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Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units

 
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Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 7/26/2011 9:07:31 PM   
JKG


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I've been working my way through the single player campaign and found myself facing Operation Bagration. Based on that no so pleasant experience, I've been thinking about offensive versus defensive play in the single player campaign. In short, the game system seems to shine when on the offensive, but less so on the defensive. Perhaps, most of the fun is to be had on the offensive but to support longer campaign experiences (either future releases or user made) I might suggest additional consideration be given to enhancing defensive play including some of the following types of options:

1. Allow replacement purchase of destroyed auxiliary units. I could be wrong but this does not seem to be an option currently.

2. Allow core units to retreat off-map. This would allow core units to live to fight another day.

3. Incorporate more defensive terrain in scenarios. Currently, it seems like the allies have benefit of fortified hexes which allows defense in depth but not the Germans. For example, other than cities there are no fortified hexes in Bagration.

4. Incorporate a greater mix of old and new units for allied forces. For example, in Bagration the German player faces 9 IS-2s and only 4 T34s. And the Soviet infantry to armor mix is 1:2 in favor of armor. Perhaps, in playtesting the "ante" was upped because players were knowledgeable about the game system and optimum tactics but as a more casual gamer I can say it was not much fun. Of course, the Germans were soundly defeated in real-life, but then again there was never an invasion of the US either. My core anti-armor forces consisted of only 2 panthers, 2 tigers, 2 88AA/AT, and 1 JU87 so perhaps I did not build the optimum core.

5. Reevaluate the characteristics of the AT class, especially the 88ATG. I think this could go along way towards helping defensive play, for both the AI and human player. On the offensive, I really do not have much respect for allied AT guns even in fortified positions. It may take awhile to wear them down, but I never really feel they pose a serious risk to my armor. This discussion is ongoing elsewhere so I won't belabor the point.

6. Enhance ability to conduct fighting withdrawal. As it stands now, it is IMHO too difficult to fight the retreat. There is "too much" open space. Again, this is great as long as the Germans are on the offensive but it results in what feels like an unbalanced turn-around once your offensive is stopped. Not sure how to do this exactly, but having a few fortified hexes in a secondary defense line that can be filled with auxiliary units could go a long way.

Sorry for the long post. Also note, I really enjoy the game and think you guys have done a wonderful job. One of the aspects I enjoy most is developing my core force over time and I would like to be able to be able to continue to manage that force on the defensive. Keeping my entire core alive may not be possible or entirely historical but I think it would increase my enjoyment of the campaign. Something that seems a little too difficult to accomplish now.

< Message edited by JKG -- 7/26/2011 9:10:16 PM >
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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 7/27/2011 1:24:09 AM   
ijontichy


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Well, I think the Bagration scenario (which is a recreation of the Byelorussia scenario from the original PG) is flawed. Too many IS-2's, not enough armour for the Germans, and the Germans aren't in any good defensive positions, or else have very low (even zero) entrenchment. You're on a hiding to nothing. But it's still a good puzzle to solve, I think there is much satisfaction to be had in winning this scenario.

(in reply to JKG)
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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 7/27/2011 3:17:36 AM   
Avalon

 

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When you consider that the Soviets crushed an entire army group during the actual operation, it SHOULD be an extremely difficult mission. To my knowledge Operation Bagration was Germany's greatest defeat in WWII.

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 7/27/2011 5:09:50 AM   
Razz


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Defense is a challenge in MP but it can be done.

Biggest thing to fear is mass attacks.

Unfortunately the AI does not use mass attacks.

< Message edited by Razz -- 7/27/2011 5:10:20 AM >

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 7/27/2011 2:10:16 PM   
Rudankort


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We may change the mix of soviet units in Bagration a little bit, but we don't have any plans to make it easier. ;)

To answer some of your specific points:

quote:

ORIGINAL: JKG
1. Allow replacement purchase of destroyed auxiliary units. I could be wrong but this does not seem to be an option currently.


