Operation Edelweiss is one of the many scenario of Cauldrons of War – Stalingrad, the 1942 sequel of CoW Barbarossa.
This scenario features the fightings in the Caucasus from July 1942 to November 1943 (after that, it is another fun story we could call “tricky escape from the Caucasus”).
This scénario is not easy at all, and indeed, the german goals proved to be totally unrealistic, so I wanted to provide you with an in depth analysis of this scenario.
An impossible task ?
The germans will need 6 victory points to score at least a minor victory. Here are the objective at scenario start :
– Taking Baku : 5 points. The Baku oil facilities would be a real asset for an oil starving Reich. And taking Baku would threaten the British Empire in the Middle East (and the Allies’ Aid via the Iranian corridor).
–Taking Maikop and Grozny : 1 point each. The oil production of those areas can in no way compare to those of Baku, but they nonetheless count for 1 point.
–Taking Astrakhan : 2 points. This is the edge of the world from a logistical point of view, but taking Astrakhan is a good way to deprivate the soviets from the Caucasus oil.
–Taking Batumi : 3 points. The Black sea will trully be yours once you’ve taken the last soviet harbour on the Black Sea.
No need to be a great mathematician to understand that there will be no victory without taking Baku or Batumi. Fortunately, the German OKW is a world champion when it comes to changing its mind about objectives and priorities : you will have other possibilities to gain points during the course of the scenario.
Now, why the german didn’t win this scenario in real life :
An impossible logistic
The caucasian theatre of operations is just way too wide for your logistical system. Rostov is the last station you can reach by rail, then your trucks will have to travel 400 to 800 km to reach your fighting units in the Terek area. That without anything like a “real” road.
There is a new battlefield trait in Cauldrons of War – Stalingrad : the remote battlefield, to portrayed those far end of your logistical system. Units in remote battlefields will cost you way ore trucks to supply, and as they won’t likely be supplied with spare parts, mechanical units will suffer a lot from attrition.
Oh and because it would still be too easy, you will have to deal with red partisans among the mountain folks (the soviet will face the same problem because russians are not welcome around here too)
Strong defensive positions for the soviet
You won’t have any problems in the steppe, but as you reach the Caucasus mountains, the soviet will have strong natural positions to hook on. The Caucasus in itself is a forteress. You have the feeling to be stopped cold on some operations. Cauldrons of War Stalingrad adds 2 new operations traits : mountains and high mountains. You can imagine that progresses will be slow in the mountains.
Too many operations for a too small number of units
You just won’t be able to push simultaneously in all directions. Unfortunately you can neither let the soviet acting freely anywhere. As real life 1942 germans, you will switch several times your main axis of offensive trying to get trough the strong soviet positions.
To make things worst, the OKW will try to take away yours troops to send them to Stalingrad or even to France !
So, why should you win ?
Alternative way of gaining points
As the situation evolves, you will be presented with alternative goals or trade-off choices.
-Bombing Baku instead of conquering it : 2pts instead of 5. If you can’t have that oil, why should the soviet have it ?
–Mont Elbruz instead of Batumi 1pt instead of 3. When Hitler heard that his mountain troups conquered the Mount Elbruz instead of fighting through the mountain passes, he went mad… But may be a symbolic athletic victory is worth 1 point for your propaganda.
–Stop the operations in time 1 point. May be when the generals tell they can’t go further, you may listen to them, stop the operations and send enough troups in the Stalingrad area to avoid a disaster ? If you choose so, you will loose a lot of Command points, but gain that loser’s victory point…
–Making new friends 3 points. Hitler dreamt of having Turkey on his side, but that country learned the hard way not to join foolish military adventures. But may be, if you push deep enough in the Caucasus, and your Axis cohesion score is hig enough (Axis cohesion is a new Cow Stalingrad feature), they may consider joining the war. (The idea behind this counterfactual event is that Turkey won’t let you alone decide the futur of turkish populations in the Caucasus).
The platest showed that 9 victory points is a reasonable goal for a good german player. (I personnally stick around 4-6 points)
Take Novorossiysk for better supply lines
Taking that port is doable, even if it is strongly defended. Once it is done, your supply lines will be shortened, using naval transport. The road to batumi along the coast when it is not blocked by partisans or traffic jams will benefit from the Crimean HQ’s supply capacities.
Use your mountain troops
The Caucasus mountains may be a nightmare for the conqueror, but you have an incredible asset in your order of battle : your mountain troops. Use them wisely : your opponent don’t have such troops, and they are not so much penalized by mountains.
Use your planes
Use them not only to supply your troops, but also to bomb a lot and to bomb often. Your troops may be exhausted quite quickly because of that damn “Remote battlefield” trait. Bombing ennemies to death is a good way to spare your troops. They are some operations where you will notice an unefficiency of your bombing actions. It can be explained by the dense woods in those areas. If it is the case, send in the infantry!
This scenario is difficult but in no way hopeless. New players will have a hard time with this one until they realize that game requires carefull planning and ressources management.