In contrast, once WITE enters the German-defensive phase, there doesn't seem to be all that much punch-and-counter-punch going on. Perhaps part of it is due to the nature and scale of the game, which we can't really change, but I daresay it's also influenced by the distance of the auto-victory conditions. Without a game-ending goal to aim for, there's not a lot of incentive for the German to go on the offensive in 1942 unless he can deal some really bad body blows to the Red Army, but the loss rates don't really encourage that either. So you turtle up without a Fall Blau, much less a future Zitadelle. German defense and Soviet mobility being what it is, much of it is slow going as well. That arguably is a lot less entertaining.
I suppose it is in part because of the different nature of this struggle versus WitP, where a lot of naval maneuvering is key and adds excitement. A loss of an Allied carrier or other vessel, that can still occur "rather easily" even in 44, stands out differently as just another bloody nose for a Russian Tanks Corps. Also, I feel in AE due to the reaction options for fast-timescale moves (planes and ships), and the slower "we-go" of landwarfare, that on playing the defense on can still actively influence onces luck -- while in WiTE you either set up your units and reserves luckily in the attack avenue, or you didn't. It is just a bit more static gameplay than the offense.
But I enjoy defensive fighting in the late war almost more than the initial campaign now. I have taken Moscow and Leningrad, and many others do so routinely. But the late war period offers totally new, different challenges since I have managed to get there only once, when playing more half-heartedly. For the same reason I enjoy reading the late war AARs, be it Gids-Tarhunnas, Terje-Oloren, IdahoNyer-Scar or the new Speedy-BigAnork "Decision in the Ukraine" AAR a lot more meanwhile than those in the starting year. I find Axis in all these cases does very well, and Soviets have a lot of trouble to make real headway.