With the fall of Rome, the Allied invasion and liberation of France, and the Soviet Destruction of Army Group Center, 1944 was not a good year for Nazi Germany. 1945 would be worse. In the west Hitler's failed Ardennes gamble would be followed by the Allied surge to and over the Rhine. But it was in the east where the Soviets would inflict the final catastrophic defeats on Hitler's once-victorious war machine.
In January 1945 the Germans faced the main Soviet concentrations on a line from the borders of East Prussia, through Poland along the Vistula, to the Carpathians. Chief of the General Staff General Heinz Guderian described the German front as a "house of cards." "If the front is broken in any one place," he warned Hitler, "the whole thing will collapse." Hitler in turn dismissed the Soviet threat as "the greatest bluff since Genghis Khan." But Stalin wasn't bluffing.
The Soviet offensive in central Poland began on January 12, their offensive in East Prussia a day later. The vastly outnumbered Germans on the Vistula front were pulverized by the Soviet blitzkrieg, which tore the heart out of the German Army Group A. As two Soviet Fronts (1st Belorussian and 1st Ukranian) raced headlong for Berlin, reaching the Oder River by February 3, the 2nd and 3rd Belorussian fronts (after meeting stiff initial resistance) closed in on Konigsberg and Danzig. These offensives inflicted 500,000 casualties on the Germans (including 1300 tanks destroyed) and left the Soviet spearheads within a couple days march of Berlin. But Soviet losses began to mount, and logistical difficulties and an early spring thaw combined to slow the advance. German counterattacks from Pomerania, though generally ineffective, convinced Stalin of the need to clear the flanks before assaulting Berlin.
Pomerania and Silesia were cleared of all but isolated German garrisons between February 8 and April 4. Then Stalin ordered the final assault on Berlin, which began on April 16. Though the German General Heinrici intially held up Zhukov's attack on the Seelowe heights east of Berlin, the German position was increasingly hopeless and Berlin was soon surrounded. Hitler killed himself in his bunker at the end of the month. The Soviets suffered frightful losses in these final battles (as many as 250,000 in Berlin alone) but by May 1st only scattered battlegroups of Germans, desperate to escape to the West, still remained under arms.
Before the Soviet offensives Guderian had begged Hitler to call off the Battle of the Bulge, abandon attempts to relieve the besieged defenders of Budapest, and evacuate German divisions isolated in Courland, in order to strengthen the main German front in Prussia and Poland. Hitler refused. Army Group A requested permission to execute Operation Sleighride, a step-back to avoid the worst of the initial Soviet attack. This too was denied, with the army ordered to hold in place. While the eventual outcome was not in doubt, had these plans been implemented it is possible the Soviets could have been held up long enough so that the Allies would have met them on the Oder rather than the Elbe. As it was, the Germans suffered the greatest defeats in their military history as the Red Storm moved over the Reich.
Red Storm Over the Reich is a Ted Raicer game covering the epic final campaigns of WWII on the Eastern Front, as the forces of the Soviet Union smashed the German armies defending Poland, East Prussia, and Pomerania, and advanced across the Oder to Berlin. Included in the game are three scenarios.
- The first scenario is historical, which finds the German forces out of position. Their armies will likely be shattered on the first turn, but the victory conditions are tough on the Soviets they must do at least as well as historically.
• Scenario two has the historic forces, but allows the Germans to implement Operation Sleigh-ride, a sane pull-back of the main defense line along the Vistula out of range of the opening Russian barrage (an operation historically nixed by Hitler) that at least allows for a more orderly flight.
• Scenario three combines Sleigh-ride with reinforcements from other fronts. It assumes that Hitler has had an incapacitating stroke in late November or early December, and the new Nazi leadership is sufficiently uncertain of its position that it defers in military matters to Guderian. The Ardennes Offensive is cancelled, as are the attempts to relieve Budapest, as well as substantial forces are evacuated from the Courland pocket. This increases German strength on the main eastern front by approximately 50% and doubles German tank strength, which, when combined with Sleigh-ride gives the Germans some serious fighting strength.
Scenarios one and two can be completed in 8-12 hours and scenario three in 12-16 hours, depending on your individual playing style.
Red Storm is the opposite of 1941 East Front Games: The Soviets have assembled a massive force and will rip gaping holes in the German lines through blitzkrieg-style attacks. The German player must somehow piece together a desperate defense only to have it repeatedly blown apart by the enemy. But time is the enemy of both players in this game. The Soviets need to accomplish their victory by the end of the last turn, satisfying the historical timeline, or they lose the game, and the Germans must delay the Soviet assault on Berlin long enough to prevent the Soviet win.
The rules for Red Storm Over the Reich are moderate in complexity but feature enough chrome for both sides to recreate this desperate campaign. Special rules include: the creation of Kampfgruppe divisions (or not), naval evacuations, panzerfausts, Volksturm divisions, Leaders, Soviet Logistical Constraint, Hitler mandated attacks and more!
Included with each game are two maps each 22" by 34", two sheets of counters (456 total), rules, set-up charts, tables, dice and game box.
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