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"Battle for Moscow 1941-1943"

 
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"Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 2:25:47 AM   
briantopp

 

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I quite like the 3.4 patch and have been playing with it via a new/updated scenario. I'm doing another playtest run through it and thought I'd post an occasional AAR here for fun.

If you feel like playing with the scenario feel free -- I'll attach a copy below (if I can figure out how), and would be grateful for any suggestions.

I'll also attach a few design notes in case of any interest in the plumbing.

The scenario simulates an Axis “Moscow first” strategy on the eastern front – pursued with determination between October 1941 (the launch of “Operation Typhoon”) and the spring of 1943.

The Axis side can therefore play out a grand strategy that focuses all of his resources on what the German general staff viewed as the only sensible goal in this war – the destruction of the main body of the Red Army in front of Moscow, and the occupation of the Soviet capital.

The Soviets can play through the counter-argument – seeking to keep their army in being; defending (or perhaps retaking) their capital; and, just maybe, turning Moscow into a war-winning “alternative Stalingrad” in the mid to end-game.

Elmer-to-Elmer, in this build the Soviets crush the Axis by the middle of the game. In earlier builds with me playing OHW/OKH against Elmer/Stavka, I've held my own. This build play balances for that -- we'll see how it goes.
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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 2:30:09 AM   
briantopp

 

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Some design notes:

My reference game is “Guderian’s Blitzkreig II” by The Gamers – a great wargame.

Weather: Weather was a crucial factor in this theatre, particularly during the first fall (1941) and winter (1941-1942). TOAW can simulate supply effects of weather well through supply radius and supple centre events, but less so the historical movement and combat effects. For example, during at least the first Russian mud season, most German units probably shouldn’t be able to move at all (certainly not more than a hex or two) except on a paved highway, and combat should be almost impossible. To give a bit of the flavour of this during mud and other weather states, I have tried to describe the weather’s relative effect by adjusting Axis shock and supply centre values up or down relative to the Soviets. I’ve also written in “pestilence” events to simulate frostbite. So:

eather state/Supply radius/Axis shock/Axis supply centre/Axis pestilence
Dry weather/12/110/100/0
Light mud/4/100/50/0
Mud/0/90/25/0
Light freeze/12/110/100/0
Medium freeze/6/90/100/1%
Deep freeze/3/80/75/2%

(I haven't fully implemented the supply centre variables yet but the key ones -- dry and mud -- are there).

Playing as OHK/OKH against a PO-controlled Soviet, I think you need to exercise some self-restraint during Russian mud turns or Moscow becomes too easy to capture in the first quarter of the game. Let’s say, during mud turns: no movement more than two hexes except by rail; and no multi-hex attacks (Elmer the programmed opponent doesn’t respect these rules, which is why there needs to be some corrective combat, but is programmed to be “very cautious”, and generally is). Playing PBEM against a human opponent, I suggest a house rule to the same effect: no movement of more than two hexes except by rail; no multi-hex combat (or, if you prefer and want to be more accurate, no combat at all by either side).

Stop line: As discussed, for example, on pages 1107-1111 in Horst Boog et al’s "Germany and the Second World War", volume IV, at the start of “Barbarossa” German logistics were capable of provisioning their forces within a radius of about 500 kilometers into the Soviet Union. In the area covered in this scenario this is sufficient, barely, to get to Smolensk. Arguably the Germans therefore could not supply their forces even as far as Moscow, and certainly could not do so to the Urals. So the Soviets were always going to have a safe hinterland in which to regroup and perhaps launch counter-attacks from. To simulate this, there is an “Axis stop line” drawn (generously, at least for the first year) to the east of Moscow. Axis units cannot ever advance past this line. If pushed over it in combat they must return the following turn or disband.

Axis spring 1942 replenishment: In the spring of 1942 the Germans executed a remarkable reconstruction of their shot-up eastern army. Not enough to return it to its June 1941 peak, but sufficient to defeat a series of Soviet counter-offensives and then to launch the ill-fated “Operation Blau”. To simulate this, a set of events will deliver a set of replenishment units which are immediately disbanded – providing the Axis side with a replenishment surge. If any of these units fail to disband due to some quirk, disband them manually. A theatre event also becomes available that will provide the Axis with a combat supply surge for two turns (by firing the event, the three German supply centres become 250-point supply centres instead of 100-point ones for two turns). This can be used to fuel an offensive – or it can be hoarded, to later help stop a Soviet one.

