Attendance rebounded to 17 in 2023 and saw 4 games played throughout the week
In this game Bill Moodey (European Axis) and Bruce Harper (Japan) took on Randy Scheers (European Allies) and Eric Thobaben (Pacific Allies). Pre-war games were played in both theaters.
In Gathering Storm, the Axis struggled in Europe, finally escaping into an early war with a preemptive declaration of war against the Allies after finally taking Czechoslovakia in fall 1938 and taking Danzig and the Polish corridor in Winter 1938. This implied a summer 1940 attack on Russia and early US entry into the war in Europe.
In Storm Over Asia, the story was quite different. The game ended with Japan having a dominant position in China, a strong position in Southeast Asia, and 18-step results in both naval air training and jets (as it turned out, the Japanese prototype jet never saw combat). Because of Japan’s strong position in China and an unfortunately timed random event, the Japanese aggression index was 11 at the end of the game, and the starting USJT level was 0, which meant Japan had to plan on a summer 1941 attack on the Western Allies.
1939. Germany conquered France in two turns, obtaining a +1 French surrender level, then successfully attacked in Egypt in fall 1940. Russia deliberately stayed out of the Baltic States, in order to mobilize more quickly, and Germany happily went along with the Russian plan by taking the Baltic States in fall 1940.
The Pacific was quiet.
1940. The Axis were lucky when they rolled for Spain in spring 1940, getting hex control. Vichy activation in summer 1940 led to the later unravelling of the British position in the western Mediterranean.
Germany invaded Poland in spring 1940 and attacked Russian in summer 1940. With the Baltic States already under Axis control, the German advances in northern Russia were greater than normal, but a “5” Russian winter roll helped Russia stabilize the front.
In the Pacific, Japan occupied French Indochina in late 1940 and prepared for its summer 1941 attack on the Western Allies.
1941. Germany occupied the Russian industrial center in Dnepropetrovsk and prepared for its summer offensive. Russia now made what might have been a fatal mistake – it tried to defend the entire front, rather than retreating in the north. In summer 1941, Germany was able to create several large encirclements, and Russia never really recovered from the resulting losses. The ensuing Russian retreat was one turn too late. A “6” Russian winter roll only slowed the German advance, and by the end of the year the Germans had captured Kuybyshev and Stalingrad and the Russian resistance level was negative, reducing Russia’s forces.
Elsewhere, fighting raged in the Middle East and the Western Allies broke the Axis siege of Gibraltar, but at the cost of heavy naval losses.
Japan attacked the Western Allies as planned, catching one American carrier in Pearl Harbor. By the end of the year, Japan had conquered Southeast Asia and had landed in New Caledonia.
1942. Germany continued to advance in Russia, threatening the Russian industrial centers in the Urals and advancing into the Caucasus, in order to knock Russia out of the war by capturing its oil supplies.
The Axis consolidated its position in the western Mediterranean by capturing Gibraltar in spring 1942, while in the Middle East the Western Allies slowly advanced towards Egypt, reaching the Mediterranean coast by the end of the year.
Both sides prepared for a 1943 Western Allied invasion of France, with the U.S. taking the extreme step of shutting down the Pacific theater in order to transfer its carrier fleet to Europe.
Japan attacked Russia in summer 1942, taking Vladivostok, and took advantage of the U.S. giving Europe priority by consolidating its position in the south Pacific. Japan repeatedly raided several American island groups, both to increase the Japanese resistance level and to inflict naval losses on the U.S. This strategy was successful, although Japan also incurred naval losses.
1943. The Western Allies invaded France in spring 1943, and slowly expanded their position in western France. By the end of the year, the Western Allies had taken the western coast of France, eliminating an important German submarine warfare modifier, but Paris remained in German hands.
The Axis were successful in advancing in the Middle East, as the formidable Western Allied forces had been depleted by losses and redeployments to Britain. By this point, this was clearly a secondary front.
Russia continued to struggle, juggling oil shortages, economic pressures, and gradual German advances in the Caucasus.
Once the American carriers returned to the Pacific, the US began to recapture the island groups it had lost to Japan. There was one naval battle, in which a lone Japanese task force sank an American carrier, before withdrawing to bring the good news back to the Emperor.
1944. In spring 1944, Turkey entered the war as a German ally, and in summer 1944 Germany tried a risky 1:1 attack in the Urals. Failure wouldn’t have significantly changed the position, but success would lead to the German capture of two more Russian industrial centers, which would collapse Russia’s fragile position completely.
The attack did in fact succeed, and with Russia effectively out of the war, Turkey assisting the Italian advance in the Middle East, the slow Western Allied progress in France, and the Japanese resistance level too high for the Allies to overcome, the Allies sued for peace, conceding an Axis victory.
Everyone involved thought the game was fascinating, with almost every hex in both theaters seeing action one way or the other. Both sides were confronted with novel challenges and presented with unusual opportunities, and there was never a dull moment in the game, from start to finish.
