misterbean

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Sounds like fun. Keep us posted, please.
 

misterbean

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9zS3zrE.png


Chapter 30: Total Breakthrough.


3dEjpwf.png


It is the 21st of July, 1941. German troops have occupied Kiev. While 16. Panzer-Division and 60. Infanterie-Division (mot) hold the city and surrounding provinces, I rebase Jagdgruppe 4 and Sturzgruppe 4 to the city, where they will be closer to the front. This is not without risk. If a squadron of planes is on the ground when the enemy takes the province, they will be destroyed. However, the only forces in the general area are a couple of HQs and infantry divisions, all of whom are retreating.

More importantly, this means that Heeresgruppe Süd has taken it’s first strategic goal (remember the battle plan, take Kiev, then start marching south towards the Don basin and the rich resources found there).


JuvZhyC.png


In the north, units of the 4. Panzergruppe are close to cutting Leningrad off from the rest of the Soviet forces on the frontlines. Most of the Soviet divisions in the area are busy fighting the Fins, and should be unable to offer any substantial help to the great Russian city. Just as in real life, “divide and conquer” remains a winning tactic. Pimsk will also give me an airbase close to Leningrad and it is right next to the VP province of Novgorod. In other words, taking it is a no-brainer. At the same time, hidden underneath the division info in the left corner, another armour division is barreling full speed towards Narva, cutting the last Baltic hold-out off from the rest of the Soviet Union.


eDnUvVa.png


And this is why I keep so many divisions in the west. Not only to resist any potential British landing, but also to ward off partisans. In this case, they are doubly unfortunate, rising up in the very provinces where my infantry is stationed. Needless to say, they don’t stand a chance and will be crushed within a day.


QWZuRYo.png


Back on the Eastfront, divisions of Heeresgruppe Mitte are closing in on Smolensk, their second strategic goal in the campaign. It is here that I am beginning to have the most trouble with supplies, but the problems are starting in the south as well, where Dietrich’s 4. Panzer-Division is forced to call off the attack on Pietrykau due to a lack of fuel.


oUrbrBo.png


In other parts of the front I have less trouble. Part of the reason is that I have mostly infantry in this area, and the Romanians are putting up a good fight of their own. That is no reason to become reckless, though, and I continue to use “Support Attack” and air support whenever the situation allows it.


N5NpRe1.png


I lose a battle, but there are another 2 Soviet divisions trapped, waiting to be wiped off the map.


ckt5Bq0.png


Most of my attention is centered on this part of the front, where I have a chance to surround quite a substantial part of the enemy forces. I am pressing on all sides, and there are several possibilities for an encirclement, but, as you can see, there are quite a lot of Soviets and they are all trying to get out of the bulge in my lines.


Narva falls at the same time, leaving the road to Leningrad clear. There are only a Light Armour Division and an infantry division left in the area that has now been cut off, so occupying Estonia should be a walk in the park.


wSFFTML.png


If you want to know what is hiding in a given province that is still under the Fog Of War, send in a bomber formation. They only have to do a single run, showing you exactly what the ground defense looks like, provided you slow down time and pause the game at the right moment. Leningrad is held by a single garrison. Piece of cake!


on8gKCV.png


Further south, the corridor is now only a single province wide, desperately held open by an admittedly heroic infantry division against enormous odds. It is in situations like these, where Territorial Pride can be a valuable factor. Note that I am also bombing the province to speed up the process. Despite their best efforts, it is no longer a question IF I can trap the divisions west of Kapatkevitchy, but HOW MANY will be able to escape before I do. Even if they do escape, I am sending a double pincer from the north and the south towards Homel, a handfull of provinces further east. A couple of hours later, I will use a single infantry division to pin the Soviets in Dobryn (the province with the Heavy Armour, right next to Mazyr, it has 1 Arm, 1 Harm, 1 Inf and 1 Larm). The longer I can hold them in place, the better the odds of trapping the whole lot of them.


V3uI5mE.png


One day later. The 69th Rifle Division has managed to hold out long enough and is now scrambling to escape, while a large group of half-broken divisions take their place.


H6dz1nA.png


On the 29th, the attack on Leningrad begins. It should be easy, but the fortress and the urban terrain work against me. For now. Note the German fleet sitting in the Inner Gulf Of Finland. When I take Leningrad, the Soviet Baltic Fleet will be forced out. I could make a killing. Adding to that are the Coastal Bombardments it provokes against the defenders of Leningrad.


