Lets see what damage the Soviet Offensive did at the end of last turn.
Looking at the overview (I’ve turned unit 2d images back on for this turn) we can see that the Soviets are pushing forwards with a contiguous line, although the details of the forces just behind the front line remains out of our intelligence report.
Looking to the South, we poked a hole in their lines, and poured our own troops in there, perhaps too enthusiastically. Having said that, the Soviets have been unable to close the gap we widened last turn. I think the majority of their mass is up on the front line and they’ve managed to rally together an ad hoc defense from the reserve lines. They do seem to be trying to smother our incursion, but I doubt they could cut us off with only an Anti-tank unit and entrenched infantry straddling the entrance.
I’m pleased to get reports that the Romanians have managed to hold their positions, and what is unusual is that the Russians have moved out of Losowaya presumably to exert a large pressure to the South. It’s tempting to roll something through the streets of Losowaya, and gain the Victory Point there, but being cut off and surrounded there’d be too much against you to hold the place. Without backup, it would be folly, and the waste of good manpower.
More good news, the men screening Krasnograd have managed to hold out! Severing the supply lines to the Soviets trapped South of the city, time must be running out for these overenthusiastic Russians.
On the Northern nape of the “neck”, the 44th Infantry have been ousted out of Balakov! It was a big ask of them, to push into the town and then hold it, under the weight of such overwhelming Soviet numbers. Sadly my Northern incursion into the bulge looks less and less likely, the more Soviet steel that turns up.
Up in the North, the defense of Belegrod continues. The 75th entrenched in the town have held, but the ones patrolling the outskirts have been forced to retreat. Opening up a weak-point for the Soviets to exploit. These men have taken a hammering, and it would be foolish to attempt to push them back into the carnage for the sake of a closing the front line. Either side of the gap, I have entrenched troops with a degree of defensive bonuses provided by the town itself and by the surrounding forest. So I decide to leave the gap open, if they want to funnel troops through it, I’ll at least get a concentric bonus from the surrounding troops. It’s weak sauce in my reckoning, but it’s all I’ve got up here – I don’t want to move any of the front line at all. They’re straining enough under the weight!
I take time out to look at the Victory Condition Report. Since my last turn, Vic, the developer commented that this earlier beta build of the scenario should have had the extra VP’s for losses disabled. So the 16 extra VP’s mentioned here, won’t actually count in the overall reckoning.
What this means for my overall strategy is that I’m going to have to claw back at least 3 more VP’s, even more if I want a comfortable Major Victory. My defensive turtling is going to have to adapt. I’m going to have to exert some more offence, and sharpish!
I now roll my 3rd Panzers into the front line, to protect Krasnograd. I keep my artillery a hex behind the line, because they can fire across a 2 hex range. The positioning of the 3rd Panzers also affords me a crack at the stranded and surrounded Soviets caught in the Krasnograd Trap!
Behind Krasnograd, I group move the 213th Security Division towards the city, to give me the opportunity to use them as reinforcements if it becomes necessary. I wasn’t sure whether the trapped Soviets would attempt a final breakout to the West, or Southwards. The 213th would come in handy as a blocking force in the rear.
Back inside my incursion, I turn all guns on the Anti-Tank unit to widen the neck. With good envelopment, I pull a massive 60% concentric bonus.
The attack goes well, and we kill a lot and cause widespread panic. They are forced to retreat further towards their front lines, widening the gap.
Now I turn my attention to one of my initial VP goals, the town of Barvenkowo. I want to try and soften them up first, before I attempt an assault on the Soviet 51st stationed there. So I order all serviceable bombers to lay a carpet down on the town.
Even though the stacking looks impressive, the air strike is VERY ineffective. I guess they’re too entrenched and the town affords too much protection for the troops.
I subsequently throw a lot of artillery fire into the town, foolishly, and get pretty much the same result. I often find in the heat of the moment, I get over-enthusiastic, and I don’t think through the attack situations properly. This is a prime example of my bad decision making, usually following my emotions and not the cold calculations needed to succeed with every roll of the die.
It’s time to assault the town, I pull all I can into it, get some small bonuses concentrically and divisionally, and charge in guns blazing.
It goes well, although it is quite bloody, we panic the 51st into a retreat out of the town.
I march the relatively fresh 384th into the town in Victory. I’m hoping they can hold the location. With that acquisition, I now have 63 VP’s and I need 65+ for a Major Victory, assuming I can hold the Red Tide of the Soviet Horde back long enough.
With the sweet taste of Victory on my lips, I glibly decide to see if the other units in the 384th can launch an assault Northwards and further fragment the Southern line. I stack it all up, and attack.
Bad news, my men lose a lot, panic or retreat, with other minor casualties inflicted to the defending Russians. I had foolishly ignored the heavily entrenched value of 214. There was some bitter fighting on the day, and we were properly spanked.
I need to use all my administrative skill, to make this farce disappear under a pile of logistic reports and ensure it never reaches the Fuhrer’s desk!
With the sting of the last battle prickling my ego, I decide to fortify my most vulnerable area Westwards. The 454th garrisoned in the town of Savogschina are facing tremendous odds, based on the Soviet stacks around them, not to mention the concentric bonuses they will be pulling.
I scratch out some Command Points to play a tactical Entrench card on them.
Walther commands the security division’s entrenchment and boosts it by a little.
Only 37% boosted on the 75mm guns. It will have to do.
Time to trigger the trap shut. I stack up most of the 3rd Panzers, and use their remaining action points to place a hit on the trapped Soviets.
Boom! We roll over them easily. Causing two units (including the Cavalry) to become Broken. The third unit retreats, further away from their Comrades and their supplies. Dead men walking.
Now the pressure is off Krasnograd, I can turn my attention to holding the front line, shoring up the 454th next turn.
I move the 23rd Panzer Division across the bridge and sweep them down along the railway line towards Bakalov. Rather than pile them up in one place, I stagger them along the line to add strength there. The reasoning being to stop these thick stacks of Soviet troops from pushing northwards towards Kharkov itself. If this portion of the line breaks they’d be in my rear, and in towards Kharkov in a heartbeat.
I have some air power left, so I decide to throw it at a heavy concentration of Soviets at my weakest point. The masses outside of Belegrod seem like the ideal target. If nothing else we might be able to hold them back a little with some air interdiction.
The air attacks on such large numbers of Soviet troops seem to hit their armour the most. Which can only be a good thing, slowing them down, and weakening their strongest hitting units.
I now use up my Command Points to beef up the 75th inside of Belegrod, using the ever trusty Hedgehogs.
Hans expertly organises the hedgehog positions in the town.
Exerting a 63% bonus to defense and a 63% penalty to attack. I just want them to hold.
Finally, in desperation, I bring an engineer unit up from the outskirts of Kharkov just to add extra bodies in the path of the Russians and that gap. If they do push through, they’ll hit zones of control from my men in the back line. Even if the back line isn’t all that sturdy.
Finally, I take a look at what we’ve achieved this turn.
Our push in the South is widening nicely. Perhaps I can get enough momentum to push Northwards and hit the Soviet mega stacks from the rear!
Krasnograd is safe, and the 3rd Panzers are screening it. The 23rd Panzers are lining the route into Kharkov. Fingers crossed for the Romanians, and the troops in and around Belegrod.
Join me next time, to see how the Soviet’s react to my tampering of their offensive lines in the South.