Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

Marita-Merkur: January I, 1941

I apologize for the delays in getting this posted. I had a horrific weekend, and ended up in the hospital twice. Hopefully that is all behind me now….

Italo-Greek War, the end of 1940 (click image to enlarge)

Italo-Greek War, the end of 1940 (click image to enlarge)

December, 1940: The Historical Record

December of 1940 was pretty quiet for the most part. Snows falling in the mountains slowed much of the war down at this point, but did not stop it. On the western part of the front, the Greeks moved across the Albanian border and pushed up to the village of Sarandë. Deeper in the mountains to the east, the Greeks push further and further into Albania, Using Korcë as a springboard, heavy fighting occurs around the towns of Tepelenë and Këlcyrë, where both are lost and retaken multiple times. (Locations on the map are approximate).

Herr Hitler begins to send troops into Romania to facilitate an invasion of Greece, if necessary.

I marked the approximate front on the map, and in many areas, I am way behind (as the Greeks).  The Italians are tenaciously hanging on in the mountains of Greece, and are only withdrawing slowly. The Greeks are running out of fresh troops to force the Italians back across the border, but the Italians haven’t been able to push further into Greece, either.

Italians: Jan I, 1941

The Italians start off the new year with enough parts arriving for them to get the inoperative G.50 fighters on Corfu flying again. So far, between both sides, air repair has been coming relatively easily.  The construction engineers are hard at work on the airfields on Corfu, but they will not be completed for another turn due to poor weather.

At the end of the year, the Italian front line was bulging dangerously to the south, the decision was made to pull the line back. Yes, the Italians now have their back to their border, but at least one of the hexes they controlled is now longer surrounded on four sides. A few VPs lost, but better than troops at this point.

Italian offensive, Jan I 41 (click image to enlarge)

Italian offensive, Jan I 41 (click image to enlarge)

Four more infantry divisions arrive from Italy, and are immediately dispatched to the front. At this point, all the divisions arriving have very little offensive punch and are for defensive purposes, to stop the Greeks from overrunning Albania.

Even though the Italians are backing up, they do turn around and throw a punch. Supported by bombers from Vlore and Italy, they attack an infantry regiment and an immobilized artillery regiment. The Allies choose to intercept. Engaging the escort screen, nothing happens to either side, so the Allies proceed to attack the mission force. No bombers are lost, but the Italians shoot down the Greek Mxd fighter, and abort the British Mxd fighter bombers. Of course it’s the Italian mission force that does the heavy lifting.

The Italians have 6:1 odds, excellent odds in this game, but still only manage to force the Greeks to retreat. Of course, the artillery can’t escape and is destroyed, but the infantry escapes into the mountains. The Italians have been having a heck of a time trying to destroy this regiment.

To the east, just a bit, Italian forces attack the cadre of the 17th infantry division. The combat result is a Defender Half Eliminated, destroying the remnants of the division. There is now a hole torn in the Greek line, and the troops in Albania are in danger of being cut off.

On the main road into Greece, the Italian mechanized forces again attack the combined Greek/Commonwealth forces just south of the Albanian border, but the attack fails (No Effect).

By the end of the turn, the Italian mechanized forces want to use exploitation to once again take control of the airfield that they built, but they quickly discover that while the tanks can move through the mountains on the roads, the Bersagliari (motorcycles) can’t get into the mountains at all to support this move, so the tanks stay put in order to keep the front line cohesive.

There is a discrepancy between the Italian photo above and a later photo. The stack with the 58th infantry division is actually on the Albanian border, not in the location shown. I put an arrow in to show the movement. I don’t know how this discrepancy occurred, but it is what it is.

Greeks/Allies: January I, 1941

Although the Greeks are slowly pushing the Italians out of Greece, the decision is finally made to clear out the Metaxas Line and send the entire army west.

Greek offensive, Jan I 41 (click image to enlarge)

Greek offensive, Jan I 41 (click image to enlarge)

The British Mxd fighter bombers are repaired, but the Greek air force is still hurting from the loss of their fighters.

In order to make it more difficult for the Italians to fight their way through the mountains, engineers begin fortifying. This will force an additional -1 DRM onto the enemy.  perhaps this process should have been started sooner. The fort will not be complete until February I, 1941 due to the poor weather.

The Greeks only make a single attack on the forces that just pulled back. The Italians are still vulnerable from three hexes, and the Greeks strike, achieving 3:1 odds (with the +2 DRM for mountain fighting. The Greeks seem to be getting on a roll, rolling a 5 (modified to a 7) for a Defender Eliminated result. The Italian division does not have a cadre, so it is completely destroyed, opening a gap in the front line.

The Greeks decide not to fill the gap to the east. The Italians would have to be fools to try to force their way through that opening, especially since the Greeks have ripped a hole right in the line behind them.  They have a choice of attacks to make, both of which would be at 2:1 combat odds. They may be able to achieve 3:1 at one of the hexes, but that’s a risk they will have to take. besides, there is nothing to fill that gap with, although troops are on the way. So I decided to not give up the VPs for control of Albanian hexes, especially after the successful attack this turn that threatens those Italian units that are in position to attack.  But we’ll see what I decide to do the next turn.

The going is very slow for the Greeks, as they do not have any motorized units to exploit their success. But what should the Italians do? Should they back off into Albania, en masse, and attempt to lure the Greeks in so they can force feed VPs down their throats and trigger German intervention before it is too late? It’s a difficult question to answer, since I am in charge of both sides, and I know that as the Greeks, i would not chase the Italians into Albania. Like I said early on, the best strategy for the Greeks, at least from my point of view, is to not invite the Germans to the party.

End of Turn VP Tally

The Italians ended last turn with 104 VPs, to the Greeks 32.

Italian tally:

  • +3 for control of Corfu.
  • +10 VP for shooting down the Greek fighter
  • +10 VP for control of two Greek mountain hexes
  • +4 VP for control of two Greek non-mountain hexes.

Italian total: 131 VPs.

Greek tally:

  • +2 for complete destruction of Italian division.
  • +6 for control of three hexes in Albania.

Greek total: 40 VPs.



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2 thoughts on “Marita-Merkur: January I, 1941

  1. 29delta on said:

    Have to say that all that Greek Arty getting immobilized in the mountains is something I’d been trying to avoid at all. Just seems that keeping that stuff on roads would have provided a heck of a lot of energy on that west coast road and valley.


    • You have to keep in mind that I haven’t played a lot of these games in 20+ years, so while it is looking like the rules are not going to be the issue for me that I thought it would be (but I still make mistakes from time to time), I’m still trying to work out strategies. That’s the point of this exercise.

      I’m not saying your feedback isn’t welcome. It is. Helps me refine my game.

      So far, though, this game is not working out like I remember. While the Greeks are certainly pushing the Italians back, I seem to remember it happening a lot faster. Maybe the Italians ran away and tried to lure the Greeks into Albania. =)


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