European Axis. Elihu Feustal, European Allies. Mike Crowe, Japan. Dave Casper, Pacific Allies. Dave Hanson.M/p>
Prequel Games of Gathering Storm and Storm Over Asia.
This game was played between Dave Casper, Mike Crowe, Elihu Feustel and Dave Hanson. A game of Gathering Storm/Storm Over Asia was played before the convention with Dave Casper and Elihu as the Allies, and Dave Hanson as the Axis. Mike joined Dave Hanson near the end of that game, which saw war break out between Italy and the Western Allies, with Germany neutral, at the end of 1939.
The first year of A World at War was played using Warplanner. At that point, approximately a week before the WBC, when several adjustments intended to improve the balance of the position proved unsuccessful, the players agreed that the game should be abandoned and restarted. As there was no time or interest to replay the pre-war games, we adopted the starting position of the Harper/Moodey/Scheer/Thobaben game, and the sides were reversed (Elihu and Dave Casper would play the European Axis and Japan, respectively, and Mike and Dave Hanson would play the European and Pacific Allies, respectively).
A World at War began on Saturday evening, with the Spring 1939 turn and the Hitler-Stalin Pact in force. Germany attempted Anschluss with Austria but achieved only Association. Germany attacked west to occupy the Low Countries. Meanwhile Russia occupied the Baltic States. But—in what may have been the critical decision that ultimately cost him power--Stalin elected to avoid starting a border war with Poland to gain the Eastern half of that country. Germany conquered France in three turns: no great drawback, as Britain and France never cooperated, and Germany achieved a positive FSL. Elsewhere in 1939 Germany occupied Denmark and Norway, and the Axis exploited Allied missteps to punch open the Commonwealth defense of Egypt. Higher than usual USAT and USJT, plus critical random rolls yielded two U.S. mobilizations in 1939 (and five more in 1940!). In Winter 1939, the Axis gained hex control of Poland, thereby gaining a critical forward position. It also achieved association of Yugoslavia, activation of Hungary, and an economic interest in Rumania.
Spring 1940 Axis Diplomacy yielded a Vichy French slant toward Berlin, and Axis forces redeployed into Northwest Africa to threaten Gibraltar. The Axis also conquered a weakly defended and unsupplied Malta. Britain responded by moving into Syria and occupying Beirut, to inhibit Axis reinforcement of the Vichy force in Damascus. Unfortunately Britain lacked force sufficient to (1) defend England and Egypt while (2) supplying Gibraltar and (3) conquering Syria, let alone (4) liberating Ethiopia or (5) reinforcing India. With the Mediterranean Fleet forced to evacuate Port Said to avoid Axis AAF, Italy managed to land more units on the Syria beach.
Meanwhile Russia hoped to prevent Polish activation. Hope is not a plan. Germany rolled for Poland in Summer 1940 and gained full activation. German forces were near maximum, although short at least the Austria 4o6 plus some AAF heading toward Gibraltar. The Great General Staff identified a hole in Russian defenses along the Dnieper River, which thanks to Polish alliance it could reach. Summer attack and exploitation across Ukraine placed German armor adjacent to undefended Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov ICs. Short of units and with Smolensk almost surrounded Russia elected to declare Smolensk an Open City—perhaps not then realizing that doing so forfeited a DP and resistance strength. The Fall turn saw Germany finish Anschluss (diplomatically), occupy Smolensk and the ICs, and conduct only an East Front attrition in Russia. The Axis otherwise kept busy crossing the Nile River. Germany mounted a winter attack to capture Leningrad in a mild, Level-1 winter. Otherwise, 1940 ended with Russia holding the usual Lake Onega-Rostov line, and the British Middle East position collapsing.
In the Far East the U.S. attempted to embargo oil against Japan. But Japan gained three extra counters for Spring and Summer 1941 from the Dutch Indies, thanks to diplomatic success in Storm Over Asia.
With the early Mediterranean and Russian offensives, USAT shot upward. The U.S. declared war on Germany in Spring 1941—thereby getting Admiral Donitz’s “happy time” out of the way while Germany had only three submarines with which to attack it. Growing U.S. naval construction and research power began in earnest to counter Germany’s growing submarine threat. The Allies vowed to deal with “Germany First” and sent as many U.S. ground and air unit to Britain as they could. Axis LBA over Gibraltar consisted mainly of Vichy French AAF and Italian NAS this turn. So the Royal Navy rammed a supply run into Gibraltar, for the last time. The Allies committed the bulk of their arriving US forces to Europe. These posed a serious threat to return to the continent in Summer 1942. The Axis saw that turn as their last opportunity to impose a significant surrender on Russia before large German forces had to be diverted west. Unfortunately the Allies forget to roll for Spain before the Axis captured Alexandria. The U.S. offset their turn’s 50 BRP growth by spending to improve Persian railways and build the Al-Can Highway.
