Thursday, November 26, 2015

Kiev to Rostov via Vassal - GT56

It never rains but it pours.  Yep, wet muddy weather.  Maybe the Soviets should have hung on...

However they have made a good escape and didn't suffer too many surrenders and have started to build a front to defend Stalino.

The Axis have been able to repair the Dnepropetrovsk rail bridge and while rail conversion takes twice as long in the mud, they might just be able to build a supply line to support a push on Stalino.

The big picture, not something I can readily see using Vassal.

Kiev to Rostov via Vassal - GT55

With the return to dry weather the Axis were able to capture Belgorod, making the defense of Kharkov very problematic for the Soviets.  Most of the line is held by their armoured reserve and if they lose that their ability to counterattack, not to mention the VPs associated with the loss of armoured units, would put them at a disadvantage, out weighed by the loss of Kharkov (possibly... It's three hexes are currently worth six VP each).

The Soviets have decided to pull back.

Not only did the fall of Belgorod contribute to this decision, but the Axis were able to surround the initial blocking force before Stalino and had fully secured the Melitopol pocket.  Just to top off a bad turn for the Soviets, Dnepropetrovsk surrendered.

It might not be all bad as the muddy season is almost here.  Maybe they could have held out a bit longer?

North, note Soviet forces withdrawing to the south east from Kharkov.

South, with Soviet forces also withdrawing from their failed attempt to relieve the Melitopol pocket.

The two pictures well show the shrinking front (both in terms of physical space and troop availability).

Double Chariots

Dave B hosted another session of chariot races at the NWS last night.  With four players we each got to control two chariots.

And they're off!  Literally in the case of my Gaulish charioteer.  I also have the one in red (which of course goes faster, or so I hope).

The crowd boos a few slow chariots and in the turmoil two riders are lost.

The leaders, Simon with the white horse and Brendan in the other two horse chariot.  My boys are doing well.

The pressures on...

Simon comfortably crosses the finish line while we were no where close.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kiev to Rostov via Vassal - GT54

Time to fess up - it appears I have been making a number of mistakes... Doh!  Nothing surprising there I guess with a game of this size.  Some that I have found so far (putting aside the unit withdrawal fiasco for the Crimea noted in my last post) include armoured formations do not get their integrity bonus if not using attack supply [on a closer reading that might only be if they are OoS to start with] and cavalry do not have their movement reduced when out of supply.  Most of the attacks by the Axis armoured formations did not have good results and so I think I can live with that first mistake.  The cavalry mistake affects both sides and as the Soviets have generally been in supply it is not an issue for them and the Axis have very little cavalry.

I found these little mistakes while checking on the rules relating to the northern railroads.  It is possible I have been extending these beyond the intended limit.  The set up for a different scenario seems to indicate this, but if this is the case the Axis attack route is quite different (as it may well be with an early capture of Dnepropetrovsk.

And GT54 is mud.

The north, nothing much happened except for a bloody attack on Belgorod where the Axis have now advanced their supply line to.  It's just about the maximum rail travel in a turn meaning the Axis can rail in Attack Supply each turn.  The red line is the rail line that the Axis have converted.  I just hope I'm playing right in having extended the line and using the northern map edge as a supply source.

The centre showing the main supply line.
The south and its pitiful supply situation.  However the Soviets have not been able to breakout of the Melitopol pocket and suffered a small surrender which has further tightened the Axis noose.  In this situation the mud is as bad for the Soviets as it is for the Axis.

On the southern map I've circled in blue the three units dashing (ha ha) to the Crimea exit.  It is about ten percent of the force.  The way the rules are written, just the tiniest missing unit will cost the Axis a VP per turn.  To put that in perspective, if the Axis capture Belgorod they get one VP.  Same for the capture of Melitopol.

Kiev to Rostov via Vassal - GT53

This may well be the turning point.

GT53 turned out bright and dry, except for lingering mud in the forests. Both sides had to make further withdrawals.  With all my careful planning I found I had stuffed up both.  The Soviets had the use of a unit for one or two turns longer than they should (it was busy defending Belgorod).  The Axis should have exited an additional three units to the Crimea (these have to be "walked" off unlike the other withdrawals that are just removed, the bad thing being is that the units, minor in the scheme of things, are not positioned to make a quick exit).

The end of the Axis phase saw them smash the defenses to the north of Belgorod and also create a small gap in the Soviet line to the south of Kharkov.  But that is not the big problem. 

With the return to dry weather and critical Axis armoured formations avoiding fuel shortages, the Melitopol pocket has been closed.

The Soviets could not afford to send any reinforcements to Kharkov.

The Axis have left the Italians to besiege Dnepropetrovsk.

The Soviets are desperately trying to breakout of the Melitopol pocket.  They have abandoned their defensive lines and troops have been sent to try and break the thin Axis line near the coast.

The big picture.  Kharkov is at the centre top.  Dnepropetrovsk is on the left, centre.  Note the Axis forces now heading east.  Melitopol is to the south.  One aspect of this game, unlike other Eastern Front games, is that the front actually shrinks as you go east.  The south is bordered by the Sea of Azov and the north is part of Army Group Centre's operations.  Rostov can be seen in the lower right hand corner.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kiev to Rostov via Vassal - GT52


It's a mixed blessing.  It stopped the Axis, but also slows the Soviet's ability to respond.

The mud meant the Axis could only manage three attacks around Belgorod.  These were at three to one mostly.  They met with mixed success, however the Soviets would have trouble responding, especially given what happened down south.

The Melitopol pocket, almost closed, the Axis had command of a good road, but just couldn't quiet close the trap.

Kharkov is stable, but the Soviets are trying hard to patch up their line to the north of Belgorod.

The best the Soviets could do for Melitopol (aside from abandoning their lines which might have been a bit premature) was to rail in some troops and hope that they will be able to create some openings.  What the Soviets know is that the Axis are planning to withdraw at least two of the divisions that are forming the pocket.  It is also possible that with the supply situation, regardless of the weather, the Axis troops might find themselves immobilized due to fuel shortages.  All they need to do is close one hex...

Kiev to Rostov via Vassal - GT51

The going gets tough, but the weather remains fine.

The Axis finally achieved something of a breakthrough down south.

While massing their panzers for an attack on Belgorod.  An attack south of Kharkov was repulsed, but with few casualties to either side, the Axis forces falling back.

The Soviets could do little about the situation in the south, particularly when some of their forces surrendered.  The Dnepropetrovsk pocket is also shrinking a bit.

But in the north the Soviets launched a counterattack and also rushed forces to defend Belgorod.

While the Axis continue to withdraw troops to Army Group Centre, their overall supply situation is improving, so it is something of a swings and roundabouts situation for them.  Kharkov will be the blockage and is therefor critical for the Axis to capture.