Unconditional Surrender!: The Main Event - Part 3

Here is my account of how things went in part three of my ongoing playthrough report of Sal Vasta's Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe. Enjoy!

August 1941: The turn starts off with so much promise for the Germans but ends in disaster. In the Soviet Union, the Germans manage to isolate Kiev but fail to take the city itself despite repeated attacks. The result is a Soviet unit that is out of supply and sitting to the northeast of Kiev. Romanian and Bulgarian armies are rushed south to try and hold off the approaching Russians. In the west, the Germans charge south around the Maginot Line (the French had pulled out one of their eastern-most units last turn to help defend along the Rhone River). The Germans take Strasbourg and then Dijon. A German panzer unit in the south eliminates a French unit and is in Vichy before the end of the turn. Three French cities fall before the German army and it starts to look really bad for France. 

During the western faction's turn, however, some very good rolls lead to French elite military units pushing the Germans back from Lille and near the border with southern Belgium. By the end of the turn, only the city of Sedan is in German hands in the north. In the south, an elite unit manages to rush down from near Paris, and eliminate a German garrison unit in Dijon.Vichy is surrounded by three French units and assaulted to no avail. That's fine. Unless it manages a breakout, the panzer unit in Vichy will be in low supply next turn and be more vulnerable to attack. The French spend their supply mobilizing a tank unit in Toulouse. Oh yeah, the French also sent their air unit from North Africa and based it in Toulouse as well.

Over on the eastern front, things have gone from bad to worse for the Germans during the Soviet faction's phase. They have pushed back in force against the Bulgarians and Romanians in the south.A Soviet unit got lucky by isolating and attacking an out of supply German panzer unit near Kiev and happened to reduce it in combat. During the No Supply Phase, the German unit is eliminated. In the north, there are small gains by Soviet units. Three German armies will find themselves soon low on supply unless they can pull back and reform a defensive line. Otherwise, the Russians will be in Berlin by early next year.

Eastern Front Aug '41: Germans in huge trouble here. Soviets on the move.

Western Front Aug '41: French kickin' all sorts of Nazi butt. North is all French but things still undecided in the south.

September 1941: The Germans continue their retreat on the eastern front. Bulgarian and Romanian units take the brunt of the hits. The Soviets are hitting everywhere now all at once. In the very south, they have entered Romania and in the very north, they are almost in Eastern Poland again. The Germans were forced to pull back their line this turn. Now it is all about delaying tactics. The Germans make some gains in southern France. The panzer unit stuck in Vichy breaks out of the city's encirclement and joins the rest of the Germans just west of the Rhone. Two French armies are destroyed by German attacks. The Germans decide to keep pushing their luck by going for an attack on Toulouse, which fails. The French scramble a bit but manage to form a defense while they attack the Germans in the north. The city of Sedan goes back to the French after several mobile attacks and now the Germans in the north have fallen back to Belgium. The Germans manage to mobilize two panzer units this turn so they are not completely dead yet. Anyone's guess who will make it to Berlin first.

French retake Vichy and Germans can't quite take down Toulouse. Germans in north pushed back to Belgium.
The Germans face overwhelming numbers on the eastern front.
October 1941: Severe weather in the Mild zone prevents much from happening this turn. The German attack on Toulouse is called off and the German units in the south of France line up west of the Rhone in hopes of better fighting weather. In the north, a German infantry unit reinforces Belgium and the French are unable to do much about it except reshuffle their lines a bit. There is no chance of a successful advance this month so they stay put. We get poor weather in the Cold zone and the Soviets push against the Germans in the south, capturing Kishinev. The Soviets have now officially gotten a toe-hold in Eastern Europe. Assaults to the north do very little. By the end of the turn, the Germans have mobilized two armies and earmark them for service along the eastern front.

November 1941: The Germans have two panzer units mobilized at the start of this turn. Deciding not to waste precious resources on frivolous attacks, they are put near the frontlines but not in the fighting. The winter months will be used to take up defensive positions, recover fighting strength, and then push through counterattacks when the weather clears up. Inevitably, this involves giving up a bit of ground. Vilnius falls to the Russians on the east front and now the fighting is well inside Eastern Poland. In France, the Germans to the west of the Rhone are pushed back a little but nothing of any real consequence is lost or gained by either side.