In Summer 1941 Germany struck Russia as hard as it could. Able to defend only part of its long front, Russia had to pick its poison. To hold its oil centers and deny them to the rusting and gear-grinding Germans, Russia fell backwards to the Rostov-Don-Stalingrad defense line with almost its entire army. Russia abandoned the North to point defense of ICs. Germany captured Moscow and Gorki but could not (at that time) breach the Don Line. But in Fall the Germans mounted a 1:1 attack on Rostov and won it, exploiting one hex across the river to destroy the 3o5 anchoring the second line.
Meanwhile, in the Far East, Japan found itself jammed against the soaring USJT table and declared war. Japan had produced Magic cards each year and managed to draw a strategic card. That draw offset the U.S. strategic card that would have (1) boosted Pearl Harbor surprise to level 38-39 and (2) kept a carrier TF out of Pearl Harbor. Over two strikes Japan destroyed CV3 USS Enterprise, BB3 Oklahoma, a CA2 and two DD, three AAF, three NAS, and three oil counters. An additional pair of BB3s suffered damage. The U.S. consider this 42-BRP attack result to be an Allied victory. A US carrier TF intercepted Kido Butai—worse for them, as the surprise roll was “1” and all three of its attacking NAS fell to Japanese CAP and air defense. Round the map Japanese forces landed on vacant Wake, Tarawa, Guadalcanal, Lae, southern New Britain, and the Malaya beach, and attacked Brunei, Rabaul, Lingayen, Malaya and Rangoon. Exploiting armor units captured Singapore but a last British 1x2 moved into Kuala Lumpur (and Japan only attacked it three turns later!). Japan does not attack any of the DEI cities. Short of transport capability the U.S. elect to place all defensive infantry and air units in New Caledonia and New Hebrides.
Allies did next to nothing in either Europe or Pacific theaters during the summer turn. Russia retreated.
For Fall Japan took an offensive in SEA, scooping up the DEI and Manila and occupying vacant Midway Island with the 1x2 from Wake. An IJN BB4/CV3/CA2 force and Italian BB3s raided the Indian Ocean SW box, sinking three transports. Japanese units cut across the jungle-mountain hexes in Burma.
Britain resisted U.S. pressure for a risky Sledgehammer invasion of France. During their Fall turn the U.S. reinvaded and liberated Midway, using marines and several of those BB3s from Pearl Harbor that Kido Butai left unhurt. Having previously sent their available AAF to Europe the U.S. lacked Australia-based air cover for supply line to Port Moresby, which starved. The U.S. supplied islands in the eastern Solomons. Land based air in New Hebrides and New Caledonia drew a hard line across the South Pacific against any further Japanese advance. U.S. TFs base in Pago.
The Russian winter in 1941 proves to be a “6”. No further German attacks are possible. But the German Army defends east of Gorky and against Stalingrad, so General Winter’s intervention comes far too late to aid. Germany will grow substantially in the Year Start. Siberian Winter likewise shuts down Japan.
During its Winter 1941 turn Japan spends most of its remaining BRPs for another drive against India. With regret, the U.S. transfer to the Atlantic all their BB3s and destroyers, and about half their cruisers. These TFs will pose invasion threat against France in Spring 1942, and possibly aid a last supply attempt for Gibraltar. U.S. remain on defense in the Pacific in 1942.
The WA dodge a terrible blow in Spring 1942, as an Axis attempt to diplomatically activate Turkey fails. Germany deploys multiple armor and air units to France against a threatened Operation Roundup. Axis units occupy the Levant. Axis LBA and Italian ships carry invading infantry to capture Gibraltar. Italy continues its destroyer and cruiser construction, a constant in this game.
The Japanese invade Adak with a DD and 1x2. With only Flying Tigers and the weakened Indian Army to oppose them, the IJA keep pressing into eastern India. Japan attempts another IO Box raid but is caught by some British CA2s. The CA2s die but save the transports. In 1942 Japan at last begins laying down more aircraft carriers and other ships, which it had not previously done. Meanwhile U.S. shipyards expand to 13 and 9, respectively, starting and accelerating multiple ships every turn. Japan finds itself stretched thin. It must commit strong ground forces to China (many of which become Wang Chinese as the Japanese pull out), then India, and finally Siberian Russia. Most Japanese defenders in the South Pacific are 1- and 2-factor infantry. Japan begins to fortify the central islands of its intended perimeter, starting with Wake. Eventually they will build forts in Tarawa, Kwajalein, and Port Moresby, and Solomon Island beach defenses. But no forts appear at Lae or New Britain. Japan depends upon strong ground, naval and air units to hold those vital hexes.
.Heavy German stacks in the now-partly-fortified French beaches plus rear areas behind them dissuaded the Allies from attempting a 2:1 landing in Spring. The engorged U.S. Atlantic Fleet hung around the Atlantic U.S. box in hopes that a summer attack on France would become possible. It’s also potentially needed to face any Kriegsmarine/Regia Marina threat. Stasis in the Pacific thus continued for another couple of turns. The U.S. did counterair Japanese LBA in Guadalcanal and then sneaked a 2x3 into St. Cruz to stake claim on that vital hex. U.S. sent their Pearl Harbor marines and some ships to kick the Japanese out of the Aleutians. “And STAY out!”
