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Operation WESERÜBUNG 4: Germany Moves North

History as Game by the ETO Development Team

This is the fourth part of an extended example of play demonstrating the German invasions of Denmark and Norway in 1940 using Frank Chadwick's ETO's stand-alone Volume IV (Northern Fire) rules. Don't be surprised to find rules reference numbers, as this article is crafted from the rules book itself, and the illustrations are of our current playtest graphics, not the final ones for the series!

The previous installment shows the initial German invasion turn at Norway. The next installment shows the second turn of the German's invasion of Norway as they lunge up the country's central valleys in the face of Allied opposition.

Norway: the Northern Invasion

Axis Player Turn, April III ‘40:

Axis Supply Step: The Axis player flips the Out of Supply marker to an Isolated marker for the:

[Submarine TF] UK SS Flotilla [1] unit in the Skagerrak Sea Zone.

The Axis player places an Out of Supply marker on each of:

[Patrol TF] UK CV Furious, BBs Nelson, Valiant, and Warspite, BC Repulse, and CA Sqdn [1] in the Norwegian Sea Zone. Now, at the very least, these Naval units will require Refitting when they Make Harbor.

UK [49/Sickle and 61/Maurice] and all four Norwegian Divisions in Norway!

Did you catch that? Every German Ground unit is in supply, and almost every Allied Ground unit is out of supply. This supply situation means that Allied units will have half Attack Strengths while the German units have full Attack Strengths. The initiative remains with the Germans!

Apply New Weather Step:

The West Europe Theater is changed from Storms at Sea to Fair; the Arctic Theater is changed from Storms at Sea to Extreme Cold.

Axis Repair & Recovery Step:

Countdown markers repair first.

  • The Major Port at Bergen improves to -4 (recovering from the Allied Air attack), and the Major Port at Oslo improves to -3.

Aircraft Maintenance is next.

  • The Axis recover their Ju-52 unit in the West Europe Flown box; it moves to the West Europe Available box.

  • Of the four Air units in the Arctic Theater Flown box, the Axis can recover only half, rounded up, due to the Extreme Cold weather. Applying the Balanced Air Force Doctrine (where selections must alternate between Major and Minor Air units when possible) and facing a ground campaign in Norway, the Axis recover needed ground support in their Ju-88 and Bf-110C units; moving these units to the Artic Available box.

Then Naval Maintenance occurs.

  • The German BP Lützow in Oslo is Refit (i.e., flipped from its Depleted to show its Ready side).

  • The German MS [3] unit in Oslo remains under Repair.

  • The German BBs Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, and SC U-Flotte [1] in Wilhelmshaven also remain under Repair.

Finally, the Opponent’s Rush recovery happens, but the Allies pass.

Axis OOB Changes Segment: The Axis player withdraws the following units from play:

  • 1 x 1-4 Airborne Division [Sturm/2FJ] from Oslo

  • 1 x Strategic HQ [B/South] from Hamburg

The Axis player adds the following unit in any supplied German city (choosing Kiel):

  • 1 x 2-4 Mtn Division [2]

Axis Free Stuff Segment: The Axis die roll of 6 (+1 DRM because a friendly Ground unit is in an enemy Minor nation’s EZOC) = 7. As 7=7+, the Axis receives a Free Stuff this turn.

The German player reflexively wants to place an Improved Defense marker at Narvik, but this entire Norwegian Campaign is a delicate operation. Therefore, a reflective rather than reflexive response is required.

Northern Fire has no real “economic model” to work with as the first three Volumes do (the Arctic Theater being the war effort’s “poor relation” and always in need of a handout). In this stand-alone volume of ETO, a special Volume Rule allows these infrequently granted Free Stuff items to include among selecting ½ RP additions.

The Invasion Prepared (no Countdown marker) German Operational (Wilderness) HQ marker arrived at Oslo the last turn. Within the range of a planned Axis attack on the valleys to the north, receiving ½ OP this turn would allow that HQ to go into Attack mode and provide an Attack Support shift to that Battle. Thinking that breaking the back of Norwegian (and now Allied) resistance in southern and central Norway as quickly as possible is the best way to wrap up this campaign successfully, the Axis player selects ½ OP from among their Free Stuff choices.

Axis HQ Mode Step: Spending their shiny new ½ OP, the Axis place their German Operational (Wilderness) HQ [Norway/20] in Attack mode.

Axis Special Movement Step:

Axis Navies:

  • Norwegian Sea: [Patrol TF] German CR Hipper moves from Trondheim to the Norwegian Sea, from there to the North Sea, and then to the Heligoland Bight Sea Zone.

