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Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey?

 
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Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/2/2011 8:54:10 PM   
smokindave34


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Just wanted to get some opinions on this... I am playing a PBEM GC as SU and have so far built my defense without using a checkerboard strategy. I have tried to dig in behind rivers with 2 divisions in a hex and then supplemented that with some defense in depth a hex or two behind the main defense line (wherever the terrain would support it). This seems to me like a more historical defense but in the nature of WITE it will prove costly if/when my opponents armor breaks through. I am certainly no expert but I don't believe a checkerboard style defense was used by the SU in their defensive strategy early in the war. Wanted to hear what others had to say about this.........
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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/2/2011 9:15:18 PM   
BigAnorak


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It is very difficult to get game mechanics to fit reality, especially when the game uses a continuous move/attack/move system. The ZOC rules also mean that once the attacker breaks through a purely linear defence, he can penetrate great distances that may appear ahistorical. (plenty of threads already on this)

The ZOC rules and movement allowances available to attackers, means that a "checkerboard" of interlocking ZOCs is a good way to reduce the penetration capability of mechanised units.

It is a means to an end, and therefore not "gamey", whatever "gamey" means.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/2/2011 10:03:21 PM   
Jajusha


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One doesn't have to repeat what went down back then. The mechanics are there for both sides, SU doesn't have to defend in a linear pattern just as the German player doesn't need to siege Leningrad for 3 years, or keep the fins inside their borders. Should we consider taking Leningrad and using the Fins gamey? I don't really think so.


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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 1:02:27 AM   
Carl Rugenstein


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Not at all gamey. It's just a different type of defense that stands well on it's own historical merits. Very effective with the old fort build rates. May not be quite as much with some of the changes mentioned in 1.04.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 3:10:40 AM   
Altaris

 

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Nah, it's not gamey. The Soviets don't really have a lot of options available since their CV's are so abysmally bad compared to the Germans. Soviets need to play the ZOC game to put a dent in the German drive, and checkerboard is a great way to do this with minimal forces.

However, if you ask me, a far more effective defense is a checkerboard 1 hex from the front line, followed by an empty second line row, then 2-3 rows of carpet stacks 1 unit high. What this does is layer your front with your own ZOC, which costs the Germans (particularly Panzers) a lot of MPs to cross into. For example, for a armor division to push into a hex that is in your ZOC and has a unit next to it costs roughly 10 MP (higher in bad terrain). They won't be pushing into your rear lines very easily at those costs. Having the carpet defense means they can't just hit one unit and free up the ZOC either.

You'll completely demolish any hope the Germans have of breaking through into the rear this way, and start building massive layers for forts to retreat back to. At best they might surround 2-3 units in the front row, but you can afford that fairly easily. It takes a few turns to get this type of defense going, but it's a sure fire way to ruin the German summer drive.

Obviously it doesn't work in every single instances, sometimes you need to have a solid defense line (like behind the Dnepr river), but anywhere where you can afford to give up space that the German can take easily, this is the way to do it.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 3:21:07 AM   
Carl Rugenstein


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Also keep in mind that the hex needs to have a high enough fort level and enough troops to prevent the Germans from bouncing the hex with a 3 division "Hasty Attack". You want them to have to spend the MP's for a "Deliberate Attack".

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 3:31:16 AM   
PeeDeeAitch


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Altaris

Nah, it's not gamey. The Soviets don't really have a lot of options available since their CV's are so abysmally bad compared to the Germans. Soviets need to play the ZOC game to put a dent in the German drive, and checkerboard is a great way to do this with minimal forces.

However, if you ask me, a far more effective defense is a checkerboard 1 hex from the front line, followed by an empty second line row, then 2-3 rows of carpet stacks 1 unit high. What this does is layer your front with your own ZOC, which costs the Germans (particularly Panzers) a lot of MPs to cross into. For example, for a armor division to push into a hex that is in your ZOC and has a unit next to it costs roughly 10 MP (higher in bad terrain). They won't be pushing into your rear lines very easily at those costs. Having the carpet defense means they can't just hit one unit and free up the ZOC either.

You'll completely demolish any hope the Germans have of breaking through into the rear this way, and start building massive layers for forts to retreat back to. At best they might surround 2-3 units in the front row, but you can afford that fairly easily. It takes a few turns to get this type of defense going, but it's a sure fire way to ruin the German summer drive.

