Mark is concentrating his efforts on capturing Rostov and moving into the Caucasus. With the oil fields being so valuable to the Axis war effort, it’s understandable that this will be the main flashpoint to start this scenario every time it’s played. Otherwise, the other big news is Mark activated Early Case Anton, which moves to disband the entire Vichy French army, replacing it with a joint German-French army of smaller size. It also allows Mark to freely move troops in and out of all Vichy territory. That means he can really start to fortify Northwest Africa in advance of my Operation Torch. It’s a big change from the previous version, one that will cause me a huge headache later.
My second round of attacks on the exposed bulge in the German line was successful in pushing back all three units Mark had stationed there. No follow up to capture the hex. Three artillery units and the Russian Fleet in the harbor engaged in bombarding the 4th SS, inflicting surprisingly moderate casualties on that dangerous unit. If Mark sticks to his tendencies, he’ll use the SS Divisions to spearhead any major attack. Keeping the SS Divisions off balance will save me time and territory later.
It will probably be short-lived, but I managed a breach in the German line near Gzhatsk, sending two tank brigades through the hole. I’ve spotted some pretty heavy German reinforcements to this sector, which will likely attack and send my advanced troops running back to the original line. Northwest of the Rzhev salient, I shuffled some units around, freeing up the 1st Shock Army for deployment elsewhere. My first intention was to move it to the Rzhev action, probably the western side of the salient to attack from there. But with the situation at Rostov very unstable, I might have the 1st board trains for the southern Don Front.
Don Front - Rostov
As expected, the Axis troops brushed aside my screening forces--the 18th & 56th Armies--and are now making their way toward Rostov. It seems that’s as far as they will be able to advance before hitting my defensive line built along the Don River, anchored by the 3rd Guards Tank. The problem here is that I’m basically out of available rifle divisions, nevermind entire armies. A single Op Group was shipped down from Moscow, but that’s not going to solidify my line. It looks as though the 1st Shock will have to be shipped down from the Rzhev sector, despite my need for them there to keep pressure on multiple fronts.
First contact has been made with the Axis forces in Africa, as the main body of Italian troops advanced east along the coastal road and supply line. Das Afrika Korps has taken a risky path, sweeping south into the open desert, running smack into my screening tank brigades. I have no doubt that the Panzers will turn my flank quickly, but at least they won’t do it to my surprise. The defense of Tobruk isn’t just important because I want to annoy Mark as long as possible. It’s really key to the entire Axis supply situation, should Mark want to make a serious attempt to reach inner-Egypt. The longer I hold Tobruk, the longer Mark’s forces here will go without decent supply, and the longer he will stay out of Egypt.