Eastean Crusade

Write Up of the Continuing Europe Aflame Campaign

Played by Dura Price and Faron Bell

*See also, Duri's story

 Let me begin this article by saying that I have not had this much fun wargaming in years. I love the old classic monster games; Europa, Pacific War, etc.. The only problem was actually trying to play out that two thousand counter monstrosity sprawled out across two sheets of plywood in your garage. Those paper games seldom saw more than the first year's worth of game time fought through. One of the players would move, the kids would come by and knock off several map feet of counters or maybe the local rules lawyer would throw a walleyed fit and the game would come to an end rather abruptly. Been there? Finally, we have a decent PC wargame engine and a really well done scenario that allows us to recapture that same 'ole excitement of a strategic, theater level simulation. No fuss, no muss, just pure grognaring fun.

I ran across the Europe Aflame (EA) scenario on "The Gamer's Net" website in v1.0 form. I immediately began to salivate after downloading the campaign (I will refer to this as a campaign...it's just to massive to be a scenario) and seeing the eons of detail. I had looked at a few other theater level WWII scenarios and always came away being disappointed with the non- historical unit composition, scale or some other aspect of the scenario that had been totally abstracted. I must say that Ulver and Mark must have made EA a full time job over the last year or two. The detail that I had been looking for was all here!

I quickly began searching all available 'net databases and came up with a few e-Mail addresses of Gamers that I thought might actually commit to playing the full 350 turns out or at least follow through to a reasonable conclusion. Enter Duri. I knew that Duri was a kindred spirit when he immediately returned my e-Mail and offered to go out and buy the same version of TOAW that I had. Being a pauper, I could not afford COW at that point in time.  So, being the high powered and highly paid business executive that he is,  Duri secured a copy of WotY and we were set. By the time we were ready to begin, v1.2 was available. The sides were set up with Duri as Axis and I (mild mannered and peaceful in nature) as Allies. We were then all set to begin the most challenging and enjoyable wargame that I can remember in recent times.

Turn 1 - 4: I approached this game having already played about 30 turns into another EA v1.1 scenario as the Axis. Duri had never played EA before. Thus I had some knowledge of how powerful the Axis could be in the first half of the game. I wanted to protect France from an quick capitulation and selected the Maginot line option, figuring that Duri would attack Poland on turn 2, as I had done in my game as Axis. Duri opted for the Pre-war builds, Axis Carriers and ultimately the German West Wall. Little did I realize, Duri's eyes were looking East. As the Russian's, I occupied Bessarabia figuring that Duri would be busy munching on the Poles. By turn 4, I had sufficiently ticked off the Rumanians, Hungarians and Bulgarians so as to push them into the loving arms of the Axis. This was to leave Greece alone, joining the Allies. The Axis and new found friends persuaded the Poles into an expedition featuring, "The Russians for lunch bunch," with the Finn's joining in for grins. Much to my dismay, the stage was set for an Eastern Crusade Variant of EA. I had figured my Allied strategy towards a more traditional Axis campaign. I had figured wrong.

 On Turn 1, I had begin moving masses of Russian troops toward Finland for a Winter War in the summer. By Turn 2, I realized that things were not quite what they seemed and began shifting troops back into line. I was part way through the transition when, on Turn 4 (July 22, 1939), the Axis and their minions began the invasion of Russia. By turn 4, I had already invaded the Baltic States and had gleaned the extra Northern Soviet Border units in addition to the units gained by the Bessarabia incursion. This would help slow the Axis advance while the Russians formed a line of battle along the Dvina River in the North, anchored by Riga and along the Dneister in the South. The Russians began to dig like moles.