2AZ1fTU.png


Back to the Homyel bulge. It is usually not a good idea to attack into the swamps, and another option could have been to simply hold the line with infantry and send a larger tank formation to close the pocket faster. It might even have been better. The honest truth, however, is that I forgot all about the marshes until I was committed. At least it allows to me show you why this is usually not a good idea.

Still, I have 5 options to close the pocket. Anyone who escapes, will have to run the gauntlet of all those attacks, and will surely no longer be in any shape to continue the fight afterwards.


704OzNb.png


The garrisons I have been building are ready. Originally, some of these were destined for France, but I am going to use them all on the Eastfront. This is the supply mapmode. The yellow and red provinces are the ones that are having trouble sending supplies, either because of revolt risk or because of bad infrastructure. These are the ones where I place some of them. The others will guard occupied VP provinces, or will be spread out along the rear of my frontlines. Revolt Risk, in case you didn’t know, also hampers supply movement. This way, I can eliminate one of the primary causes. The other one will take longer to rectify, but I now have plenty of IC available, and begin improving infrastructure in more than 100 provinces at once. When finished in November, these will form level-10 corridors between Poland and the frontlines.


NRGDtqR.png


On the 2nd of August, the first pocket slams shut, trapping 4 infantry divisions and 3 HQs in Pietrykau, with more on the way from Zhytomyr, and, potentially, more being trapped west of Homyel later on.


YugraPG.png


In the far south, I am preparing to attack Odessa with the support of Romanian forces.


2Aj1BDJ.png


Smolensk falls on the same day as Leningrad, and we are now only 304 km from Moscow.


JqpNj1g.png


A massive battle ensues in the Baltic between the Soviet Red Navy and the German Kriegsmarine. The only enemy battleship is sunk and only a handful of submarine divisions escape the slaughter. The Baltic has just become an Axis lake.


MLFZkxj.png


Even though I didn’t manage to strengthen the eastern wall of my pocket in time, those Soviets that did escape might still be overrun, since they are heading for Choyniki, another province that is under attack from German troops.


But that will have to wait for next chapter. I am going to leave you with a couple of pics to show Stalin’s desperate situation.


hVBIVIO.png


In the Far East, Vladivostok has been lost to Japan, who seem to have the situation well in hand. Soviet Surrender Progress is now 60.7%.


bwYIzGk.png


For this last picture, I tag-switched to the Soviet side. On the 13th of June, they had exactly 950 brigades. I gave them 24 brigades extra the following day (the Harm divisions, remember?).

On the 3rd of August, they only have 524 brigades left.

(950+24)-524=450 brigades that have been removed from their OOB. Some of those were the original divisions, containing only 3 brigades. Some were new ones, probably containing 4 brigades.

450/3=150

450/4=112.5.

The average between those 2 numbers is 131.25.

The Axis has wiped out an average of 131 divisions since the start of the invasion, about 1 month and a half ago. That is over 5 full armies. Gone. Kaputt.

And no, I did not show you this to satisfy my own ego. Think about it. I wiped out 131 divisions. They still have over that number in the field right now.

You might be thinking that it does not matter. That only the number of VPs taken matter.
You’d be wrong.
I have never seen the German AI, as a non-player nation, win against the Soviet Union in TFH. Never.
Why? Because the AI does not encircle and overrun on purpose. It pushes the enemy back time and time again.

Against the near-inexhaustible supply of Manpower of the Soviet Union, that does not work. They can just keep building and building while the survivors slow you down. Eventually, their doctrines will catch up with yours and their numerical advantages will make it impossible to win. Your MP will be gone long before theirs. And then, they start pushing back. And they won't stop until they have reached Berlin.

On the Eastfront, success is measured by the number of divisions you destroy in, give or take, the first month of the campaign, and by the amount of MP lost against France.

Even now, the Soviet production queu contains about a dozen infantry divisions, a couple of Armour divisions and the 3 Heavy Armour divisions I added to the queu.

Morale of the story: destroy them now or end up facing over 300 divisions, and that is too much, even for Germany.


See you next time!
 
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Nicegil

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My turn to admit it publicly : when I saw your battle plan, I was quite sceptical about the possibility of succeeding in such an amount of destruction. :oops:
But Hell... 131 divisions in 6 weeks, under such conditions, I just take my hat off, MISTERbean !!! :cool:

Considering the fact that the Bear had rougly 200 divisions on the eve of 'Barbarossa', 40 of them still being probably in the Far East, you shouldn't have more than 40 Soviet divisions left facing you. Unless TFH has some events to quickly rise new ones very fast, it's game-over for Ivan. And that's how it's to be done !


