Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (Full Version)

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Winfield S. Hancock -> Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/22/2012 8:53:26 PM)

Really like the game, but I am getting extremely frustrated as the Germans in the Trappenjagd Scenario.

I simply cannot take Kerch. I have completely destroyed the two Soviet Armies in the peninsula (as well destroyed 4 armies in the Izium Salient up North). Hundreds of thousands of Russians are KIA.

In Kerch itself, there sits the Crimean Front HQ, two Army HQs, 1 infantry division, 2 fortified regions, and an anti-tank group.

Opposing that on three sides I have every single piece of Artillery in the 11th Army, 4 divisions, a panzer division, Lemelsen in command of the corps, Manstein close by, and a full complement of the Luftwaffe.

For two turns in a row, I have pounded the city with air attacks and small bombardments. It only drives down the readiness of the Sov units a small percent, and most all units are back at 100% readiness at the start of every turn. The air attacks are only marginally helpful because of terrain. I have done a preliminary assault with a couple of divisions the previous turn to knock down Soviet readiness, but it always recovers completely. So for my final attempt, I have a successful Manstein 'Gamble' card giving +44% to all units in the attacking corps, Lemelsen plays an attack marker on the strongest division, giving it a +80% total, I hit the city with every piece of artillery in 11th Army, almost all of which are completely stockpiled full, and then attack. Despite all of that, I can only manage to even get 1 retreat result on the Soviet units in the city. Despite the fact that at least half of the units there are rear echelon HQ personnel, they simply will not break. As a result, the city just cannot seem to be taken at all, even when its defenders represent 3% of of the total starting strength of the Soviet forces that were in the Kerch peninsula at the start of the campaign.

This just does not seem right to me, and it is quite frankly ruining my campaign game. This is Kerch, not Stalingrad, yet it will not fall. It seems as though the defenders are armed with M1A2 Abrams, Apaches, and plasma rifles for all the good the best formations in 11th Army are able to do against them. Why do they always recover their readiness so fully? Why do they defend like superhumans? What can be done, if anything, to dislodge them?

I have already wasted nearly 100 PP delaying the 'take Kerch' order deadline at least 2 or 3 times. Now, I dont have enough PP left to do that again, and am about to lose 6 of my 10 Prestige because of this travesty, meaning every effort expended was a total waste.

This just does not seem right to me at all, period. The garrison should have surrendered several turns ago, yet nothing I do will seem to affect them negatively in any lasting way.

I am doing something wrong here? Is there some trick I am missing? Or is there something wrong with the design of this particular part of the campaign which makes it impossible to succeed even though the Germans did so historically fairly easily?

Dont want to complain too much, but between careful planning, doing the 'free setup' and game play, I have 60-70 hours into this campaign already just to get to June 7th, and this situation. Now, I feel like all that time has been wasted because I cant take Kerch, am going to lose the prestige, and between the lost prestige and wasted PP's trying to delay the deadline, I am basically going to be so crippled going into the 'real' part of the Case Blue campaign that it almost seems a waste of time to play it out -- which is hard to square with feeling that I wasted 60-70 hours only to get to a juncture where the campaign is seemingly doomed before it really starts.

Frustrating.




U2 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/22/2012 9:02:04 PM)

I'm having the same problem. I'm on 3rd june and I'm not even close to taking it yet. I still have forces to destroy outside of the city. I don't understand the game enough about the consequences of not taking it on time. I did not spend points delaying the deadline so it has passed. There was no point in doing it since I was not even close to taking it in the first place.




LiquidSky -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/22/2012 9:30:21 PM)



Is it because the HQ's dont break/retreat during combat?




Winfield S. Hancock -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/22/2012 9:35:32 PM)

I think part of it might be because the HQ do not break and disappear. Each HQ had been attacked multiple times before they ever even got into Kerch proper. Each time, the HQ just retreated away, but stayed resilient as if it were a Russian Guards unit.

My feeling is that these are rear area units, with rear area personnel, and should really shatter very quickly if ever involved in front line combat.

