As half my games are as an Axis player (I am a WITE Fanboy), I am disappointed that players are being punished for developing the skill to salvage an offensive core of forces during the blizzard and come out punching in the snow. We avidly read the AARs, the posts, the War Room, learned the Fort strategy, abandoned the Fort Strategy, learned the Rubber band strategy, then abandoned the rubber band strategy, then stuffed Mountain units full of Stugs and SU's and were labelled exploiters, then hit upon the "two hex a turn retreat with a well placed Ost Wall in the rear and send as many as you can spare to Prussia" strategy. This finally worked. (Piranha Brothers Monty Python sketch influence )
The players actually found a way to better perform a winter defence in very well modelled historical system. In fact in the forum, newb players ( I was/are, one) were admonished to get our sh*t togther and figure the Blizzard out and stop whining. Lo and behold, it worked. There was no cheat, no exploit, we dodged and weaved with a few guys so a few more could get their sh*t together in safety and rope a dope in spring.
[Role play on]
"Mein Fuhrer, we have taken everything of value from Leningrad to Rostov. The entire fall harvest of western Russia has gone to the Reich , as well as every scrap of seed for the spring. Every Russian is about to starve starting now. There is not a typewriter tape, a cow or horse between Memel and Moscow. If our Armies stay in Russia, we will suffer the same fate as Napoleon, only worse, for we estimate 1,000,000 casualties. Our trucks and tanks are not ready for winter in Russia, and will become unserviceable in the millions. The fuel needed to keep them running will mean crippling shortages - and anger - in the civilian population of the Reich. We achieved oustanding success, but not a Russian surrender. We are not prepared and this Russian winter will cripple the Wehrmacht - shoot me if you will, but hear the truth.
We must pull back to Poland and save millions in men and materiel. Stalin will be forced to feed his people or watch them die. He will be forced to find spring seed for the farms, and cause it to be planted. Much is made of his ruthlessness, but this he can't avoid. He needs these people to generate soldiers and workers. Much of this seed and farm equipment will have to come from Lend Lease - using up space for war materiel.
Next June, after the Bolsheviks have conveniently sewn the crops, and rebuilt the cities, we sweep in again and capture the harvest again. If Stalin does not do any of this, there will be a desert wasteland for operations next year not imagined in these latitudes by even Rommel. We will sweep to India.
Mein Fuhrer, there is no strategic reason whatsoever to remain in Russia this winter - not even the land and cities are of value - it is a complete liability.
Next spring, after we repeat the success of 1941 again, Stalin will not have reserves of men, food and materiel - indeed the second loss of even the Ukraine wheat crop will be devastating.
[Role play off]
and that's why you shouldn't frack with the rules when players make better strategic decisions. They have hindsight and try to change history - that's why we play :)