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Trying To Hold Back The Tide

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Okay so I love HOI2 and I've played it to death. I felt I was pretty good at the game, won with the major nations all on Vhard, thinking nothing of it. I was the invincible Alexander... or so I thought. Towards the end of University a few years back I started up the hardest campaign in the game - Gotterdamerung on Very Hard as Germany (well arguably Japan could be harder but this is pretty tough).


I played an unpatched version with the Doomsday and Armageddon addons.


If anyone doesn't know what this is about, you're set off on the 1st July 1944. You're still deep in Germany but the Allies have landed in France and there's a defensive line in Italy and that front is mostly static. The VHard setting gives you -40% to your economy, -10% to your troops in battle and +20% to the enemy troops. The description is accurate!


There's one or two AARs of this campaign, a really nice one by Remble from a while back on the Paradox forums which is on regular difficulty. I followed a lot of his moved in the early stages. However the jump in difficulty was (I thought back then) too much to actually win. The other comments I read basically said something like "if you make it to 1945 you're doing really well!" I got to spring but could never break the Red's overwhelming manpower.


I recently booted up these old save games thinking I'd give it another shot. Clunky and out of practice I quickly decided it was still impossible. But then I found this thread that actually had evidence that it could be done. I went back to the drawing board.


This is an AAR of how it went (or is still going actually because I've not finished yet!)






Opening moves -



There are a series of major problems Germany is facing:


Manpower - You have about 850,000 men in the reserve pool at the start of the game, but just getting the battered Heer back up to strength will sap 650,000 leaving only 200,000 for losses from new combat. Chief of Staff Guderian boosts daily regeneration by 25% but still conserving every life is an absolute necessity. Avoiding needless battles and using Panzers for as much offensive action as my Oil situation will allow is key here.


Production - -40% hurts, I have a total output of 300IC, 33.7 is needed to keep dissent neutral, there's a need for 454 IC of repairs and 254 66 in upgrades.

Supplies drain around 66. The idiots also have a load of terror-weapons and submarines under production and partially complete so I put them on hold. I can use them later but for now they are totally worthless. Replacing the fool Hitler with Ringel drops supply consumption by 15% which gives a much-needed boost to an otherwise struggling economy. The change means +1% dissent but he only takes 5 days to "pay" for by setting all sliders into consumer goods.


Oil !! - This is so vital for Germany's army but I'm producing so little that it's going to be a perpetual preoccupation.

I'm spending about 114 barrels per day but only producing 34 so at a net of -81. That's without any offensive actions by my panzer divisions. Once they get rolling I can burn through 200-300 per day easily. Offsetting this drain is huge. The Romanian oilfields can produce 54 barrels per day and trade with other nations like Sweden can bypass allied blockades. To even break even I'm going to have to take a big hit from raiding though and trade with latin america. Venuzuella and Argentina are the best for this. Despite about 50% losses trading out a major part of my IC in the form of supplies allows me to keep my guys rolling. It's a lifeline.


Navy: I have an annoying bug where clicking on the info pannel for naval units causes a CTD, so I can't disband my navy for manpower. Instead I move them all to Danzig - out of the range of naval bombers on "port strike" missions. They will take some losses in the channel but it's better than losing them slowly to carrier strikes on my ports. I see no reason to throw away my naval strength at this stage. It will be needed later. Saving the Tirpitz is probably the most significant part of the operation but I have about 60 U-Boat packs too plus some screens and cruisers so that's pretty nice. Much better than anything the Russians have and that will be important later.


Allies in Italy - this front is mostly static. I bleed off some of the faster units and move up some allied troops from croatia to take their place. I just need to stall the allies here and they don't have the strength to break through really.






Allies in France - these guys will destroy me given time. However they have a fairly small, elite army. Maybe 700,000 strong by the time everyone is landed. I have several million so I figure I can crush them fairly easily with my panzers. They will be the focus of my first offensive operation but for now I have to just stall as much as possible. All available troops are ordered south except for the panzer reserve in Essen that are left to recover (they start at STR1!!)




Bombing raids everywhere - for now I have to endure these, the presence of escort fighters and allied interceptors on air superiority missions, combined with the depleted state of the luftwaffe means no contest to the bombers. They will take their toll but thankfully they don't emphasise tactical bombing of army units.


Coastal invasion threat everywhere - the huge coastline has some advantages but note the total lack of garrisons in Norway or the mediterranian. I use much needed infantry in blocks of up to 3 divisions to hold the coast. Thankfully most of them can be drawn from allied nations. Their sub-par troops are perfect for blocking naval invasions because their poor performance is offset by the massive negative modifiers for coastal landings and I DO have the Atlantic Wall in northern France and the low countries.


And the big one, the elephant in the room - 4.5 million Russians on the Eastern Front!

This is a matter of no-contest. I need my mobile divisions in France, and I lack the manpower to fight the Russians in a war of attrition. I order a fullscale retreat back to a more defensible line, and counter-attacks on isolated Soviet units that outrun their main force. Retaking provinces with overwhelming force as the Soviets dribble in will ruin the infrastructure, stalling their troops for longer, forcing them to regroup, inflict losses, damage their strength regain and in general offer token resistance to the overwhelming Red Horde!




