03 Dec 1200 Game Over

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At this point, the GM called the game as a Soviet victory. It was clear that the German counterattack would not succeed, and that German resources were insufficient to rescue the game. Novaya Boyarshchina was going to fall, and this would free up 2 more battalions of Soviet infantry to defend the bridges at the Luchessa and keep the MSR secure. With massive amounts of forces exited, this is a Soviet Major Victory.

Was this game a foregone conclusion? By no means. The Soviets won by creating a victory plan from the very beginning and pursuing it doggedly over the years this game took to play. Soviet team communication was good, and while there were inefficiencies all over the place, the plan as designed functioned and secured victory. Point wise the Soviets would have a minor victory, but with a number of shifts from exited formations.

Could the Germans have performed better? By all means. A few errors that cost heavily:
1) The strong German forces in the north were immobile most of the game. The Soviet back areas were only lightly held. There was much untapped potential in striking an area where the Soviets were week. As it turned out, each German attack ran right into a significant Soviet force, while the main Soviet attack hit a seam in the German line.

2) Communication among the German team members could have been better. This is of course difficult in a long game like this with some players experiencing months of limited or no action.

3) The main German error was not identifying the Soviet plan and moving enough forces to block the Soviet main attack. An entire company of engineers (Pio 632) could have been sent, as well as support troops from Vaskovo and even some more of GD, since the north was not being pressured at all. Had the Germans evened out their lines and put enough forces in the south, they could have held Novaya Boyarshchina and Khudilikha and prevented Soviet exit, getting a draw on points and perhaps even a minor victory based on Soviet losses.

4) Had KG North been given a few vehicles and sent into the Soviet back areas, they could have taken any number of the weakly held villages with strong artillery support. This would have terrorized the Soviets, threatening to cut their MSR and potentially costing the Soviets a day or two of operations to try to recover those towns.

So while the Germans felt overwhelmed by Soviet force, a more active defense with counterattacks against weakly held areas could have turned this game around.

My congratulations to the Soviets but also to all the players who endured a long pbem game that had frustrations for all, with bad intel, bad communication etc. I hope it gave just a bit of flavor of the frustrations of actual combat command! The game ran very accurately to what was historically possible, and I continue to be immensely impressed both with GD ’42 as a game, as well as the Tactical Combat Series as a game system. It was a privilege to watch this game develop and help the players construct an amazing narrative.

ALL of the Vassal save files are located here for those who want to examine the units!

http://www.hope.edu/academic/language/forester/GD42_vassal_saves.zip

03 Dec 1100

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After the prep bombardment on Vereista, the company-strength attack commences. 447 Mot, supported by several T-34s, sprints across the snow fields (covered by smoke) and runs smack into superior forces well-entrenched. The Soviet attack is rebuffed with extreme prejudice, and this force will need to retreat quickly to survive at all.

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Further south, the German attack makes some progress, liberating much of Shernosekovo, but it’s too late. 39 Tk arrives to shore up the west side of the town, and an entire fresh battalion of Soviet infantry (3-114) is en route to shore up the defense. Further German progress will be impossible against defending Soviet infantry with superior armor assets. German artillery ammo is finally running low as well.

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Near Novaya Boyarshchina, the Soviet assault is proceeding slowly. 2-114 moved across the gap into the woods SE of Novaya Boyarshchina is point to roll up that flank. NB would then be surrounded and probably fall within 2-3 hours. The Soviets considered calling off the attack anyway to defend against the German counterattack.

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03 Dec 1000

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The Soviet bombardment of Vereista takes place, but doesn’t cause too much damage, though at least 1 platoon was eliminated. The main events are to the south: 1 MB will set off next turn on its attack of Vereista.

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The Germans push from Martinova towards Shernosekovo which they need to take very quickly to keep the momentum going. But three things thwart them: snow, which has been largely absent, fell in great amounts earlier, slowing movement. Soviet artillery as well is very effective in harassing the Germans, who end up calling down smoke to help screen them. And the quick response of the 3 MB task force got defenders in place 20 minutes before the attackers arrived. It was close! But the defenders were able to blunt the attack and destroy a number of German vehicles. III-278 is tasked with pushing the flank to the west, we will see if that achieves results.

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And finally, the attack on Novaya Boyarshchina starts building a bit of steam. The move to the north across the open is met by heavy German artillery, and the attack stalls completely. In the woods, a firefight breaks out with the screening German troops, who will be pulling back very soon. The Soviets have a lot of force,but are lacking supporting arms (many MGs, mortars, artillery) and especially tanks, so, while big on paper, it is not so great in actual offensive power.