Germans lose a little ground in the south of France - November '41.

The eastern front in Nov. '41. Germans lose Vilnius.

December 1941:  At the end of the last turn, we find out that the USA will enter the war in January of '42. The Germans use strategic movement to get another infantry unit to the eastern front. Meanwhile, the Germans leave both fronts alone for pure defense this turn. Production is used to bring down the number of sorties on aircraft in hopes of building momentum for a counterattack. The Americans place their first fleet in Eastern North America. The Soviets attempt a handful of assaults that don't go anywhere and actually result in attacker attrition. By the end of the month, everyone is caught in a stalemate.



January 1942: The new year begins with severe weather in both the cold and mild zone, bringing offensives to a standstill. The Soviets put one of their new Shock armies into action, however, and it pushes back a German unit from the east of Lvov. Strategic warfare is starting to hurt the Germans and the UK is slowly recovering from lost production with Lend Lease from the USA and Commonwealth support. The United States has already mobilized a fleet and two convoys and the southern European coastline is looking very vulnerable to amphibious attacks right now. The entry of the Americans could be the key to a hasty end to the war after more than two years of solid fighting without much result.

February & March 1942: I combined both of these months because not much happened in these months. Severe weather in all zones keeps the fighting to a minimum. Both sides have managed to get their sortie numbers to zero. Event boxes on the country cards are brimming full with nice shiny new toys like heavy artillery for the Germans. The Soviets now have mobilized four elite units and have two tank divisions earmarked for mobilization in April. The French and British are undecided about whether to wait for the Americans to conduct an invasion of southern Europe. There are plenty of fresh units in North Africa to help cause a problem for the Germans but probably not enough to just knock them out of the war. The weather makes the entire topic of amphibious landings an academic one anyways. Delay is the order of the day.

April 1942: The weather is severe in the Mild and Cold zones but fair in the Warm zone. The Germans make a couple of fruitless attacks on both fronts but nothing comes out of it. The Soviets are unable to make any headway but do rearrange their lines by sending up elite units to the front. The big news this turn is that the French and British use the weather to conduct amphibious landings from North Africa. The Brits land in Greece, taking Athens. The French land in Rome, liberating Italy. This is extremely worrying for the Germans since their supply lines can be threatened. Even though the invasion force is small, it can still wreak havoc on Germany. The USSR mobilizes two tank units at the end of the turn.

May 1942:  Wow. The turn starts off with some pretty amazing stuff happening. The German war machine really kicks into action with the arrival of nice spring weather. On the western front, the Germans push through with some very risky attacks and succeed beyond their wildest dreams. France nearly collapses from the losses. Calais is taken as is Sedan. Three French army units are eliminated and the Germans take no losses. One of the elite French units near the border with Belgium finds itself surrounded and nearly out of supply unless it can break through. The Germans even take a swing at Paris -- but fail to connect. Down south, the French are forced to retreat north towards Dijon and west towards Vichy. The Germans kept pushing on the front, nearly bringing France to its knees (4 will left by the end of the German activation). Some German units have been pushed too far and are out of supply, however, so the French might take full advantage to lean back into the Germans.

May 1942 - the western front after the German operations phase (and before the supply check)...

With two German units caught deep in northeast France with low supply, the French and British get to work in their operations phase. An elite mobile French unit wallops the Germans in Calais and liberates the port city. Meanwhile, the BEF finally gets off its keester and sends its men down to clear the Germans from the outskirts of Paris. This is achieved with the use of Tank events markers and the RAF. Two reduced French units are rushed towards the border with Belgium to shore up the French defenses and they will be restored to full strength in the Replacements Phase. Down south, the French manage to push back a German unit west of Marseilles while an infantry unit is sent to help defend Vichy and a mobile unit moves up to help defend Dijon against the German panzers and infantry near the city. France is safe for another turn.

May 1942 - The French strike back!


The Germans have tried to balance their reckless attack into France by adopting a cautious defensive withdrawal in the east. The Germans have pulled back into Eastern Europe and taken up position along rivers and in cities. Some units have been left back in the withdrawal, trapped by the massive numbers of Soviets pushing west.