Diplomatic Sliders:


I put the yearly point into standing army (of course) I need every man to be as effective as possible. I don't have the manpower for a spammy army. I'll leave the draft to the Reds.




I have the blueprints for the turbojet interceptor so I set Messerschmitt going on that right away. I also need better tanks so I set Porsche off on the Panther 2. Hopefully I'll have upgraded some by the time I'm ready to face the Reds. I get Advanced Decription and Encription devices because it gives my troops an instant boost. The last slot I use on better oil processing because every drop counts. I don't get 1945 infantry because it introduces a fuel cost for all infantry units and we're already deep in the red with our fuel consumption.



I trade blueprints and anything else I can afford for oil and cash for more trades. I also set up long term trades with just about everyone who's not at war with me and has +50% trade efficiency swapping supplies or energy for oil. Do note not to trade out too much energy. You need to keep more energy than oil in order to maintain the hugely important conversion of coal to diesel.





The first priority is to eliminate the dissent from Ringel's appointment. The second is to fund reinforcments until that is achieved. After that the priority is upgrades. These ensure maximum efficiency for all the resources used.

All the while it's essential to keep the supplies coming in. They are a vital commodity that will be used to trade for oil, once I've depleted my metal and energy reserves.


The plan:

I have a war on 3 fronts. I can't fight the Russians with anything less than my full strength so I have to remove the other two as best as I can.


This will require us to trade land for time in the East, pray for an early winter and bleed off the panzer units to repel the allies in France and Italy. Likewise the battered luftwaffe will be recalled to france to re-equip, re-arm and upgrade. I can't beat the allies without air power, it's such a force-multiplier. It means more losses on the eastern front but I will leave a few interceptors so the Reds won't get things all their own way.


Basically I'm going to try to repeat the Ardennes offensive, allow the allies into France, giving as little ground as possible but then cutting them in half once the reinforcements from Russia arrive. They will take a little under a month to cross back into France so I pencil in the counter-offensive to resume around mid-July. My best commander - Von Manstein - will be in command.


Hopefully I can mop up in France then rotate south to Italy and repeat the same trick. I'd like as many allies captured or killed as possible, but I'm happy so long as they are no longer a viable threat.



The Axis Alliance Health Report:


Japan is on her own. I can't help her so she'll have to tough it out. The longer she survives the better, all those allied divisions tied up in the Pacific is something I don't want to change. I will trade as many BPs as possible though!


Romania must survive at all costs. If we lose the oilfields the game is over. The others I don't care so much about but if either were to fall I'd lose all their auxilliary divisions. These aren't great but do good costal duty. Someone needs to prevent more invasions so the loss of Hungary or Bulgaria would be very painful indeed since I'd have to swap out missing allies 1:1 with superior German divs.


I like Finland, they have been our allies since 1941, they beat the Russians in 1940 and have been generally very awesome. I plan to save Finland if at all possible. I know the conventional wisdom is to abandon it to gain the extra expiditionary forces but I feel it's better to draw as many Russian troops away from my lines as possible.



edit: swapped the title around, I figured it was more catchy that way.

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Veterans of the Eastern Front.


Keep in mind for all the clam of this AAR I was saving almost daily at this stage. This game is tough! It does screw up the AI to reload though so it's best to avoid it if at all possible. I did reload a fair bit though.


Up until 17th July I was giving ground everywhere. However my guys were starting to arrive so Manstein was ordered over to the offensive!




You can see from the maps that the Allied war machine was doing extremely well in terms of ground. However the advances were unfocused. They were pushing out in all directions extremely fast and I had little to stop them. However it means Manstein was facing a fraction of the Allied army at his chosen spearpoint and was able to slice through their lines much more easily than if I had tried to keep them contained.


With a huge roar the combined might of the Luftwaffe took to the skies and started to smash the Allies with interdiction strikes. With the overwhelming numbers (140,000 vs 40,000) Manstein was able to make great progress on day one.




August 7th


By August 7th he had reached the coast and the Allies to the north east of his position were forced to either retreat to their boats or surrender. Either way about 100,000 Allies were removed from the theatre, a great success but you can see from the screenshots how far the Allied forces had reached!






Meanwhile in Finland the Fins had taken the offensive! They were pressuring the Reds with an advance into Kem. This would cut the soviets in the north off until supplies could be redirected via Murmansk. A small victory but a pleasing development nonetheless. In a perfect world they'd go on to drive those 60,000 back into the sea but that seemed unlikely.





On the Eastern front things were not good. We had traded land successfully but there was a gaping hole in the lines around Przemyśl which my troops were rushing to fill. The one bright point was that the reds had over-extended themselves near Strirj and I was well-placed to counter attack with overwhelming force and drive out the 130,000 Reds which were moving through the area. Attacks by fast troops would deplete the logistics and then they'd retreat again.






September 8th.


