BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (Full Version)

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Staufenberg44 -> BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/17/2020 6:20:55 PM)

Intro & Game Comments:

Whenever I go and see the Führer, I've got a loaded pistol in my pocket. - Franz Halder

I've had Barbarossa for a few months and finally found some time to give it a dedicated run-through, frankly thanks to virus quarantines and heatwaves here. I intend to post a full campaign AAR. It's the only scenario proferred which is a great decision. Barbarossa was intended to be a knock-out campaign by winter, or at least not long after into the New Year. Anything less was unimaginable to German planners.

I'm a scenario designer from way back and my own model of this--Drang nach Osten (TOAW--also ending late January 42) -- was far more detailed in terms of map and units as far as that goes, but this design inhabits other dimensions. First off let me say there are a few mostly cosmetic items in Barbarossa that will surely strike wargaming grognards, although they are nothing a mod could not easily rectify:

--Unit type IDs--no special mountain division NATO symbols and other fussy particulars. Panzergrenadier divisions should be portrayed as motorized infantry as they were lucky to have even one btn per rgt in half tracks.
--a map with washed-out colours that looks somewhat like a playtest development map, many critical towns and features omitted or overly simplified.
--some visual elements are just a bit too gamey, but that's neither here nor there.
--Unit colours--Red for Russians when the accepted choice is tan (which the later conscript divisions appear in), and feldgrau for the Germans not generic ash-gray.

I only mention these clearly minor items to make the point that wargamers can be a fickle and fussy bunch, myself included, and that perhaps these issues, along with the game's unusual 'outside the box' complexity, are part of the reasons for a startlingly sparse forum a few years after its release. A quick glance at the game can be off-putting for some. I am here to rectify that impression if I can. I consider this Barbarossa model a gem, and not rough-cut either.

Und so: Like one of those muscle car Roadrunners built from 1968-1980, you had a basic unimpressive stock body, but underneath was the magic--proven 383-cid V-8, but with heads, manifolds, camshaft, valve springs, and crankcase windage tray from the big, bad 440 Magnum. With its four-barrel carb and unsilenced air cleaner, the new mill made 335 bhp. I recall fondly those rubber-burning takeoffs outside of highschool at the time.

Likewise this Barbarossa model when you lift the hood is seriously potent in terms of detail and dynamics that incorporate unit strengths, experience, readiness, morale, fuel/ammo supply, Army commander benefits, designated Army heavy artillery, Luftwaffe support and focused Army assets, along with their overall stance from an aggressive Blitzkreig posture to Defensive, with Sustained Assault in-between. On top of this there are layers of critical decision-making that amp things up onto the uber-operational and strategic, immediately accompanied by the over-arching byzantine flux of relationships, pro and con, with personages in the Nazi and Wehrmacht hierarchies (I use the two adjectives on purpose to note their separation); all this under-girded by the designer's obsession with statistics and detail not seen since Gary Grigsby's fine efforts in days of wargaming yore. If it was a mouthful just writing and describing it thus, try playing it out. This is an inspired and unique model clearly aimed at Ostfrontniks like myself and diehard gamers. I believe the designer in his notes somewhere said it all aims at being "immersive"; and yep, it is. Not to despair though, many options at the beginning are offered to 'tone it down' into more simplified game-play.

But don't do it. Experience the full blast of all the minutae and critical decisions-to-be-made the model incessantly fires at you (Franz Halder), Chief of Staff of the Army High Command (OKH: Oberkommando des Heeres), uber-high-ranking staff officer who directed the planning and implementation of Operation Barbarossa, and is now in the thick of this full-bore campaign surrounded by a ravening pack of Nazi political hacks and ruthless army careerists. It's like a mental game of warball attempting to dodge shots from Hitler, Jodl, Keitel, von Brauchitsch, Leeb, Bock and Rundstedt, Wagner and Gercke, trick shots from Göring, Himmler and Goebbels, not to mention the odious Nazi Goldfasanen ("golden pheasant") Alfred Rosenberg, Reichminister of Occupied Eastern Territories. Hitler's dead hand is a constant threat to your win in this, but piss off your Army Group commanders on top of that and you are toast and will surely be dismissed--a sudden-death sword of Damocles that hangs over your head the entire campaign. All of these decisions forced upon you will affect how well your Army Groups will perform under your command. Go head, just play it like your regular board game: push units and attack, ignore the politics... and lose, badly. Get used to wading through the stack of reports on your desk every turn and play the Barbarossa Lottery with every decision you make. Feel the stress... but also the satisfaction in deciding well.

I'll add further comments on this as the AAR progresses. But let me say that as a veteran of hundreds of Ostfront recreations (18 of them self-designed) this is one of the most eclectic and clever studies of the campaign I have seen to date. I hope this AAR will generate interest and bring new players to this finely tooled piece of work. Hats off to the designers and if you can supply us with an editor--as you did with Case Blue, it would be most appreciated. I'd love to work on that map.

[Alas, in exchanges with Victor Reijkersz it's confirmed that no editor is coming for Barbarossa: "long story short is that there is too much hard scripting and it could cause bugs."]


