Here is my final playthrough report of Sal Vasta’s Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe from GMT.
August and September 1942: The Germans quickly send their repatriated forces from the French campaign over to the eastern front. Soldiers and tanks are strapped to trains and shot off towards Poland or Hungary to try and prevent the Soviet hordes from getting much further into Eastern Europe. The western Allies reel in shock from losing France last month but they do buy back their Surprise Attack marker for 20 production points, which is a start. The BEF is pulled from Greece and docks in British-controlled Libya, waiting for the signal to invade southern Europe. Meanwhile, the Soviets are pushing masses of men and tanks west into Eastern Europe and making fast gains despite the renewed German defensive strength here. Warsaw is lost to Soviet infantry and the German infantry units in central Poland are getting surrounded by Soviet regulars. Despite the win against France, it looks like Germany is bound to lose to the Soviets and sooner rather than later.
|September 1942 – The Soviets are closing in very rapidly now.|
October 1942: The Germans continue to suffer mightily during the strategic warfare phase. It has now lost its maximum number of factories and production has basically come to a standstill. Undaunted, Germany rushes garrisons and panzers over to the west in France to halt any invasion by the Americans and British. The use of these units over on the west as a deterrence comes at a costly price in the east. The Soviets consolidate their gains and, despite the severe weather, keep pushing the Germans back and threatening their supply lines. Bomber Command hits Frankfurt and Bremen, further hurting the German war machine. It seems the end is no doubt in sight for the Germans very soon.
November 1942: Germany has consolidated its holdings in northern France now and has a pretty impressive number of units ready to repel the western faction should they go for an amphibious invasion. Over on the other side of the board, the Germans are slowly getting pushed back through Eastern Europe. They lack the production to go on any major offensives but their defenses hold fairly tightly despite losing a unit and getting pushed back a little bit here and there. Sarajevo falls to the Soviets and Yugoslavia is now liberated. Two Soviet tank units are west of Warsaw, poised to smash the Germans when better weather comes. For now, though, winter has only just begun and it looks like it will be mighty cold for everyone.
|The Soviets slowly push the Germans back in Eastern Europe.|
|Germans have some forces in France to keep the western allies at bay.|
December 1942: Disaster strikes as the Soviets begin to envelop the southern flank of the Germans in Hungary. There are just so many Soviet units now compared to German units. The +2 bonus for the Germans is no longer paying off very well as the Soviets have the production and manpower to make massed attacks and gamble on their success. For every successful defensive roll made by the German player, another one is failed. German units are getting surrounded and destroyed at a rate of one or two per turn. The severe weather is helping to delay the Soviet advance but come the spring, the Germans will be facing a completely different Soviet army from two years before. Elite shock units and tank divisions are being fielded by the Soviets at alarming speed.
January 1943: The Germans manage to make a couple of nice attacks along the eastern front, even getting close enough to threaten the supply lines of several Soviet units in Romania. The offensive gets bogged down in the poor weather, however, and the Germans find themselves with several units behind enemy lines and out of supply by the end of the Axis Operations Phase. The Soviets take the opportunity to clean them up as they pass through northern Yugoslavia and reach the Sava River southeast of Zagreb. The Allies, seeing the Soviets make rapid advances through Eastern Europe, decide to get in the game anyway they can. The Brits in North Africa make an amphibious invasion in southern Italy. It is not enough to cause any major panic for the Germans yet but it is the start of something. When the weather improves, the Allies can look more seriously into making a landing somewhere in France.
|Jan 1943: The Brits land in Italy while the Soviets make rapid gains through Yugoslavia.|
February 1943: Poor weather brings much of the central fighting to a standstill. The Germans use the cold weather to do a strategic move down to Rome to shore up defenses against the mini-British invasion. On the eastern front, a panzer unit that is surrounded near Warsaw makes a very nice breakout and in the south, the Germans are still managing to hang on to Hungary. The Soviets are pushing many many counters up north from Yugoslavia, however, and are quickly able to surround pockets of German resistance. When the frozen ground begins to thaw, it might not be so easy to hold off all those angry Russians.
March 1943: The poor weather continues throughout most of Europe. The Germans have made good efforts to stabilize their eastern front lines but for every unit that arrives, there is some kind of setback. Budapest falls this turn after a concentrated assault. The Hungarians are knocked out of the war. Not much else happens. The Germans are getting better at preserving their scarce production points for crucial movements and refuse to waste them on any foolish gambles. The Soviets, on the other hand, are learning that quantity matters only so much and that in the poor weather, even massed infantry and tank tactics have their limits against a dug-in and well-trained enemy.
