What had occurred in the original play through until midnight was that the German forces had blown open a hole (or rather my poorly designed defensive front allowed them to) between the Tank Factory and the Brick Factory leaving the Skudri Crossing Objective wide open for the taking, however they had failed to exploit that advantage properly (I suspect a human opponent would have surged there).
D01 13:31 The 5th Battery 3rd Battalion Artillery Regiment arrives on the battlefield and is ordered to move to a defensive position on the east bank between the Waterworks Ferry Point Objective and the Crossing 62 Objective.
At the same time I used the failure of saving the previous game to my advantage and order the 124th Rifle Brigade to attack southwest along the bank of the river towards the ferry crossing point that leads to the Skudri Crossing Objective in an effort to fend off any movement there by the enemy.
D01 15:31 When the 6th Battery 3rd Battalion Artillery Regiment arrives they are ordered to defend at their present location in-situ in order to bring their bombardment capabilities into operational readiness as quickly as possible.
D01 18:31 The 2nd Battalion 42nd Guards Infantry Regiment (all 82 of them by bad para insertion type to simulate landing ashore under combat conditions) is grouped with the 1047th Rifle Regiment (446 personnel) and is ordered to attack the only logical opportunity, that being the Krutoy Gully Objective which is currently being threatened by 400 some Germans.
D02 00:00 The situation on the battlefield is a relative stalemate. The win-O-meter (Lose/Win) in the upper left of the game window indicates a few ticks past halfway, which should be enough for a draw or if I am really lucky a marginal victory.
In an insane move I opt for a radical order that I have never done in the game before. All units are highlighted to form one massive group and are ordered to defend in-situ with normal rest selected, but with Attacks and Ambush checked.
More savvy players than me may scoff at this notion; however that’s what games are for: trying different things out to see what works best in certain circumstances.
At this point I have 7,061 personnel remaining.
D02 12:00 The situation remains basically the same. Over the past twelve hours of combat several objectives were lost, retaken, lost (rinse and repeat) so this is very much a back and forth slugfest well enough into the scenario that is could most certainly go either way (considering the amount of time left).
D02 21:31 The 117th Rifle Regiment arrives (503 personnel) and is ordered to take up a defensive position between the Crossing 62 and Skudri Crossing objectives. As this is the last reinforcement I will have for the scenario, I am going to keep it in reserve and use it where feasible and when needed (throwing them into combat with more than have of the time duration remaining would only serve to decimate the unit).
D03 03:46 Around midnight I see what is reported as an Assault Gun Company working the ferry crossing towards the Waterworks Ferry Point Objective and take direct control of 4th Battery 2nd Battalion Artillery Regiment and order an hour long barrage on the river.
This uses up the remaining 27 122mm HE rounds for that battery, and at this point all heavy artillery is out of supply as they are cut off from their supply base, the 62nd Army Base. At this point I realize that almost the entire combat force is cut off from supply as they are feeding from this base.
The only base with open supply lines is the 138th Infantry Division Base which is servicing just over 800 troops near the Gun Factory.
D03 12:00 The global defend in-situ order appears to be holding fast although I have not discerned any specific attacks being launched anywhere on the battlefield. At this point the Assault Gun Company is still on the ferry crossing which is primed so I detach the 8th Sapper Battalion and order them to Deny Crossing there with maximum Aggro.
Notice that green supply line running north across the river? :)
D03 12:00 The supply situation with the 62nd Army Base has vastly improved. Although there way too many units still cut off from supply, at least this gives me some hope of maintaining the status quo as it is and hoping to finish this out with either a Draw or Marginal Victory (I set low expectations for myself, so if I win it is like Christmas).
D03 18:51 The 62nd Army Base is under serious threat by a contingent of Axis forces that I suspect is making its way to the Commissar’s House Objective that I presently am in control of. At this point I commit my only reserve force, the 117th Rifle Regiment to blunt their advance.
D04 00:00 Day four arrives and the Soviets have so far prevented the Germans from crossing Volga River is any appreciable concentration. This however remains in grave doubt as the force they have amassed in the south could easily crush through the token defenses that I have at the Waterworks Ferry Point Objective.
D04 12:00 At this point I am relatively conceding defeat in my mind as I survey the battlefield and see troops suffering from 80% or more fatigue, although the global defend in-situ order was issued with normal rest. I could issue an order, but with that level of fitness and the time left I doubt seriously anyone would be able to carry it out effectively, if at all.
I am actually surprised that I got a draw with this effort. Also surprising is the personnel losses for both side were virtually even. The Victory Point spread was a mere 10 points, so even if I did grab another objective or two at the end it would not have made any difference in the outcome (perhaps bumping me either to a Marginal Defeat to a Marginal Victory at best).
Review Final Situation
I finished the scenario with over 6,000 troops remaining; however they were in no condition to continue the fight for much longer given intermittent supply issues and the German assaults. Their overall fatigue level was 75%.
At four days long, this was an incredibly long scenario in that for the Soviet player it is effectively a defend to the last man type of mission, so there is little opportunity to attack a position with fresh troops and have a chance to alter the course of battle.
This type of mission reminds me a lot of Elasson Rearguard from Conquest of the Aegean that was challenging to play and achieve a Decisive Victory as the Allies in the face of a massive German onslaught.
These missions may very well be historically accurate, but they are a grind to play on the defensive. These of course are critical moments of each campaign respectively and rightfully deserve their place in the video game sphere of historical reflection.
I am very impressed with the effort that Chris put into creating all of the components for this scenario, from the robust Soviet establishment file to the stunning map of Stalingrad on which the carnage takes place. While there are some minor technical issues in this beta build, he is on top of them and by the time this gets presented to the larger Command Ops community it will be a polished gem.
For insight on how the Germans play in this scenario, check out the excellent write-up by Doug over at Cry Havoc!