To the War:

The play-through of this campaign has progressed in amazingly historical fashion up to early December where presently the 29th Mtz Div, the Falke-Division (Falcon Division), is pushing into the suburbs of Moscow from the north-east, and it's bloody cold. But no spoilers--read on to find out what happens. I intend to post it all here komme, was da wolle (come what may).

Game Settings: AI set at challenging and Slow AI speed (improved performance--we'll see).
Political notes: I've chosen no Geneva Convention, historical, and at the dreaded Führerkonferenze, I opted for "Moscow or Bust!" which did not go down well mit der GRÖFAZ (Größter Feldherr aller Zeiten: "Greatest Field Commander of all Time"), a decision I will come to regret later on in the campaign for specific reasons which shall unfold. My main aim is to keep all three Armeegruppe commanders happy (Leeb, Bock and Rundstedt north to south), as well as Generals Wagner, road supply (trucks) and Gercke, the Reichsbahn (railroads). I have no intention of joining the Nazi party (tempting for all those political point benefits you immediately get with Hitler's approval but, yeah... no), and I will attempt to thread the needle with Hitler and Himmler re the verdammte Einsatzgruppen and hopefully avoid a war crimes tribunal if we should lose this war.

[My historical counterpart managed to dodge the noose after the war mostly because, while he had not been part of the July 20/44 plot to kill Hitler, he had been involved in earlier attempts--that and the fact that the post-war (read cold-war) Pentagon viewed him as very useful and blocked further trials of Herr Halder who died in Bavaria in 1972, the only person to have received both the Meritorious Service Award from the Americans, as well as the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross from Hitler. In fact he became lead consultant for the US Army Historical Division and relentlessly pushed his apologia of a "clean Wehrmacht" in its war with Russia. He was lucky to get away with this as his involvement in the Barbarossa Decree and Commissar Order are quite damning.]

Some of my comments channeling Halder are noted as direct quotes from his personal diary, others are not.

Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/17/2020 6:24:26 PM)

June 22-26 AGN & AGM:

The war against Russia is an important chapter in the German nation's struggle for existence. [...] The objective of this battle must be the demolition of present-day Russia and must therefore be conducted with unprecedented severity. Every military action must be guided in planning and execution by an iron resolution to exterminate the enemy remorselessly and totally. In particular, no adherents of the contemporary Russian Bolshevik system are to be spared. -Franz Halder

All formations set on blitzkreig posture! I can't resist quoting part of the Introduction to my Drang nach Osten scenario here (DNO-TOAW):

It's early morning June 22nd, 1941 as German Soldaten wait for the artillery to open up in the forests by the Nieman and Bug rivers and along the foothills of the Carpathians. The clock ticks down to the start of the greatest military campaign in history. The politicians and philosophers can worry about the nuances: a crusade against Communism struck a chord in rank and file. Confidence was high, and why not? They were the best, they knew they were. The Soviets had performed abysmally against the heroic Finns, and had not their fathers, diese alten Kameraden, brought Russia to its knees in WWI, dictating terms to that defeated state at Brest Litovsk in 1917? They could surely do it again.

The misdirected pride and nationalist hubris of entire generations of Germans went into that drive to the East. Imagining themselves champions of western Order and Civilisation, filled with a rediscovered national pride after the humiliations of Versailles, they had something to prove and will fight with incredible élan and skill this first summer campaign, surpassing the accomplishments of any field army since Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.

AGN and AGM have sent their panzers deep, pushing towards Riga and Daugavapils in the north, and Minsk in the center, as well as decimating the huge Bialostock pocket. The die-hard defenders of Brest Litovsk were surrounded and heavy siege artillery reduced their formidable fortifications before the final assault captured the place apart from the fanatics still resisting in the inner citadel.

The Red Army seems totally unprepared, many tanks unable to move without fuel, their artillery being pulled along, where it can, by tractors commandeered from local peasants. But this isn't France 1940 as there is often stubborn fanatical resistance and our losses climb in spite of the crushing successes.


Staufenberg44 -> Barbarossa AAR (6/18/2020 3:12:50 AM)

June 22-26 AGS:

In the south von Rundstedt has 17.A clearing the road east to Lvov and Kleist's PzGrp knifing down to the NE of Lvov. Resistance, as always here, is surprisingly fierce. Following this Kleist's Group pocketed a number of Soviet tank and mech formations east of Lvov.

The unit TOE make-up presented pictorially is a very nice touch; that said however I think that the T-35, Stalin's pride and joy with 5 (count them) turrets, would have been nice to see depicted. They were all in the 34th tank division SW of Lvov and were a huge surprise for the Germans--not that they did well, most broke down, ran out of gas and were destroyed or captured. The fact that the pragmatic Germans passed on using these 100-ton captured tanks--say, even in Yugoslavia fighting partisans--says it all: Stalin's "land battleship" was a bust; in any case, one captured T-35 was used as a fixed fortification and barricade in Zossen. One tank survives today and is preserved in running condition at the Kubinka Tank Museum near Moscow.

