A German Interlude: A Thousand Years Ends Early
After the game proper ends, I’ll have a few full game observations, but for this final phase here’s the German POV.
I will say, these are grim times as the German player.
Attrition rules hit units with low supply, low experience, and low morale the hardest. Almost all of your units will have two out of three of those and once the battle gets mobile the fact that you are for the first time really starting to run low on trucks for supply rather than just losing a few panzer MP. Which means many units will start taking low supply losses as well. Your entire front line starts dissolving like a sandcastle at the beach, and that is before the allies even attack.
And when they do attack, it gets worse. Everything runs, everything routs, and if you don’t have panzer or an FJ in place, you won’t get a hold. Even with those holds, the days of watching two thousand allies fall in a failed attack are long gone.
Between the two, the losses go beyond the point where you can hope to keep up. Depleted units mostly stay depleted. By the end, over half the Heer at any one moment is in “refit” or “unready.” To my mind your goal is no longer to manage individual crisis’s. It’s to simply try to slow down the utter catastrophe.
With that said:
Loki, and I assume really the WA in general, needed the Ruhr for both it’s pile of VPs and because it unlocks north Germany for virtually limitless conquest once the supplies come through. I figured he would make his main effort near Cologne to avoid crossing a major river into fortified cities, shift his Italian Theater forces to South Germany for a secondary drive on either Stuttgart or Munich, and pick up what he could elsewhere. The only upside was that without the Ruhr, there was a natural limit to how easily he could advance into the Hamnurg/Bremen region.
The overall intent of the plan was to try to slant as much combat power SE and away from the Ruhr as practical, accepting risk in the south and north to achieve that. Optimally, I wanted to channel combat power into the relative dead end of Frankfurt where there are less major VPs to harvest and the rail lines are less bountiful. The idea was that this would delay the fall of the Ruhr until virtually the end of the game, at the expense of Frankfurt and Stuttgart being relatively easy fights for the WA. The hopes were that this would both limit VP and effectively prevent the WA from ever attempting to cross the Elbe or the Wasser.
To that end, I decided to focus nearly all of my remaining armor and semi-intact formations in the Ruhr sector, leaving the south and the Netherlands to their fate. The Frankfurt area was left deliberately weaker to hopefully drag the WA in that direction – away from the Ruhr and away from Berlin! That said, it’s not like I could have mounted a serious defense both there and in the Ruhr anyhow so this may have been a case of making a necessity into a virtue.
The fight would consist of a stand on the banks of the Rhine, using forts that had been digging since the Maas was threatened, a projected containment fight near Cologne to limit the expansion, and then hopefully one last slog through the forests before there was simply nothing left to fight with. At that point, the defenders of the Ruhr proper would simply fight to the death. All other fronts were simply to screen as long as possible using the terrain they had, with divisions being deployed to cities to force an encirclement before the inevitable fall.
Sort of worked. I made a significant error in the Ruhr sector, moving too much armor E/SE because of the temptation of the forest and trying to slide the allies further down. It would have been better able to keep the key cities open by staying in the northern forests and forcing the WA hook to go much longer. As tit was, I created a vulnerability to a short drive along the seam of the woods and the cities – and Loki punished me for it.
The fight on the Rhine disappointed in the ease of crossing, but worked reasonably well for containment near Cologne. Again, the great German mantra of the game seems to be “you can’t stop WA, but once they commit you can muff them ok.” So far, we were on plan. Then Loki started turning an army SE along the woods toward Frankfurt and I figured it might work out. Alas, he started driving NE and I was not quick enough to re-adjust to the reality that the one corps driving there was a much larger threat than the army that might break through the woods. I failed, he cut the Ruhr off two weeks early, and that was the game.
In the south and north he pushed, and pushed, and eventually the forces left there collapsed. An unfortunate reality was that was going to happen most places.
NSS Refit: A bit late to learn this, but it became so easy to use that I learned it by default. One week on a Nation Supply Source – ANY NSS - will bring virtually any formation back to fighting strength. Even a panzer division. Probably the one thing letting the Heer stay in the fight at all was after I made that discovery I started rotating units through. Too little, too late, but a good thing to know.
The Screen: As the one really potentially mobile battle – France is really just pursuit to the next German line – this fight set really highlighted the value of a light screen. Even badly battered security regiments can keep the WA from exploding outwards with their endless armored and motorized legions. By leaving a screen in contact with the WA you can ensure that your intact formations don’t take the Sunday punch and that the WA will have to commit to a major attack after wading through some combat delay. The sum effect is that so long as you can layer, you can keep advances to twenty to thirty miles. Which would be horrific in Italy, but by this point looks positively cheery.
Don't Get Lazy: It is very easy at this stage to get sloppy. It's been a long game. The WA are stomping your face into the curb without any apparent impediment. Your strongest defenses shatter in a turn if the WA really care to break them. Your planning devolves in shuffling more and more and barely coherent units into desperate layers of speedbumps.
But there are still a handful of formations you have, mostly panzers, that can at least redirect the allied tide or slow it down. Using them well can still change where and how the WA win, even if it can't stop them from winning their fights. In this case, they turned Loki off axis just fine - until I screwed up, and then there he was to pounce.
< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 3/15/2020 7:05:00 PM >