By the 8th things were looking a little worse for the Finns. The Russians had advanced closer to Helsinki and blocked the gap at Kem making it unlikely their northern forces would be cut off. Still the brave little nation held up over twice their number in Russians.




On the Eastern Front we had been hurled back in the North. A red line was established around Konigsburg. This was the edge of the reliable winter snows and if we were pushed back much further west then we would find it very hard to hold the line come winter. The hole in our lines north of Hungary was exploited and extended. We had no option but to fight to close the door or face envelopment by the Reds. A huge force was being moved up to exploit the breach so we fell back to the line Kongisburg -> Warsaw->Kielce to make better use of rivers and the natural fortifications of Warsaw itself.






As ever, it was in France were the majority of the good news was coming. Manstein had succeeded in pushing back the Allied invasion. Both sides were depleted but the losses in surrendered and retreated units had hit the allied fighting strength very hard. Our forces pushed all the way to Caen to sieze their supply stockpile and "liberate" some much-needed fuel (about 800 barres!)




Guderian pushed his 140,000 men into Amiens with supprt from the 50,000 in Cholet and then rushed up to Brest. The allies just couldn't retreat fast enough to escape the mechanised formations and were ground down.




I'll update this as and when, I'll try to keep it regular.


Next episode: Finishing off the Allies in France, Italy and beyond!

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September 13th



The loss of their supply dump in Caen and then again in Avranches had crippled the Allies. Their forces had fallen back to Cherborug but without supplies their counter-attacks towards Caen fizzed out into nothing.


Guderian supported spearheads up towards Rennes and in the south towards Nantes before launching his own assault into Lorent to draw the noose tight around Brest before retreating Allied divisions could regroup.


Manstein's Panzer force was utterly disorganised at this point. Assault after assault had drained the men's strength and back and forth fighting for Argentaen had wrecked the region's logistics, so he moved west to Avranches to regroup.






September 16th


In the west Guderian's rapid advance had overrun Brest with minimal resistance.

Although still very disorganised, the Germans were in far better shape than the allies holed up in Cherborg. After a few short hrs Manstein crushed the final pocket of organised Allied resistance in France. Operation Overlord was defeated!





There were still some broken Allied divisions present in France. The rapid pace of operations had been unable to allow for a methodical mop-up. Some troops were left behind to deal with them and more infantry were directed to bolster the Atlantic wall and prevent a repeat of the last month's events.


Meanwhile the majority of the tanks were redeployed to Genoa to begin the buildup for an Italian offensive. They would arrive on October the 17th.

Luftwaffe bombers were also rotated to Genoa and Bordeaux to begin organising to support the operation.









General Rommel had been reassigned to the Italian front in June. His experience was needed to maintain the stability of the theatre. Sadly he had not been totally successful. German troops had dug in along the line Florence -> Rimini but the Allies had managed to punch through driving our troops north to the line Genoa -> Milan -> Venice. Thankfully at this point the formidable natural barrier of the River Po and the pre-war Italian defences in Genoa had been sufficient to offset the Allies' numerical advantages. Reinforcing divisions from Croatia also bolstered the German numbers and returned the situation to something of a stalemate.


However with the huge reinforcements arriving from France Rommel finally had the tools he needed to break the allies. Not content with a simple victory he wanted to use the speed of his Panzers to overrun the Allies and capture as many of them as he could.

Sadly it looked like it would be winter before any attacks could be launched so his hours of daylight would be heavily reduced. This wasn't entirely bad news however. The overwhelming numbers of crack panzer divisions should ensure a rapid initial breakthrough. After that, the long nights would make it hard for the allies to successfuly counter attack, allowing the most mobile elements to hurl themselves headlong through Italy.


It was tempting to try and retake Sicily too but Rommel considered it a low priority. The allies already had plenty of bases in the Mediterranian from which to launch attacks against southern Europe and putting troops on the island would run the risk of allied naval interdiction cutting them off from the mainland. Also, any assault across the formidable Strait of Messina would be almost as hard as a landing anywhere else in Italy so taking the island just wasn't worth the cost in lives.



October 17th


It was a tough month. The mop up operation in France went well and the remaining troops began to dig in along the coast, re-occupying their fortifications in Caen, this time in sufficient numbers to prevent any Allied invasion.




In the far east Japan had suffered a major blow:




The Allies had launched operation Downfall! Capturing Tokyo and moving west towards Osaka. The heartland of Japanese industrial might had been ripped out. They would cling on for as long as possible but the writing was on the wall for our allies, a full year earlier than I had anticipated! Drat!




Meanwhile in Italy, the troops arriving from France were not in a great state of organisation. Rommel knew time was against him but he gave his troops a few days to prepare:





In the East things were grim, the Reds had broken through in Romania and were even threatening the oilfields of Ploesti. If they got any further the fuel situation probably would have meant the loss of the war. Immediate counter-attacks removed any immediate threat but with our backs to the wall we were being bled.




However the change of seasons meant some good news. In the north the first snows had begun to fall. With pressure eased around Konigsburg we could free up some of the half-million men stationed there to serve as a strategic reserve.




Finally some good news!