Axis tank production and TO&Es: German tank production is based on "Germany and the Second World War", volume IV, page 1120-1122 table II VI.I, which suggests that a 1% replenishment rate per turn is a generous estimate of what the Germans achieved at this point in the war. I’ve simplified the composition of the German tank park a little. The scenario ends before panthers, tigers and other modernized equipment seriously enters the war. The TO&Es of the individual panzer divisions are from Thomas Jentz’s "Panzer Truppen", volume 1, page 206.

Soviet armour: I’ve based the OOB and the TO&Es here on what you can read in Glantz’s "Colossus Reborn" (p 252 table 7.1 for the TO&Es, and page 165+ of the Companion book for the OOBs). The composition of the armour brigades morphs over time, and they become more proficient with time.

Supply centres: As noted above, the value of the Axis supply centres changes to show the relative efficiency of German logistics compared to the Soviets, and as a game-balance mechanism. Soviet supply centres are on the other side of the Axis stop-line and therefore cannot be attacked. The German supply centres are principal objectives of the Soviets and merit being carefully garrisoned and defended.

Bryansk train/siege artillery: As an interesting piece of chrome, the “Bryansk combat train” appears after the capture of Bryansk. Historically, it was used in the German attack towards Kursk but is of more limited usefulness here, alas. “Dora”, “Thor” and “Odin” – German railway siege guns – also make their appearance, on the assumption that a Moscow First strategy diverts them from Leningrad and Sevastopol. They can be highly effective but consume combat rounds.

Alarmeinheiten/workers’ emergency units: The Soviets receive a number of weak workers’ brigades (and eventually divisions) as emergency levies. The Germans receive something similar in the winter of 1942, with a set of “alarmeinheiten” units. They can be useful for rear-area security; as emergency cannon fodder to close a line; and if things are going usually well, can be disbanded to provide more replacements for front-line units.

Axis 29th and 30th corps: A theatre event allows the Axis player to call the 29th and 30th corps from reserve and into the battle. Historically, pulling these units into this theatre before the April 1, 1942 would have led to grave consequences for Army Group North – so take a 5 victory point penalty per corps for calling them in. They can be used for game balance. Use them if you think the Soviets are too strong. Leave them out if you think the Soviets are too weak.

Victory: Determine victory by counting Axis victory points, minus victory point expenditures (-5 for each of the 29th and 30th corps brought onto the map before April 1, 1942) and gains (+10 for killing Stalin, who sits in the well-defended Kremlin). Historically the Axis held 33 VPs at the end of this scenario. But balancing for the fact that army group centre will face the full force of the Soviet mid-war counter-attack, the Axis wins if it holds more than 12 VPs at the end of the game; the Soviets win by reducing the Axis to below this figure.

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 2:36:00 AM   
briantopp

 

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So, beginning on the left flank to the north, here is 16th army ready to launch its opening attack on the Soviet Northwest front. 16th army's mission is to crack this opposing force, and then advance with Army Group Centre to its south, covering the left flank of the offensive by finding a defensible line.

16th army is a little light on supply (which is concentrated in the three panzer groups to the south) and so will wage a careful and deliberate offensive, always advancing through multi-hex attacks well supported by artillery.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 2:42:46 AM   
briantopp

 

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Next up is 9th and 4th army, with the 3th and 4rd panzer groups attached respectively. The Soviets are once again very unwisely deployed, with part of Kalinin Front and much of Western front deployed far forward. So these two armies will seek to execute a gigantic double envelopment.

The 3rd and 4th panzer groups will aim to cleanly break through the line, as the two outer pincers of a maneuver that will close on either side of Vyazma.

Meanwhile 9th and 4th armies will "hug" the Soviets in front of them to try to keep them in place, using some deliberate, "minimize losses" attacks to try to fix them in place.




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 2:46:43 AM   
briantopp

 

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Finally, here is 2nd army and 2nd panzer group. 2nd army and a corps from 2nd panzer group will seek to crete another large pocket at Bryank and south of that city, while the balance of second panzer group will seek to flank the Soviet line on the right and push up the Orel-Tula highway as quickly as possible -- Orel being the first objective. A corps of infantry and some misc army units will form an improvised force to the south, aiming to advance in stages to Kursk and to anchor the offensive's right flank. The Soviets doesn't have enough units to seal off their line, and so both 2nd army and 2nd panzer can begin by pushing into the open space.








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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 2:51:57 AM   
briantopp

 

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Here is 16th army at the start of the second turn. 16th army's deliberate attacks have delivered some serious hurt to NW Front, which does not have enough combat power to effectively reinforce its line. 16th army will continue to press its attack using the same step-by-step methods.




