Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ukraine '43 (GMT) ~ "Campaign Game" Part 4, Conclusion

Game: Ukraine '43 (GMT)
Scenario: Campaign Game
Participants: Bob H, Myself
Time: Sunday, Apr 3rd ~ 2.30PM - 6.00PM

At the end of our last sitting, my Germans had a large Counterattack SW of Kharkov against the 1TK go badly, Bob immediately hit back sending that portion of the front into chaos. As I sat down to do my turn prior to Bobs arrival I found that I was not as bad off as I thought I would be. I had Manstien nearby to lift some Disruptions and I still had a lot of mobile formations in the vicinity. Bobs lead formations were starting to separate from his trialing foot units and he was near the end of his supply line.

German Turn 8
SW of Kharkov, start of German Turn 8

I had a hole in my line from Paltava to Zenkov. I had this situation developing for the last couple of turns. It was like a funnel with the long end leading to this hole. I had strong mobile formations along the right hand side of it while my forces on the left were fairly well dug in. I didn't think Bob would ever try and exploit it as he would have supply troubles.

1TK, surrounded and eliminated

During Bobs last exploitation phase he moved his two Tank Armies forward, leaving a full strength German ID in his wake. I found that with Manstien removing a couple D's from my units I could make a strong counterattack against the 1TK. Better still I had the in-supply ID behind him to cut off his retreat. I spent a long time making sure I could get a 4-1 and pulled the trigger. The attack went well (DR1 + 1/1) and he lost 4 steps, the whole 1TK was eliminated.

The Mirgorod-Paltava Gap, end of German Turn 8

I left the hole in the line open, shortening my line on the left side to take advantage of terrain and ZOC bonds. Thus I had a nice three hex gap running from Mirgorod to Poltava. I had adjusted my line near Kharkov, continuing the get steps out of the noose there, ending with three steps in the city itself with Air support and strong ZOC Bonds into the city.

Bob's Comments:

I continue my attacks West of Kharkov and get good results but the weather has turned overcast limiting my use of air power.  I really feel that I'm on the brink of forcing Steve back everywhere because of the hole in the line west of Kharkov and push my lead Tank Armies ahead of the supporting infantry.  I note that he has some powerful formations in the area of the breakthrough but believe that with average die rolling I will be OK. 

Russian Turn 9
Progress in the South, RT9

This was a very Decisive turn, as we shall see. In the South a few hexes SE of Stalino Bob makes an sudden attack in hex 5627, catching me off guard (I failed to see his build up in this area). He gets a DR1 and I will have to pull a couple units back to reset my line after he's pushed my off this one.

Russian Secondary Attack takes Kharkov at a steep price (9 steps)

Kharkov sees a huge attack with Zhukov leading it. The attack in the Primary attack phase is a DR, I cancel the retreat with an additional step loss. Bob looses three in this attack. In the secondary attack phase Bob makes another 3-1 attack, getting an EX, re-rolls and gets another Ex. He looses 6 steps, I loose two and the city falls (as I am out of steps). He's paid dearly for it, loosing 9 steps to my three this turn. Bob add the three VP's to his total.

Russian Airborne Forces deploy in support of the Break through (RT9)

Normally this would have been the high point of the turn, but there we even more excitement just a dozen hexes to the SW. Bob decides to plunge through the Mirgorod-Poltava gap with his three Airborne Brigades covering his flank. Bob ends the turn with a Tank Corp in Kremenchua, which is on the banks of the Dnieper  River, a six hex penetration in my line along the Psel River. The Airborne Forces disappear as Bob rolls poorly and all three are eliminated on landing. During the supply phase, his entire penetration force (which includes the powerful 5TK) goes OOS. I'm not sure if this was part of Bobs plan, or if it caught him off guard. I do know that he was one unhappy player at the end of the turn with the loss of 9 steps taking Kharkov and then executing a glorious breakthrough only to see it get put OOS at the end of the turn, add in going three of three on his paratroopers dieing on landing and he was not happy.

End of Russian Turn 9
German Turn 9

While the breakthrough looks nice, there is no road network supporting it as long as Mirgorod and Poltava stay in German hands. With the staggering losses taken in Kharkov and the loss of the 1TK Bobs options are limited in how he can try and open the lines of supply to his OOS units. I don't want to even give him the chance to re-open the lines, thus I orchestrate an attack out of Poltava aimed at the Voronezh Front's jugular. My goal is to hit his still in supply follow on units and hopefully force him back, letting me set up a line of ZOC Bonds to further isolate his OOS Front.

48PK leads the strike into the base of the Russian penetration
 48PK leads the assault out of Poltava in the Primary Combat phase, pushing him back with losses on a 5-1 attack. In the subsequent combat phase I make another lunge and push him back even further with another 5-1 attack. Bob is forces to pull the Front HQ unit back out of danger in his reaction movement. In the South I pull back, shortening my line and thinning out the 2SS to fill the gaps. 

Southern Front, end of German Turn 9
Russian Turn 10

This are getting warmer in the South as Bob breaks open my newly established line. Here I have space on my side and Bob is short on mechanized units to exploit the breakthrough. But all eyes are further North watching the Russians try and get their isolated units back into supply before having to roll for isolation attrition.

Final Positions, End of Russian Turn 10

Bob opens with a strong attack on Poltava. He is forced to attack while OOS. The 5TK does manage to push me out of the important city on a low odds attack. He is still short of getting back into supply and is isolated. Bob just doesn't have much strength left to reopen the line with the heavy losses he's taken in Kharkov. The death knell sounds in the supply phase when Bob looses 5 steps to attrition. We agree to stop here for the day. Bobs pretty frustrated at this point having had a bad day with the dice, particularly the Airborne disaster and ending with loosing so many steps to attrition.

End of Russian Turn 10

While Bob has a small breakthrough going SE of Stalino, the looming disaster of loosing the rest of the OOS units to attrition and German attacks leads Bob to concede the next day. I can't argue with his decision as we are nearly halfway through the game and with these latest developments I couldn't see how he'd get back on track due to the losses he's taken to date as well as the impending isolation losses. Even at 4 steps a turn as replacements it'll be 4-5 turns again before he has anywhere near the strength he's need to start a large scale offensive. 

Southern Front, End of Russian Turn 10
When I sat down today, I had no idea that we'd see the game end today. I felt as though I was doing ok as Bob did as well. However you certainly can't as for more drama then we got these last few turns.

For those of you that don't have or haven't played U43, I can only hope that some day you'll have a chance. In my humble opinion it is one of Mr. Simonitch's finest works, right up there with Ardennes '44. Both of these games share a theme in that the defending player is very much engaged and is making nearly as many painful and important decisions as the attacker. Having recently played TCC and Normandy '44 I would easily place U43 above them, at least as far as having a much more engaging experience as the defender.

So I think Bob and I are going to take a detour to the ACW for some GCACW (Battle above the Clouds) prior to our planed trip to the Chickamauga Battlefield at the end of April.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the detailed AAR. I am just introducing my Nepthew to other wargames (he is a heavy hitting ASL'er) so if we find the time may well go on to others. Is this still available?