For our second go at the East Front System, my dad and I went with “Battle on the Sea of Azov” in Kiev to Rostov, with him taking the Germans again. It had been more than long enough that there was confusion at first, as there’s some very important errata for the scenario. (Notably, that the Axis has to take the two main hexes in the Tartar Ditch area to win, and that the Soviets start with 4, not 0, Mandated Attacks to make.) Worse, we didn’t quite pin down just where the victory areas are in relation to the unit setup for a bit, and didn’t realize the Soviets need to work to take territory, which got their offensive off to a slower start than needed. (I should have read my report on the last time I played this scenario.)

It’s a good scenario, and we had a lot of fun, but in its current condition the scenario is a little hard to play correctly.

As it was, I knew I had all three ‘must have’ victory locations; I thought I had some number of the six ‘need three’ victory locations, but it turns out all six start out in Axis hands. Of course, conducting an offensive against an uncooperative Axis player can be difficult, since any weak parts of the line can be parked out of range of the infantry, which moves after combat. It not only took time to realize that I needed to go on the offensive, but that I would need to advance from the comforting line of strongpoints to do it (it’s 1941, of course I’m thinking defensively as the Soviets; part of the point of the scenario is that Stalin didn’t think very defensively). On the other hand, once engaged, being able to move any retreated infantry right back into position is handy.

I probably also should have advanced across the Dnepr in the north, and braved being out of supply to cause problems for the Hungarians. As it was, my dad managed to repair the southern bridge after a couple turns, and the SS units helped to hold the line for the middle part of the scenario. He took the two Crimea hexes without taking any meaningful losses, but it did take time. Even so, a few units from there showed up on the line for the last turn or two.

I’ve had some bad experiences with offensives in EFS before, and the early stages of the game wanted to confirm that. I took (light) losses for absolutely no gain on some poor rolls. Things got better later, and while I never took any of the victory locations that I was driving towards, I was causing about as many losses as I was getting, even with relatively poor odds attacks (getting up to 3:2 odds was about everything I could do). The little motorized infantry unit that is in the group that gets released halfway through was handy for a couple of combined-arms attacks, which helps a bit.

The main line of action, after German Turn 50 (3).

Victory in Crimea, the LAH and assault guns are on their way to the Balki.

There was a drive on Melitopol for the first couple turns, but that was called off after the defenses stiffened a bit, and the true victory situation was realized. After that, all the attention was on the north end of that line, which had the three victory locations, and was defended by Romanians, instead of the over-large German infantry divisions. Most of the time, the local headquarters was interdicted, which made it even harder to be productive, but the air war went reasonably well, with the Stukas being damaged by a Yak-3 interception at one point, and damaged the Ju88 with AA fire the turn after (they both were repaired… on the last turn of the game). I had a fighter damaged early on (I think it was the MiG-3), but he recovered on the second try and was back in action for the last two turns.

The final wrinkle of the victory conditions is that the Axis looses if they take 12 step losses. They lost a couple early, but the middle two turns of the game were fairly dry, with my offensive causing almost no losses, and the fighting for Crimea causing about one step for the Axis offensive. I finally got better results over the last two turns, and drove Axis losses up to seven steps for the end of the game (there was only one combat that caused multiple step losses for one side). So, a fairly good German win on all counts, mostly due me being slow off the mark on the offensive.

The ending situation.