Everyone on both sides of the Rhine has been gearing up and getting ready, so let's do this thing!
This is a Seasonal turn, so we need to first check the VP status. When I mentioned before that the Germans had +1 strategic hexes, I'd neglected Metz, which is an Axis strategic hex. That means that the Axis are actually at 0. However, if Case Yellow works out, they will take Metz, Antwerp, and Paris for the three they need to flip the turn marker to the Axis Tide side.
Case Yellow has four portions of the Option Card Segment, but only two of them are relevant to this scenario. France is not a PAC (Pact Affected Country), instead it is at war. Also, no point in removing cards we aren't allowed to use. We *do* select a Neutral country (Belgium-Holland) and go through the steps for declaring war on it. Because BH has units beyond the Res unit, we will spend a bit more time on it than we did with DN.
First, we get rid of any Partnership units, but there aren't any. Second, we put the Res infantry (and the country marker, just so we remember it's a Western Allied country now) in the West Force Pool. Third we place the Exp cavalry unit in the Delay Box because it has a stripe, but not the 0-2-0 Fort unit as it is specifically excluded by rule 13.7.1 Step 3. Fourth, we place the 0-1-0 unit in Rotterdam because that's where it goes (Rott). All units are placed single step side up, but there's a chance it will flip later. We place the single remaining unit, the Belgian Army, on it's one step side in Antwerp because that just seems to be the right place.
Next we place a Mobilizing marker in Antwerp, the capital, because the country was not activated by a Free Passage event. We then roll to see how many units will Mobilize on a d6, rolling a 2. That means both the Rotterdam fort and the Belgian army will flip to their two-step sides. Germany is now at war with Belgium-Holland, and it is a Western Allies active minor country.
The last part of the Option Card Segment is to add an Axis Scratch Convoy (which we won't use) and another AF support unit to the German Force Pool. Not a lot, but we have what we need. Replacements are 3 panzer and 6 infantry steps, which are placed as follows:
- Three 1-2-3 in Frankfurt;
- Two 2-2-4 in the hex east of the Ruhr with the 4-4-3 HQ Nor;
- One 2-2-4 in the hex west of Kassel;
- One 1-2-3 and one 2-2-4 in Hamburg for proximity to the front and we may need to replace steps;
- Two 1-2-3 in Berlin
We are at capacity on every hex along the border other than the northernmost, and it has to go into the same space as the hex south of it. Don't worry, it will do some damage. Note that while the replacements are just for this turn, if I meet the requirements for Case Yellow in the next three turns at the end of my turn I can invoke it. Basically, I need to either take Paris or three cities in France, which would almost certainly be Metz, Lyon, and one of Brest, Toulouse, or Marseilles. All are pretty far out there, so Paris looks to be the place I want to be spending the summer in.
Here's a picture of the map following activation of BH and Axis replacements:
The next step, as there are no political events, is to place support units and the Blitz marker. I begin by placing the Troop Convoy in the Convoy box of the North Sea just to take an infantry step to Stavanger on the off chance the Brits get stinky. Being out of supply won't hurt the unit in Oslo at this time.
I also put the Sub Fleet in the Strategic Warfare box, and the West puts their Surface Fleet there as well to stop it. There's really no reason not to do this in this scenario, and the Surface Fleet isn't going to do much good for our purposes. Off to the Delay Box they go. Note that we need to take both Antwerp and Rotterdam to conquer BH.
The really important part now is to place the Air Force units and the Blitz marker. Why not go big, I say, and use all four of the AF units, but there are some limitations on them that will slow things down. For one thing, you can't put AF units in adjacent hexes, at least if they've been placed successfully. If there were enemy AF units on the map, I couldn't place them in or adjacent to them either, but that's not an issue for us. The really obvious choices are the hex SW of Rotterdam (Air Base two hexes to the east), and the Gau Moselland hex (Air Base two hexes to the east). The UK AF contests one of these, but I have four units to work with so I just replace the unit that was contested with another one. This leaves one AF. I could put this unit SW of Metz, but I'm hoping I won't need it. Amiens or Rhiems would be tempting, but they are out of range of an Air Base, which requires a friendly unit in a road/rail, city, or port hex. We could put the unit in Calais, however, but I'm going to be slightly cautious
The Blitz marker Goes in Antwerp. Every hex I wish to attack in the Blitz segment is within a couple of hexes of Antwerp, so I should have enough units to knock out the BH units and start doing some damage to the French and British. My goal is to get far enough in to have a unit able to attack the French HQ and knock it out by the end of the turn, and have enough units in position to attack Paris next turn. Who knows, maybe I'll get there before July. Worked for Hitler.