Obviously it doesn't work in every single instances, sometimes you need to have a solid defense line (like behind the Dnepr river), but anywhere where you can afford to give up space that the German can take easily, this is the way to do it.


In the Center, the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups could punch through this with one and drive with the other. A corps-stack can hasty attack almost any unit (and unless it is a full soviet 1941 mech corps, any stack), take it out and then move to the next and attack another and another - maybe 6-7 per turn with luck. Three corps (or two if one is sized 4) can break through most of this at worst.

I would venture a guess that all the groups except the 4th could punch through this.

Of course, I might just be visualizing what you describe incorrectly...

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 3:36:22 AM   
PeeDeeAitch


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As for the original question, I think it is not game at all. What is missed out in many of the discussion is what the ZOC is. A line of spaced units is simply a linear defense that is more spaced, allowing (eventual) infiltration but not full movement through. 2-3 lines of this is just defense in depth, something the Soviets well understood.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 3:54:43 AM   
alfonso

 

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I would add that for me the word gamey has the connotation of something unexpected by the developers, and not encouraged by them as it is in this case (page 299 of the Manual). Once ZOCs exist, economy of force dictates the need of using checkerboard in some instance.

If we accept the ZOC concept, then we accept that a unit is not confined to one single hex, and finally we arrive at seeing the checkerboard simply as a pictorial representation of something that it is really not a checkerboard (i.e patches of military islands surrounded by empty space). Not even in game terms.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 3:54:48 AM   
Carl Rugenstein


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Could also easily be thought of as a strongpoint defense with force projection.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 4:01:56 AM   
PeeDeeAitch


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Gamey is finding that you can airdrop the 10th Panzer to Moscow on turn 1, using the game mechanics properly is creating an interlocking series of ZOCs that slow down the enemy.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 4:54:31 AM   
PyleDriver


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Some good points, slowing them is a must. The main thing is a guessing game, where is he focused and how much is he comitting.... How much do you use in delay and how much in rear defence building...

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 6:44:40 AM   
76mm


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Depends on what you mean by gamey...if you mean, like I do, something not likely to work IRL but which is very effective in the game, then yes, I think the checkerboard is very gamey. I think if the Russians would have deployed like that, IMO the Germans would have simply marched/ridden around and carried on with hardly a pause.

In the game though, if you don't use checkboard as the Sov player, you are doomed, don't even try linear defenses, at least in 1941.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 8:52:11 AM   
Aditia

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: PeeDeeAitch

In the Center, the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups could punch through this with one and drive with the other. A corps-stack can hasty attack almost any unit (and unless it is a full soviet 1941 mech corps, any stack), take it out and then move to the next and attack another and another - maybe 6-7 per turn with luck. Three corps (or two if one is sized 4) can break through most of this at worst.

I would venture a guess that all the groups except the 4th could punch through this.

Of course, I might just be visualizing what you describe incorrectly...


Yeah, if your panzer divisions are fresh =P

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 9:23:55 AM   
Hagleboz


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I think that many people are looking at this issue waaayyyy too literally when they poo-poo checkerboards.  In the game, divisions and corps sit neatly within a single hex and people are looking at it like that unit occupies only that single, solitary space.  Players then look at all the open hexes in a checkerboard and say, "That's ridiculous, there's no way anybody would setup their defense with 10 mile holes in it in real life!  A real life attacker would wind his way past that type of defense in his sleep.  That tactic is so gamey!" 

But in real life there are no hexes, and units are spread across the countryside in varying frontage lengths depending on the situation at hand.  When I look at a checkerboard defense I don't see it as one division here, another one sitting over there by itself 10 miles distant.  I see it as two divisions linked together continuously along a thinner line, with longer frontages, using real life tactics to extend the division's reach to cover more ground. Units arranged this way have the primary focus of a flexible defense to slow down an opposing offensive, using real world tactics such as hedgehogs, fallbacks, minefields and the like rather than holding fast.  ZOC's in this respect simulate that division's influence, in this case not just how far they can shoot, but actually spreading the division out on a wider frontage than the single, solitary hex it appears to occupy. 