With Russian Resistance about to drop to 0 in Summer 1942, and U.S. BRPs flowing into Siberia, Japan declared war on Russia and occupies underdefended Vladivostok. Japan launched offensives on all three fronts. Russia had thought three infantry factors defended Vladivostok, but in a typical Communist fraud the Red Army deployed only one. Japanese armor killed some infantry in Mongolia. In Southeast Asia another carrier force supported a Japanese attack on Dacca and Colombo, and a BB4 and CV3 raid again. The Imperial Army entered Port Moresby by attack across the Owen Stanley Range. The Navy attempted to kick the U.S. out of St. Cruz “on the cheap”. Knowing that perhaps half of the Japanese carriers were in the Indian Ocean, the U.S. Navy committed all available strength to support the island. Battle of the Coral Sea erupted. As the script requires: Japan sank CV3 USS Lexington while U.S. attacks damaged IJN CV3 Shokaku and shredded some of the Japanese elite NAS. Each side lost some light ships. But the U.S. repulsed the invasion of St. Cruz, retaining their foothold in the Solomons (blocking Japanese resistance point for eight island groups). Ironically: Japan cut into its own ability to deploy LBA in this fight: it parked its experimental jet in Guadalcanal—and the jet could not reach St. Cruz.
In Summer the Germans captured both Stalingrad and Kuybyshev and pushed forward toward the Caspian and Caucasus. Much of the available force was now Vlasov units and mixed Axis infantry, aided by a few German 4o6s and perhaps ten AAF. The bulk of the Wehrmacht remains in France for now.
Russia withdrew from the compromised Don line to the Caucasus Mountains. Britain sends a huge killer TF to South Africa to deter IO raiders. The WA considered the vacancy of Singapore and weak defense of Rangoon. A small U.S. TF (containing DDs) transferred to the India box. Britain advanced units from Iraq into the Levant, recapturing Damascus and Jerusalem. Russian resistance ended the Summer 1942 turn at -3. Russia loses 60 BRPs of incoming reinforcements and its IC growth terminates. In Fall the Allied threat to France diminished and German armor and air units returned to Russia.
The U.S. assured supply to St. Cruz. About half of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet transferred westward. The U.S. assigned another small TF to the India box. Allied ground units poured into Iraq to hold control of oil.
All parties took a breather in the Winter 1942 turn. German oil reserve ran uncomfortably low (the record does not show the actual level; going by memory it was something like five counters). The Allies launch their first bombing raid on Germany. Two separate raids cost Germany 27 BRPs, a nasty surprise that damages an oil plant. The U.S. deliberately cut back on builds—even the Navy--so they can save 400 BRPs and grow 200 for 1943 (doubling 1942’s growth). Weather in Russia largely prevents serious Axis operations. Newly launched battleships, cruisers, destroyers and carriers of all sizes begin flowing into the Pacific theater. Britain also begins to receive new ships. Thanks to abundant U.S. aid Britain will end 1942 flush with BRPs and will grow its base by 29, to 159 BRPs. Germany and Russia also grow nicely.
Germany again called Turkey in Spring 1943 Diplomacy. This time Turkey granted hex control. The pair of 2o6s entered eastern Turkey from Syria. With its oil running dangerously thin Germany conducted no offensives. Germany produced an oil plant. Germany spent 110 BRPs for 55 BRPs worth of builds (doubling all build prices to save oil counters). Italy also pays double for its own naval spending. Japan also lay doggo, attritioning everywhere and waiting for the Allies to come to it. Japanese staff officers did identify Imperial vulnerabilities in the Bay of Bengal. IGHQ deployed infantry to defend Singapore and Rangoon against a (very real) threat of U.S. operations out of India. Rangoon gained a fort this turn.
The U.S. continued to bulk up their fleets and air forces and added three more 5o6s to the active-duty ground forces. The sole Allied power that attempted any offensive in Spring is—China. China essayed a 1:1 attack to crack the line of single Japanese three-factor units holding back the Chinese tide. China rolls a “2” on the attack and relapses into attritions and somnolence for the rest of the game.
British 2o5s from Iraq entered northwest Persia to hinder German movements and protect the Russian southern flank. Threatened by Axis units that may enter the Caucasus through Turkey, Russia withdrew from the western Caucasus and the Black Sea coast. Russian defenses in the Urals mountains hardened against German/Vlasov forces east of the Volga. The U.S. built a port in St. Cruz and stocked that island with lots of air power and two full TFs. More AAF redeployed to Australia box.
