Strategic Command WWII: War In Europe – “Barbarossa and Beyond” [Part 2]20 Mar 2017 0
Welcome to the final entry in my next series of articles covering play of Fury Software’s Strategic Command WWII: War in Europe (SC:WiE). Many thanks to all who have been following along faithfully. If you missed previous installment, you can catch up here. You might also be interested in the other entries: Poland Pt.1; Pt.2; France Pt.1; Pt.2. Last week I looked at preparations and laying the ground-work through events, production & research. With everything now in place, it's time to go over general military strategies for the various regions you should be attacking.
GENERAL STRATEGY – NORTH AFRICA
As mentioned last week, I send Arieta Tanks, 1st Medium Bombers, and 1st Squadra Fighters, plus another army and corps to North Africa, rather than try to use them against France. Bardia will be threatened already; pull back I. Co and maybe even abandon Tobruk as well, or else sacrifice them and stall the Allied advance. Note that the Italian AI, to me, plays quite conservatively, especially with their navy (and I’d consider myself a conservative player). I did better than the AI when I began taking over; the AI Marina Militare Italiana was generally devastated, Bardia, Tobruk, and even Benghazi lost, but I rarely lost even Bardia.
GENERAL STRATEGY – SEA LION
In an earlier installment of this series I asserted that the Axis would “seldom” be able to challenge Allied naval power; I’d like to qualify that statement. If they are able to research Advanced Subs Level 2 or 3, and once the French are out of the war and even if the USA joins, they could hold their own by upgrading virtually all bombers as well as ships with Naval Weaponry 1, preferably 2, and using them to wreak havoc on Allied fleets traversing the English Channel. It’s also a good idea to research Advanced Aircraft as high as possible. If you are able to do the majority of this, you are likely to sweep the seas of the British, make landfall in England, and be well prepared for the Americans. (However, later on do not try to take on the Die Amerikaner in a full naval engagement, since the Axis, even supplemented by the Italians, will yet be outgunned, and most of the Luftwaffe will be on the Eastern Front!)
Use fighters to find the British Navy, then send bombers after them; follow up with subs running Silent, and, once the enemy has been sufficiently weakened, dispatch the remainder of the Kriegsmarine; the Axis risks their own fleets taking a beating if they sortie too early, though. When the UK is dealt with, you might perhaps even line up a ‘wall’ of u-boats across St. Georges Channel, the western English Channel and Bay of Biscay, along with screening the eastern Channel with the rest of your navy, in order to intercept Canada/USA transports headed for your occupied coasts. However, don’t ignore the Russians in the meantime!
If the Axis doesn’t do it first – and you’ll likely be too busy in England, with a thin front in the east – the USSR will make a DoW in autumn ’41, and I probably don’t have to suggest that you prepare for it. It seems that the initial Soviet assault is not overwhelming, however – I believe they still have to ramp up industry and top up below-strength units – so a few corps, a couple of armeekorps, a panzerkorps, some garrisons, and your two or three mechanised units, plus a couple of fighters, should hold them for a few turns; begin to Operate forces back to meet this threat. Once the UK falls – well, it doesn’t surrender, but once it’s occupied – you will likely want to ferry units back across the channel regardless, as you’ll like as not be at war with the USA by now as well, and will need to garrison the continent as well as Great Britain.
Be aware, however, that English saboteurs will play fast and loose with your supply lines in England; ports, towns, and cities will be repeatedly targeted, knocking their Supply Values well under 5, which means you will have great difficulty fully reinforcing, upgrading, and using transports – which, you’ll recall, require a Port of 5 or greater to embark (as well as to debark on the same turn).
GENERAL STRATEGY – BARBAROSSA
If there were more possible attacks in France than we had in Poland, the combinations here are near-infinitely greater, thus I will not attempt a move-by-move ‘guide’ here either. Von Leeb arrives 01 September 1940; if you are ready to invade Russia, send him there, otherwise he should be used in Yugoslavia (see GENERAL STRATEGY – YUGOSLAVIA/GREECE, below).
Now, your strategy for defeating Soviet Russia is to move as fast and far as possible. (You know, like Napoleon did… Err… maybe faster than that.) It also depends on whether you actually executed Barbarossa or were busy with Sea Lion when the USSR DoWed; in the latter case you’ll likely be on the defensive, at least until the English are conquered (but don’t ignore the Americans!). The Soviet AI will rail units everywhere to block you, so finding and exploiting holes may be problematic before weather and/or the Soviet hordes plug them. To prevent this, or at least mitigate it, use Fallschirmjäger to take key railheads.
