Michael Eckenfels, 10 October 2021
We left off with the German ‘pocket’ getting severely squeezed by a Soviet assault across multiple fronts
Random Event: I draw “Poor Coordination,” which means we cannot make an Airlift roll this turn. There will be no Supply coming in this turn.
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Stalingrad Solitaire is published by Canvas Temple Publishing
December 1. Apparently, the Luftwaffe has had some problems in coordinating flights of supplies; one section thought another was to do it, while the other thought the first was to do it. By the time their staff figured things out, it was too late in the day. Talk about a ridiculous state of affairs – considering our last supply deliveries have been weak, now we get nothing.
Weather Determination: I draw another card, getting “Poor” weather. This ultimately impacts supply delivery, but seeing how THAT won’t be an issue this turn, the weather isn’t going to do much to us this turn.
Luftwaffe Commitment: I rolled a 1, but since the SSI is still a relatively robust 9, that gives a +2 modifier, making the result 3 – an Average commitment.
For the Relief Force, I rolled a 5, which is Strong (even without the modifier of +2 from SSI, which also impacts this roll).
The weather has worsened. The Luftwaffe now makes claims it was this front rolling in that impacted their efforts, but this is obviously just excuses. Fortunately, we hear nothing but good things from Army Group B and Hoth’s progress thus far, as well as their complete commitment to getting the panzers through to us!
Determine German Morale: This was 33 in the last turn – Morale includes areas occupied by the Germans on the map, as well as Hoth’s position on the Relief track. Since the Soviets did not push any Germans out of their positions in the last turn, and Hoth actually advanced to the ‘2’ space from ‘1,’ this means German Morale actually goes up by 1, to 34.
Determine Initiative Points: For every 5 Morale points, we get 1 IP. We’re not quite to 35 yet, so we get 6 IPs for turn 2, just like last turn.
Resolve Airlift: Thanks to our Random Event draw, we cannot do this.
Conduct Unit Upkeep: This is a sorry state of affairs as we have five Supply on hand. Like last turn, we’d need to spend all 5 to keep every unit strong. I don’t have much choice – I can maybe make some Appeals later and hope we can get a trickle of Supply in, but I’m not willing to purposefully weaken the German units until it’s absolutely necessary. I drop our Supply down to zero and ensure all units are properly kitted out for the turn.
The supply situation is dire – I overheard our Supply Officer giving his update and there’s barely enough food in the Pocket right now to feed everyone. We need immediate relief if we’re hoping to remain strong enough to hold the line here. I’ve started to hide a few morsels here and there, just in case…
Michael’s Stalingrad Solitaire AAR will be running on Sundays
For my first Action, I spend one IP for an Airlift Appeal. I can only conduct one Appeal per turn, so I’m hoping this will count.
I roll a 4, which means the Luftwaffe finally manages to bring in a few planeloads of supply – two whole points of it. Which is better than nothing of course, but still, this will be a very short siege if we can’t pump these rookie numbers up.
Sixth Army command has made clear to the Army Group how desperate our supply situation has become, and an emergency flight or three have been made into our airfields, here. It’s not nearly enough to keep the entire Army in fighting trim, but anything to help stave off disaster can only help our situation. I hope the Luftwaffe works out their kinks, and the weather doesn’t get worse…
Otherwise, there’s not much I can do this Phase. We have one Wounded point, which it seems a waste of IP to spend one to clear it out, as that covers up to five Wounded points. However, seeing as to how there’s nothing else I can really do that’s not going to cost us dearly in Supply, this is about the only other thing I can do. I spend another IP to get the wounded out of the pocket. Other Actions, including movement, or attacks, will cost Supply, and I’m not willing to spend it on that right now, unfortunately.
Of course, I can spend IPs on UA/Prepared Defense markers, so I’m doing that, at least. I’m going to do this to flip the two UA counters on the south edge of the Pocket.
The Luftwaffe flights that have come in bringing our meager supplies have taken wounded out of the field hospitals here, for much better care back behind the main lines. Our medical services are running like clockwork at least, even if other things are not quite where they need to be.
Resolve Hoth Relief Force Attack: I roll another 6, just like last turn, and Hoth’s relief force is on the move again, from space 2 to space 3.
What does this Relief Force marker mean exactly, you may ask? This of course represents the forces assigned by Fourth Panzer Army to attempt to link up with the Stalingrad pocket. Codenamed “Operation Winter Storm” (Unternehmen Wintergewitter), was historically a failure; the units tasked to take part originally (four Panzer, four Infantry, and three Luftwaffe Field Divisions) did not all make it for a variety of reasons. The relief force (historically) made it about halfway to the Pocket before overwhelmingly strong Soviet formations and terrible weather both teamed up to bring it to a halt.
In Stalingrad Solitaire, if the Hoth unit makes it to German lines, the game ends immediately and a victory level is determined. We’ll see how that pans out, if things get that far.
Status of Final Offensive: I draw a card and it comes up with a +2, meaning the Final Offensive takes a jump from 1 to 3 on the track. If it gets to 8, that’s when their ‘final attack’ begins.
Determine Soviet Target Areas: I draw a card and get “Any 3,” which means I get to pick three areas that are attacked by the Soviets. Naturally, I’ll choose the strongest 3, if possible. As it’s all determined by the dice, I figure the best locations to choose are those that have a Prepared Defense present, so that it can absorb the hit if any of these Soviet formations are successful. So, I choose the three along the northern perimeter.
The Soviets continue their assault, though it’s not as widespread as the last one. They may be siphoning off troops to deal with Hoth, whom has advanced even further. If the reports are accurate, he’s about halfway to the Pocket.