One small digression about supply.
Though the Supply system in HOI3 shows some major flaws, it's however quite realistic on one aspect : as for mechanized armed forces IRL, it's strongly advised, if not mandatory, to catch a break with your tanks after each "leap" of (roughly) 400km. Each time I broke this "rule", I went into a lot of troubles... even more in southern Russia.
Of course, it just applies to major troop movements : a single division or a small corps usually don't get this kind of issues. So chasing VPs is always possible.
 

misterbean

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Yeah, I know. I had to triple check to make sure I got the numbers right. I have never had that big of a success before. Must be the good influence of my loyal readers.
As for the Red Army...

I just checked, because you made me curious.
Far East (up to Mongolia): 19 divisions (RL NAP with Japan not a factor here, so they can't SR to Moscow in my timeline).
Afghanistan: 7 divisions (plenty to eat them, unfortunately; forgot they were in the Axis. If Afghanistan falls, that would give UK a potential way of sending reinforcements into the SU, since both are fighting a common foe.)
Turkey + Persia: 9 divisions (both neutral countries, so they could come north)
North of Lake Ladogo: 10 divisions (could come south, but all are busy in Finland, so only a handful would be available).
Germany + Karelia + Hungary + Romania: 81 divisions, 10 of whom are garrisons.

If I count them correctly, the Soviet Union still has 126 divisions total, garrisons included. Add those 131 I wiped out, and you get the kind of numbers that send Halder panicking in his diary.

The above count does not include HQs.

Good info about pausing your mobile forces. Thanks!

edited to add: in the large pocket in the marshes, there are 14 divs (1 Arm, 1 Larm, 5 HQ, rest inf)

edit 2: Fins managed to take Murmansk all on their own. I'm impressed.
 
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KyrionMyrthar

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Murmansk? Color me surprised. I don't think I've ever seen them do that.

Massive kudos for the heavy destruction you've waged upon the USSR, so quickly.

Also a good tip on resting your tanks every four hundred miles. I need to force myself to do that. It becomes a problem when you want to keep pushing against the shattering Soviet forces...
 

misterbean

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Here's something to halp you in resting the panzers. When you reach an objective (Minsc, Smolensk, Moscow), you regroup the entire Army group in preparation for the next jump. That will automatically force the armour to rest while they wait for the infantry to catch up. Even with SR, they will probably need a couple of days. But Nicegil's right. I need to remember to do that more.
 

Stuyvesant

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My poor compatriots in Apeldoorn, my home town. ;) Perhaps "Let's start our enthusiastic but poorly coordinated uprising right under the nose of a full infantry division" was not the best way to go.

Anyway, on to the meat of the update: good progress, especially with that kill count. I was quite surprised, given the handful of modest encirclements you mentioned: I had expected you'd need to do Kiev-style encirclements to rack up the kind of casualty rates that the Soviets suffered facing you.
 

misterbean

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I have no evidence to support it, but I think that I was able to move on faster because the encirclements were so small, losing less time in closing the resulting pocket. That meant that I could defeat the ones who escaped before they could reinforce, and bring more firepower to bear at once, resulting in faster overruns. Again, I have no evidence to support it, but it worked:)
 

caffran

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well, well, well. I followed everything you said, built what you said, invaded USSR. result? complete and total f**k up.

Army Group north captured Leningrad, but Finland fell and they got cut off.
Army group middle got nowhere.
Army group south....lets just say Romania took more territory than me.

the US declared war on Vichy, followed two weeks later by a British invasion of Marseilles. by the time I'd SR'd first army half of France was gone.

I Para dropped on Cairo and captured Alexandria, but got no supplies.

Italy just sat there. didn't attack Greece, didn't attack in Africa, didn't help against SU, didn't even help against the British amphib in southern France.
they did NOTHING!!

I had to check to make sure they were actually at war.

Rant over.

I think I tried too big envelopments. I was running behind because I had to take out Yugoslavia and Greece on my own. Barbarossa didn't start till about 25th july so I was rushing to try and catch up.

the US declaring on Vichy was so unexpected I panicked and used case anton, which meant I had no garrisons for south france and no time to build any. like I said, the British invaded less than two weeks later.

totally baffled by Italy though. very passive. is that normal?
 

misterbean

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Just goes to show how you can do the work, and make every effort to get it right, just like you did, and then the game just throws you under a bus. I know the feeling. We've all been there.

