Smolensk 41 Gold - Mogilev River Crossing AAR

Smolensk 41 Gold: A 25 turn scenario called "Mogilev River Crossing." 
Smolensk 41 Gold: This AAR is for a 25 turn scenario called "Mogilev River Crossing." It is a very manageable length and size. The units are at the battalion level which minimizes counter pushing.

The German commander is in charge of the XXIV Panzer Corps which is comprised of two panzer divisions (3rd and 4th), 10th Motorized division and a German cavalry division.  In the screen above you can see the space to maneuver which I really prefer.  I also like that the scenario designer gives the German player freedom to decide the axis of attack rather than placing the German forces in contact.

Initially, I held my Panzer divisions in reserve and sent the cavalry division forward to probe the Dnepr south of the city.

Recon elements of 4th Panzer have reached the river as 10th Motorized begins to setup for an assault on the northern part of the city.

You can see by the Strength Dialog screen that the armies are pretty evenly matched.  The Germans control the skies in this early Barbarossa scenario which makes sense and their overall quality is higher as evidenced by the Victory Point values for each army (which also makes sense).


This is also a good test of a highly mechanized force (checkout the vehicle disparity) assaulting a well laid out defense in pretty difficult terrain.


The attack is underway from the north. Here I am lining the Corps artillery assets up to support the attack.  You can just see 3rd Panzer hanging back to the west waiting for a breakthrough.
Taking advantage of the air situation is a big part of the GE attack.   I used my initial recon flights to observe troops within the city and then along the eastern bank of the Dnepr.
Using the artillery dialog is the best way to manage artillery assets.  This is turn 12 and you can see that I have ringed the city with 10th Mot and 4th Panzer.  I didn't commit my armor into the fight until I had a river crossing.  GE infantry from both divisions assaulted the city itself.
Here I am moving a bridging battalion into position behind an assault to the river by GE 10th Motorized Div.

Turn 17: I grabbed the Mogilev objective and another crossing. I learned a painful lesson about the bridge I put over the Dnepr north of Mogilev. The ground on the opposite side is too marshy for my armor to use. I have only been able to get infantry battalions across there "on foot."

Turn 17: I have bridged the Dnepr in the middle of a marsh.
II Bn 41st Inf Regt got isolated in Mostok on the eastern side of the river and suffered catastrophic losses and is attempting to fight its way out. The initial bridgehead has shrunk to a few hexes as I attempt to withdraw my units. I did manage to exit two battalions of 10th Mot. off the board using that bridgehead though.

The second bridgehead at Stantsiya though is building nicely. I have over 100 tanks on that side of the river with a full regiment of infantry.
There are pockets of resistance inside Mogilev still but the southern bridgehead is too strong for the Soviets to break in time.
German losses were heavy.  I lost very few tanks (less than 5).  My vehicle losses were from my recon units as I fixed the Soviet defenses around Mogilev.  

The after action screen reveals the Soviet defense around Stantsiya. You can see two German units heading for the exits.
Final Thoughts:

Mogilev River crossing turned out to be a tough nut to crack for me but in the end I achieved a "Major Victory" in Tiller game terms. I read the battle notes for the first time afterwards and it seems the Germans bypassed the City to the north and south. I entered the City from the western suburbs using 10th Motorized and took heavy losses. 

My first bridgehead east of the City was surrounded and reduced to a 1km hex. I misread the terrain and couldn't bring 3rd Panzer over that bridge to exploit the hole I made (I could almost hear my digital troops groaning at their dumbass commander when I realized this). 

In Mogilev's southern suburbs I captured both bridges intact and exploited the primary road there to exit enough forces to achieve the major victory. 

I did a good job of preserving my armor for the breakthrough.  Early on I misused the cavalry division to recon the Soviet units along the river.  They took heavy losses from my probes there.  I am not sure what their best use in this battle would have been.  In the end, they hung back and entered the city at the end of the game.

"Mogilev River Crossing" is a really fun scenario to solo, with manageable unit counts, interesting terrain and a determined AI.  Kudos to scenario designer Greg "Sturmer" Smith for his work on it.





