|Axis and Allies Campaign|
|European Theater of Operations: Week 1|
|by David Devere & Tom Maertz|
Europe - Summer 1941 – Germany Launches Operation Barbarossa and Britain Gambles for a win in Norway.
In a bold move, German High Command has invaded the Soviet Union breaking through the Baltics and bursting into Belorussia. On the southern flank, Romanian and German troops try to complete the ambitious pincer movement by subduing the Ukraine. On the Western Front, the British try to divert some German attention by attacking Norway. In the Atlantic, the Kriegsmarine duels with the Royal Navy for control of the vital convoy routes to Britain. Will the strategy work? Can the field commanders implement the plan?
This week the Campaign game officially gets underway with Battle Tickets and Fleet Actions for you to play and report. Each week we will be bringing you new tickets or reports of completed battles and we will alternate between the European Theater of Operations (ETO) and the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO). Five different engagements that are deemed to be crucial to Axis or Allied success will be presented. You will have one week to play out the battles and report the results to High Command at AAR@wizards.com. Play the battles with your friends, online or even solo. You don’t have to sign up to play and you don’t have to stick to a chosen a side - just pick a battle and report the results.
The game board is the strategic map where the battles are represented. We will ultimately have a winning side. Victory is determined by taking victory point cities. On the Europe map the victory point cities are Washington, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Leningrad, Stalingrad and Moscow. The Allies need 11 cities and the Axis need 10. Obviously the game can’t be won in just one theater.
The game board (strategic map) is constantly in motion. Red arrows show land based attacks, blue arrows show naval attacks and green arrows show non-combat movement or reaction/reinforcement. The campaign game is different from the standard board game in that each nation’s turn is taken simultaneously. This allows a turn to be completed in a reasonable amount of time and also allows for countries to react or reinforce a territory that has been attacked in the same turn. But just like the board game each piece on the board has an attack and defense value. We use those values in determining the point value ratios for the Battle Tickets and Fleet Actions. Once a battle is played and reported the same ratios are used to convert the point values back into game board pieces. This allows for every piece on the board to be accurately represented in the battles. The outcome of every battle has a direct effect on the entire game.
Let’s take a look at the battles for this first turn. Germany has made a big push into Russia. The German Wehrmacht has attacked the Baltic States and by outnumbering the defending Russians by a ratio of more than 2 to 1 the German panzers slice through in classic blitzkrieg fashion. They attack Belorussia using 3 tanks, a bomber and a fighter. This is a risky move because if the battle goes poorly the Russians are sure to destroy the Germans next turn. The Germans are hoping that the battles in Belorussia and Ukraine are quickly and efficiently won so they can threaten the Russian capital. While they probably won’t have enough forces remaining to take Moscow on the next turn, the tactic should force the Russians to back-peddle and commit to retaking these two key territories. On the Western front, the British have staked a large effort on Norway with an amphibious assault. This, if flawlessly executed, could be a tremendous blow to German power in Scandinavia. But if they lose the battle it will take the English a couple of turns to recoup their lost forces. There is no retreat from an amphibious assault - they either succeed or die trying. In the Atlantic, British destroyers are battling German wolf packs for the important convoy zones. The English must keep the supply lines open. The Royal Navy needs to crush the Kriegsmarine to assure the economic health of the empire. To simulate the effect of German blitzkrieg and the shock of the attack on Russia, the Russians are not allowed to move, attack, react or reinforce during the first turn. The Americans are still neutral and won’t start moving or attacking in the ETO until 1942.
Battle No.1: The Germans outnumber the Russians but are loaded up with vehicle points. German armor is terrible at taking out entrenched infantry but the Germans have 56 points in Wild so they should be able to add their own infantry with sufficient force to wrestle the objective from the Russians. This battle is a Fixed Defender battle meaning that the defender (USSR) gets to set up on, and up to one hex row past, the objective. This is a huge advantage but they are defending with almost 1/3 fewer points. They have mostly soldier points but the artillery piece on the game board represents wild points in the miniatures battles. Consequently, they have 32 points in Wild - enough for a T-34 or a couple of light tanks. The lack of a real antitank gun in 1941 will be a serious detriment to the Russian defenses. If the Germans win here they are on Moscow’s doorstep.
Battle No.2: On the Southern Front, the Germans are hoping to quickly take the Ukraine which would seal the pincer movement and trap the Russians still remaining in East Poland and Bessarabia. The German army has a good mix of forces but they are relying on Romanians and are required to use at least 24 points in Romanian troops. They still outnumber the Russian defenders but the use of Romanians might complicate field operations. The Russians are in just as precarious of a position as their countrymen to the north. They are loaded with infantry but have very few wild points to purchase any serious armor, and again the lack of a capable antitank gun will hinder Russian effectiveness against armor.
Battle No.3: The British have decided to liberate Norway. All the English ground forces have left the British Isles and attacked Norway in an almost even odds gamble. Germany has a strong force in Norway that could command a large price from Britain in the form of men and material. Both sides have almost equal points and neither will be hindered with uneven builds. The British are all in – there is no retreat from an amphibious assault. They need to win and should fight to the last man standing. Norway is sure to test your skills in combined arms.
Battle No. 4 is the deciding battle for the Davis Strait Convoy. The Canadian Navy moved into the convoy spot before the Germans and will have to defend it successfully or the Germans will reduce British income by 5 IPC’s (Industrial Production Certificates) next turn. With the United Kingdom only earning 25 IPC’s the loss of 5 is a dramatic reduction in fortune.
Battle No. 5 is a similar struggle for the convoy routes except in this case the Germans seized the route first and now the Royal Navy must try to take it back. The U-boats are being tasked with a tough job. While the battle is even, the Germans can’t afford to trade pieces with the British Navy, especially once the Americans enter the war. If the Germans succeed in all their fleet battles the United Kingdom will lose 13 IPC’s from their income; a devastating blow indeed.
After Action Report: Use this report to record your battles and submit the results to AAR@wizards.com. Each time you play a battle submit the results for that battle. You can play the battle multiple times over the week. We will average the results from all the battles to determine the outcome. Report your name or nickname, who won and how many points remain for each side at the end of the battle. You can also report salvaged equipment and if something spectacular happened in the battle a short summary report might make it into the weekly update.
We are giving everyone extra time for the first turn. The deadline for reporting Summer 1941 battles is Monday May 14th at 10:00 AM Pacific Standard Time.
There are a lot of other things happening on the strategic map too. The Italian/German navy deploying out of the Tyrrhenian Sea is sizing up the British force in the Eastern Mediterranean, and there is surely going to be a confrontation in either Libya or Egypt. The Royal Navy is trying to stamp out U-boats all over the map, and attacks in the South Atlantic and the Barents Sea are both critical to the battle for the High Seas. The Royal Air force and Bomber Command is taking the war to homeland Germany with a strategic bombing raid and finally, on the Eastern front, German forces shift to take on the Russians and their impending winter offensive.
Next update we will take our first look at the Pacific Map, talk strategy for the Japanese and give you some more insights into how the strategic side of the game is played. High Command is not above taking suggestions from the field commanders. Use the forum to present your strategy, ask questions and engage your comrades or enemies in lively discussions.
Remember to try and make your builds using units from this game date, 1941, or before. You can use any house rule you’d like, if both players agree, and if you don’t have the required pieces you can break the restrictions of the tickets or actions by first breaking unit limits, then year, followed by type and country if necessary. But try and stay as close to the letter of the ticket as possible. Discuss your tactics and successes on our message boards.
Ready your equipment and steel your nerves. The orders have been issued. It is up to you to carry them out efficiently and report the results to High Command. Good Luck!