May '42: The Germans have pulled back (taken after the Axis Operations Phase ended)

The Soviets fill in the gaps left by the retreating Germans and try several fruitless attacks but don't get anywhere. The Soviet infantry is still not enough to really deal a killing blow to the Germans anywhere along the line. Even the Romanians are able to hold their own in a vicious assault by an elite Soviet unit. attacking Constanta.

Things are really changing now, however. The Germans are starting to hurt for production and only managed to reduce the sorties on two air units during the replacements phase. The Soviets manage all their replacements and end up mobilizing two full strength tank units. Bomber Command comes online during the mobilization phase and is based in Birmingham. Without enough fighters on the western front to intercept the bombers, the German cities are left wide open for strategic bombing. The only real choice left for the Germans is to shift its air support from the east front over to the west, which is exactly what the Soviets are hoping for. The only good news for the Germans is that the much-hyped amphibious invasion of Greece and Italy have not amounted to much. Neither allied force has had enough resources to make any real headway. The Germans get the Economic Reform marker during the End of Turn phase, which will slowly boost the economy in the coming turns but it may not be enough to stop the oncoming tide of steel.

June 1942:  The month begins poorly for the Germans as they take two hits in the Strategic Warfare phase and are at 3 Factories Lost. Surely this is just a sign of things to come now that Bomber Command is operational. Despite this setback, however, the Germans make their own luck with crazed attacks into France, gambling big with their units and often winning. A Panzer unit near Dijon kicks a French elite mobile unit out of the way and circles west around Vichy.

Next, a combined assault by two armies on the city with heavy artillery, air, and tanks ends up with the French city falling. French will falls by 3 (one extra loss due to eliminated French unit) and suddenly it looks like the Germans might be able to take France after all. They send a mobile unit from Marseilles to try and destroy the reduced French unit south of Paris but the rolls are not there. An attack on Dijon nearly causes a French retreat but they stand strong and keep the city.

June 1942: The end of the Axis Operations Phase. France is bloody but unbowed.

The question remains whether the French will use this opportunity to sweep behind the German lines or play it safe and rush units west to protect the remainder of their cities from the Germans unexpected advance.  The Germans on the other hand, have overplayed their hand and now several of their units in France are in a low supply state and are now at -2 DRM for combat. With the British to help out and some unused tank markers available, now might be a good time to deliver a devastating blow to the Germans and punish them for their arrogance.




Over on the eastern front, the Germans try to rescue two units that are cut off from supply. A large-scale withdraw during the last turn had left the eastern front in a slightly better defensive position but there were a couple of units up near Latvia that needed rescuing this turn as a result. The German and Bulgarian units manage a couple of successful attacks against the Soviets but end up out of supply at the end of the turn. Not even a very good push by a German panzer unit is enough to do the job. In the end, the Germans have spent a huge amount of air resources on what may be a lost cause.

June 1942 - 2 Axis units try to break out near Latvia but fail and are out of supply.
The Western faction goes and the French and British work together in the north.  The BEF attacks into Belgium and clears the Germans from Antwerp then advances into Brussels. French infantry along the Maginot Line come out of their fort and help another French unit eliminate the Germans sitting in Sedan. Another French unit takes up positions in Antwerp. The Germans have a single lonely infantry unit guarding the gates to Germany in the north. Meanwhile, the French rearrange their infantry to contain the German advance in the south. If the panzers around Vichy are not stopped, they could get to Paris and the cities along the west coast, which would cause a French collapse! We are still not out of the woods here yet.  The British also take this opportunity to bomb Bremen, Hamburg, Hanover, Leipzig, Berlin, and Frankfurt.

June 1942: The French and British enter Belgium while keeping the Germans locked down in the south.

The Soviets manage to eliminate the two isolated enemy units near Latvia and my cat walked all over the faction card so I have no idea what the current German willpower is but 29 seems about right so yeah, let's go with that. The Bulgarian will goes down one as well. In the south, the Soviets make some good advances. They get the Romanians out of Constanta and a supply convoy from Sevastapol arrives to keep two Soviet units in supply, one in Romania and the other in Bulgaria. Assaults along the front fail to make much headway but the Germans use up much of their precious airpower in their defense. It will be hard to replace it.

