Michael Eckenfels, 1 November 2021
Random Event: Fuhrer in Obstinate Mood. No Appeal roll allowed this turn. That’s bad – we can’t even seek our usual supply supplement. We’re going to have a bad time this turn.
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Weather: If you guessed anything other than Poor, you’d be wrong. It’s Poor.
Luftwaffe and Relief Force Efforts: I rolled up the same results as last turn – Average for the Luftwaffe, Strong for the Relief Force.
German Morale remains at a high 36.
We gain 7 Initiative Points.
For the Airlift, we manage 2 whole Supply Points. Added with our existing 3, gives us a total of 5. That’s once again just treading water as Upkeep costs us all five of those. Again, that’s by my choice, not because I have to – but I have a feeling I need my units to stay strong.
Stalingrad Solitaire is published by Canvas Temple Publishing
First things first – I’m spending one of my seven IPs on an Airlift Appeal. This time our appeal falls on relatively deaf ears, and only 1 Supply gets into the Pocket. That’s not going to bode well in the future. It’s definitely not enough to do a Tactical Attack, so we may be in danger of seeing the Soviet Final Offensive start this turn.
I’ll spend 2 more IPs to flip the UA marker on the 44th Infantry Division’s Area to its Prepared side.
I’ll spend another 2 IPs to flip the UA in the Area with the 14th Panzer and 376th Infantry Divisions.
Finally, I’ll spend the last 2 IPs to flip the UA in the Area with the 24th Panzer Division.
I now have a Prepared Defense marker on top of every German Area, except for where the 29th and 3rd Panzergrenadier Divisions are located, at the southwest corner of our Pocket. I’m pretty confident these are going to help tremendously to staving off the inevitable Soviet onslaught…I hope!
One thing that might bear consequences is, I did not fly out any of our wounded (3 total Wounded Points right now). This might be a problem, but I wanted to get those defenses up ASAP.
Now, I resolve Hoth’s advance. I roll a 6 – surprising me greatly – which means Hoth advances to Box 5 of the Relief Track.
This means that, since I selected ‘Hoth A’ as my Relief Force, that I was banking on Hoth reaching the ‘A’ area on the map, south of the Pocket. Since he’s now in the ‘5’ box, I place a Soviet Army marker (doesn’t matter which, but I choose another 57th Army marker since the 57th is right there) in the space opposite the ‘A’ entry area. If Hoth advances again, he’ll move onto the map and the Soviets will be pushed back.
The goal is to get the Hoth marker adjacent to a German unit in the Pocket. Any space Hoth leaves behind is marked with a ‘Breakthrough’ counter and cannot be entered by the Soviets.
Michael’s Stalingrad Solitaire AAR has been running on Sundays
Hoth is now very near the Pocket, and is reporting they are about 15-20 km from us. Soviet resistance is reported as “sporadic,” but heavy enough to ensure Hoth has to deal with strong forces on his flanks. Still, he’s very close now. And none too soon as our supply situation is doing nothing but becoming worse!
Status of Final Offensive: I draw a card with a +2 for this, which shoots the Final Offensive marker up to the ‘9’ space on the track, well above the ‘8’ where it needs to be for the Final Offensive to take place. That’s bad news for the Germans. I guess they’re getting very worried about Hoth’s progress and, while they still have a noose around Sixth Army, want to try to smash the Pocket as soon as possible. Fortunately, the defenses I’ve laid out will help with mitigating this, but we shall see how it goes.
The attacks are brutal, generating another two Wounded, bringing our total to 5. It also trashes several prepared positions, and forces the 24th Panzer Division out of its Area (I rolled two 6’s in a row; one destroyed its Prepared Defense marker, the second forced it to retreat – which I selected to do rather than take a Depleted state for that unit).
We’ve lost two Areas, and one thing I think I was remiss in reflecting is, those are both German Areas worth 1 point towards Morale. There are a couple of Areas within German lines that are worth 3 Morale, but the two we’ve lost thus far are only worth 1 each. I did not reflect that in the Morale marker’s placement, but the difference in gameplay might not be too different. Apologies for missing that obvious point, but as of now I’ve reflected this in the Morale marker, which now sits at 35 (32 originally + 5 for Hoth = 37, minus 2 for the two lost Areas, equals 35).
Modify Strategic Situation Index: I roll a 4, -1 for the Strong Relief Force commitment level, leaving us with a 3. That’s a zero change in the SSI, so we’re still going strong there.
