Strategic Command WWII: War In Europe – “Barbarossa and Beyond” [Part 1]13 Mar 2017 0
Welcome to the next series of articles covering my 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 installments, you can catch up here: Poland Pt.1; Pt.2; France Pt.1; Pt.2. Herein I carry on the “1939 Storm Over Europe” scenario, once more Operating as many as feasible back east, while reinforcing and upgrading those that need it; more in a bit. I leave only three or four corps and one army in the west, plus a few garrisons (though they don’t seem critical in France/Low Countries, unlike the USSR). Note that this article subsumes Barbarossa as well as Operation Sea Lion, albeit the Axis can usually only concentrate on one or the other.
Depending on when you conquer France you can have up to year to prepare for Barbarossa, but again I await only good weather before launching the offensive. Of course, weather can be problematic in Russia, so making a DoW in autumn or even late summer is risky. I have been ready as early as 01 September 1940, but I repeat: You’re taking your chances on the weather stalling you before you begin this late in the year. Keep in mind as well that you will lose the 25 MPP per turn for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Another disadvantage of an early DoW is that you’re not likely to have Hungary, Romania, Finland, or Bulgaria on your side yet, although Hungary seems to join right away, Romania and the rest soon after (see Events/Decisions, later on), about a turn or two apart. Note that most of these forces will need reinforcing/upgrading, since they can start understrength or without Infantry Weapons, or both!
Otherwise I ensure all frontline units, plus HQs, have Mobility (note that von Leeb arrives without it), corps/armies receiving Infantry Weapons as well; on the Eastern Front it is crucial that your forces are mobile and able to hit the poorly-prepared Soviets hard right off. I also begin to Purchase more, including a couple of panzergrenadiers and another panzerkorps, plus one more HQ – von Manstein this time – as soon as possible, but upgrading should take priority. We’ll also need lots of Garrisons, albeit one or two a turn will do. While western garrisons don’t need weapons tech just yet, those with a chance of going up against Russian Partisans will find them handy; still, I never give them more than Level 1.
VERSION 1.01 CHANGES
Just before we get on with it, see ‘France Part 1’ for a reminder, if necessary, of the abbreviations I am wont to use. Finally, I reiterate from prior entries that battle outcomes can vary quite significantly, depending on the Difficulty setting as well. In at least one previous article I stated that SC:WiE Difficulty made no difference in combat; this is clearly wrong, but I was just repeating what I’d read prior to embarking on this journey. (That’s my excuse, anyway.)
In addition, a word is necessary regarding version 1.01, released after I began this series, since a few changes have slightly altered my tactics. First, Elite subs are no longer as likely, as they don’t acquire experience as quickly. Spain will probably need more Influence, seeing that it starts at 12% vice 20% Axis. The German Garrison limit has increased from 25 to 30, which is very handy for garrisoning the USSR and/or UK. Finally, the town of Pinsk and the road through the Pripyat Marshes are gone. I used to try to advance through the marsh, but found it futile slogging even on the road, so I made my way through it with only a corps or maybe just a garrison, ensuring the road was cleared; now that unit can be spared elsewhere – albeit note that Partisans will still appear therein.
RESEARCH, PURCHASES, DIPLOMACY, AND EVENTS/DECISIONS
I like to Research the next level of Advanced Subs, Tanks, and Aircraft, as well as Logistics, Production Tech, and Industrial Tech, then Infantry- and Anti-Tank Weapons, roughly in that order of priority. Long Range Aircraft actually appears somewhat superfluous; I’m no longer at all convinced that the one extra hex – two for bombers – is justified, so I have lately been omitting it (you may have noted that I wholly ignore strategic bombing as a policy; those who don’t may feel differently). I also do without Spying and Intelligence; similarly, I’m not sure the 1% adjustment is worthwhile, although the breakthrough chance after the 45% threshold is attractive…
As to Italy, you should have taken over from the AI by now – if you even let it have its way to this point! While I’ve mentioned that the AI is competent, it still does some things I would not, and occasionally appears to make questionable decisions; for example, at least once it made a DoW on Greece when it seemed ill-prepared. Also, every time I let it fight in North Africa, it lost Bardia and Tobruk almost every time, sometimes Benghazi as well, before the Afrika Korps could come to the rescue (see below). While Italy’s bombers could be useful in Yugoslavia, I think North Africa takes priority, plus, the Axis is up against stronger and more numerous opposition, so for me, that’s where she goes. Thus, I ferry over the additional Italian troops mentioned previously; with these forces deployed where the action is I can more than hold my own. Bardia and I. Co may still have to be sacrificed, but otherwise I’m able to make a stand till help arrives.