[To get a sense of scale with the image of the tank below, the average man's head standing beside it would just reach the upper track. There were iron rung ladders both sides to get on it]


comte -> RE: Moderator please delete (6/18/2020 6:08:01 PM)

Looking forward to this and more of your thoughts [8D]

Staufenberg44 -> Barbarossa AAR (6/18/2020 7:25:42 PM)

July 4th AGN & AGM:

Things are progressing well with a number of critical locations taken. Grodno was taken with it's bridge intact; alas the Soviets blew the bridge at Kaunus before Hoth could get there. But the coup de grace saw SS Totenkopf storming and capturing the bridge at Daugavpils intact, a critical crossing (and historically were aided by Brandenbergers driving up in Russian trucks and uniforms, seizing the bridge and holding it for hours before being relieved).

I tried hard to replicate Guderian's drive in AGM but some issues with the map and starting positions made that near impossible. Hoth arrived north of Minsk, but Guderian could not swing around to the south to make the historical envelopment. Soviet mech and tank units were north of the main road Brest-Minsk historically, not lined up on it for hundreds of kms. They were pretty much paralyzed and effectively screened as Guderian's tanks roared towards Minsk. The hapless Soviet Front commander Pavlov should be pinned in Minsk with certain formations as he was equally paralyzed and was the first high ranking general to be shot on Stalin's orders following the complete debacle of Soviet frontier forces inflicted by AGM.

The second issue has to do with the overly prohibitive swamp and forest terrain costs here. The white line and arrow I added indicates Guderian's route through this area and he went through very fast. Simple country roads they may have been but not a serious impediment for tracked vehicles in dry high summer (or the rugged Opel Blitz for that matter). The map would benefit from the addition of seasonal minor roads in critical places like this. These roads would basically disappear during rasputitsa, but still usable in winter at a higher cost. This would make a big difference.

In the rear the fortress at Brest Litovsk fell and the infantry is marching forward, keeping a close eye on the swamps to their right. In previous games it has been noted the Soviet AI will lunge out and create a long flank here if it spots a gap and this can cause huge problems.

[Note: "AI" denotes "artificial intelligence" which it really is not. In my work I referred to it as the "PO" (Programmed Opponent), but that said this is one of the best Ostfront PO's I have bumped up against. I'll relent and call it the AI in any case. This opponent will aggressively exploit any holes you leave in your front. Count on it.]

The war is won! -from Halder's diary, July 3rd 1941.


Staufenberg44 -> Barbarossa AAR (6/18/2020 7:46:21 PM)

July 4th 1941 AGS:

Rundstedt's southern front saw Kleist's 1.Panzergruppe as the sword sweeping south against 17.Armee's anvil, and a large number of Soviet formations were bagged around Lvov. Both armies are intended to do the sword in future, with the 11.Armee and the Romanians their anvil to the south. To the north of this one can see the Soviets were not taking this lying down and Reichenau's 6.Armee took the brunt of the blows dealt by the very able Soviet Ukrainian General Mikhail Kirponos. We were surprised at his aggressive defense, and rather shocked at the sheer number and quality of the tanks the Russians deployed (including the mythical T-35!). Losses were high and Rundstedt will be sure the grumble about it.

On this front, along with AGM and AGN, the first priority has to be grabbing major roads and RRs as fast as possible. HQs are left on roads end of the turn wherever possible.

The Luftwaffe is still tearing up things in the Russian hinterland and has not yet switched to tactical support. The Luftwaffe attache here at OKH has informed me that although the Soviet airforce (VVS) outnumbered the Luftwaffe 3-1, no less than 4000 Russian planes had been destroyed by the Luftwaffe in the first week of the campaign. I was at first slightly skeptical but unit reports by the dozen indicate that thousands of these losses were destroyed on the ground at their airfields, and those planes that managed to get into the air were swiftly dispatched.

I'm already being bothered by Himmler and Goebbels but have managed to keep all three AG commanders relatively happy. Wagner and Gercke are the Gordian knot in all this as they are like a cat and dog at each other's throats half the time. What dummkopf decided that one peevish general should be in charge of truck transport, and the other in charge of the trains?

Finally, the distrust from Hitler is a thorny issue as there do not appear to be many options to sway him with--other than joining the Nazi party. Taking the Hitler oath helped a bit (there is no choice with this, man muss), but hell or high water I won't be joining the Party!

In the far south the Romanian front has come to life and advances are being made rapidly, mostly due to the collapse of the Russian front around Lvov I think, and the AI choosing a retrograde strategy. 11.Armee, destined to be led by Manstein down the road, is performing well as is to be expected.


Staufenberg44 -> Barbarossa AAR (6/18/2020 8:50:19 PM)

July 8th AGM & AGN

Guderian heads to the south-east, not just to replicate the historical, but knowing that the Gomel area is a pivotal hinge between north and south and has to be taken asap. Both PzGrps enveloped Minsk and Hoth is pushing towards Vitebsk, and Guderian towards Orsha to clear the main road quickly and has taken the town of Mogilev in a coup de main on the Dniepr River. Soviet 21.A is almost eingeschlossen south of the town of Borisov (missing on this map).

