Had Jason over for a FtF day on Wednesday (again, he’s more available during the week than on the weekends). He’s recently discovered OCS, and is thinking about getting into that system, so he wanted to also give the East Front System another go. This time we went with “Battle on the Sea of Azov” from Kiev to Rostov, a short one-map scenario.

I hadn’t managed to get around to going through the rules again ahead of time, but didn’t have any real problems remembering how things worked, short of a few details, which says good things for the system, since it’s been a few months.

Jason decided he wanted to take the Axis forces, so I had the Soviets, without having a look at the victory conditions…. As it turns out there are three cities the Soviet hold at the beginning, and must continue to hold, and a further list of six cities they do not control at the beginning, and they need to take three of these, putting the Soviets in an unusual position of being on the offensive in 1941. Additionally, they start with four mandated offensives, and must make all four before the game ends. Alternatively, if the Axis takes 12 step loses during the scenario they lose.

The scenario also starts on the Soviet half of the turn, so all there is to it is to make it happen. Which is harder than it looks, since the Soviets attack and then move. I was able (with the help of a HQ to activate a good infantry division) able to put together a good attack near the south bank of the Dnepr on an exposed Romanian unit. It went well, with the Romanians losing two steps out of three and additional retreating into a swamp, while I took Balki, one of my six goals. Sadly, I forgot to declare the mandated offensive, though that actually saved me a step loss.

The next turn, the Germans concentrated SW of Melitopol (one of the three cities I needed to hold), and knocked out a defending unit, while taking another loss or two themselves. I realized that I was going to have to stretch my units to the utmost to continue the offensive, defend Melitopol, and maintain a line capable of not letting him just swing around in back and cut it out of supply. However, I figured I could just continue to roll up flank on the Dnepr while doing the rest. So, another two attacks (mandated this time), using all my available armor and all the activations the two headquarters could manage. This wiped out the remnant of the first Romanian unit, and retreated (without any real damage) a German ‘specialty’ stack that had been left vulnerable.

For the third turn, the Germans pounded their way closer to Melitopol, causing more havoc to both sides, but definitely putting an end to my forward defense. I reshuffled my units, developing a good stack in Melitopol itself, but I was unable to man the strongpoint just to the east, across a stream there. Meanwhile, I continued hammering at the north/center portion of his line, and got the step count up to 10. I also realized that I had gotten my three of six locations; they’re closer than they looked.

The Germans surged forward, and attacked Melitopol from three different hexes, and rolled terrible, being forced to retreat. Additional retreat orders kept them from taking any losses, but I scattered his forces to the four winds, generating a number of units that could be picked off with a little work. It also bumped him off the strongpoint, preventing him from destroying it, and allowing me to occupy it. In my turn, I had to take a while figuring out just what I could get where (actually, that took thought each turn), and moved in for the kill.

Quite literally, as I easily got the step losses I needed to ensure victory on turn four of six in the scenario.

It’s an interesting situation, and it’s a pity we didn’t get to see the ending where large German forces suddenly come in from the north edge of the map and presumably drive all before them, with the question being, ‘can they get to any of the goals in two turns?’

I think the main thing that Jason should have done is tried to interdict the headquarters. There’s enough armor running around to be dangerous, but without infantry backup, it will be hard to get a truly good odds attack together. He felt he didn’t have the air power to spare, but I’m slowly learning that the Axis just has to shut the Soviet HQs down any time there’s a chance of offensive operations. Keep the infantry from activating, and park two hexes away from the Soviet units, and there’s not a lot to be done. This will probably involve giving up ground, including the Soviet goal hexes, but then it becomes a balancing game for the Soviets: too much down south (likely) and the last minute reinforcements will (hopefully) cut into Orekhov; keep things up north, and the original force will grind into Melitopol. It’d be nice to give it another go, which is good, because I think everything past “Battle on the Sea of Azov” is a little long for a single day.