With the Pskov-line crushed and the panzers fueled up with the help of HQ Buildups, the road to Leningrad looks promisingly open. From experience I know that this isn’t quite the case, as the Soviet AI will certainly fill up the area with fortifications and troops in the coming turns.
How do we proceed from here, what are the main goals, and what can it all lead to?
The attack from Pskov
Obviously, this is the origin point of our attack. Though some troops are going to head through Estonia, it will just be a handful of divisions whose mission is to convert all those hexes to friendly hands. All other units will be moving through Pskov, which is also why we are getting the railroad there converted as soon as possible.
From here there are three possible directions to attack: up towards the Estonia-Soviet border, straight towards Leningrag and Novogrod, and South of Lake Ilmen and the continuing both east and north.
The Axis forces receive orders to continue attacks along all these paths. The most powerful of our formations is naturally the 4th Panzer Army, which has the XXXI and the LVI Panzer corps assigned to it. The total units include three panzer divisions and three motorised divisions, of which one is the Totenkopf SS division.
These heavy hitters make short work of the enemy units, which so far are neither dug in or in good form. The infantry moves up and mainly drives back exhausted enemy units. There’s a bit of an issue here, however, as we now enter the swamps, rivers and forests of Leningrad area. Not only does this mean that our movement slows down, but it also increase enemy defensive power.
The strongpoints emerge
When turn seven dawns on us it’s clear that the days of quick advances are over. The panzer and motorised division that were broken down to regiments were counter-attacked and driven back from several hexes. A single unit near Novogrod is temporarily encircled.
More importantly, on several spots the Soviet units have managed to reach double digits defensive values. Though the combat is complex, these values are often a good indication of what is going to happen if you attack. If your attack value and the enemy defensive value are the same, you’re going to lose. To win a battle in WitE you generally need 2:1 odds in the final calculations. There’s a ton of different numbers and factors that go in there, but most of the time you can count on having a simple 2 to 1 CV advantage to carry on into victory.
What the above means for us, is that hasty attacks and single unit attacks are off the books against these strongpoints. More so because the enemy units are behind rivers.
What is the solution then? Rushing in more infantry. But our reserves are already tied down in other fronts. We opt for systematic advance then, and our offensive practically dies down. No more glorious drives through enemy lines, just costly attacks.
Slugging it through turn after turn
As the turns progress the promising breakthrough at Pskov, the HQ buildup and the fast drive to Novogrod become dreamlike episodes that seem like nostalgia at this point.
All our units quickly become bogged down, as even the panzer cannot manage more than a handful of deliberate attacks each turn. Even some of these fail, and from time to time we cannot exploit what success we have.
At this point the spearhead should have been strengthened, infantry divisions divided into regiments to cover the other parts of the front, and the main point of the push should have been towards the Finnish border between Ladoga and Onega.
Instead, I opt for attacks everywhere showing my true colours as an unimaginative commander.
Attrition warfare pays off sometimes
Luckily, the war isn’t only going on in Leningrad. The Soviets have been taking heavy losses along the entire front. The battles in Leningrad, though sluggish, have been quite costly in manpower for both sides, but especially for the Soviets.
As the German forces have been advancing hex by hex, they at the same time have concentrated their power at dealing with the strongest enemy concentrations. With most of these defeated, we are free to drive through the weaker forces with ease.
As you can see, the situation on turn 11 has changed a lot. Though there are a couple of strongpoints left, the Narva river-line is gone,and the same applies to the Soviet positions south of Lake Ilmen. For several turns we were able to create a bridgehead across the river, only to be thrown back by the next turn. With five division across the river, the bridgehead is solid and the enemy line breached for good.
Now the main problem will become the Volkhov-line, which needs to be flanked, as well as the defences surrounding Leningrad, which are formidable.