In the north Hoepner's PzGrp is making excellent advances, capturing Ostrov on the road to Pskov. Because Hitler has Leningrad as his 1st objective, city captures on this axis give more political points (hereafter "PPs"). The Forward Supply Base (hereafter "FSB") was moved to Kaunus last turn but note the roundabout route Gercke has sent his trains--all because the verdammte bridge at Kaunus was blown. Still, supplies are moving well. Von Kuchler's 19.A is tasked with clearing Kurland asap and investing Riga, before driving north into Estonia.

A very cranky Brauchitsch has imperiously summoned me to Zossen to meet in person as he is "troubled by things." viel Spaß!

[For those who aren't aware, Zossen was a fortress complex 20 kms south of Berlin expertly camouflaged as one would expect, from which central planning for field operations of the Wehrmacht took place.]


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/18/2020 9:09:08 PM)

July 8th AGS:

As with the game GO the best move to make is creating pockets of Russian troops and then subsequently reducing them when their combat strength nosedives. This is very apparent in the south as Rundstedt methodically advances with more kessels north of Tarnopol in the offing. Kleist has been ordered to clear to road to Vinnitsa asap with a view to getting our FSB moved there when it is expeditious. Both Guderian and Kleist have a big white G or K on the back of all their thousands of vehicles which seems a nice touch.

I had hoped to pin the southern armies in front of Odessa but the AI was too wily for that and the Romanians are as surprised as I am to be investing Odessa already.

The Luftwaffe is now supplying extremely effective ground support to the armoured spearheads of Kleist's 1.PzGrp in the south, 2.PzG Guderian in AGM, and Hoepner's 4.PzGrp in AGN. The resulting boost in combat power attacking is a splendid thing to behold.


nikdav -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/19/2020 8:39:27 AM)

Thanks for sharing this interesting AAR, as all your scenarios (Toaw)!


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/19/2020 2:56:09 PM)

My pleasure Nikdav, and thank-you.

Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/19/2020 5:04:08 PM)

AGN July 16-24

A momentous time for AGN and I have maintained a "strong" level relationship with their commander von Leeb. Kurland is compressed rapidly and Riga invested. Both are subsequently cleared and an option to land supplies by sea at Riga is taken up by von Leeb. 16.A begins it's march north into Estonia. But it's Hoepner's drive north with his PzGrp.4 that has them popping the champagne at Zossen as he took both Luga and Novgorod rapidly indeed--at this rate we'll be in Leningrad in a week or two!

There are, however, distinct warning signs. The supply line is tenuous as the newly set-up FSB at Ostrov is not yet fully functional. The fuel used by the panzers has Hoepner changing the 4.PzGrp posture to Sustained Offensive. As well, the swampy terrain is a huge hindrance.

A major issue has developed back in Kaunas with the Einsatzgruppen engaged in repellent "rear area clean-up." I complained verbally to Brauchitsch and he agreed, but what can we do really?--Himmler has their backs, and presumably Hitler as well.

I decided to pay a visit to AGN HQ to give them a morale boost. I got a very warm welcome and the goulash at Brotzeit was quite good.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/19/2020 5:40:49 PM)

AGM July 16-24

If there had been the afore-mentioned "country roads" from the Minsk area to Gomel (this should be corrected down the road, pardon the pun), Guderian would have swept across N and NE of Gomel... but past experience has shown those swamp areas around Gomel are utterly impervious to mech movement, better in fact than any fortification.

But I pulled an ace from my sleeve and have the newly formed 2.Armee under Weichs forming up west of Gomel and his intended offensive east is indicated on the map. This in place I agreed with Guderian that the best thing to do now was to coordinate with Pz.Grp 3 (Hoth) sweeping east, north of Vitebsk, and attempt to create a large kessel near Smolensk; again, plan is shown on the map.

Time will show how this works out as the supply lines are tenuous while the new FSB is being established at breakneck speed in Minsk. Meanwhile both Hoth and Guderian have switched their stance to Sustained Offensive.

Göring is throwing his weight around (and it's considerable), demanding more oil for his Luftwaffe. Given the critical state of our advanced panzer units both Brauchitsch and I disagree with this strongly. Meanwhile I allowed Goebbels to send in some propaganda film crews just to keep things from going completely sour between us: who knows what grief der bösartige Zwerg ("the malicious dwarf") can cause me back in Berlin if he sets his mind to it!


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/19/2020 6:08:18 PM)

AGS July 16-24

Reichenau's 6.Armee has made steady progress, managing to trap and eliminate numerous small kessels en route to the Kiev area, supported by most of the AGS heavy artillery units put at his disposal.... but not without some stiff losses as Russian tank units continuously counter-attack.

Meanwhile Kleist's 1.PzGrp, with ferocious dedicated Luftwaffe support, captures Vinnitsa and pushes very close to the Dniepr River some 100 kms SE of Kiev. SS LSAH division and 16.PzD push to within 50 kms of Kiev; however, aerial reconnaisance has indicated huge defensive works around the city and so Kleist is ordered to push SE along the river and perhaps close that kessel forming up east of Vinnitsa at Uman (not shown on this map). As I said at the outset, this campaign managed to parallel many situations that occurred historically, the Uman pocket included. As with the three other PzGruppen to the north, Kleist has switched to a Sustained Offensive posture given the plummeting fuel stocks and lengthy supply lines.