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 2:56:31 AM   
briantopp

 

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In the 9th army/4th army sector, 3rd and 4th panzer groups have kicked in the Soviet line and made reasonable progress -- 4th panzer a little better than 3rd. In both cases attached infantry have led the attack, leaving the mechanised forces fresh and ready for the long lunge to Vyazma.

9th army and 4th army harassed the Soviet Western Front with a series of low-intensity attacks that turned out to be quite expensive, soaking up replacements and supply -- those Soviet armies are well fortified.

4th army has curled around and executed a good start at an inner envelopment.

9th army hasn't really moved from its start position and is hoping its "hug" is tight enough.










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< Message edited by briantopp -- 11/2/2010 4:01:46 AM >

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:01:53 AM   
briantopp

 

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2nd panzer group has smashed the centre of Bryansk Front, which has thrown up a thin line in front of it. 2nd army has broken through north of Bryansk and is building the western and southern walls of a hopefully-large "kessel" that will pocket the balance of Bryansk front -- and allow the capture of Bryansk itself.

[




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:11:57 AM   
briantopp

 

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16th army, as the 3rd turn begins. Steady as she goes, grinding up the NW Front while trying to avoid too much wear-and-tear on this army, given that supply routes look a little sketchy.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:15:57 AM   
briantopp

 

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9th army and 4th army, start of turn 3.

Unwisely, I rushed the recon units of the panzer groups forward, north and south, to try to close the outer pincers as quickly as possible. The Soviets counter-attacked from east of Vyasma and drove my recon units all the way back to their main body -- blowing the "kessel" open again. (Note that the Axis have zero (0) theatre intelligence and so cannot see what it isn't basically next to).

The good news is that this Soviet mini-counter-offensive has driven some more divisions into the bag -- provided that it can be closed, and soon.

I've accepted a 10-VP point penalty and called in 29th and 30th corps from OKW's emergency reserve (having been handed my head by Elmer in previous playtests). These corps are forming up just behind panzer group 3 on the left flank in this sector. My intension is to use them to press towards Rzhev, leaving panzer group 3 free to focus on closing and then destroying the kessel around Vyazma -- and then on east.








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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:26:11 AM   
briantopp

 

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2nd army and 2nd panzer group have spread out quite widely, so I'll offer two views of their position at the start of turn 3.

2nd army is making good progress slogging through the defenses north and and west of Bryansk, while its long southern arm is in contact with a large number of (mostly) relatively weak Bryansk Front units. These tested the line during turn 2, but it held.

2nd panzer army has finished cleaning up its start area and is poised to push a corps of panzer units straight north, hopefully taking Bryansk from the south and pocketing Bryansk Front. A second corps is poised to rush northeast towards Orel, while one panzer division and the mixed force on the right flank deal with remnants of Bryansk Front and Voronezh Front units, aiming to anchor the advance.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:28:42 AM   
briantopp

 

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Here is the situation a little to the east of the last view, at the start of turn 3. Some 2nd panzer group recc units have scouted close to Orel and found it mostly open, with one Soviet division located due west of the city. With zero theatre intelligence, the recc units play a crucial role.




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:32:10 AM   
briantopp

 

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16th army, third turn, after the first round of combat (I should say that with the benefit of advice elsewhere on this board, I changed my style and have been timing attacks, artillery etc. much more carefully -- earning many more rounds of combat than I otherwise would have. Well worth reading!).

Northwest Front is splintering under 16th army's deliberate attacks and will hopefully soon loose its river line.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:35:25 AM   
briantopp

 

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9th and 4th army, third turn after the first round of combat.

29th and 30th corps have assaulted a force from Kalinin Front, and sent recc units to take a look at the defenses around Rhzev.

3rd and 4th panzer groups have advanced to re-close the kessel with main forces. The Soviet units defending the northern and southern lines of the kessel are no match for combined-arms attacks from the panzer groups, and are splintering -- resealing the pocket.

SS-DR and a panzer division are probing southeast in the general direction of Kaluga -- but the main effort must be the kessel until it is sealed and destroyed.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:40:51 AM   
briantopp

 

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16th army, turn 3, likely the last Axis combat round.

As I hoped, 16th army has broken NW Front's river line and taken Valday. The bad news is that this battle has put most of the army into "red" supply and considerably weaked the formation. But it was (probably) worth it.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:48:14 AM   
briantopp

 

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9th and 4th army sector, likely last Axis combat round of turn 3.

