After our previous exploits, the next thing we went for was the simplest full-map scenario from Crimea: “The Road to Sevastopol”. My dad again took the Russians, leaving me to batter my head against the defenses leading out of the Perekop isthmus and into the interior of Crimea.

Well, my head hurts, and I hadn’t gotten very far after 9 turns (sadly, that is as far as we got in the vacation time I had). Considering the track record of the offense in every East Front Series game I’ve played so far, I’m starting to wonder if there’s something I’m missing.

Now, I will point out that the weather has not helped. Mud and storms on turn 2 (GT 61), mud on turns 3, 5, 7. In fact, now that we’re in the Mud Climate, we’ve only now had two dry turns in a row (GT 67 & 68).

I have realized (too late) that my biggest mistake has not been pushing on the Naval Interdiction, to cause alarm and dismay over shipping losses. The rules talk about the range limitations on various aircraft, but there’s nothing said about how far away the Naval Interdiction box really is. So, thinking purely in terms of the single-engine Bf109s, I avoided worrying about Naval Interdiction, and stuck to Interdicting the 51st Army Headquarters and making sure there was plenty of air support for my attacks.

I eventually realized that the two-engined Ju88s were a good choice for the job. With six He111s available, I had a good amount of CAS ability, and the ‘3’ air rating of the Ju88 meant that it could go out alone, and probably come back all right. This had an immediate and dramatic effect, as several ships took damage from poor Naval Loss rolls on the Air Interdiction column. Two turns after I finally realized this, most of my aircraft were recalled to the Kiev to Rostov theater.

Meanwhile, my dad got the most out of the shipping rules. Without the immediate need to use the warships as artillery platforms to protect the ports, he used them not only to transfer supplies from Map T, but to ship units across the bay from Sevastopol to Yevpatoriya and Saki. This got the troops considerably closer to the action at the entrance to Crimea, and helped the defense stiffen admirably. Using the anchorage at Saki might have been a mistake, as the +2 modifier to readiness rolls makes getting out again hard, especially for an R4 unit.

As for the actual action on the ground…

The main drive is naturally in the west, and has been slow going, with me never gaining more than one hex per turn. Since the Soviets already have prepared defenses, and build a new strongpoint a turn, I have yet to have a combat that wasn’t against a strongpoint. For most of the time, I was shutting down the headquarters with interdiction, but near the end the other two headquarters showed up, most of the Luftwaffe left, and I’ve had had to start facing No Retreat orders too.

That said, the breakout is always tantalizingly close. The Soviet line is solid, and on the west end anchored by a minor river. The east end, at the edge of the lakes is more thinly held, and I’ve been hoping for a breakout there. I didn’t realize until now, looking over the map again, that I could attack the end of the Soviet line and not have to attack anywhere else because of an intervening lake. Despite the slow progress, I did finally get out of range of the super-heavy artillery, and just got it available again after moving it up.

Over in the east, I’ve been trying to make a go of it, pouring in an extra division, and all of the Romanians. Sadly, the results have been very costly for me, and I’ve lost the initial German division (since half-way rebuilt with replacements), and all of the small Romanian units. Since the motorized infantry takes two points to get back of the Cadre Box, they’re not coming back, and I decided to take all the Romanian replacement points as RSUs, and use them to replace losses in the 1st Mountain Brigade if needed. I’ve really tried to push on this side, hoping that the pressure would attract enough attention to cause the Soviets problems on the main front. However, I’ve moved up about two hexes and stalled, have not gotten more than one truly good combat result over there.

Here’s a look at where we had to leave off:

In all, it was good, and I think being aggressive against Soviet shipping from the beginning would be a big help (or at least slow down the initial pace of reinforcements). But I do wonder about the combat in EFS. It seems to be very hard to get over about 3-1 odds against any sort of prepared position, and that column can be very punishing with a bad roll or two. Getting better modifiers would help, but the main method for that seems to be air power, with air combat and AA fire, that can’t be counted on at the best of times.

What I’m trying to get at is, there have been combats where I have been surprised by how bad it was for me, but not really any where I was surprised by how bad it was for the defender. I really do wonder if I’m missing something, between the slog here, the slog in “Odessa”, and 0-5 record “The Tartar Ditch” has for the Germans in my experience.