolensk is a bigger prize. This wall of rested Panzers proves to be more than sufficient to overcome raw Soviet mass and pushes back the inexperienced Soviets. The Germans also take Gomel to the south, a victory point objective.
By this time the Germans succeed in taking Smolensk and shove the Soviets back towards the Reserve Front screening the approaches to Moscow. It was, like the real battle for Smolensk, a hard fought battle pitting the nimble and veteran Germans against green, but numerous Soviet reinforcements.
However, I manage to eke out a minor Soviet victory thanks to holding on to Velikie Luki which did fall historically to the Germans. Northwestern Front’s heavy counterattacks on Turn 6 gave me just enough of an edge to pull the win. The game otherwise would have been a draw.
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Great AAR. Looking forward to buying this, of course!
Thanks for the AAR, really liked it 🙂
Really looking forward to this one, even though the sheer size might be a bit overpowering at first.
Nice AAR. The casualty report in your victory screen seems to be messed up. It says “SU Lost” on the Axis side and “AX Lost” on the Soviet side. But the numbers seems to tie with up with your narratives.
Whoops! Figured it out. SU LOST gives points to the Axis and vice versa.
This game faithfully portrays the struggle between the Axis powers and the Soviet Union as far as the Axis side. And that’s the problem with it. It faithfully does that. There is no option for the Axis to do anything differently. They are forced to suffer the blunder of the winter of 1941. There is no choice what so ever.
On the other hand, the Soviets can move all of their production out of harms way and out produce the historical Soviet Union.
You can guess what those to things in combination mean. It’s fun being the Axis in 1941. It’s fun being the Soviets in 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1945.
For $80 I’d rather buy two or three good fun games and leave this one in the box.
You’d be amazed at the variety of strategies and outcomes that are possible. The German cannot escape Winter, but whether the Soviet can escape being pocketed on a ruinous scale in the opening is up for grabs. In this AAR, the drawbacks of not rushing infantry forward fast enough, thus leaving all the work to the Panzers, are on display but the Axis player can improve on that.
A good Axis attack can destroy a forward-defending Soviet, and a more careful Soviet effort may result in the loss of a lot of industrial production.
Leningrad, for instance, can be taken in the game, in 1941. That gives the Germans a substantially better launching pad for the 1942 campaign than they got historically.
Much depends on accuracy in play, on foresight, and sometimes, on chance. The game is rich in possibilities.