Cardboard Wars

War is the continuation of politics by other means

Marita-Merkur: Mar II 1941


History

By the beginning of March, 1941, the Italians had been heavily reinforced, and as the snow began to dissipate, they launched a new spring offensive. While not quite so disastrous as the first offensive, it really went nowhere either. But they kept the Greek army busy. Busy enough that they didn’t seem to notice the Germans massing on the border with Bulgaria…..

This is also the turn where the Yugoslav coup occurred, inviting the wrath of the Nazis……

The Game:

Amazingly enough, by the last half of March, the weather clears up. The snow in the mountains is melting. The Italians don’t have the strength to launch any kind of spring offensive. They are just barely hanging on, and are desperate for help.

The Italians

Italian defensive movement and air offensive, Mar II 41 (click image to enlarge)

Italian defensive movement and air offensive, Mar II 41 (click image to enlarge)

The Italians make no attacks this turn, and they get no reinforcements.

The only thing they can do is shuffle troops around again to close gaps in the line that the Greeks are seemingly opening up at will.

The air force, in the meantime, has been switched to a new task. They are to start bombing Greek transportation lines in an attempt to cut off the flow of supplies to the front. Both bombers and the dive bomber are sent out to three separate locations, staying far enough away from Athens to prevent the British Hurricanes from intercepting them. Each bomber, on its own, needs a 5 or 6 to damage the transportation lines, while the dive bomber needs a 4, 5 or 6 due to its +1 DRM for bombing. Two roads are damaged, almost cutting off the flow of supplies from Athens. The rail line on the outskirts of Thessalonika is completely missed, however. Supplies are still flowing, but it is going to take some time for the engineers to get out of the mountains and start repairs.

The Greeks

The Greek offensive continues, mar II 41 (click image to enlarge)

The Greek offensive continues, mar II 41 (click image to enlarge)

British bombers that arrived last turn in Athens move forward to airbases closer to the front, and to protect transportation lines from the Italian air force.

British mechanized forces, including the 1st armored brigade move out of the mountains to attack up the coast road. The 2nd New Zealand infantry division lands in Patrai and starts the journey north, while an artillery brigade lands in Athens.

The forts in the mountains are completed early, but before the engineers can move to a new hex to build more fortifications, they receive orders to exit the mountains and work on repairing transportation lines that the Italians have been tearing up. They begin to move south.

With the arrival of armor to the front, the Greeks once again make a mountain attack against the Italian 36th infantry division. The British 1-8 motorized infantry battalion did not participate in the attack due to stacking considerations. The Allies still achieve a 2:1 combat ratio, and with their +2 DRM, they eliminate all hostile forces, losing half of what the Italians lost in the process, and fully eliminating the remnants of the 131st (Centauro) light armored division. Overall, the Italians lose 14 more combat factors, forcing the Greeks to lose 7. The Greek 4th infantry division is reduced to cadre strength, while the cadre of the 16th infantry division was eliminated.

This battle scores +10 VPs for the Greeks, +4 for two infantry divisions wiped out, and +6 for finally destroying the tanks.

To the east, an attack is launched against the Italian 56th infantry division, at 3:1 odds. The +2 DRM for the Greeks eliminates another division, scoring +2 VPs, tearing yet another gap in the Italian line.

There are once again, two gaps in the Italian front line. Although there is a gap in front of the 1st armored brigade, it does not exploit. It could make it all the way to Vlore, but then the group would only have a defense strength of 1.5 points because the artillery battalion could not make it. The 1-8 artillery battalion can’t exploit, because it could only move 1 hex, and then it would be violating stacking. So the Brits stand pat for the moment.

Italians: 158

  • +3 for control of Corfu

Greeks: 94

  • +22 for control of 11 hexes in Albania
  • +12 for elimination of four Italian divisions
  • Total: +34 victory points

New totals:

Italians: 161

Greeks: 128

This game is done. It is only a matter of time, two turns at the most, before the Greek victory point total surpasses the Italians. While this will not trigger German intervention, it may inspire the Germans to send some troops to the area to “assist”. I want to see if this happens, and what effects bombing the roads will have on the Allied offensive, if the Italian bombers can keep ahead of the Greek engineers. Something has to happen, because the Italians receive no more reinforcements after the next turn, and they are running out of men.