In real life, on certain areas of the front, single divisions sometimes covered lengths of 30 or 40 miles because manpower was in such short supply.  Therefore it is absolutely not gamey to replicate this by checkerboarding based on the limitations of a hex-based map to accomplish the same exact thing.  The same effect can also be replicated by breaking a division down into 3 brigades, which themselves exert no ZOC, but which could linearly cover the same 3 hexes as a single unit would with it's hex and ZOC.  Checkerboarding is a lot more user friendly in terms of time, book keeping, and the hex stacking limit, than having to manually split up all the divisions you need to achieve the same effect.  If you need a frontage beyond 30 miles or so per division then you do split up into brigades and you really do suffer real holes in your lines when you spread them out.  I think its an excellent simulation of real life based on the limitations needed for a playable and enjoyable hex-based game.

Long story short, checkerboarding is not at all gamey! It is a very realistic "simulation" of very real world tactics, shoehorned into an unrealistic hex-based game world.


< Message edited by Hagleboz -- 4/3/2011 9:34:24 AM >

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 9:50:53 AM   
sillyflower


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quote:

ORIGINAL: smokindave34

Just wanted to get some opinions on this... I am playing a PBEM GC as SU and have so far built my defense without using a checkerboard strategy. I have tried to dig in behind rivers with 2 divisions in a hex and then supplemented that with some defense in depth a hex or two behind the main defense line (wherever the terrain would support it). This seems to me like a more historical defense but in the nature of WITE it will prove costly if/when my opponents armor breaks through. I am certainly no expert but I don't believe a checkerboard style defense was used by the SU in their defensive strategy early in the war. Wanted to hear what others had to say about this.........


I have always thought I was playing a game here. This is a reasonable tactic.

In my book 'gamey' in the sense of 'game ruining' is things like Russians knocking out Rumania by invading Constanta on T1.
To those who say it's not a game, I reply all is fair in love and war and I love refighting this war with bits of virtual cardboard.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 12:27:12 PM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: When I look at a checkerboard defense I don't see it as one division here, another one sitting over there by itself 10 miles distant.  I see it as two divisions linked together continuously along a thinner line, with longer frontages, using real life tactics to extend the division's reach to cover more ground. Units arranged this way have the primary focus of a flexible defense to slow down an opposing offensive, using real world tactics such as hedgehogs, fallbacks, minefields and the like rather than holding fast.  ZOC's in this respect simulate that division's influence, in this case not just how far they can shoot, but actually spreading the division out on a wider frontage than the single, solitary hex it appears to occupy. 


I could be wrong, but I don't agree with this, mainly because I don't think that the Sovs had mastered what you call the "flexible defense" in 1941, and that your analysis implies a degree of operational sophistication that the Russians just didn't possess at this point. Sure, they could probably fall back from one tactical position to another, but to maintain a multidivision flexible defense against a mechanized opponent? I don't think so...


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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 12:53:02 PM   
smokindave34


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Maybe I should not have used the term "gamey" - that term seems to carry some negative baggage. That was not my intent. I was really just trying to determine if the checkerboard defense could be considered historical. It sounds like the majority of the responders agree that it can be considered historical. I imagine that divisions were not pressed up against one another shoulder to shoulder in tight little hexes in real life and in that case a checkerboard defense is a faithful recreation of a typical defense line.

I was dissapointed to here that if I don't use this defense in '41 I am doomed - as up to this point (turn 8) I have not used the checkerboard at all. I may need to re-organize my front lines when I receive the next file from my opponent.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 1:11:08 PM   
cookie monster


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I've resisted posting this but now I will.

http://witewiki.com/index.php/Defensive_Techniques

The checkerboard is one of many defences available. Even linear can be used effectively against a riverline.

With large amounts of territory to cover the checkerboard is commonly used. This territory/unit issue can also be made worse by the swallowing of an entire front such as the Lvov pocket.

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 1:15:54 PM   
alfonso

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm


quote:

ORIGINAL: When I look at a checkerboard defense I don't see it as one division here, another one sitting over there by itself 10 miles distant.  I see it as two divisions linked together continuously along a thinner line, with longer frontages, using real life tactics to extend the division's reach to cover more ground. Units arranged this way have the primary focus of a flexible defense to slow down an opposing offensive, using real world tactics such as hedgehogs, fallbacks, minefields and the like rather than holding fast.  ZOC's in this respect simulate that division's influence, in this case not just how far they can shoot, but actually spreading the division out on a wider frontage than the single, solitary hex it appears to occupy. 


