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4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR

 
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4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/8/2011 1:23:08 PM   
Bletchley_Geek


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Hofen Ho-Down – A mini AAR

To celebrate the release of the new beta patch – and test if the Formation Lockup bug is gone for good – I'm making this quick and dirty mini AAR of the Höfen Ho-Down scenario.

The plan is pretty simple – this is not a “serious” attempt at winning – and consists in securing Monschau and Höfen withing Day 1. For that, I give 752nd Rgt the order to attack Monschau from the northeast



attaching to it several tube and Nebelwerfer battalions. 326th VG is more of a shell than an actual full fledged combat formation. Regiments are down to one battalion each, though there's quite some artillery available. These are the forces under 752nd HQ



about 3,000 men and 116 guns. Looking at the Apers and Bombardment values, this force packs some serious punch. I set the H Hour for 752nd Rgt to be 08:00 hours. Let's see if they make it in time.

I set 751st and 753rd Regiments to go after Höfen, in a pincer attack with 753rd attacking from the northeast



and 751st attacking from the southeast



I've taken care that the FUP for these two forces are out of sight of the US units in or around Höfen. 753rd command has a combat power slightly lower than that of 752nd



about 2,000 men and 80 guns. 751st is substantially weaker than 752nd



numbering some 800 men and 25 guns. I set 751st to go first, setting its H Hour to 07:30, while 753rd will go second at 08:00. Hopefully this will end up with US troops reacting to 751st attack, so 753rd can get them on the flank.

I let loose my troops for half an hour, to see what happens.

06:00 to 06:30

Right off the start I see I need to adjust my plans



Note how the H Hour for 751st has slipped by 24 minutes. In order to be consistent, I need to delay 752nd attack by the same amount of time. It's also interesting how all Rgt CO's staff think they don't have enough strength to achieve their objectives. Rather than whining they should get their act together quickly and surprise the Americans!

751st Rgt forces seem to be on the march without problems



one Coy is already securing the FUP, while the rest of the battalion starts moving towards it. Note how the AI has set the IG platoon in a “on call” fire mission, to provide support if necessary. 753rd staff seems also to be doing its job right



it's beautiful to see how units maneuver in BftB... without having to do any micro-management :) 752nd is also on the ball



and moving towards its FUP without any problems.

06:30 to 07:00

The first flaw in my plan becomes apparent



753nd route to the FUP was a bit too optimistic. The AI traces routes on the basis of the info it has at hand... which didn't include the presence of an AA platoon and a infantry Coy in the vicinity of his route. I should have specified “Shortest” and “Covered” to get 752nd Rgt going to its FUP in a straight line, more or less. In any case, sure this has attracted the US AI attention.

The rest of the plan is executing without problems



I don't notice anybody being locked up.

07:00 to 07:30

753rd Rgt is now in trouble



3/I/753 routed towards the FUP after a lively exchange of fire with the US troops and a couple barrages by US artillery. One of them fell right on top of I/753 Battalion HQ... not good at all. 2/I/753 is right now exposing his flank as makes its way into the FUP and 1/I/753 seems to be reluctant to further advance...

To the south, 751st seems to have a much easier time. Note that its three Coys are already within the FUP I had setup. To the north 752nd seems to have some trouble positioning as well, and has its H Hour to slip by 24 minutes.

07:30 to 08:00

My plan is unraveling in front of my eyes



753rd and 751st have further delayed their H Hours by 53 and 30 minutes respectively. I'm not sure if I should intervene or not. Besides that, the US artillery has been peppering 751st FUP, causing a few casualties.

08:00 to 08:30

Time to replan for 753rd Rgt



I change the route for 753rd FUP from Quickest to Shortest, which should get them into position out of reach of US troops. 751st seems to be wavering, US artillery isn't really refraining from bombarding their positions.

To the north, 752nd seems to be ready to launch its attack



which should start in about 5 minutes, according to the task details (one can check the sub-tasks corresponding to each “top-level” task by left-clicking on the icon of the “top-level” task)



08:30 to 09:00

Half an hour later, 752nd forces are adopting their attack formation



and should start advancing (or trying to) at any moment. To the south, 753rd staff decides to give up



and falls back out to take cover and regroup. I think I'll have to admit that the thing in the south has all but failed, and retreat back to the forest, waiting for reinforcements.

09:00 to 10:00

I leave time slip by one hour this time, to see how does the attack on Monschau develop



not bad, but not really well either. US artillery forced the 326th Aufklarungs Coy to retreat, with a powerful series of barrages. Meanwhile, 752nd infantry has forced to retreat a tank? Platoon in Monschau and seems able to secure the bridges, even with 3/I/752 falling back in the moment, since there's still 2/I/752 in good shape and 1/I/752 is in reserve.

I order 753rd and 751st to fall back and regroup.

10:00 to 11:00

The US artillery is doing a magnificient job pinning 752nd Rgt attack to the ground



3/I/752 is having problems to rally and 2/I/752 got routed and rallied and seems to be going to make another try to move forward. 1/I/752 is wavering also, I'm wondering why 752nd hasn't committed it yet... the attack is obviously failing.