How many aux units are there in Bagration? I counted zero. ;)

quote:

ORIGINAL: JKG
2. Allow core units to retreat off-map. This would allow core units to live to fight another day.


It is already possible, use fog of war to your advantage. The AI won't hunt down units hidden in the fog, it is too difficult for it.

quote:

ORIGINAL: JKG
3. Incorporate more defensive terrain in scenarios. Currently, it seems like the allies have benefit of fortified hexes which allows defense in depth but not the Germans. For example, other than cities there are no fortified hexes in Bagration.


Bagration has 2 excellent rivers to defend behind, especially Berezina is great for defense. If you cannot stop the soviets there, more hills/forests will not help you much.

quote:

ORIGINAL: JKG
Sorry for the long post. Also note, I really enjoy the game and think you guys have done a wonderful job. One of the aspects I enjoy most is developing my core force over time and I would like to be able to be able to continue to manage that force on the defensive. Keeping my entire core alive may not be possible or entirely historical but I think it would increase my enjoyment of the campaign. Something that seems a little too difficult to accomplish now.


Defensive scenarios are tricky for the reasons you've described, but in fact, in campaign defensive missions often turn into offensive because of the player's superior core. :) Thus, in PG I often won Byelorussia on the very first turn, by taking that only allied objective. The AI did not even have a chance to move any of its units. So in Panzer Corps we tried to avoid this. The soviets have a lot of momentum which you need to stop before you can turn to offensive.

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 7/27/2011 8:07:30 PM   
JKG


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First , thanks for your comments. Second, my suggestions are intended to provide some suggestions as to where gameplay could be made more enjoyable (not necessarily easier) for me a player somewhere between a casual and experienced wargamer. Of course, this is a subjective undertaking so YMMV. I am not suggesting anything is necessarily wrong or broken.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rudankort
We may change the mix of soviet units in Bagration a little bit, but we don't have any plans to make it easier. ;)
How many aux units are there in Bagration? I counted zero. ;)


While I do think the scenario (Bagration) is not well balanced for the typical player, my comments were more generically addressing playing the single player campaign on the defensive. True, there are no auxiliary units in Bagration; however, I think adding a few auxiliary units with/without the abilty to replace lost auxiliary would help me enjoy the game more. Having some "throw-away" units to help manage a fighting retreat without completely devastating mycore would improve my experience (I think). If in the future, the campaign was lengthened by adding more late war scenarios where the Germans on the defensive, this would be one mechanism to help maintain some semblance of a core even as the Germans are defeated as they historically were. Because again, for me, one of the most appealing aspects of PzC is the RPG aspect. For me, I would like to end the game (in defeat) with some veteran core forces whose prior glorious exploits in defense of the Motherland could be relished.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rudankort
It is already possible, use fog of war to your advantage. The AI won't hunt down units hidden in the fog, it is too difficult for it.


Thanks for the tip. However, I might suggest thinking about the abilty to retreat off-map in the future or something like it to add greater options and nuance to an already fine game. For example, one limitiation of having all battles fight to the death as happens nowmeans that it is difficult to imagine playing campaign-style against a human component. One player or the other would basically have suffer 100% loss of their core at the end of each scenario.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rudankort
Bagration has two excellent rivers to defend behind, especially Berenzina....


For me, I have found the rivers to less useful than expected as there are too few units to form an initial skirmish line. On top of that it is difficult for my mainly infantry based core to hold an anchor as the hexes outside the city do not have any fortifications and your units start with 0 entrenchment. There could be many ways to adjust the scenario to appeal more to me this was just one suggestion. However, it is clear that the early scenarios when the Germans are on the offensive the allies have benefit of more fortified hexes. The complete absense of these in Bagration and the highly advanced Soviet TOE suggests that the scenario designer may have felt the need to handicap the German player to compensate for either advanced playtesters, a substantially differnt core mix than I play with, or an offensively limited AI. I tend to think it is more of the former two as the Soviet AI did a good job of "trapping" my armored withdrawal. Anyway, as a more casual gamer I think defensive scenarios, especially if added to the campaign, could benefit from reconsidering some of the design elements.


