Over the past week, when I've had time, I've been playing War in the East more. This time, as the Soviets, so I can get an idea of what defending is like before I get back to trying to attack as the Axis*.
I managed to eke out a Soviet Minor Victory in the 1941 "Road to Lenningrad" scenario.
It wasn't terribly hard, stategically. The computer AI is good. But even so, it can get a bit bogged down in places that I didn't deem worth the effort. All I needed to do was delay, delay, delay and save units. That's what I did. I pulled back early and often. I set up a defense line around Lenningrad. I conserved all of my airpower for supply drops and computer-run interdiction and battlefield support (especially after "Bomb Unit" never hurt a single Axis soldier.) I defended behind rivers, in swamps, and in cities. I used rail movement to ferry units to the front and only sacrificed units when they got cut off or if I felt I could buy a turn or two by letting them die.
I went from routinely 10:1 casualties against me to 3:1 by the end, which is a war the Soviets can win.
Some things I'm not sure of, like, how the computer managed to get so many rail construction units. I'm sure I'm missing something. I'm not sure how the Soviet AI gets so many partisans, and I only ever got one unit formed (and immediately annihilated by German rear-area security forces.
Others, like how exactly to best ensure I had support units tied to the units that needed them. Or which ones were the ones to choose - I need to really dig into the manual more for that.
I took a few lessons from it:
- liberally using Reassign to change HQs is worth it.
- so is using administrative points to replace crappy leaders.
- it's hard to figure out what a good defensive line will look like. Mine survived mostly because the Axis had 17 turns and I stalled hard. But they were getting dismantled and Lenningrad slowly taken. But I learned that I need to really absorb the rules on building up larger units (such as Corps) and what unit types do best, where.
- Don't get cute. Cute gets units killed. Except possibly for cavalry to raid openings. Generally, though, they end up mauled.
- counterattacking German units is a terrible, terrible idea in 1941. A big pile of Soviet divisions with air support and artillery and planes will get mauled by a pair of German divisions at the end of their tether. It's not 1944 yet.
I really enjoyed it, but there is a lot of administration to do. I'm looking forward to my next go as the Germans and see if I can apply what I learned.
Fun stuff, if very involved.
* I'd say Germans, but you're also running the Finns, Romanians, Italians, etc. that contributed troops to Barbarossa.