Although the Allies have [Patrol TF] Surface Warship units in the Norwegian Sea, they no longer have an Allied Interdicted marker due to last turn’s Storms at Sea weather. Thus, they cannot Challenge at Sea until their interdiction of that Sea Zone is reestablished. Therefore, for now, the Axis ships can sail right past them; this is a singular opportunity for the Kriegsmarine, and the Hipper is taking advantage of it.

  • Narvik: German MS [1] does the same as the CR Hipper, making a quick escape to the Heligoland Bight.

  • The Skagerrak: [Convoy TF] German MS [2] moves from Kristiansand to the Skagerrak, and from there to the Heligoland Bight Sea Zone.

  • Korsor: [Patrol TF] German M Schlesien moves from Korsor to The Skagerrak. Joining with it is [Convoy TF] German UPL [1], which loads up with ½ OP and ½ German PP from the Axis Europe RP pool before sailing.

  • Oslo: [Patrol TF] German BP Lützow moves from Oslo to The Skagerrak.

The UPL [1] Convoy must get through. Even though the M Schlesien and BP Lützow provide no ASW assistance, they provide alternate targets should the UK Submarine unit score any Hits this turn.

Naval units not moving:

  • North Sea: [Submarine TF] German SC UFlotte [2], Out of Supply.

  • Oslo: German MS [3], awaiting Repair.

  • Wilhelmshaven: German BBs Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and SC UFlotte [1] all are awaiting Repair.

  • Baltic Sea: [Convoy TF] MS [4], Pipeline maintenance.

  • Heligoland Bight: Axis Mine marker, the Axis Interdicted marker was removed by last turn’s Storms at Sea.

  • The Skagerrak: Axis Mine marker, the Axis Interdicted marker was removed by last turn’s Storms at Sea.

Axis Armies:

  • Europe: 2-4 Mtn. Inf. Division [2] rail moves from Hamburg to Aalborg (Denmark). They have a plane to catch!

  • Honefoss: 2-4 Inf. Division [163] from Honefoss, two hexes directly north to Hamer.

  • Kristiansand: 2-4 Inf. Division [196] uses the Axis Theater Redeploy card to rail move from Kristiansand to Hamer. The card is placed one Season ahead on the Turn track and will return to the Axis deck in July ’40.

Ground units not moving:

  • Narvik: 2-4 Mtn. Inf. Division [3]

  • Trondheim: 1-2-4 Inf. Division [181]

  • Bergen: 1-2-4 Inf. Division [69]

  • Rostock: 1-2-4 Inf. Division [214]

Axis Air:

  • Central Norway: Ju-88 and Bf-100C provide Close Support vs. Norwegian 1-4 Inf. Division [2] in the Mountain hex guarding the passes to the north.

  • Denmark: Ju-52 transports 2-4 Mtn. Division [2] from Aalborg to Honefoss (the hex north of Oslo). They cannot land in Hamer as it is in an EZOC and, therefore, not a functioning Air Base (311.0).

Opponent’s Reaction Step:

With no Fighters in Norway and the German Navy in distant Narrow Sea Zones or ports, the Allies have no Reaction moves.

Axis Naval Resolution Step:

The Skagerrak: [Patrol TF] German BP Lützow and M Schlesien, [Convoy TF] German UPL [1] transporting ½ OP + ½ German PP and MS [2], Axis Kiel Naval Base Reaction (NBR)and Axis Naval Mines markers vs.UK SS Flotilla [1] Isolated.

Search Value = 2, +1 (Narrow Sea Zone), +1 (Axis NBR marker), +1 (German Patrol TF), +1 (German Convoy TF), +1 (UK Submarine TF’s choice for hunting). Final Search Value = 7 (431.2.3). The Allies roll a 5 commencing an Air, Submarine, and Raider Engagement.

  • No Air Segment required.

  • There is no Axis Aerial ASW.

  • However, an Axis Surface ASW attack from the Kiel NBR marker provides its ASW attack rating of one in this Narrow Sea Zone. Its NAV=1 (there are no modifiers) and roll of 3 misses.

And that is the only Axis Surface ASW attack. Why? Because there is one target Submarine unit limiting the number of ASW Surface Attacks in that Sea Zone to one, but that number of attack opportunities is reduced by one (to zero) due to the presence of one unescorted transport (UPL [1]). Thus, even though the German MS [2] has an ASW attack rating, its Destroyers and other escort vessels are distracted “escorting” the German UPL [1] unit and therefore cannot conduct an ASW attack.

  • The UK SS Flotilla [1] Isolated {2V} has a NAV=2 (there are no modifiers) and rolls a perfect 2, scoring two Hits. The Allied player has three targets with DCVs (i.e., Damage Control Values) of only 1: The BP Lützow, M Schlesien, and the UPL [1] transporting ½ OP + ½ German PP. Such tempting targets!

