Thursday, April 6, 2017

A DISTINCTION WITH A DIFFERENCE


      It's the end of Turn 2 of my current game of Barbarossa: Kiev to Rostov and I've learned something. Namely that you have to be careful with this rulebook. It makes a number of very subtle distinctions without necessarily drawing attention to them.
     Through repeated playings, it only gradually dawned on me that, first, motorized units were allowed to cross major rivers without a bridge and then only later that supply wagons were allowed to cross as well. Why, thought I, this changes everything! And it does. My initial confusion stems from this rule: "Armored units, all artillery units, and MSU's with orange MA can cross a major river only at a bridge." And that's the end of the matter.
     Sure it seems simple enough, but this is just one of a million rules and exceptions to rules. By the time my bleary eyes saw this, my brain read: "Red Box MA units, artillery units and MSU's can't cross except at a bridge."
     Here's the problem. All Armored units are motorized (Red Box MA), but not all motorized units are Armored. And MSU's come in two varieties, Truck and Wagon. I've never stopped to ponder their differently colored MA before. But it's true: Trucks are orange (bad); Wagons are white (good). (The rules might have mentioned this by saying something like -- oh, I don't know -- TRUCKS can't cross!)
     So there are subtle distinctions here, distinctions that make a definite difference. The upshot is that motorized infantry and recon units can cross -- and they can take wagons (I mean "MSU's with white MA's") with them.
     The other thing to watch out for are Zones of Control. There are actually 4 varieties: Your standard "uncontested" ZOC, a "contested" ZOC (friendly and enemy ZOC in the same hex), ZOC in a hex with a friendly unit, and a ZOC negated by the presence of a friendly unit in the same hex. I'm not making this up. (There are even more when you take into account terrain and weather. Don't get me started!)
     You see, here's the deal: supply lines can travel through EZOC hexes that also contain friendly units, but when you're considering the Soviet Surrender rules, the line need only be free of uncontested ZOCs, strictly verboten for supply lines. I'm confused just writing about it.
     Now that I'm aware of it, though, maybe some of these rules will finally stick. I have a particularly hard time with the river crossing rules. I don't know why.
     Anyway, let's get on with the game.

     The northern sector. Starting at the top and working our way down: The German have made inroads toward Kiev, a major objective. The main thing here is that German units are now adjacent to the city so any units in the adjacent city hex must roll for surrender every turn. Small chance, but the Huns'll take it.
     The next down is Kanev, an area of major effort by the Germans. The Soviet defense is stubborn. He keeps armored trains in the combat hexes to take step losses. Demoralizing for the Germans to use up all their precious supply only to kill off a couple of 1-SP armored trains.
     The area with the gray star, Cherkassy, is where the Germans are having the most success. Two Russian units in this area have surrendered and the strongpoints have been cut off. They will suffer deterioration and disappear after the next turn.
     The blue arrow shows where the Germans historically crossed the Dneiper (the "D" is silent).
     The last area is where the Germans have had the least success. A counterattack by a Soviet tank division cost the Krauts a full Panzer regiment. Given the paucity of German replacements, that really hurt.

     Things are a lot brighter in the south. The Germans will cross in strength this coming turn. Once this area is fully supplied (along the route of the green line) the armor will cross too.

     The Cherkassy area in close-up. The Russian strongpoints have been neutralized and the SS units, given enough supply, can cross the river any time now. Once that happens, the Russians will have no choice but to pull back lest their bridges be captured from behind. Now, that would be embarrassing.
     Incidentally, the 2-2-7 AA unit in the upper left corner of the map can infiltrate onto the Russian cavalry stack's flank, thereby cutting them off from the bridge in their rear, their only lifeline. Notice, however, that once the cavalry pulls back a hex, only its supply line will be cut, but it won't have to roll for surrender. Remember contested vs uncontested ZOC's? (You weren't really paying attention, were you?)
     It could be a good turn here for the Germans. (The green line shows the future German supply road. They'll need it.)



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