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Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket?

 
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Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/22/2019 7:24:35 PM   
MattFL

 

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So EvK's very interesting AAR is different than most you see because it's a scenario type campaign game from Lost Battles, the Stalingrad to Berlin Campaign. Honestly, I've never even looked at a scenario before, preferring to play the entire war. But one comment that he made piqued my interest - he said "One can't keep the Axis from re-connecting the pocket in T2, but deny them a comfortable path to walk out." His reasoning is that they just have too much fuel and supplies even when encircled. When I first tried it, I was apparently using an outdated variant of the scenario and it was actually quite easy. EvK helped me to get the latest version, the one that he is playing, and it's infinitely more difficult. Other than the slightly different setup, the biggest differences I've noticed are that the Rumanians to the south of the city are very difficult to rout and the units in the pocket have a LOT of fuel. I tried several times to permanently hold the pocket and each time I was able to break it due to the high movement points. Sigh.

After gnashing my teeth a bit, I took a fresh look and approach. There were two things I noticed as I zoomed things out a bit. The first is that I didn't even realize the Soviets had a Tank and Mech Corps to the North that could play a key role in the operation. The second was that the German line is vulnerable NW of Stalingrad, east of the Don. So I tried it again and got a much better result. First, I punched a hole in the German lines NW of stalingrad and drove a tank corps through the gap. This presents a TON of problems for the Germans. It effectively removes the MOT on the N of Stalingrad from really helping to breakout and it forces a lot of wasted moves and units dealing with the Tank Corps, thus lessening the troops available to actual effect the breakout. Further, in a lot of my attempts, I never bothered to surround the German 22nd PZ division, but with the previously unnoticed Mech and Tank Corps, this because pretty easy. This guy will break his encirclement, but the key is that this division is not available to help break the main pocket at Stalingrad.

While I don't think it's perfect and can probably be broken, I don't think it's very easily broken and a lot of results would have to go the Axis way to break it. Further, in my experience mucking about with different variants of this, each time the Germans open the pocket, they are barely able to do so and most of the 6th Army remains pretty much trapped in place. They would surely be encircled again on the next Russian turn, but with so many axis units that can rail to the area on their opening turn, I doubt the encirclement could hold. The Axis just end up with too much stuff. Please note, that I haven't even looked at the situation in other areas of the map, so I have no idea what net effect such movement would have on the overall game. Please also note that it wasn't until I was taking the screen shot that I noticed the 16th MOT division way to the South. I think for purposes of my save file, you should assume that this unit is NOT available to assist in the breakout as the Russian units opposite could easily prevent this had I paid any attention to them.

Anyway, below is a screen shot of my attempt. I think it's pretty good, but not infallible. I've been looking at it too closely now and take a break for a few days and look at it again, as I'm at the point where i may be missing something very obvious! Perhaps someone else can take the ideas presented here and build upon them to get a completely definitive and permanent encirclement of the 6th Army. It was quite a mental challenge to even get it this far and I thank EvK for his AAR as it had me consider a new campaign and new tactical challenge with the game. If he hadn't done his AAR, i'd have never even looked at this.




Here is a link to the save file for those interested in breaking the pocket.

Save File

Curious to see it broken, how, and what improvements can be made. My thinking is that in 80%+ of games, it would hold.

Notes: I used ALT-CV when doing this as it took out a lot of the guesswork. I also had FOG off.

Matt

< Message edited by MattFL -- 8/24/2019 4:45:53 PM >
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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/24/2019 7:29:55 AM   
EwaldvonKleist


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The link to the save does not work anymore.

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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/24/2019 4:46:32 PM   
MattFL

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: EwaldvonKleist

The link to the save does not work anymore.


That's weird. I just fixed it, should work again.

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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/25/2019 6:09:09 PM   
EwaldvonKleist


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Pocket can be broken in terms of deisolating the units for one turn. Below is a screenshot of my very quick attempt. This being said, you will still trap most of 6th army, one can maybe get a few motorised units out.

Your additional break in North of Stalingrad is a good, if RNG dependend idea as it ZOC locks units and pushes out the resupply airfield. It could be a useful scenario improvement to stack the LW airbase with a combat unit.




Attachment (1)

< Message edited by EwaldvonKleist -- 8/25/2019 6:10:18 PM >


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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/25/2019 8:27:59 PM   
MattFL

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: EwaldvonKleist

Pocket can be broken in terms of deisolating the units for one turn. Below is a screenshot of my very quick attempt. This being said, you will still trap most of 6th army, one can maybe get a few motorised units out.

Your additional break in North of Stalingrad is a good, if RNG dependend idea as it ZOC locks units and pushes out the resupply airfield. It could be a useful scenario improvement to stack the LW airbase with a combat unit.





