BigAnorak -> V1.03 Blizzard survival guide (3/3/2011 10:45:50 AM)
As the result of testing v1.03, and seeing the effect of all the various bug fixes, tweaks and rules changes, my conclusion is that under v1.03, the Axis army is going to enter the blizzard turns in a more fragile state than the one with which I tested the blizzard back in October. While all the principles of blizzard survival that I have posted in the various blizzard threads still apply, there are some specific areas that need to be focused on to get the Axis army into the best possible shape to survive. Unfortunately, some of the measures require a lot of micromanagement.
V1.03 does not give any benefit or protection to units in entrenchments, so at the moment "dig in in September" strategies are not likely to meet with any real degree of success. V1.03 still favours the creation of a "blizzard buffer" of hexes that you can afford to lose in front of the whatever line you want to start 1942 from.
In V1.03 allocating APs to the construction of fortified zones is actually harming your defence as they take manpower from where they are needed most.(see below)
I will recap on the basic principles for preparing to enter the Blizzard in the best condition, and then outline some of the specific measures I believe need to be taken.
1. Weaken the Red Army as much as you possibly can - causing a minimum of 4 million permanent losses should be your target and is pretty historical. This means pocketing/capturing 2.2-2.5 million Soviets.
Achieving the last few pockets may require the use of HQ build up. I try to create pockets just before the mud hits, as the Sovs will not be able to crack the pockets, and isolated units are weak enough to be attacked in the mud. I also try to create pockets in the turn 22-24 snow, as this also helps to disrupt the soviet preparations for the counter offensive.
2. Decide where you want to start 1942 and try to get the front line 6 or more hexes east of this line. I take the diagonal line from Pushkin to Rostov as my start point, as this takes out out all the manpower centres that were captured historically, and there are cities like Kursk, Kharkov, Orel, Belgorod and the Stalino group that do give protection from the Blizzard and can form the Anchor for an "Alamo" defensive line.
This line is about 120 hexes which means it can be covered by German infantry divisions and not require Axis allies to be in the front line. It also means mechanised units are not needed for frontline duty and can be protected from the blizzard in the cities close to the line. Obviously if you get Leningrad and Bring the Finns into the game, defence of this line will be made easier.
Getting 6-8 hexes beyond whatever 1942 start line you decide on may be difficult, and may require you to attack in the mud and snow, but as noted above your attacks will be contributing to weakening and disrupting the Red Army.
3. Ensure that you have enough manpower, armaments points and rifle squads in front line units to absorb the blizzard attrition.
This, I believe, has been one of the major factors in causing the problems we have seen in the AARs to date, and appears to be the biggest difference between my test games and V1.03.
The 130 odd German front line infantry divisions need a minimum number of undamaged rifle squads after the blizzard attrition hits on the first turn, to be able to survive the 3 turns before the squads damaged in the first turn start to return.
In my game with Trey I had 16k rifle squads on Turn 28 (After 3 turns of blizzard) and 3 German divisions were unready. Speedy had 13.5k rifle squads, and 32 divisions were unready.
I have confirmed from my testing of the 1943 campaign that 16k rifle squads is the "shatter" threshold, and my guess is that the Axis commanders who have seen their armies shatter, is because front line rifle squad strength went below 16k.
The micromanagement starts here:
i. You have enough Armaments points to get about 1600 squads built each turn, but Armaments points are also needed to build artillery, mortars etc., so you have to reduce the demand for artillery, and increase the demand for rifle squads.
You should therefore go to the Commanders Report and use the sort routines to change every possible SU that uses artillery to a max. TOE% of 50%.
Check the TOE's of German units not needed for front line duty, and adjust their max% to levels that will not require new elements to be sent to them.
Put all units needed for front line duty into refit mode to maximise the the demand for rifle squads.
ii. Ensure that the maximum number of men are in the manpower pool.
Disband every un-needed HQ, and air base. For the airbases you keep, consider putting some in mothballs during the blizzard, leaving them empty of aircraft, but with their max. TOE% reduced.
Only build fortified zones if it is absolutely the only way you can hold your Alamo line, and only if you will still have 16k rifle squads in you front line units after you build them. Speedy built 70+ of these useless buggers, and they took 100k of men that could have helped him stay above 16k rifle squads.
iii. Good leaders are more important than good entrenchments. Missed die rolls in the Blizzard can totally cripple your modified CVs. Instead of spending APs on fortified zones, spend APs on getting your best leaders into the areas where you want to hold your ground for the longest time, and put your lesser leaders in the zones you know you are going to retreat from.
iv. Position your HQs and construction battalions to make maximum use of 220.127.116.11 to maximise entrenchment levels( NB: Fort level Construction does not mean fortified zones that you construct):
18.104.22.168. SUPPORT UNIT ASSIST TO FORT LEVEL CONSTRUCTION
Construction and engineer support units attached to headquarters units in the combat unitís
chain of command can assist those combat units in constructing fort levels if the applicable
headquarters unit passes a leader admin check. The headquarters unit that the combat unit
is directly attached must be within five hexes of that combat unit. In addition, no more than
three levels of headquarters units in the combat units chain of command can assist, and each
higher headquarters unit that may provide support units must be within five hexes of the next
lower level headquarters unit. For example, in order for construction and engineer support
units to assist down the entire eligible chain of command, a German combat unit attached to a Corps headquarters unit must be able to trace five hexes back to that Corps HQ unit. The
Corps HQ unit in turn must be able to trace five hexes back to the Army HQ unit to which it is
attached, and finally the Army HQ unit must be able to trace five hexes back to the Army Group
That's enough wall of text for now. I will post further hints and tips as I think of them.
Let's hope we won't need a v1.04 survival guide!