Summer 1943 marked the fourth year of attacks against Russia. Germany advanced to capture Grozny and Maikop, and pushed southward through the Caucasus mountains. Axis forces attritioned on both active fronts. With Russian oil in hand Germany reverted to regular build costs. Germany launched its longed-for pair of BB5s, Friedrich der Grosse and Gross Deutschland. Germany ceased production of AAF (it had reached 38). Instead, with a wary eye on the U.S. bombers and interceptors, Germany added five interceptors. Italy continued with building ships at double cost.
Japan lost six BRPs to the various Nationalist Chinese, Communist Chinese, and Russian partisans. Japan launched a CV3 and three CVL2s and builds an ASW counter. Japan pulled its LBA back from Guadalcanal and declined to supply that island.
Britain and the U.S. pull the trigger on Operation Overlord. Britain’s TFs from South Africa and Britain concentrate with the U.S. TFs from North America. They carry multiple 5o6s, 3x4s and special units to land in Brittany, against two 3x3s on a fortified beach. Although the WA had not yet won air supremacy their AAF could exercise local superiority. They suppressed all Axis AAF within reach. The Kriegsmarine and Regia Marina sortied, surface ships and submarines alike. A vast naval Battle of the Channel ended in multiple sunk CA2s and damaged British BBs, mostly the new heavies—but to German dismay the Allies sink Friedrich der Grosse and at least one BC3 as well as other German ships. Gross Deutschland just barely avoids suffering disabling damage. The Allies lost several destroyers but got ashore. They isolated Brest; the Rennes beach was flanked and U.S. armor ZOC prevented its fortification. For good measure the U.S. bombed Germany for 10 BRPs of damage. The U.S. launched as many DDs as were lost and laid down as many more; they also launched two new BB5s of their own and many more ships (spending a game-high 96 BRPs on ships alone).
Russia produces an IC in the Urals to expand oil production, as oil effects threaten to force the Russian resistance level below -3. Russia and all three Axis powers had gone completely defensive, spending nothing on offense at all. The weigh of offensive initiative shifted firmly to the Americans and British. Left no invasion opening in the Bay of Bengal the U.S. TF in the India box changed base to the Australia box for further South Sea duty.
Axis powers all attritioned round the maps, making no progress. They rebuilt their ground and air losses and repaired some damaged ships. Japan launched new ships. Japan concentrated the Combined Fleet in Truk, pulling its forward TFs back from Rabaul.
For Fall 1943 the U.S. called Spain, to no effect. The U.S. and Britain each made two offensives. They attacked in France: suppressing Axis AAF, clearing out Brest and taking St. Nazaire. They also bombed Germany, to keep killing German interceptors and AAF. Of greater moment, the U.S. Navy at last had its Pacific Fleet concentrated as a single armored fist in range of the belly of the Japanese perimeter. U.S. AAF counteraired Japanese AAF in Lae. All U.S. carriers (@36 deck factors) suppressed the Japanese LBA in Rabaul. The Navy carried two U.S. 3x2s, a 2x2 and 1x2, escorted by BB3 bombardment task forces and CVEs, to invade unfortified Lae. A Japanese 2x2 and 1x2 defend Lae. US AAF flying from York Peninsula covered this mission. The IJN elected to not sortie, and the attack goes through cleanly.
Britain also conducted an offensive in the Mediterranean theater in Iraq/Persia, to stymie Italo-German ground advances.
Germany expected to attrition the Allies out of Brittany in Winter. But the Allies revealed assiduous preparation for Winter, up to level 4: one prep result per year from 1940 onward. Germany cannot get more than 20 factors adjacent to the bridgehead, so no possibility exists of taking the hex.
Japan, in some desperation, sortied the IJN’s old and new carriers to strike Allied AAF in Lae and Australia. They roll well and suppress the AAF. Successful, the IJN goes home. The only ships remaining available for duty were a BC2, DD and two CA2s launched in Yokohama in Fall and sitting in Tokyo Bay. So the IJN escorted sea supply to Rabaul from Japan. The U.S. could send a TF from St. Cruz. They play a strategic card to increase interception dice. But (as happened *every* U.S. strategic card play this game) Japan played a strategic card to offset. To gain an extra interception die the U.S. elected to send nine factors of light ships rather than a full heavy TF. As it happened, the U.S. rolled well enough to have sent the full TF (including carriers and a fast BB). Japan would have won the fight had it included in the supply escort the CVL2 that launched in Fall. It instead sent only surface ships. Each side also sent a submarine. Result of these choices produced perhaps the most interesting small naval battle of the game. Round one rolls favored Japan: The BC2 put a U.S. CA2 out of action, and the Japanese lights sank another. The U.S. lights returned the favor by sinking one of the pair of Japanese CA2s (and damaging the second; if I recall correctly the lone DD was screened). The Japanese submarine damaged the third U.S. CA2 while—critically--the U.S. submarine damaged Japan’s BC2. With only a single DD active to face three U.S. DDs enjoying +2 NNDRM advantage, the Japanese DD fled and abandoned the supply effort. Rabaul will lie open to U.S. invasion in Winter 1943. The U.S. commence launching another couple of TFs’ worth of ships and repairing British battleships.