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3 thoughts on “Marita-Merkur: Mar II 1941

  1. Mark O. on said:

    Tony,
    Cool replay!
    Check your victory conditions.
    It’s been a long time since I’ve played MM, but don’t the Greeks win instantly with the occupation of Vlore, the sole supply port in Albania?

    Also, check the supply rules on transportation lines.
    IIRC, it’s been EUROPA standard (due to the 2 week turns) that you might interrupt rail movement of combat formations, bur rail ‘breaks’ do NOT interrupt the supply line.
    Ergo, even if the Italians successfully bombed the transportation lines, I don’t think the supply lines would be cut. You could slow new formations moving to the front and maybe thus slow down the Greek Offensive, but I think supply would continue uninterrupted.

    (I’m going camping tonight and for the weekend and so will not have the MM to hand, otherwise I’d look it up myself.)

    Mark Owens

    Like

    • Mark-
      Thank you for the kind words. I am happy that you are enjoying the replay!

      I have been trying to be very studious about the rules, and fortunately have only made one screw up that I am aware of. Fortunately, the screw up did not impact the game. It is ironic that I started to do this to come back up to speed on the standard rules, and I have been playing the games with non-standard rules.
      I don’t have any materials here in front of me, so I may have to correct myself this evening after I get the chance to review them.

      Vlore is not the only port in Albania. Durres (not sure of map spelling) is just west of Tirane, and I believe it can be used as a supply terminal as well.
      The transportation line/supply line rule is a bit trickier. MM is the only game that I am aware of that allows not just the cutting of rail lines, but roads as well. The only rail line in Greece is the north-south line running from Athens to Thessalonika. If any hex on this line is bombed or destroyed by ground units, the rail line is damaged first. The road line needs to be bombed again in order to cut it. In western Greece, since there are only roads, bombing or cutting them damages the roads.

      If my memory serves me correctly, and I have been studying this over and over to make sure that I get it right, a supply line can be traced up to 7 hexes to a transportation line. It can then only be traced along that transportation line as long as the transportation line is not cut. If it is cut, the supply line cannot continue to be traced along it.

      This is different from every other Europa game, where supply can still be traced along cut transportation lines, presumably because the roads cannot be cut in any other game.

      It is interesting to go back to these earlier games and see how the rules evolved over time.

      I will be sure to take a look this evening, and update this, including the rule citations.

      Like

    • Now that I have my rulebook in front of me, let’s tackle these.

      1) Vlore (Valona) is one of two ports in Albania. Durres is just west of Tirane. Rule 12.C.1: Italian supply sources: any Italian controlled port hex.

      That is not to say the the fall of Vlore would not have major ramifications. Rule 12.C.6.British/Commonwealth Sources: Any Allied controlled port hex.

      Thus, the British supply lines would shorten considerably, although this would not impact the Greeks.

      2) Rule 12.B … Additionally, if a supply line is being traced along a transportation line, it may not be traced into a hex where the line is cut.

      Rule 6: Transportation lines: There are two types of transportation lines on the map, primary lines and secondary lines…

      Every primary line has a secondary line running parallel to it, although only the primary line is printed on the map.

      6.3: Transportation line breaks: Any ground unit may cut a transportation line by spending an additional 3 MP’s in that hex to do so. Air units may also cut transportation lines, as detailed in the air rules…

      Cutting a primary line in a hex does not automatically cut the secondary line assumed to be in the hex. This secondary line must be separately cut, or units may use it without hindrance. For simplicity, the primary line in a hex must be cut before a secondary line can be.

      Rule 21.E.4: Bombing Any air unit with a tactical bombing factor of 2 or greater may attack transportation lines. Each air unit must attack individually on the bombing table. A hit breaks the line. Note that breaking a primary transportation line does not break its associated secondary line. The secondary line must be bombed separately…… For additional information on breaking transportation lines, see Rule 6.

      The Italians don’t have enough air force to do all the tasks they need to do (ground support, anti-shipping, transportation lines), but it seems like the best way to win as the Italians is to mount an air offensive against the transportation net.

      Like

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