From: Denver Colorado
You can expect Rifle divisions to have a CV of about 3 or 4 by spring and around 4 or 5 by summer.
I'd suggest not building fortified zones, they'll fold when attacked. Save the AP's for assigning/reassigning leaders.
You could try not holding a line, but instead forming sort of a checkerboard hedgehog.
A=Axis, -=empty hex, S=Soviets
or one with two hexes in between your stacks.
With two or three divisions in a hex with level 4 or 5 forts, the Soviets would have to concentrate more manpower to be able to force you out.
Keep in mind that a leader's wins/losses are based on battles, they're not cumulative for the wins/losses of the unit. So if you stack units and those are attacked, the result is one battle and 1 win/loss. If you spread two or three divisions out, they'll be attacked in two or three battles and as such your leader has a better chance of being sacked. Minimizing the amount of leaders being dismissed is important for maintaining the C&C you want.
I wanted to ask about that last part, because I'm a rank newb who has finished the tutorial from what's his name, the intro to operational warfare. I'm also not very experienced with operational games. Anyhow, I'm trying to understand your last paragraph, and this is how I understand it:
Given that the Axis is going to be very weak in the first winter, the axis player can expect a LOT of lost battles, especially and more so if you create weaker, smaller stacks and defend many hexes. They will be easier to be beaten, and their commanders will get blame for more lost battles.
Conversely, defending strong in fewer hexes will likely create harder won victories for the soviets, possibly fewer losses to the Axis, and thus, your good leaders don't get sacked (by some game mechanic I'm not yet familiar with, apparently).
Given what little I know about zones of control, it would seem the 2-hex gap you give as an alternative would be dangerous for me, because you can't count on much attack CV out of your Axis if you let ANY soviets start to weave through your somewhat porous hex control.
Does that sound accurate?