1st Panzer Army AAR (Full Version)

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ComradeP -> 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/18/2012 10:45:30 PM)

Although I followed the community response to Advanced Tactics and the first title in the Decisive Campaigns series with interest, this is the first time I've actually played one of Vic's games in years. The last time was when I tested on of his early games, I was unfortunately still too young at the time to test it for a prolonged period of time as I was only just beginning to play wargames at that point.

This game, however, is something I couldn't miss out on.

After reading the manual, I decided to play the linked campaign and as it's been a while since I wrote an AAR, I also decided to write this AAR.

As usual: feel free to comment.




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/18/2012 10:50:16 PM)

Scenario 1: Crossing the Don.

After looking at the map, I decided to try and use the road network to maximum effect and there's both a nice east-west and north-south Rollbahn that my forces can use.

The best way to unhinge the river defenses seemed to be to try and create a pocket, and as expected the AI indeed fell back all across its line on its turn 1 as we'll see later.

It took me a few restarts to get the desired result here and it might very well be possible to form a pocket on turn 1, but I came close enough.

The two understrength Panzer Korps are at the flanks, the understrength army corps is west of the center and is mostly there to help III Panzer Korps get across the rivers in the area.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/5269D43093324B57B4FF3D9F4AE9071B.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/18/2012 10:54:06 PM)

After using two Speed cards, one for each Panzer Korps, this was the end result.

2 or 3 regiments were destroyed and the Soviet river line has become completely untenable. The violence aimed at the couple of defenders I dislodged from their hexes was so substantial that their capability to resist was not substantial.

Losses: 5 light tanks,

[image]local://upfiles/32881/0F981B8A99EB4AA69A322FFAE8CAD4E0.jpg[/image]




elmo3 -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/18/2012 11:22:19 PM)

Do you have the AI set to Normal Pieter?




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 12:02:25 AM)

At the moment, yes. Not sure if there's a "difficult" setting.




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 12:36:03 AM)

Start of turn 2. As stated, the AI's withdrawing but it can't possibly withdraw fast enough.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/7681001C37FA4F229990482EC1B65BF3.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 12:37:14 AM)

I don't have end turn screenshots for turn 2 or 3, so here's the start of turn 3.

The AI moved a unit into Proletarsk, which I had "captured" with ZOC.

The units that were originally near Bagalevskaya are pocketed.

As you can see, the AI abandoned an objective in order to preserve its forces.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/2DF6D106794D4B6BB07CA6C061CFE9C1.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 12:39:13 AM)

Turn 4 start. Proletarsk is empty again and the AI used the unit in Salsk to restore supply to the units in the east, so this battle was kind of anticlimactic as all I had to do was drive into Salsk to win. Victory on turn 4 for the cost of 5 Panzer II's as there was no need to attack much after turn 1 (I only pushed some understrength units around after bombing/shelling them).

[image]local://upfiles/32881/B4D42C527FD247FCAE2286AC4246C15B.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 12:41:31 AM)

The end.

I noticed that when I loaded the last save from this battle, to take the end turn screenshot, action points were set at 100 and I also had the prestige points that I should normally have only at the start of the second scenario, after the victory. In other words: the turn 4 save had become sort of a "view battlefield" save after a victory instead of a turn 4 save.

For now, I need to figure out where the replacements overview is as the "replacements received" tab only mentions this turns replacements.

The opening blow was so devastating to the AI that it kept withdrawing. I'd like to note that it did try, cleverly, to restore supply, but the situation was quite hopeless for the Soviets after turn 1. I'm pleased with the AI's performance thus far. It didn't roll over and die, it tried to make a stand and at the least buy some time. My advance was just a bit too rapid.

Soviet casualties were about 12.000 men.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/FDEF92A404274F9BA90072CE005E92FB.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 12:50:17 AM)

Another note: I must be doing something wrong with the Nebelwerfers, but during some tests when figuring out how to get a good first turn, the Nebelwerfers always (literally, always) took 6 losses. I never used them aside from as a ZOC blocking force during this battle.




stone10 -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 1:11:18 AM)

Nebelwerfer and katyusha always destroy after one combat round, like a missile.




jjdenver -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 2:08:02 AM)

Great win. I was noodling something like this but hadn't started trying it yet, just looked at a couple of setups without doing a turn. This is perfect.




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 8:45:37 AM)

quote:

Nebelwerfer and katyusha always destroy after one combat round, like a missile.


Ah, OK, thanks for clearing that up.

-

quote:

Great win. I was noodling something like this but hadn't started trying it yet, just looked at a couple of setups without doing a turn. This is perfect.


