PHASE FOUR: ENCIRCLEMENT
The enemy is no more in sight: every unit has probably fallen back to Hameln, luring me forward and seeking to engage an urban battle to bleed me out. I'm following the plan, reorganizing my command structure to accomodate for every newly formed Strike Group.
My artillery gets anothery big success: targeting another radio source, the popup says i've killed another HQ, a truck and a Leopard tank! Meanwhile, my forces have reached the initial assault position: i am now almost ready to storm Hameln.
PHASE FIVE: URBAN BATTLE
Due to an error in the timing of the final offensive, two companies of T-80s and one Mechanized Company attacks in the SW of Hameln alone, before the rest of the army. Despite encountering heavy resistence (an unidentified unit that fires ATGMs, one Leopard 2A4 platoon, two Grenadiere companies and what seems the HQ of a Panzergrenadier Battalion), the attack is met with success. Despite the loss of several BMP-2s, one destroyed T-80s, 2 fallen out T80s and a Mech Company, the enemy suffers heavy losses and falls back.
The counterattack, however, is brutal: several Grenadier and Leopard 1/2 units attacks my forward elements relentlessly. Despite heavy support from my artillery and a fierce defense of the bridgeheads, my tanks and infantry are decimated and forced to disengage. The main offensive, however, is entering the eastern and northern outskirts...
The enemy counterattack is successful: the bridgeheads over the Hameln river are taken back by the Germans, and my northern attack comes under fire from Leopard 1s from the outskirts and halted. However, the Germans gets too cocky: they send forward the Leopards, heading east, and they faceplant in my main offensive! The Red Steamroller smashes them to bits, and the road to the city centre seems open. Meanwhile, other infantry units engage my westernmost vanguard, but the constant artillery fire keeps the enemy at bay.
With only 34 minutes left until dusk, i order my troops to rush forward and occupy as much of the city as they can. Artillery leads the way, hitting hard on the bridge on the Weser to try to keep enemy reinforcing to reach the city center. The daring race succeeds: many Leopard 1 tanks are destroyed just as they try to drive through the bridge, and the rest of the German reinforcements stops. T-80s rush forward and take the city center, but it's too late for the bridge: as the Red Army appears on the shores of the Weser, the remnants of the German forces blow up the bridge (scenario ends, they keep the VP on the bridge and the other shore, so i consider they blew it up to stop me).
AI impressed me: the fighting retreat from the outer defense ring was masterfully executed, and the idea of confining the fight in Hameln preventing me to leverage all my numbers in open terrain, cluttering my units togather, was sound. Unfortunately for them, their artillery's efficiency seemed to decrease over time, so in the end my concentrations of forces didn't get shelled to death. Also, the urban combat wasn't really a problem for me (more on that later).
I followed the main battle plan until the end; that means it was a good plan. I avoided a lot of unnecessary losses, BUT this prevented me from completing all my objectives, leaving 2100VP worth of objectives, thus achieving only a minor victory. This is unacceptable: our objective was to take the bridge on the Weser, whatever the cost. The Warsaw Pact has to smash through defenses and advance deep into enemy lines, not limit losses. My frequent resupply and reorganizing pauses spared lives and equipment, but those can be replaced. Time can't be replaced. For the future, i have to be more ruthless in my offensives.
Also, the enemy seems very capable of targeting my HQ, so either i give less orders per phase (bad idea) or i move the HQ more (good idea).