Comments

Aidan Christy said…
This is the scenario that gave me the most trouble on the Smolensk 41 mobile app before I even knew that John Tiller made more than those smaller games for Android. I have messed with to full campaign getting most of my Panzer Divisions crossed the River. I think it was the Soviet 1st Mechanized Division that really gave me trouble having a battalion of t-34s. Smolensk 41 is classic I like the McNamara OOB so you gave the Panzer IV companys available to support your infantry. I am more of a 43-45 guy and enjoy games like Kharkov 43, Budapest 45, Bulge 44, Korsun 44, Sicily 43, Normandy 44, and Salerno 43. I hope you keep posting articles.
Chris said…
Thanks Aidan for your comment. I will keep posting about Smolensk! This scenario/game is one of my favorites.
Nicely written article, please keep them coming!

But if I may, a little critique.
You are much too timid in the attack on Mogilev itself. :)
By Turn 3-4 your artillery should be coming online, and coupled with all those Morale A battalions, you have just ludicrous amounts of firepower available.
Don't spread your arty around on all available targets. Find one or two hexes that are important, then hammer 'em until nothing moves. Then hammer them some more.
Every Inf battalion gets some armor to accompany them, and just go hunting through Mogilev. Pin down, and isolate specific enemy battalions and destroy them in place.
You have higher soft attack, and you're Morale A against Morale D. While the Russians might look fearsome on the map, they'll melt away if you push hard.
Anything un-Disrupted gets hammered with artillery. Anything Disrupted gets assaulted ASAP, preferably after you've cut off their retreat.
If necessary, ignore the 1-minefields in order to isolate enemy positions.
1-mines are annoying, but rarely lethal. So don't move into them if you don't have to, but on the other hand don't be afraid to move into them in order to gain position.
It's only a 25 turn scenario, so ignore fatigue until it starts creeping into 150+.
In campaigns I wouldn't dream of attacking at night, but since there's such a short time-limit, you have to push every turn.
Your best weapon by far is your mobility. Use it isolate enemy positions.
Once they're disrupted and isolated, they'll surrender in droves when attacked.
Suffice it to say that I'm usually through Mogilev by Turn 7 or 8.
Granted, with higher losses, but it also means that the Russians won't have time to retreat, and you can mop them up after you take the bridges and cut off their supply.

As for the two other possible river-crossings, the same principles apply.
There are only two real options of the location of the pontoon-bridges, since there are only two places where a river-crossing doesn't end up in marshy terrain.
Use your recon to identify enemy positions, then pick a gap. You'll need to reduce two enemy positions in order to get a gap free of ZOC.
If necessary, fix the flanking positions with a single battalion so they can't reinforce, then concentrate two battalions plus arty on each of the two enemy positions you wish to reduce.
The entrenchments might delay it a turn or two, but you simply out-firepower anything the Russians have, and once Disrupted, the Russians will have a hard time getting the units back up again.
Once across, find, fix and destroy enemy positions as you run into them.
After that, use the northern and southern divisions to protect the flanks, while the two Panzer divisions race for the exit.

The biggest problem in this scenario is usually if one of the hexes on either side of the bridge accidentally gets rubbled by artillery, slowing everything down to a crawl.
But you have to push. Hard.
In this scenario, speed literally kills.
(Well, speed and artillery, I suppose. :D )
Chris said…
Thanks for the comment! This was/is a favorite scenario of mine. I have played against the AI and head to head. One of the better designed scenarios.
Yeah, it's a fun one, although I do think it's heavily pro-German in balance especially against the AI.
It invariably tries to hold on to Mogilev, and it's just impossible.
They're trying to face down two Panzer divisions with bigger battalions, better artillery, higher morale and higher Soft attack.
Good luck, gentlemen. You're going to need it.

Best strategy for the Russians IMO, is to get the hell out of Dodge, and only defend the two hexes on either side of the road-bridge, hoping like hell either of them gets rubbled in the fighting.
Everybody else pulls back to the ridge-line, digs in and try to keep the main road in ZOC.
That, coupled with defending the marsh-hex south of the RR-bridge can really put a crimp in the advance.

Not much you can do in the north. Pull back from the river, then dig in and hope.
No reinforcements are coming, so the north either holds or it doesn't. But once the Germans places their pontoons, it should be easier to concentrate on the bridgehead.
South is a little better, if for no other reason than it being closer to the reinforcements hustling up.
Once you get those A Morale airborne guys into entrenchments, things start looking up.