After Action Report: War in the East: Don to the Danube - Rumanian Collapse: Dash to the Pass
Wargamer gets a treat: an AAR of the upcoming release of the War in the East expansion titled Don to the Danube. In this multi-part series, Germany is set up for the defensive against the Soviet onslaught in the summer of 1944.
Sit back and enjoy as the German Army strives to fend off the Soviet offensive during the summer of 1944, both sides played by a human players as they try to outsmart one another!
Soviet Attack Plan
The overall attack plan consists of forcing the Rumanians to surrender on turn 1 and bashing my way through the passes on the north edge of the map as quickly as possible before the Germans can get deeply entrenched. I hope to put the Germans in a tough position by giving him difficult choices on where to move the few troops that he has at the start. In the south I plan on blasting a 40 mile wide gap in the Axis lines all the way to Vaslui which should ensure that the Rumanians join the Soviet side on turn 1 and isolate the majority of the German army in Rumania. After that, every mobile unit in the army is going to be swinging down through the plains and up to Arad as quickly as possible. Getting the NKPS rail repair units up to the front line on turn 1 is a key factor to get supply moving. Side Note: I consider it rude to just cut off the 6th Army and not kill it. Maybe it will surrender when it is over 25 hexes from a friendly hex, but I will go ahead and mop it up with whoever is left behind from the mad dash to Arad.
German Attack Plan
Summer 1944. After a recovery period and after an initial, failed, offensive into Romania, the Red storm is wrecking everything in its path.
This battle is all about surviving until the end, not about winning. Little to no reserves are available, and aside from a few Panzer divisions, we should not count on significant reinforcements for several months.
Soviet Turn 1
Here is where we want to end up....
The three panzer divisions in the area are going to get bombed to A: maybe it slow down a reserve response, and B: lower their movement for the next turn by generating extra fatigue/disruption on them.
End of Turn 1 in the North:
Push forward through the hills and mountains, the Germans are defending in regimental strength and are beaten back. I bring up more troops from the south so I can get some better numbers here at the main point of attack. I am not going to try to beat my head against the Carpathian shield wall all along the line, just try to blowtorch through in the north edge and meet the troops advancing from the south.
End of Turn 1 in the South:
Objectives met here, Vaslui captured and in supply with a wide enough breakthrough.
AT brigades get to fill in the gaps at the base of the mountains as infantry moves north to the main effort. Other than the two attacks to help widen the breakthrough, I leave 6th army alone. I don't see any reason to take them on in their forts across the river when they are in supply. I also don't kill the Rumanians that are down there because I want them to be around later on to help drive out the fascists. Next turn when they are isolated I can kill them off with whoever is left behind from the parade through Rumania.
German Turn 2 (No Axis phase in Turn 1)
6th Army has the cruel fate of being destroyed twice within about 18 months.
With no significant reserves to counter a Soviet breakthrough and a shaky Romanian ally, eager to surrender, there is nothing I can do to save 6th Army and the unlucky divisions belonging to 8th Army trapped with it.
The Brandenburger regiment has failed to occupy the Romanian capital of Bucharest and is trapped in the country.
Hungarian defenses are mostly in good shape in the mountains, but the weakly held northernmost point of the line, held by a handful of German Jaeger regiments has already collapsed. Due to the difficult terrain, it is impossible to move reinforcements in to plug the gaps before the Soviets can exploit them. All we can do now is slow them down.
SS cavalry formations, supported by the one of the two Hungarian armoured divisions, are invading Romania in an attempt to get to the mountain passes before the Soviet mobile units get there.
Soviet Turn 2
Here again we are putting the pressure on the Germans, trying to outflank them and get into the open plain. Mountain Warfare takes patience as most of the time the BEST you can do is get a one hex advance. One must also make sure that you leave something uncommitted to the attack so it can move into the newly won hex. Mountain units make it easier but even they need more mps to get into your newly acquired mountain hex than they normally have left. Rail lines represent passes and easier areas in the mountains to traverse, so it is sometimes possible to get moving along the rail line, but it can be tricky. Here I make 3 attacks but I can only occupy one of the hexes, although on the other two I reduced the forts so it will be easier to take next turn should the Germans reoccupy.
The Rumanians are on my side now, and all of their terrain has "flipped" to my control, making it very easy to dash across most of the flatlands on the north side of the Danube. Several Rumanian divisions are attempting to hold open the passes while the mechanized forces from the 6th Tank Army charge to relieve them. The German 6th army has pulled back from the Dniester and formed itself into a ring. I have trouble chasing them down this turn as all of my mech/mot forces are driving on Arad. 6th army has an airfield so they could potentially be supplied by air, prolonging the misery.