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October 24th


Rommel had launched his Panzers at the British lines and smashed through towards the old German lines of Rimini. Overwhelming numbers and air power meant a quick victory although his men had become quite disorganised in the headlong rush.





November 5th


Once in Rimini Rommel had his men dig in while the rest of his army launched attacks into Ferrara and then Bologna. The trapped British were cut off and their lines were opened. The race for the Strait of Messina was on!






November 17th


Coordinated attacks broke up the British resistance in the West of the country while mobile elements raced south.





Meanwhile the situation in Finland had turned critical!


Soviet advances had not been stopped by the snow. Using our vast naval superiourity we moved troops from snow-covered Konigsburg north to Hensinki and Vaasa to preserve Finnish industry and prevent a complete collapse of our erstwhile ally. Counter-attacks by these fresh troops salvaged the situation a little, but things were grim and there was a limit to how many troops we could send considering the the vast hordes at our gates!






December 18th





After two months of hectic fighting in terrible weather and in the cold and dark of winter, Rommel had secured a stunning victory. A mere 90,000 British had made it out of Italy of an estimated 280,000 at the start of the campaign. Those 90,000 had successfully crossed into Sicily. While a few other divisions were still being mopped up, the operation had achieved its strategic aim and secured our southern flank. A heavy garrison would be left to prevent any overly ambitious British generals from trying to cross back into the mainland and the coastline would also be garrisoned. The rest of the troops would join their comrades on the Eastern front to stand against the overwhelming tide of the Red army.




Things on the Eastern front had descended into a peaceful calm as we restored our lines and snow brought an end to any offensive actions. Our lines were far West of what I had hoped. We would be exposed to early thaws come the spring and the hectic fighting towards the end of October and into November before the snows finally came (as well as our actions in France and Italy) had reduced our manpower to a mere 80,000 men (8,000 of which would be needed for reinforcements).


In Finland our troops had temporarily stabilised the front but the over-extended arc meant our forces were spread far too thin. Great sacrifices would be necessary to prevent a complete collapse of the Finnish front and our manpower was already stretched to breaking point! The consolation was that we had a lot of spare divisions thanks to the snows in mainland Europe and the securing of our Western and Southern fronts. Finland wouldn't be abandoned!





Next episode: Fighting in Finland. Preparations for Barbarossa 2.0! Allied games in the Med.

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Janurary 13th







Some good news, the Baltic fleet, boosted with the Tirpitz, had made contact with the venerable "Oktyarbryskaya Revolutsia" and the battlecruiser Gneisenau had managed to sink her! This terror had been a thorn in the side of the Finns for many years and her sinking secured Baltic naval supremacy for the German fleet.


As can be seen, the allies had suffered a lot of losses for their invasion of the Japanese home islands. Despite this, things weren't looking good for the Japs. They had 40,000 men dug in on the island of Shikoku but it was only a matter of time before she fell.








Arriving in Tampere, Von Kluge realised his planned counter-offensive had been a mistake. The Russians had about 90,000 more troops than had been realised. They had about 350,000 vs 250,000 Finns and Germans. As a grizzled veteran of winter warfare, Kluge knew there was no way to turn back so many troops in the harsh conditions. In fact the crescent shaped front gave huge adantaged to the Reds. He knew OKH could never release enough troops to salvage the situation without comprimising the integrity of the entire Eastern front. With regret he ordered a full scale retreat.

They would dig in around Helsinki and the heavily fortified Mannerheim line to the East and try to pin down as many Reds as possible.




February 1st - March 1st



Pulling back had been painful, but Kluge saw an opening to strike a heavy blow to the Russians. Their rapid gains had made them complacent. Redirecting the luftwaffe and 60,000 men to the Mannerheim line a full scale offensive was launched towards Leningrad. The shocked defenders crumbled and a swift naval landing secured the city before reinforcements could arrive to reinforce it.


Later in February the Reds retaliated with a full-scale offensive towards Hellsinki which the Finns attempted to stop but were fundamentally too few to resist.


However, with the capture of Leningrad and naval supremacy guaranteed in the Baltic the Finns had a citadel that could sustain them indefinitely. Losing their capital was hard but they stoically took up positions in the Mannerheim line. The shortened lines and approaching thaw meant Germans were needed in the south. The fate of their country was bound inexorably with success far in the south but they should be able to hold against any aggression.







Costal Preparations




The poor quality foreign divisions had been mostly sent west to hold the Atlantic wall. This was a job they were well suited for and it meant many divisions freed for service in the East.




Norway was held loosely by a few divisions. In the mountains of Narvik Dietel held back 40,000 Reds.





In Italy and the Balkans the line was held by Germans




And in the Greek islands the British were moving troops. They were capable of landing across the straits so it was important to leave a significant garrison there to deter and foolishness.

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Okay a bit of roleplay for this one:


May 1st


State of the Heer


A full war council was called in Berlin. As commander of the Eastern Front, Manstein wanted to take stock of the strategic situation. They had to decide whether it was time to begin offensive operations, or to delay for a month.





Ernst Kaltenbruner was first to give his report.