In the south the Romanians investing Odessa launched an assault which was beaten off with high casualties. I have advised the Romanian dictator Antonescu to avoid casualties like that and await expert assault engineers and siege artillery, but the man clearly considers it a point of pride to try and take the city without German help. Meanwhile, von Schobert's 11.Armee pushed across the Bug River smartly and captured Pervomaisk.

The new FSB and main Luftwaffe base were ordered to move to Proskurov. Partisan attacks are affecting the rail link and security units are ordered to protect the critical Eisenbahn units busy converting the rail gauge. After talking with Brauchitsch and Rundstedt it was decided to advance the RR from Proskurow to Kiev.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/19/2020 11:42:11 PM)

AGN July 28 - Aug 1

With extreme effort Hoepner advanced his panzers north of Luga 50 km closer to Leningrad but all attacks have ceased for the moment as the troops are exhausted and the supply lines south perilous. On my recent visit to his HQ Hoepner told me his tank crews are now part lumberjacks cutting logs to lay across the "roads" as even tracked vehicles can't otherwise advance through the morass. The ideal number of trains a day for AGN would be 24 and they are getting 4 at the moment, with 5 the bare minimum to keep the PzGrp supplied alone. As well, it is a time to wait for the hard-slogging infantry, "The Queen of Battle", to finally arrive. Certainly they will fare better in this appalling swampy terrain than the tanks!

More Einsatzgruppen outrages back at Vilnius and have submitted another verbal complaint... for all the good it will do.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/20/2020 12:12:24 AM)

AGM July 28 - Aug 1

Guderian and Hoth have managed to pull off the greatest encirclement of the war just west of Smolensk. Four Soviet armies are eingeschlossen, identified as the 19, 20, 22, and 28A. No less than 38 formations are caught in the kessel, including 10 panzer and motorisiert divisions. Brauchitsch is elated, and so am I but I am starting to feel distinctly uneasy at the ability of the Red Army to keep throwing new formations at us... time is passing and our losses mount alarmingly. We knew we were attacking a giant, but it is starting to feel like a colossus.

The Russian colossus...has been underestimated by us...whenever a dozen divisions are destroyed the Russians replace them with another dozen. -from Halder's diary.

At least the infantry has caught up and can help finish this battle, and the new FSB in Minsk will be operational in short order.

Weich's 2.Armee continues to build up strength and is making steady progress in the south towards Gomel.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/20/2020 12:40:28 AM)

AGS July 28 - Aug 1

It is crystal clear the Soviets intend to fight to the death for Kiev and aerial reconnaisance has already reported on extensive fortifications around the city with what looks like half the city's population out there digging anti-tank ditches and what have you. Because of this Reichenau's 6.A is ordered not to assault the city but to shift to the SE while maintaining pressure along the Dniepr.

A kessel with 7 Soviet divisions, 4 of them tank or mot., were surrounded near Uman by Kleist's Panzers, advance elements of 17.A and the Romanians from the south. 4 days later alles vernichtet.

Following this Kleist has advanced further to the SE and the SS Wiking division displayed fine élan charging south behind the Soviet HKL (Hauptkampflinie--Main Front Line) as another pocket is being attempted in conjunction with 11A to the south.

The Romanians continue to invest Odessa and have not made further major assaults as of this date.

Finally, it is to be noted that both the Smolensk and Uman pockets reflect what happened historically, both in time and place for the most part.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/20/2020 1:06:45 AM)

A Look Under the Hood Pt. 1:
Total Troops & Casualties


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/20/2020 4:04:43 PM)

AGN Aug 29 - Sep 6

Talinn in Estonia is too strong to directly assault and so von Leeb focuses upon the main prize--Leningrad. The infantry have cut the city off at this point and it's a pity Mannerheim does not see fit to unleash his Finns across their original 1940 borders to attack Leningrad from the north. Some panzer units have been pulled back into reserve to recoup their losses and wear & tear. 16.A under Gen Busch is covering the southern flank of operations up against the Valdai hills. Leeb and Hoepner are contemplating sending the PzGrp through there. Time will tell.

The FSB is being moved up to Luga which should help things when it is set up.

I was summoned to a Führerkonferenze at the Wolfsschanze and did my best to placate the man (for reasons which will become clear below) but had no luck by simply agreeing with his latest Führerbefehle 35 with these priorities: 1) Leningrad 2) Rostov 3) Moscow 4) Destruction of Soviet Army HQs.

Why push for Moscow when his mind was already made up? It would only worsen our already poor relationship.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/20/2020 4:25:19 PM)

AGM Aug 29 - Sep 6

After some desperate breakout battles from the Smolensk kessel (all failed but were costly) the entire pocket was cleared. Given the overall situation it is compelling to send Guderian south to help pocket the large number of forces defending Kiev, especially since a straight-in assault on that city by AGS alone would be extremely costly. The plan was adopted and Guderian headed south and Kleist's 1st PzGrp ordered to retrace it's tracks north back to the Dnepr and prepare to force a crossing near Cherkassy. Meanwhile Hoth is engaged in local attacks and preparing for any attempted Soviet offensives near Smolensk.

