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The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited

 
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The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 9:03:29 PM   
Hoooper

 

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Last year I posted a scheme for defending Leningrad called the “open door defence”. The idea was to build a line of armies on the Luga, then to swing them to the line of the Volkhov once the German’s have gained a bridgehead. The title comes from the fact that the manoeuvre resembles opening a door, with the hinge at Novgorod.
I came up with the idea after losing Leningrad, and most of the Northern front, in every game I played. Since then I’ve used the strategy in eight games against humans and managed to hold the Volkhov line in every one (give or take a few hexes). Very few units have been isolated, and in seven out of the eight the Soviets have held Leningrad itself. This post updates the original with some refinements.

Command and control
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to try to make the corp system work. It’s fiddly and cumbersome, but if you have the patience to operate it, you do get extra die rolls, so your combat units should perform better.
Overall direction of the initial stages of the battle should be taken from Kuznetsov and given to Zhukov. I’ve found that if you put him in charge of the NW Front and keep the units attached below the command limit, there is either a big improvement in performance, or it feels like there is – and it’s a pretty good solution to the problem of getting the best out of your best leader. He can be moved to another sector once you have a decision at Leningrad.

Beneath him, we have Golikov in charge of 11th Army and Bezarin in charge of 27th Army, who are both fine. Sobennikov should be removed from the all-important 8th Army and replaced with a top class general; I put Vatutin in charge and give him control of 1st Mech Corp. This is the team for defending the Pskov-Leningrad axis. The other army of NW front, 22nd Army should hold the Sinyaya River on the approaches to the Valdai Hills with the ultimate aim of defending against a determined push south of Lake Ilman, the deep right hook. This army is under the keen but borderline incompetent Vostrukhov. At a convenient moment he should be replaced by Eremenko or similar level commander.

The Northern/Leningrad front can be left with Popov, Pshennikov can stay with the 23rd Army and Meretskov is fine with 7th Army. However, if the Germans reach the outskirts of Leningrad, switch Pshennikov with the best leader you can spare: Rossokovsky for example. He will fight the battle for the city itself.

Air forces
Group the NW airforce in the Divenskaya area and keep it at full strength. The Leningrad air force can be divided, with the PVO headquarters filled with fighters and kept north of Leningrad. This is will have a second function as an airhead if the city is isolated. The Northern Fleet airforce should be fully stocked and assigned to support 7th Army and the Northern Air Command left relatively unmanned in preparation for the defence of the Volkhov line in support of 52nd Army, when it arrives.

Defence against the deep right hook
The key to an parrying an ambitious thrust past Lake Ilman followed by a left turn to link up with the Finns on the Svir is the Valdai Hills. This should be garrisoned on the first turn with the 41st Corp of the Moscow Defence Zone and the 111st Division. On the second turn put Kachalov’s 28th Army in charge and attach sapper regiments to it. Control of Valdai can be the difference between winning and losing the entire war.
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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 9:16:20 PM   
Hoooper

 

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Arranging the Defence
I recommend lining the armies up like this




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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 9:33:27 PM   
Hoooper

 

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The Bolt
As we know, the weak point in the Lengingrad defence perimeter is the "back door" to the east of Pavlovo, and this should be fortified as soon as possible. However, in my experience the key to the position as a whole is the hex to the east of Schlisselburg. It turns out that the Germans have to go through this if they are to isolate Leningrad and take the city without a huge battle across the major river. I therefore recommend fortifying this as soon as the cost drops to 8AP on turn three, attaching three digging units to the fortification on turn four, and putting it under the command of the northern front, which also has digging units attached. By the time the German's arrived, it should be garrisoned by the 1st Tank Division, and if possible, the elite Siberian 26th Division, when it turns up on turn 10. The aim is remove the fortification and leave a defence with a value above 30.






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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 9:34:33 PM   
gids

 

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worth a shot :) il try it tx

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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 9:52:58 PM   
Hoooper

 

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The Counter-attack
I've found it's worthwhile to accept high losses on tactical counter-attacks to penetrations. Even powerful hexes of two panzer divisions can be pushed back if they are exhausted by hasty wearing down attacks and bombing. However, once the fighting is over on the approaches, you should have a reservoir of forces behind the Volkhov. If you don't have to send them off to a desperate battle elsewhere, you should consider using them to attack over the Svir. It's possible to steamroller the Finish forces and either isolate them or push them back to Janisjarvi before the blizzard starts.

Screenshots
Here is the ideal position: turn 17 and the city is facing nothing more serious than a horrifying seige.




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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 9:55:14 PM   
Hoooper

 

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Thanks, it's counter-intuitive, but it really does work.

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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 10:33:49 PM   
Q-Ball


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It's not a bad idea, but a good German player is going to control the tempo, and not give you a chance to set-up on the Luga.

It would be helpful to know what AGN forces were committed by your opponents, as well as how quickly they reached the Luga. A good player should be over it with plenty of gas by T-7 at the latest. And it's not a bad idea to detach extra Panzers from AGC temporarily, as they can be switched back for the Battle of Moscow.

Another thing I have noticed is that alot of players commit only 18th Army above Lake Ilmen, and spread 16th Army out from Ilmen all the way to Moscow, basically. This is because of the geometry of how AGN frontage expands. I like to pull the Panzers at some point, but commit extra infantry up there, including 2nd Army between 4th and 16th, so 16th Army can focus a couple Corps north of Lake Ilmen.

Also, that line you have along the Neva is very crackable against someone who knows what they are doing. Just mass infantry with lots of artillery and Pioneers, and you can crack the backdoor. Once that happens, it's basically over for Leningrad.

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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/11/2012 11:10:44 PM   
Hoooper

 

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It's not foolproof! It's just intended to make the German's pay the full price for Leningrad, and to prevent the Panzers redeploying to Moscow in September leaving a skyline filled with smoking ruins.
As a matter of fact, I've never found that I didn't have time to set up a Luga line: you can do it with city militia when they're mobilised. Remember it's essentially a fake line, with all the strength towards the Novgorod end, which is defended by Vatutin, with Zhukov one hex behind to get the most help with the dice rolls. All my opponents but one used AGN on its own to attack. The luck of the dice meant some cracked the Pskov position before others, but with a few sacrificial rearguards it's possible to delay the Panzers until you're ready for them. One opponent attacked with AGN+ and made faster progress, but still ran out of steam in the carpet defence in front of the city. And it's too late to crack the Neva line in the screenshot above ...

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RE: The Open Door Defence of Leningrad, revisited - 4/12/2012 3:41:35 AM   
Klydon


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I think what Q-Ball is pointing out is it may work ok against a "regular" AGN German attack, but will struggle against a reenforced AGN. If I am coming after Leningrad, you can bet all of 18th and 16th army are north of Lake Ilmen. I will have a very thin screen from 2nd army south of the lake. The idea is if people want to stay in the Valdi Hills, they can but will eventually give it up due to threat of encirclement.

I think the idea/plan presented by Hooper has merit against a normal AGN advance.

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