Turn 5-20: After a period in the North, the Axis shifted most of their armor and motorized formations to the South. This was to be Duri's strategy (unknown to me until turn 50 or so), a limited Northern and Central advance so as not to trigger the Allied option for war, coordinated with an all out Southern attack that would secure the Caucus oil rich region and Stalingrad, before turning towards Moscow. The Dneister River line was quickly penetrated when the Axis found a hole in the Russian line behind the super river. German Engineers were used for a quick crossing and the Russian line was compromised in a snap. The Russians sacrificed several Corps in an holding action around Odessa while the bulk of the Southern Army escaped behind the Bug and ultimately, the Dneiper. The city of Kiev anchored the Southern line and was quickly engaged. A fierce battle ensued for several weeks but the city fell on Turn 17 (October 7, 1939).

 Meanwhile Riga had fallen on Turn 13 and a slow Axis advance was made in the North towards Estonia. The Finns had begun the conquest of the Northern reaches and were threatening Murmansk (fell on Turn 21) by November of '39. The Russian line solidified along the Dvina thru Mogilev and East of the Pripet Marshes, thru Gomel and Chernihev, along the Dneiper and finally anchoring on Melitopol. Unfortunately the Axis had invested the Sevastapol region about the time winter had set in. Although this period saw significant Russian losses and set backs, all large scale Axis penetrations had been avoided.

Turn 76: An overview of the Eastern Front.

Turn 21-36: After the fall of Murmansk, the Russian supply level had dropped significantly enough to began hampering the recovery of the battle fatigued troops. Fortunately for the brave but battered Russian Army, four waves of reinforcements had made it to the front to off set sudden holes appearing all to often in the otherwise stalwart Russian line. Time and time again, I was amazed to see reinforcements show up about the time I thought that there was no possible way to plug the ever widening gaps and bulges in the Russian lines. I had been pushed back, but my line had not been compromised. Though I sacrificed the occasional infantry corps, no large scale encirclements had occurred. My biggest gamble and mistake to date came when, in desperation, I assaulted Murmansk via a sea landing with a French Expeditionary force. I retook the city but the valiant French unit was annihilated the following turn.

The major problem for the Russians at this point was that the Axis were threatening the Kerch Straits and had encircled Sevastapol. I withdrew to Kerch and began digging in along the causeway and on the shoreline outside of Novorossik, in the Caucus region. I felt confident that I could withstand a major offensive into this area. I was to be sadly disappointed.

In the Northern area of operation, the Finns and a German Infantry Corps threatened Leningrad. I had intentionally placed my best motorized  and mechanized units in this region to defend against any possible thrust towards that important supply point. Unfortunately, Axis success in taking Riga and Murmansk had stripped valuable units away from Leningrad. I believed I could hold Leningrad with the garrison plus three infantry corps dug in and fortified. Again, I would be sadly mistaken.

The Russian air and naval units were in a sorry state. I had long ago withdrawn the few air assets I had remaining to Moscow for recovery. The Russian Navy had piecemealed into action and all but one fleet had been destroyed.

Mercifully, the Russian winter set in and a cease fire occurred between Turn 26 thru 36. The Russians infantry used this time to dig entrenchments up to 125 km in depth and beyond (3- 5 hexes) in order to fall back during the Axis Spring offensive that was sure to come. The Russians also were able to adjust their lines and assemble limited reserves in critical areas.

Turn 37 - 48: February 24, 1940 saw the opening of the true Barbarossa Spring Axis offensive (declared March 3rd). I had prepared for the assault to the best of my ability and felt confident that I could slowly withdraw to Stalingrad with a largely intact army while holding at least Baku, in the Caucus region. I had rested and reinforced my troops in critical places and even managed to assemble a small reserve near key points in the line. Enter the Kerch Straits.

Sevastapol had been evacuated prior to winter, with only a token garrison remaining. The ancient  fortress city fell on Turn 36, the first week of spring. The Axis quickly advanced on Kerch and the gateway to the Caucus region fell on March 3rd. Using a surprise airborne assault near Novorossik, the Germans were able to cross the straits and threaten this important anchorage. The Russians contained the German intrusion to just a few hexes in depth and being ever optimistic, I believed Duri would have a long hard road to Maikop and Grozny.

