Turn 4 dawns on us and we are a step closer to engaging the Soviets again. In the North, the enemy is entrenched on the Pskov-line, which runs all the way to Dvina- and Dnepr-rivers in the center. The Pripet Marshes remain a question mark, most likely empty of enemy troops. In the South, we created a small pocket, and the AI decided to sacrifice some troops to try and give us a bearhug.
How do things proceed from here?
Wide open spaces in the South
The Lvov-pocket still lives. At this point, the defenders have been reduced to two mountain divisions, one tank division, one HQ and one NKVD Security regiment.
Near Vinnitsa four divisions and a regiment are eliminated, and further six divisions and two brigades are encircled. Most of these are motorised divisions, which will hopefully yield us some trucks next turn.
Two further opportunities open up here: marching on to Kiev and marching on to Odessa. The 3rd Panzer Corps heads to Kiev, and even though it is not encircled nor does it fall, it is secured as the enemy cannot reinforce the lone airborne brigade that is garrisoning the city. Unfortunately, this means that our panzer corps will be in low supply, but as taking Kiev means crossing the Dnepr (yes, that river runs far and wide) it’s worth the cost.
As we noticed that Odessa is likewise poorly garrisoned the 14th Panzer Corps makes a mad dash towards the city, encircling it. A fortification zone and a border regiment hold the port, which is unfortunately protected by a level 4 fort. We add some artillery, pioneers and whatever we can to the units here, hoping that we can reduce the fort in turns to come.
As things work in the current version of War in the East, which is the beta update for the summer of 2020, the function of high-level forts has been changed a lot. To put it short – enemy units will stay defending the fort even if they lose the battle, if the fort is above 3.10. You need to reduce the fort to a level under 3.10, and then win a battle to drive the enemy away. This can take quite a few turns.
Preparation in the North and the Center
So far I’ve managed to save up my Admin Points, even so, one panzer corps is left without a HQ build-up. The cost is steep in points and trucks, but it should have the panzer both at Pskov and near Smolensk fully fueled up for the next two turns.
Why not just advance? Because in both locations we need to wait for infantry and railroads to catch up. It’s better to use this opportunity to wait a little bit, than to conduct an attack which allows the enemy to withdraw in good order.
Furthermore, this also means that the infantry can now do the initial attacks, leaving the panzers and motorised division to simply drive through and advance far and wide. Of course, we also move up all airbases, hoping that they remain in supply. As I am not really an expert player (despite a thousand hours in the game), I am not sure how close to HQs and railheads the airbases need to be kept. All I know is that if I keep the at the railhead, they can’t cover the battlefield.
Well, now that we’re all prepped up, let’s see what happens.
Attack on Pskov
As it turns out, the infantry wasn’t close enough to mount an attack over the river. Furthermore, the units are somewhat low on movement points. I might need to make some changes in the chain of command.
The air units on the other hand are sufficiently close to bomb the enemy units, and before the tanks spring into action, I run several bombing missions to soften up the defenders.
The LVI Panzer Corps makes the initial moves, taking the city of Pskov and driving nearby defenders away. The 41st Panzer Corps follows and widens the breach. South of this the units of the 16th army threaten the Soviet left flank.
No enemy units are encircled, but they are left with no choice but to fall back towards Leningrad and Novogrod as well as Staraya Russa. Our panzers should be fueled up next turn too, allowing for a breakthrough attack towards the Finnish border. More on that next turn.
How to march towards Smolensk
The problem with crossing rivers is that first you need to attack across them. This comes with the cost of lower attack power, as well as more movement points. River-lines are perfect for delaying the enemy, and even better as force multipliers.
Luckily, there’s the land-bridge, and area between Orsha and Vitebsk that is not protected by a river. This is where our panzers will charge through.
But first, the infantry makes its moves. Here too they are not in direct contact, which means that they can’t bring in their full power. All the same, they can still engage and cover the front, and push where they need to push. The main idea is to cross the rivers, not so much to destroy the enemy.
The results of the attacks are not overwhelming, but they are satisfactory. We are ready to cross the rivers next turn en masse with the infantry.
Panzer-strike towards Smolensk
The 229th Rifle Division that stands at the land-bridge is easily defeated by the attack of the 3rd panzer division and the 10th motorised division. The unit does not shatter but is forced to withdraw.
The gap that this leaves in the enemy frontline is big enough for all three remaining panzer corps to race through. Smolensk itself is garrisoned fairly well, and we choose not to take it via direct action. Instead, the units spread out. This will most likely lead to a full withdrawal along the entire line for the enemy.
Several airbases are overrun and considerable enemy forces are encircled. Two encirclements are created, one of which is not likely to hold.
A much less eventful situation in the South. The Soviets do manage to march some forces to defend Kiev, and even encircle the 13th Panzer division temporarily. The major effect of this is reduced fuel and supply, not so much the threat of destruction. Same happens in Odessa for the Wiking SS Motorised division.
The most interesting thing to happen here is the AI sending it’s airfields near the frontlines. We take the opportunity to bomb and overrun them, as they are without much protection. The airfield bombing at this point is useless, unless presented without a situation like this. As you might recall, all damaged airframes are destroyed when an airbase is overrun.
Our airfield bombings do not come without a cost, as we lose over a hundred airplanes whilst shooting down some 400 enemy airplanes. After overrunning the airbases the enemy loses 500 more planes, for a total of 1241 this turn.
Kiev easily falls to our attacks, though the units are too tired to move on. At Odessa, six divisions, of which two belong to a Panzer corps, are massed for an attack. After three tries, and reducing the forts to zero, we succeed. The remnants of the Lvov-pocket are likewise eliminated.