"Regarding the state of the Red Army on the Eastern front. Our spy network estimates the Reds have 422 infantry divisions and 36 armoured divisions for a total of around 4,580,000 men under arms.




Allied advances in the Far East have allowed them to totally strip their garrisons around Vladivostok.




Our erstwhile allies in Finland are still tying down about 270,000 around the Mannerheim line and about 50,000 are guarding coastal areas although this number is down significantly, we assume the low chance of real progress against such heavy fortifications has lead Stavka to move forces south.

We know there are a little more than 4,000,000 in the lines directly opposite our forces which leaves a strategic reserve of over 200,000 men unaccounted for.


Our own forces on the Eastern front number approximately 2,720,000 but this number does include some allied divisions. Thankfully, by assigning many of their troops to coastal defence in France we have freed a great many of our crack German divisions for frontline duties against the Reds."





Next to speak was Albert Speer.


"The economy is operating at peak efficiency, Allied bombing raids continue to do light damage but Goering's new jet interceptors are an effective countermeasure and our levels of production remain high. We have completed repairs on almost everything. Oil remains a problem, but our supply surplus will allow us to continue to trade with Latin America. As our upgrades wind down we can stockpile more supplies which will in turn continue to ease the oil situation.




Speaking of research, our research teams completed prototypes for new tanks and aircraft. The aircraft upgrade programme has been completed and the tank upgrade programme is almost complete. Already priority frontline divisions have been fully re-equipped and most divisions are partially upgraded with the new vehicles. The programme will be complete by early July and upgrades can be sent forward with the troops as we advance.




We have researched better oil liquifaction techniques to help a little with the oil problem, and more modern agricultural techniques will allow us to bring more men off the land and into the Heer.


Heinz's team is working on better logsitic organisation to help our army as it advances into Russia while Manstein's team is improving our field hospital system, helping to keep men alive and hopefully returning them to fighting shape sooner.


One problem will be reinforcements. If losses get too bad we will be forced to chose between replacing losses and purchasing fuel.


Try to keep our men alive gentlemen!"




Air Force:

Hermann Goering stood up to deliver his report on the Air Force.


"The Luftwaffe has completed its modernisation programme" he announced with a smile. " Our fighter and interceptor squadrons now use advanced Jet fighters, the Me262 fighter and the He162 interceptor". Our bomber squadrons are now operating the Arado 234 Jet Bomber.


We have about 12 fighter squadrons and 12 bomber wings on the eastern front, as well as 5 close air support squadrons. These will greatly assist in the opening stages of our operation although only our bombers have the range to keep pace once our spearheads get deep inside Russia.




Julius Ringel then stood up to deliver his report on the state of the Heer.


The retraction of the Finnish front to the Mannherheim line has allowed us to evacuate most of our infantry from this theatre.

Our forces on the Eastern front have been heavily reorganised. To the north is a solid line of infantry. They are well dug into a line stretching from Konigsburg south through Torun and along the Vistula river to the borders of Hungary. This is our wall, we can't conduct fast moving in the Pripyat Marshes to the east so we will endeavour to hold this sector We have assigned Field Marshal Von Rundsteadt to command here. He is an infantryman at heart and has a good understanding of both offensive and defensive actions so is the perfect man for the Job.




Under Manstein's orders we have robbed all units in this area of their Panzers and motorised transport and sent it all, lock stock and barrel, south. There it has been reorgansied into rapid "Schnell Korps". These are fully mobile "combined arms" formations (+5% to combat) which allow us to extract the absolute maximum from all of our most powerful offensive units. They have been placed under the command of our absolute best Panzer commanders.






Our reserve pool currently stands at just 153,000 men. Keep our men safe gentlemen and when the time comes, sell their lives as dearly as possible."



The Plan:


Finally Erich Von Manstein, commander of the Eastern Front stood up to describe the plan for "Barbarossa 2".


"This will be by far our most challenging operation to date. Obviously we need to stop the Red Army, but we need to do more than that. America will keep supplying them with oil and raw materials to keep them in the war. With the near-collapse of Japan we can't allow the Eastern front to remain. Our fuel situation will also not last another year. Allied naval actions will continue to squeeze our supplies from Latin America and our manpower is precarious. A war of attrition will bleed us dry.


We need to drive the Soviets back over the Ural mountains and deal them such a savage blow that Stalin is forced to sue for peace. Capturing Baku will help with our fuel shortages and will give us an opening into the Middle East, which will help our fuel situation even further.


So how to achieve this ambitious goal?


We need to put all our effort into one area of operations. Everything we have will be focused in the south, where there are open plains. Our newly organised "Schnell Korps" will smash through the Red positions in a two-phase operation, opening a doorway for our forces to drive through. The lead elements will then just keep driving. Air power will keep their flanks secure as they press hard and deep into the Russian hinterland.

We have four main targets:




The oil centre of Baku

And Sverdlovsk, the heart of the Urals tank production facilities.


With the loss of these key locations the Russians will be unable to continue to prosecute their war and we can force them to sue for peace.