The Axis had captured Dnepropetrov prior to the winter cease fire and slowly advanced on Stalino and Rostov. I threw everything I had into the Southern fray in hopes of keeping Duri from investing Rostov, but he was making slow progress, hex by hex, but advancing nonetheless.

The Northern sector was relatively quiet. The Rumanians posted there were not strong enough to engage the fortified Russian line. Only occasionally, would a brisk skirmish ensue with very limited Axis gains in the North and Far North regions. The tradeoff was that the Far Northern and Central areas had consumed a great deal of resources that could have been used and were desperately needed in the South. Enter the second disaster of the game (the first being the loss of Murmansk), Leningrad.

As stated previously, I had sent some of the units guarding Leningrad to the West for the defense of Talinin and into the Far North, just South of Murmansk. I had and continue to have an obsession with the Axis breaking thru the Far North Front and rushing downward towards Moscow. With only three Russian Infantry Corps and the Leningrad Garrison guarding the city, Duri decided to risk a direct assault. He was successful and took Leningrad in just one turn of fighting. Desperate Russian counterattacks ensued and the city was retaken but fell again the following turn. By May 12, 1940 it was firmly under the occupation of several Finn and one German Corps. This was a crushing blow to the Soviet war machine and would also see the Swedes join the Axis in their Russian endeavor. Supply resources fell to a level of  '18', meaning that Russian units would have an even tougher time recovering from fatigue and reducing overall troop effectiveness substantially. Novorossik in the Caucus region had fallen April 7 (Turn 43), so this was a particularly bitter pill to swallow. Mercifully, the Axis Barbarossa shock advantage ended the same turn as the fall of Leningrad.

Still, even with the loss of Murmansk and Leningrad, the Russian line had held. Only local penetrations had been made into the defenses and these were quickly sealed off by meticulous withdrawal and the careful use of reserves. Little did I know, that the Russians were about to begin the most trying time of the campaign to date.

Turn: 76: A closer look at the battle for Stalingrad.

Turn 49 - 68: With the loss of Leningrad and later, Talinin (Turn 59/July 28), the Northern Front settled down to a stalemate. The Russians held a solid line behind the Volkhov River anchored by the city of the same name. The Axis had been very cautious in the Central sector to hold back so as not to trigger the entry of the French and British.

Meanwhile, on the Southern Front things began to disintegrate rather rapidly. Novorossik had fallen in early April but the Axis had been contained in the treacherous and difficult mountain region just north of Krasnodar. Duri had been able to "inch" his way towards Stalino and Rostov. Both cities had been overrun by June 23 (Turn 54) and the Caucasus region was blown wide open.

 Massing all available armor and motorized units in his vast inventory, Duri began a steady advance Southward toward Maikop and the Central plains. As the lines bulged and grew ever longer, my Russian resources were stretched to the limit. I had thrown in every available unit to plug the increasing penetrations. Finally by late July, Duri had made the first and only (to date) irreparable gap in the Russian line. Several panzer and motorized corps opened a 75 km wide gap and enveloped the central Caucasus plains region. This spelled disaster for the oil rich region. [See Duri's wonderful work of fiction, 'Nichevo', based on these events]

 To make matters worse, the Axis had landed paratroops and seaborne assault infantry into Batum. Desperate air assaults ensued as I moved all my available airpower into the region South of Maikop and near Grozny to repel the German intruders. Although the brave Russian Air Corps inflicted heavy losses on incoming seaborne troops, I was unable to stop the invasion and Batum fell on July 14 (Turn 57). This desperate air counter attack cost me about 500 aircraft and the air units were once again withdrawn to Moscow for refitting.

 I was faced with withdrawing the remnants of the Southern Russian Armies towards the river South of Rostov or risk loosing 25% of the entire Russian Army, trapped in the Caucasus. Though, I managed to salvage the majority of the Southern Army, I lost six or more high quality infantry and motorized corps adding up to at least 500,000 men. This would be a devastating blow and the third great disaster in the campaign.