Thanks for the compliments. I tried to avoid as much combat as possible, which is why after turn 1 I only attacked a handful of understrength regiments and a Tank brigade next to Metchetinskaya. The forces in the east were not attacked at all, and neither were about half the forces in the Bagalevskaya pocket.

The opening in the east probably wouldn't work like this against a human because he could try to attack one of the regiments spread out on the road, but I guess you could move an infantry division there to beef them up. The 370th Infantry Division in particular spent most of the game marching to "catch up" with the front.

One thing you have to be careful about, it seems as in many wargames: if you want a quick win, you do need to try to keep losses low. Winning on turn 4 also means you miss out on a large number of replacements. You can use cards, I think, to get more, but you don't get them automatically.




Vic -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 9:59:37 AM)

@ComradeP,

Impressive drive. Lets see how you'll do in the next scenarios :)

Furthermore thanks for spotting the big glitch with the save file. I am working on correcting this behaviour for the 1st patch.

Best,
Vic




Erik Rutins -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/19/2012 4:18:02 PM)

Very impressive first turn - I've never manaaged to break through that cleanly in just one turn. How many restarts did that take? You should be setup very well as far as prestige for the rest of the campaign. Getting the Wiking division is a big help later on. [8D]

Regards,

- Erik




krupp_88mm -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/20/2012 5:26:05 AM)

The one thing that i think the ai could use improvement on is holding cities and objectives.. it just seems to prioritize surviving its units at the expense of loosing the game or having your units tied down for a few more turns delaying making it too easy to force the ai to just walk out of the way. Might be nice if you could make the ai leave a unit or two behind in difficult terrain especially cities.




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/20/2012 10:15:44 AM)

quote:

Very impressive first turn - I've never manaaged to break through that cleanly in just one turn. How many restarts did that take? You should be setup very well as far as prestige for the rest of the campaign. Getting the Wiking division is a big help later on.


At first I tried a more spread out crossing like in the AAR for this scenario over at The Wargamer, but as soon as I decided to try this the only restart was balancing the disposition of my forces to make it work. There are no defenders on the roads beyond the first line, so after you've removed the initial defenders you're good to go and no restarts for tricky battles are required.

As to Wiking: yes, it's a very good unit based on what I'm seeing in the second scenario. I'm not sure when, on average, we're supposed to request new units. The second scenario looks like it could be very tricky with just the initial forces. 6 divisions for such a large map is quite a small amount.

I'm still considering how to play the second scenario, but for the moment I think I'll request Wiking and the Slovak Fast Division.

The Soviets have plenty of divisions, but they're lacking in mobility. The Germans have plenty of mobility, but relatively few divisions.

quote:

The one thing that i think the ai could use improvement on is holding cities and objectives..


I didn't need to attack any of the objectives in the first scenario. The AI trying to get out of dodge after the opening turn is something I understand, but it also didn't really try to defend the objectives further south. The Soviets also don't really have the forces to do so, admittedly. There seemed to be just about 2 divisions south of the "moving pockets" after turn 2.

The scenario doesn't favour the Soviets if you come as close to creating a pocket on turn 1. It's a bit like Barbarossa where the Germans were almost in Minsk before Western Front had much of an idea what was happening. In this case, the bulk of the enemy units were also sort of "behind" my spearhead before the Soviets could respond.

The second scenario seems more promising from that perspective: a truly lethal blow on turn 1 is not going realistic due to the number of formations the Soviets have and the size of the map (although I have no idea what their reserves are like).




AZ Gung Ho -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/20/2012 4:43:25 PM)

I won the first scenario in this link series, but had to fight for the main city. Happily there was only one Soviet unit there, and after two or three tires I took him out and won the game a few turns early. It was fun and the AI was impressive too. Looking forward to continuing the series.




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/20/2012 4:45:43 PM)

I'm not sure how replacement cards are supposed to work in short campaigns, but I don't seem to be getting replacements from them. Aside from the value being rather high considering the small number of divisions I have (6000-8000+ men, or 2-3 regiments for an infantry replacement card when I tried, so I could bring all my formations up to strength and still have men to spare with just 1 card), I must be missing some special rules about them. The only replacements I get are the per turn replacements.

I installed the on-release patch after installing the regular game and have been playing with it since the start.

I also sometimes get replacements for unit types that I don't have or will presumably never have under my control, such as Romanian staff for Romanian HQ's.

Also: I think the 2nd Romanian Infantry Division should be the 2nd Romanian Mountain Division, as the regular infantry division ended up south of Stalingrad whilst the mountain division was with 1st Panzer Army.




krupp_88mm -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/20/2012 5:15:23 PM)

I noticed the same thing. I just chalked it up to me having no idea how the supply system works.. But for the life of me i cant seem to get any replacements to go to my units that i use cards for. Not sure if im doing something wrong. Sometimes it seems like its working other times it just doesn't. I keep getting divebombers but my divebomber unit is still empty. And i have level bombers attached to Headquarters unit i dont know how to get rid of.