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03 Dec 0840

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The action in concentrated in the middle and the south for the rest of the morning. 447 Mot has not yet kicked off its attack, awaiting a bombardment for preparation at about 0940.

The German counterattack runs into delays. The Soviet infantry defending Martinovo is quite weak, but Soviet artillery is successful in slowing down the attackers. As has been continually borne out in this game, attacking on a narrow front has the advantage of concentrating firepower and limiting line of site, but defending artillery is quite good at slowing things down when there is a narrow front, so it’s been a trade off all game, first for the Soviets and now for the Germans. Still, the Soviet infantry is eliminated and the Germans continue to advance. However, the Soviets are responding to this serious threat. 253 TB sets up to guard an attack straight south, and a task force from 3 MB (451 Mot and 1-16 Tk) is moving to Shernosekovo. And an entire battalion of 114 is ready to respond as well.

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Further south, 2 battalions of 114 are entering positions to assault Novaya Boyarschchina. This would be the icing on the cake and completely secure the Soviet flank. But have they committed too much force to this and not enough to defending their MSR against the German counterattack?

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More Soviets exit the map this turn. Numerous shifts on victory seem assured if the Soviets can hold the MSR.

03 Dec 0720

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Another active day is shaping up, with three separate actions going on simultaneously. To the north, a serious German counterattack is developing, involving two strong infantry battalions supported by 15 tanks and assault guns. Fortunately for the Soviets, they had deployed a company to guard the crossing at Martinovo to blunt the initial German attack.

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Further to the west, the Soviet 1 MB has sent a small recon in force towards Vereista. Unbeknownst to the Soviets, this point is strongly held by the Germans, and a pre-attack bombardment did little to reduce the resolve of the defenders.

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But most importantly, in the south, Soviet forces begin to exit the map through the breakthrough established by 10 MB. There seem to be no German plans to seal off this point, though there are two German battalions that in theory could act, one to the north and one to the south.

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Things look bad for the Germans. Their one opportunity is really to cut the MSR somehow (perhaps this counterattack developing can do that). Since Soviets have exited a number of units, they might not have enough force left to re-establish control of the MSR. So a German victory is still possible, but it will depend on the strength of the German counterattack as well as the Soviet response…

03 Dec 0300

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In a great leap forward, the GM processed many turns, going from 02 Dec 1500 to 03 Dec 0300. New reinforcements arrive, III-184 for the Germans (with 7 AFVs in support0 and III-184 around Krivusha in the middle.  Soviet 114 IR parked behind Soviet lines and planned a push for 03 Dec. 1 MB troops were happy to be sheltered from the winter and completed the bridge across the Luchessa.3dec_0300_01

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The Soviets near Khudilikha have set up a defensive perimeter in both directions, preparing to allow Soviet troops to exit off the map to the east during a major operation planned for later in the morning. The stragglers from 1-I-252 had successfully implemented an attack to the north but were forced to quit an hour later as the night fell and the cold tooks its toll. These troops infiltrated instead back south to join the rest of I-252 and defend the woods to the east of Novaya Borarshchina.

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The Soviets have wrested control of the game here by creating a conduit through which to exit troops for major VP shifts in their favor. The Germans have not reacted quickly enough to stop the breach, so now they are forced to attack and try to cut the Soviet MSR. Had the 114 IR not arrived, this might be a very likely success; however, an entire fresh regiment uncommitted will be a huge obstacle to any German attack.

02 Dec 1500

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The day is almost over. In the north, the German line has reformed and looks to be in good shape. A Soviet approach would be across open ground, and the defense is based in 2 fairly solid battalions of the German GD, with II-473 and a bunch of other units in support. This part of the German equation looks very good.

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However, the main action this day is still in the south. After a furious assault, Khudilikha falls to the Soviets. This involved bitter street fighting, and several T-34s were knocked out both by the StuG IIIs as well as Panzerfaust and other close-range German AT weapons. Nevertheless, the German defenders were routed after all all StuG IIIs were destroyed, as this allowed the Soviet infantry to circle the flank and put the rest of the town under a huge crossfire.  The survivors fled south in an attempt to join the rest of I/252, but continued to dump artillery on the town, causing the Soviets to keep back from the southern edge of the town in an attempt to stay out of direct observations.. Some Soviet tanks had had enough and had withdrawn before the conclusion of the battle.

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The retreating Germans took ground to weather the heavy Soviet fire, awaiting nightfall to retreat to the south. The company of 252 is now trapped between the Soviet formations and doesn’t have attack orders to move into contact, so the situation for them is a bit dicey.