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Mowgli Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:45 pm
Very interesting winter scenario!

The soviet player has plenty of cavalry (in the true sense of the word - mounted on horses) and a motorized/mechanized unit (a few tanks, a motorized rifle btn). The soviet cavalry can move extremely fast through the snow (even woods) in travel mode. The wehrmacht player, by contrast, has very few and small but high quality units, also including some tanks. The german infantry needs to stick to the roads and is not as manoeuverable as the soviets. Compared to the german units, the soviets have bad stats but high numbers. So casualties hurt a german unit more than a soviet unit (more fighting power lost per man). Looking at the stats, the best way for the soviet player to make an impression is by assaulting them in close combat. Of course my opponent would not let that happen very often.

The soviet player is attacking from the south to the north. The map is split in two by the Ugra river which runs east-west. The soviet objectives are the village of Yukhnov (south of the river) as well as several villages north of the river, and an exit objective on the northern border of the map. There are some crossing points over the Ugra river and the soviet player has one bridge engineer unit.

This is how our game went (from my perspective):

My wehrmacht opponent, larsonney, slowly retreated northwards in a very orderly manner. Even though the soviet cavalry is fast, its speed can't be brought to its full effect as long as visibility was limited to one hex. Under low visibility conditions, the only way to find gaps and opportunities in the enemy line is to scout aggressively with your cavalry in travel mode. Needless to say that this will result in many casualties. Unfortunately, I couldn't really find any gaps in larsonney's battle line. I tried everywhere, testing every corner of the map. He had it all covered with his few troops. So in the first phase, he was gently giving way and I was doomed to follow at a gentle pace. Time is not on the soviet player's side in this scenario.

Attempts to apply more pressure were then thwarted by the night. Soviet troops can't move during night turns (night disruption is on). If they do, they are guaranteed to disrupt and recovery is very difficult (low quality!).

But then the weather cleared up for a short period of time - visibility increased to 3 hexes. I assume it struck both of us as a surprise. I was able to make good use of it, now that I saw opportunities to put pressure on the opponent's line with my fast cavalry. (The soviet player goes first, so he has the advantage to act first upon the information gained by improved visibility). I did manage to create small pockets and isolate a few german troops here and there. I think this effectively broke my opponent's battle line, forcing him to stay and fight or lose parts of his forces. So I had some successes at this point in the engagement. I prepared to gather a quite massive force in the center to assault the major objective Yukhnov (south of the river). In general, I also decided to shift my main focus on destroying the german troops that were trapped in pockets south of the river, rather than attempting to cross the river in greater force. It was just the easier way to gain victory points within the scenario's tight time limit. I was able to undertake a sneaky river crossing with a tiny force in the center though, poised to take one of the 25pts objectives north of the river.

Then, in the final turns, things did not turn out in my favour. In the east, one of my encirclements horribly backfired, as I had cut off more than I could chew. I was unable to clear the german troops in the pocket, who were able to concentrate into a strong force, isolated and destroyed one of my "flanking" units completely. This was probably the worst mistake I committed during the game, and it cost me many VPs. My massed assault on Yukhnov village started off very promising, but was then brought to a halt because of the night and the weather. First, I had to conduct some night movements (and suffer disruption from it). Then, ON THE VERY LAST, ALL DECISIVE TURN, a storm set in. This cut all movement and all attack and assault values into half. So the final assault on Yukhnov was cancelled. Instead, I tried to hit an adjacent german unit in the open as hard as I could. The sneaky infiltration across the river to take the 25 points objective was also thwarted by the storm. Their movement reduced to 50%, my unit stranded one hex short of the unoccupied objective hex.

In the end, larsonney was only a few points shy of a major victory. It was a very exciting game that was open to the very last turn. Had the storm not prevented my assault on Yukhnov (50 VPs) and my capture of the unoccupied objective north of the river (25 VPs), a draw would have been a likely outcome. I found the scenario highly interesting. The soviet player has the advantage of speed, but is troubled by poor visibility and the nights. So it's very hard to apply pressure and use your advantage in speed and numbers against the german player. Situations in which the german player stands and fights are rare, so you need to make the best of them and hit him hard whereever you can.

Congratulations to larsonney! Well played! :)