From: Beijing, China
Having been following on your AAR, quite a enjoyment!
As for gamey, i actually learned this word from this forum Personally i don't feel a thing in this respect, positive or negative, because this is a "game" after all. Actually I come up with quite a lot of "gamey" ideas beside this one. I can understand people want to role-play in a historical way and that is why they stick to historical OOB, etc. Perfectly fine. It's just the Soviet-Nazi war was so complicated and complex and a game just can't reflect everything accurately and soon or later you'll realize it's just a game, sadly.
For example, I find the "historical" withdrawal thing quite abnormal, you are doing good/bad and all of sudden one of your major spearhead panzer division needs to be withdrawn(yes i am talking about the 10th panzer)? and somehow you are supposed to know it in advance? Come on, most of the withdrawal decision was ad-hoc ones and was planned no more than a few months or weeks in prior.
Back to the topic, the leader check on front level could make a difference if you don't have decent leaders on army level, and that is why many soviet player appoint Zhukov to Northwest first thing. I don't have much experience so someone might be willing to share if that practice brings noticeable better performance.
When later in the game you have qualified army commanders in position, i don't think front leader checks matter that much. and that's also why i believe many good leaders are wasted there, they should be demoted to lead an army, maybe a tank one