But this was before patch, not sure if it changed or not.




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/20/2012 5:38:49 PM)

As to the dive-bombers: I did get them, and they did go to the Stuka unit, but it seems you sometimes get replacements of another type than you can use. For example: during a test run for the first scenario I got Ju 88's instead of He 111H's and I'm not sure if those could be used.

I thought the replacement issue that was fixed might've been that you got the "wrong" kind of replacements, but it must've been something else.




british exil -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/21/2012 9:03:41 AM)

ComradeP, thanks for the AAR. Was a nice read. Keep up the good work and press on to the next scenario.

Just a few questions? Do you carry on with the same units for the next scenario?
And how steep is the learning curve?

Which game should I start out with? WtP or Case Blue?


Mat




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/21/2012 11:03:52 AM)

In the linked campaign, you have a "core" that carries over. The other scenarios are not linked, but for example a full Case Blue game could theoretically last for almost a year (from mid 1942 to early 1943) so you use the same units for a long period.

To me, that's one of the main good things about the game: long scenarios, where you keep using the same units. I don't own DC:WtP but due to the nature of the scenarios it covers, scenarios in WtP will be quite a bit shorter than Case Blue and units don't carry over with the same stats from Poland to the Low Countries and beyond.

Case Blue also has new features like objectives given to you by high command, which keeps pressure on the advances. The supply system has also been changed, but as I have no experience with the original I don't know much about the specifics.

Which game you should start out with in the series probably depends most on whether you like longer scenarios or shorter scenarios and the Western or Eastern Front. I do have the feeling that Case Blue offers substantially more value in terms of scenarios as there are more scenarios and they're (much) longer than those in WtP, so in terms of "bang for your buck" I'd recommend Case Blue.

It seems the manual of this game is now available to the public, so you can always download that, read it/browse through it and see whether you like the rules and what the game offers.




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/21/2012 12:16:11 PM)

The second scenario presents the player with several strategic/operational problems to solve:

1) a lengthy initial frontline with two fairly open flanks.
2) spread out objectives (although you don't need all of the towns to win, you do need all of the major objectives I think).
3) as it's somewhat late in the campaign season, you need to get the central rail line up and running ASAP to prevent mud turns putting your units out of supply.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/F3A61FC7E6424CA691AA2CB2936890D2.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/21/2012 12:30:45 PM)

I've made things a bit easier by requesting Wiking, the Slovak Fast Division, a new corps HQ, and the 2nd Romanian Infantry Division to hold the flank eastern. Note that although this might sound like an impressive force on paper, Wiking is a high quality unit but the other two units are reasonably decent but won't get many (if any) replacements so I don't intend to use them for more than flank security or finishing off weakened enemy units. The Romanian and Slovak formations also don't have a separate artillery unit.

Without those reinforcements, I would be forced to make a narrower drive towards Armavir but in those case I have some room for a more elaborate encirclement.

After having played 2 turns, I don't feel the additional units give me a huge advantage thus far, but they do make things easier.

One important thing to keep in mind is that you can't make too many attacks at a low risk because your artillery units lose most of their power after 1 turn and need to refill their supplies for 4 turns before they're fully combat capable again. This means that even though my units are better than the Soviet units on average, I can't simply blow through a line of units turn after turn because it would be way too costly.

As a consequence of the above, I will again try to avoid as much combat as possible by using my superior mobility to encircle the Soviets and/or to threaten to encircle them to force them out of their positions. I think I can take a reasonable amount of losses before the combat power of my units drops spectacularly, but I'd rather take as few losses as possible this early on in the campaign (especially keeping the very random replacements in mind).

Unit placement on turn 1. As before, I did try and optimize my placement for what I wanted to do. This is at the start of turn 1, after requesting the three reinforcement divisions and the additional corps.

Note that you have to be careful with the order in which you place the units as the units will automatically be assigned to the nearest HQ. Placing the additional corps HQ last would've meant seriously overloading XXXX Panzer Korps, so I placed it before placing the Romanian and Slovak divisions. Wiking is attached to III Panzer Korps.

The idea is to use Wiking to cross the river in the west and drive along the rail line where it will link up with part of the 16th Motorized which will force a river crossing targeting a regiment of the 31st Rifle Division. The infantry divisions will clear a path to the river east of Armavir and the 13th Panzer will then move to the river east of Armavir. The idea is to force the defenders of Armavir out of their positions by turn 2 or 3. Note that the 111th Infantry is stacked with 13th Panzer initially.

