Telemecus -> RE: OKH - 8 player multiplayer Axis thread (3/12/2017 12:35:12 PM)
So the AAR begins
Well I guess for a thread about AARs we'd better do an AAR!
But rather than diving in to turn by turn screenshots I would first like to set the scene. Firstly by describing how we organise play as a team and then an overview of the strategic choices facing us for Barbarossa. You will then probably get turn by turn descriptions as you get in other AARs. But I hope we can also do some thematic views on aspects of the war accross multiple turns, and retrospectives at the end of campaigning seasons on what our strategy was and how it went. Hopefully it will be a resource others can use, and others can contribute to.
Playing a team side
It has been done before. You can even read AARs about it on these forums. Several mad keen and experienced players say why do we not play with a team for each side. Superficially it looks like it is designed for teams - you already have fronts or army groups which you can allocate to team members. Several turns later the game fizzles out with all the enthusiasm deflated and sometimes acrimony.
Why? Because what looks superficially like a team side game is not. War in the East was designed to have multiple interdepencies which only one controlling mind can master. Separating different parts of the game strictly to different players who play once in sequence would mean many of the best ways of playing become impossible. Some examples are
i) After overrunning an enemy airbase you bomb it again before overrunning it again - not possible if the airforce and land commanders are different
ii) Your southernmost unit has a great opportunity, but it needs the northermost unit of your neighbouring commander to attack an enemy first - not possible as your neighbour goes only after you finish
These may seem trivial but the number of occasions this happens are vast and saps enthusiasm. There are a number of approaches to this problem, all with their drawbacks -
i) Allow team members to use units of other players - if agreed in advance fine, but if players can use their discretion during a turn how can you be sure you are not ruining the best laid plans of another commander. In one previous team game with an AAR players progressively left decisions and actions to the Supreme Commander and it became a de facto one player a side game. A big mistake was to get the Supreme Commander ever involved in moving and attacking with combat units on the map. After which the other players were paralysed and it became a slippery slope.
ii) Allow players multiple goes with no strict sequence - perhaps this is OK to tidy up at the end or something you forgot, or once for some really critical operation. But to take a turn with multiple iterations with handovers giving each player multiple goes would take forever.
iii) Accept it as a feature of the team game - there are just some things you cannot do as a team side. Like combining air and land operations of different commanders, hardly the historical role play which is the interest of the game. But artificial features lead to artificial results. In one team game with an AAR you can read how the Soviets order of battle became bricks (the fronts) with mortar in between (units directly reporting to STAVKA). As fronts never overlapped or were next to each other they never had boundary action problems. The Supreme Commander became the team sweeper sorting out problems between fronts at the end. Absolutely no relationship to historical reality.
Using commonsense and communication is always the best way. But there are limits. If a team are not sitting together in a real life room, the time to communicate can be prohibitive. And there are many things which are not obviously commonsense.
These were things I had pondered on for a while before Timmeh and Panzerjager Hortlund posted on the opponents wanted thread a signup thread for a team game. And I asked to be a Supreme Commander partly to see how to solve these issues and I wanted the challenge to make a team play in WitE work. Potentially what we find could be a tool set for future team sides, or even give the developers some ideas?
What I proposed was a protocol. The team side equivalent of house rules. A list of does. Not so much as rules, the team after all is on the same side. But to set expectations of what others will or will not do. So when interdependencies arise you do not have to check with other players first, but just go ahead in the best way knowing what the others will (probably) do.
It combines elements of all 3 approaches (e.g defines when other players can "control" units in other command;allows supreme commander discretion to allow an extra mini-turn; prohibits auto night missions) This was the result
Team Play Sequence Protocol v1.03
A fallback default process for co-ordinating a multiplayer team rather than replacement of common sense and communication - and not meant to impede fun. More to empower team players to make decisions on their own knowing what they can do and what others will do rather than make every decision rely on Supreme Commander or committee.
1.1 SubCommanders post, at their option, requests (and reasons). In particular SubCommanders may want to indicate any future HQ Buildups or need for air transport.
1.2 Supreme Commander allocates, in draft or final, to each SubCommander (most of these will be rare, usual will be just points, command and boundaries)
-Maximum points they can spend
-Maximum rail cap they can use
-Which units are in their command, can assign to their command, and which in their command they cannot reassign, must reassign or can disband
-Which units in another command they can control
-Instructions on use of specific units (e.g. withdrawers with ToE<75%)
-Which airgroups in their command they cannot send to national reserve, or can swap equipment of, and which airgroups not in their command they can assign from national reserve, transfer to their command, or control
+a list of air bases that they are on which cannot be moved until the transfer is complete, missions are complete or SubCommander decides not to transfer/use airgroup
-Which leaders not in their command they can appoint to within their command
Also a description of the geographic boundary between SubCommands, possibly including a rear area which only Supreme Command is responsible for, and any instructions to co-ordinate along it.
Control - can move (but not airtransfer airgroups) and conduct attacks\missions
Command - can reassign their command (airtransfer for airgroups), change leaders, and unless otherwise stated, control
If in draft then back to 1.1
After finalised (and given new opportunities or emergencies) a contingency could be drawn on or a re-allocation made during a turn by Supreme Commander (but may not be possible).
