No air allowed!
Poltava is a lesson in combined arms, recon and use of bridge units, I feel. What made this difficult was no real indication on where to deploy such bridging units, both of the locations I liked were behind swamps which slowed things down. Once I could find a suitable location and pour units through then the battle was trivial.
I did however, get blinded by the northern objectives and neglected an objective in the south. I did get to it in time though, we got a decisive victory with around 9 turns or so to spare. I brought my own AA units, so the AA objectives were even easier.
As a result of this win, we got two free 12.8cm flaks and one Wirbelwind. We didn’t get the second Wirbelwind as the battle victory conditions triggered before I could assault the last armoury. I’m okay with that though, I have far too many units and not enough deployment slots anyway. These units have taken me up to 50 units and deployment isn’t anywhere near those numbers anymore.
I switched Rudel to the FW tac-bomber for this mission, and upgraded one Tiger to a King Tiger.
A defensive scenario with counter-attacking objectives across the river to achieve a decisive victory.
I didn’t feel I had enough forces to press the attack, so I took up defensive posture first and foremost, since a victory simply needed me to hold a number of objectives. I set up some infantry, artillery and anti-air units in the area of Mogilev itself. They would rush forward/retreat back into the city alongside the river border for a defensible bottle-neck.
In the north and south crossings, I placed my King Tiger tanks alongside other armour and the pionere’s in the event that we get a breakthrough.
Initially things went well, we set up defensive formation and held our lines easily. This was great for eliminating enemy units. I was happy to stay passive here given the insane number of Soviet troops on the ground in front of me… Air was easily dealt with by AA again – I genuinely think AA pays for itself a million times over from my experiences in this campaign.
Turn 6, we got our breakthrough in the north. We swept through the northern areas and took all northern objectives. We were in the process of pincering the northern salient of Soviet troops when it became apparent we would be best off halting the attack and conserving strength.
The reason? In the south our breakthrough occurred late, at turn 11 to be exact. The south was also undermanned, which meant when we did breakthrough, we did so too slowly. We were only just securing the first southern objective when the scenario time limit was coming to an end, we didn’t even get to start the pincer attack.
In hindsight, I would have sacrificed three infantry troops in favour of armour for the southern breakthrough. I deployed three infantry in Mogilev and held three infantry in reserve just in case I needed to rotate any damaged troops out of the firing line. As it turned out, the Soviets were too chicken to attack through my artillery barrage, so these three units basically sat on the map doing nothing. Still, if I hadn’t deployed them and we had issues with damage here I would have been annoyed at myself.
Still, we won the victory, though on another day I’m positive I could have taken the decisive, but for now, it wasn’t to be. We move on to Babruysk!
My SE PzIV was upgraded to the Tiger II, I am positively swimming in prestige at the moment, but I'm trying my best not to go all super-expensive units... One StuG was upped to a JPanther. I belatedly upgraded my FW to the D model.
Another defensive scenario. For this one I had a hard time deciding on deployment areas as I wasn’t entirely sure where the attacks would be aimed at.
I knew I wanted a defensive line in the city of Babruysk itself, but I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to form defensive lines across the river next to the strongpoints, especially with the superior air being a supposed issue.
In the end, I split into three groups. A strong infantry cohort would line up in Babruysk, with one infantry dropping into the swamp to ensure we had a straighter line, but also because this area was a narrow river and I know the Soviets will risk trying to cross. Behind them, my SU-122 guns (and others artillery pieces), and behind them, my 12.8 Flack guns. One Tiger II would sit in the clear hex by the river crossing in the north to guard that approach.
In the far north, I decided I simply didn’t have enough units to form a line here. I took the briefing’s suggestion of ‘retreating’ into the forest, and deployed there instead. Three infantries backed by two artillery pieces and flanked by an Elefant. They would deploy in the town of Cyva and the forest, whilst the Elefant would aim to hit the northern clearing in case any tanks came that way.
In the south, the line was far too long to bother with and had multiple crossings. I settled an infantry unit in the town of Brozha, my SE Tiger II would guard the river crossing, behind these two would be an artillery and AA unit. Along the ‘line’ would be my heaviest tanks, Tigers, Panthers etc. No PZIV’s for this one. I also deployed one JagdPanther (upgraded from the best StuG unit I had) in order to offer some more hard punching power.
This line would meet the enemy southern incursion and/or if necessary, collapse back into the rear of Babruysk to prevent encirclement. All fighter assets were deployed, alongside Rudel in a fighter-bomber for versatility. No other bombers made the cut. I even sacrificed a recon unit (yikes) for more defensive power.
The battle itself was a nice back and forth;
There were huge amounts of Russian air units, but they were trivial for my AA to deal with. I overstrength my AA more than usual and they were easily capable of knocking out overstrength Russian bombers or fighters in one hit. If anything, I was disappointed there were only two major air attacks, a lot of the battle my fighters were sitting pretty as the AA dealt with things easily enough. More pressure might have had me wobbling a bit.
In the south we had to collapse back into a defensive formation to shield the rear of Babruysk, but eventually, with the aid of Rudel and the J-Panther we eliminated all enemy tanks in this sector. This freed up a tank to help with the north river crossing defences, and eventually freed up a tank to help flank the enemy units at Cyva.
In Cyva the poor terrain did help us eliminate the enemy with ease, however, I under-deployed here and we did get bypassed by one or two sneaky tanks. Rudel was diverted to deal with these units.
In Babyrusk, our defensive line was strong enough that we were eliminating units one by one. Grenadiers ruin tanks in city hexes it seems.
In the end, our southern units managed a breakthrough at the town of Svetloyovsk and we smashed through that area into the back of the Soviet main assault. The units from Cyva helped with a northern encirclement and within a few turns of the limit we had completed a decisive victory, only to be told that we were all for nought as the rest of the army was defeated, thus we had to retreat anyway!
The sheer number of Russian units is downright frightening at times. What sucks for me is they're always overstrengthed. Mogilev became the first scenario where I actively overstrengthed my Infantry units. So far I've only gone +2 for AA, fighters, bombers and artillery. Only Rudel gets +5. I think I will start spending some prestige on overstrengthing the rest of the AA/Arty to +5 where possible, because 13-14 strength AA was disgustingly effective in terms of point to point damage (and prestige damage.)
I'm beginning to miss my He Strat bombers... I'm also beginning to find the core slots restrictive. Babruysk was the first time I've left a recon on the bench. Fortunately, I do have spotting heroes on some of my tanks to make up for it, but it isn't quite the same.
Four more scenarios to finish off 1944 though.