Unconditional Surrender! The Main Event – Part 1

I’ve got a campaign game of Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe going right now. This is my first attempt at the game in a long time. Before this, I had played through most of the learning scenarios a few times and I thought I had a good handle on the basic rules of combat, movement, supply, etc. I tried the campaign game after that and liked it very much, even after some pretty major mistakes that dealt with the conditional events. Several months later, I have the game back on my table and I’m ready to try again. I have likely made some mistakes again with this playthrough but I’m learning each time I play and, most importantly, enjoying myself in the process. Up ’til now, I’ve made it one year in and I’m at September 1940 so I’ll give a basic rundown of what has happened.

The game started off in September of 1939 with a variable start to the war. A 3 is rolled and the Germans have decided to go with an East First strategy. War is declared on the Soviet faction and Poland. German panzers and infantry roll east and push back the Poles. With the Polish national will on the brink of exhaustion, a good defensive roll keeps the Germans out of Krakow. It looks like the Poles might actually last the month. Some great rolls by the German player in an attack on Warsaw results in the Germans capturing the Polish capital and the Pole national will drops below zero. The country is conquered.  The German player places a Pro-Axis marker in Hungary, hoping to start drumming up allies in Eastern Europe for an eventual invasion of the Soviet Union.

Germany takes Poland by the end of September 1939.

In the Diplomatic Phase, the Germans pull a Political Failure chit and the Soviets gain a friend in Italy, placing a pro-Soviet marker on the country. The Soviets manage a Political Success on their chit pull and the Italians go over to the Soviet side. I was shocked. Did that really happen?  Did I play that right?  The Germans who had so confidently smashed the Poles to the east now had almost no units in Germany proper to face down an Italian invasion from the south.

In October, the Italians come streaming up from the south to threaten Germany. Five divisions cross the mountainous border region and the Germans throw a few divisions to keep them at bay. In the meantime,the Soviets decide to keep the Germans in Poland tied up by invading west. The Germans fall back towards Warsaw and form a defensive line. Despite the poor weather, German air support manages to hold back the Soviets.  The Germans are now facing a two-front war.  During the Diplomatic Phase, the Germans manage a Political Success and turn Hungary to a Pro-Axis ally.

Italians march north into southern Germany as Hungarians activate and rush to the rescue. (those Italians to the east should be out of Supply but oh well…)

During the winter months, the Germans manage to slowly push the Italians back south. The Hungarians have helped to reinforce the German left flank. The weather is severe for the most part, forcing units into Assaults rather than mobile attacks. Stalemate is the norm in the east against the Soviets while a grueling battle in the mountains against Italy slowly turns the tide in favor of the Germans.

By the time April finally rolls around, the Italian army is back near their border while the Soviets are getting nowhere. The weather clears up in April and the Germans finally get their full DRMs going with their planes and tanks. The Soviets get hammered and the German army nears the Soviet border but stops short of an invasion. A Diplomatic chit pull results in the Romanians siding with the Germans and their troops are placed near the Soviet border, poised for an invasion into the USSR next month.

May comes and winter’s thaw has fully receded. We get mild weather in both Cold and Mild zones. The invasion of the USSR begins and the Germans eliminate three Soviet units near the border with Eastern Poland and then send two armies deep to the Soviet rear to exploit the breakthrough. The Soviets are aghast and emergency mobilize five ground units and an air unit. The Partisans and Russian Winter markers are placed on the turn track. Despite not having enough men on the eastern front due to the battle with Italy, the Germans seem to be doing well enough for now. Just when everything sort of looks like it might be in control, the German player pulls a Political Failure out of the Diplomatic cup and the Soviets get another Political Success, swinging Yugoslavia into the war on their side.

May 1940: Italians (yellow units) are slowly pushed south towards Italy while Germany tries a mini-Barbarossa.

In June 1940, the Italians are pushed right back across their own border but Poor weather in the Warm Zone basically stops them from being routed. The Germans score some major successes in Russia. They take Brest and Lvov after eliminating three Soviet units. Four entire German armies are pressing along the northern invasion corridor, ready to push east. Down south, some nice teamwork between a German panzer and infantry army and some Romanians helps to push back the Soviet forces.

Near the end of the turn, the Soviets mobilize 9 entire armies and the odds don’t look so bad for the Russkies anymore. The Yugoslavs try a half-hearted invasion of Romania but it gets nowhere. Right now, the Romanians are threatening the German armies just south of the Italian border, which is their real contribution to the anti-German effort. By the end of the turn, the Germans have scored a diplomatic success in Bulgaria. Eastern Europe is now a big alphabet soup of mixed alliances.  Who knows what will happen next?  This is starting to look more like World War I than World War II.

In July, the Germans kept making inroads in Russia in both the north and south. The Germans rolled through Lithuania easily and Latvia got a Pro-Axis marker. Minsk and Odessa fell to the Germans, which were both huge losses for the Soviets. On the other hand, the Russians were able to mobilize four full divisions and it looks like they may be able to stop the bleeding soon. Despite losing Venice and Milan, the fighting in Italy seems to have wound down again thanks to the mountainous terrain in central Italy. The Yugoslavians are still trying to find a way into the war. One full army invaded Romania and beat back an enemy army. With the Germans, Hungarians, and Romanians set up defensively, the Yugoslavs can do little else. On the other hand, it is just one more spanner to throw in the works to slow down the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Five German armies and a fighter squadron are committed to the battle in southern Europe. These represent a massive amount of manpower that could otherwise be skating through the Soviet Union.

August rolls around and we have what will presumably be the last of the good weather so the Germans try to make it count. They go all in with the battle for Italy, taking Milan, Genoa, and Bologna with a last-ditch effort at Turin that pays off. The Italian will is broken and the country collapses. On the eastern front, the Germans make few gains, basically halting their forces to form a defensive line against the massive number of Soviets coming along. The Germans are also waiting for reinforcements to come from the Italian front.  The Romanians and Hungarians work together to keep the Yugoslavs held back to their own borders.  In the Diplomatic Phase, the Germans score a political success and turn Bulgaria to an ally. The country activates and it looks like the Yugoslavs are in real trouble now.  I will update as further events unfold.

End of August, 1940.


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