Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jose and I recently finished a game of Europe Engulfed….

After years of belligerency, Germany declared war on Poland and sent panzers and Stukas roaring across the Polish plains in September 1939. The Poles fought valiantly and won a small victory by forcing Germany to use a second special action to complete the conquest of Poland. During the next six months the Phony War remained quiet while both sides continued to build their forces. Germany built up a fleet of 60 U-Boats in an attempt to starve Britain into submission.

In 1940 Germany declared war on the Low Countries and conquered Belgium and the Netherlands easily. Meanwhile the British sent a sizable expeditionary force to Pas de Calais along with ground support units to stare across the border at the Germans.

With only 3 British blocks defending the British Isles, the German supreme commander saw an opportunity and launched Sea Lion in June 1940, instead of attacking France. Four German fleets plus an airborne attempted the cross channel invasion. The Royal Navy performed perfectly sinking the entire German navy without a loss of their own. The falschirmjagger and their ground support units landed outside London but without infantry support they were easily defeated. The lost GSU and infantry were a setback to the Germans, but the loss of 4 fleets would prove fatal. With the German navy all but eliminated, the Royal Navy ferried an expeditionary force to Norway to seize Trondheim. The operation was a success but a follow on attempt to seize Oslo was defeated by a combined German/Norwegian force. Even so, the British were able to hold onto Trondheim which proved to be a thorn in the side of Germany for most of the game. These events reminded the German player to conquer Denmark.

After the failure of Sea Lion, the Germans turned their sights to France. The Germans poured into Pas de Calais, but the French were prepared and the invaders took heavy losses. The valor of the French Army was not enough to prevent the fall of France as Vichy France was declared.

With France conquered and Britain still defiant, Germany headed east and moved into the Balkans. Yugoslavia and Greece both fell easily. Italian naval activity put pressure on the British in North Africa but the Brits managed to dig in outside of Alexandria. Without naval opposition in the Atlantic, the British were free to move fleets into the Med to keep their forces supplied. The Germans suffered another setback when their combined airborne and amphibious invasion of Malta was repulsed.

The winter of ’41-’42 came before Germany was ready to launch Barbarossa. Russia declared war on Germany in January 1942 and began building their expanded force pool. The USA also entered the war and began lend lease to Britain. Germany finally launched Barbarossa in May ’42, with the Germans gingerly attacking Russian forces in Eastern Europe.

Army Group North consisted of primarily infantry with a few panzer divisions providing additional firepower. Army Group South included the bulk of the panzer divisions, including three elite panzer divisions. On the western front, the Germans dug in along the coast and kept their reserves in Paris. The Russians continued to build their forces and dug in at strategic points, while the western allies built up their forces in London and Southampton.

In July/August ’42 the Germans pushed farther into Russia with Army Group North capturing Leningrad and Army Group South capturing the industrial areas of the Don river basin. On the last clear weather turn of ’42, Army Group South captured Kharkov, but their supply lines were stretched. The Russians saw their chance and launched a massive counterattack, recapturing Kiev and then using a special action to capture Bessarabia—putting Army Group South out of supply. To make matters worse, the western allies successfully landed in Normandy.

Next turn the weather turned wet and the Russian steppes turned into mud. Out of supply and slogging through the mud, Army Group South managed to link up with Army Group North in the Pripet Marshes to restore their supply lines. This cut off the Russian armor that was sitting in Bessarabia, putting them out of supply. Germany declined to counterattack the allies in Normandy.

Running out of time, we decided to call the game. It did not look like the Russians could break out of Bessarabia, meaning the bulk of their army would be wiped out. However, with bad weather ahead, the Allies in France and plenty of space for the Russians to rebuild, things did not look good for Germany. Russia still had its conscription option available and could rebuild very quickly. We predicted an eventual Allied victory, but it would be very slow going.

Looking back on our game, the failed Sea Lion attempt was a fatal blow to Germany. Germany has a very specific timetable it must stick to and the time lost to Sea Lion was just enough to force Germany to delay Barbarossa until Spring ’42, when Russia was better prepared.

