Marita-Merkur: Dec II 1940
The snow begins to accumulate in the mountains so that both sides are hampered. Artillery that is not on the road sin the mountains passes are immobilized.
Italian: Dec II 1940
Italian infantry moves as quickly as it can through the Albanian mountains to close the breach opened by the Greek army. Both sides are rapidly reaching exhaustion, as the entire front is covered by a single division per hex, if that. There are a couple of places that does not have even that much holding the front. Fresh troops are committed to the battle, and the Italians continue to maintain their faltering offensive.
The Italians have enjoyed air superiority, but they have used it as ground support, generally in a single hex that needed a boost. The Allies, to this point, have not dared to contest the skies over the mountains.
The Italians eye three different points of attack; one in the Albanian mountains against a Greek divisional cadre, one against an infantry regiment and artillery in the Greek mountains, and an attack against Commonwealth forces on the road to Patrai.
The Italians decide to split their air forces among the three hexes that are to be attacked.
Over Greece, only a single bombing factor is needed to change a 2:1 attack to a 3:1 attack, and a CR.42 fighter armed with bombs is dispatched to the target, escorted by G.50s and MC.200 fighters. It is here that the rag tag Greek air force and Commonwealth fighter bombers strike. While the Allies survive attacks by the Italian escorts, they send a G.50 home, aborting it. They proceed to the mission force consisting of the lone CR.42, which drops its bombs and prepares to fight for its life. After combat is over, it is aborted, but it aborts the Greek mixed fighter as well. Suddenly, the potential 3:1 attack is dropped to 2:1.
Using the standard CRT (the Italians have made the deliberate decision to stay away from that table for the time being), they roll a 4. No Effect. The Greeks hold their ground and repulse the attacking Italians.
In Albania, Italian dive bombers zero in on Greek artillery, bringing the combat odds to 3:1 against a divisional cadre and an artillery regiment. The Italians roll a 5; Defender Half Eliminated. The Greeks lose the artillery, since it was immobilized in the mountains anyway, and retreat. This is the only successful attack of the three.
Out of the mountains, Italian mechanized forces, with the support of a CANT Z.506 floatplane bomber. The bomber survives AA fire, and the attack goes off at 2:1, -1 for rough terrain, +1 for Armor Effects. The roll is as disastrous as it can be for the Italians, rolling a 1; Attacker retreat. Once again, Commonwealth forces, aided by a Greek division stand toe to toe with the Italians, but this time, it is the attackers who retreat.
During the exploitation phase, the Italian 131 light armorede division moves to the hex it retreated from to hold the airfield against the Allies, but the motorcycles do not advance. They choose to stay with the artillery and the infantry so they will be supported, and defend at full strength.
One successful attack, one inconclusive, and an attacker retreat. It looks like the Italian offensive has stalled. While this is devolving into a standoff, whomever has the first major success in the mountains will have the advantage. The Italians recognize that the salient that has nearly pushed all the way through the mountains is becoming dangerous to those troops. Four Greek Divisions are moving up from the south, and another is going to be formed by the end of the year just to the east of the salient. It is becoming dangerous because the Albanians in the mountains can be attacked from four hexes, giving the Greeks much better odds to work with, in addition to their +2 DRM.
The new year may begin with a rearrangement of the Italian front in order to make it harder for the Greeks to attack. Victory points will be lost, but is it better to lose a few victory points, or an entire division (plus victory points). The light armor has proven useless in breaking out to the south, but even if it did, it was confined to roads at the moment and can’t enter the mountains. It is a fight to hold onto as much territory as possible to keep Il Duce happy.
Greek: Dec II 40
Following the stunning success of the combined Greek/British air might, ground crews get to work repairing the Greek air force. Both sides have an air repair roll of a 1 or a 2, and amazingly, the Greeks roll a 2, repairing their hodge-podge of fighter biplanes.
The Greek strategy, thus far has been to hold the Italians in the mountains, and push them towards the coast if possible. As more Italian mountain divisions have made their way to the front lines, the Greeks have concentrated on eliminating them, since they can attack at full strength in the mountains.
The Greeks counterattack in Albania after the Italian 5th Mountain Division advances into the hex that the Greeks were just forced out of. As with almost all of their attacks, this one is also at 2:1 odds, but the +2 DRM makes all of the difference. The Greeks also determine that they are done with the optional results table, and revert back to the standard table. The Greeks roll a 6 (modified to an 8), and get the first Defender Eliminated result of the game. The remnants of the mountain division flee as the Greeks take back the hex.
As Greek units move up from the south, another division is formed and ready to be thrown back into the fray. The Greeks have the 131st light armored division surrounded on 3 sides, but hold off on any attacks, because any attack would incur a -3 penalty to the attack roll (-1 for rough terrain, and -2 for armor effects). Right now, the Allies can muster 3:1 odds, but need much higher to overcome that DRM penalty. The absolute best the Greeks could hope for in this attack is a Half Exchange, but that would seriously weaken the Greeks at this point. Right now, they will be happy to just force the Italian armor to withdraw.
The Metaxas Line still has not been fully emptied, but one has to wonder that if the Germans do intervene at some point, will that defensive line be able to stop them anyway? Serious consideration is being given to just emptying out the line and sending everyone west to deal with the Italians. This comes from the line of thought that the Italians are winning on points so far, and they are so far ahead that by the time the Greeks achieve twice as many VPs as the Axis, the Germans will not be able to intervene, having become committed to the eastern front.
What to do, what to do…..
End of turn VP count
The Italians score another 22 VPs, +3 for Corfu, +15 for controlling three mountain hexes in Greece, and +4 for controlling two non-mountain hexes in Greece, bring their end of year total to 104.
The Greeks, on the other hand, tally +10 VP for control of 5 hexes in Albania. Their end of year total is now 32. One condition for a Yugoslav coup check has been fulfilled.
On to the fateful year of 1941…….