There's just one big fly in the ointment with this... My relationship with Hitler is in the negatives, which means I cannot request a PzGrp to leave it's theater and operate in one adjacent without penalty. Hitler may have ordered this move by Guderian historically but this is a different situation and I have to play the hand I am dealt since his latest Directive 35 still sees Leningrad as the main goal, then Rostov, Moscow and last but not least the destruction of Soviet Army HQs. [The designers might consider revising this FB 35 with a fair chance of making Kiev a priority #1 if it is still held, and no matter what the relationship Halder/Hitler, to automatically allow an AGM PzGrp to operate in Rundstedt's theater without penalty, and further ahead I will note that another Historical Hitler priority was taking Sevastopol and the Crimea which clearly should be a part of his Führerbefehle 35).]

I'll limit the number of PzGrp 2's units that cross the theater boundary to minimize the PP penalties I will pay. Kleist will have to go into overdrive to link up with Guderian--c'est la guerre!


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/20/2020 4:40:59 PM)

AGS Aug 29 - Sep 6

It's not shown on these maps but Kleist's Pz.Grp, after elminating the Uman kessel was sent south to turn the flank of the Soviet HKL facing 11.A and the Romanians, and thereby expedite things there. This task was not completely finished when he was directed to return north to the Dnepr post haste to attempt a link up with Guderian coming down from AGM. Donnerwetter! if we can pull this one off it will mark a major turning point in this gigantic Ostkrieg.

Kleist's luck held with the weather and he launched his assault across the Dnepr some 60 kms SE from Cherkassy. This assault caught the Soviets completely by surprise and his panzer and mot. units surged north very quickly. At this point advance Panzeraufklärer units from his Panzergruppe and Guderian's to the north have established contact, be it ever so tenuous. Now things will get interesting. We had expected to trap more units than the Smolensk kessel; however, 37 Red Army formations (one less than Smolensk) plus their Front HQ + subordinate Army HQs is an equally satisfying result! What is interesting is that the AI put far more troops into the defense in front of Smolensk than Kiev.

AGM units highlighted in red, mostly Guderian's, are paying a PP penalty per turn operating out of their theater. The more that cross, and the further they go into AGS's theater, the more PPs I will lose turn by turn.

I took this occasion to visit Rundstedt at AGS and, against the advice of our staffs, we flew to see Kleist at his PzGrp HQ, still south of the Dnepr. The meeting went well and all are pleased at his advances to the north. We flew back to our respective HQs in separate Ju-52s with a fighter escort. Brauchitsch was not pleased, calling it "a risky stunt!"


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 2:25:54 AM)

AGN Sept 22-30

The front here has pretty much stabilised as von Leeb has the choice of sending in the panzers along with the infantry into Leningrad and taking high losses, or using them further south to ultimately become part of the assault on Moscow. I've decided on the latter although, once again, my relationship with Hitler is causing all sorts of problems with this and there will be the PP penalties for any Hoepner PzGrp units that stray into the AGM theater. Verdammt noch mal!


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 2:47:47 AM)

AGM Sept 22-30

Once again I am seeing the Soviets recover quickly from a huge defeat with fresh units, including many more tanks than we thought it possible for them to marshal at this stage of the campaign. AGM was witness to a gigantic Soviet defeat with the huge Smolensk pocket, the scale of which would have brought any European state to its knees. But now with Guderian's PzGrp off to the south and only now making its way back, the Soviets have launched a powerful offensive south of Smolensk with numerous cavalry and infantry formations. Hoth and 9.A are containing this from the north, while 4.A is endeavouring to contain the south of the Soviet expanding salient which has alarmingly reached the outskirts of Mogilev and Orsha.

Guderian has persuaded von Bock not to have him send any units to directly help, but to continue his drive north to the Vyazma area and cut the entire Soviet Group off, assisted once again by Hoth's 3.PzGrp to the north; Hoth however, feels he can deal with the immediate threat on his own. Guderian's planned offensive is indicated on the map. I in turn had to persuade my direct superior Brauchitsch of this and finally both Hoth and Guderian are given the go-ahead. It was not easy. Once again all eyes seem to be on der schnelle Heinz and 'Papa' Hoth.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 3:08:17 AM)

AGS Sept 22-30

The huge Kiev pocket is finally vernichtet and huge columns of Russian POWs trudge westward. Reichenau's 6.Armee is now free to march east and they have a long march ahead of them. Kleist's PzGrp intends to take Kharkov and then head south close to the new FSB being set up in Krivirog and engage in some long overdue rest & refit. From there it will be on to Rostov once 6.A arrives. One hopes...

Further south an unexpectedly very strong Soviet defense has thwarted 11.A and the Romanians from gaining a foothold across the lower Dnepr. I have discussed with Rundstedt the possibility of sending AG heavy artillery assets to 11.A to assist in this. Kleist's group was diverted north for the Kiev battle before it could complete unhinging the Soviet front on the lower Dnepr and we are paying the price for that now.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 4:33:17 PM)

AGM/AGN Oct 8-20

In AGN Hoepner is building up his PzGrp in rough terrain to support a drive by 16.A into the Valdai hills and ultimately cut the Moscow-Leningrad RR and support an offensive on the enemy capital.