Next up is Organization, which mostly means building up my multi step units. I build the last 6-6-3 in Bremen, bump up the HQ Sou west of Kassel to full strength, and build one 5-6-2 infantry to take up the rear in Frankfurt. I leave the units uncombined in Hamburg and Berlin in order to use them to build up any units that take hits, if possible. No need to beef up the units across from the Maginot line, the French don't have enough attack factors to make that a reasonable attack. Here's how things look before I begin movement:
My plan is to use some units to attack Rotterdam, but to make the primary attacks (using HQs) against Brussels and Lille during the Blitz Combat segment. Lille is a bit of a crap shoot, but if I can bust through the line I stand an excellent chance of taking out the French HQ and Calais during normal combat, setting me up to take Paris with little effort next turn. Again, I have never tried this before, so we'll see how well it works.
Movement goes like this:
- Two 6-6-3's in Koln to Gau Moselland (which they can do because they are only moving one hex),
- 5-6-2 in Saarbrucken to Koln to hold the logistical tail if necessary,
- 5-6-2 in Frankfurt to Saarbrucken (why I build that unit),
- 8-6-4 and 6-6-3 from Ruhr to the hex east of Antwerp,
- 4-4-3 HQ east of Kassel to Koln to support attack on Lille,
- One 2-2-4 tank east of Ruhr to the hex SE of Rotterdam, which will allow other units to move through it,
- One 2-2-4 tank east of Ruhr to hex SW of Rotterdam,
- 6-6-3 in Bremen to hex SW of Rotterdam,
- 2-2-4 in Hamburg to hex SE of Rotterdam,
- 2-2-4 in hex east of Rotterdam to hex SE of Rotterdam,
- 4-4-3 HQ Nor east of Ruhr to Ruhr,
- Two 1-2-3 units in Berlin to hex east of Ruhr, just to give a bit of retreat room,
- 1-2-3 in Hamburg via convoy to Oslo,
- 1-2-3 in Oslo to Stavanger.
Tight, but we got them all in. Here's how it looks:
Now for the three attacks in the Blitz Combat segment. The 6-6-3 and the four tanks will attack Rotterdam, the 8-6-4, 6-6-3, and Nor HQ will attack Antwerp, and the two 6-6-3 and Sou HQ will attack Lille. Note that while I am stating which combats will occur, you declare them one at a time and are under no obligation to declare or undertake a given attack at any time. Time to see if being stingy with that AF support unit will pay off...
We begin in Antwerp. Because there are no French units present, the French HQ cannot participate. The two units involved as given above have 18 attack factors (8+6+4 for the HQ) vs 2, or 9:1 odds. There are four column shifts for the attacker (two air units, one HQ, one supplied armor during Blitz) and one for the defender (city) so the attack stays at 9:1. I roll a 6, a terrible roll, but better here than other places. The result is Dr2, 1/1. First we make the retreat, which must follow the retreat priorities. First, the unit must retreat to a space without EZOCs, and the only space is Calais. Next, the unit must do the same, and the only space is Amiens. However, since there were units in Calais that the Belgian army first went into, they must retreat as well, so the Br 1-2-3, the French 4-4-3, and the Belgian 2-2-2 all retreat to Amiens. This is a bit of a problem for the West, as only one minor country will be able to stay in that hex at the end of the Blitz Combat segment.
Now we deal with the 1/1 attrition result. The Germans must lose one tank step as at least one was involved per 22.214.171.124, and the West loses one step from the Belgian army, even though it could have taken the step from any of the three in the space. Note that removing the UK step would not have helped as it's not a minor country, while France and BH are.
Finally, we advance/exploit. The number of exploitation hexes is dictated by the retreat result plus the number of results the defender was not able to satisfy, which in our case is 2+0=2. The first hex must be the defender's hex, so the 6-6-3 advances to Calais via Antwerp, while the 5-5-4 armor unit advances only as far as Antwerp to keep the supply lines open. Not the best result, but one that will work. Perhaps we should have made the next attack before we made the attack on Antwerp...
Next up is the two 6-6-3's attacking the mixed French/British stack in Lille. Initial odds are 16 (6+6+4 for the HQ) vs 8 (4+2+2 for the French HQ), a total of 2-1. There are two shifts for the attacker (HQ, AF), two for the defender (river, HQ). The roll is a 5 for a result of EX. The Germans want to continue to press the attack, so they eliminate one step bringing one infantry down to 4-4-3. The West, realizing that they will get hammered in this hex in the regular combat phase, choose instead to retreat to Reims with the HQ. This allows the 6-6-3 and 4-4-3 unit to advance. [Note: I missed the rule that you can't retreat a force that includes an HQ, even one providing ranged support, as in this example. Thus, the French must either take the hits from the units in Lille, or reduce their HQ before retreating. I suspect this problem exists throughout the entire example, for which I apologize, but the other elements of the example are worthwhile so long as you keep the retreat rule in mind. Sorry!]