Perhaps part of the problem is that they have infantry in them at all. Perhaps they should be just staff and trucks, and the fighting qualities of the staff should be extremely low, forcing players to always have them far from the front lines.




meklore61 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/22/2012 9:44:01 PM)

This won't be helpful since you've past this point, but this is what I did at the start of the scenario. I got my barges and cargo ship into that port above Yalta and used VII Romanian Corps units to conduct an amphib op starting right behind that swamp hex at the neck of the peninsula and occupied every hex from there to almost Kerch. This made the AI pull those units building up entrenchment in and around Kerch to come out and stop the invasion, with the added benefit of making the enemy units west of the neck pull back also. The hard part is taking that swamp hex so that your landing gets supply the next turn.

This is a 2nd gamey way of taking Kerch, but if you pull your units back to the low mountains SW of you and behind the rivers in the north the AI gets to aggressive and follows your units to occupy the territory. This spreads out the AI and all those units lose all that entrenchment which makes things alot easier, plus still do the landing behind them. This probably won't work against a human player and like I mentioned it is a gamey way of doing it.




bwheatley -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/22/2012 9:53:47 PM)

Well 1 kerch is a port so it's getting supplies. So what i might recommend is to put some subs right outside kerch and blockade it. You have a pretty good shot that the AI will try to sink your units but if you can put ships to blockade the port you should effect supply enough to widdle them down.

Also how do you know their readiness goes back up to 100%? Are you playing with Fog of War off?
It will break it just is going to take a little time. Cities beasts to fight in. Never fight through an urban hex if you can avoid it. Tanks fight at 50% in an urban hex actually everything but INfantry attack at a disadvantage to a city. And kerch is a city you can't cut off w/o blockading so it's going to be a tough tough nut to crack. I'd also make sure you bomb the city until it's completely destroyed. That will also effect the units readiness and their supply.

You can do this. :)




Winfield S. Hancock -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/22/2012 10:01:38 PM)

I am playing with Fog of War on, but because I have a 5 division corps in the three hexes surrounding Kerch, my recon value is over 700 and I can see everything that is going on there.

Tried putting a couple of subs outside the port, they got sunk by the Russian cruisers very quickly. Of course, in hindsight, seems like I should have used the Luftwaffe to try to sink the Russian fleet starting with turn 1 so a blockade strategy could be effective without risk of losing my forces.

Appreciate the thoughts on bombing the city, what I have found is with the three HQs in there, the Soviets get a lot of AA fire and my Luftwaffe has suffered pretty bad losses in planes and readiness.

You are right it is a tough nut to crack. It just seems like it is a bit too tough to crack, with the Soviets showing a toughness and resiliency there that they didnt really find IRL until Chuikov was down to occupying only a sliver of the riverbank in Stalingrad and just couldnt be rooted out.




canuck64 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 12:26:53 AM)

Isn't "two turns in a row" basically the better part of a work week?
I suggest that the time scale bears consideration. We've collectively been watching the Syrian army fight rebels with no heavy weapons for the better part of a month, in Aleppo -in real life. Urban areas I think are supposed to be horrible, and in this case, as you noted, Kerch is still supplied.
I'm guessing what was done in '42 was quite the feat.




Grotius -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 1:54:08 AM)

I was just reading about this battle in Glantz's "To the Gates of Stalingrad," and he says the Germans were outnumbered -- but Manstein outfoxed the Russians, feinting north and then driving south and capturing Kerch relatively easily. Unfortunately, at the game's 10-km-per-hex scale, it's sorta hard to duplicate this maneuver, even if the AI could fall for a feint. So it makes for a tough thing for a game designer to model: you want to represent the historical OOB, but you also want to give the Germans a chance for the surprisingly quick victory they achieved historically.




aspqrz -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 2:26:19 AM)

I think the poster's point is that he has, effectively, done what the Germans did ... in game terms ... and that the garrison of Kerch is putting up a far stronger fight than is in any way realistic ... given that it's a 3 x HQ, Infantry Division, and a couple of Fortified regions and an AT Group up against the bulk of the 11th Army Artillery and 5 Divisions.