 Once again, however, the Russian Army rallied and began to rebuild a line of defense South of Rostov along the river and anchored on the cities of Voroshilov and Shakhty, about 250 km West of Stalingrad. I sacrificed the already lost Caucasus region to the oil lusting Axis in order to buy time for my rally cry. Maikop, Grozny and Baku had all fallen by Turn 68 (September 28). Not only would this conquest deliver a huge cache of advanced German tanks into the Axis inventory, but the loss of Baku would bring Turkey into the war on the side of the Axis.

 I finished this period in a state of depression. I had fought tooth and nail, done everything in my power to slow the German advance but yet still they came ever forward. I had now lost more light infantry squads than I had in action, close to 100,000 or almost 3 million men in game terms and had seen my supply level reduced to '14'. The only saving grace was that for the most part, I had saved my army from total destruction and had formed a solid, though much weakened, line near Stalingrad. Little did I know, that I was about to receive an unexpected and most pleasant surprise.

Turn 76: The Balkans and Turkey - who's cutting off whom?

Turn 69 - 80:  This period opened with a continued Northern, Far Northern and Central stalemate, partially due to Duri not wanting to trigger the entry of the Allied powers and partially because of the difficult terrain he was facing in the North. The Southern Front had seen the Germans consolidate gains in the Caucasus and drive back up into the attack position near the cities of Voroshilov and Shakhty as well as the river line to the South of Rostov.

 Astrakhan fell on October 6th and Duri was in a position to threaten Stalingrad from the West, South and East as he slowly pushed the Russian line Eastward. German engineers were again used with great success in fording the river and super rivers and by Turn 72, the Russians had retreated into Stalingrad and the surrounding area. In a dramatic withdrawal, the entire Russian Center was pulled back to Kursk. This would draw a Russian line of defense extending from Volkhov, behind the river Lovat and down thru Smolensk, Byransk, Kursk, Voronezh and behind the Don River ending at Stalingrad. [See screenshots]

 Finally, after being hammered for month after month, I received three breaks. Firstly and most significantly, Duri accidentally triggered the entry of France and Britain (October 27/Turn 72) by moving to close to Rayazan. Secondly, the Winter of '40-'41 was about to begin and with this event a nice Axis shock penalty of '80'. Lastly, on December 8th,  the Moscow Fortification Line was triggered, releasing a horde of high quality Russian armored and mechanized corps, in addition to the fortifications.

 Duri and I talked about the accidental triggering of the Allied War option and agreed to implement another Western Cease Fire during the '40-'41 Winter period. We agreed that all was fair game on the Russian Front but that the Western Theater would be limited to air attacks only, thus disallowing any ground action or advances.

 This sudden turn of events turned the Russian Front into a temporary stalemate and would give the Russians an opportunity to counterattack, using their newly acquired Moscow Line reinforcements. I decided to attempt to retake Leningrad and assembled about 10 corps worth of fresh, high quality troops near Novgorod. This assembly was a feat in itself due to almost all Russian rail bridges having been systematically knocked out over the last few months. The hammer fell (or rather broke) on Turn 78 (December 22) as the Russian armored and mechanized forces attempted to force a crossing over the Volkhov, about 75 km South of Leningrad. The result was utter failure. The Russians attacked two Swedish and one German Infantry Corps, supported by an Axis AT Gun Brigade and were repulsed with heavy losses. The loss ration was 10:1 favoring the Axis. Russian losses exceeded 30,000 men, Axis less than 4,000. So ended the idea for a winter counter offensive.

Western Theater Turn 72 - 80: The Allies would declare war on the Axis on the first available turn (October 27/Turn 72) and began immediate action in hopes of drawing off German units from the Russian Front. I considered a massive French attack but decided to wait until Spring to do anything "big" with the numerous but relatively brittle French units. Despite my reservations about an sudden advance on Germany, I did decide to deploy French and British units to the Greek region. My hope was to position significant Allied forces in order to threatened vital Axis interests in the Balkan area.

