Welcome back to my preview of the upcoming game Decisive Campaigns: Case Blue. We left the German forces attempting to contain the Russian counter-attack in the Second Battle of Kharkov, May 1942. Don’t forget that the game is to be released on the 16th July 2012! – I probably won’t get this AAR preview finished by then, but hopefully you’ll have a good idea as to how the game plays, and see the sort of thought processes and enjoyment you can get from even the shortest of scenarios.

At the start of Turn 2, I’ll assess what happened during the Soviet Turn 2, and then adapt or continue with my original plan of defensive containment, followed with a bisection of the advancing bulge and subsequent strangulation of supply.

Last turn, I managed to poke a hole in the Southern side of the Russian advance, well the flanking incursion has been stemmed and I now have the 14th Panzer Division stranded and out of supply.

 

Luckily the Romanians just outside of Losowaya held their position. With the 298th German Infantry Division backing them up, I’m hoping they might last even longer in their containment role.

 

At the tip of the Soviet Advance, things aren’t looking good. The Soviet’s have managed to slip through a gap in the German Line, just South of Krasnograd. Their armoured division and cavalry have squeezed Southwards and are now threatening my staff in Krasnograd itself, along with the roads South to the Romanian HQ and the rear lines of the German defense.

They’ve also destroyed the bridge and rail links from my VIII Army HQ and the security forces attempting to hold at Sagovschina.

 

Looking to the Northern “neck” of the bulge, it seems as though the 44th Infantry have been ousted from Balakov. Forcing them to retreat along the railway lines towards Kharkov. There’s quite a thick Red wall of Russian troops in defense.

The thin German line has held just west of Woltschansk.

The defensive cards I played using Commander Points from the Officers last turn, have really paid off, maintaining a presence in the town of Belgorod in the North.

My initial troop movements are concerned with severing the supply lines of the errant Soviet 23rd Tank Division, and associated Cavalry units. I consolidate the 62nd Infantry in Krasnograd and further along the road and rail lines to cut the advance’s support.

The 454th Security force stationed South of the damaged bridge and in Savogschina itself, looks particularly vulnerable.

I decide to use another 4 Commander points to pay for help with a determined defence. This thin grey line simply has to hold!

Walther Heitz is called upon to organise Hedgehog defence.

Boosting the defensive capabilities of the 454th in the town and surrounding areas, but reducing their actual offensive capability. That is a compromise I simply can’t afford not to take.

Scouring the map, identifying weak points in my line, I’m particularly concerned about the small force stationed in and around Belgorod. Looking to the East of the town, following the rail lines, you can see a considerable force gathered in a single hex. 10 units in total! Overwhelming odds.

I can only shore up what I have, and hope for the best.

I fear, rather than the Soviets attempting to plough through the center of Belgorod itself, they will take an easier route to the South, punching a hole through my line and spill into the plains behind, using the road and rail lines to infiltrate Northern Kharkov itself.

Once again I turn to the Officers for help. I call for more hedgehogging.

Hans von Obstfelder steps up this time and arranges the defence of Belgorod, supplementing the vulnerable 75th Infantry Division.

The 75th Infantry now have +83% defensive capabilities. Perhaps it’s enough to hold back the Soviet Killing Machine on it’s way?

In the South, with the 60th Motorised Division finally able to move, I swiftly deploy them around the Southern “neck” breach. Pouring them into the gap to secure my incursion. I also push one unit eastwards, to firm up my perimeter – just in case.

On the very Eastern edge of the map, the 97th supported by the 384th, are camping on the rail and road lines, on the way to Barvenkowo.  I want to use the 97th to weaken these support lines, and ultimately take Barvenkowo. Eroding the Southern flank in several places might force it to break a lot easier.

I boost the 97th’s offensive power, using an Officers Attack tactical card.

Maximillian guides the 97th plans of attack, and boosts them for +36%.

It’s only a small boost, but one I hope will help shove the forthcoming attack into my favour.

 

Unfortunately, I decide to lay down some fairly ineffective bombardment on the Soviet 333rd.

As the 97th make their attack, the Stack value isn’t quite as encouraging as I’d hoped. Although we get a slight bonus based on Divisional support. It’s also weakened slightly (from 30% to 20%) by the inclusion of a unit from the 384th. But I wanted to increase my chances of a success by having more bodies in the assault.

The combined attack was brutal, and luckily we managed to force the 333rd Soviet troops to Retreat!

I subsequently use up all my remaining movement points, to get troops from the 97th and 384th into the small gap created by the  Retreat, hogging the rail and road lines.

Meanwhile, close by, it’s time to do what I can to re-unite the stranded 14th Panzer Division. I set up a ground attack with whatever I have squeezed into the initial gap. They focus their attention on the Soviet Anti-Tank unit that helped close my gap. This time the Stacking is about even, and I get 22% Divisional bonus, plus a 20% Concentric bonus for making the assault on two sides.

Another fairly bloody battle, with one of my amoured units panicking  – but we did managed to secure another Retreat!

Again, I pour the 14th into the back lines, and the 60th Motorised help shore up the entrance. Moving one Panzer Unit as far as possible to intersect the next road Northwards, in the vain hope that the Zone of Control will disrupt Soviet supply lines to the advancing front.

At the nape of the Northern “neck”, I march the 44th Infantry back into the town of Bakalov. There’s a valuable Victory Point there, and I just can’t leave the place open to the Soviet Horde attempting to roll westwards towards Kharkov.  Once again, you can see we have a thin line of grey stopping a lot of Russian ass!

 

Re-taking Bakalov has me thinking about the Victory Points needed for a Major Victory, so I review the Victory Conditions again.

It seems as if I’m currently doing pretty well with 73 accumulated VP, and I only need to hold onto 65 VP to the end for a Major Victory. If I can hold what I’ve got, and keep inflicting large Soviet Casualties for the VP bonus, I might be able to do this.

Time to bring forward my reserves from the North West. I group move the 23rd Panzers to the Southern front at Kharkov. I hope they can provide “muscle” along the Northern “neck”. Just need to preserve the bridge and get them down the roadways next turn.

I then group move my 3rd Panzer Division Southwards towards Krasnograd, I figure I’m going to need some poke to prevent the advance from washing over the few troops I have around this town, close to the frontlines.

I save the last action till last, because I want to take my time over it, and digest what I have to throw at them.

I’ve stranded the Soviet 23rd Tank Division out in the open with very little in the way of air support/defense. So I decide to hit them with my effective air units.

I check through them one by one, and I pick out the dive bombers. Namely, the Bf 109e-7 variant, with a rating against Tanks of 50.

And the mighty “Stuka” Junkers 87d with a sweet anti-tank rating of 70!

I set up my dive bombing raid, hoping to pop the caps of these armoured troops from above. Death from the skies! The Stack value hits even.

My swooping birds do some considerable damage!

With that excitement out of the way, I decide to take stock of what we have achieved and I hunker down for the Soviet counter.

Most of my holding situations, managed to hold. Those that didn’t, I’ve managed to re-take this turn.

I’ve made little progress breaking the Northern “neck” of the Bulge, but have made two in-roads into the Southern flank. Hopefully I can keep the momentum going and can push my motorised units Northwards to nip the bulge, and strangulate it’s supplies. The sheer amount of Soviet forces pushing on my boundaries is worrying though. We can only hope the might of the German Army is strong enough to take this initial battering. Once blooded we will surge forward and push the sub-humans back to where they came from!

Join me next time, for Turn 3, to see if we can goosestep our way into the Izium salient!