July 1942:  The war has definitely turned out of Germany's favor. It lost two more factories during the Strategic Warfare Phase this turn, bringing it up to 5 factories lost for the first time in the entire game. The British economy has recovered completely thanks to Lend-Lease and Commonwealth Factories. The Soviets are pumping out at full capacity with 40 production points per turn.

The Germans spend the turn reorganizing their defensive lines. During the Strategic Movement Phase, a German panzer army is pulled back from the eastern to the western front to keep the British and French out of Germany. But things look still look dire. Germany is losing ground everywhere now.

German units are pulled back from Belgium to help keep Germany's western border protected. A desperate attack on Dijon will dictate whether Germany tries yet another crazy offensive in southern France or lick its wounds and retreat back to a line of supply. Despite using tanks and air support, the Germans just can't manage it and Dijon remains in French hands. In the south of France, the panzers and infantry that made so many huge gains last turn are forced to come east to secure a supply source. The Romanians pull back towards their own borders and the Bulgarians rush to protect their cities from falling to the Soviet army, now breathing down the Bulgarians' collective necks.Although it looks like German is safe from the western faction for now, the Soviets will only need a bit of luck to make some gains in the field this turn.

July '42: Germans pull back in southern France.

July '42: The Germans try to rearrange their lines, abandoning their allies in Eastern Europe.

The French and British continue their counteroffensive into the Low Countries, liberating Holland and Belgium before kicking the Germans out of Dusseldorf.  Ladies and gentleman, we are finally in Germany proper.  In the south, a French armored division makes some headway across the Rhone and is just north or Marseilles. The Germans cannot get any mileage out of their fighters in the city because of carrier strikes by the British.


July 1942 - The British and French liberate the Low Countries and take their first German city.


Over in the east, things are even more dire for the Germans. The Soviets take Bucharest, Varna, and Sofia all in one fell swoop. Romania and Bulgaria collapse and there is absolutely nothing except for a handful of Hungarian garrisons protecting the way to Berlin.

July 1942 - Romania and Bulgaria collapse. The way is paved for the Red Army.

August 1942: Well, just when you think you have it all sorted out, something happens to completely change the course of the game. The turn starts off with Germany getting continually hammered by Strategic Warfare (7 factories lost now). During the German turn, the Panzers in the south of France make a last desperate bid. They force the French to retreat from Dijon and take the city. A mobile unit is sent up to make an assault on Paris with air support, heavy artillery, and tanks to help out. The mobile unit takes the city and France is knocked out of the war in a stunning upset! Units are pulled back toward Germany to help with preparations for the Soviet assault. I guess I got way too cocky with the British/French push into the Low Countries.

During the Soviet turn, the Russians allow their infantry to catch up to the tanks in the south and the infantry move west to meet the new German defensive line, running north-south through central Poland. A German infantry unit is eliminated near Cernauti. All Russian cities are now back in Soviet hands at this point. The Germans have lost 6 of the 8 will they gained from the conquest of France. Can the Germans hold out until the end of 1946? It looks doubtful but then again it seemed pretty doubtful only one turn ago that they could make it to the end of 1942.

Comments

  1. Do you think the mechanisms of "Unconditional Surrender" can test adequately Viktor Suvorov's thesis (from the books Icebreaker, Day M, The Purges) that the surprise German strike of June 1941 was necessary for them to reduce harm on Western Europe? That if Germans waited, Soviets were not peaceful victims, but already preparing for a huge surprise offensive of their own in July 1941 with estimated effects comparable to the June 1944 offensive ("Bagration", Destruction of Army Group Center) and much greater political gains for Communism.
    I don't know whether Suvorov actually wanted to tell a truth obscured so far, or if his GRU masters let him leak "give them/the West what they want to hear" as re-disinformation. The general message was to be Russians were generally extremely robust regardless of temporary technological or surprise advantages - don't mess with them ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mircea! Good to hear from you! I trust you are well. USE pretty much makes it impossible to test that thesis. The Soviet Red Army mobilizes due to the East Invaded event so the designer's point of view is that the Red Army was a monster that Hitler created by invading Russia and it came back to bite him in the end. You'll notice in my previous reports that the Soviets did indeed attack into Poland very early in the war but were unable to do much. Once the Germans used the spring weather in 1940 to launch an offensive into Russia, the Red Army became much more deadly.

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