From: NYer living in Boise, ID
First, hats off to both of you. This was my favorite AAR thus far, and for a good reason. You both played a very interesting game, and it was as much fun to watch the Soviet hordes to rush forward and push the Germans occasionally to the breaking point, as it was fun to watch how a German player can organize a defense and counterattack, saving some cut-off units or punishing the Red hordes. Lastly, this ARR also had a great style, it often read like the summary of a Wehrmacht's situation report.
I hope there will be more, maybe a 1942 or 43 GC start to compare what difference a historical 41 would now make? Or another GC with swapped roles?
I'd really also like to hear the opinions of both of you, where the present engine resides in terms of balance, or what you think isn't caught well with the rules or mechanics we have. Maybe some "constructive criticism" could still make it into WitW, or at least influence the future development of this series.
First, the game has changed considerably since we started with numerous updates done by Matrix as players encountered issues. That has been great! (Although I'm a bit concerned that thier focus is now WiTW and we won't see much in the future....).
Major issues for me were the Soviet ability to construct forts and the impregnable swamps - that has been addressed. As Scar pointed out, the abundance of supply with offensives not really hindered by a limited logistics have been discussed at length by many in the forum. I fully agree.
To me, the problem is that the HQs, which function as a combination of command/control as well as supply. While the tactical C2 could easily move, moving a corps or army supply echelon is much more difficult. Realistically, supply units could either carry their basic load, or perform distribution to units. In the game, they can do both. My recommended fix would be to drastically reduce the abilty for HQs to "carry" supply if they move. Once they move, they should be reduced to about 25% supply on hand - all types. That would drastically slow offenses and force armies to "build up" supply - attack - advance and repeat (as was the case historically)
Another issue I found (which I think has been fixed somewhat in patches) is that units gain replacements all too quickly. Put a zero CV Soviet Rifle Division on the rail in the Urals, move if full movement west, and next turn it has 7000 men on hand. Advance 6th Pz toward Leningrad, fighting as it goes, and all sudden, the Pz35s are replaced by PZIIIs! When did these logistical personnel/equipment happen, along the rail lines or in the heat of battle? Not likely. To me, a unit should only be able to repair damage units (at greatly reduced rate) and not recieve additional replacements (or greatly reduced) or equipment upgrades unless it is in refit mode - and a unit should not be able to be placed in refit mode if it moved. The effect of that would be to have units wear down on the offensive forcing armies to conduct operational pauses.
The auto unit upgrades and equipment upgrades were a minor nuisance throughout. First PzIVf2s of course went to 10th Pz Div just before it was withdrawn! The TOE changes are based largely on historical manpower/euipment constraints. What if in the game, you don't have those constraints? In our game, my entire Panzer force was gutted in Mar 45 when the new TOE took effect - divisions that had 200 panzers went to 100 in the blink of an eye. My recommendation - allow the player to enact the TOE change, either by unit or across the board.
The conversion of the security units in 1945 to infantry hurt as all the sudden the cities were not garrisoned. Minor in the scheme of things, but a better solution would be to withdraw the sec divisions, then have them appear as infantry div reinforcements so the German player will know its going to happen. The is no advanced warning when a unit "changes".
The air game to me worked fairly well as after the initial airfield attacks on turn 1, I realized they are best left alone. About once every couple of months I'd check my airbases and re-allocate units from the reserve, but except for bombarding units prior to select deliberate attacks, I really didn't do much.
I've read that some folks want the partisan "game" reduced. To me, I want more detail. I think the Soviets should be able to "trigger" conversion from cadre to partisan beginning in 1943 - to coordinate their actions with ground attacks as happened historically. A random roll on maybe 3 per turn or something (similar to the board game War in the East by SPI). Yes, the destruction of rail should be reduced - my RR repair units were kept busy through the last turn of the game! I also think that the Axis allies should be prohibited from garrisoning cities (except security units). I used the entire Italian 8th Army to garrison the Ukraine freeing up many a German unit. I'd love to see the Germans to be able to conduct partisan sweeps - using a few units to isolate and destroy partisans - can't do that now.
Perhaps my biggest "issue" is that there is no real benifit of taking Moscow in 1941 - no collapse of the Soviet Union. I really disagree with this. I know, militarily, the Soviets would not have collapsed if Moscow fell. But what about politically? If Stalin abandoned Moscow, or was killed, could the Soviet Union have fell apart? I think there was that possibility. Politcal upheaval happend to Russia in 1917 and the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The public was unaware of what German "liberation" meant in 1941. By 1942 onward, much less likely I think. The shock had warn off and the German "occupation" was becoming known. What gets me is that the designers seemed to be dead set against a possible political collapse, butit the Germans take Leningrad, the Finns WILL continue forward. Why is this "certain"? It didn't happen in real life, right? What I'd propose is an optional rule that would make both (the Finns moving into Russia if Lenningrad falls and a total Russian collapse if Moscow falls) random. This would at least give the Germans some incentive to focus on Moscow and not the all hands to Leningrad to release the Finns approach. The "collapse" of course could be further randomized to endgame to a loss of morale. And only in 1941.
For the game, I think its important that there is more incentive for the Germans to "stick there neck out" in 1941 to force a collapse - because if they don't they are better prepared for the blizzard, and the Soviets then have a real uphill battle. Few German players will do a Stalingrad and lose an army early on, allowing the intitiave to shift rapidly.
Overall, WiTE is a tremendous accomplishment and plays very well - the above issues to me are all realatively minor overall. Will continue to play it and as Scar mentioned, we're going to go at it again.
Thanks for all the positive comments throughout the AAR....I'll need some help I think with the Soviets and yes, will try to keep up an AAR