Hoth's PzGrp 3 managed to deal with the Soviet offensive SW of Smolensk aided by elements from 9th and 4.A. The forward end of the enemy salient has been chopped off and pocketed.

Guderian was slowed to a crawl by heavy rains and mud but things have dried out and he is on the move again. It is clear his units need rest & refit badly. For example, 17.PzD is down to 38% of it's strength and has only 10 tanks operative.

For both PzGrp 2 & 3 there are a total of:
Panzers: 250 runners, (20% operational)
Transports: 3900 runners (49% operational)
Total division Mileage: 3165/3003 km (total/refit)

This is approaching catastrophic levels and a rest & refit will take place as soon as the front is more or less stabilized.

I am engaged in constant wrangles with Wagner about our supply lines. Wagner wants captured trucks given over to him as all armies, especially the PzGrps, want more truck columns. He wants time to refit trucks as well and it's a balancing act. Although he is a schmerz im Arsch, often daily, he does have my full support and sympathy for his difficult task.

And who says a wargame can't have a (black of course) sense of humour? Brauchitsch was complaining indignantly about the ineptitude of my Chief of Staff, wondering if the man was ill or should be given leave. In my Decision choices, one option was "Send the man for involuntary shock treatments."


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 4:49:24 PM)

AGS Oct 8-20

1.PzGrp captured Kharkov and has headed south behind the Soviet HKL along the Dnepr bend. In conjunction with 17.A the Soviet 38A and it's divisions were completely destroyed and Dneprpetrovsk taken. Although his group is scheduled for a desperately needed pause to rest and refit for a week or so, Kleist and Rundstedt decided to take advantage of the good weather and firm ground to drive straight south for the Sea of Azov NE of the important port of Melitopol. With this accomplished I agreed with Rundstedt to order a total truck refit for AGS. Needless to Say Wagner was pleased with this and my stock has gone up with him.

For PzGrp 1 there are a total of:
Panzers: 320 runners, (23% operational)
Transports: 5800 runners (54% operational)
Total division Mileage: 3288/2005 km (total/refit)

It is hoped this will finally crack open the Soviet lower Dnepr Front which has succeeded in continually frustrating Schobert's 11.A and Dumitrescu's 3.Rom Armee in their attempts to get across the river. The swampy terrain here is a major hindrance, and of course a large river crossing. There have been problems with the Romanians resulting from cultural differences and I had to assign some liaison officers to a few Romanian divisions.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 8:18:27 PM)

AGN & AGM Oct 28 - Nov 5

Staggered rest & refit orders were given for most armies throughout October with the exception of 16.A and 18.A in AGN who have been static in their trenches around Leningrad and along the Novgorod front to the east. These are the first armies on the Ostfront ordered to assume a defensive posture and the fact that Hitler is not keen on this is reflected in the high cost in political points I am forced to pay--10 PPs each. Keep in mind I have begun many turns with 20-30 PPs available. But we cannot risk a strong Soviet attack succeeding in relieving the city.

As if to prevent us from even thinking about assaulting Leningrad, the Russians are preempting Hoepner's intended drive through the Valdai Hills and are attacking with strong forces south of Lake Ilmen and Hoepner will have to break off to deal with this I expect. Soviet attacks shown on the map.

Heeresgruppe Mitte is once again on the attack and both PzGrps are back on Blitzkreig posture while the infantry armies (9.A, 4.A and 2.A) are on Sustained Offense in order to have better defensive values guarding the flanks of the expected panzer advances.

The timing of the attack (called Operation Taifun as one might expect) is fortuitous as the muddy terrain in front of us has been rendered solid by the new frost and snows, while the terrain to AGM's rear is still covered with the verdammte Schlamm (mud).

Incidentally, re the mud and snow appearing, this game has about the best Ostfront weather modelling I have seen. Many things were done right with this game and I will surely recap them all at the end of the AAR. Top of the list perhaps is the first-rate AI in this, part of the entire intelligent design decision to avoid a proliferation of sub units (called "ants" by my own team when I was still designing years ago) allowing for an incisive AI and it has been a challenge, even at this moderate setting.

The attack plan's pincers for Hoth and Guderian are shown on the map and as usual the breakthroughs, aided by intense Luftwaffe support, were conclusive and by early November the new Vyazma kessel is almost completely closed, but not quite. IF this can be sealed off rapidly intelligence estimates there are over 50 Red Army formations in the cauldron about to get cooked. Gott im Himmel, how do these Russians keep fighting and losing like this?? Their tenacity and courage is certainly remarkable... but their almost insensate willingness to take astonishing losses is, in a word, erschreckend ("frightening"). And not a good omen for things to come as winter sets in.

Alfred Rosenberg, Reichminister of Occupied Eastern Territories, wants all able-bodied peasants to be sent to the Reich to work as slave labour. None of my senior fellow officers are in agreement with this as it will certainly exacerbate local conditions with the civilians the Wehrmacht has to contend with. I chose to ignore this matter.

The troops are starting to suffer with the effects of winter and I am making efforts to get proper clothing forwarded but this is proving very difficult, in spite of the fact that I have lobbied for winter clothing and equipment every chance I got from early in the campaign.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 9:16:53 PM)

AGS Nov 5

In this time period AGS took the time to finally rest & refit most of its armies and so only the final positions on Nov 5 are shown.