But the Allied Winter blow never falls. The game ends on Saturday afternoon, the Axis having finished their Winter 1943 turn and the Allies not yet begun. Consensus: European Axis held a winning position. Even strong as they were the Allies simply could not wade from Brittany through a France full of the Wehrmacht. Japan faced severe challenges due to accelerated US entry and the attack on Russia. Japan was likely to survive into 1945, although we may debate how long. With Lae and Rabaul in hand the U.S. would be able to land in the Philippines and Marianas by Spring 1944.
The U.S. were on track to generate atomic bombs, possibly as early as 1944, and assuredly by 1945. U.S. surely would gain island bases within bombing range of Japan. That Japanese Jet would have to stay home. Interestingly, the U.S. and Britain also had Jet fighters to deploy against the Germans—who had rockets. Any Bomb would also be deployable against Germany. But even atomic weapons probably could not overcome German DP resistance strength, and strategic depth gained from Russia.
An excellent game, and a good time was had by all.
Classic AWAW. Axis: Germany: James Sparks, Japan: Brad Miller Allies: WA Europe & Russia: Jonathan Nuwesra, WA Pacific: Phil Lahue
Initial Allied Strategy Overall 3 of us (Brad, Jonathan, and Phil) are relatively new players. The goal of the allies was to contain the Axis from gaining too much ground too early. We knew that Jim was an experienced player and that it would be tough to contain Germany. As such we were ultra conservative. The allied strategy for Research was to keep it simple and try and nullify the Axis sub warfare as soon as possible. Additionally, we wanted to up our CTL, NAT rates, and DRMs.
Euro Axis Initial Axis Strategy:The goal of the Axis was to research air nationality drm, production of Italian armor and Germany 3x3 infantry. Later in the war Germany would focus on heavy armor production. Germany would work on a normal sub war getting 1 maybe two results for air range and torpedoes. Germany also research Vlasov production and winter preps. My focus on the board was to minimize losses, hold the line in North Africa, and push hard in Russia.
Allies: The pre-war research was based around the general categories and air range to meet out anti-sub goals.
This year went as expected. It was fairly quiet in the Pacific and Poland fell as expected. Research was normal and we went into the 40’ YSS pretty much as a normal classic game.
Russia took the Baltic states and had to fight for the Finnish border hexes, which they took.
Allies: We kept up with our anti-sub goals by working on ASW and air range. Additionally, we were worried about a German invasion of Britain so we built beach defenses on 4 hexes. This was part of our conservative status. They could have been better used maybe in North Africa, but hindsight doesn’t come into play here .
Again, there were no surprises in 1940. The Germans took France, the low countries, and Norway in two turns and basically left Britain alone in the fight against Germany. Italy did not enter the war until late which allowed them to prepare for warfare in North Africa. Germany did do some air war against England, but mostly was interested in taking some of the Balkans and getting ready for war against Russia.
Russia pushed for the Bessarabia hexes and again had to fight a war to get them.
The sub warfare has started to bite hard against us, but this is expected once the Germans get the French ports.
Research in 41’ was again toward anti-sub warfare. Possibly we should have built a fortification for NA, but again, no hindsight. We could have used some additional units built. Overall, NA didn’t have enough troops for what happened during the year. 1941 as expected, was the big year. Germany was successful in bringing Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria into the fold. Additionally, he attacked and took Yugoslavia. He tried, unsuccessfully to use Diplomacy against Greece, but attacked and took that late in the year.
The game was delayed as the WA/Russian player, Jonathan, was no due to arrive until noon on Monday so we delayed the start of Barbarossa until he got there. Even with a good line Germany quickly wiped away the Russian resistance. By the end of the year Russia was having a tough time holding the line.
In NA Italy got lucky in a 1:1 roll a broke the British line (which wasn’t strong or deep enough). This would prove bad for 1942.
The war in the Pacific got started well. Japan took 8 island groups and was able to do extensive damage at Pearl Harbor. All of this was expected but hurt.
1942 saw us continue our anti-sub research, but also builds for ASW’s, marines, planes, and troops.
Germany got lucky and knocked our transports in the Atlantic down to 3 a couple of times so we had little to give to Russia in this year. By the end of the year, we were back up, but this hurt our war effort.
In Russia, Germany presented a lightening war that pushed them back to the Urals. The Murmansk convoy route was out of the question at this point and Russia was hurting for points. To make things worse, they lost 125 factors due to Russian resistance that sealed their fate.
In the middle east Germany/Italy were successful in pushing the WA out and taking the oil fields. This ensured that Germany would not run out of oil in this game.
Overall, by the end of the year Germany had brought Vichy in as an ally and tried to get Spain but was able to get troops to go to the Eastern front and get economic control. Germany was sitting fat with BRPs and Oil and had no opponents that could challenge them in 1942 or 1943 in Europe.