Things seem to have gone fairly well. 29th/30th corps have destroyed the force from Kalinin Front (again, at some considerable cost to combat-readiness). A bit more cleanup and then on to Rzhev.

3rd and 4th panzer corps have closed a hopefully more solid pincer, trapping 24 visible Soviet divisions (after this round played out I was able to further reinforce the outer lines of the pincer, after the Soviet forces holding the southern lip of the kessel gave way before 4th panzer group).

9th army stands in place -- the soviet divisions in front of it didn't move.

4th army has finished a close envelopment of the Soviet units in front of it.

My plan is to now let the Soviet units in the kessel starve for a turn or two, so that they can be destroyed at acceptable cost.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:55:55 AM   
briantopp

 

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2nd army and 2nd panzer group, likely last combat round, turn 3.

2nd army is starting to look pretty shot-up. I may have been over-aggressive in pressing Bryansk.

A panzer division from 2nd panzer army has pushed up through the Bryansk pocket and taken Bryansk by coup-de-main from the south -- also cutting the pocket in two. The balance of its corps marched northward to its right, enveloping Bryansk Front from the east.

A second corps from 2nd panzer group has pushed into Orel, brushing away a weak workers' brigade and also taking the city, basically, by coup-de-main ("even the trams were still running").

The mixed force on the extreme right flank has punched out Soviet forces there and has spread out, hopefully anchoring the advance.

I now need to complete the destruction of the Bryansk Front pocket, and then cross 2nd army through 2nd panzer group to set up a defense line of the large open flank on the right -- which is about to get a whole lot bigger when 2nd panzer group can make its next lunge forward -- towards Tula.

Alas, reports suggest that autumn rains are due soon...




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/2/2010 3:58:11 AM   
briantopp

 

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So I think this will work. Here is the scenario in its current form. No warranties offered or implied but comments welcome. Rename it to delete the .txt and you should then have a zip file.


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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/3/2010 6:40:31 PM   
BigDuke66


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Hey looks great.
What I would like to know is when does the What-if part start? I mean at the start the frontline & units there look like a historical setup.

Will Soviet offensives in 1941 at HG Nord & Süd occur or will those forces used historically there be available at Moskau?

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 12:34:36 AM   
BigDuke66


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I have the German original series of your "Germany and the Second World War" and in another chapter in Volume 4 the supply situation for HG Mitte was mentioned and that when the frost started 70-80% of the German locomotives got damage because of outside laying cooling pipes that simply burst because of the extreme low temperatures in Russia, I'm not sure if they resolved the problem over the course of the winter but at least for the first frost period that comes in a lowering of the German rail capacity to 2500 and after temperatures get better a slow recovery sound appropriate.

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 1:33:47 AM   
Panama


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quote:

ORIGINAL: BigDuke66

I have the German original series of your "Germany and the Second World War" and in another chapter in Volume 4 the supply situation for HG Mitte was mentioned and that when the frost started 70-80% of the German locomotives got damage because of outside laying cooling pipes that simply burst because of the extreme low temperatures in Russia, I'm not sure if they resolved the problem over the course of the winter but at least for the first frost period that comes in a lowering of the German rail capacity to 2500 and after temperatures get better a slow recovery sound appropriate.


The Russian climate was a severe handicap to operations by the Germans. Russian locomotives
had extra insulation around the boilers to deal with extreme cold. German locomotives did not
and lost excessive amounts of energy during cold weather. The Germans encountered many
other problems, too. The coal mined in the Donbas would not work in German locomotives
unless mixed with some high-grade German coal or oil. Steam locomotives required a system of
water towers and equipment for loading coal into tenders. The Soviets destroyed trackside
structures when they retreated, severely handicapping German operation of the lines. Such
problems pointed out the difficulty of rail operation in the hostile Russian climate.

The Soviet Economy and the Red Army, 1930-1945
Walter S. Dunn, Jr.

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 4:09:30 PM   
briantopp

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: BigDuke66

Hey looks great.
What I would like to know is when does the What-if part start? I mean at the start the frontline & units there look like a historical setup.

Will Soviet offensives in 1941 at HG Nord & Süd occur or will those forces used historically there be available at Moskau?


The what-if starts on turn 1, with a theater option to transfer 29th and 30th corps from AGN at a steep victory point cost. You're right that otherwise the set-up is historical.

Next what-if is in November or so, when the Axis must decide whether to keep pressing on to Moscow or to pause for the winter and resume the campaign in the spring.