The exception to this is 11 A, the only infantry army still set to Blitzkreig posture. This army is inexplicably still commanded by von Schobert. Historically, Manstein took command of this Army on September 17th and I do hope this can be corrected, not just to correct a historical omission, but to give 11.A a much-needed boost with commander benefits. And this is not to insist upon Manstein's talents in retrospect (he had yet to prove himself in the east) but certainly to reflect Hitler's obsession with the Crimea he termed "an unsinkable aircraft carrier," which of course would be used to bomb Germany's critical oil resources in Ploesti Romania. As well, Sevastopol should definitely be in contention to be a major priority in Führerbefehle 35 once the Wehrmacht approached the Crimea. Both would be great touches to add to an otherwise superb Barbarossa campaign game.

In any case, 11.A under von Schobert finally managed to get across the lower Dnepr. The divisions of Kleist's PzGrp, resting and refitting to the east, are rejeuvenated, set to Sustained Offense, and can be expected to assist soon.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/21/2020 9:47:31 PM)

A Look Under the Hood Pt. 2:
Medium Tanks & A Salute to the Trucks:


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/22/2020 3:39:48 PM)

AGM (including AGN) Nov 13-21

AGN will be treated as part of AGM for as long as the main action continues south of Lake Illmen and not in the Leningrad area, and especially as I am determined that 4.PzGrp become the northern wing of Operation Taifun.

Kuchler's 18.A launched an assault on Talinn supported by AGN heavy artillery assets making small gains. Hoepner has managed to contain the Soviet offensive south of Lake Illmen and has received the go-ahead from myself to attack towards Kalinin with 3 of his divisions, SS Totenkopf now some 40 kms from that critical RR city. I''m prepared to take the flack for this from Hitler, as well as pay the PP cost for this theater transgression: Moscow or bust!

As expected the Soviets mounted furious attacks to escape the kessel and broke through at one point (indicated on map) and a few divisions managed to escape. This was rapidly closed again by Guderian and other breakout attacks around the cauldron were likewise defeated. Radio intercepts indicate there were some 53 Soviet formations trapped and the task of eliminating the pocket is almost complete with huge amounts of equipment and prisoners captured. This is another great victory for Heeresgruppe Mitte and the main advance on Moscow can continue.

Eisenbahn units are badly affected by freezing winds with wind chill of -6 C and made little or no progress in this period--current rail conversion is within some 40 kms of Orsha. Two truck columns were destroyed by partisans and I have promised Wagner more security for his units. Gercke has allocated more trains with artillery ammunition as the recent offensive for the pocket has badly depleted stocks. The good news in all this is that the new FSB at Smolensk is up and running and performing well.

Once again I will point out the curious repeats of history occurring in this campaign:

Bialostok and Minsk pockets reenacted; Smolensk pocket reenacted along with the Uman pocket in AGS; the great Kiev pocket reenacted on time coordinating Guderian in AGM and Kleist AGS; The AGS pocket trapping Soviet forces west of the Sea of Azov; and finally the huge Vyazma pocket at the beginning of Operation Taifun. As a scenario designer it's true, I like to playtest to see if a model can recreate the historical viably because then you have the confidence in the design to try out 'what-ifs'. Perhaps I was doing this all unconsciously; in any case, at the time these seemed to be the logical operations to enact. This has been an impressive run-through so far in terms of replicating the historical.


Staufenberg44 -> RE: BARBAROSSA CAMPAIGN AAR by Stauffenberg (6/22/2020 4:13:22 PM)

AGS Nov 21

This theater was fairly quiet as most armies engaged in rest & refit and the conditions on the ground were terrible with the rasputitsa in any case. But Kleist's PzGrp sprang into action again on Nov 17 over frozen ground and has finally broken the back of the Soviet front facing 11.A and Romanian 3.A. Some 11 divisions are eingeschlossen and can be expected to be removed from the Soviet order of battle soon, but not without putting up a stubborn resistance as they almost always do.

Romanian 4.A launched a bloody assault on Odessa making little progress.

Although Reichenau's 6.A troops are fatigued from their long marches, he is pushing into the Donbas and attempting to surround Stalino with the help of SS Wiking on loan from Kleist. North of this area Stülpnagel's 17.A, also suffering from long march fatigue, has managed to capture Voronezh and intends to engage in rest & refit along the upper Don R. for at least the next week. Although the Red Army opposition facing him seems almost non-existent, his army is furthest away from the nearest supplyhead than any other army on the Ostfront. As I explained to my superior von Brauchitsch--Es ist nicht zu erwarten, dass er im Winter weiter in eine endlose Leere vordringt! ("He can't be expected to keep advancing into an endless void in winter!"), with which he could only agree.

Engineers report the main bridge over the lower Dnepr SE of Nikolaev cannot be repaired until the river thaws. Inefficient loading practices have become an issue with Gercke's trains and he has promised to correct this, as well as expedite more trains for ammunition. Our main FSB at Krivirog is well-established at this point and is being improved daily.


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