There are to be two main thrusts. I will lead the first, a "backhand blow" against the Soviet divisions pressing into Romania. They are building up for a push south. We will drive north and east trapping them them against the Black Sea.


Because of his long and distinguished service to Germany General Guderian has been promoted to Field Marshall. Congratulations sir!


Field Marshall Guderian will lead the second arm of the assault. Soviet troops are sure to rush south to block the gap my action will have opened. Guderian will launch a consolidated attack into their flank and smash their formations as they march in the open. As we mop up our men can recouperate for the big push east. Past this point it is hard to predict what will happen.


The operation relies upon tempo. We have to be faster than the Reds, respond quicker, and smash their formations whenever possible. The critical phases will be breaking their frontlines. Once we're through the speed of our units is so much faster than their that they should never be able to regroup long enough to threaten us.





Sadly there is one problem. The snow is gone but there is only broken mud. We have been fighting holding actions against the Reds for the past month. I had hoped to wait until June but if we wait the Reds are sure to launch bigger and bigger attacks. Their buildup in Romania is currently exposed but we will miss our opening. If they go over to a full scale offensive we can't stop it just with holding actions. The last thing we want is a war of attrition.


We now understand the situation. It's time to vote - do we go or do we stay?"


"I vote we go" said Guderian

"Go" said Goering





It was unanimous. The first offensive operation to be launched on the Eastern front for almost a year would begin on May the 5th...


Next episode: Barbarossa 2!

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I don't like the look of HoI3 - too much micro. Hell there's too much micro in HoI2 already!


This AAR gives the impression I knew exactly what I was doing. All the fronts were hard to beat but Russia was a nightmare. I had to reload from my December 18th save about a dozen times before I finally worked out how to bring down the Bear!


Anyway I'll post up the first half of Barbarossa 2 later today.

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The Storm Breaks


May 4th/5th - May 10th



In the evening of May 4th the runways of Eastern Europe were a flurry of activity. Jet bomber after jet bomber needed to be prepped for takeoff while rows of Me262s and He162s were being idled to keep their engines at operating temperature.


Late at night the first bombers screeched into the skies and headed east. Their targets were the road and rail intersections, command bunkers and supply dumps which allowed the vast Red Army to operate efficiently. A red glow on the horizon was casting a wan light on the pilots cockpits as the suns rays refracted in the atmosphere. They would hit their targets at sunrise.


On the font lines over a million men were readying themselves to launch their attacks. The commanders of the three arms of the assault, Manstein, Model and Guderian were all playing their part, threading their newly formed "Schnell Korps" through the massed lines of infantry. Their target was the much contested village of Stryj, or rather to pierce multiple holes in the Soviet defences around the town.


The huge weight of firepower was so overwhelming that the Russians stood little chance. Tanks and APCs moved swiftly over the sun baked planes and the mechanised formations arriving over the next few days rapidly reformed and pressed on into Lvov.





This opened a hole in the Soviet lines. Infantry in Przemysl pressed north into Zamosc as the vast formations in Stryj and Lvov. sliced into the Russian flank. This widened the breach and helped protect Manstein's spearhead from being cut off by a Soviet counter-attack.


Manstein then pressed on into Stanisławów, aiming for the Black Sea coast to cut off the Russian salient into Romania.



May 10th - June 5th


Sensing the trap, the Soviets counter-attacked into Lvov forcing Guderian to pull back to Zamosc and leaving Stryj open to further assaults.

This would open a coridoor for their troops and prevent the closing of the pocket.


To prevent this Manstein ordered some of the troops in his spearhead and the holding force in Bacau to counter-attack into Iasi. This was supported by massed air-power and forced the Reds south into Ismail. The race was on to reach Chesnev. Fortunatly Manstein had kept the fastest troops pressing south and the Reds were horribly out of position. Some slipped through to the east but as Manstein's forces reached the coast, most were still very much on the wrong side of the line.


The troops blocking the Red buildup in Romania launched new offensives into the isolated Soviet forces. Caught without supplies their resolve crumbled and they were captured en-masse. Many more deserted and fled.



Mopping up complete Manstein ordered the troops in Romania to be brought to the front lines with maximum speed. The pace of action slowed as both sides licked their wounds and regrouped. The troops in Romania would arrive on the front lines around the middle of June.





Kaltenbruner's intelligence reports suggested the Red army had shrunk by some 74 infantry divisions and 9 tank divisions. It was impossible to calculate exact losses but based on reports from the frontlines it seemed like a sound estimate and a good number of tank divisions had certainly been captured. It seems like Romania had indeed been the planned focus for their summer offensive. Manstein's plan had been launched just in time!





To the north the loss of Stryj was concerning but the Reds were out of position to really exploit the breach. If they pushed deeper into Poland or Hungary Guderian and Model's powerful formations to their north would counter-attack and cut them off. Since they would be moving east soon, the local infantry commanders took advantage of the situation to launch attacks across the Vistula into Lublin with the huge amount of armour on their flank in support. This would hopefully force the Soviets in Warsaw to pull back and with the Bug between them and the Russians the position was relatively defensible.

Naturally, the paultry Red Army defence was no match for such a vast force but the move would keep the Soviets wrong footed.





