Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (Full Version)

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BigAnorak -> Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 2:15:31 PM)

Many moons ago I wrote this: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=2705668 based on my experience of 10 months of testing WITE.

Since then, much has happened, with many updates to the code, and many different strategies being tried by both sides. I have now played 2 campaigns as Axis under 1.05/1.06, in which I applied these principles, but neither game got past 1942, but in the 2nd I was just short of 260 VPs, so I feel confident that they can be used for the ALT GC 260, and give a reasonable chance of the decisive victory that seems important to many Axis players.

The above was written before "muling" was discovered and I had never used The Lvov Gambit in any game I have played.

I have also played a few multi-player scenario games as Soviet to get a feel for how axis players are approaching the game, and I have been really surprised by what I have seen.

Based on this I would like to revisit the principles, and encourage some more of the experienced axis players out there to add their thoughts and comments.

Basic Concepts:

Planning a Year Ahead. My strategic aims for 1941, are based on the type of offensive I want to make in 1942. In my first campaign (Another year at the front AAR), I wanted to make a strong feint to the South in 1942 with my actual target being Moscow, so in 1941 I went all out for the Crimea and got a bridgehead on the Taman. In my second game my target was Stalingrad and Baku, so my 1942 frontline had to start at a point where I could get to the Don quickly to protect my flank for the Drive on Baku, and also allow me to make a strong feint towards Tambov to keep Red reserves north of the Don.

Adapting Plans on the Fly. No plan survives contact with the enemy, and all the enemies I have faced have surprised me with their responses to my strategies. Generally I have assigned lines of advance to each Panzer Army, and each Panzer Korps within the Army, but sometimes my probing infantry attacks will produce enough routs to thin out the Red Carpet that may be off the pre-set line of advance, and this in turn may set up an additional pocketing opportunity. Also recon can show where the Reds may have over-committed and therefore indicate which sectors are likely to be weaker. For example in my game against gids, he commited a ton of units to the defence of the Dneiper south of Kiev, so I diverted a PZ Korps back to AGC to assist with my drive on Moscow (which was succesful).

Morale, Morale, Morale. I would like to thank Pelton and Jamiam for showing me the importance of Morale: maintaining your own and reducing that of the enemy is a huge factor in keeping the Red Army on the back foot; the lower soviet morale is during the blizzard, the higher % of his units will be unready and therefore unable to move and attack. When attacking,"routs" are your friend, "Hold" results are your enemy and are your friend on defence. Due to Gary's infamous variance, between 8-10% of your attacks are going to be holds regardless, so I now try to ensure that my "Hold" total for each turn is as close to 10% as I can get it, and when defending I am looking to achieve more than 10% holds. This may mean making fewer attacks than you may are used to , but in the longer term every point of morale is precious, and you need to protect your high morale units as best you can during the blizzard.

Blizzard Planning By turn 9 you should be able to assess if and when Leningrad is going to fall, and if you are over the Dneiper in enough strength to get to Kharkov, the Donbas and beyond. It is at this point I decide on the "Blizzard Diagonal" on which I will look to base my defence. My standard diagonal is from Pushkin to Rostov, as this is about 120 hexes and can be defended by 150 German infantry divisions with 30 available to act as linebackers. Obviously you won't make a dead straight line, but the nearer you are, the more infantry units are available to absorb the blizzard, and the more chance you will have to keep the Panzers in winter quarters. Once I have this line in my head, I start allocating 9 hex sectors to Infantry Armies, and 3 hex sectors to Panzer Armies. I also start organising Infantry Armies into 3x4 div Korps, so they can hold each 9 hex sector with 9 divisions in the front line and 3 split into regiments as linebackers; Panzer Armies usually have a corps of 3 Leg infantry divisions so they get allocated a 3 hex sector with a motorised infantry linebacker. If Lenigrad falls, the Finns will hold 9-12 hexes up north giving you 12 Armies to cover the rest. You may have to expand the Pz Army sectors by putting Motorised divisions into the line, and Panzers as a very last resort. If you don't get leningrad, then you will have no choice but to put the Rumanians and Italians into the line, but try got give them a couple a German "bracers". Personally I make minimal use of FZs, but I understand why many axis players use them liberally, I prefer to spend the APs and troops elsewhere.

