Chapter 28: Unternehmen Barbarossa.
I am going to start this chapter with a little cheat on behalf of the Soviets for two reasons. First, they nearly always have Heavy Armour in the field by now. The fact that they don’t, strikes me as odd. Secondly, this will give me a chance to highlight the power and shortcomings of Harm.
I gave them 9 divisions and edited the save file so that 6 of them will be deployed the next day. The other 3 will stay at the bottom of the queu. I will leave it to the discretion of the Stavka (Soviet High Command) where they want to send them, minimizing my ability to anticipate their arrival.
If you want to know more about cheats, the wiki is accurate in this regard.
Some of you may be wondering about the set-up of the divisions. I have given them infantry because Harm only travels at a speed of 4 anyway, and it feels like a waste to assign fast brigades, such as Mot or Mech. The divisions will have AC to increase their soft attack and (slightly) enhance their speed. They have plenty of Piercing, so they don’t need AT.
Note that they have 10 Armour, while my (German) AT only has 9 Piercing. If I meet them in combat, I will only do half damage.
My plan is basically the same one I used for Take Two. It comes in 4 phases.
Red Phase: breakthrough and total annihilation of the Soviet frontline. It is very doubtful whether this annihilation will be total, because in TFH, the AI has learned a thing or two about retreating divisions about to get stuck, but we’ll see how it goes.
Blue Phase: The Army Groups will head for Leningrad, Smolensk and Kiev, grabbing all VPs along the way.
Yellow Phase: next targets will be Archangelsk, Moscow and Rostov, along with nearby VPs.
Green Phase: Heeresgruppe Süd will attack Stalingrad, which should be enough to seal their fate. In case it doesn’t, they will head for Baku and the other VPs in the Caucasus.
Now that my Officer Ratio is back above 100%, I will transfer most of the LS back to research because I have a lot of projects I want to finish before december 1942.
Practically speaking, for the Soviets to surrender and for Bitter Peace to fire, I need 115.84 VPs (181 VPs total, Soviet NU 64% -> 181*0.64=115.84). Taking everything up to and including the line Leningrad-Moscow-Stalingrad should be enough.
First things first, however. I am going to call all my European allies to war against the UK, which will give the Allies something else to worry about than little old me.
Using the Wargoal “Drang Nach Osten”, I declare war on the Soviet Union on the 14th of June, 1941. This is not a limited war and it will call in the entire Axis, including Japan. With some luck, they might be able to grab and hold Vladivostok (a VP province on the Pacific coast).
I will keep the bombers grounded for the first couple of days, until my fighters can do some damage to the Red Air Force. After that, I should be able to bomb the Red Army with relative impunity for the time being.
Decision time. I fire the decision of “Destiny”, giving me massive bonuses until November. However, the Soviets have a couple of decisions of their own. These are:
For The Motherland
: can be fired when SU is at war with Germany, and will give 20% IC and 10% LS bonuses, and will speed up production of land units by 25% and armour by another 25%.
The second one is Great Patriotic War
. They can use this when their surrender progress is at 20%. It will give them a whopping 3500 Manpower, along with 30% Mp gain and 20% Territorial Pride. This last one means they will fight harder to protect what they consider “theirs”, and is normally reserved for the Axis. If they fire this decision and you have not destroyed a huge number of their initial forces, they can eventually swamp you with division after division, since I believe the Soviet AI is scripted to focus on Land Production when they are at war with Germany.
I also send the Baltische Flotte and two of my modern squadrons to patrol the Baltic all the way to the Finnish coast. The Soviets have a lot of submarines and they could cripple my convoys if I let them.
River Crossing, Fort Modifier and Terrain Modifier. Brzesc Litewski is a tough nut to crack, which is why I am attacking it with my infantry and not my armoured spearheads, who would have even worse modifiers.
The plan for luring out the Soviet airforce works, and my interceptors get to work, inflicting a lot of damage. For now, the skies are mine. Time to send out my own bombers.
I will focus the bombers on the armoured spearheads first. It is vital that they can break through as fast as possible. CAS will perform Ground Attacks on provinces that have enemy armour, while the Tactical Bombers will do the same thing in provinces where soft targets can be found. One Kampfgruppe will be dispatched to support the attack on Brzesc Litewski.
As always, I use Support Attack from neighbouring provinces whenever possible, but even so the Soviets are putting up quite a fight. Not surprising, really, since most of their land techs are fully up-to-date. If you want a faster breakthrough, make sure that your infantry, artillery and AT are ahead of time and fully upgraded. I didn’t, and I pay the price in lives and time. Of course, if I had done that, I would have had to pay with something else. As always, with this game, it’s all about choices.
The obsolete Soviet navy tries to put up a fight. The first real test for my cruiser squadrons. They come through as expected, sinking a CL and DD. The older CLs did get banged up, so I send the squadron to Königsberg for repairs.
Guderian’s panzers have taken Jurbakas, and I can now send the other panzerkorps to make the actual breakthrough. Always make sure you have someone to attack the province behind it, while the first group is on Attack Delay.
Heeresgruppe Süd’s panzers have trouble getting to Lubomi, but the infantry have taken a province from where they will be able to provide support, while two other divisions will keep the rest of the neighbouring Red Army units from launching a counterattack.
The attack on Bielsk Podlaski will be lost, but that’s ok. It was only started with 3 divisions to pin them in place, while the other 2 divisions support the attack on Brzesc. The Soviets will eventually try a counterattack, but that will go nowhere either, mostly because of the AT guns in my infantry divisions.
The divisions I send to Hungary earlier are making their presence known in a big way. Note that the provinces gained here go to Hungary, because that’s where the attacks originated. With a bit of luck, I might even trap a couple of Soviet divisions.
It has taken me 4 days and a half, but that damn fortress finally crumbles before the onslaught of men and bombers. What’s interesting as well, is the fact that the Soviet forces in Bielsk Podlaski are reacting to the defeat almost immediately, while my men will need another 3 days to get there. Like I said, the strategic AI did get a boost in TFH.
That was unexpected. Usually they don’t get involved until after Italy decides to gobble them up. I wonder how that will influence the balance of power in the Mediterranean.
A lot of new players get understandably overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to pay attention to at once, especially during Barbarossa. This is what I do. When a group of divisions arrives in a province, I drag one of the messages to the side and keep it there as a reminder. Keeping the game paused until after you have been able to attent to them all at your own pace, makes it a lot easier to stay sharp and to keep your army moving forward. Trust me, when I play any Paradox game during war, it almost becomes a turn-based game for the sheer amount of things I have set to pauze the game. There is nothing wrong with admitting that you can’t do it in Real-Time.
In just 6 days, this is the second time I have intercepted Soviet subs, and I don’t want to stop the transfer of supplies and fuel to Königsberg by convoys, since it is closer to the front and relieves some of my Supply Network.
After just 1 week, reinforcement needs have grown bigger than they were during the heaviest fighting in France and Belgium. As you can see, when playing as the UK, it is in your best interests to make Germany bleed for every inch of French soil they conquer. This way, they will not have enough MP to take on the Soviets.
The Stukas do a great job of weakening the Soviet divisions. Note that they have full strength, which means that they are not really in danger from the Soviet AA Brigade. I may have said it before, but AA guns are (mostly) useless bagage in the game.
I am going to end the chapter here. The Soviets are putting up one heck of a fight, but after a week, I am finally starting to make headway. See you next time!