From: Kinmel bay
28th June - off and waltzing
I was trying to think of a way to get some Strauss into the title, but Blue Don is about the best I could come up with. Anyway, Olivier had obviously got tired of kicking me all around the frozen snowy Steppe, as after two games of Uranus we decided to have a pop at Case Blue itself. And by the way, if you decide to retreat the 6th Army from Stalingrad, be very careful how you go about it, our last game got very messy indeed and I ended up with a pocket that also included two of my relieving panzer divisions
Havent done an AAR for a little while, but as there arent that many going on at the moment I thought I'd do another one.
Anyway, Case Blue. We decided on a couple of house rules. Firstly, no using the northern edge of the board for encirclements and secondly, the Germans are not going to advance much beyond Voronezh in the north, only going for any specific minor objectives or to give the rail line a bit of protection. No hard and fast rule, just a bit of a gentleman's agreement. Basically we both want to fight Case Blue and be butting heads in the Caucasus and Stalingrad...stupidity is historic Similarly for Russian planes on the ground, we didnt make a specific house rule for this, I just didnt refresh my memory as to where the Soviet airfields were and just launched my air attacks where I thought they would be. Of course I forgot entirely and only managed to get one set of Russian fighters on the ground.
Before I started my turn I had a look round to see what general were available for replacements. Out of the three excellent generals that can turn up early on only Rauss was in the pool. He has taken over at 17th Army so he can build up his freedom card which is one of my favourites. Ruoff has gone off to take over one of the 4th Panzer Army corps instead. I know the obvious choice is Paulus, but I umm and arred and couldnt quite bring myself to do it.
I had a good long think about some of the mistakes I've made with my panzers in previous games and decided that in the first turn my main objective was speed. I didnt play one attacking card, but just about every unit that managed a breakthrough had a speed card played on them. I also made the concious decision to attack, attack and attack again, especially in the north. You dont often get the opportunity to have your units fresh and full artillery stacked up, so I wanted to breakthrough in as many places as possible and give Olivier lots to think about. I know some players (i.e. those with a little bit of sense in their heads) like to do more precision attacks, but the first turn to me is about killing Russians and then using the speed cards to disrupt their communications.
From 2nd Army down to 4th Panzer Army this went very well and I was able to actually end up encircling a lot of the Russian defenders, not tight pockets, but certainly enough to make the defenders think.
40th panzer corps in 6th Army didnt do quite as well. I guess I'm pleased that my play has improved, but I'm still prone to making errors. Nothing catastrophic, just that Olivier will get his troops out here when some of them could have ended up encircled.
The vague plan for 1st Panzer Army at the moment is to get the panzer corps pushing north to help out 6th Army, the other reason being that there is good clear terrain to attack in there. My thoughts on this is that Olivier is too good a player to leave with much in the way of opportunity around Voroshilovgrad, so I'm hoping to unhinge his whole southern defensive lines all the way back to Rostov by attacking downwards from the north. Obviously this is wildly optimistic and the plan will probably not survive the first couple of turns.
As for 17th Army, I'm not set in stone what to do yet. The vague plan is to not go for Rostov head on at all, I just think it is too tough to take against a decent Russian opponent. The bulk of 17th Army will head to the first railway line to the north of Rostov and start to push down that way, hopefully helped by the 1st Army panzers threatening the communications by advancing back down from their northern positions. My plan is to bring the Italians in as a screening force directly in front of Rostov.
I wont be reporting on what happens at Sevastapol. Basically it will fall in a few turns, no doubt after Olivier has withdrawn most of his forces, and then I'll work out a better use for 11th Army. If anything out of the ordinary happens I'll report on it, but until then just assume the usual pattern of assaults is happening.
Now all of this takes time and I am determined to not get rushed into any attacks. I'm quite happy taking heavy losses to my panzer units, but only if it equates to territory and high Soviet losses. My plan for this game is to not waste my prestige playing the more time cards, they are just too expensive. I am going to replicate the tactics I used in Uranus. Forget about prestige and use the ambition cards as a last resort every time I am nearing dismissal. I want to try and keep my forces intact. Whether this works or not remains to be seen; so I could be going down in a big ball of gooey mess quite soon
Anyway, here is the map at the end of the first German turn: