Konstantinos K
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Prelude: Stalin’s Greek adventure, and analysis of allied strategic options:

Before this turn starts, I am doing a small “mulligan request” correction by Axis. This Airbase counter placement on Wilhelmshaven is being recalled, as it was placed there by accident.
Here is the West Front at the beginning of the turn:


1940 Summer Turn Begins with a sort of surprise announcement: Stalin declares war on the Greeks!
New BRP levels are Soviet Union UK 105(63), France 80(47), USSR 123(62).
Why is it a surprise?
USSR last turn stood pat. If it were to declare war to the Greeks, why not doing it earlier, and have the opportunity to weaken it with an attrition? I believe the reason is that the “timid looking” Spring 40 Axis turn gave the Russians some false comfort, encouraging Balkan adventurism. Greece is not at all easy to conquer due to its geography. But on the other hand, once conquered, Athens is a great defense bastion, as it is both a port and a supply source and can be attacked from only a single hex. So when Germans are pushing into Russia they always have to worry about their southern flank, unless they take Athens. And if Germany conquers Greece, it still has to worry about partisan presence, so an axis-conquered Greece is better than a neutral Greece from allied perspective, strategically. All these are also good reasons for the Germans to leave the Greeks alone, as they usually do in 3R games, but by conquest the Russians will force them to be involved at this southernmost corner of the Balkan peninsula, which later can serve as a major worry and invasion point from the Allies into Europe.
Germany chooses to go for a classic Greek defense plan aiming to avoid contact with any Soviet infantry units.

See below the Greek setup:


I don’t see any benefit for such a defense, comparing to putting a unit on the Greek-Turkish border, as there is only a single hex of contact so the attrition factors cannot go over 10. The defense I would favor would be 1 X 2-3 in capital Athens, with one more right in front of it, with 2 X 2-3 units one behind the other at the border, forming what is essentially a “quadruple line”. Attrition cannot be higher than 1-10, and if the Soviets go for an offensive option, they can kill a maximum of only 2 units, after exploitation. On the other hand, in the defense put up by the Germans, Russians can kill as many as three units with an offensive option, and get adjacency to Athens, ready for a Greek knock-out next turn.

Here is the Greek setup I would have chosen, instead:


This setup does not give many good options to the Soviets, and even with an offensive they can only kill a maximum of two units, upon exploitation. On their turn the Greeks have the flexibility of moving a unit to AA28, to make Athens fall more difficult, and thus force the Russians to also do a seaborne invasion on CC26. To prevent the calamity of wasting exploiting armor, only to advance though the rugged greek peninsula. Also remember that the Russians cannot overstack on the hex next to Athens to attack with more than 2 armor units, unless that very same hex is also the breakthrough hex.
Now if you are the Russian what would you do? Offensive that can kill or isolate up to 3 units, but costs 15 BRP, or attrition, that can kill only one, (if you are lucky), and dangerously prolong this adventure?

Analysis of allied position and opportunities:

With regard to the Western allied decisions there are several openings for an offensive. However, there are also big difficulties. Norway is a distraction, and cannot be finished off with an attrition. If it is not conquered now, with an offensive, and the Germans interfere by sending some air factors from Wilhelmshaven, it will be more difficult to conquer later, and the thought of gifting the Norwegian strategic position and BRPs to the Germans after invading it, is just nauseating! The Germans have clear air superiority, however. The Luftwaffe 15AF superstack at Cologne/Essen cannot be counteraired, as there are only 13AF for UK, and French AF cannot participate for CA on the same hex. The big temptation is Brussels, which can only accept 9AF of DAS, and thus can be DAS-intercepted by the RAF. Furthermore if the allies managed to find a way to resupply the isolated French armor at N27, while placing another armor on vacant L26 hex will isolate a large chunk of German forces in Belgium, providing Brussels can also fall. Furthermore once again if that French armor survives, there are also opportunities for encircling the Germans in the south, by advancing into the Q26 with an armor. Also the airborne can potentially be ZOCed with an armor attacking and capturing K27 or L27 next to Wilhelmshaven. Now all those grandiose plans are hard to materialize without air superiority, and the German 4-6 panzer at M24, which is dangerously close to Paris will survive, no matter what. This places the allies at a very precarious position in an offensive, if they don’t roll well. But if they do, (and also hide their exact intentions, so that the Germans don’t know where to commit their DAS), then Germany seems all but finished! Furthermore an offensive option allows more UK units into forward positions in France and Belgium by Sea Transport missions.
What about an attrition and building up, instead of an offensive? Allies can easily reach the 31-40 column without disturbing seriously their defenses, that has 2/3 chances of capturing a hex, and 1/3 of capturing 2 hexes. N25 is a bridgehead and cannot be claimed, and Brussels dreams have to be given up, as it is a capital. The Germans can always give up units to deny hexes and avoid having their airborne ZOCed or the French forward 3-5 armor resupplied. But on the other hand the M24 critical hex can be captured, and a reasonable 2-hex buffer from Paris can be reestablished. But the Norwegian complications remain, the German army will be fully supplied, and the Luftwaffe will still be there in full force during the Axis turn to ignore the British forces to smash France, without any distractions from Brussels or anywhere else…
What will the allies do facing that dilemma?
We will see soon! Stay tuned!
Here is the full board, just before option selections are announced.

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James Cox
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Re: A legendary 3R game - Part 15: Summer 1940 Axis Turn (Beginning)
kostaskav wrote:
Prelude: Stalin’s Greek adventure, and analysis of allied strategic options:

...so an axis-conquered Greece is better than a neutral Greece from allied perspective, strategically...


Fascinating! Thanks!
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James Cox
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kostaskav wrote:
Prelude: Stalin’s Greek adventure, and analysis of allied strategic options:

...Now if you are the Russian what would you do? Offensive that can kill or isolate up to 3 units, but costs 15 BRP, or attrition, that can kill only on, if you are lucky, and dangerously prolong this adventure?...


Either way sux. If you spend too many turns going past a YSS you don't get Greece's points for yet another year (nay, you actually give those BRPs to the enemy). If you go offensive (presuming two Offensives, based upon your preferred set up), you're talking 10 BRPs for DoW + 15 for Offensive I + 15 more for Offensive II = 40 BRPs to take Athens. One would have to capture Athens before 1942 YSS just to break even on BRPs,and by capturing it in 1940 one would only net +10 BRPs by the final YSS. Seems not worth it considering all the hexes one has now captured and opened up for an enemy to pick at. Worse for the German. Because Partisan.
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Konstantinos K
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Kukailimoku wrote:
kostaskav wrote:
Prelude: Stalin’s Greek adventure, and analysis of allied strategic options:

...so an axis-conquered Greece is better than a neutral Greece from allied perspective, strategically...


Fascinating! Thanks!


With regard to Greece, an additional motivation for the Soviets that I should have mentioned for this particular game (with Italy out) is the 5BRP bonus for Albania, which is essentially a free gift that comes with invading Greece. An additional advantage of my proposed setup vs. the actual setup is that the Albanian conquest is also a tad harder...Per rules, the current status of Albania is lawless territory that belongs to no one, with the first army that takes its two cities, establishing also control and occupation and pocketing the 5BRPs
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Konstantinos K
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Kukailimoku wrote:
kostaskav wrote:
Prelude: Stalin’s Greek adventure, and analysis of allied strategic options:

...Now if you are the Russian what would you do? Offensive that can kill or isolate up to 3 units, but costs 15 BRP, or attrition, that can kill only on, if you are lucky, and dangerously prolong this adventure?...


Either way sux. If you spend too many turns going past a YSS you don't get Greece's points for yet another year (nay, you actually give those BRPs to the enemy). If you go offensive (presuming two Offensives, based upon your preferred set up), you're talking 10 BRPs for DoW + 15 for Offensive I + 15 more for Offensive II = 40 BRPs to take Athens. One would have to capture Athens before 1942 YSS just to break even on BRPs,and by capturing it in 1940 one would only net +10 BRPs by the final YSS. Seems not worth it considering all the hexes one has now captured and opened up for an enemy to pick at. Worse for the German. Because Partisan.


Financially, what you say makes absolute sense! But not everything in 3R is about money. There are always strategic considerations. I would say for the Germans a Greek adventure is almost always a losing proposition. But for the allies (specifically for the U.K.), not always so...It gives them a strategic bridgehead into the balkans, which is easy to defend, and if they fail and the Germans go for it, they gained some time (because they distracted the Germans to the south corner of Europe) and they can play the partisan game, as well! They can also threaten Bulgaria. Let's look at history as well. Some historians argue that the foolishness of Mussolini in attacking Greece actually costed the Axis the war, because it delayed Hitler from his Russia conquest schedule and as a result: 1) Russia was more prepared and 2) Winter hit!
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James Cox
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kostaskav wrote:
...attacking Greece actually costed the Axis the war, because it delayed Hitler from his Russia conquest schedule...


Riiiight...

Add to that:
Crete
Plans for Malta (which never actually happened of course). But I cannot help but wonder how much the GHQ's planners suffered from divergent efforts (planning multiple opns when only one (Barbarossa) mattered)
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Giorgos Flouris
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On Greece: your proposed alternative setup ignores the (relatively) strong Russian fleet, which can easily bypass the defense in Eastern Macedonia by an unopposed seaborne. The latter can help Stalin reach the outskirts of Athens in a single turn with little risk and with a single offensive. This was my main motivation for choosing the setup shown.