If the soviets have run away you will usually be able to find a diagonal further east, and have less pressure in getting organised. In my first game Stéphane used an aggressive forward defence so my diagonal was well short of what I was used to, and I had to give the Rumanians 6 hexes to defend (they actually did OK).

Casualty Targets, In the Another Year AAR you will see that I was very focused on achieving certain numbers, and I was fortunate that my opponent's strategy played into my hands and I weakened his blizzard offensive. In my next game gids avoided every pocket like the plague, and gave me tons of territory for free, so I got nowhere near the same casualty numbers, but I had a very organised blizzard defence and the 1942 summer start line that I wanted. So, yes, I think targets are worth having, but not worth getting fixated about if you can still get 1942 going the way you want it.

1942: The Shoestring Offensive Depending on how the Blizzard defence worked out, 1942 will start with 3.1m-3.3m in the OOB with 200-300k in the manpower pool and 2k-2.5k running tanks. If you have managed your Morale and TOE%s, you will have about 40% of your Army with morale in the 60s and 50% TOE, 40% with Morale in the 70s on 66%Toe and 20% with 80+ Morale on 80-100% TOE. Clearly this Army is weaker than 1941's model, and is faced with a well organised defence in depth - the infamous Red Carpet. Well , carpets don't like friction, and will become threadbare if you rub them hard. My personal solution to the Red Carpet is patience, using "friction" attacks by the infantry (thus rebuilding their morale), with the panzers in attacking reserve mode. It may take 4 turns, It may take 6, but eventually a crack will appear, and that is when you ram 2 Panzer armies down their throat while the other Panzer armies commit on either flank of this main thrust, threatening large pockets, and hopefully giving the Axis the initiative so they can pick and choose their targets.

Even If you can't achieve your strategic objectives in 1942, keep looking for the opportunity to rebuild morale with "guaranteed" wins.

I think that this is a big enough wall of text for now. I think my main change from from original post is that I would put a lot more emphasis on Morale maintenance and damage; Manpower is still vital, but it is easier to fight a large low-morale army with a small high-morale army, than a large high-morale army with a small, low-morale army.

Morale is a much bigger component in keeping the Red Army weak and the Axis Strong than I at first thought.

More Ideas and comments are welcomed.




BigAnorak -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 2:22:55 PM)

OOps, I meant to post this in the War Room - could someone kindly move it there.

Thanks.




vicberg -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 3:38:42 PM)

This is awesome.

Now, here's a question. You've got your defensive line set in mind. But it's still campaign season and you don't use FZs. How do you start building your forts? Do you keep a few corps back and break them into regiments? Do you stop the entire offensive to start fortifying? Also, what is the general fort level going into blizzard?




elmo3 -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 3:40:26 PM)

Thanks for the writeup Bob. Sorry, I don't have moderator rights to the War Room to move this for you.




vicberg -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 4:31:17 PM)

Here's another question.

Against a carpet, your approach could work very well because the carpet usually has weak units in front and rests heavily units in reserve mode. It's the checkerboard that I find more difficult to deal with. Unless I'm missing something, a checkerboard requires concentrating infantry corp, which telegraphs the axis of attack, providing the goal is pushing the Soviets back on the map.

Each turn, the checkerboard simply moves back a few hexes to prevent salients, encirclement opportunities, etc., especially in the north. The axis of attack is fairly easy to put massive troops in front of. There aren't enough infantry corp for the Germans to do much "feinting" in 41.

So, the infantry march up and are facing fairly heavy stacks. The concentrated infantry corp can do, maybe, 2 or 3 attacks at most, maybe 4, depending on level of infantry concentration. Throw in terrain and required deliberate attacks and not much is happening turn to turn, in my experience. Then the checkerboard simply moves a couple of hexes back again. The other infantry corp/armies are usually just holding the line, so little opportunity to improve their moral.

So, I then tried to bypass the initial checkboard with panzer and isolate. It worked, for a while. I found two problems there. The lead panzers were out of supply (even with friendly troops in between the isolated soviet units) because of the soviet ZOCs, and the next couple of turns, the panzers were on fumes. Even if I moved the HQ up to lead elements, the HQ wasn't supplied adquately. This included using, heavily, air transport to dump fuel. To counter to what I was doing, my opponent moved minor soviet units, usually cav, in between the large stacks in the checkerboard. This forced me to attack my way into the rear leaving not enough MPs to completely anything other than a 3 unit isolation, which wasn't going to cut it.