Even with a Speed card, 13th Panzer can't cross the river east of Armavir on turn 1, which is only a minor problem as it converts the hexes there using ZOC anyway. I used a Speed card on 16th Motorized to make sure the two pocketed Rifle regiments in the river bend wouldn't run towards 1st Panzer Armee HQ. The Soviets did cut the rail line, but that's only a minor inconvenience.

XXXX Panzer Korps will advance east of Stavropol and will, together with 13th Panzer coming from the other side, threaten to encircle Stavropol which should force the Soviet divisions in that area out of their excellent defensive terrain. Note that the two Panzer divisions are stacked on top of eachother at the start of the turn, so you can see only one of them.

Likewise, the Romanian and Slovak divisions are also stacked on top of eachother.

The Romanian and Slovak divisions will hold the flank until the Soviets start to withdraw.

I used a Speed card on 3rd Panzer (so it would be able to advance further) and I believe the 111th Infantry as well (so it could push the 176th Rifle Division back across the river).

The 81st Naval Rifle Brigade was very badly mauled but survived.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/CBB0EE9895CF40D3A34067B5EFD13C0C.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/21/2012 12:36:03 PM)

Start of turn 2. Wiking destroyed two regiments of the 353rd Rifle Division, the other regiment is trapped. I believe one regiment of the 176th Rifle Division was also destroyed, and XXXX Panzer Korps got two Rifle regiments as well.

Note that the initial Soviet defensive positions have already been seriously unhinged. This move could also have been accomplished without the reinforcements, but it would have been less effective.

The defenders of the Stavropol area are trying to escape certain death, as expected.

The AI attacked the Nebelwerfer unit on its turn 1, but the attack was held.

I used a Speed card on Wiking.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/255C66E91EDD46A18DE98B9AF02B1373.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/21/2012 12:44:46 PM)

Not a lot of combat during turn 2. The regiments of the 31st and 353rd Rifle Division were destroyed by the 16th Motorized but other than that I mostly pushed my units forwards. Note that the AI left a hex south of Armavir open because it didn't have enough units to hold it, so I moved a regiment of 13th Panzer there. As expected, the AI tried to get out of dodge as soon as it noticed what was happening.

On one hand, I don't think the AI should abandon objectives. On the other, the AI can't be expected to estimate if/when a possible encirclement will become a real encirclement so it's not necessarily a bad strategy that it will usually pull back. Armavir was captured through ZOC. In the greater scheme of things, I don't think it would've mattered to much if I encircled the defenders on turn 2 and then stormed Armavir on turn 4 or 5, or if the defenders moved out like they did now.

I used the XP improvement cards of 1st Panzer Armee on two corps HQ's during turn 1 and 2.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/4C2878EDFC754DDBBBCF0BD94EEB4E22.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/22/2012 10:32:21 AM)

The units around Armavir were encircled on turn 3, and some empty minor objective hexes were captured.

I requested the 97th Jaeger Division, which is now with III Panzer Korps. 13th Panzer was temporarily assigned to LII Korps.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/8FEB18752A3744309FE9020944F64DC5.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/22/2012 10:36:17 AM)

The Armavir pocket was cleaned up.

I now have the problem that my good mobile units are on two sides of the map, and they're not directly supporting eachother. Soviet resistance isn't particularly stiff, but they could theoretically place a close to unkillable stack in Mozdok as I can't encircle the city.

That also leads to my main problem with the auto entrenchment rules: if you move a unit into difficult terrain, it is very difficult to impossible to dislodge it without artillery, which as discussed is not going to be effective during most of the game. If I move a regiment of a reasonable quality into low mountains or a city, the Soviets won't attack it. Clear hexes: sure, but not difficult terrain hexes.

No idea why the AI's attacking with the 17th Cavalry Corps.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/00F1697A5F494917B80D0B17A9973EE6.jpg[/image]




ComradeP -> RE: 1st Panzer Army AAR (7/22/2012 10:41:36 AM)

The Stavropol pocket was cleaned up.

The weather is holding for now, but that probably just means I'll get two mud turns in a row soon. The converted rail lines will be up by turn 7 and will reach Cherkesk on turn 8.

Fuel reserves have dropped substantially, I ended with a bit over 9000 fuel on turn 5. Still a long way from 0, but the trend is visible.

The AI didn't try to rescue its two pocketed units this turn.

My losses are mounting, although they're still below 1000. The auto entrenchment rules and the fairly decent Soviet individual unit quality mean the Soviets will generally kill 100 men during many attacks, so I keep the number of attacks during a turn as low as possible.

I've also lost a number of AFV's, although I think replacements cover most of the losses thus far aside from halftracks. Even though halftracks have a bonus to avoid destruction, they do get hit quite often.

[image]local://upfiles/32881/ABE91AE088F14644964240B12F6E9016.jpg[/image]




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