This was my first time playing this game in a meaningful way and now I regret not playing it sooner. It’s not nearly as complex as I first thought, somewhere in between the original Axis & Allies and Paths of Glory on the difficulty scale. This game quite possibly makes all other strategic level WWII games obsolete.

The picture is the ending board position on the eastern front. In the West, the allies were in Normandy and had a small force hanging on in Norway.


At 3:52 PM, November 29, 2010, Blogger Rob said...

I'm hoping that by picking up an Emissary, I'll be able to play this monster face 2 face over a few sessions.

At 6:26 PM, November 29, 2010, Blogger Carlos said...

Wonderful! My experience with my son is that a failed Sea Lion is pretty much a death sentance for Germany. I never try it after an experiment gone bad. Of course my other bad experiment with you and Jose was to try building up my u-boat fleet before destroying France.

Great write-up. Is that Vassal that you are using?

At 9:04 PM, November 29, 2010, Blogger Mark said...

That table would sure make monster games easier to complete face to face. When do we play ;)?

That is vassal. The module is pretty easy to use and the dice roller is really handy for those large battles.

At 10:20 PM, November 29, 2010, Blogger Carlos said...

That gaming table looks great, but a little too rich for me. I do like the idea of keeping a grognard type game intact for the following week.

I guess that I need to give Vassal a try. Now that you have two kids I know that it will be even more difficult to get game time. We still need to try EE.

I have played a few games of this with my son. We have always started the 1941 scenario. I am convinced that this is not too good of a 3 player game as the one of the non-Axis players will get a disproportionate amounts of down time.

I have also tried to contemplate a house rule of a seperate German-Russian peace (inspired by TK! and Advanced Third Reich), but I have not been able to come up with anything that I like. Just leave well enough alone, I guess.

At 6:26 AM, November 30, 2010, Blogger Ben said...

What? You didn't get the Sultan?

That, gentlemen, was an awesome session report! A few questions:

1. How long did it take to play before you called it?

2. Have you played Asia Engulfed? How did it compare?

3. Did you know you can play Europe Engulfed on-line at Wargame Room, with the system actually enforcing rules? I'm pretty sure you can save the games as well. The interface is both clunky and ugly, but the proprietor there hangs out in the lobby to provide real-time assistance if you get stuck. I've just played Twilight Struggle there, but it worked well.

...And now you have me re-interested in EE. I had this game for several years on my shelf and finally sold it off, figuring I'd never have time to play it this side of a retirement home.

Oh... and this just in. There is a guy on BGG having a random holiday drawing for a free EE this week.

At 6:23 PM, November 30, 2010, Blogger Mark said...

It took us about 8-10 hrs to get to where we were in the '39 campaign game. I didn't keep close track but it was 3 sessions. Without all the rulebook referencing, I think we could have come in close to the 12 hr estimated playing time. While the game is large scale and has some advanced elements, it's really closer to Axis & Allies than a true monster game. Player aids are a must have though--GMT has a good one online and I am working on one that I will share.

I have not tried Asia Engulfed, but it's on the list. Same with wargame room.

The vassal module is almost entirely manual, which I actually like. The dice roller makes large battles more manageable and is far superior to throwing buckets of dice.

The '41 campaign is better when learning the rules, but the '39 campaign is worth the extra time since it gives Germany more control over its fate.

While I was initially cool to this game, I now love it and I am open to playing or teaching it if anyone is interested.

At 9:31 PM, November 30, 2010, Blogger Rob said...

AE is awesome (the only one I've tried from that series). It has less political rules/events than AE, and tons more supply rules, making Japan a real blast to play.

At 10:22 PM, November 30, 2010, Blogger Carlos said...

AE is quite different than EE, but a good game in it's own right. I like EE better, but that is just a matter of preference.

Mark, the only maningful games of EE I have played have been the 1941 scenario. I would very much be open to playing another game with you.

BTW, in face to face play, I strongly suggest using the included table that saves you the buckets of dice rollong. That is perhaps the one negative in this game.


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