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Well Marc pulled off a really good counter in Russia last turn. Watching the replay it looked as though I may have got some of my HQ allocation wrong, so easily were a couple of the units demolished, but no way of checking that now, and I was faced with an interesting few minutes of reflection following the replay.

At the end of that period of reflection I decided to make my response very muted indeed. I know I could have destroyed 2 or 3 of Marc's armour units, but I also know that my own armour would then have been left out to dry and possibly almost wiped out in return by a combination of Tac Air and surviving German Tigers. That would not have been good, even bearing in mind the ability to repurchase over the winter and have it all ready to roll again in Spring. No - instead I played it coy.

The other reason for doing this is that I only just got motorisation. I need my armies and armour to have the extra range it gives to be really effective, and I also found my tac air slightly too far out of reach to be able to hand back some of the damage Marc did to me.

So I hit some of his weaker units out front, and otherwise carried out a limited retreat. I did, however, decide to wipe out the annoying and pesky airborne unit sat on my oil in Maikop.

End of Russian front turn therefore looked like this:


I now have some motorised units, have all of my Tac Air in range of the front and can respond properly next turn. As I see it Marc can hammer forward and hit me hard again if he wishes, but then I should be able to do a lot of damage in return and be left in a reasonable position at the end of it. I suspect he will fall back and try to catch me out in Spring the same way he just caught me out last turn. It is the way the Wehrmacht fought in real life - good to see it being replicated in SC!

The other more distant reason for playing it coy is that I am still jockeying for the absolutely perfect position in France. I unleashed my air power again and took Brussels, landing a US Army this time. I am not ready yet to create an enlarged bridgehead in France, so holding back my Russian armour in the east seems like a delay worth making. The attrition in the West will gradually annoy Marc on its own anyway...

Position in France finished like this:


Elsewhere it was tough on the Japanese. The Chinese are closing in on Hong Kong and areas further south. The Army on Chengchow was wiped out this turn also. The attritional impact of all this is good for the allies, and at sea the US navy decided it was time to leapfrog forward ad island and took the mines at Nauru back following carrier assault and a landing of armour. China finished like this:


... and in Burma more attacks caused more casualties for the Japanese to have to deal with, the position finishing thus:


So to sum up all is well in the Pacific and China. The limited pinpricks around France continue to have the desired effect, but the Red Army took a break. Maybe the very long time left in the game is making me soft: I would normally play much more aggressively than I have done the last 9 months or so of game time, but the quiet voice of common sense keeps telling me that the longer it goes the easier it is going to get, so it seems wise to play it calm.

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No pictures this turn... back to operational security. I played it cautious. I think my armor could have dug right into his line hard... and I was sorely tempted to try. My only problem was my backup line of infantry was just too far back. Had he hit me I would have been able to easily counter attack with them and probably done enough damage to keep pushing. Another consideration was the further I get into Russia his supply improves.... so I pulled back and left a screen of infantry and anti-tank for him to play with. If he advances... it will get real interesting... fast... there is that gap between cities in the South that messes with supply... so that whoever goes too far suffers for it with readiness and morale. I made sure I retook Kharkov... so his supply remains low as he advances. Bad weather is also starting to set in... I had mud this turn which is also why I chose not to hit him. I also destroyed 2 more Russian corps. I think that makes 12 or 13 frontline units destroyed in the last 3 turns. I could lose 4 or 5 units... but they are really designed to suck him in, eat up time and MMP. The closer he gets the greater the opportunity to hit again. I lost no armor in my counter offensive... he lost 1 armor. So in essence I call that a German victory. Much of the fighting season is over as winter is coming. Whoever attacks now risks the potential of a random good weather turn for the enemy... which could prove disasterous for a reponse if the weather turns back to poor.

In Asia... Al finally came out of the hills and mountains so I was able to hit him hard with air... and hammered 1 army hard enough to get it to retreat. Some other minor action and the attritional warfare in Burma continues. Where is the IJN? I know where the USN is. :P Scary thing is both fleets are very close together and mine has the experience.

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OK - it was time to hit France a bit harder this turn. Marc seems to be holding his armour in the East. There were no tacair hits in the East last turn so it is possible he has moved them west. Either way in order to free my hand more in the East I need to push harder in the West - so I did.

