I am a little worried about whether I can give a good game, as the Germans seem much trickier to play than the Russians,...
Don't be worried, my experience so far is that the Germans have a huge superiority in 41 and it is hard to create such screw-ups that cause immediate disasters. Long-term, it will matter if you can tune your pace to get "one more" manpower center, destroy 2 more divisions or save some 2000 casualties and 5 morale points on your own Panzers, the former much more than the latter, though. Long-term, obviously one can still even win as Axis if you just conserve your forces thru blizzard and in summer 42. The Russian has a lot greater potential in 41 and 42 to create long-term screw-ups and "aid" and Axis victory. As Russian I always feel like living hand-to-mouth with little reserves for any contingency.
Concept: I have decided on a Moscow centric game plan, with a twist. I will come at Moscow from the south, and will initially focus all extra resources and reinforcements on AGS. My idea is to try and make more rapid gains in the south than normal, while giving IdahoNYer the idea I am trying for a deep southern penetration strategy. Then, when the time is right, I will swing from the south towards Moscow, hopefully from the flank and behind a bit and come at Moscow from two directions.
Interesting twist, I must admit. If you can secure a lot of terrain south, you may open chances to truly cut off all of it in 42. That is, if blizzard doesn't roll you back a long way (hardly any defensible terrain there), and if you accept the risk of a Stalingrad... I usually push hard in North and Center since in 41 the Russian counters are much weaker than they will ever be while the terrain up there is pretty good defensive terrain. It is much harder to get through the swamps and woods to Leningrad or to Moscow by 42, while the South remains perfect offensive terrain in 42.
Army Group North: AGN will make a dash for Leningrad using the initial forces assigned to the army group. In addition, I plan on giving AGN an additional reserve army with at least three korps to hold its right flank. I will try and make AGNs attack toward Leningrad as convincing as possible, and if by some chance the Soviets fail to protect the city adequately, or I am surprisingly lucky, I may take the city. At a minimum, I want the Soviets to believe that the attack is real, and to either divert more troops than necessary to the sector, or at a minimum evacuate the industry. Any troops sent by the Russians to the north, will not be in the south or around Moscow.
Once things bog down, and it appears that little more can be gained in the Leningrad sector, I will pull 4 Pz Group and send it to AGC or AGS.
Sounds like you don't weaken AGN, which means you ought to be able to take Leningrad given the dice gods are happy. You should seriously attempt taking it as it will free the Finns, which are very powerful infantry to start with. They are a force multiplier for AGN throughout 43 at least. Moreover, Leningrad is a large manpower center, and as war was in first place about destroying the enemy army, destroying manpower is like pocketing divisions.
Army Group Center: ...
Army Group South: ...
Sounds like a well conceived plan. Sending 1 Pz Korps from Heeresgruppe Mitte to Heeresgruppe Süd is the force efficient minimum for the Lvov pocket. I usually mix forces a bit, taking 1 Panzer Division, 1 Motorized, and IR(mot.) GD to perform this task. In PBEM, maybe a little more forces are necessary, though many AARs succeed with the same mix. With the remaining fast Divs in AGC, the landbridge is doable. I think the situation by turn 8 will show whether swinging AGC's armor south or southwesterly instead of rushing it to Moscow will make sense. Usually I aim for the opposite, i.e. I try to reunite the PzKorps detached from Pz.Gruppe 2 by a rush north after a breakthrough in the rear of Kiev has been achieved. They can be meet by some Panzers of AGC half way, and bag Kaluga and Tula and possibly Kursk that way.
As far as overall thoughts, I believe an Axis player should aim for manpower centers and destroying units rather than terrain or factories. The Russian potential was so huge that it would have been almost impossible for the Germans to cripple the Red Army by depriving it of war materials, not to mention that the US could and certainly would even have upped lend-and-lease in such a case. Also, the thought should start to include the blizzard measures by turn 8, i.e. when you can see what Russian losses were caused and whether the Russian blizzard offensive may be powerful. Generally I agree with Hoths and Guderians thinking back then, slowly retreat and only hold key positions, and perhaps only those until all formations can pull out safely. In the south, this is smarter than in the north because of the terrain, naturally.
Do you have any special house rules regarding the 1st winter? Are you allowed to rail out a few of your best Panzer, Mot and infantry divisions for winter-quarters until March or so? It is borderline to do so with large numbers, but ultimately it is just using hindsight as much as the opponent can use hindsight on defending Leningrad hard while not sacrificing Armies in the "indefensible" South, or so many other areas, so maybe this is one "area" where both players ought to find a house rule?
Ah, one more thought: Don't be too cautious with advancing your infantry divisions. In my first two games as Axis, I held them back way too long to secure and eliminate pockets. I wouldn't do this anymore. All you need is to secure rail lines so that the repair units can go fast, and/or if a huge pockets "funnels" your supplies to the easternmost Panzer spearheads through tight flanks, open wider and more direct corridors so that supply flow is good. Otherwise, you really don't need to leave much infantry behind.
Anyway, I am very excited to watch your plans unfold... Good Luck!
< Message edited by janh -- 7/12/2012 11:48:59 AM >