Tuesday, April 28, 2009

More OCS

Eric and I continued our WBC-W warm-up with more OCS. This time it was the Edge of the World scenario from Case Blue, which sees the Axis charging forward with 3 panzer divisions and, pretty much, no supply. This makes it really hard to use those panzer divisions as they can't even move without supply.

In order to win the Axis have to capture Ordzhonikidze, and some oil fields near Grozny. If the Russians control any of those and still control Grozny, then they win. Any other result is a draw. The big limitation for the Axis player is supply, with only 2SP per turn (normally), so he has to run an offensive on little more than fumes. Of course, the Russian is defending a couple of cities, and the one thing you need to take these is supply. Hmm, a conundrum, indeed.

I started by dashing forward in an almost reckless manner, pushing past the first unit or two, heading one panzer division towards Ordzhonikidze, the others along the northern route towards Grozny. I got to Ordzhonikidze in the third turn or so, and immediately found that I had nowhere near enough strength to do much about it. Eric had added several units to the defenses, and I just bounced off.

However, I did manage to cut his supply line and forgetting about the attrition part of trace supply, Eric didn't move units forward to give them a supply line. Come the supply phase, when they couldn't trace, and not eat SPs on the map, he had to roll on the attrition table. He rolled, and it came up '12', killing all the steps. At this point I suggested that he change his move , and move his reinforcements to give a trace supply route to Ordzhonikidze, rather than move them into the town, which he did. I managed to cut his supply line once more, but he was able to force me back once again to re-open it.

From this point on the game kind of stagnated as I waited for strength, in the form of an infantry division, to arrive. I tried another attack, but lost out again, so decided on building up a bit first. I rebuilt my infantry division, more artillery and built up supply, and commenced the attacks. Which all went horrible wrong. I missed the artillery roll (needed a 6+), rolled defender surprise in the attack (with +1 modifier, I needed 6-8 to avoid surprise, 9+ to gain) and a 4 in the attack. My follow on attack to cut him off again also failed. Eric's counterattack rolled well, gaining surprise and his artillery managed to kill another step. I'd spent 4SP, and lost 3 steps, for no gain, something the Axis player just can't afford.

Elsewhere I tried to cut off Grozny, but Eric was easily able to gain trace supply again, as I'd very little in the way of supply to move my panzer units again. (At this point I had 2T of supply left on the map.)

The next few turns were building up for me, recovering steps and SPs, as Eric started to push forward. He left an infantry division out by itself near Grozny, so I tried an overrun, but even with a +3 modifier I couldn't roll the 9 required (i.e. needed to roll 6+) to get surprise, and I was forced back again. Another 1SP for nothing. He's starting to roll forward, threatening to wrap around my flank, so it was time to start considering falling back.

At Ordzhonikidze I've at least managed to cut him off, but we've identified that he's flying in 2T of supply per turn, less than he needs to eat off the map, so I have no way to force him out via attrition. 4 turns after the disastrous attack turn I'm still rebuilding (each infantry division step requires 2 Pax, and at an average of 1/turn, plus movement), but he's now threatening my flank, looking to cut off the units over the river to the east of Ordzhonikidze. I attack, but once more roll like crap and lose the combat.

As this point I call the game, as it's clear I'm not going to get anywhere near the victory conditions, and I am, in fact, going backwards, as the Russians get stronger and stronger. We've completed 16 of the 25 game turns, taking 3 evening sessions, around 9 hours or so.

This one seems to be a real hard row to hoe for the Germans. Other than the availability of 3 panzer divisions, all the advantages are with the Russians. The Germans have no supply, no air and all the work to do. The Russians just sit there and accumulate steps, SPs, reinforcements, sniping at the Axis forces with their air units as opportunities present themselves to prevent the Axis attacks. All the while they're building up their hedgehogs, just to make things harder. So, how does the Axis crack this one?

Eric suggested that building an airfield near the front might be an idea, as that would allow the sole Axis fighter to project a patrol zone over the leading attacking units, rather than skulking at the rear. This would have the double benefit of preventing the Russian bombers from having free rein to DG the Axis troops, and also threaten the air resupply of Ordzhonikidze. However, I'm not sure how much difference that would make, as with several Russian fighters it just requires one good roll and the Axis fighter would go inactive and he could then pound away, but it wouldn't hurt to try.

Perhaps only making really big attacks is the way to go, but with only the two full infantry divisions it's still going to be hard work, and that takes more time to organize, although time doesn't seem to be too much of an issue for the axis. These units are also very easy to hit by air, so will spend most of their time in DG status.

We really need to have another go at it, but that's the downside of these big games, it's a lot harder to get them to the table to play them often enough to figure out how to approach it. I might have to try it solo. If nothing else I need to figure out how to attack these Russian cities for WBC-W, which isn't too far away now.