Standard military theory is that you only need 3:1 odds to win. Even allowing for terrain multipliers, only the Infantry Div, Fortified and AT Groups would count, in reality, and, I'd guess, he has considerably in excess of 3:1 odds.

Phil




Winfield S. Hancock -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 3:54:53 AM)

I think this indeed cuts to the heart of my point.

I did the free setup with the thought of improving on the German deployment, specifically with the goal of getting the Crimea done quickly so Manstein could be redeployed up north to take charge of either the 6th Army or a new panzer army I would build that would be my main strike force for Case Blue.

I completely reorganized the forces in the Crimea -- all Romanians were sent to hold the Sevastopol front, and first line German troops and commanders were brought in from throughout Russia. My strike force was the 44th Corps under Lemelsen, and it had in it the 1st and 4th Mountain divisions, and the 97th, 100th, 101st Jager Divisions, and two other German infantry, as well as the 22nd Panzer. The reason I brought the mountain troops and the Jagers in was that they start the scenario with more experience than any other German units except the SS Panzers (who would not be appropriate for this front).

On the first turn, I attacked north with the 44th Corps from Fedosiya and cut off at least half the Russians in a pocket. The XXX Corps under Fretter-Pico was the pinning force. After closing the pocket, I sealed it with the XXX Corps troops and let 44 Corps continue attacking eastward. I used Nebelwerfers and Stukas to rupture the line multiple times, used Initiative and Speed Cards, and 2 successful Gamble cards by Manstein, but still could never quite get ahead of enough of the Soviet troops to fully cut them off and keep them from retreating back. New Soviet units continued to generate as well, to the point where I felt like a real German commander, wondering where they kept coming up with new formations from.

I have been at the gates of Kerch for about 7 or 8 game turns, bombing, closing the circle, etc. Finally cleared the hexes to the north of Kercy, and got ready for the 2-turn final assault I mentioned before, thinking that it was now the time since I had a three hex attack frontage and had been bombing, etc. Also had all of my artillery rested up and fresh for maximum bombardment the next turn. Figured that should be enough to finish off the remnants, but as I said earlier, they just would not go down. My recon was so high from so many forces next to the city I was able to see the readiness with complete accuracy each turn and despite attacks, bombardment, etc I just wasnt able to drop it below about 80, which meant nobody ever broke or retreated before my attacks ran out of APs.

I completely understand the poster who said that it was a really amazing victory for the Germans to pull off historically, so to match the historical achievement will be difficult. Taking that as the case, I then think that perhaps the prestige penalty should not be so high for failure. If you dont take it on time, that costs you 60% of your starting prestige, or in my case, 60% plus about 80 or more wasted PPs on delays. Starting out with very low prestige and PPs at the start of the main Case Blue campaign seems to me like it would cripple the Germans from the outset. I wonder if there is a way where the game could be modded so if Kerch is taken on the historical timetable, you still get a big prestige bonus, but not the huge penalty for failing to match the historical feat. Or a declining scale of prestige awards, whereby if you get Kerch by the first date, you get 6, but then it declines to 4 a week later, 2 a week after that, and then goes into negative territory if a month or more has passed and you still havent taken it. I know that in part the command system is supposed to model the difficulties of the Wehrmacht commanders in dealing with the unrealistic demands of the insane lunatic Hitler, but such a big dropoff in prestige so early in the game seems to be a bit much.

Finally, the point about the hex scale not giving as much room to manuever as historically is an excellent one. Even with my successful initial pocketing of a large chunk of Soviet forces, there was no real room to break through towards Kerch on what is a three hex front, with one of those hexes being marsh to boot.




redmarkus4 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 9:25:32 AM)

I take the points made by WSH, but I have to point out that the 3:1 guideline quoted by Phil doesn't necessarily apply to urban operations, particularly on this front. Urban ops eat up infantry like a sponge and you might need 10:1 odds to make any progress.