The final Blitz Combat fight is in Rotterdam, which stacks up 6+2+2+2+2 for 14 to 2, or 7:1 odds. The Axis have an AF and a tank, and the BH have a city and a fortress unit, so the odds stay where they are. This time, the roll is a 1 which means a Dr3 0/1. Since the Fortress unit has no movement, it must convert all retreat results into step losses, which means it has one retreat result and one attrition result it cannot apply. This means an exploit value for the Germans of 4 hexes! One 2-2-4 moves to Rotterdam and stays there to allow for the country to be conquered at the end of the Axis turn, the 6-6-3 and two tanks end up in Gau Moselland, and the last two 2-2-4 tanks go to Antwerp to beef up the lost armor step in the next organization phase.
Since this is the end of a segment, the Belgian army is removed for overstacking as there is another minor army in the hex. It was going to be removed anyway as BH will be conquered at the end of the faction turn.
Not a bad start, but there has been no breakthrough to Paris yet. Here's the situation at the end of Blitz Combat - I have removed the Blitz marker to keep the map a little cleaner, same with the Mobilization marker.
We need to keep pressing, so the Axis engages in two combats. The first is a "soak-off" to prevent the Fr HQ from defending in the second. The 4-4-3 unit in Lille will attack the combined stack in Reims at 4:8, or 1-2. This is a legal attack, as the attacker must prove at least 1-3 odds - you can't throw a toothpick at an elephant, but you can throw a toothbrush! The other will be a 20-6 attack on Verdun which will include two offensive shifts. The hope is to cut off the units on the Maginot Line, feeble as they are, and begin to encircle Paris.
First the soak off, as otherwise the HQ could provide both ranged support *and* defend in it's hex! The odds are 1-2, shifted down to 1-3 for the defending HQ. The result is Ad 1/0, so the 4-4-3 retreats to Antwerp (the only hex that meets priority 1) and loses a step. This means the multi-step unit goes to the Delay Box and is replaced with a 1-2-3 infantry. Not great, but it gives us a much better shot at the units in Verdun.
Now for the Verdun attack. Having the 6-6-3 unit in Lille makes a big difference, as it negates the river defensive shift. The result is 3:1 shifted twice (AF, HQ). Note that tanks do *not* create shifts in normal combat, only during Blitz. This puts us on the 6:1/8:1 column, and we roll a 2 for a result of Dr3 0/0. It would have been nice to get some attrition too, but a Dr3 will give us some room to cause trouble for the French. The two units must retreat to the same space and their path becomes Troyes (only space not in an EZOC), then on to Orleans. They could not end up in Paris because the space SE of it is the same distance from the original hex and retreating units must be further away with each hex retreated.
This leaves the advancing armies with a small dilemma. Supply is a good thing to have, but not critical if you don't need to move. I decide to be bold with the Axis exploitation, which is three hexes. The 6-6-3 in Lille advances around to the hex SE of Paris the 6-6-3 in Gau Moselland advances into Verdun, and one 2-2-4 tank advances to Troyes. My hope is that this presents the West with too many threats to defend against even though the tank in Troyes and the infantry SE of Paris are now out of supply and thus won't be able to move in the nex OpMove phase.
For reserve movement, I can do some things. First, I move the two 1-2-3s east of Ruhr and the single 1-2-3 in Anwerp to the hex between the Ruhr and Antwerp with the idea of building a new infantry army next turn. I move the Nor HQ to Antwerp where it will be better able to defend front line units. Sadly, I can't move units into EZOCs (or out of them) so the tank west of Kassel has nowhere useful to go. Just in case, I bring it and the mountain unit in Hamburg into the Ruhr. At the very least one will be able to garrison Antwerp.
We have not met the requirements for Case Yellow, although we are very close! Even worse for the French, we have a breakthrough that may allow us to evoke Case Yellow even if we *don't* take Paris. However, we have conquered BH, so it's units go to the Conquered Western Minor Country box with the Danes and Norwegians. Here's the map at the end of the Axis turn:
I'm not at all sure that this went like I'd hope it would, but there's no question that the Germans made some good progress, advancing adjacent to Paris (if a bit tenuously) and conquering BH. While there have been some losses, and few for the French, the point is not to take out units but to take territory, and some rather specific territory at that.
In the next installment, we'll see the West's response and attempts to hold paris while preventing the Axis from taking the entire country.