First off, I'd like to thank Terje. He is very timely with moves and has stuck it out through three games. In this game, I'm sure he got tired virtually kicking me to Asia and beating the snot out of me for over two years. It was an exciting game and I had lots of fun, although when my wife started rooting for Terje, I got kind of concerned. Also, Terje is the unmatched master of awesome AARs.
Anyway, here's a brief recap of how I saw the war.
I really thought my 1941 campaign worked out really well and the 3rd turn mud didn't help him at all. As in our last game, I made it a priority to hold Leningrad and when Terje was slow to get to Pskov, I figured I'd do the best I could. Terje did however do better in 1941 this game than the previous one, which I suspected would happen. Russian casualties were relatively light and I started dreaming of the 8 million man horde. That's pretty much the good news for the Red Army.
The blizzard was fairly frustrating in that I really could only take what Terje gave me and he conducted the retreat in a very orderly fashion and really limited the number of attacks I could make. I think I only generated one guard division and eliminated six divisions. He really did very well. Terje, and some others, have wondered why I didn't retreat after the blizzard and I suppose, in retrospect, it would've been the thing to do. The real problem I had was that in my mind, this game was turning our like the previous game. True, I didn't do as much damage to the Wehrmacht but I actually got even more western territory. Someone on the forum thought that I had become complacent and I have to admit that was true, but a little understated. Actually, I became overconfident. I assumed that the offensive Terje in this game would be only a little improved from the previous game and the summer of '41 seemed to indicate that.
It was in the blizzard, however that I made my most significant error which would have an important effect on future operations. For some reason, after the summer of '41, I decided to build a bazillion brigades and upgrade them to divisions. A sea of units which his panzers would have to wade through losing movement points and time and strength. What I was hoping to do was to gain some early defensive successes and discourage Terje from launching major large scale offensives in '42, which is pretty much what happened in our previous game. I thought that he may have been disappointed in the Wehrmacht's performance in '41 and might be induced to go over on the defense early, since he had pretty impressive defensive successes late in the previous game and I assumed he would improve on them. Some apparently suggested to him that he do just that. Good thing for Terje that he didn't!
Ok, back to reality. In our previous game I never built any brigades until I needed to create infantry corps in early '43 which worked out well, as I had no lack of units or men. What I had forgotten (and used to know) is that too many units inevitably resulted in most of your units being very weak. I noticed it in March '42 when Terje was easily able to push my units and my TOEs were very low across the board. This alarmed me somewhat (but not enough) and I opted more for carpet defenses which is generally not a good choice in '42. Once the weather cleared in '42, Terje began systematically creating small pockets of usually 6-10 divisions or so, and for a while, I just considered it to be the cost of doing business. However, I was somewhat alarmed that Terje was doing this since there wasn't much of that in the last game. I determined to continue defending in depth (usually 4-5 or more units deep) and wait and see. The thought of a large scale retreat really never crossed my mind. After all, more manpower for the good guys.
Anyway, Terje progressed from making relatively small pockets to bigger ones and then to significant penetrations. This really alarmed me because my CV values were very low due to building too many divisions and I began to realize that I was not really able to slow the Wehrmacht significantly and that Terje wasn't just going to sit back and dig in. About this point, I began to understand the effect that the excess divisions were having on my operational performance. Then, early in the '42 campaigning season, Terje conducted a series of operations which resulted in the largest pocket I had ever seen. I estimated it at about 2.5 million men, but counting exactly got to be tedious, but I think it's a good estimate. What happened to the REAL Terje!! At this point, I realized that I was more or less doomed. I had managed to snatch defeat from the very jaws of victory. At least I did it in a big way though. It was sort of like Napoleon watching the Prussians appear on the Waterloo battlefield and wondering what happened to Grouchy. Just worse.
Anyway, after the struggle to reform the front, I began to experiment with different defense deployments in order to slow the Wehrmacht down. Carpet didn't work. Stacked defense in depth didn't work. Checkerboard didn't work. The only reasonable thing to have done would've been to make a large scale retreat and I was reluctant to do that as I was afraid that he would continue to inflict incredible damage whether I retreated or not. In retrospect, it would've helped and limited the damage somewhat, but would not have saved me from ultimate defeat. Perhaps I could've avoided auto victory, but I'm not sure. I had lost so many units that many of the brigades I had built with the intention to turn them into divisions were not converted simply because I was finding a need to use them to provide some small amount of depth to the defense or some movement point loss up front. It was much later that I built any tank corps and then only about ten or so. The tank brigades were often used for rushing to plug holes and put ZOCs in front of his advancing panzers.
Some here suggested that my real trouble was that I built too many corps and that was a big reason for the Red Army's obvious OOB troubles. In reality, I only built about six infantry corps before '43. In fact, I saved 500 APs with the intention of building many corps in Jan '43 and hoped to use them to slow the Wehrmacht some. What actually transpired is that the Red Army got low on divisions and I used most of those APs to produce more divisions to cover the front. At its peak, there were only about 65 corps total at the peak of corps production. I was unable to cope with the pace of Terje's operations and continued to lose units in clumps turn after turn. The AP crunch began to have a major effect in '43 as I found that I needed to create divisions to plug holes and the Red Army was losing more APs than gaining. Actually, I created brigades and converted them to divisions due to the morale bonus.
So, in retrospect, I ought to have built a LOT fewer divisions early, retreated in '42 and been a lot less passive. I also made a number of operational errors but I kind of expect that.
Terje makes for a wonderful opponent and I really appreciated playing him. I'm also happy that each of us managed to complete the games until victory was determined. I have always thought that when you lose, the other guy should have the satisfaction of grinding you to a pulp and enjoy the fruits of victory. My sincere and heartfelt congratulations to Terje for his excellent play, great sportsmanship and incredible reliability. Many thanks also for the incredible AARs he does. Finally, thank you to all who commented during the AAR on my play. I learned a lot and was thankful that you were all pretty charitable towards my play consider what a wondrous mess I made of things.