I had waited a few turns for this as you know. As we reach October there are a few reasons for doing it now. The weather will turn bad soon - good for me in terms of getting units ashore that will be fairly tough to dislodge in mud or snow. In addition my production queues in Britain and the US are beginning to really churn out stuff, and I have plenty to throw around with lots more on its way. In addition I spy that rail gun and can see that it is likely to try and reduce my harbour to less than 5, making it hard to land anything quickly.

So I landed a couple more US units and also put ashore a British HQ with some armour. I suspect this will force Marc to respond - the US armour has been at sea so long it has no tech upgrade and the UK armour is only at level 2 thanks to yet more slow work by British tech specialists. He will want to try and pinch out this beach head if he can. However my air blasted out another army, I forced a corps to retreat from the beach head and also did some damage to engineers in the area. If he brings up big forces and the weather stays good then I will wreak major damage next turn... and in the East my Red Army will see the window open just a crack.

End of turn beach head looked like this:


In the East the fighting over Rostov and the Donetz Mines continues. Red units destroyed neighbouring German defenders and retook both squares, and my sights are very firmly fixed on the defensive line below:


Here is the biggest concentration of German armour I think in Europe. Next turn it will be interesting to see if it is still there... If so I hold fast and try to punch hard in France; if it suddenly thins out then my Red Army reserves may decide to surge forward. Nightmare position for the axis...

Elsewhere Brazlian troops in northern spain have now attracted 3 units including Spanish armour to try and dislodge them. Handy. China attacked Hong Kong and Chengchow again doing yet more damage, and the UK began a serious assault on Rangoon reducing the defending army to 4. I'll post more images of the Asian Front next turn when I suspect I will have a bit more success to illustrate.

And the US fleet? Hiding behind squadrons of land based fighters and submarine patrols. I moved it a bit just to avoid presenting a stationary target, but it continues to grow in strength and is waiting for the "go." Having taken Nauru last turn it will certainly look for another soft target in the near future. No hurry here.

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Not much to report this turn. I played it safe in the West and did not strike Al. I had poor weather and had to move back those units I moved to the East. I expect to be able to cause him serious headaches in the West next turn. I had a railgun in range of the belgium port and hammered it hard so he could not ship in more units. The railgun will probably be lost this turn but atleast it did something useful. Al is keeping the bulk of the USN away from the IJN. I found them this turn via bomber recon right where I expected them to be. In China I strengthened units... and beat up on the Chinese a bit destroying a corps. My forces in the East are very strong. Beyond that not much good to report. I am waiting for Al to make his next move.

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A satisfied reader willing to spend his hard earned cash. Hubert WILL be pleased... :-)

As has been the case for a while now we have 4 ongoing theatres of operations, and my game plan for the foreseeable continues to be to juggle each of the 4 as and when forces and weather allow to gradually wear down the axis position. The particular focus is Germany, and mpp spending priority remains with eliminating the Wehrmacht.

This turn in Burma I pinged the Rangoon army again with air, but spent time rebuilding local ground forces to have another go soon as reinforcements were required.

However in China I was able to push on and liberate Hong Kong. My Chinese Army is now very strong, and as I suspected many turns ago it is gradually winning the war with Japan on its own. I have an HQ on 4* and 2 armies on 5* plus some very experienced air and ground units in general. Having taken Hong Kong my objective will now be to swing east and see if areas around Shanghai can be liberated too. This will be much harder due to better terrain for Japanese air attacks, but I can afford to be wasteful as the constant wearing of Japanese reserves is simply helping to make the future USN offensive in the pacific easier and easier. No action from the USN - still biding my time. Southern Chinese Army positions shown here:


In Europe it looks as though Marc has split his forces a bit. I think I saw some armour head west, and fighter cover in the West has certainly grown. This is gradually opening the door to the Red Army, but the weather was foul with snow and mud so I was unable to effectively drive forward. Instead Zhukov used the time to upgrade all Red Army units to full motorisation and push gently forward as far as the weather would allow.

