Odessa Storyboard? I don't think so. Long post to follow.
We need to make sure Odessa should be a tough nut to take. That’s what happened historically. However, I find Odessa near impossible to take, so I decided to look at the odds. And this is what I found.
I don’t see it as even remotely reasonable to invest into the city.
Let’s see what it takes for the Germans to capture Odessa.
First, there are only TWO hexes to attack from. The River Crossing Event Card can bring it to three, but we will handle that event later.
From what I’ve seen for the Soviets, it is easy to get an 8-4, a ?-5 (assume an ubiquitous 3-4 Corps), and a Garrison (2 SP) into Odessa. Any losses incurred are easily replaceable. Of course, an IP (but not a Fort) is there, so only -1. They can base the BB with the red bolt there, too. So, USSR has 13 SPs there to defend. If you make the Corps a Guards, then you have 14 SPs. But Let’s stay with 13. This is an easy average to get there.
The best Germany can do (forget any Axis … they don’t have the firepower) is place two 12-4 Armies there. However, you must move four 6-4 Korps there to make the armies, so this won’t happen often. The South doesn’t start with that amount of 6-4 Infantry. But for arguments sake, lets say we do, and this will have NO IMPACT on the North/Center forces (I know it does hinder the German advance elsewhere, but again bear with me). Let’s throw in the Romanian Armor units (so I can get that armor support with the CAS), because we really need to keep the German Panzers pushing elsewhere, as we’ve already invested 4 German 6-4 Korps to the south. You also need to somehow get an HQ there to at least supply the area. I’ve found this tough, to get an HQ here in ‘41 that is within 6 hexes, but I can keep one at 8, so we’re at least supplied … but no attack shifts due to range.
Germany can get 26 SPs with Romanian Armor if they can move 6-4s from the north/center to the south. So 2-1 attack … move that to 1:1 with the IDM and Heavy City drms. The Axis come with Stuka +1 white bolt and the ME-109. USSR defends with 1 red bolt (the BB) and the Yak/LaGG.
The dogfight commences and there is a 17% chance the Stuka can’t even get through (based on current Air CRT, but this will change in next revision). A 33% chance it gets damaged and Suppressed. Assume it gets through, so I have a 1:1 attack with only +2 CAS dice. An average roll will get me 3:2. Final Result? A 33% chance to take Odessa. If the Stuka doesn’t get through, then 1:1 with a 1/6 chance to take Odessa. 5/6 chance to suffer losses.
However, all this requires a German commitment that is basically unattainable. We can typically see the Romanian army with 8 SPs. And you can get a 10-3 German army there, too. The Romanian Armor can still come and play. So, most likely, I’m starting at 1:1 (if the Axis are supplied). Move that down 2 shifts for the drms, and it is 1:3, with the +2 CAS. Now we're not even close to Fantasyland anymore, and it gets really scary, doesn’t it? your actually less than a 1/6 chance due to the dependence of all the air results turning your way completely giving you 2 combat shifts. Not a good feeling, eh?
So you are saying, I know how to make it work Doc, you have to invest in cards. Okay, let me use River Crossing (small). River crossing will allow me to attack across but at ½ FP. Maybe I can get another Romanian Army so that is 4 more FPs…. that can get me to 3:2. Doesn’t change the real odds. The above still applies again.
And German Generals (medium)? For a one-time chance this season (it is Set Aside), you can cancel the 2 shifts down, so you’re back to 1:1 OR 3:2 (if both used at same time) with a +2 CAS, or that 33% chance.
To me, this isn’t the “storyboard” I expect to see historically. I see a possible siege at Odessa. I see some bloodletting on both sides. I see the Axis preparing for the siege and spending the RPs. Right now, it's hold out into perpetuity.
This storyboard indicates to me, Odessa can’t be taken without sacrificing the war effort in the East. And even that they don't get it 66% of the time. Losses are tremendous, firepower required is not available. That's why I just blow by and leave a dug in screening force.