There are a number of examples of Soviet formations resisting for weeks or months against all odds, including large numbers of 'rear echelon' troops in urban terrain; Brest, Tula, Sevastopol, Stalingrad and others. HQ and rear echelon staff were often engaged and 62nd Army HQ at Stalingrad was literally in the front line.

Similarly, German HQ staff often took on combat roles; Rommel during the 1940 invasion of France was directing tank fire personally vs. bunkers, Raus in Russia was coordinating single tanks vs. KV1s.

All this is impossible to model in a game on this scale, but the ability of an in-supply defender to hold a city with a hodge-podge of odds and sods isn't completely a-historical.

Having said that, I'm pretty sure it can be modded as suggested. Also, playing the game with the HQ rules turned off will remove the PP penalties altogether, I believe.




aspqrz -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 9:52:54 AM)

Well, actually, the 3:1 factor applies to all combat ops ... all things being equal (flat, open, terrain, no mobility or visibility advantages and equal numbers of similarly equipped troops is, of course, the baseline) ... but, when they aren't, there are some basic force multipliers or divisors that either increase or decrease the effective strength, so the 3:1 always applies.

For example ...

Two armies, in open terrain with no mobility or visibility advantages

Blue Army = 100

vs

Orange Army = 300

Results in an Orange win more often than not.

Modify for terrain and other things ...

Blue Army = 100 + Dug in (x2) = 200

vs

Orange Army = 300

Results are most likely not an Orange win.

On the other hand ...

vs

Orange Army = 300 + Mobility Advantage (Trucks or Tracks) (x2) = 600

Still means an Orange win, more often than not.

In both instances, there's 100 vs 300 strength, the modifiers make the 3:1 or not.

In the Kerch scenario described, the defenders are dug in, but have little artillery, and are surrounded and are almost certainly under strength, but, even at full strength, they have 6000 or so infantry for the Rifle Division, 2000 for each of the Fortified Regions and 400 for the AT group - say 10000 all up, in the unlikely event they're at full strength.

Versus around about 27-30000 men all up, if at full strength, with the full weight of the entire 11th Army Artillery plus a goodly chunk of the Luftwaffe in the region.

I'd guess the concentric attack, divisional bonuses and artillery and air attacks should more than enough make this a 3:1 effective attack.

YMMV ... I suspect that WSH may be correct in his surmise that its the magical ability of the basically noncombat HQ elements to not shatter that is the deciding factor, and that this really doesn't work historically ... they have a Kill to Retreat % of 50, which even Infantry doesn't!

In fact, SdKfz 251 Halfrtracks get that Kill to Retreat Conversion because, as the designer states, they are speedy enough to get out of the way. Staff units? No way.

I'd suggest they should have the same Kill to Retreat % as Infantry = 0%.

YMMV

Phil




amatteucci -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 11:56:42 AM)

I guess that the strange result the OP got is mainly due to the exceptional resilence of HQs in defense, especially when no retreat is physically possible.

In the same scenario, playing as the Soviets against the AI, I pursued a retreating German corps HQ and cornered it in a coastal hex. It took me four turns and an entire Army to wipe it out! [X(]




Vic -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 1:48:27 PM)

Taking Kerch should not be harder then taking Sevastopol. The key to taking a city like this (one that you cannot encircle and gets supplies from overseas) is to use artillery and level bombers to get its structural points down to 0. Having a harbour with 0 structural points will cause supply problems for the defenders and you should be able to easily run over them after they have been out of supply for say 2 or 3 rounds.

Best,
Vic




Winfield S. Hancock -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 2:33:19 PM)

Yes, this sounds about right.

I am wondering if part of the solution would be to weaken the combat values of the HQ by eliminating the regular infantry that is part of the unit, leaving it with only the 6/8 combat value staff?




aspqrz -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 2:39:59 PM)

And eliminating the 50% chance that any loss inflicted on Staff elements will be converted to a Retreat ... which I can see no justification for whatsoever [X(]

Phil




bwheatley -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 2:48:09 PM)

Yea the bombing the city down to 0 would be great.
As for HQ's fighting poorly i'd like to point out when people fight with their backs and their lives up against a wall you will get one hell of a fight. The battle for bataan being a pretty fair example 3+ months while effectively cut off from the outside world.