Yeah, it's always on the south side that it gets broken.

One mistake that I made is that you pushed back the armored unit that was blocking there but it retreated to the Town hex. Russian should put an HQ into that town hex for max stacking so that the armored unit retreats SW and thus continues to block the escape (which was what was intended). The failure to rout that Rumanian unit also came back to haunt.

As for the breakthrough, in my testings, it rarely fails. There are different ways to do it, but the most often successful way is to Deliberate attack twice with only the 4 units that start adjacent. These usually both fail, but wear down the defender. Pull them back and then move in 6 bigger units and deliberate attack and this one invariably forces the retreat. In my save file, I think it was one of those rare cases where a first attack worked. It usually doesn't.

I think I take back what I said about the Germans being able to break a Turn 2 encirclement of 6th army. 6th Army looks pretty screwed even with the Germans railing in a bunch of stuff. Interesting exercise for sure.

< Message edited by MattFL -- 8/25/2019 9:12:58 PM >

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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/29/2019 6:57:01 PM   
timmyab

 

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Yes it's breakable but not much is getting out of there alive long term.
I've had a go and I've managed to break out three panzer divisions, but they haven't got very far away and it's unclear whether they will stay out of trouble next week.
Driving 16th tank corps into the German position is a good move if it succeeds. It really messes with 6th armys breakout attempt.

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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/29/2019 7:17:17 PM   
MattFL

 

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Yes, the 16th Tank Corps plus the other stack advancing into the breach changes the situation entirely. Per my previous post, the attack rarely fails and that's without even doing any prep bombing, switching HQ's around, etc.. (i.e. it succeeds even without maximizing chances of success).

Post a screenshot if you would with your ending positions, i'm curious to where you broke the line and which units escaped and how far they got.


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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/29/2019 8:03:35 PM   
timmyab

 

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Doh! I knew I should have made a save :)
They exited through the corridor just South of the Don. I made it so they only had to pass through one ZOC. To be fair a couple of the attacks were close to failing. It might have gone worse.
One thing I noticed is that with SUs attached 16th tank corps would be harder to budge. It was one of the close calls as it was.
The three pz divs got about 30 to 50 miles away from the Soviet controlled hexes with 16th mot div ending up in the same area. I suspect they would be savable. In fact I think the Axis player could place a considerable force in that area on turn 1.
I might have another go at it tomorrow. Maybe we should offer a prize for anyone who can make an unbreakable Stalingrad pocket :)

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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/29/2019 9:41:59 PM   
MattFL

 

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It's an interesting exercise for sure. Very much like practicing Turn 1 for the Axis in the normal campaign, but this time with Russians and this time with only 10% of the units, so much more manageable.

You are correct about attaching SU's to the Tank Corps. When I was practicing this, I wasn't maximizing at all. Adding heavy tank regiments or other Powerful SU's would increase the CV pretty significantly and make that guy a very difficult object to move for sure. Hmmm...I may take another crack at this, but this time playing it as if I was playing it for real in the sense of maximizing every possible advantage, doing the bombings that should be done, etc. etc. There is another variant that I have to this where the Russians attack the 29th MOT division, but it's very dependent on how well things go against the Pesky Rumanians.... Under that variant, the idea is not to hold the pocket in the south with units and MP's, but to hold it with a wall of CV. Also, maximizing interdiction could be a real pain in the ass for the germans as well....

< Message edited by MattFL -- 8/29/2019 9:48:49 PM >

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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/29/2019 10:05:44 PM   
timmyab

 

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There's another possible variant as well where 13th tank corps drives further South towards the Kimoyarsky river creating a five hex wide corridor. Haven't tested it though.

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RE: Lost Battle Stalingrad - Can Russians Hold the Pocket? - 8/30/2019 4:26:44 AM   
MattFL

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: timmyab

There's another possible variant as well where 13th tank corps drives further South towards the Kimoyarsky river creating a five hex wide corridor. Haven't tested it though.



Yeah, I tried this early on. Problem I found with doing the expanded pocket is that there aren't enough units in the south to actually have a line and the Germans can breakthrough (or move through) too easily particularly as there is an Italian MOT unit by Boguchar that can reach that area.

One of the challenges for the Russians it that the ARM/MECH on the north side can't get across the DON (a few units can get across 1 hex, but can't break down doing it, which presents a unit shortage) and only the Tank Corp and MECH Corps that start in the south can close the circle. Other Russian units that start in the south can't really get past hex 140-93. This was one reason why my initial screenshot basically says that the Russians are one unit short from getting it done. If they had just one more mech/tank corps they could close the gap like I've done and expand the pocket. But...alas...they don't.

< Message edited by MattFL -- 8/30/2019 4:29:16 AM >

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