this is the first post of the new Barbarossa AAR. It contains an outlook on what is going to happen and some strategic thoughts.
Bill Runacre has crafted a new masterpiece. As I played it for the first time, I found it quite challenging. But this was a couple of weeks ago, and Bill has done a few changes since then, so I am looking forward to perform a bit better this time.
Also I need to mention that this campaign might give the first impression that it not more than a new version of the old “Storm over Europe”-Campaign which came with Strategic Command Breaktrough!, but quite a few things have changed.
The campaign is very historically accurate, and lots of new Decision Events allow more flexibility.
Old issues like the Finnish War Entry or the Staging for Operation Overlord have been solved, and the AI does a very good job, esp. in the Atlantic.
The first important novelty is the new UI, and it brings three major changes.
The first change allows to switch the sides, even during the game. I just need to go back to the corresponding menu, click “Allies” instead of “Axis”, and I have changed the sides.
The second new feature allows me to let the AI control a Major Country of my side while I control the other. So I can play Germany and let the AI control Italy. Or even vice versa.
I have tried it, but I have noticed the campaign is difficult enough, so I need all available help I can get.
What really amazes me: I can switch the AI on and off as I want. An unbelievably great feature. How often have I thought “would it be possible to win if I play the other side?”
Now I can give it a try. But during this AAR, this feature will remain disabled.
The third change brings a new difficulty setting. When I play against the AI, usually I choose the Expert Level, but don’t give any extra experience to the AI.
The new UI lets me choose my Difficulty Level, and it also allows me to change Spotting, Experience and MPP Production manually.
So I go for Spotting +2 which will make the Naval Warfare very difficult for me. Also the AI gets 20% more MPPs.
I think this will be challenging enough.
Everything is in place for Unternehmen Barbarossa. I have played the campaign already, and the major actions will be in the Atlantic, in North Africa and of course in Russia.
I have already realized in my matches against Hubert’s brilliant AI that trying to take Leningrad, Moscow and Rostov until the end of 1941 will lead to the same result as in history: fail three out of three times.
So I need another Strategy. We all know that the German OKW tried to achieve everything and failed. The campaign works in the same way, so I need to set priorities.
Please keep in mind that the above image is just a part of the map. The complete map is approx. five times bigger.
With the Afrikakorps already in Libya, I can either sacrifice North Africa and let the British control the Med, or I can try to achieve what Rommel did not. The UK will get a lot of fresh troops in 1942, so I need to decide the Battle of Egypt until the end of 1941. So this is my first decision: North Africa has priority. I will not send additional troops down there, but all units will receive upgrades and refreshments with priority, even before my troops in Russia. A quick victory down there is a catastrophe for the UK, and it would enable me to conquer the Levant and maybe Iraq. I have not decided to what to do about Turkey, but once I feel confident to defeat the UK in Egypt, I will consider to bring her in via diplomacy. When the rail link to Europe is established, there are a lot of MPPs to earn.
My second decision is not to conduct a convoy warfare in 1941. The Kriegsmarine is not very strong.. the Bismarck
is already sunk, and the Graf Zeppelin
has not been finished. So I just have one Battleship and five Cruisers, and almost all of them are on under strength... this is not enough to defeat the Royal Navy. I need to spare my limited forces and save it for some limited action. So the plan for the Kriegsmarine will be:
1941: repair all damaged units, bring all ships and subs that operate in the Atlantic back to Germany or Norway. Sink Russian ships and subs in the Baltic Sea so all units can take part in 1942’s actions.
1942: raid the convoys from the UK to Murmansk. Concentrate all available units around Narvik and try to sink a few destroyers. All surface vessels and the majority of the subs will march back to Germany in Fall.
1943: try to interfere the preparations for Operation Overlord. I expect the invasion to happen in Spring 1943, so I need to be prepared.
And of course there is Unternehmen Barbarossa. Basically my decision is too give priority to Leningrad and the Ukraine. This means Heeresgruppe Mitte will stop after the conquest of Smolensk and transfer a certain part of its offensive potential to other theaters.
The Soviet Union has 70 units on the map. As the OKW planned Unternehmen Barbarossa, they expected 200 Soviet divisions. By the end of 1941, more than 200 Soviet divisions had been destroyed, but the Red Army was still alive. Maybe the same will happen to me.
Generaloberst von Küchler will take the northern route via Riga, Tallinn and Narwa. Esp. Riga is difficult to conquer. Swampy terrain and the River Düna prevent an easy victory, and I need to make sure it does not take too long. Getting the city by the end of the second turn would be a major success.
Generalfeldmarschall von Leeb will take the southern route via Dünaburg, Pleskau and Luga. Just as in the northern route, there is one vital point: Dünaburg. Fortified, behind a river and surrounded by swamps, it is very difficult to conquer. The best approach is from the south and southeast.
I need to capture these vital points as soon as possible. Otherwise it will not be possible to reach Leningrad before the end of the year. I do not expect to capture the city in 1941, but I want to make sure this will happen in 1942. After the fall of Smolensk I will transfer most of the offensive units of Army Group Center to the north. Esp. Bombers, Tanks and Mechanized are neccessary to start the final assault on the city.