Hoth has advanced further, but the Soviets have captured a couple of locations around the Pocket, chasing out the 24th Panzer Division in their latest conquest. Hoth must hurry, else there won’t be much left for him to rescue!
Random Event: Milch Put in Charge of Airlift. This means 1 Supply Point is removed each turn for the rest of the game. This is a weird one, though the only thing I know about Milch is that he created efficient economies of scale in the Luftwaffe’s aircraft-building industry, so I’d always thought he had a positive impact upon that. So, I’m not sure how this has a negative impact on things, but it surely does. We’re not going to be able to keep all our units with full upkeep; things are definitely going to be interesting moving forward.
Weather: Guess what? Nope, it’s not Poor! It’s “Same!” So, yes, it’s Poor, still.
Both the Luftwaffe and Relief Force commitment levels go to Strong this turn. That +2 modifier to both die rolls from the SSI being 9-10 helps a lot; I rolled a 3 and 4, respectively.
Determine German Morale: Like I identified in the previous installment, I’m ready to ensure this correctly reflects things, though it won’t matter much at this time. With a 35 Morale, we’ll still get 7 IPs this turn, thankfully. Though, we only have 1 Supply point – hopefully I can forestall supply disaster one more turn.
Resolve Airlift: Luck is with us (or, continues to be with us!), as I roll a 6. With the Strong Luftwaffe commitment giving a +2 modifier, despite the Weather being Poor (again), we still bring in 4 Supply, giving us a total of 5. However, good old Milch being in charge means -1 Supply, so we’re back down to 4. Not good.
Conduct Unit Upkeep: That damnable Milch effect means for the first time, we’ll need units out of supply, though it won’t be many. I spend 4 Supply to keep 20 units in good standing, so that means 2 more units must suffer the consequences.
I rotate upside down (not flip over, just rotate) two units. I choose the 20th Romanian Infantry Division and the 60th Panzergrenadier Division. Both are already depleted units. I then roll to see if there are any losses – fortunately I roll a 3; a 5 or 6 means losses are taken. If that sounds like a pretty good amount of leeway, understand that there are major modifiers impacting this roll if there are a lot of units out of supply. So, neither of these units take any losses from not being in supply, but this is probably just the tip of the iceberg, to be honest.
Perform Actions, including Appeals: I’m going to do yet another Airlift Appeal. We need that supply! I spend the one IP and make a roll, which is +3 Supply, thank goodness. Note that the Milch effect only removes 1 point of Supply each turn, which I’ve already satisfied for this turn, so nothing is removed from this Appeal action. I’ve moved our Supply marker to the ‘3’ space.
I spend another 2 IPs to flip the UA marker to its Prepared side for the 297th Infantry Division, which is Depleted (it was at the start of the game); best to ensure that is protected, for sure.
I’m doing the same to two areas that were trashed by Soviet assaults last turn, on the northern edge of the pocket. That restores their defenses nicely, though we’re still missing defenses in the southwest corner of the Pocket.
I realized after the fact that 5 Wounded means -1 IP, so technically I cannot flip one area’s defense structure. So I removed the one I put over the 24th and 16th Panzer Divisions.
Hoth Relief Force Advance: I rolled a 4, which is an Advance result. Hoth’s unit moves onto the map and is now technically only two spaces away from the Pocket. I’m not worried about losing it this turn, but in future turns, I’ll need to ensure we still hold that southwest corner Area on the map – the one without the defenses built up.
We can ignore the Final Offensive card draw as well as determining where the Soviets will attack, as they attack everywhere. In addition, for the rest of the game, if I roll a 2 (No Effect) or 6 (a success), I must reroll the die and complete another attack. So, things are going to get hairy.
The worst part is we accrued many more Wounded; the marker is now up to 9. I’ll definitely need to evacuate some of them next turn, though our IP total will suffer slightly from this. That’s close to 15,000 wounded now inside the Pocket.
The Strategic Situation Index drops by 1, as I expected it to; both Luftwaffe and Relief Forces were at Strong commitment, and I only rolled a 3; 3 – 2 means 1, which is a -1. The SSI is now at an 8. Not bad, but not as good as 9 or 10.
German Collapse is checked, especially as the Final Offensive is now in effect. Morale is 35, definitely higher than 20, though we do have 9 wounded. If it were 20 or more wounded, we’d have a problem. But for now, we’re good.
One more week!
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