In the West Marc took out my harbour in Belgium, but I had expected that and had amphib units ready to land to reinforce the bridgehead. I landed 2 more units, pushed on a bit and destroyed an Italian Army that was moved up to the front. My advance US army is likely to be destroyed, but I am hoping for a bit of luck here: if Marc moves his armoured reserve far enough forward to hit the US unit then my Tac Air comes into play... IF the weather is fine. That is not a good gamble for winter really, but I deemed it worth taking and it allowed other units space to get ashore. The overall key for me here is to push just hard enough to force Marc to shift forces around: this allied army wont win the war: the Reds will do that.

However it was not all good news. The Kriegsmarine had sallied and attacked my fleet in the Channel - I decided to respond with a full strength carrier, but got my gamble wrong on rain grounding all the Luftwaffe's fighter cover. You wont see any Kriegsmarine ships in the graphic below - both were sunk - but my poor carrier had its air power totally wiped out. Not good, and expensive to replace. The German ships werent really any threat to my naval power - I would have been much better using cruisers and battleships only to take them out, but I made a mistake. SC is a game of mistakes - make none at all and you win. However this is impossible... and I just made one that will cost the British 120mpps or so.

DDay graphic finished like this:


So the allied position grows in strength as we approach 1944. I got another Turkish diplomatic hit too. All going well.

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I was finally able to get a turn in. It is getting more difficult by the turn as Al has increased the pressure on the Axis. He's played a great game. China economically hamstrung Japan... so after my initial conquests there was not much else I could do offensively as I did not have the resources. Things in China have settled down for the most part due to Al coming out of the hills. My airpower is dealing the Chinese heavy damage each turn. I would have struck in South China... but the weather was poor so I was reduced to hammering an army up north. Pacific wise... both fleets are playing it cautious.

Germany... I kept the slow burn war going in the West and ramped up the pressure on Al. I destroyed the UK armor he landed, and a US army while damaging a couple of other units. I could very well lose my first armor to his response next turn. :( In the East I consolidated my lines, attacked and destroyed a Russian corps that had advanced too far. I also brought up reinforcements.

Al clearly has the initiative and it is only a matter of time before he really brings pressure on Germany... or rather a matter of when... as he has to do it right because Germany is still powerful and if he makes a mistake like he did last summer the war could easily stretch on for another winter. One of the problems he has is German air defense. In the West I have 5 fighters upgraded to level 4, with unit AA at 2. Each time he airstrikes me it is very costly and he has been at it pretty regularly. In the West I have 4 Fighters and 5 tactical units. I could really use the tactical units in the west... If I moved them West... I would be able to easily force Al off the mainland. In our last major engagement... my airpower played a pretty decisive role in the action in the East.. and I know they are acting as a deterrant. The downside of moving them West is that I would leave myself open for a major Russian attack. So the tactical units stay East... for now.

Not my finest game... but very enjoyable. As I have said before Al is the only one who regularly can beat me. This is still his game to lose.

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The squeeze gathers pace...

In France air and ground units destroyed the first German Panzer corps, and another Canadian corps was landed into the beach head. It's interesting how this particular game is playing out much like the real history of 1944. The Germans are now waging a war of attrition in France that they cannot afford to throw everything at because of a fear of the Red Army steamroller in the East. So it was in 1944 when DDay could certainly have been shoved straight back into the English Channel... but 85% of the Wehrmacht was tied down trying to prepare for the Russian onslaught of Operation Bagration.

France finished thus:


And in Russia Marc has good reason to fear the Russian juggernaut. My problem here is that there simply are not enough hexes to cope with the number of Russian units on the ground, and with the weather so poor I had to make do with a slow advance out of Moscow and a lot of moving things around. It is the middle of winter now 1943/44 - I wont be launching anything for a couple of turns now while both sides ride out the ice and snow, but when the hammer falls it will be a mighty blow.

Here is the tip of the Russian iceberg as units queue up behind to follow the front line forces into battle once Spring is here:


Finally in Burma I launched another attack on Rangoon - and failed again. The defending Japanese are fighting a courageous rearguard. I also destroyed another Japanese army just south of Chengchow. Graphic here: you can see the Japanese army that was destroyed as I took this screenshot just prior to starting my Chinese attack. I am also strong and able to do major damage on the route into Indochina if I so wish, although to be honest I still have my eyes on Shanghai.


