From: Berlin, Germany
T9, 14.01.1943 some doctrine
As both sides in this campaign are of similar strength, with some advantage to the Soviets, the holder of the initiative and the role of attacker and defender are only partially globally and not at all locally predetermined, but depend on the economy of forces, activity and cunning displayed by both sides. I would like to share some framework I follow in my decision making.
The first idea is the ratio of CV necessary to hold a certain part of the line. A continuous frontline is no imperative and must not become a dogma, but often it is advantageous to choose this position. Unless the sector has been marked for an offensive, the only goal is to hinder the advance of the enemy beyond that frontline, and force is needed to deny this. Those considerations tend to be symmetric, with the enemy having the same thoughts and wishes. As resources are almost always scarce, as little as possible shall be invested. Said resources are offensive CV for our purposes, which are converted to defensive CV at an exchange ratio depending on the hexagon, and a certain minimum amount of def CV is necessary to maintain the line against the present enemy off CV.
By supporting the own front line with advantageous terrain and high fortifications levels, one can keep the own amount of off CV pinned down for defensive purposes low. If the enemy on the other hand is on open terrain, he must always fear an attack, and will find much of his forces fixed in place to hold the line. The result is that one has reserves which can be concentrated at one point for an offensive advantage, or that one can hold the line even with inferior forces.
Assume sides A and B with equal forces, but A’s line being placed in light woods and B’s in clear hexagons. If managed correctly, A will have no problem to create reserves for an own offensive without risking the integrity of the frontline, while B will constantly struggle to secure its line.
Therefore, it has been one of my aims over the last turns to create situations where my forces are in dense terrain, while the enemy is in the open, creating an advantageous ratio of enemy line-holding off CV to own line-holding off CV.
A nice side effect is that an enemy with a front and rear in clear terrain will have difficulties hiding a build-up for future offensives, while the more difficult terrain behind the own front can easily conceal it.
Below, you can see some examples for operations to improve the front line off CV ratio. During operation 1, swamp hexagons were conquered. The enemy now has to defend from clear or light wood hexagons, arguably more difficult and AFV friendly than swamps.
During operation 2, Soviet fortifications were destroyed, not because of a particular need or a planned greater offensive, but to increase the off CV commitment requirement for the Soviets. The idea is, that by the principle of too many threats, an exploitable gap will eventually appear.
As WitE contains incomplete information and randomness, a certain amount of off CV committed to line holding never gives a guarantee, but only a chance to prevail against enemy effort. If a certain front is very important to one side, it will be forced to detach more strength to “almost sure” the line will hold, as opposed to “reasonably sure” sufficient for ordinary parts of the front. An ordinary light wood hexagon in the middle of nowhere could e.g. be guarded sufficiently by one rifle division. But if the hexagon instead lies 30 miles from Moscow, the Soviet player will be forced to commit much more, double to triple stacked at the front with fall back lines.
It is therefore advantageous to have the frontline running close to vital enemy supply lines (corridors or rail lines), major cities, major rail hubs or in terrain where loss of fortifications due to an unlucky battle threatens snowball effects later.
The second idea deals with the activity of units, in other words how flexible and threatening it is in a certain position. The idea is most easily explained by an example. A Soviet unit in the Sevastopol fortress has very little activity. Locked behind strong Axis fortifications, it can’t attack, and will take a long time to move to another front if it is needed there for attack or defence. A Soviet unit at the front at Moscow on the other is rather active. It can walk left and right to merge forces with its neighbours for an attack and then walk back to its former position. It can jump on a train and quickly move to another front. And even if it does nothing of that, it still guards an important position.
I therefore try to gain activity for my units by evacuating low activity spots as the Demyansk pocket and removing ZOC locks while keeping Soviet units locked in places with low activity, like the Leningrad area.