 By November 3rd the Italians had joined into the Balkan fray, triggering the Yugo's into the eager arms of the Allies. We now had a full blown confused Balkan mess. The army lines to the North and West were (and are) very fluid with a great deal of hit and run type tactics on both sides. I was able to sneak a partisan unit into Sophia and force a Bulgarian surrender which helped the Allied war effort to some small extent.

 Meanwhile, in Africa, I had decided to launch an Ethiopian counterattack forcing the Italians on the defensive and finally their surrender of Ethiopia by December 1st (Turn 75). This would free up several Allied Corps desperately needed elsewhere. Other Western action would see a short lived Italian seaborne invasion South of Thessalonika which would cost the Axis two Italian infantry corps. In addition, Duri transferred two mighty panzer corps to the Balkans in hopes of taking Belgrade but was thwarted by winter and our self imposed cease fire house rule.

 In Turn 79, I launched a massive strategic bombing campaign on Germany proper with the newly produced British heavy bombers and knocked out some 10 or so major bridges, thus disrupting German rail traffic and, among other objectives, drawing off some Axis Air units from the East.

 This would leave the game at Turn 80 (January 5, 1941). Temporary stalemate in the East, confused fighting in the Balkans, Guerilla action in Turkey. The US entry number is at '85' with the anxious French and British looking Westward for any sign of US Troop ships.

Eastern Theater Turn 81-88: This period saw the severe Russian Winter of '40-'41 hampering all Axis advances on the Eastern Front. Duri complained that in numerous turns, much of his Army was immobile due to the winter shock penalty. I enjoyed a period of rebuilding and shifting Russian troops into perceived weak points along the front. Although the occasional skirmish would erupt, the front was mainly quiet during this period.

Duri did probe the Russian line to the East of  Voronezh and penetrated my river defense. The breakthrough was quickly sealed off by mechanized units and contained. Another bit of excitement occurred when the Russians received reinforcements behind the Axis lines to the SE of Stalingrad. I quickly encircled a German Infantry Corps posted to guard the Ural entry hex, East of Stalingrad. The Axis unit was badly mauled but escaped destruction. This move established a Russian presence, once again, East of the Volga.

This period would close seeing the Finns and Germans massing in Far North Wilderness, just North of Lake Onega. Several German Armor Corps are also present just East of Voronezh, ready to drive towards Moscow. As the Russian C-n-C, I feel fairly confident of holding out while the British and French attempt action in the West. Turn 89 (March 9, 1941) would see the nasty Russian Winter end...will the Russians survive the Axis Spring offensive?


Western Theater Turn 81-88: Meanwhile, back at the ranch...er Western Front, the French are positioning much of their Army along the French Alps, for an attack into Italy. The self imposed Western Winter cease fire is still in effect for ground troops (the air war continues). It is hoped that by opening another Front, the Germans will be forced to react and shift troops from the East to support the Italians. The British move to support the French with Air and Naval assets (posted to the Med) and take out all rail bridges in Italy. Milan is especially hard hit.

The Germans react by sending at least one Panzer Corps and several Infantry Corps to support the Italians. Several German air units are posted to the Milan sector along with AA units. This makes Allied air attacks in Northern Italy much more expensive but also has the effect of dispersing the Axis Airpower all over Europe, thus making Russian and Western Allied air operations at least feasible.

The Greek and Yugo sector also see a British and French build up during the winter cease fire period. Belgrade is heavily reinforced and severely overstacked with French and Yugo forces. Nearby, a German Panzer Corp supported by Artillery and a number of Infantry Corps await the opportunity to attack the fortified city. The Allies also position units in an attempt to remove the Italian presence around Tirana and await the onset of Spring to attack.