In the east, with the exception of fighters, I like to attach air units over ground at first; bombing the &#!^?@ out of spread-out Soviet troops is imperative to smash holes in their lines and be able to follow-up during the first few turns. Those ground-pounders who will have first contact should be Attached, but reserves need not be until ready to shoot through those breaches. Fighters will not require attachment, since the enemy will be caught by surprise and unable to scramble their own (that is, if the Axis is the one declaring war). So, unless you have spotted some you wish to smash on the ground – though I find panzers better for this – leave your fighters unattached for at least a turn or two.
Once Hungary and Romania join their forces will need to be reinforced/upgraded, especially HQs. I don’t give them Mobility, as I use them in more static areas. However, Infantry Weapons are worthwhile, else they’ll be overmatched by the Soviets, though Level 2 seems superfluous. Don’t deploy all minor forces on the Soviet border; remember that Yugoslavia will likely go Allied – see below – and you don’t want their borders left vulnerable. (Although taking back lost territory will not usually prove difficult, it will be quite time-consuming, and winter is coming…)
GENERAL STRATEGY – YUGOSLAVIA/GREECE
During your operations from west to east or shortly thereafter – March 3rd, 1941, is when the Event is set to fire – the Allies will likely execute a coup in Yugoslavia. (I’m not sure if there’s a percentage chance or it’s guaranteed; it has always occurred in my games.) Since your allies are unlikely to manage without support, you will need to prepare Italy, Hungary, and Romania, as well as Bulgaria – assuming the latter three have joined you – in addition to having a few German forces on hand to deal with the traitors. Italy should have an HQ handy; if you think you can spare von Leeb – i.e., you don’t plan to attack Russia for a while yet – send him to the Graz/Klagenfurt area as well; ideally with two corps and an army, and some panzers. Other countries should man their own borders; a corps each from Italy, Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary should suffice, albeit at least one of these should be an army. Then, when the Event fires, you should be in a position to relatively swiftly overwhelm the defenders.
Meanwhile, build Garrisons with Infantry Weapons to man the Dinaric Alps against partisans; Italy can help here, even if they don’t have upgradable weapons yet. However, don’t stop with conquering Yugoslavia; Italy will still need help to defeat Greece, so carry on – although you can probably send one or two of your German units on to the Eastern Front (pick the ones who performed the worst, as punishment, or else some elites, as a reward?). Your minors, other than the Italians, can also be spared now, albeit Bulgaria and Romania need to be vigilant against a Soviet landing at Constantia or Varna. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you…) While we’re on the subject of warnings, know that the Allies will likely stage a raid with Fairey Swordfish at Taranto; any ship there will probably suffer damage.
Speaking of which, in the case of a major naval engagement in the Mediterranean – which Italy would be wise to avoid if it can be helped – the Italians may have a lot of ships requiring repairs – unless of course they’ve mostly been sent to the bottom… I have seen it go many ways, both controlling Italy against the Allied AI, and letting the AI handle it all. Generally, AI vs. AI, the Marina Militare Italiana gets decimated, though I’ve had it happen while controlling the country myself more than once or twice. The only other advice I can give here – naval tactics would take another article on its own, besides my previous one – is, ‘Be conservative, but not too conservative’.
That’s about it for this first series of ‘how to’ articles for Strategic Command WWII: War in Europe. I can add to previous advice a couple of new tactics I have recently used with some success. First, I use u-boats in wolfpack pairs, or even threes. That is, they can ‘plow the road’ for one another, so that if an enemy is stumbled upon it can be avoided by the rest of the wolfpack – that is, assuming that the enemy isn’t operating in adjacent squadrons. (They don’t seem to, although they usually have several within range of one another.) Using this tactic subs can almost follow in each other’s wake, where units can be assured of a safe route instead of each risking its own path.
Similarly, I use a sub to ‘bait’ the British Navy around Norway. What I mean is, I move a battlecruiser, heavy cruiser, and maybe a destroyer each into its own Norwegian port, then try to draw a couple of enemy destroyers out after a u-boat. Then I pounce on the enemy, sinking them and fleeing back into port safe from retaliation. Just be careful where you approach them, since the AI can use screens as well… This tactic can also work against the enemy destroyer and submarine that seem to routinely raid the Axis’ Norwegian coastal convoy route. Be aware, however, that Norway’s ports will not suffice to repair heavily damaged ships.
Thanks for reading, and please leave any questions or comments; I’ll be glad to respond!
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