June 5th - July 2nd


The Red Army was reeling. The recapture of Eastern Romania removed the threat to Romanain oil fields and had dealt a huge blow to Red Army numbers. The chances of pulling off another encirclement seemed more remote. However it was not really necessary. The German army had local superiourity in the Ukraine and Manstein wanted to demonstrate that. Guderian and Model were ordered onto the offensive, striking along the edge of the Romanian salient, defeating the out-of-position Red Army in a series of brutal one-sided engagements. Soviet reinforcements continued to flood south but were not in time to organise into the deadly massed formations that could offer a significant opposition. As the panzers raced towards Kiev and Odessa Manstien was able to offer supporting attacks in the Red Army flanks from his position in Beltsy.




The shot shows just how battered the Red Army had become fighting in these types of battles. The fast German units had performed many encirclements and often simple attrition had taken a horrible toll on the Red formations. Many were operating at sub-50% strength, and their fighting capability was diminished greatly from what it had been just a month ago. Even with their vast manpower reserves and industrial output they simply couldn't replace men at this rate.


In the north the movement of Guderian and Model had left the troops in Lublin isolated. Soviet commanders saw the weakness and they were pulled back across the Vistula at the first sign of significant resistance.




This action was actually reasonably positive. If Soviet troops were launching attacks in the north they couldn't be harrassing our attacks in the south! An attack into Suwalki met with similar resistance but the Soviets still had over a million men tied up in this unimportant sector, even as Panzer divisions were pressing towards Kiev!


July 2nd - July 22nd


As Stavka began pulling more men south the infantry in the North could begin their campaign to cross the Forests and Swams of northern Russia and the Baltic states.


Field Marshal von Brauchitsch was able to launch an offensive into Brest Litovsk, capturing the fortress from the Red Army and giving the northern flank a solid anchor point. His men were exhausted after the endeavour but supporting attacks were launched along the front, recapturing Warsaw and Memel and driving the Reds back.




In the south the battered Red Army was reeling from another three weeks of constant pressure. Some formations were so depleted they were on the verge of total annihilation!


By mid-month the town of Kiev had fallen to General Model and General Guderian pressed his forces north to the edge of the marshes, securing the northern flank of what had become a rather extended salient! In time infantry advances would relieve this pressure and allow the mechanised formations to resume their press north but the front line was very much in flux.

As ever, it was deemed prudent to preserve the strength of formations whenever possible and retreat in the face of solid Red Army resistance.




In the South the tattered remains of Red Army forces were no match for the German formations. Lead spearheads finally broke through their lines and the door was opened to the key strategic objectives far to the east!




General Geyr von Schweppenburg was given the order to make for the production hub of Svedlovsk in the Ural Mountains. His route would go via the "fateful city" of Stalingrad. At maximum speed he would reach his distination by mid October. Manstein ordered his other formations in the South to assist Schweppenburg's drive at all costs. This set the tempo for the second half of the operation. It was a tight schedule. Breaking through the Soviet lines had taken the best part of three months. If they couldn't reach the Urals before winter the fast moving mechanised formations would bog down on mud and snow.


The commanders had a major dilemma. Schweppenburg had to be escorted to his destination at all costs. However the army had two other major objectives. Somewhere between two and three million Russians currently stood between them and Moscow, and far to the south the oil hub of Baku lay across the inhospitable Caucasus mountain range.





Next episode: Barbarossa Part 2 - Will we reach Svedlovsk before winter? Can the Caucasus be crossed in time? How will we cross the huge expanse of forest and marshland to reach Moscow before winter??!

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also, hoi can really really really suck up your entire time.

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July 22nd - August 15th



Having crossed the Djnepper at Kiev, Manstien launched an attack towards Kharkov, retaking the city and pressing more armour along the flanks of Schweppenburg's advance, widening the coridoor and making it harder to cut off the rapidly moving spearhead. Schweppenburg had smashed the Soviet infantry division protecting Stalingrad and was already pressing on towards Tankograd.


In the Caucasus Edmannsdorff was orderd to seize Baku. He would arrive in the oil centre a full month before Schweppenburg would arrive in the Urals and so had some time to elimiate any opposition.





In the west the northern flank was pressing East across the entire front. The depleted Soviet divisions were much easier to defeat than just a few months before but the rough terrain was slowing progress.





In the far east, Siam had been knocked out of the war. The weak-willed pacifists had been unwilling to see their country under British occupation and had betrayed their Japanese allies. The Siamese garrison in Shikoku had backstabbed the Japanese defenders, arresting them and putting them in POW camps. The whole island was now under Siamaese control. The remaining free Japanese divisions continued to wage a brutal guerilla war in the Jungles of Indochina but their situation was bleak.





August 15th - 28th




The capture of Stalingrad had been swift but more resistance was materialising and the mechanised infantry division Schweppenburg had left to garrison the city was pushed back by Soviet cavalry and infatnry divisions. If the city actually fell it would cut Schweppenburg's fuel lines and delay his push to the Urals. Fortunatly the open plains allowed for fast-moving German divisions to move into place to reinforce the area and Luftwaffe bombers landed in the city itself to bomb any Soviet troops that got too close.





