Sunday, January 16, 2011

Gary Grigsby's War in the East - AAR(eview) - Pskov and Beyond

This is an AAR of an scenario of the game Gary Grigsby's War in the East. I have included some comments and screenshots as a supplement of a review that will be published in the near future.

Continuing from the previous entry, 4th PzGrp has advanced towards the Western Dvina. It is still well within reach of the supply network, but as I mentioned before the bulk of the supplies are distributed from a rail head and the supply issue needs to be thought of from early on. The Russian rail lines had a different gauge than the ones in Western Europe and need to be converted. This task is accomplished by construction units like the one shown below.

Outlined fucsia in the map, a construction unit that can convert railroad lines into the Western gauge. To convert railroads, the user has to click on the acronym RRC (railroad conversion) in the right panel. 
The status of the railroad lines is visualized by clicking F2.
The railroad map overlay. Green icons indicate usable railroad and red icons indicate ... you know. In the previous turn, a construction unit has converted a total of 3 hexes from the border (yellow dotted line in the map). Note the shading of the hexes: clear for areas where supplies can be delivered directly from the rail head, shaded grey for areas where a subordinate unit will have to pull supplies from a HQ unit and red for areas where supplies can't be delivered because they are under enemy control. 

During the second week of operations, 4th PzGrp routs the Russian paratroopers near the rail road crossing on the Western Dvina and upon crossing the river splits its lines of operations in two: (i) the decisive operation/main thrust by the XLI Pz Corp pushing northeast towards Pskov and (ii) a shaping operation/secondary envelopment move by LVI Pz Corp towards Riga to cut off Russian troops withdrawing in the northeast direction.

Despite a lightning advance by the 8th PzDiv, which arrives at Riga virtually unopposed, the envelopment by LVI Pz Corps ends up being a fiasco. With just two divisions separated along the Western Dvina, the LVI Pz Corps fails to even spot retreating or routing Russian troops. As in real life, achieving an hermetically closed kesselschlacht in the game is extremely difficult.

XLI Pz Corps is having troubles of its own. The spearhead of the XLI Corps is the 6th Pz. Div. and is just 50 miles short of Pskov. The advance of XLI Corps has bought us some 200 miles worth of unprotected flanks and this is something that I don't take lightly. To cover the extended flanks of XLI Corps I experimented with splitting the 36th Mot. Div. and the 1st Pz. Div. into three regiments each. This is done by selecting the unit and then clicking the "b" (for breakdown into smaller units). Each division was split into three equal regiments that I later reinforced with support units from the XLI Corps HQ.

Splitting the 1st Pz. Div. into three regiments.
At the end of the second week of operations the situation looks like shown below.

Situation after two weeks of operations. Yellow graphics were added with an image editing software. The shape of the yellow lines do not reflect the in-game orientation of the units (the game engine does not feature unit's facing) but rather the intended path of movement or the direction of future combat operations. 9th Army had it's share of combat south of Riga and now is advancing towards the city. 16th Army is slogging through difficult terrain, it will be difficult to catch up with 4th Pz. Grp. and protect its eastern flank.

Following the fruitless dispersion of forces during the previous week, I intend to consolidate the lines of operation of 4th Pz. Grp. for an assault on Pskov. This regrouping of the 4th Pz. Grp took one whole week. The Russians appear to be converging towards Pskov from the east and northeast.

Situation at the start of week 5. Yellow graphics were added with an image editing software. 9th Army is past Riga advancing north. 4th Pz Grp is approaching Pskov in a very wide front.

The relatively wide deployment of the Russians near Pskov means that if I concentrate 4th Pz. Grp. for a final assault on the city, I will be leaving this formation vulnerable to outflanking and envelopment by the Russians. I hope that a successful assault on Pskov will shock the Russians enough to force them to move northeast.

Pskov must fall. Stacked in a couple of hexes, the best combat units of 4th Pz. Grp. get ready for an all-out on Pskov. Note the Russian infantry units on our east flank: not a pretty sight.
Pskov has fallen and our right flank is clear now. The Russians likely withdrew northeast or moved north of Pskov to put a plug into our advance. 

We are now clear to consolidate Pskov as a base of supplies and combat operations and bring up the whole Army Group North for an attack on Leningrad.

Lines of operation for the second phase. Note Luftflotte 1: although I moved all of its assets north weeks before, it is time now to move it again closer to the battle lines.

16th Army's slow advance through that marshy terrain slows down the whole Army Group plans. The prospect of battling in the woods north of Pskov with the 4th Pz. Grp. made me anxious at the beginning but the Pz. Divs. are so powerful that manage to rout and push back every Russian formation in their path of advance. This heavy combat came at a price, though: time. I arrive at the end of the scenario (10 turns/weeks) with my eyes on Leningrad, but my men and tanks not quite ready yet to break through the formidable defenses in front of the city. 

Final situation: not quite ready for the final push. Image is clickeable. 
This concludes the AAR. The purpose was not show operational savviness but rather some of War in the East's features and gameplay. Stay tuned for a review of this game.



stephen said...

Dear Panzer commander your orders were to:

Turn 1 take Riga making sure you take the port in the west and then use sea transport to move up the Police Brigade.

Turn 2 Tallin was to fall and the other port on the way. In order to give us 2 sea ports for supply. Tallin gets the reserve Inf Div by sea transport.

Sea ports provide supply up the east avenue of approach so no need for rail repair.

You are behind schedule, move now -out!

JC said...

Dear O.K.H.,

I think we discussed before that the Kriegsmarine is not to be entrusted to such vital tasks as feeding our gun tubes and bellies. :)


Ibex said...

Are the Finnish divisions in the north AI-managed or under your command?

I probably could mention that I have followed your blog for quite some time without commenting. Have to say I really like your posts a lot! Greetings from the Finnish winter!

Anonymous said...

what on earth is 9th army doing over there?

JC said...

@ Ibex,

Thanks for the kind words. The Finish are under my command in this scenario. For the sake of brevity, I didn't mention their brave push south!

@ Anonymous,

The 9th Army is present in this scenario. Good catch! :) I think they are there because during the real operation the issue of keeping contact with Army Group Center was a hot one.


Anonymous said...

This comment would perhaps more relevant in discussing the operation Barbarossa scenario but I wanted to discuss your statement that Kesselschlacht battles are very difficult in the game. What I have found is that rather than divvying up the panzer divisions to fight in the various sectors of the front, the best thing to do is to denude army group north of all of it's mechanized and armored units, as well as taking some of Army group south's armored units and use them to support the drive of army group center. With such a profusion of armored units in the center really huge encirclements are very possible and I have been able to destroy upwards of 60 soviet divisions at a time(in the largest of these encirclements over 120 soviet divisions were destroyed). While it is true that in doing this the combat effectiveness of North and south are hampered it ultimatley makes no real difference because the Soviets drain away their forces in the south and north in order to concentrate on protecting Moscow and so leave the southern sector virtually unguarded. Using this I have been able to take Moscow by early to mid August and have captured Leningrad before the Soviet winter offensive begins.

JC said...

Well, that's really awesome! Screenshot or it never happened! :)

Seriously, do you want to send a couple of screenies? I will post them in the blog!


Anonymous said...

Well I'm not very familiar with putting up screen shots, if I could perhaps be given some directions.

xlpharmacy said...

You have showed us very well the scenario of that war, I didn't have any doubt after I saw the schema in here, everything was so clear for me to understand.