The Wehrmacht’s campaign in Poland doesn’t get much war-game coverage, perhaps because it was a relatively easy blitzkrieg-in-the-park. Well, the first battle of Open Panzer’s Fall Weiss campaign was anything but easy. It took me several weeks, and several re-starts to finally achieve victory over the Poles in the 25-turn Lodz-Warta River scenario.
The objective is to cross the Warta River, control it, and take the city of Lodz in the East. The map is divided into three sectors: North, Center, and South. The primary strategy is to cross the river at the weakest point in the enemy line, penetrate and flank the enemy at the river, and still have enough strength to attack the heavily-defended city of Lodz.
The river’s North has the stiffest enemy defenses. There are two main fortifications supported by several infantry, artillery, armor and an anti-aircraft gun. Every time I tried to attack head-on, my troops got completely annihilated. I tried crossing in the far northern edge of the map where there are no defenses, but the troops got wiped out once discovered. Eventually, I kept my infantry back and waited for my troops in the Center and South to break through. Once they broke through and reached the North, I assaulted the enemy from both the front and rear. Even surrounded, the Poles wiped out most of my men – probably an entire battalion.
I snuck my scout unit across the river in the far north and had them take undefended mini-objectives in the nearby areas, including the airfield, which becomes important mid-game. I also sent the group’s howitzer south to support the assault in the Center. I kept all my other infantry back and placed the anti-tank gun defending the objective hex. The gun will get bombarded and will need to be reinforced several times. This was essential because it kept their artillery busy and prevented the Poles from counterattacking in the North.
The defense in the Center is tough, but with the support of three howitzers and reinforcements several turns in, it should fall by turn 10. Once crossed, the enemy will counterattack with cavalry. Yes, horses! But disrespect them, and your men will be run down like a sloth on the autobahn. Once the counterattack is defended, send two of your artillery, your AA gun and several infantry to attack the defenses in the North. Send as many as you can. Everything else, including troops from the South will move across the center of the map toward Lodz.
The South is the easiest to penetrate. Rush your troops across the river head-on and overwhelm the defenders. Support them with artillery and both fighters. Once across the river, move most of your men up north to assist the Center group. Once the Center is clear, move them east toward Lodz taking other objectives along the way.
The only unit that didn’t head north was my recon car, which I sent directly east to take several undefended mini-objectives to acquire much-needed prestige points. Reinforcements arrive in the southeast mid-game, including a couple of fighters. Be smart with them and they should be able to take the three main objectives south of Lodz without assistance.
The final two objectives should be the river’s North and Lodz itself. Reinforce your troops as much as possible, and throw everything you have on these two points. Don’t focus on the enemy’s support units or the static emplacements. Assault the unit guarding the objective hex, and then assault them again. Use suicide attacks. Get kamikaze with your aircraft. Take that objective!
When crossing the river, think “wedge”. Open a hole and pour your troops through that hole making it wider. Ignore outlying pillboxes and bunkers.
Aircraft is valuable. Save them. Be smart with them. Don’t use them in AA-infested airspace unless it’s near the end of the game.