1.3 Supreme Commander
-makes leader appointments
-sends some airgroups to reserve, disband or manual swap
-sets night settings for airgroups (generally to night for SubCommands not taking their turn first)
-sets a default air doctrine
1.4 Supreme Commander takes on map actions, if any, which can include
-air transfers some airgroups to another airbase (usually between SubCommands)
-air operations which are optimally carried out before land operations
-requests from SubCommanders
-strategic transport of arrivals
1.5 Supreme Commander may also post on rail repair routes, long term strategy, future force dispositions, and guidance - which may be referenced in this protocol.
2 SubCommanders take turns in the sequence -first the northernmost or southermost commander which has the main supreme command HQ nearest to it and then north to south or south to north commanders accordingly.
Subcommanders have the OBLIGATION to carry out the land operations of their command and
-if SubCommand does not go first that turn they must first switch to day missions all of their the airgroups that they want (to conduct auto missions)
-if SubCommand does not go last that turn they must last switch to day missions all of their airgroups, except for those not for auto missions by subsequent SubCommanders
-conduct air operations best done with land operations (e.g.moving airbases forward with advancing troops to act as staging bases; sending airgroups they control, which they will not use this turn or next, to reserve before moving their airbases; bombing enemy before displacing them; bombing units before combat; reconnaisance before moving through enemy controlled areas; toggling ground support on/off)
-all actions to fulfill long term strategy and force dispositions at least cost (i.e. avoid points spend reassigning a unit which will need points spend again to reassign it in a future turn, excessive truck use etc.)
and, within their geographic boundary, includes
-rear operations such as garrisoning and anti partisan
-protecting neighboring commands flanks and boundary operations as per 1.2
-rail repair near front (when rail repair units needs protection by combat units but not prevent necessary stacking of other units) following rail repair routes
SubCommanders are RESTRICTED to not
-use units of another command without control handed to them by other SubCommander or in allocations by Supreme Commander
-exceed allocations of the Supreme Commander or transfers from other SubCommander
-conduct auto night missions which could include airgroups controlled by another SubCommander
-select airgroups not in their control for manual night missions
-not to move airbases (listed in allocations) with an airgroup controlled by another SubCommander until it is transfered out, missions are completed or other subcommander decides not to transfer/use airgroup (rare and principally for specialist airgroups)
-not to end a turn with on map units outside their boundary where the SubCommander for that area would be prevented from stacking the units they would want there (use common sense and warn others if you need a special spot for stacking)
-reassign units in their SubCommand to another without their say so (i.e no unexpected command penalties)
SubCommanders CAN, at their option, do anything else including and also
-control the main supreme command HQ unit providing it is moved generally in the same direction as the sequence of play and unless the Supreme Commander specifically says you cannot for that turn
-adjust air doctrine (but return to SupremeCommand setting before handing on to next player)
-conduct long range air operations
-conduct auto air day missions using airgroups controlled or commanded by other SubCommands
-re-assign any unit within their command to any where else in their command or to main high command
-assign any unit from main high command which they have assigned to main high command in the same turn
-assign leaders from within own command or allocated
-adjust settings such as max ToE, refit, auto SU level support/ lock and remove SUs from direct assignment, airgroup replacement/autoswap/autoupgrade (but Supreme Commander has final say at end -and may be worth posting changes so that Supreme Commander does not change them without noticing)
Occasionally subcommanders will not be able to complete all their turn because they need another subcommander to carry out some actions first (e.g make an attack at their boundary, or airtransfer or conduct mission with airgroup controlled by another commander on their airbase). In these cases the sub commander can give control of units to commanders who come sequentially after them with or without instructions for how to use them for that turn, or ask for a further mini-turn after another commander has taken their turn if Supreme Commander agrees (best avoided)
3.1 Supreme commander takes actions for any unit
-not in any subcommand (e.g. rear area unassigned garrisons, arrivals)
-in a subcommand at their request
-further air operations not otherwise conducted earlier in turn (e.g air dropping fuel, long range recon, further airbase bombing, city bombing)
-makes final airbase moves which are i) preceded by further airgroups to reserve or swap, ii) together with any more airgroup air transfers iii) followed by assignments from national reserve
3.2 Supreme Commander finally
-sets SU auto support level settings and locks, and (rarely) remove SUs from direct assignment (if game preferences allow)
-adjust unit status to or from refit
-adjust units Max ToEs
-sets replacement/autoswap/autoupgrade settings for airgroups
-sets air doctrine and night mission settings for opponents action phase
-sets production settings
It is a work in progress, and I expect it will be altered as we go along. There will be changes as there are changes in each version of the game. It is slanted to an Axis viewpoint, so needs to incorporate Soviet experience. But I would be interested in the comments and suggestions of others.
[Edit: this was previously post 35&36]
Meanwhile as an icebreaker all team members have been asked to watch this video and answer "Which Nazi general are you?" [:D]