Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Memoir '44: Operation Barbarossa - Phase One

It's no surprise to my faithful readership that Memoir '44 is one of my favorite games... and that one of my favorite ways to play Memoir '44 is playing a chain of multiple scenarios (a "campaign"). This blog post is a battle by battle record of a Grand Campaign against my son, Braeden.

Operation: Barbarossa is actually three smaller campaigns layered together to create an epic 10-13 scenario series of battles. (If you're a fan of Memoir '44, I can't recommend the Campaign Books highly enough - this campaign is from Volume I. I wrote an extensive review of Volume II when it was released.)

The Grand Campaign is divided into two phases:
  • the first two battles of each zone (North, Center, East) are fought in the first phase (which you're reading about in this post)
  • the remaining battles of each zone are fought in the second phase (which you'll be reading about in an upcoming post)
There are also historical "what if?" events that occur and further complicate the strategic and tactical planning.The Soviet Defensive Strategy enabled Braeden to dig in with sandbags as we began to advance... but the Finns went ahead and attacked Leningrad, which reduced his reserves in the North.

Barbarossa Center: Bug River

Boardgaming echoed actual history as my Axis forces rolled out strongly in the center & right flank, over running the tank turret field bunkers and using armor to block the troop train from reinforcing the bridge over the Bug River.

It was a rout - but this is early in the campaign and the Russian winter has yet to flex its muscle.
  • Axis: 6 (including the bridge objective)
  • Allies: 0
Barbarossa Center: Pruzana

An Axis tank attack across the center of the Russian line was repulsed with heavy losses... mitigated only by a strafing run that gave broken units time to retreat. Later, though, an infantry charge across the open ground of the left flank was wildly successful, due to the slow response time dictated by the Russian commissar system.  
  • Axis: 5
  • Allies: 3

Barbarossa North: Raseiniai

At the same time (historically, if not in game time), Army Group North pushed on towards Leningrad. The battle at Raseiniai (a Russian counterattack against the relentless Axis advance) began well for the Russian cavalry, as they routed the waves of tanks plunging through the center. A delayed push on the left flank with German tanks & mechanized infantry manages to push through to the key bridge across the Dubysa River. The Axis (me) triumphed, but not without heavy losses. 
  • Axis: 7 (including the bridge objective)
  • Allies: 5
Barbarossa North: Velikaya Bridgehead

The Axis advance was nearly stopped at the Velikaya Bridgehead. Weakened German tank units were routed by Russian cavalry & armored forces on the right flank, forcing the slow movement forward of Axis reserves and a counterattack on the left flank. The Russian commander (Braeden) had horrible luck - which was the only thing that allowed my mechanized infantry to lunge into the town of Pskov on the left flank for the win (barely).
  • Axis: 6 (including the town objective)
  • Allies: 5

Barbarossa South: Brody

The largest tank battle in history (until Kursk in 1943) took place on the southern edge of Operation Barbarossa... and this time the Russians prevailed by pushing forward with their tanks. Worse yet, they managed to kill Der Panzergraf (a heroic German leader) - breaking the spirit of the Axis troops. 

Though the Allied forces managed to converge on the center of the line, the Germans were able to push the Russians out of the town of Dubno, albeit a hollow prize after the death of their beloved Panzergraf.
  • Axis: 4
  • Allies: 5
Barbarossa South: Russian Breakout

The Axis forces won an important victory in their attempt to reach the oil-rich regions of Southern Russia when they attempted to escape the oncoming onslaught. Despite an impressive display of air cover from Russian fighters, the German tanks were able to decimate the Russian forces as they attempted to push forward in the center and the right flank.
  • Axis: 6
  • Allies: 3

The campaign will continue (we've even got the next battle set up on the game table)... but the advantage now shifts to the Soviets defending their homeland. I could be in trouble.

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