The defense chosen by the Axis opens up the Balkans to the Russians, but:
(1) makes any first-turn offensive ventures risky and (potentially) costly
(2) denies serious attrition opportunities
(3) forces Russians to spread out in Greek territory, in locations that can be easily left unsupplied if the Germans launch a surprise attack
(4) neutralizes the Russian fleets
(5) will probably force the Russians to attack and kill every single Greek unit before they occupy Athens

Having said that, it is not clear to me whether any defense is better than the other, as they both have merits.
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Konstantinos K
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You are actually right! The "quadruple line" can easily be breached because the seaborne invasion on the Salonica hex kills the second line and acts effectively as an "airborne". However, I think an exploitation attack to the hex next to Athens will be incredibly costly under this proposition. So I would still go with my chosen option, rather than your setup. As for the dispersion of units in Greece and the possibility of a German surprise, it did not cross our mind at that time, I have to admit...Perhaps it should have...
 
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Konstantinos K
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fgeo wrote:
On Greece: your proposed alternative setup ignores the (relatively) strong Russian fleet, which can easily bypass the defense in Eastern Macedonia by an unopposed seaborne. The latter can help Stalin reach the outskirts of Athens in a single turn with little risk and with a single offensive. This was my main motivation for choosing the setup shown.

The defense chosen by the Axis opens up the Balkans to the Russians, but:
(1) makes any first-turn offensive ventures risky and (potentially) costly
(2) denies serious attrition opportunities
(3) forces Russians to spread out in Greek territory, in locations that can be easily left unsupplied if the Germans launch a surprise attack
(4) neutralizes the Russian fleets
(5) will probably force the Russians to attack and kill every single Greek unit before they occupy Athens

Having said that, it is not clear to me whether any defense is better than the other, as they both have merits.


How about the setup below?

I think this has a true quadruple line and has all the other advantages of your setup with the exception of the dispersion of Russian forces...This is clearly no longer subject to the seaborne invasion trick.
 
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Christopher
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kostaskav wrote:
fgeo wrote:
On Greece: your proposed alternative setup ignores the (relatively) strong Russian fleet, which can easily bypass the defense in Eastern Macedonia by an unopposed seaborne. The latter can help Stalin reach the outskirts of Athens in a single turn with little risk and with a single offensive. This was my main motivation for choosing the setup shown.

The defense chosen by the Axis opens up the Balkans to the Russians, but:
(1) makes any first-turn offensive ventures risky and (potentially) costly
(2) denies serious attrition opportunities
(3) forces Russians to spread out in Greek territory, in locations that can be easily left unsupplied if the Germans launch a surprise attack
(4) neutralizes the Russian fleets
(5) will probably force the Russians to attack and kill every single Greek unit before they occupy Athens

Having said that, it is not clear to me whether any defense is better than the other, as they both have merits.


How about the setup below?

I think this has a true quadruple line and has all the other advantages of your setup with the exception of the dispersion of Russian forces...This is clearly no longer subject to the seaborne invasion trick.


How about if the Russians invade the western beach, exploit, and kill the unit next to Athens. Then on the Greek mini turn the units in the north die from isolation. Next turn the Russians can attrition the Greeks remaining unit on Athens and capture it. That seems like a valid strategy to me.
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Giorgos Flouris
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Exactly! As Christopher said, that was my consideration.
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Konstantinos K
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True!
 
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James Cox
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OU_Sooner wrote:
kostaskav wrote:
fgeo wrote:
On Greece: your proposed alternative setup ignores the (relatively) strong Russian fleet, which can easily bypass the defense in Eastern Macedonia by an unopposed seaborne. The latter can help Stalin reach the outskirts of Athens in a single turn with little risk and with a single offensive. This was my main motivation for choosing the setup shown.

The defense chosen by the Axis opens up the Balkans to the Russians, but:
(1) makes any first-turn offensive ventures risky and (potentially) costly
(2) denies serious attrition opportunities
(3) forces Russians to spread out in Greek territory, in locations that can be easily left unsupplied if the Germans launch a surprise attack
(4) neutralizes the Russian fleets
(5) will probably force the Russians to attack and kill every single Greek unit before they occupy Athens

Having said that, it is not clear to me whether any defense is better than the other, as they both have merits.


How about the setup below?

I think this has a true quadruple line and has all the other advantages of your setup with the exception of the dispersion of Russian forces...This is clearly no longer subject to the seaborne invasion trick.


How about if the Russians invade the western beach, exploit, and kill the unit next to Athens. Then on the Greek mini turn the units in the north die from isolation. Next turn the Russians can attrition the Greeks remaining unit on Athens and capture it. That seems like a valid strategy to me.


Really, can they really attrition the last unit in Athens and then walk in to a vacant capitol? That attrition "front" will be only one hex wide. Ignoring even considering adding a free-stack airborne unit, that means the Russians roll on the 1-10 column for attrition. Not a sure thing at all.
 
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