After another read-through of the rules I got my first game of Bombarossa going last night. Owing to various distractions I managed just the first turn of the game, but it was a pretty enjoyable session.
As with most games that cover the opening of the war in the east, I’m sure there’s a bit of a learning curve that I’ll have to conquer. Running the opening German operation involves a bit of art – and probably more daring than I’m willing to exhibit on a first playing.
Looking at the starting German forces and then looking at the starting Soviet forces induced a brief “WTF?” moment – which it almost always does. There are lots of Russians on that map. The Germans have ample(ish) infantry, but those panzer corps look pretty thin compared to all of that space. But that’s the essence of the whole campaign, isn’t it? WTF? What friggin nutcase decided an invasion the Soviet Union was a good idea?
I think my German opening went OK. Not great, but not horrible. The game passes one crucial milestone – the “Minsk Test”. Can the Germans take Minsk on the first turn of the game? Yes. It’s definitely possible. My particular German army didn’t, but that’s just me being (probably) too cautious. Instead of charging ahead and trying to run a Mobile Assault against Minsk with some of my AGC panzers, I opted instead to use them to MA and mop up a moderately strong Soviet stack they had just surrounded to put out of supply.
No doubt I’m being a little too paranoid about those mandatory Soviet attacks, but after playing lots of games of War for the Motherland and Red Star Rising I’m probably too sensitive to the possibility of German step losses early in the game.
Army Group Center performed pretty much as expected and blew big holes in things. Army Group North captured Riga. Army Group South didn’t make a lot of progress, but I expect things there will pick up a bit in Turn 2 as the Axis guys that setup in Romania get into the action – the Russian southern flank is a bit loose.
Opening turn casualties? The Russians have lost 9 or 10 steps, three or four of which were the replaceable ‘new model’ Rifle Armies (the remainder were some of Stalin’s Expendables). The Germans lost three steps (two Inf, one Arm), two of which will return via replacements on Turn 2.
My plan is to get in a few more turns tonight. And maybe some digisnaps too, as the camera (and my family) will be returning from the beach today.