In other words, I'm at a loss. I'm not getting enough attacks to significantly improve moral, not doing enough damage to the red army and not doing enough damage to the soviet production. There may be tactics I'm not doing. For example, do you hasty with a single infantry corp to recon a hex? I've thought about that, but it will plummet the morale of that unit. Do you recon like crazy? I'm not a fan of clicking clicking clicking, but if it will help....





BigAnorak -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 5:04:03 PM)

quote:

Now, here's a question. You've got your defensive line set in mind. But it's still campaign season and you don't use FZs. How do you start building your forts? Do you keep a few corps back and break them into regiments? Do you stop the entire offensive to start fortifying? Also, what is the general fort level going into blizzard?


I've experienced two completely different scenarios. In my first campaign I made so many mistakes and was so far behind the clock I had precisely zero entrenchment levels, but I had weakened and disrupted the Sovs so much before the blizzard that I dodged a bullet during the blizzard. In the game with gids he pulled back so far that I had plenty of time to get organised, but I still attacked him with high odds attacks during clear, mud and snow to maximise the damage and disruption - the more units you can rout on T24 the longer it will take them to get into a position to attack.

With the 9 hex sectors and "spare" divisions available, leaving regiments behind is certainly an option - I nearly did it against gids but decided to use them to attack instead. Inever stop the offensive - I never give the initiative to the enemy, and I never give them a hex without a fight or at least a ZOC to get through.

Generally AGN shuts down soonest and they may get up to Lvl2, but they get terrain bonuses anyway. AGC depends on how far past Rzhev I am so maybe 1-2 plus terrain, AGS depends on how far I get past Kharkov; first game was 0 entrenchment, second maybe 1-2.




BigAnorak -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 5:21:46 PM)

Re your Carpet/Checkerboard. I have to be honest I have not faced a good checkerboard in any of the games I have played, so maybe some other experts can come in with some advice. My general approach is to Recon heavily ( yes the click fest is a pain but it can be worth it if it exposes a unit along a main line of advance), and then move my infantry into contact to see what the CVs look like, and then decide what sort of attack will be needed - single unit hasty, multi-unit hasty, single deliberate etc. These days in the age of high reserve activations I always base my attacks on the assumption that 2-3 CV will come in from reserve. I am also using attacking reserves much more, so for example with my 4 div korps, if I am making a 3 div hasty attack, the 4th div will be in reserve, so there are no command penalties and the reserve unit can often swing the balance.

From my playing of scenarios as Soviet, this is probably the area where most Axis players need to get more practice - when I started playing I used nearly all hasty attacks, now I am using mostly deliberates. It is a tricky balance because the pressure is always there to move eastwards, what I have found is that after a carpet gets 2-3 turns of deliberate attacks it can become more susceptible to hasty attacks because of all the recovering routed units in the line.




comsolut -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/20/2012 11:28:12 PM)

Thanks for continuing the discussion on strategy. As I have found equal opponents more of my contests become mirror games, so I enjoy reading the Axis strategy ideas, since I am having to try my hand at that difficult and very unforgiving side.




Jimbo123 -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/22/2012 10:49:22 PM)

Thanks for the post! It was well timed coming on the heels of my lastest defeat as the Germans. While I have won a few games as the Germans, lately against some excellent players I can't get out of 41. I make good progress in the North and center but I seem to get nowhere in the South. I have started using the Lvov Gambit but it still seems to be of no help. I seem to face endless lines and relentless reserves. I just don't seem to get far enough into Russia to hurt them. You have givin me several things to think about. I am going to take some time off as this has be somewhat depressing. I have always considered myself an above average gamer. but my recent poor performance has put that belief into question. I am sure I am missing something, but have no idea what it is. I use BU's but not muling. I see many Russian players complaining about the current state of the rules. I can't even imagine making more difficult for the Germans.




BigAnorak -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/23/2012 12:18:11 PM)

quote:

but I seem to get nowhere in the South.