In the Pacific, the US started to push on the Japanese, but this was a slow go. They raided a few times but were mainly getting their ships/troops in position. They were able to take part of the Solomons back to cut the Japanese down to 7 island groups held.
It was at the end of the day that Jim came down sick and had to leave the game (left it for good as we would find out).
By this time, it was obvious that the Axis had a victory (and I expect a decisive victory) at this point. We agreed that the game/victory would seed to Jim/Brad.
1943We sunsetted the European game at this point and Brad and I played on in the Pacific to gain some additional experience with raiding, air combat, and naval combat. We did all 3 during the year. The US came out ahead in the raiding and was able to take out ships and transports from Japan. Japan tried an overland attack from Lae to Port Moresby, but the Air combat proved to be an Allied victory and his attack was called off.
The allies then invaded Lae in Fall 43’. We had a large naval battle that in the end favored the US. Japan pulled back and the invasion of Lae was successful.
While this was the beginning of the end of the Japanese empire, it would be a slower battle and would not outweigh the German victory in Europe.
This was a classic game, without Gathering Storm or Storm Over Asia being played.
The Pacific theater unfolded in a fairly historical way, with Japan surviving until the end of 1945. The report will therefore focus on the European theater, mainly from the Axis point of view, with brief references to the Pacific campaign.
Axis strategy: The Axis strategy was primarily going to be centered on a Russia-heavy strategy, but the Axis wanted some flexibility if an opportunity presented itself to push hard against the Western Allies (WA) early – Sea Lion or an invasion of Spain. the Axis did lay down two more German DDs to support a Sea Lion if the opportunity presented itself. For the Axis research investments, the focus was primarily on air, with the hope of keeping pace with the WA with a Naval Nationality DRM and air range result.
Allied strategy: The WA planned to play safe, focusing on discouraging a Sea Lion and protecting Egypt. The goal was to be able to invade France in 1943, although it turned out the invasion had to be postponed until Spring 1944. In the Pacific, the goal was to defend the Bismarck barrier and India. The WA research was aimed at increasing the modifiers for the Battle of the Atlantic and obtaining atomic bombs by late 1945. Ultimately, the WA had two atomic bombs available for use in Winter 1945, but this was too late to prevent an Axis victory.
The Fall 1939 conquest of Poland was uneventful, and there was no activity by the Axis in Winter 39. Russia bullied the Finns out of their border hexes.
In Spring 1940 Italy declared war against the WA, in order to try to take Tunisia prior to the French surrender. The French defense presented an opportunity to go into southern France, and the Germans were successful in taking Lyon. This placed armor in the south and would present options in the Summer 1940 turn. The Low Countries fell, and Denmark and Norway were attacked.
Paris fell in Summer 1940, with the help of an airdrop, and the armor in the south was able to encircle almost all the French army. The French surrender level was a strongly pro-Axis +3. The Axis considered going into Spain, since it had a fair amount of armor in southern France but opted to stay with its Russia-focused strategy. The Axis established Vichy France.
In Fall 1940, Germany bombed Britain, but held off in Winter 1940 to conserve BRPs. Two German 3x3s were sent to North Africa to bolster the Italians, and the Axis built a railhead in Tobruk; but Germany did not commit any armor to North Africa until later, when the WA landed in Morocco.
When the Balkan minor countries were called diplomatically in Fall 1940, Rumania stayed neutral, which was a big concern for Germany. Germany allocated 4 DPs in the 1941 YSS to ensure they would ally in time for Barbarossa.
In Spring 1941, the Axis conquered Yugoslavia, and German units were then moved to the eastern front. Germany bombed Britain again, then its air units moved east as well. The conquest of Greece was deferred until Spring 1942, along with the invasion of Malta.
The German attack resulted in the standard German encirclement of the front-line Russian units, and Russian low-odds attacks weren’t very effective, so Germany didn’t lose many units. The Russians built back away from the front line with strong points to minimize Fall 1941 opportunities for the Germans. In Fall 1941, Dnepropetrovsk and Kharkov were surrounded, but they were not captured until 1942. The Germans also isolated Sevastopol but were unable to keep it isolated during the Winter 1941 and Spring 1942 turns. Sevastopol would not fall until Su42. The Axis were also unable to isolate Leningrad – it would not fall until Winer 1941, after it was isolated in Summer 42.
The Russian winter was average (none of the winters during the game were over 8). Germany invested in winter preparation in 1941 and 1942, so by 1943 the Axis were at a full winter preparation level of 6. Germany declared war on the United States in Winter 1941, as it appeared US-Axis tensions would reach 50 anyway, especially with the additional tension increase from a Fall 1941 declaration of war Japan on the United States.
In Spring 1942, the Axis conquered Greece and invaded Malta. The Germans later built a fort in Malta, and the Italian Navy based out of Malta. Malta stayed Italian until Italy’s surrender in 1944 and was never invaded by the WA.
