Marita-Merkur: Mar I 1941
The Italians: Disaster Strikes
By this point in the game, the historical war had stagnated in the mountains of Albania. The Germans are still two turns away from overunning Greece and Yugoslavia, but the Yugoslav coup has not materialized, and the Greeks have not been able to drive far enough into Albania to trigger intervention checks. Until recently, the Greeks have struggled to eject the Italians from Greece.
The last turn ended with a group of Italians in another dangerous salient, trying to complete the construction of a fort on the Greek-Albanian border. The last time this happened, the troops that were pulled back out of the salient were still destroyed. Of course, they were also on the end of the line, the anchors.
The Italians also did not attack last turn, unable to get better than 1:1 odds. It isn’t any fun not being able to attack. So, considering what happened at the last salient a few months ago, the Italians decide to try to fight their way out. Using bomber support, they can still only get 2:1 odds in the mountains. The Italians also decide to use the optional table to try to ensure that the Greeks will be forced back.
The Greeks had other ideas, however.
The Italians roll an Attacker Half Eliminated result, costing them 11.5 combat factors as a result. The Italians completely lose four divisions (including a mountain division cadre), and a construction regiment, because they cannot retreat out of the fortified hex. The rest retreat, but the Italians are now in complete disarray, and have surrendered +10 VPs to the Greeks in this attack.
To the east, near the Yugoslav border, reinforced by a pair of infantry divisions arriving on the scene, the Italians attack the Greek cavalry sticking their heads out (3-8 cavalry XX). Amazingly, even against that pretty weak division, the Italians are only able to muster a 2:1 attack. Using the regular combat table, they roll a Half Exchange. The Greeks lose 4 combat factors, and the Italians lose 2, costing them an entire division (3-4-6). The Greeks score +2 VPs for that elimination, but now have another gap in their front line.
The forces in the last Italian occupied Greek hex are now at risk of being cut off. Mechanized forces consisting of the 2-8 armored cadre and the 2-8 Bersagliari regiment move in to try to protect the supply line, and give the infantry an escape route out of Greece.
The Greeks are still waiting for parts to get their Mxd bombers repaired.
The last half of the turn had the Italians fleeing for their lives, leaving a vacuum in Albania that the Greeks gleefully and swiftly fill. Engineers begin construction of a pair of forts that, at the current pace, will be finished on April I, 1941 (assuming the poor weather continues). The two forts that the Italians had constructed have been destroyed.
The British begin to arrive in Athens, in spirit if not in force. An armored brigade, an antitank battalion and an artillery battalion arrive, and are immediately put on trains and sent north to a crossroads, where they disembark and begin to head west to support the Greeks. Their ultimate destination is the west coast to support any Greek breakthrough into the lower elevations in Albania.
While they move north, the Greeks attack in three places.
On the west coast of Greece, the Greeks attack the last remaining Greek hex that the Italians control. With the support of the Greek 3-8 motorized division that has made its way from Athens, they achieve 3:1 combat odds, with a -2 DRM for rough terrain and a fort. The Italians are wiped out in an exchange, but manage to take some of the Greeks with them. An exchange of 9 points destroys the Greek 19th motorized division (the 3-8), reduces the 3rd division to its cadre strength, and also destroys two cavalry regiments and an artillery regiment. But the Italians no longer control any hex on mainland Greece. The Greeks also score +4 VP for eliminating two Italian divisions in the attack. The CR.42 fighters that were stationed there escape to Valone (Vlore).
The Greeks also attack in the center at 2:1, to clean up the disaster that has befallen the Italians. Since they are in the mountains, the Greeks get the +2 DRM, and eliminate all Italian forces, scoring +2 VP for the elimination of a division in the process.
Far to the east, the Greeks attack from Koritsa into the mountains at 1:1 combat odds, but again, they get the +2 DRM. The results are not as spectacular as the other two battles, achieving only a defender retreat result, but the Greeks are on the move back into the mountains once again.
The Italians are in disarray, and on the verge of collapse. They may be way ahead in victory points, but they are losing this game. German intervention at this point seems highly unlikely.
I’ve been playing the Italians with the idea of actually trying to win the game without German help. The idea was to drive as far into Greece as they could, and force the Greeks to dig them out, hex by hex. While this has scored them a lot of VPs, it has also prevented any help from the Germans at all. No assistance, no intervention. While the Greeks are still a long ways behind, if they continue to advance like this, they will catch up shortly and win this game, but will have prevented the German invasion as well.
The dig in and force me out strategy seems to be a loser.
End of Turn VP Tally
Standings as of last turn: Italy: 155, Greece: 60
- +3 for Corfu
- +18 for Italian divisions eliminated.
- +16 for 8 hexes of Albania controlled.
- Total VPS: +34
Italy still leads 158 to 94, but if Greece continues to have turns like that, they will rapidly close the gap.