Not what I expected from the 6th Army, they may need a little more attention to get rid of them.
German Turn 3
The attempts to get to the passes in western Romania before the Soviets got there have been mostly successful. As future turns indicate, War in the East is forgiving to mobile units attacking in difficult terrain, so my blocking forces will soon be pushed aside.
Hungarian forces are moved from the central Carpathian front to the northernmost part of the active map.
Soviet Turn 3
In the north, Axis forces are starting to crumble a little. My guys are moving up through the passes and have enough MP's to launch several attacks. If I had some mech forces in this area I might have been able to crack the mountain line completely. As it is, the Germans are out of their forts and need more dudes in the line to be able to stop the massed attacks that I can put in. Hope to have at least the mountains cleared by the time mud comes around.
Progress very good up here, must keep pushing!
My bid to get through the mountains in the south has just barely failed. Pieter has used his limited forces very well in brushing aside the wimpy Rumanian turncoats and jamming the pass just before I can get through. He has also done a great job extricating the 20th Panzer division from an almost certain stay in a labor camp, however they have a good 3 weeks of trudging to get out of the mountains. The 6th Army is continuing to be a pain in the neck that I need to deal with. Pieter keeps rolling along with them crushing Rumanians. I have trouble catching him with 5th Shock Army and I refuse to detour units backwards to crush it once and for all.
Next turn we will see if we can get a breakthrough to the Arad Plain...
German Turn 4
The first Soviet mobile corps are arriving in the passes in the southwest, my units got there just in time.
The Soviets are slowly pushing me out of the mountains in the northernmost part of the map. Hungarian Reserve divisions are constructing forts along the Tisza northeast of Nyíregyháza.
Soviet Turn 4
In the north here we keep pounding away. The Mountain Brigade that held us up last week has moved south, leaving a little gap for us to ooze into. A couple of attacks reclaim hexes that we were unable to occupy last turn, and this time around I make sure there are units with enough movement to follow up and occupy the terrain. Some more troops in the form of the 46th Army are appropriated from the 3rd Ukrainian front. They will come in handy for the final phase of clearing the passes. 2nd Guards Mech Corp also arrives from STAVKA to bolster the 2 tank brigades that are fighting in the front lines. Next turn they will be able to get in to the front lines to hopefully cause some consternation among the Hungarian defenders.
10 more miles until I can get into the open, I have got to get there before the weather changes!
In the south we finally get the 6th Army corralled in amongst the swamps of the Danube delta, hopefully we can get them properly surrendered and working on my dacha outside of Moscow. The battle for the southern passes heats up, 6th tank army is embroiled in heavy fighting with scattered regiments from the 22nd SS Cav and the 1st Hungarian armored division. Some forward progress is made and flanks are made a little more secure. 4th Mech Corps advances west down the valley from Deva and runs into more SS cavalry blocking further advancement. A halt is called to bring up reinforcements and artillery. Other news, we retake Brasov and garrison Sibiu a little bit more securely. I want to ensure the rail lines are intact here so troops can come up unobstructed. The freight train that is the 2nd Ukrainian Front rumbles west towards the mountains, I hope they can make it in time.
This pass in the south is going to be hard to get through, Germans are going to be able to bottle my guys up unless I can get a good push
German Turn 5
The first significant reinforcements, several Panzer divisions, have arrived. The Soviets did push back my blocking force, but they now face several fairly strong divisions.
6th Army is still keeping some Soviet and Romanian forces busy in the swamps. The Hungarian divisions in the central part of the map pull back before a Soviet breakthrough in the north cuts them off. Some will walk to safety, others will escape by rail. One German Jaeger regiment is doomed, as it's too far away from the rail line.
Soviet Turn 5
Some pitched battles with SS cavalry and Hungarians. Lack of fuel on the point slows me down this turn, so my guys try to clear some space at the mouths of the passes and hold on while the infantry comes up. To the east I have broken down some of my cavalry corps and have pushed the resulting divisions through the widely dispersed Hungarians on the border. At some point I will have the stragglers cut off and will score some points for killing them. The lone remnant panzer division will be an added bonus if I can get it as well.
The Panzers have shown up in force, fun times are over. I have to be careful to not get my mechanized forces surrounded and killed as the infantry is not close enough to be a deterrent.
And so this concludes Part 1 of the Don to the Danube After Action Report. Part 2 will come next week, where the battle continues with "Border Battles to Budapest."