Meantime, the troops on the northern perimeter had to deal with assaults from the 24th and 66th Armies. Aside from the defensive structures in the sector of the 94th and 389th Infantry Divisions being smashed, no significant losses were taken, thank goodness. They will keep trying, though, until they find a weak spot…
After rolling, the SSI drops another point to 8. Did I mention if the SSI rating drops to zero, then it’s game over, man? Well, there you go.
There’s no German collapse, so we’re good there.
It’s my understanding that the efforts that Army Group B is putting into relieving us here in the Pocket, that the Soviets are making better progress against the Front as a whole. The chatter via the radio has indicated to me that the level of effort Hoth is putting in, and thereby the expenditure of fuel and ammunition, means the rest of the theater is going without. Our part, for the time being, is to hold out and occupy these Soviet armies surrounding us. If not, they’d be tasked to destroy our soldiers in the Caucasus, no doubt. Any fool can see a map, and that’s all I do, all day; it’s easy to tell that a sharp blow towards Rostov would cut off hundreds of thousands of more, there…
Random Event: Acute Petrol Shortage.
This card’s Random Event pretty much assures no more movement will be possible the rest of the game. It’s technically do-able, but will cost an arm and a leg.
Our fuel shortages continue to remain critical; they were before the encirclement, and now with but a few drops coming in, there’s not much we can do in the way of movement. An army of movement…hamstrung by the lack of fuel! It boggles the mind. And it means our hopes are even more on Hoth and his men getting through…
Weather Determination: Poor. Of course, because we’re not in the sunny Caribbean here, after all.
Luftwaffe Commitment: I rolled a 5, and with the SSI being 8, that gives us a +1 modifier, making it a 6. Luftwaffe Commitment is Strong for this turn.
Relief Force Commitment: I rolled a 6, and even without that same modifier it would be Strong. Things are looking up for relief, but the Army Group as a whole won’t be doing too well for it later.
Determine German Morale: Since Hoth made it to space 3 on the Relief Track, that’s 32 + 3, or 35. That’ll help us get an extra IP this turn.
Determine Initiative Points: A German Morale of 35 means 7 IPs this turn.
Resolve Airlift: I rolled a 3, which gets a +2 because of the Strong Luftwaffe Commitment. That makes the result 5, and nets us an extra 3 Supply Points, bringing our total to 5 Supply Points, total.
Conduct Unit Upkeep: That 5 points is good as it means I can spend it all to keep our units strong. I don’t have much choice. I COULD hold back one point, or two points, but what’s the (pun intended) point of that, to be honest? We want to hold out as long as possible, and if that means I can keep the German units strong this turn, I’ll do just that. I spend all five Supply Points to upkeep all German units this turn.
We continue to have ‘just enough’ to get by, though that means our supply system is barely keeping up with the demand. Still, it could be worse. I think HQ is going to make another Airlift appeal here soon to hopefully get ahead again on the supply situation. If only Hoth can make it here in time before we have to start rationing more…
Perform Actions: With 7 IPs, we have more we can do…but movement is going to be expensive. Fortunately, there’s really no outstanding moves I need to do right now, so that won’t be a worry. There’s no significant amount of wounded in the pocket (zero game-wise), so that can’t be done. We can, at least, perform an Appeal action; in this case, it should be another Airlift Appeal. We desperately need Supply Points.
I rolled a 4, which means they heard us and brought in another two Supply Points. Better than our current zero, but not nearly enough to make me feel anywhere near comfortable.
That leaves us with six IPs, which I will spend to build defenses. I rebuild several UAs that are already on the board, circled below:
Resolve German Attacks: We’re not that crazy. Not now, anyway. No German attacks this turn.
Resolve Hoth Relief Force Attack: I rolled a 2, which for a Strong effort means there’s no advance. But there’s no retreat, either, so that’s one way to look at things. So close, yet so far…
Status of Final Offensive Checked: I draw a card and get “+2.” Wonderful – the Final Offensive is now at a 5, and it needs to get to 8 to start. Which means, I need to consider doing a Tactical Combat to try to reduce it…but that’s going to depend on our supply situation next turn. We’re barely treading water right now, let alone able to swim for shore.
Determine Soviet Target Areas: I draw a card and get “All.” So, they’re attacking everywhere…again!
The attack doesn’t make any headway this time, either. One Prepared Position is trashed (flipped to its UA side), and we suffer three Wounded (which equates to about 4500 men), but otherwise, our positions hold.
It is VERY cold in this HQ dugout. We’re by the Gumrak airport, which has, sadly, not seen much in the way of transport lately. The Soviets launched their usual attacks, but this time all along the perimeter; every division’s HQ has reported pressure and has called for reinforcements…though there are none to be had. Although, the chief and his senior staff have been talking about getting the rear-area troops together into battlegroups to help plug any holes that form up. We need some ideas, especially as Hoth has not pushed past the Myshkova River, which is about halfway between German lines and our lines. We heard the Soviet 2nd Guards Army has entered the fray, facing Hoth, and the pressure against his relief column is building. It’s not over yet, but things are not moving towards a victory, either…
Modify Strategic Situation Index: I rolled a 6, which is great, but with a Strong commitment from both the Luftwaffe and the Relief Force, that’s a -1 modifier for each…giving me a 4. That’s no change in the SSI this turn, so the situation with the rest of Army Group South at least has not deteriorated further.
Check for German Collapse: Not a chance, at least not right now. Morale has actually increased thanks to Hoth’s advance. Hopefully he will get closer in Turn 4.
See you next week for more Stalingrad action!
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