Having stablised Schweppenburg's northern flank and consolidated the area around Kharkov, Manstein launched attacks north to shorten the German lines and free more Schnell Korps for a push north.





The country to the north of Kharkov was perfect tank country and was the perfect tank country. The opening allowed for a much more rapid push on Moscow than could be achieved by the Infantry footslogging from the West.





Intelligence reports were confirming the huge losses the Red Army had sustained to this point. Their fighting strength was below 1/3rd of its May levels. The battle of Russia was entering its critical phase. The key question would be how much force they could free for a defence of Moscow.





August 28th - September 10th


The next fortnight saw steady gains, the shortening front had allowed for a major push on Moscow from the south. General Rommel's forces were the closest to the city and he expected to be at the gates of the Soviet capital by the end of the week.




Further east the arrival of tactical bombers had stabilised the situation in Stalingrad and for Schweppenburg's advance units. More Soviet divisions had materialised to his north and so bombers were again deployed to bomb them into oblivion.



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September 10th - October 6th



They proved decisive and together with tanks moving up from the south the threats were all removed. Schweppenburg now had a clear run to Svedlovsk




They proved decisive and together with tanks moving up from the south the threats were all removed. Schweppenburg now had a clear run to Svedlovsk which he would capture in 10 more days.


In the south Baku fell too while Mountaineer divisions mopped up the Soviet stragglers in the Caucasus.




In the West Rommel's advance had been exploited by more fast-moving divisions. Tens of thousands of extra troops were about two weeks away from the city but the Soviets had turned their capital into a fortress.




This was the final objective, the last obstacle to total domination of the Soviet union. The fate of the Red Army would be decided in this city.


Their defences were formidable. 60,000 Russians stood against 200,000 of the best troops Germany had, but the Panzers were useless for urban warfare.

Furthermore the Russians had a level 5 defensive network, concrete bunkers, trenches and barricades created a network of kill zones and death traps for any aggressor.


To make matters worse, winter was coming. If Rommel waited for reinforcements the weather would also stand against him and make the Russians that much harder to uproot.





Confident in his superior numbers, he ordered his men into the city. The Russians held out bravely and for two days it seemed like the battle would end in stalemate, but eventually the Soviet morale broke. Disorganised and depleted they pulled out to the north to attempt a counter offensive.





October 6th - November 15th



All major strategic objectives achieved, the Germans consolidated their positions, clearing up Red Army remnants and fortifying their gains. The primary efforts would now be in the hands of diplomats as they negotiated a conclusion to the conflict with Stalin and his advisors.



On November 15th they came back with terms:


An immediate end to hostilities with a non-aggression pact for two years.

All land West of the Urals to be ceded to the German Empire.

All land East of Irkutsk to be ceded to Imperial Japan.


Needless to say, these were generous terms which we accepted with much relish!




It was only after the details were being concluded that certain bizarre quirks were discovered deep in the details of the agreement.




The most troubling was the Finnish plan to revert the city of Leningrad to the status of a "free city". What this meant in real terms was a return of this major cultural and industrial centre to the hands of the Communists.


Weirdly Germany was also given administrative control over large parts of Soviet-held Finland. Despite their plans for Leningrad, German diplomats immediately began returning this land to the Finns. There was no desire to rob the Finns of their homeland and they were perfectly capable of governing their own lands.





In the east, the huge land-transfer to the Japanese meant a breathing space for them. It would take the Allies many months to reoccupy this vast wilderness and in the mean time the Japanese would be able to continue their resistance.





Although still not in a position to threaten them directly, the Soviet corridoor into Iran opened up a route into the Arabian Peninsula for the Heer.




This was excellent for two main reasons:


Along with Baku, the Arabian oil fields would help our fuel problems immensely.


Secondly it opened the door to three key strategic locations:


  • The Suez Canal
  • Gibraltar
  • British India


The first two are the gates to the Mediterranean sea. Taking them would cut off all the Allied shipping and troops deployed in the region. India was vital for the British war effort, and was itself a gateway to the far east and the beleaguered Japanese positions in Indochina. There was still a thin sliver of hope that we might link up with our ally before it was too late.


Either way, the middle east would be our next target. Our troops would arrive there by the end of the year.






Side Note:


Ok so here I had basically beaten the scenario. I had most of mainland Europe either allied to me or under my direct control and the most powerful land army in the world. There was no real way for the Allies to beat me now. The worst I can do is end up with a stalemate. After this I turned my attention to dominating the world because it's fun but it won't be anything veteran HOI2 players haven't seen before. Shall I keep posting with this level of detail or describe the rest with broader strokes so I can catch up to my current save game faster?

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Been busy doing some work on Blitz2 ( yeah :o )


I'll do the middle east and north africa campaigns in a quicker format in the next few days though.

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Very nice!


Though sad to say, but I still really dont get how to play HOI2 or 3. I understand Victoria II, which is very sad. Vic and EU3 make total sense...HOI, not so much

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