I could be wrong, but I don't agree with this, mainly because I don't think that the Sovs had mastered what you call the "flexible defense" in 1941, and that your analysis implies a degree of operational sophistication that the Russians just didn't possess at this point. Sure, they could probably fall back from one tactical position to another, but to maintain a multidivision flexible defense against a mechanized opponent? I don't think so...




That means that for the Germans the checkerboard is OK?

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 2:41:51 PM   
PeeDeeAitch


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Aditia
Yeah, if your panzer divisions are fresh =P

If they aren't fresh then you won't see this. If you do see this, that means you might have been resting your groups, and in that case, the soviets are in trouble.

Caveat - if you do see this and your tanks aren't fresh, then you have run them around chasing the wrong things. Focus is also key here.


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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 3:32:43 PM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: alfonso
That means that for the Germans the checkerboard is OK?


Haven't seen many Germans use it, but I guess it could be useful to them in 1943-44; in any event, I would say it is more realistic for the Germans, maybe even for the Russians after 1941.

And the problem isn't necessarily when you've got parts of the front using a checkerboard, but when, for instance, the whole front south of Kiev goes into a checkerboard, I just don't think it represents anything close to what the Germans faced, or even could have faced. Maybe its what the Sovs should have done to avoid the massive encirclements, but given their lack of mobility, initiative, and flexibility, this seems like more of a fantasy-strategy to me.

But again, in the game use of the checkerboard is unavoidable, so it is kind of pointless to argue whether it is gamey or not.


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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 4:46:18 PM   
alfonso

 

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The Germans use it already in 1941 to create encirclements using the ZOCs...

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 5:23:33 PM   
cookie monster


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quote:

ORIGINAL: alfonso

The Germans use it already in 1941 to create encirclements using the ZOCs...


Good point there the impenetrable ZOC that the 1-1 Soviet ant just cant seem to enter, cos he's got the morale of a penal battalion. Plus all the movement calculation penalties...etc.etc

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/3/2011 8:46:38 PM   
Lrfss


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Hagleboz

I think that many people are looking at this issue waaayyyy too literally when they poo-poo checkerboards.  In the game, divisions and corps sit neatly within a single hex and people are looking at it like that unit occupies only that single, solitary space.  Players then look at all the open hexes in a checkerboard and say, "That's ridiculous, there's no way anybody would setup their defense with 10 mile holes in it in real life!  A real life attacker would wind his way past that type of defense in his sleep.  That tactic is so gamey!" 

But in real life there are no hexes, and units are spread across the countryside in varying frontage lengths depending on the situation at hand.  When I look at a checkerboard defense I don't see it as one division here, another one sitting over there by itself 10 miles distant.  I see it as two divisions linked together continuously along a thinner line, with longer frontages, using real life tactics to extend the division's reach to cover more ground. Units arranged this way have the primary focus of a flexible defense to slow down an opposing offensive, using real world tactics such as hedgehogs, fallbacks, minefields and the like rather than holding fast.  ZOC's in this respect simulate that division's influence, in this case not just how far they can shoot, but actually spreading the division out on a wider frontage than the single, solitary hex it appears to occupy. 

In real life, on certain areas of the front, single divisions sometimes covered lengths of 30 or 40 miles because manpower was in such short supply.  Therefore it is absolutely not gamey to replicate this by checkerboarding based on the limitations of a hex-based map to accomplish the same exact thing.  The same effect can also be replicated by breaking a division down into 3 brigades, which themselves exert no ZOC, but which could linearly cover the same 3 hexes as a single unit would with it's hex and ZOC.  Checkerboarding is a lot more user friendly in terms of time, book keeping, and the hex stacking limit, than having to manually split up all the divisions you need to achieve the same effect.  If you need a frontage beyond 30 miles or so per division then you do split up into brigades and you really do suffer real holes in your lines when you spread them out.  I think its an excellent simulation of real life based on the limitations needed for a playable and enjoyable hex-based game.

Long story short, checkerboarding is not at all gamey! It is a very realistic "simulation" of very real world tactics, shoehorned into an unrealistic hex-based game world.



+1 Agreed!

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/4/2011 12:10:49 AM   
Farfarer

 

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OMG I HAVE to try this :)
quote:

ORIGINAL: PeeDeeAitch

Gamey is finding that you can airdrop the 10th Panzer to Moscow on turn 1, using the game mechanics properly is creating an interlocking series of ZOCs that slow down the enemy.