Meanwhile the Guerilla war continues in Turkey, with Pro-Allied Guerrillas harassing the recent Axis Troop build up near Antakya. The Germans have posted two mighty Panzer Corps, two Motorized Corps and several Air units for a thrust into the Levant. I can only assume that Duri's intention here is to deny me an opportunity to stage into Baku in order to help my rather poor supply situation (stands at 14). I react by moving French and British units into a defensive line around Beruit.

Concerned with the production ratio, I looked at the production numbers projected to Turn 96 and find that the Allies produce about 279 tanks, 680 Rifle Squads (Lt. and Md.), 190 Fighters and 316 Bombers. Compared to: 114 Axis Tanks, 449 Rifle Squads (mostly Heavy), 202 Fighters and 130 Bombers. The quality of units is still very much to the Axis favor and the German Panzer units are operating with hundreds of late war tanks supplied from the loss of Maikop and Grozny. We shall see what the Spring of '41 holds...stay tuned!.

Eastern Crusade Scenario, Part III

by Faron Bell

Eastern Front Turn 89-95: On Turn 89 (March 9, 1941), the Winter Shock Effects finally wear off, eliminating the '80' shock value for the Axis. Duri had long awaited the Winter Effects to subside and had moved the necessary troops in place for an immediate assault on Stalingrad.

 I had over stacked the key Russian supply source with 5 fresh infantry Corps, plus the City Garrison. I had one Mechanized Corp placed on Tactical reserve, in an adjacent hex. I felt confident that Stalingrad would hold for sometime. Unfortunately, and as usual, I was to be sorely disappointed. Duri was able to attack the city from three sides and even though I had ordered my troops to hold at all cost, the city fell in one turn (week) of fighting, on March 16th. I was stunned! I did counterattack the following turn and retook the city, but it was retaken and remained firmly under Axis control thereafter. This, coupled w/ the loss of Belgrade (see below), was devastating. I would suffer another -4 supply loss, bringing my supply total down to '10'. This would mark the fourth (or is it the fifth? - I lost count) great disaster of the game.

Overview of the eastern front.

 I must admit at this stage of the game I was wondering if the Allies would hold out long enough for the US to enter and (hopefully) save the day. All was not lost however, and I was able to regroup and put together a solid defense. The entrance of two Russian  'Far South' Mechanized units after the loss of Stalingrad helped the Russians to mount a major counter attack in and around Astrakhan, South of Stalingrad. Through heavy fighting, the Russians retook the important port city. It remains to be seen if the Reds can hold the city from the increasing build up of an Axis relief force.

 This period would see the Russian Front stabilize once again. The Germans continue to have the advantage while both sides probe for tactical gain. It would appear that the Axis are suffering increasing supply problems as well, however, and have slowed the advance on Moscow. Much of the German Airpower has been shifted to the West, making Russian Air Operations feasible. I can only hope that the Russians can hold until the US enter.

 Western Front Turn 89-95: With the onset of Spring, our Western Cease Fire agreement came to an end. Both sides had maneuvered troops into attack positions. The French were set to attack into Italy from the Alps while Duri had moved Two Panzer and Two Motorized Corps for a drive into The Levant and had moved a number of German Corps for an assault of Belgrade. .

Turn 96: Stabile Balkan front ?

Turn 96: Allied offensive stalled

Unfortunately, as with Stalingrad the same turn, Belgrade fell in just one week of fighting. As was done with the Russian city, I had over stacked the Yugoslav Capital and had figured on holding the city while operating against the Italians from the East, coordinated with a French attack in the West. Again I was disappointed and my plans lay burning along the Yugo country side. Yugo surrendered shortly thereafter, leaving a number of French Corps stranded in the mountainous terrain. I was able to evacuate most of the French Army in Yugoslavia by sea and also mount a counterattack from Western Greece.

 While Duri advanced on Belgrade, I had moved Three British Motorized Corps into Western Greece and, along with French and Greek forces, began to drive on the Italian held city of Tirana. Two Italian Corps were surrounded and destroyed and the lines began to stabilize for both sides in Southern Yugoslavia.