All in all the position for the axis is becoming tougher by the turn. Prior to my Spring jump off I will do a detailed positional analysis for you all so that you can see my strength and the position I was aiming for. I am very nearly there.

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Yeah... the game can prove quite challenging. I managed to mess up royally with my builds and focus early on... and it has come back to bite me in a big way.

Game wise... Not much I could do this turn. The weather was poor everywhere. Al has Germany pretty paralyzed... though once the weather turns good I will have to throw all the dice in and go for it. Japan... is hanging on in China and the US is pushing into the Pacific. Really it is only a matter of time when Al goes for it. :P

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I'm going to keep you all waiting by not posting a graphic of this turn. I destroyed one more Japanese army in China, and failed to take Rangoon - again. Other than that virtually nothing happened that was visible, not least because ice and snow covered the whole European continent.

However lots and lots has been going on behind the scenes. One of the keys to success in SC is not actually the unit moving and battle fighting - though that it in itself is fun. Massively significant is the long term planning and objective setting, something I have tried to make clear in my posts regarding planning. You will remember that I put together a plan post at the point where I felt I had ridden out the worst of the axis drive. That plan was to destroy Germany first - Japan later, especially given the context of Chinese strength.

Well - I am nearly ready to pounce. It is January 1944 - I probably wont be pouncing next turn either because the weather is likely to be bad still, but soon after that it will happen and I am preparing a very big, detailed analysis for you all to see how I have plotted Germany's demise and, as a result, the likely end of the war. Can it be done in 1944 alone? The whole war - probably no. I doubt that I will be at the gates of Tokyo, Seoul or Manila by Xmas 44 because I havent planned to be there. That will come in 1945. But I do intend to be at the gates of Berlin by that stage.

We will soon see if my objective setting was about right, or overly ambitious...

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It's been a bit tough getting this turn in. I have the version of the game we are playing installed on my desktop... so that I can only play when I have had time at home. With two little girls competing for my attention and a demanding wife... it's been interesting.

Okay... Al has me hemmed in everywhere. Japan is in serious trouble in China as he presses in. In the West it's deep winter... Russia is pressing in on my on the East and the Allies on the West. Across the map there was low level fighting in every area. Al took some damage in France as I intentionally kept the low level action going. I could have sent in armor this turn but I have to be carefull with my mmps. If I send them in... they go in with perfect conditions so I get the best results. Germany has a lot of troops deployed with a lot of reserves. The bad news is that Turkey entered the war on the allied side. It is only a matter of time before Al pushes in the East and it will be ugly. I just hope that I can hold him off long enough to get into 45. I am in a tight spot but I love a defensive fight. A lot of people quit early when things start to go sour in an SC game. I don't like doing that and only call a game when it's nearly done. I feel I learn a lot from such fighting retreats... and I think it ultimately makes my game better.

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Jan 44... but all is pretty quiet. US armour in France destroyed a German army that had decided to gamble and set up camp next door, but elsewhere it was ice and snow all over and a turn of more preparation. Very little else to state at this point, but the big turn analysis I promised is getting closer... All we need is some daffodils and spring weather - and the dogs of war can be unleashed!

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Interesting turn. England was rained in... so I launched a general offensive in the West complete with heavy air attacks, artillery and ground offensive. Al lost 1 corps, had 2 armies and his 1 armor heavily mauled. I could have committed another armor to the attack and destroyed an army and the armor but I decided to keep him in reserve. This is a game of delay at the moment... Al does not have a lot of room to move on the Western Front... which means he can not bring in many reinforcements... so live enemy units are beneficial to my position at the moment. I know... I know... that sounds odd... but my goal is no longer victory but how long I can hold out and how costly I can make it for him.

In the East... I pulled back slightly. My supply situation is getter better the further I fall back and his is getting worse. The ground was poor (mud) and I am almost daring him to cross a river and make his supply situation that much worse... something about 6 German armor sitting just out of his reach behind a line of infantry may make him think twice. I think he may actually do it. The question is... if he does and I punch hard again... will it cost him more time? The further I fall back the less room there is to move. I suspect he will wait till the ground is good and solid and then push hard for the kill taking massive damage in return to bleed me to death. It is a tactic I think will work, unless I kick the Western allies off the continent and shift the forces in the West to the East. (Unlikely)

In Asia... a whole lot of nothing. Japanese armor beat up on an isolated Chinese corps. Japan tactically is in a poor position and China is bleeding her dry.