The WA invaded Morocco to start their North African campaign. Coupled with a successful attack in Egypt, this forced the Axis to fall back into Algeria and Libya. To defend North Africa, the Axis built a fort in Tobruk, and two German 3x3s were deployed into Tobruk. The Axis defense didn’t really stop the WA – it just slowed them down by interfering with their Italian invasion timeline, which didn’t occur until 1944. The Axis also began construction of the Atlantic Wall.
The Axis were not able to get Vichy to be an ally in 1941, but with the FSL of +3, Vichy had units available to reinforce their colonies. This made the invasion of Morocco harder since there was a 2x3 on the beach. Vichy did ally in 1943, but Germany declared war on Vichy in Spring 1944, given they had lost all the French colonies except Tunisia and the Axis didn’t want to run the risk of a switch of alliance with a WA roll for Vichy.
In Summer and Fall 1942, Germany was able to carry out two encirclements in Russia – one to the east of Leningrad, and one in the center of the Russian Line. The centra; encirclement still did not get to Moscow, Stalingrad, or Rostov, so the Russian line held. The encirclement did slow the Russians down in having to deal with the incursion and rebuild their units to support 1943 offensive operations. The Leningrad encirclement led to Leningrad falling in Winter 1942, taking advantage of the frozen swamp for a 36:18 attack. Sevastopol also fell.
In the Atlantic, 1942 was a good year for the U-boats with significant positive modifiers, but this changed very quickly in 1943. The WA committed 8 ASW factors and eventually 24 CVEs to counter the U-boat threat – and the modifiers through to the end of the war were between -3 and -5 in favor of the WA. Germany produced 9 U-boats. For research, Germany achieved 1 air range result and 2 torpedo results but did not achieve a NDRM result. RPs in NDRM ended up being reallocated to cover poor rolls in other naval projects (naval general and torpedoes). As discussed later, because Germany was healthy economically, it kept up the SW campaign to try to keep the WA CVEs tied up, despite the significant negative modifiers. The WA eventually moved 12 CVEs out of the box in 1944 to support PTO operations. When Germany took the naval oil effect in late 1944 and that was the end of the submarine campaign. The WA never really struggled with oil except in the “happy times” of 1942.
Starting in 1943, the Germans were on the defensive in the east and conducted a slow retreat across Russia. There was an occasional counterattack when required to supply units. Given the WA were not ashore in either France or Italy, the Axis I were able to keep almost all its armor on the eastern front to strengthen their defense. Germany produced several 5o6 armor units to strengthen their defense.
The Russians retook Kharkov in Winter 1943.
In the Mediterranean, a WA harbor attack against Malta in Fall 1943 netted the remaining Italian fleet.
The WA invaded France in Spring 1944, landing in Normandy, but it was slow going to break out. A deep penetration with exploiting WA armor captured Paris in Summer 44, but the WA armor was attritioned and the exploiting armor isolated. This reduced the effectiveness of the WA attacks in Fall 1944 turn, allowing Germany to continue to build a double line of infantry supported by armor to make it difficult for the WA to advance. It didn’t help that the WA only produced one level of winter preparation.
The WA invaded Italy in 1944 and captured Rome, forcing an Italian surrender. As an aside, the Italian navy, even with a -2 NNDRM differential starting in 1943, actually performed very well in both fleet combat and submarine attacks. The Axis can’t complain about their effectiveness against the Royal Navy. Italy’s late surrender of Italy meant the WA didn’t reach northern Italy until Winter 1944.
Russia retook Dnepropetrovsk and isolated Smolensk in Spring 1944 but were a few turns behind their historical counterparts.
The WA started their bombing campaign in earnest in 1943 but were never able to make it effective. A combination of good rolls, German interceptors, improved air defense measures, and ANDRM parity kept the bombers from inflicting significant losses. This lasted into 1945, as the Germans focused on interceptors from 1943 on, and were economically strong enough to produce 5 each year. The inability for the WA to inflict significant losses on either BRPs or oil centers helped keep Germany economically strong and contributed to Germany lasting past Summer 1945.
In Summer 1945, Germany still held the West Wall and a line east of Warsaw. The primary contributor to Germany’s resilience was its economic strength. Germany was able to grow to 577 BRPs in the 1944 YSS, and while that quickly fell as Germany lost its conquests, it was large enough to support a German unit construction limit up to 90 BRPs per turn. Germany was always able to rebuild its losses each turn, and towards the end of the game, it sacrificed buying AAF in favor of interceptors and ground units. German oil got down to 3 counters at one point, from its maximum of 10 counters, but Germany invested in 3 more synthetic oil plants, and Rumania was supplying Germany with oil in 1945.
Bulgaria was deactivated as an Axis ally via diplomacy in Spring 1945, allowing the liberation of Greece, then in Summer 1945 Turkey became a WA ally, but this was too late to affect the outcome of the game.
It was acknowledged that Germany would definitely survive until the end of 1945, and probably until Spring 1946. Coupled with Japan’s survival, the Axis won a solid, but not overwhelming, victory.