Speaking of the Afrika Korps, I choose it every time; it’s well worth the cost of 4x100 MPP, but keep in mind you will be spending a lot to bring everything up to strength before they can (or should) enter the fight. Since infrastructure in North Africa is meagre – and recall that Malta will disrupt your supply system – it can be tricky to do so and then get to the front as a cohesive force. Yet, it’s doubtful the Axis can hold North Africa without the AK, let alone kick the Allies out of Libya and Egypt, as well as the Middle East, Iraq, and even Persia, as I have consistently been able to accomplish. Finally note that, depending how far the Allies have advanced, the AK will deploy at either Tripoli or Benghazi; I believe keeping the enemy out of Tobruk will ensure Rommel lands in Benghazi, but that’s not a guarantee. I have also seen them ‘split’ between two landing zones, obliging half the force to catch up. A final tip re: Italy: When possible, let them finish off an enemy unit; their National Morale can generally use the boost!
Not much to say here. Everything should more or less go according to plan as long as you’ve made prior investments as suggested. I’ve yet to see the AI throw any curves, but that’s not to say it couldn’t happen…
- I always say ‘No’ to Romanian Disputes; Hungary will join you shortly regardless, and Romania joins faster. Remember that Yugoslavia will likely go Allied due to Event; see GENERAL STRATEGY – YUGOSLAVIA/GREECE, below.
- ‘Yes’ to Revised Borders.
- There is a possibility that Vichy France might actually be recognised by the UK, but I’m not sure the significance of this, as it’s only happened once and I did not complete that game.
- ‘Yes’ to St. Nazaire.
- As to Italy’s choice between the Aquila CV vs. Roma BB, it depends how Italy is doing in the Mediterranean, but in general a carrier, to me, is not as valuable as a battleship, considering the cost (8x25=200 MPP).
- ‘Yes’ to Human Torpedoes (do little damage, but cost is minimal).
- ‘Yes’ to AT units. Note that they’ll arrive half-strength and without Mobility or AT Weapons.
- ‘Yes’ to Formation of Croatia.
- If Italy more or less controls the Mediterranean, I send U-23 to Kiel, then to raid UK-USSR convoys.
- I have always gone ‘Yes’ with Coastal Guns (Atlantic Wall), even though on the few occasions in my games where the Allies actually landed, they appeared to be of little use – but then, I forgot to use them (thinking they were only defensive)! Still, given the force with which I was invaded, I’m still not sure they would have made much difference. I will keep choosing them till proven less-than-worthwhile, however.
- ‘Yes’ to Free India Legion; an extra (cheap) garrison, especially posted to the Soviet Union, is always welcome.
- ‘No’ to Italian EF; too expensive and MPP/troops better used elsewhere, e.g., Egypt, Iraq, et al.
- Beware of Soviet Partisans. Keep building and deploying Garrisons, with at least Inf. Weapons 1, to preclude their formation. Note that partisans will ‘disrupt’ your supply lines, somewhat randomly knocking certain town/village Supply Values down 1-3 points or so. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that can be done about this, even though I have garrisoned those areas as best I could as well.
- Beware of Soviet Winter – even though you can’t do anything about it, either. (Note that if you invade in 1941, ‘1st Winter’ is oddly postponed until 1942 anyway.) Aside from having to reinforce nearly every eastern unit 1-2 points, HQs that take damage will have reduced distribution, worsening a possibly already dismal supply situation.
Make sure you come back next Monday for Part 2, where we look at continuing the fight against Russia, but also look at other theatres such as the Balkans, and Operation Sea Lion.