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Feb '44 and the snow and ice are everywhere. I could do very little other than prepare for Spring a bit more, and get ready for that post I keep promising you prior to my jump off. I was unable to get any retaliation in outside Paris due to snow, and so contented myself with reinforcement. It was evening snowing in China. Talk about a severe northern hemisphere winter! - it does feel as though we have had an awful lot of snow/mud/ice turns at this point in the game!

The calm will break soon...

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Terrible weather again this turn. There was very little I could do across the map. In China I destroyed an army and corps with ground and air attack. The Japanese have armor 3 so that helped a bit. In the West... the weather was very bad and there was not much I could do against Al's beachhead. I managed to destroy a US corps. In the East I elected to sit tight and dig in. Al should get the first turn of good weather next turn. I will admit I made a serious mistake this turn that I hope Al does not pick up on. Overall... I am not too terribly happy with my game play this game. Al and I have decided to switch side after this one and do another AAR with the latest patch. :)

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March 1944. The weather wasnt perfect, but for the sake of people logging in to check on how this is going I am not going to keep you waiting any longer. Time for the action to wind up...

So - as my juggernaut gets going I thought it worth looking first of all at the sort of information SC Gold can give you to allow planning of operations. Here is the military strength graph which can be pulled up at any time:


I think it is best to see this as the product of the work of your intelligence services, giving you a picture of what the global strengths are. In a future SC incarnation I think it would be good to have these graphs affected by intelligence tech levels, and a margin of error introduced. How cool would it be for a player to THINK he has superiority in land forces via his intel graph, but actually find that his own low intel score, and his opponents high intel score, means that the info he gets is not accurate?!! However for now the graph is accurate at all times, and allows accurate planning.

Anyway this graphic tells me three things:

1. My Red Army could nearly win the war on its own. With help from the growing US Army, a few units of the British Army based on home soil, and the big allied air force my ground offensive starts with a major advantage. This will be made all the better by the garrisons that Marc is forced to keep on major ports around the continent.

2. My US Navy is bigger than the IJN without any major investment really, and should be able to mop up the pacific once Germany is dealt with especially with the Royal Navy maintaining such an impressive size.

3. The Japanese Army is large and represents the forced reaction to the success of my Chinese counter attacks. In a good axis game the Japanese would want a much bigger navy by now to help defeat or see off the US, but Marc has not been able to do this.

1944 should therefore be the year when victory is achieved.

Then - spotlight on US technology. Here is my US tech level screen:


What I hope this shows you all is that I made a huge priority of tech throughout 1942 and 1943 at the expense of unit purchase. My research level, as you can see, has dropped down to 775mpps, but this is because I pretty much have all I need now. Units are gonig to roll out of US factories and bases very fast through the spring and summer, so that any losses in the west can be quickly replaced.

So what about my turn itself? It was raining - again - in the East. I decided I didnt want to start my attack without having air power at the ready, so instead started a limited offensive in the West. The start position was this:


The allied and axis line is quite clear from this, including the gap in the allied line where a canadian corps had been positioned. Notice also the massive air force sitting in the UK. The landing of some more armour and some more attacks later and this was the final position:


2 armies destroyed as revenge for the loss of the canadians, some minor damage caused by air attack on the visible panzer corps, and an underlying knowledge that attritional swaps like this work perfectly in my favour. Marc now faces the inevitable reality of a huge attack in the East on the horizon combined with sustained, nasty, air power led mayhem in the West. The more he strips from the East to meet the growing threat in the West the easier it will be for the Red Army to cut loose.

So - it has begun, all be it without much action in the East. Next turn I hope the weather allows me to focus a bit on the East and show you just what I have been preparing there.

In China I hit Chengchow again, reducing the 10 strength army in residence to 1. Rangoon was hit again too. Gentle attrition on the Japanese continues - nothing new, and an impossible situation for the Japanese High Command to deal with effectively when they know that the US Navy is looming to the east.

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