Leningrad is probably the most important target in Russia. Capturing it means a lot of advantages. Finland and Norway will produce more MPPs, and the Norwegian ports will be able to repair the Kriegsmarine to full strength which is very important for my plans in 1942. The experienced Finnish troops will be ordered to conquer Wolchow and Tichwin. If this is achieved by the end of 1942, I just need to garrison these two towns, and the northern front is dealt with. It does not make any sense to advance further to the east... there is nothing to conquer, and the terrain is horrible. So if I succeed in the north, I can tranfer almost all of my troops to other theaters.
Generalfeldmarschall von Bock will take the road to Smolensk. The City of Minsk it the key, just as Riga and Dünaburg in the north. The terrain around Minsk is normal, but there will be more defenders.
After Minsk has been captured, the majority of Army Group Center will head to Mogilev. Once the town is taken, Orsha and Witebsk will also fall quickly. I expect my forces to capture Smolensk in October.
A certain part of AGC will attack Babruysk, Gomel and Chernigov. It is important to establish a link to Army Group South. If partisans interrupt the rail connection in the Western Ukraine, there will be a second route, and it will be easier to maintain good supply.
Once Smolensk has been taken, I will start to transfer units to other theaters. Bombers and Fighters will move to the north and support the conquest of Leningrad. I have already made the experience that it needs a couple of bombers to force the Soviets out of key positions like the southern part of Leningrad. I have not yet decided what I will do with the Tank Groups and Mechanized. Most likely they will be transferred to the south, but where exactly depends on the situation. If I fail to take Luga by the end of 1941, they might also go to the north.
The remainder of Army Group Center will be the von Bock HQ, a couple of Armeekorps and garrisons. These units will take a defensive position in the east of Smolensk.
So why do I stop AGC after the capture of Smolensk? Relatively easy to answer. I am pretty sure I will not be able to capture Moscow anyway.. the distance is too far, and the resistance gets very stiff from November on. And I want to make sure I reach my objectives in the north and in the south, so I need to transfer units. There will be Soviet counterattacks on Smolensk, but I should be able to stop them.
The south is the most difficult area. A lot will depend on the weather, and if I have Rasputiza from September to November, I might end up at Kiev and Dnjepropetrovsk. In my first test game I did not even get Dnjpropetrovsk. But I had terrible weather, and maybe I get further this time. So let’s make a plan.
Generaloberst von Kleist will take the northern route via Kiew. Ideally he will be able to reach Kursk, but this depends a lot on the weather and where the AI will deploy the units it gets out of the production queue. Taking Kursk would be nice, but it will not break my spine if it does not work. The most important thing is not to expose my forces. The Red Army will get a lot of troops out of the queue and due to the Siberian Transfer, and I don’t want to give them the opportunity for a counterattack.
Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt will take the most difficult route via Lemberg to Dnjeproptrovsk and Rostow. The vital point is Uman... it needs to be taken quickly. Otherwise the attack on Dnjepropetrovsk will take too long, and the Soviets have too much time to prepare the defenses. This is why the 11. Armee will start to attack Uman from the south as soon as poassible. If von Rundstedt arrives from the northwest, it will help a lot if the town is not entrenched or maybe even taken. After Dnjepropetrovsk has fallen, I need to check the over all situation. Kharkov and Rostov would be lovely, but I doubt I can reach both.
Generaloberst von Schobert and General Dumitrescu will lead the attack on Odessa. Once the city is taken, the 11. Armee will head to the east and take Nikolajew and Kherson. Dumitrescu will try to enter the Krim before year’s end, and it is not vital if he reaches this objective. On the Krim there are just dust roads, so the Romanians will be almost immobile once the Rasputiza starts. In other words: they will not get very far anyway, and Dnjepropetrovsk has priority. So if Dumitrescu ends up just south of Kherson by the end of 1941, it is not a catastrophe.
I expect two major cauldrons: one in the very southwest and one in the south of Kiev. My troops need to ignore these cauldrons and leave them for the Hungarian troops. The western cauldron can be avoided by intercepting the rail connection to Stanislawow in the first turn. It might occur that the eastern cauldron is still existing by the end of 1941. The German units simply lack the time to destroy the encircled Soviet units. If I start doing this, I will not reach the eastern Ukraine.
This is why I will leave the Hungarian troops in reserve. If there is a cauldron to clear, they will do it.
On the eastern edge of the above map there are four important cities: Kursk, Kharkov, Stalino and Rostow. I will not be able to capture all four, but one or two would be nice. Kursk and Kharkow provide supply 6, so a HQ in these cities can provide supply 10, and this will help a lot after the winter.
RESEARCH, PRODUCTION AND DIPLOMACY
Many technologies have already been researched as the campaigns starts, so I just need to continue. Of course I will research Advanced Tanks, Advanced Air, Ground Attack Aircraft and Industry. Anti Aircraft might be valuable in the West, but I need to wait how many MPPs I have left.
Definitely I will try to produce additional Mechanized and Tank units. And if can spare a few MPPs, I will also try to produce Heavy Tank units in the beginning of 1942. Unfortunately this is the time where my troops need to recover from the Russian Winter, so I need to set priorities.
In terms of Diplomacy, the only interesting thing is Turkey. If the the DAK is successful in Egypt, it will make sense to invest the necessary MPPs. Conquering Sevastopol will also help to bring in Turkey.
But this has been enough talking.. let us start the action!