Public continuation of a discord discussion regarding a very defensive Axis strategy. All invited to add their thoughts!
The points below are more of a thought experiment, I have no definite opinion if it will be successful, but I tend to think the Soviets will eventually get the upper hand.
So here is the recipe for a defence only Axis strategy.
Play an opening optimised for unit morale gain. Continue the summer 1941 with a morale farming approach by favouring frontal assaults and installing high morale leaders quickly. If possible, destroy Soviet airborne formations to deny later guards conversions. Take care not to gift any victories to the Soviets.
During mud and snow 1941, retreat west of the line of the hardcoded blizzard effects. The idea is not justto reduce losses from blizzard fighting, but to avoid the blizzard effects completely.
After the Blizzard compare the comparative strength of the forces. If the force ratio allows the push to a more forward defensive line (especially the Dvina-Dnepr line), go for it. Otherwise simply fortify and leave the initiative to the Soviet player.
The Finns will be set up such that they surrender without giving many wins to the Soviets, e.g. by disbanding the units.
The frontline to defend is approximately 65-80 hexagons for a line located somewhere between the Dvina-Dnepr rivers and Axis-USSR border. At-start number of German divisions is approximately 150, and reinforcements considerably outnumber withdrawals/disbands considerably. With reinforcements triple-stacking along the short line almost everywhere should be possible, with low-quality units and Axis maintaining fallback fortifications.
Having avoided the blizzard, the Axis should have almost 100% TOE in most categories and retain their high morale units in all categories.
Here is a map showing possible defence lines by date.
If we assume 80mrl for the average infantry division and 100% TOE, it has around 11CV.
If we assume 90mrl for the average motorised infantry division and slightly below 100% TOE, it has around 11CV.
If we assume 90mrl for the average Panzer division and somewhat below 100% TOE, it has around 20CV.
To account for damage, fatigue and no triple stacking for a few hexagons, we assume 10CV per unit while calculating with triple stacking everywhere.
30 offensive CV in lvl 3 forts result in 120 defensive CV, 90 if in lvl 2 forts before any bonus due to terrain.
Lvl 2 forts in swamps for example will give defensive CV, lvl 2 in clear terrain behind a minor river 180 CV etc.
That is not easy to crack for the Soviets. A 60mrl 60 exp 1944 Soviet rifle corps has around 15 CV, the number of Guards rifle corps will be very limited and almost no unit will be above the NM. Triple stacked and attacking from two hexagons, the offensive CV brought to battle are 90CV, barely matching the defensive CV of a clear lvl 2 hexagon, and 2:1 odds are needed to force a retreat. And that is for 1944, 1942-1943 morale/exp values and hence CV are considerably lower. If it is possible to build a massive wall of steel, absolute Soviet numbers do not matter much, because the CV can’t be concentrated sufficiently for a breakthrough.
So what can the Soviet player do? As he has abundant numbers of dead and living (soon to be dead) material, whittling down the Axis forces by hundreds of failed frontal attacks is a possibility. The problem is that the frontline is comparably short and well fortified, so making the weight matter is difficult. It is less of a problem in the summer, but during mud, snow and blizzard, rotating units for multiple waves of attacks becomes a problem, even more given the recent introduction of a +1 cost for each successive attack on a hexagon.
Furthermore, the Soviets can accept a huge number of RNG fails, while each bad roll resulting in a Soviet break-in will be a major problem for the Axis player, even with multiple echelons of fortifications.
Overall, I think a well-constructed Axis line taking advantage of Eastern Europe mountains or the Dnepr-Dvina river can very well hold out CV-wise, if it is possible to attrit the Axis forces sufficiently has to be tested, but I think so. It might be possible to sit out the summers behind rivers, but the winters will be difficult.
Interesting. 50k foot view - incredibly boring game, massive soviet victory. Seems to me that the overwhelming majority of casualties in the game, particularly for the Germans, are taken during the logistics phase. I'm not sure the engine is designed to handle this type of strategy as the German army would still be pretty small and the Soviet Army would be massive and incredibly close to it's objective.