As I go for the "Little Lvov" option of a smaller, tighter pocket, that is usually cleared by T2-3, I can usually form another Pocket on T4-5. After that I usually make a single, fairly narrow, drive Proskurow - Cherkassy with 1st PZ ,without trying to pocket, this usually splits the front and forces the sovs to pull back (If they aren't running for the Dneiper already). I attach all the motorised regiments/brigades (lehr, GD, Slovak) to the Hungarian Motorised Korps and use it as flank protection for the above thrust as well as trying to rush the Crimea. If I really want the Crimea I allocate the 4 SS divs as a "breakthrough" Korps (see another year AAR).

Once over the Dneiper, you may need some help from AGC, and a thrust from 2Pz (spearheaded by the SS if you haven't sent them south) aiming Bryansk-Kursk to force the Sovs to pull back from the Gomel/Kiev area - if they are too slow pretty big pockets can be formed in front of Kursk (I just lost 30 divs in my current soviet game!). Once at Kursk, 1Pz can then head Kharkov-Stalino-Rostov, with the Hungarian flying Korps coming up the coast of the Sea of Azov.

I usually give 2/3rds of my JU52s to AGS and drop fuel on the PZ Korps HQs together with every bomber I can spare. Once over the Dneiper I will use HQBU to counter the supply deadzone caused by the unbridged river, but once bridged, the need to HQBU diminishes as more JU52s have arrived.

Well, it works for me (except when it doesn't!).




heliodorus04 -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/23/2012 9:55:47 PM)

If you want to know how to minimize the Held results that you get, you have to be as anal about the game as Tulius Detritus (no offense meant, TD).

You have to track each Soviet division and corps (I don't worry about brigades), and each HQ.
Why?

You want to know how many men & guns are in each division. You can also track its recent number of held/lost/routed. By tracking HQs, you can see where the good morale leaders are (by watching results in the combat display), and you can see where the good SUs are.

See the screenshot. I can scroll to the right and see how the division has done in recent turns, which gives me an idea how likely it's morale is to be in the "easy win" spot. What's more important is that you can track the Held results and see who might be working his way toward Guard status, and either quit attacking them, or isolate and force a surrender.

Having said that, I still believe the game is unplayable as the German, but maybe it's because I only spent 13 months playing it, rather than the years and years of the people who still defend the German gameplay, most of whom (almost all of whom) are beta testers for past products, and most importantly, War in the West (i.e., they might as well be Matrix employees standing on the corporate line).



[image]local://upfiles/30405/8369BAAB0B0C4D89972133BC11794AE9.jpg[/image]




Tophat1812 -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/23/2012 10:06:18 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: heliodorus04

If you want to know how to minimize the Held results that you get, you have to be as anal about the game as Tulius Detritus (no offense meant, TD).

You have to track each Soviet division and corps (I don't worry about brigades), and each HQ.
Why?

You want to know how many men & guns are in each division. You can also track its recent number of held/lost/routed. By tracking HQs, you can see where the good morale leaders are (by watching results in the combat display), and you can see where the good SUs are.

See the screenshot. I can scroll to the right and see how the division has done in recent turns, which gives me an idea how likely it's morale is to be in the "easy win" spot. What's more important is that you can track the Held results and see who might be working his way toward Guard status, and either quit attacking them, or isolate and force a surrender.

Having said that, I still believe the game is unplayable as the German, but maybe it's because I only spent 13 months playing it, rather than the years and years of the people who still defend the German gameplay, most of whom (almost all of whom) are beta testers for past products, and most importantly, War in the West (i.e., they might as well be Matrix employees standing on the corporate line).



[image]local://upfiles/30405/8369BAAB0B0C4D89972133BC11794AE9.jpg[/image]





By the way your spreadsheet is an excellent idea,thank you. Sorry about the heated exchange,it didn't help anything.




Aurelian -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/23/2012 10:38:32 PM)

I'm pretty sure that when I play the Axis, I'll lose alot. But it won't be because of any "Soviet bias", or TOE changes, or because I can't build anything.

It will be because of my play. Not because of game design.




BigAnorak -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/24/2012 10:05:23 AM)

quote:

Having said that, I still believe the game is unplayable as the German, but maybe it's because I only spent 13 months playing it, rather than the years and years of the people who still defend the German gameplay, most of whom (almost all of whom) are beta testers for past products, and most importantly, War in the West (i.e., they might as well be Matrix employees standing on the corporate line).