I think Odessa shouldn’t be a Heavy City (take away that -1 drm and allow armor to attack at full strength) Or ... I think that the “storyboard” should be an event card that says Odessa cannot be reinforced. With 5 steps there, it’s impossible to take the city. But if we allow them to whittle away without Soviet reinforcements, then it'll take a few weeks for Germany to capture. Realistically, the Soviets did a lot of evacuations. They weren't throwing troops into places like Sevastopol and Odessa for months or even years. That wasn't their doctrine.
So my 0.02 zlotey.
I wouldn't want to tie down two Armies and take repeated pot shots on Odessa in the Summer of '41. I would want an HQ at least, if not Air. If I didn't have the HQ, I might wait for '42 or never take it. One thing I like about TITE is that there can be a lot of probability assessment, yet we often are unable to have really accurate estimates, since the variables are numerous, and some are long-term in their implications. Experience and skill have an unusually significant impact on success. A lot of wargames reward skill, but there are so many turns in TITE, and more long-term factors to consider than in most other games.
Historically, the Axis definitely did Naval Strikes on the Russian ships around Odessa to shoo them away. In fact, those attacks really banged up the Red Navy in the Black Sea IIRC.
And, yes, it is always important to have "shift enhancers" beyond Close Air Support vs. any key hex. In this case, putting a German HQ within 6 hexes of Odessa while simultaneously having it in a position to support a crossing of the Dnepr River gives the Axis choices and the Soviets consternation.
Well, hopefully, the player gets to decide that. We prefer to avoid "artificial stupidity" rules, and hardwire doctrine for one hex using a card seems it would be doing exactly that.
The reason it is a Hard city was its predominant structures were steel & concrete and not wood (unlike, say, Minsk).
Why did Odessa eventually fall? The Axis were persistent and the Soviets lost interest in keeping it reinforced. Their Improved Defense marker was not replaced there before the final assault, I suspect, as it was needed on the front line, for example.
There is not one path, there are choices. Odessa has fallen more times in my games than stayed Russian. I have destroyed the Battleship in the Odessa Harbor. The Barbarossa setup has been clarified so, no new Axis forces can enter on Turn 1. Moving the HQ can help with shifts on Odessa but then the HQ is not located in other places. Roll a 5 at 1-2 and the city is yours. Early in the summer, there is no worry from Russian planes. As soon as you get an EZOC on Krivoy Rog, even late in the summer no Russian fighters can reach. Sometimes 2 or 3 steps of Romanians watch 4 or 5 steps of Russian. Those steps are not in another place so, attack there. Sometimes you get lucky on the first attack but, given enough rolls, one will be right roll.
I think you have your odds wrong in the 1:3 scenario. 10-3 German army + 8-6-4 Romanian army + 2x 2-1-6 Romanian armor units makes it a 20-13 which is 3-2. Shifted down twice to 1-2. Use one air unit to offset the naval red bolt. You basically have a 1 in 6 chance on every attack to take the hex + inflict 5 step losses, 1 in 6 chance to inflict 1 step loss, 3 in 6 chance to take a step loss. The Soviets can continue to replace losses, but that's a commitment they need to make.
Historically, the Axis had four assaults on the City. 93,000 Romanian casualties vs. ~50,000 Soviet. That's equivalent to about 4 steps vs 2 steps, so I would say their commitment level was less than the max that you'll see in TITE.
Seems pretty historical from an odds perspective. You have to throw yourself at the city and hope to wear them down and/or get lucky. Throw in more air and you have better chances and can mitigate your own losses.
I thought much as you do Brian, but I believe it was Jay who recently came up with the clever idea of relocating an HQ into Romania on turn 1, to Iasi, where we typically set up the Romanian HQ. Scorched Earth, an essential Russian card early on, cannot delay it's repair due to its not being in the USSR. This means several Hammerblows are available early, while many southern units are Mobile-Supplied. This seemed too effective, so we have a new rule not allowing the voluntary entry of Axis units into Hungary and Romania on turn 1. I moved my AGC to Iasi on turn 2 in a game I just started, and will see how this works directly.