April 1943: The Allies get their wish and the weather for the Mild Zone is fair this month. That means it is time for spring offensives against Germany to begin. The Germans have managed to keep their sorties down through wise conservation of production in the previous couple of turns. This month, they try some limited operations near Warsaw just to rack up the Soviet air sorties for defense rather than offense. This strategy sort of works. The Soviets make very limited gains in this part of the line (although they do manage to push a German infantry unit back west to Danzig). In the south, however, the Germans continue to take losses and the overwhelming number of Russian units pressing on this part of the line causes the major reversals. Zagreb falls and there are Soviets lined all the way up to the Italian border. Meanwhile, over in the west, the 1st Canadian and an American Task Force make an amphibious landing in and around the French port city of Brest where they quickly seize the port and follow up with the capture of Nantes. German will is down to 13 right now and it looks like the end is nigh.
|Canadians and Americans make an amphibious landing in the undefended port city of Brest.|
May 1943: The Germans try for one last vainglorious push, an offensive aimed at breaking the back of the Soviet army. Two panzer armies and three infantry units are sent into the Yugoslav/Hungarian part of the Soviet line and, thanks to German airpower, start cutting a swath through the Soviet units. By the time it is finished, no less than 4 Soviet units are destroyed, two of them elite. Three other units are reduced. The Germans use their last move to try for Zagreb and cut off the supply line for dozens of Soviet units but the attack on the city fails and the final panzer unit is now sitting out of supply, surrounded by Soviet units. To save the German line, an infantry unit from west of Budapest is brought down south to try and fill the gap left in the south. This leaves the rest of the front in a precarious position so a general withdraw happens, all the way back to Vienna in the center and just west of Danzig in the north. The Germans spend all of their production reforming the line along the eastern front. Nothing is left for defending against the invasion in the west.
During the Allied turn, the Americans and Canadians move inland from the west French coastline. The 1st Canadian armored unit destroys a German infantry unit west of Paris while the Americans liberate Cherbourg and Le Havre. The British pull their garrison from Gibralter up to fortify the port in Nantes. They have another armored unit sitting in Plymouth and send a convoy up there to bring it in next turn.
The Soviets absolutely hammer the Germans. The panzer unit sitting east of Zagreb is quickly eliminated. The Soviets push back along the entire front, using a Surprise Attack marker to make real inroads and capture Vienna. The German panzers in the north of the line are sent back too. With only 4 German will left, I really doubt the game will last beyond next turn.
|May 1943: The Soviets hammer back at the Germans.|
June 1943: The final battle is here. The Germans attempt another Bulge-like attack in the south of the east front but they do not have the airpower to sustain the offensive, which peters out early. The remaining Germans are forced to withdraw yet again and form a line in Italy in Germany. The Americans and British arrive in France with reinforcements. A British armored unit liberates Paris while the Americans try to take Calais but find it tough going against a Panzer field unit. The Soviets take Trieste and then cross over the Danube into Germany proper. A Shock unit pushes back Germans west of Vienna and Dresden is taken. The rest of the Soviet army plummets through the gap and are within 50 miles of an undefended Berlin when the Germans decide they have had enough. The Will marker has hit zero and the Germans have surrendered. Deep down in a bunker in Berlin, a gunshot rings out and the free world rejoices.
|June 1943: The British, Americans, and Canadians continue with the liberation of France|
|June 1943: The Soviets close in on an undefended Berlin. German national will reaches zero this turn.|
Conclusion: Wow, what to say… I know I got a lot of the rules wrong but I got enough right to make it fairly close to a “real” game of USE. Having finished this game after months of playing, I am both happy to move on to something new but a bit sad that the epic storyline that unfolded before me each night is now over. The Germans were probably screwed from the very early part of the game and some very bad choices about timing and field tactics ended up causing an early loss. I absolutely did not expect France to fall in ’42 like it did and I was left stunned by the consequences. It looked like the Germans finally had something go right for them in the war but it was simply too late. The Soviets were much too strong at that point and had such a decisive advantage in the field that it didn’t matter. Also, the ramping up of strategic bombing really hosed the Germans.
By the end of the game, I had heaps of eliminated German units in my eliminated box that I simply could do not get back in the game. I was unable to use my air assets and it seemed like every time I did, it just meant another 3 production down the tube for minimal gain. I notice that the most fun and the best success I had as the Germans was when I let loose and tried lots of crazy gambles – some of which suprisingly paid off. Perhaps if I had done more of that, especially during the invasion of Russia, I might have been able to get something going. If you’ve read through all four parts of my blog entry for this, thanks for staying tuned in! I have other projects on the go at the moment so I’ll be taking a bit of a break from blogging for now but I hope to be back sometime soon.