I do not understand why you want to denigrate my efforts to help Axis players simply because I had 10 months experience of the game prior to its release. I have not beta tested any previous game, nor am I currently a beta tester for WITW. I am simply someone who volunteered to help make the game the best that it can be. I still think improvements can be made, and I continue to lobby for improvements, but I try to do it without being rude.





Q-Ball -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/24/2012 4:18:10 PM)

I don't think there is one ideal strategy for Blizzard Defense. I think it depends on the terrain.

In rough terrain, which probably means everything north of the Oka, I would hold a continuous line with units behind digging or holding forts, basically Linebacker. The terrain favors the defense, and the other reason is that anything you give up could be tough to get back in 1942. Dig-in and hold on. User panzers on RESERVE.

In the south, I think the Germans should give ground. A Checkerboard of stacks works well, provided you leave 1 axis controlled hex between you and the Russians at the end of each turn. This means, of course, giving up ground, at least a hex a turn, but in the south it's easy to get it back in 1942. So no big deal.

In 1942, the Germans have 3 priorities. #1 is re-building unit morale. #2 is isolating and killing Russian units. (the loss ratio through straight combat is not favorable). #3 is getting good defensive terrain. #4 is clearing Russian Manpower centers. I ranked in what I think is order of importance.





heliodorus04 -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/24/2012 7:15:56 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: BigAnorak

quote:

Having said that, I still believe the game is unplayable as the German, but maybe it's because I only spent 13 months playing it, rather than the years and years of the people who still defend the German gameplay, most of whom (almost all of whom) are beta testers for past products, and most importantly, War in the West (i.e., they might as well be Matrix employees standing on the corporate line).


I do not understand why you want to denigrate my efforts to help Axis players simply because I had 10 months experience of the game prior to its release. I have not beta tested any previous game, nor am I currently a beta tester for WITW. I am simply someone who volunteered to help make the game the best that it can be. I still think improvements can be made, and I continue to lobby for improvements, but I try to do it without being rude.



I consider you an honest actor, and I meant no denigration of your efforts. Indeed, I tried to provide a meaningful contribution in the form of my spreadsheet example.

I apologize that my respect for you and for your efforts was not readily apparent in my post.




BigAnorak -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/25/2012 8:12:37 AM)

Yes, the spreadsheet is great - I have finally found someone more anal than me! But the dig at 2by3/Matrix was totally unnecessary and irrelevant to the thread.




heliodorus04 -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/25/2012 2:24:34 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: BigAnorak

Yes, the spreadsheet is great - I have finally found someone more anal than me! But the dig at 2by3/Matrix was totally unnecessary and irrelevant to the thread.


You are correct with your choice of adjectives, and I regret that I brought my axe into your thread to grind it. There are more appropriate threads for that. Again, I apologize to you.

It should be noted in the spreadsheet that you can add columns between the Army HQ column, and the various turn-columns, so that you can keep track of the number of SUs assigned to that HQ. This is a very good way to know which HQs your opponent is favoring. I kept track of the artillery SUs and the sapper SUs.




Encircled -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/25/2012 7:33:04 PM)

I thought I was over doing it with a spreadsheet tracking all my opponents motorised and panzer divisions!

Thats a brilliant (though time consuming!) idea you have there, and the benefits are obvious.




Blubel -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/25/2012 9:34:43 PM)

The game should really provide us with a staff for these things. ;-)




comsolut -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/25/2012 9:57:14 PM)

Oh - I like that idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

+1




Farfarer -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/26/2012 2:21:59 AM)

OMFG - tracking enemy SU's to determine intent. Kids, don't try this at home...




BigAnorak -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (4/26/2012 8:03:53 AM)

On a serious note; while I don't log information in that much detail, it is worth spending some time analysing combat results, to identify those sections of the front where the enemy are getting better modified CVs than your own, so you can then check Commander ratings and replace leaders accordingly.




Zonso -> RE: Axis Strategic Principles 1941 Campaign Revisited (5/19/2012 7:50:24 PM)

I was wondering what insights you have learned after your game with Tarhunnas and how you would revise your strategic principles posted here? Thanks.




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