From: Kinmel bay
22nd September - Stalingrad - decision time on the Volga
Crazy, crazy couple of turns and it was about to get a whole lot bloodier. But, there is reasoning behind the madness on several levels. Firstly, every Russian tank I take out now is one less I have to face come the winter, this is quite important as if I can keep German troops defending all along the line then I have a chance of holding on.
Secondly though, and far more important, is the crisis I am suffering in prestige. I currently have two prestige and my most important objectives are Stalingrad by 10th October for 10 prestige and Krasnodar by 28th September for 8 prestige. Okay, worse case scenario, I dont take either of them. With them spread apart that means that I have to play the more time or ambition cards at least twice to survive. To be honest (and until it happens I wont know) I dont think it will be possible. My current situation is that I have to pay 25pps for the ambition card and 33 for the more time card. I should be able to afford one of them once, but depending on which it is (i.e. if I play the more time card if I know I will take the objectives) then that could be it. So that would mean it would be game over by 18th October.
So, do I want to perhaps survive on the off chance that I might be able to afford the cards, or do I go down fighting trying desperately to take my objectives? I think the only solution is to fight on and hope that somewhere in the carnage the last German standing will raise the flag over Stalingrad.
I have to say the prestige and cards, especially with the dismissal rule on are what makes this game a great historical simulation. I know there are certain points that arent quite historical and yes the OOB should have this or that unit withdrawn or added sooner, but the most important point is that with the high command rules in play it really does give the correct feel of the campaign. There is no way I would want to fight the bloody battles I am if I wasnt under any kind of high command pressure, but with that pressure I have to keep on the attack at whatever the cost.
....and on that note.....
...carnage.... utter, utter carnage!
To the north of Stalingrad with Olivier's counter attacks last turn I actually have a sniff of his armoured units as some of them are near enough to hopefully cause some damage. On the previous turn I transferred all my fighters and divebombers from the Kuban back into the Stalingrad region. So it is time to take the Soviets on in the air again. It has to be said that the results of the fighter battles were definitely in Olivier's favour again. I managed to launch an attack on one of his fighter bases this turn which made the overall losses in my favour, but still no where near enough to turn the tide.
What this does mean is that I am able to have a clear run at Olivier's mechanized and tank corps to the north. It is not often I will get this kind of chance. my normal rule is to only use the divebombers with readiness in the 90s, but I wont be getting freedom in the skies for a long time again. So every single bomber of any description attacks this turn whatever their readiness for it. Overall losses are too difficult to keep track of now but I am definitely pleased with the amount of damage I cause his mobile troops.
Next it is the turn of LI corps to launch another assault. I am 50/50 on this one but decide to try and keep the pressure on for one last turn. Unfortunately the assault fails and they probably wont be able to attack again for at least another two turns.
11th army has more success though and a push his made by 50th division out of Pitomik airfield which takes them up to the edge of Stalingrad - they are aided in this by an attack card played by Manstein. It is going to be very close as divisions are gradually getting burnt out, but one more hex will allow me to start the assault on Stalingrad itself. If only LI corps had managed to take their hex I could be looking at beginning the assault in two more turns. I still think my chances of taking it are remote, but I am definitely in with a chance.
...and so onto the whirling maelstrom of death that is the steppe north of Stalingrad. I am not here to gain any ground or any wide sweeping gestures, all I am trying to do is to keep the Soviet mobile forces concentrated away from my infantry so they can concentrate on the street fighting.
I take a couple more hexes and the Soviet losses are awful, but then I try and take on the mobile divisions and I come to a bloody halt as my forces are torn apart by the massed ranks of Russian anti tank guns and T34s. I am quite pleased with the amount of losses caused though.
I am also bringing up two divisions from 1st panzer army. They are going to stay on the rail lines in reserve and will only commit to the attack if needed.
Looking through I do still have some fairly fresh divisions, so I am not quite done yet. The attack will continue.