From: Living in the fair city of Melbourne, Australia
I've deliberately skipped most of this discussion since I'm devoting 90% of my headspace in my spare time to the game with Q-Ball.
I made a not very coherent post in the War Room thread that spawned this controversy, but the main ideas I exposed there I think are still valid.
I sincerely do not see as "ahistorical" as in "Hearts of Iron"-like (sorry at the jab Helio, I couldn't help it), but as unrealistic by several reasons.
First, some people on these forums have been discussion for almost a year now that the Soviet isn't constrained in any way as the historical Soviets since they don't have anything like Stalin poring over their shoulder at every operation and getting things his way since if not, you'll end up having to deal with the comforts of NKVD prison system.
The Germans aren't either: there's no bohemian corporal getting things his way and overruling professional officers setting unrealistic goals in either the offense or the defense. This is huge for the Axis play from 1942 onwards. Why it isn't much of an issue before 1942? Basically because of the absolute and total superiority of the Wehrmacht. The Red Army is out the Wehrmacht league, and it shows since the Wehrmacht can do whatever they want to do, with the exception of destroying the Red Army (that needs some cooperation on behalf the Soviet player). But, even if there was some corporal interferring, I think, such corporal would be literally hooting over and encouraging such maneuvers and showering Pelton with Feldmarshall appointments, subsidies, properties in Bavaria and what not. However I do see quite a few historical constraints on the Axis "raiding" Pelton so superbly is executing (but not limited to Pelton, MichaelT also, and I personally think, more wisely). But could really the Wehrmacht do whatever they wished?
It was raised the comparison with Rommel campaigns over North Arfica in 1941 and 1942. That's actually a good point and has a lot of merit. Optimizing logistics should be something definitely in a game that tries to portray Operational warfare realistically as WitE aims at. But let's look a bit better at this example.
One, Rommel's "railhead" was in Southern Italy. From there a massive amount of aeronaval Italian and German resources were spent in getting through enough supplies, petrol, replacement parts, etc. across the Med. That "bridge" didn't operate at peak efficiency, due to the extremely spirited interdiction operations by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, with the exception of that sweet spot at the beginning of 1942. The result was that Rommel could launch one of his "leaps" or in WitE terms, "HQ buildups chaining", basically destroying Commonwealth forces in Gazala - which weren't too shabby btw - and put himself in a ragged but still capable shape on top of the Alam Halfa ridge. His supply line was that now infamous road that went for thousands of miles up to Tripoli and Tunis. Just one road. No railroads. All of this happening while people at OKH shaked their heads in disbelief and the cronies at OKW didn't have the balls or political ability to get the commander on the field to get real.
He stopped at Alam Halfa and then, a pretty ragged force superbly led by Auchinleck, completely defeated Rommel last ditch offensive attempt. I say last ditch because as this drama was going on western Egypt, the RN and RAF managed to get on top of the Italian and German forces in the Med. What already was precarious, went down to a trickle. The results were apparent, and an average commander assembled a massive force and nearly failed, but the absolutely crippled Axis logistics saved the day.
AGS in Southern Russia not only is not so limited in possibility:
1) the distances involved are much shorter to those of North Africa
2) the communications network while poor was nowhere as poor as in North Africa
3) there was no need of naval operations
4) there was no powerful interdicting the supply line
so, why didn't AGS do what Pelton is doing?
Because the OKH - Halder - would have just gone nuts, not because him being an envious ****, which he was, but because that would have meant starving AGN and AGC, compromising all other German strategic goals. Something which is not happening, in WitE. How much fuel would have needed the almost endless trail of trucks - horses are out of the question, unless they were of the flying kind - to get at 200% supply and fuel level the spearheads 1,000 kms away from the start line? How many trucks would breakdown in the process? The question are how long would the German logistics be able to endure the strain?
Now, the global ill-effects of HQ build up are described to "reduce overall force supply capacity a 4% to 5% for a couple months". I think such a downside to the kind of intensive, massive - we're talking here about 9-12 motorized divisions - logistic effort is way too mild and it gets more massive as the distance from the railhead increases. Is this "supply network damage" cumulative? Or is it capped? How it is measured?
What effects would such build up have in the short term for the forces out of the HQs which are getting earmarked? I think that a severe shortage in fuel - and hence mobility -, supplies and replacements. Those are acute, short-term effects which do not seem to happen or if they happen are very mild.
That current HQ build up mechanics need tweaking should be obvious, even before this long tirade. Just translate this "HQ build up chaining" to the Western Front, and replace AGS by the 21st Army Group. "Home by Christmas" would become a reality very easily.
Why the Germans aren't guaranteed anything like "Home by Christmas" in 1941? Because of the First Winter, which will place a stranglehold - much like the one the RN and the RAF put on Afrika Korps - on Axis logistics, which in December is very acute. So in a way, First Winter Axis supply rules sort of "balance" out this thing with chaining HQ buildups. The damage done to the supply network will be complemented by the damage done by Blizzard. The problem is that there might well be no Red Army left to seize the opportunity.