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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/4/2011 4:25:00 AM   
76mm


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quote:

ORIGINAL: alfonso

The Germans use it already in 1941 to create encirclements using the ZOCs...


Dunno, seems its the same game mechanic replicating a very different situation--mobile advancing German units vs static non-mobile Sov units...

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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/4/2011 9:09:26 AM   
Hagleboz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm


quote:

ORIGINAL: When I look at a checkerboard defense I don't see it as one division here, another one sitting over there by itself 10 miles distant.  I see it as two divisions linked together continuously along a thinner line, with longer frontages, using real life tactics to extend the division's reach to cover more ground. Units arranged this way have the primary focus of a flexible defense to slow down an opposing offensive, using real world tactics such as hedgehogs, fallbacks, minefields and the like rather than holding fast.  ZOC's in this respect simulate that division's influence, in this case not just how far they can shoot, but actually spreading the division out on a wider frontage than the single, solitary hex it appears to occupy. 


I could be wrong, but I don't agree with this, mainly because I don't think that the Sovs had mastered what you call the "flexible defense" in 1941, and that your analysis implies a degree of operational sophistication that the Russians just didn't possess at this point. Sure, they could probably fall back from one tactical position to another, but to maintain a multidivision flexible defense against a mechanized opponent? I don't think so...




Well for the most part I was attempting to stress that checkerboarding simulates wider frontages more than anything else, and the Russians certainly had the ability to cover more than 10 miles per division, even in '41. They may have not been able to do it well, but I think that is simulated pretty well with their anemic CV values and limited ability to maneuver, especially through ZOC's and opposing territory.

It is clear that most players can setup a more viable defense in '41 than in real life but I don't really see that checkerboarding is the major culprit. Any Russian player who knows anything about history is simply not going to repeat the mistakes of allowing huge encirclements, attacking piecemeal, and trying to hold ground at all costs. Also the Russian player has way more understanding of what he's up against, more situational awareness of his overall position and has more cohesive control of his forces than the dire and confused situation afforded the Russians in real life.

Finally I don't see checkerboarding as the be-all, end-all defense that some people are complaining about. In the AAR's we have seen skilled and aggressive German players continuing to pull off large encirclements and keeping the Russian player off balance and unable to setup solid fortified lines, checkerboarded or no. It takes real skill, and detailed long term planning to do these things (as in real life) and I think a lot of players simply don't coordinate their turns and long term objectives well enough to do this. You have to do a lot more than say, "I'm going to try to take Leningrad or Moscow before the blizzard" to actually achieve it.

(in reply to 76mm)
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RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/4/2011 9:27:58 AM   
Hagleboz


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quote:

ORIGINAL: 76mm

quote:

ORIGINAL: alfonso

The Germans use it already in 1941 to create encirclements using the ZOCs...


Dunno, seems its the same game mechanic replicating a very different situation--mobile advancing German units vs static non-mobile Sov units...


76mm, not trying to argue against you but I see the checkerboard mechanic as achieving the same thing in both situations. Covering more ground with the limited manpower available. The German has used his panzer forces in a schwerpunkt, blasted though the main defensive line along a small front, and then maneuvers to encircle the enemy by spreading out and forming a defensive shell to withstand counter attacks from outside and withdrawals from within. A checkerboarded panzer corp is in a defensive posture at turn's/week's end, same as the Russian who was doing so at the beginning.

(in reply to 76mm)
Post #: 29
RE: Should I consider the checkerboard defense gamey? - 4/4/2011 12:08:21 PM   
redmarkus4


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I expect I'll be blasted with the usual cannon fire for daring to say this, but surely this entire discussion simply underscores that fact that WiTE is a game and not a military simulation of combat on the Eastern front?

If it was a simulation, a Soviet player should be able to deliberately employ 'historical' tactics (consecutive lines of defense, uncoordinated counter-attacks and lots of pocketed units) and expect to get an approximately historical outcome. In the long run, the Soviet player should be able to win the war in spite of the losses suffered in '41 and '42.

If the checkerboard is required to prevent Soviet collapse, then it's a 'game' tactic that is needed to address the way the game was designed. Whether that's a flaw or not depends on the stated goal of the designer and the marketing messages given out - game or simulation?

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(in reply to Hagleboz)
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