 While the French began to probe the Italian lines from the Alpine sector, I launched a seaborne invasion of Anzio (Turn 89). I had destroyed all the rail bridges in Italy and believed that the Axis would not be able to reinforce Rome before I could take the capital and force an Italian surrender. Unfortunately, Duri was far to clever to leave Rome totally uncovered and just managed to move a German Panzer Corps into position and repel the overzealous French. This was followed by a Turn 94 invasion of Messina which managed to take the city but failed to cause an Italian surrender (40% chance). This escapade cost me another French Corps and Division. Total losses for both invasions were three French Corps and Two Divisions along with several Allied ships and a large number of aircraft. .

A seesaw Naval and Air Battle continues to be waged in and around the Med. The Axis seem to have a general air superiority, but the Allies have been able to launch all out air assaults from time to time and achieve reasonable results. During the battle for Messina, the Italian Navy took about 40% losses at the expense of scores of Allied aircraft. The Pro-Axis Turkish Navy has been sunk but the British and French fleets have suffered at least 15% losses due to constant Air and Naval harassment.

Duri had moved German forces into the Levant for a drive towards the Suez. I withdrew towards Beruit and attempted to set up a hasty defense. I began to move French troops by sea to reinforce the region. The Axis forces pressed hard into Palestine and are now threatening Tel Aviv. Damascus, Beruit and Acre have fallen but the lines have stabilized somewhat and hopefully the Axis drive is being slowed. Meanwhile, in North Africa, the Axis have been stopped just short of El Alamein.

 This period closes with what appear to be fairly stable lines all across the ETO. The French have been halted in Western Italy but Russia, Greece, and the Middle East/N. Africa seem to be solidly held, at least for the moment. Until, next time..

Eastern Crusade Scenario, Update IV:

 The Red Bear Falls.

This period opened with a fairly stable front in all theaters. Norway, Denmark, Portugal, Spain and the Low Countries are all still neutral. Bulgaria and Yugoslavia has surrendered. Turkey, Sweden, Croatia, Romania, Hungary and Finland are all Axis Minor Powers. Russia, Britain, France and Greece stand alone. The US is on the verge of entering the war but has thus far only sent Lend Lease Aircraft to help the Allies. The Russians are holding the line but are desperate for US intervention. The war has four separate and distinct fronts; Battle for Southern France, Southern Yugoslavia/Northern Greece, North Africa/Middle East and of course, Russia. By turn 123 things would look quite different.

 Eastern Front, Turns 96-123: I entered this period with renewed hope of being able to hold the Axis at bay until the US would finally enter the war (whenever that might be). The Russian Front extended from the far North down to Volkhov-Demyansk-Rzhev-Kursk-Voronezh-Kamyshin. My brave Russians had retaken Astrakahn on April 6, 1941 (Turn 93) and had managed to create a Russian enclave just South of Stalingrad in and around Astrakahn. My hope was to retake Baku and help relieve the pitiful Allied supply situation. Short of oil and war material, that number had long ago reached "10".

I had thought that Duri's gallant Axis Corps had reached the point of impasse all along the Russian front. We had not seen any major Axis breakthroughs in quite some time. I hoped that by threatening Baku, that I would relieve pressure near the Russian Center. What I did not know, however, was that my clever Duri was carefully marshalling his forces behind Kursk and Voronezh for a massive gamble to break the stalwart Russian line.

My defenses had been stripped for the Russian offensive near Astrakahn and little did I realize that my brilliant maneuver to threaten Baku would have the opposite effect of what I had intended. I diverted MY OWN Russian forces from the front, down to the enclave around Astrakahn. This thinned out my line in the South-Central plains sector. I had committed four of my best Mechanized Corps and a half dozen fresh Infantry Corps to the enclave. Duri carefully sent a few Axis reinforcements to keep me in check, but allow me to believe that I had a fighting chance of retaking Baku. I had subconsciously abandoned my defense in depth strategy which had served me so well over the last two years.