(in reply to Rudankort)
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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 7/27/2011 9:12:35 PM   
James Ward

 

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From what I have read in Bagration there were very few JS tanks, almost all the Russian tanks were T34's or Shermans. What is missing from the Russian arsenal is the T34/85. These should be what most of the JS1's should be in this scenario. They can kill the German tanks but are not as overpowering as the JS.

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/15/2011 6:33:43 AM   
jomni


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My superior core is no match for the numbers.  All my cores are gone after this mission.
I am tempted to not send any core in the mission and lose it by default.   But that's gamey.
Defensive play is not fun because of the game mechanics (Attacker gets more and more money to replace troops as they capture more and more cities).

< Message edited by jomni -- 8/15/2011 6:35:36 AM >


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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/15/2011 12:02:12 PM   
terje439


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rudankort
quote:

ORIGINAL: JKG
1. Allow replacement purchase of destroyed auxiliary units. I could be wrong but this does not seem to be an option currently.


How many aux units are there in Bagration? I counted zero. ;)



Well, but there are aux units in Italy, and we should be able to rebuy those that die imo. (Prestige will get an issue after all)

Terje

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/15/2011 5:41:14 PM   
zoul310

 

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Yes T34/85 should be the core of the russian force.
And option to buy Aux units could be useful as well.

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/16/2011 5:03:09 AM   
slug71a

 

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Agreed. I just finished playing Lake Balaton and had all my elite core units decimated at the start line by hoardes of JS IIs. Not a T-34/85 in sight. The only possible way to counter that might be to have my entire force comprised of King tigers and Jagdtigers. The JS II should not be nearly this prevalent.

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/16/2011 6:00:20 AM   
Dragoon


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I found it help to deploy farther to the rear and have some token forces on the front. When the AI expose his units strike forward taking down units one by one. Good scouting helps to prevent been outflanked and finding targets of opportunity yourself.
If you don't mind some cheesy move you could place an arty backed truck right 1 hex inside the AI fog. This will usually lure single tanks out which than can be isolated and killed.


< Message edited by Dragoon -- 8/16/2011 6:02:37 AM >

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/16/2011 11:07:35 PM   
kverdon

 

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I tend to go back and forth on this. Bagration pretty much destroyed the German Army in the East so it fits from a historical perspective that you should watch all your experienced German units get destroyed during the scenario and then have to start the next scenario with reformed green units. Much like the German Army had to do in Fall 1944.

On the other hand this IS a game and while the above is historic, is it fun? Not so much. Since we get to capture Moskow, invade England and even the US, perhaps it would not be too out sorts to be able to achieve some sort of delaying action that allows some of the German Army (including you...) to survive to fight another day?

thanks,

Kevin

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/16/2011 11:26:56 PM   
HansHafen

 

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Good point Kevin. And maybe your performance in earlier scenarios of the campaign can affect your abilities to do that.

Maybe create a new campaign that can bring this idea to reality. How do you do it thought? If you win a decisive victory you get one extra core unit for the next scenario (map)? Maybe one for every two Decisive victories? Maybe the new core unit has to be made up of enemy equipment cobbled together from the battlefield by your recovery units? Maybe the unit (a t-34 or KV or whatever) is a little less effective in your hands because of unfamiliarity or lack of spare parts or ? That could lower its movement or ammo or something. Or, maybe you leave the stats as is. Alot of balance issues here. Interesting.

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RE: Defensive Play and Auxiliary Units - 8/21/2011 7:59:32 PM   
DigIn

 

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Well, you've terrified ME!!!! I really enjoy the RPG aspects of the game. I'm perfectly willing to lose 9 out of 10 core forces in a major defeat but there should be a FEW well loved units we could escape with. To name a unit, watch it's Hero and Awards develop and figure out the best ways to use it's advantage....fun. Getting to B and watching them ALL go away does NOT sound like fun. Especially since I have a feeling (not played that far yet) that you won't be rebuilding many Heros in the remainder of the campaign.


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