The critical "what-if" then plays out over the winter of 1942 and then the fall of 1942 -- when something does not happen. Axis armour and infantry remain in this theater, and so there are no transfers of armour and infantry units to AGS to set up "Operation Blau". Similarly, the centre of gravity of Soviet reinforcement remains here, and is not transferred to Stalingrad. In other words, the battle the general staff wanted to wage, and that Stavka expected to wage, occurs.

The Soviet offensives in AGN/AGS are assumed to take place and to be dealt with by those army groups within their existing resources (give or take the 29th/30th corps VP) -- so the game effect is to limit reinforcements here in AGC.

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 4:11:04 PM   
briantopp

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: BigDuke66

I have the German original series of your "Germany and the Second World War" and in another chapter in Volume 4 the supply situation for HG Mitte was mentioned and that when the frost started 70-80% of the German locomotives got damage because of outside laying cooling pipes that simply burst because of the extreme low temperatures in Russia, I'm not sure if they resolved the problem over the course of the winter but at least for the first frost period that comes in a lowering of the German rail capacity to 2500 and after temperatures get better a slow recovery sound appropriate.


Good -- a very helpful piece of chrome that will keep the Axis from being ahistorically effective in nov-dec 1941. I'll add that.

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 5:19:07 PM   
sPzAbt653


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Up to turn 27 and having fun. Thanks for the nice scenario. I think the 30th Corp was infantry, and the 39th was a panzer corp. Lots of blank news events. Should 11th panzer have the 111-shutzen, not the 113th? Axis rail repair is 25 per turn - maybe too high? Maybe a 2 turn ahead notice for 1st Cav withdrawal (some of us don't monitor these things and rely on the news, and 1 turn is a little scary).

Thanks again!

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 8:37:10 PM   
briantopp

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: sPzAbt653

Up to turn 27 and having fun. Thanks for the nice scenario. I think the 30th Corp was infantry, and the 39th was a panzer corp. Lots of blank news events. Should 11th panzer have the 111-shutzen, not the 113th? Axis rail repair is 25 per turn - maybe too high? Maybe a 2 turn ahead notice for 1st Cav withdrawal (some of us don't monitor these things and rely on the news, and 1 turn is a little scary).

Thanks again!

The "29th" and "30th" corps are placeholder numbers while I looked up plausible ones (I think the divisions are correct). Maybe I'll use those (30th and 39th).

Blank news events: erk. Probably experimental events I turned off.

11th panzer: yep, you're right (Mitcham in "German Order of Battle" agrees with you).

Two-turn notice: good point.

25 rail repair. Yes might be generous. I set it high when first setting up this scenario basically as a placeholder number to not have to worry about it much. But perhaps 10 would be closer to the mark.


< Message edited by briantopp -- 11/6/2010 9:46:54 PM >

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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 8:46:02 PM   
briantopp

 

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Turn 4, end of combat round 2, 16th army.

16th army has broken cleanly through the Soviet rive defence line at Valday and is pressing towards Bologoye. The objective is the airbase there, and to cut off the rail line between Bologoye and Ostaskoy, hopefully thereby cutting off supply to the various Kalinin Front units holding positions west and southwest of Lake Selinger.




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 8:48:30 PM   
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Turn 5, combat round 5, 16th army. 16th army has broken the next NW Front line and crossed the rail line at several points.






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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 8:52:22 PM   
briantopp

 

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Turn 6, first combat round, 16th army. 16th army is approaching the Axis stop line (the extreme outer limits of Axis logistics in this scenario) to the north, and is pressing towards Volochek. Depending on events to the south, and given how few units it has to work with, 16th army is probably not going to advance much further -- instead looking for a defensible line. This will hopefully anchor the left flank of the whole Axis position.




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 8:55:50 PM   
briantopp

 

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Turn 4, end of combat round 2, 29+30th corps: These emergency reserves (which are really functioning like another army in this playthrough) are finishing the break-up of a screen put up by Kalinin Front west of Rhzev. A recc unit has gone to take a look at the Ryzev defenses and finds the area lightly held.




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RE: "Battle for Moscow 1941-1943" - 11/6/2010 8:58:56 PM   
briantopp

 

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Turn 5, combat round 5, 29-30th corps: The Kalinin Front screen west of Rhzev was destroyed. 29/30th corps probed the Rhzev defenses and found them very weakly held -- and so blitzed them, even though some of its divisions were very low on supply and manpower. By round 5 of turn 5, the corps have taken Rhzev (attacking it from the east with a panzer division) and have almost finished destroying the rest of the defense system.





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