The Axis hammer fell on Turn 104 (Late June, '41). Duri struck at two points in the Russian line, near Kursk and Voronezh. A dozen mighty Panzer and Motorized Corps smashed thru my fortified lines into open tank country. The Russian commanders desperately called for reserves to fill the gaping holes. None were available. The reserves were all in Astrakahn, hundreds of kilometers away. I watched in horror as my line disintegrated at two points and the panzers broke out into uncontested territory, less than 500km South of Moscow. What followed was a pitiful attempt to reform my shattered lines.

The Astrakahn enclave was abandoned. I began to form a new defensive line along the river line at Tula-Rayazan-Gorki. I sacrificed a dozen corps in delaying actions and was finally able to form and hold a stable line by turn 110 or so. The Axis advance had shattered the Russian Army. I knew it was only a question of time before total capitulation was at hand. My hope was to hold out long enough for a US entry, which I believed might be as early as turn 128. I felt that with Winter coming that I had a chance to hold out. Duri too saw the Russian winter of '41-'42 approaching and began to step up his attacks. My very methodical and cautious Duri thew caution to the wind, for he smelled Russian blood. He launched a series of bloody frontal assaults on the Russian river line, now little more than a 100km away from Moscow. Over the next 10 turns he inched his way, hex by hex, towards Moscow. The gallant Russians put up a stubborn defense with numerous successful counterattacks. But the inevitable occurred on Turn 121 (October 19, 1941), Moscow was taken. The Russian Bear had fallen.

The butchers bill was costly. Axis loss penalty "62" versus an Allied "112". Duri reported that all of his Corps had sustained 40-70% casualties. Most Axis Infantry Corps were down from the original 900 Infantry heavy squads to just 150. Panzer Corps were at 50% original strength. Axis losses were 63,000 heavy squads with only about 20,000 remaining in service. But he had done what I thought was impossible, knock out Russia before '42. The Russian losses were devastating as well. 158,446 Light squads lost. 6600 Russian Aircraft destroyed, 5282 T34/76's lost, not counting other Russian armor types.

The US would finally enter the war on October 19, 1941. The period would close seeing the Free Russian Army forming in Britain. The Axis continue to mop up the paltry few partisan forces remaining in occupied Russia and began to shift their bloodied Corps to the West for the final battle.

Western Front, Turns 96-123:  This period would see a slow but steady Axis advance on all fronts, with no major breakthroughs. In Southern France, the Axis would manage to take Nice and Toulon but be stalled at just east of Marseille under the protection of the Allied fleet's guns based there. By turn 123 the first American and Free Russian forces began to arrive in France to bolster the depleted and brittle French Army. Preparation begins to fortify the Southern defenses for the inevitable Axis onslaught..

Meanwhile, the North Africa and Middle Eastern front sees a steady Axis advance and the Allies begin to evacuate forces for the defense of France. Hearing of the US entry into the war and of the many Axis successes, the Japanese land Marines in Madagascar supported by IJN naval elements. The IJN seizes the opportunity to take the Suez canal as the British and French fall back on Port Said and Alexandria. Allied evacuation of North Africa is underway, but all can not be saved and many will be forced to surrender to the Axis in the coming turns..

Turn 123 : Italian Advance

The Yugo/Greeko Front sees a more stable line but capitulation is inevitable as well. More and more Axis troops, released from the Russian Front, will undoubtedly be shifted to the sector forcing Greece out of the war in the coming turns.

Over 6000 French, British and American Aircraft have been lost thus far. No major naval engagements have yet occurred, so both Allied and Axis fleets are largely intact. The effects of my earlier wasteful Allied counterattacks, however, are being felt. The lost French Corps, wasted in seaborne invasions of Italy earlier in the game, are sorely missed. Will the Allies be able to evacuate the most important Corps and Divisions of their expeditionary forces in Africa and Greece for the final battle in France? Will the Allies be able to stall the inevitable Spring offensive in France? Stay tuned.

Oh yes, do mail me your comments at ulver@ulver.dk