As for Italy, as you saw, I had to call them in to the war against the Allies myself, so it must be somewhat normal. When Germany is run by the AI, and I am running another country, Italy more or less follows the RL timeline.
The US apparently became a member sooner because of the extra DoW against Greece by Germany, I suspect. Either that, or Japan had an early PH. It is standard procedure for the US to DoW Vichy, technically allowing for Operation Torch.

Sorry things got so messed up in your game.
 

Riktol

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Out of curiosity I've looked up the manpower for the German and Soviet armies at the time, here and here.
They indicate that the Soviets should have about 6.6 million men or 2200 brigades in 1941, of which I'd guess there would be 1/4 or so resting and 3/4 in the line. So I'd say that your initial offensive was against only about half the historical Soviet army strength. You talk about facing 300 divisions if you don't destroy lots initially but that only works out as about 2.7 million men, about half the historical strength of the Soviets.
The German army seemingly had around 3.8 million men, or 1250 brigades in 1941, but you didn't mention your own army size.
 

misterbean

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First, you have to remember that the game does not account for miscellaneous support staff (vets, cooks, nurses,...), only for the combat soldiers. So depending on the country that means anywhere from 25% to 50% of RL divisional strength.

The total forces of Germany consist of:

125 infantry divisions (2 inf/art/at). 25 of these are in the Low Countries and France.
52 militia divisions (4 mil). All of them in the west.
20 Arm (arm/2 mot/Spart) all in SU
14 Mot (2 mot/Spart/TD) all in SU
3 Mountain divisions (3 mot)
3 cavalry divisions (all in Poland)
32 garrisons (2 gar/2MP) all in Poland and SU.

I have a total of 1058 brigades.
My current MP: 1123
still in the queu: 12 cavalry divisions (2 cav)
 

browd

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In his pre-Barbarossa OOB summary, I counted 162 total divisions, of which 136 were on the Russian front. Assuming an average of about 9,000 men per division, that works out to just over 1.2 million men facing the Russians.

FWIW, one of the more significant changes the Black Ice mod makes is to increase manpower pools and army sizes (and correspondingly reduce the time and cost of producing brigades) to more closely match historical amounts.

EDIT: Ninja'd by the man himself, and I overlooked the militia and garrisons.
 

Nicegil

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Misterbean is right : the unit strength indicated is merely the frontline/fighting strength. It doesn't take into account the whole "tail" behind each Army or in home territory. It might differ a lot depending on the country (full motorized US Army for instance).
As a rule of thumb, you have to double your manpower In-game to get a picture of what it would look like IRL. If you check the historical OoB for 'Barbarossa' in my AAR, you come up with an Ostheer totalizing 1.6-1.8 million men, depending on what you include (reserves, allied troops) or not, i.e. half the strength it has IRL just prior June 22nd.

FYI, a few figures of the Soviet army strength, frontline units only :
June 1941 : 4.7 million
Nov. 1941 : 2.3
Dec. 1941 : 4.2
Nov. 1942 : 6.1
Jan. 1944 : 6.1
June 1944 : 6.5
Jan. 1945 : 6.0
 
Last edited:

misterbean

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Didn't the Soviets change the set-up of their tankdid divisions after '41 because the early divisions didn't have a tail that was long enough, or something? I seem to recall something like that being mentioned in Soviet Storm.
 

Markinthepast

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Italy just sat there. didn't attack Greece, didn't attack in Africa, didn't help against SU, didn't even help against the British amphib in southern France.
they did NOTHING!!


totally baffled by Italy though. very passive. is that normal?

Make sure you use allied objectives to push them in the right direction.
Italy needs some prodding to get them moving.
 

misterbean

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As Markintepast said, there are a couple of things you can do to influence them. Just remember that your allies have their own strategic AI, which calculates the odds of reaching success, so don't set an objective on impossible targets because the Italian strategic AI won't let the country commit suicide.
 

caffran

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fair enough, but British troops on their border should have prompted some response surely?
and in north Africa, they advanced to el alamein then started getting pushed back, so I Para dropped on Alexandria and grabbed Cairo to help them out. but they just stopped, turned round and went back to tobruk. leaving me to try and grab the Suez canal on my own. with no supplies.
maybe next time ill Para drop on Malta. should prove more useful yes?