The Allied (attacking) player assigns both Hits to the beckoning target of opportunity, the German BP Lützow. The Axis player fails the Damage Control roll, resulting in the Serious Damage Assessment of the two Hits. The Axis player rolls a 6 + 5, not doubles this time, but the highest total short of doubles and the BP Lützow is immediately placed ahead on the Turn track for their sum, 11 Months (to March, ’41).

  • In the Aftermath, UK SS Flotilla [1], having “fired its shot,” must Retire and does so to Scapa Flow where it needs Refitting; that is, it becomes Depleted upon Docking both from “firing its shot” in an Engagement and from having a Supply marker.

Axis Ground Resolution Step:

Hamer: German 2-4 Inf. Divisions [163, 196] declare a Battle vs. 1-4 Norwegian Inf. Division [2] in the hex north of Hamer. Halving each attacking unit for the defender’s Mountain terrain, the initial odds are 2:1, <1 for the Mountain hex (this is in addition to halving attacking units!), and 1> for the HQ marker’s Attack Bonus. Having two Close Support Air units, the Axis player rolls roll 3 + 1> + N/E (for Close Support for a total of 1>) raising the odds to 3:1 and yielding a DP (Defender can Press) result.

Now the Allied player has a choice to eliminate one step (i.e., the 1-4 Norwegian Inf. Division [2]) and prevent enemy Advance After Combat OR to conduct a two hex Retreat. To avoid casualties, the Allied player Retreats the 1-4 Norwegian Inf. Division [2] two hexes directly north to the hex south of Storen (the yellow triangles in the illustration).

The German 2-4 Inf. Division [163] Advances After Combat into the Battle hex.

Axis Return Step: The Axis player places the Ju-52, Ju-88, and Bf-110C units in the Arctic Flown box, joining their other two Air units there.

Axis Regular Movement Phase: Only the German forces driving up Norway’s central valleys move on the ground.

Axis Armies:

  • Central Norway: 2-4 Inf. Division [163] from the first (Mountain) hex north of Hamer to the eastern valley and then north one hex across the Scandinavia Region/Arctic Theater border, stopping in the EZOC of the Norwegian Inf. Division [2] residing on the northern hex of this crucial mountain range.

    • Moving adjacent to enemy Leg Infantry is an important “pinning” move. It prevents the Norwegian Division from conducting Special Movement during the Allied turn (thus making it harder for this unit to flee).

    • The Arctic Theater (and this German Division) will be Time-Locked next turn (frozen in place, but their ZOC extends across the border). Still, the Axis player thought it was important to “have this position” on the Norwegian Division for the May I turn when the Arctic Theater is no longer Time-Locked.

  • 2-4 Inf. Division [196] from Hamer to Elverum (placing a Control marker there), back to Hamer, and then on to Lillehammer.

  • 2-4 Mtn. Inf. Division [2] from Honefoss to two hexes north of Elverum.

Ground units not moving:

  • Narvik: 2-4 Mtn. Inf. Division [3]

  • Trondheim: 1-2-4 Inf. Division [181]

  • Bergen: 1-2-4 Inf. Division [69]

  • Rostock: 1-2-4 Inf. Division [214]

Axis Navies:

  • The Skagerrak: German UPL [1] makes port at Oslo, Ready, and disembarks ½ OP. The ½ German PP remains as loaded cargo aboard German UPL [1]. Oslo is considered a Minor Port until repaired and thus can only unload ½ RP during the Regular Movement Step. German M Schlesien and MS [2] Make Port at Kiel, Ready.

  • Heligoland Bight: German CR Hipper and MS [1] make port in Wilhelmshaven, Ready.

Axis Here & There Step: Checking Sea Zone Interdiction:

All Sea Zones in this example remain free of Interdicted markers. There are no Axis Patrol TFs out at sea to claim Interdiction.

Axis Notes: A 1-2-4 Inf. Division [214] awaits in Rostock for transportation to Norway.

The Axis had a bit of luck by receiving a Free Stuff this turn and maintained their focus on clearing the central valleys on their way to relieve Narvik.

The next installment shows the Allied response as they prepare to evacuate central Norway and build-up for an attack on Narvik.

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All looking good. Why did the Sub not take out the transport rather the Lutzow? Stopping stuff getting to Norway seems to be quite important. Or is it the Royal Navy doctrine of taking out the big ships every chance you get. TBH I've no idea what WW2 RN submarine doctrine is....

Alan Emrich
Alan Emrich

You'll see the MS unit again (and again) and have more bites at that apple -- but the chance to put a Warship away is very uncommon and very tempting. Remember, you're more concerned about the security of England than Norway in making these decisions. ;-)

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