By contrast the soviets in kerch are not cut off and receiving supplies. I know it's never fun when a game isn't able to completely replicate history. But hang in there all in all i think you'll enjoy it.




redmarkus4 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 3:04:12 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: bwheatley

Yea the bombing the city down to 0 would be great.
As for HQ's fighting poorly i'd like to point out when people fight with their backs and their lives up against a wall you will get one hell of a fight. The battle for bataan being a pretty fair example 3+ months while effectively cut off from the outside world.

By contrast the soviets in kerch are cut off and receiving supplies. I know it's never fun when a game isn't able to completely replicate history. But hang in there all in all i think you'll enjoy it.


Exactly.




redmarkus4 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 3:14:05 PM)

OK, you are talking about game mechanics and I'm talking about real life.

In real live ops, cooks, drivers, 'staff', lightly wounded, replacements and many more have all been called upon to mount a defence and they have often done this successfully. Take a look at the battle of Kohima, which provides a really good example of what I am talking about. One regular British infantry Battalion, some very brave Indian and Naga troops, reservists, cooks and bottle washers held off a powerful Japanese Division for almost two weeks, fighting at close quarters for most of the time.




aspqrz -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 3:54:19 PM)

Yes, but in the sftypes, Staff get a 50% chance of converting a Kill result to a Retreat, while Infantry do not.

I accept that Support Troops can fight, but they are NOT better at defending than Infantry!

Remove this ridiculous advantage for Staff and level the playing field!

Phil




redmarkus4 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 4:23:35 PM)

OK, well I agree with that.




Treale -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 4:39:31 PM)

So what, we're supposed to take a vote and majority rules?




redmarkus4 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 4:43:29 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Treale

So what, we're supposed to take a vote and majority rules?


I don't know :)

However, it's easily modded, so anyone who wants to edit those values can just go ahead and do that... I might take a look at it later.




Treale -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 7:07:35 PM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: redmarkus4


quote:

ORIGINAL: Treale

So what, we're supposed to take a vote and majority rules?


I don't know :)

However, it's easily modded, so anyone who wants to edit those values can just go ahead and do that... I might take a look at it later.


I was just being funny! My wife says that I have a weird sense of humor....




redmarkus4 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/23/2012 8:31:57 PM)

And my wife says I have none.




aspqrz -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/24/2012 3:27:02 AM)

I will probably (unless Vic or someone explains the ... vitalness ... of giving Staff a Kill to Retreat conversion) mod out this special ability for Staff as part of the OOB/TO&E mod I am working in conjunction with Ritterkrieg ...

... so, no need for a vote (and, as redmarkus says, its insanely easy to change oneself!)

Phil




bwheatley -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/24/2012 7:34:36 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: aspqrz

Yes, but in the sftypes, Staff get a 50% chance of converting a Kill result to a Retreat, while Infantry do not.

I accept that Support Troops can fight, but they are NOT better at defending than Infantry!

Remove this ridiculous advantage for Staff and level the playing field!

Phil


it's not really an advantage so much as simulating the fact that staff can typically get away in most cases. :)

If the germans were able to blow up the city the city would fall easily i've already done it 2x in Ai games against normal AI.




U2 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/24/2012 7:47:58 AM)


quote:

ORIGINAL: Vic

them after they have been out of supply for say 2 or 3 rounds.

Best,
Vic


Vic,

The problem is one does not have 2-3 rounds once you reach the city. It takes os much time killing all the soviets west of the city. I'm unable to play Trappenjagd because one HQ and Militia units is blocking the attack of four german divisions with tons of arty and air. I've restarted the campaign twice.... [:(]




U2 -> RE: Getting Incredibly Frustrated -- Cannot Take Kerch (8/24/2012 2:40:14 PM)

A thought...

would bombing Kerch from turn 1 down to 0 reduce the amount of supply to the Soviet units holding the front to the west of the city?




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