11:00 to 11:30

752nd finally commits 1/I/752... seems that the AI just read my mind



though the Coy is stopped dead on its tracks as soon as it gets into Monschau. All this lack of angriff has allowed the AI to place a Cavalry Squadron on the other side of the river (I got a glimpse of them moving in that direction about 1 hour ago).
Post #: 1
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/8/2011 3:45:17 PM   
GBS

 

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I've never been clear on this. What exactly is happening when a task is "slipped" by a certain number of minutes. Also, I have seen the term "cribbed" used. What is happening there as well? This is interesting. I wonder how the attack in the south would have progressed if the 753rd had been given the covered or shortest routing originally.

(in reply to Bletchley_Geek)
Post #: 2
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/8/2011 3:56:16 PM   
Bletchley_Geek


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quote:

ORIGINAL: GBS

I've never been clear on this. What exactly is happening when a task is "slipped" by a certain number of minutes. Also, I have seen the term "cribbed" used. What is happening there as well? This is interesting.


Yes, it is. I'm playing with realistic orders delay, with all that entails when "propagating" plans - or changes in plans - to sub-units.

quote:

ORIGINAL: GBS
I wonder how the attack in the south would have progressed if the 753rd had been given the covered or shortest routing originally.


Me too. I think I will keep on with this battle for a little longer, perhaps until D2 00:00, and then go back to 06:00 and tweak orders (Covered, or perhaps Shortest with more waypoints to get a hold on the route).

< Message edited by Bletchley_Geek -- 12/8/2011 3:57:42 PM >

(in reply to GBS)
Post #: 3
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/8/2011 9:36:57 PM   
Arjuna


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"Slipped" = delayed - eg the start has been moved from 0700 to 0720.

"Cribbed" = brought forward - eg the start has been moved from 0700 to 0640.

You have to remember that when planning the AI is using estimates for determining its timings, just like you do. Few plans survive contact with reality, like a subordinate taking longer to get its act together and start moving. When this occurs the subordinate will ask for more time and if there is scope the boss will "slip" the plan. Also if things go rerally well and the force ends up finishing much earlier than expected, then the boss may "crib" the times. This can often happen in FUPs. Once the force has reached the FUP and shaken out into the assault formation it's best to get cracking rather than wait around for possible enemy arty to find you all nicely formed up. So in such a case the boss will crib the end of the reorg and the start of the assault.

< Message edited by Arjuna -- 12/8/2011 9:42:14 PM >


_____________________________

Dave "Arjuna" O'Connor
www.panthergames.com

(in reply to Bletchley_Geek)
Post #: 4
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/9/2011 9:29:05 AM   
Bletchley_Geek


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[bIMPORTANT NOTE: I just realized I was playing out of a 4.2.246 savegame, so some of the results I'll shown should be taken with a grain of salt. The point of posting is to have a reference to compare with a game started with 4.2.248


Day 1 11:30 to Day 1 12:30

The attack on Monschau has failed. US artillery has beaten back both companies – which came within reach of the bridges – exchanged fire with cavalry on the other side and then routed



One of the companies has routed a whole kilometer, not looking back until reaching 752nd HQ position, while the other has seek refuge in the woods to the east. Time to pull back, I think.

753rd Rgt has fallen back into Rohren to rest and wait for further orders



nobody got stuck, though the Rgt HQ is perhaps lingering a bit too long. 751st Rgt infantry have already received orders to disengage and fall back into the woods where they started the day



I cancel 752nd attack, and order them to stay in the FUP.

Day 1 12:30 to Day 2 05:30

Analyzing yesterday's failure, I see that 326th VG Division is a really, really weak unit. Infantry experience and training are nothing to write home about, while the “morale” factor (aggression, fitness and stubborness) are average. The second 751st Rgt battalion has arrived as a reinforcement, and I see that some StuG's and the second 753rd Rgt battalion will arrive in the battlefield about midday. I'm considering an early evening attack, taking advantage of the lower visibility (thus reducing US Army defenders spotting ability and artillery effectiveness).

Meanwhile I send orders to 752nd to take cover in the woods to the east of Monschau – which is a much better FUP than the one I had chosen yesterday



and 751st to take positions to the east of southern Höfen



out of sight of US troops in the town. Last, but not least, I reorganize artillery, assigning one Artillery battalion to each Rgt, and leaving the rest under division command. I will be bombarding Monschau and Höfen the whole day.

Yet another factor to consider is that the whole area has become a mud quagmire. Off-road mobility should be very low.

Day 2 05:30 to 15:30

Time to setup the second attack. Things haven't going very well for 752nd Rgt



the Defend order I gave to them – implicitly – has meant they've been engaged all day, fighting several skirmishes with the troops the AI has in Monschau. It brought an Engineer Coy to bolster the defenses. So I think I'll leave them doing this for a little longer, before falling back yet again.

The attack on Höfen will be similar to the one I tried yesterday, with 753rd attacking from the northeast and 751st attacking from the southeast. But now I think both will be much stronger, and will be less fatigued.

I see that the perception I had of my forces was grossly distorted because of having the artillery directly attached. I think yesterday I only had strength for one single attack, rather than two. Here's the plan for 753rd Rgt



I have setup this time the routes to be the “shortest”, I should get out of this what I actually wanted. And here's the plan for 751st Rgt, with the StuG's attached



let's see how does this go.

Day 2 15:30 to Day 2 17:15

753rd Rgt and Bn staffs have needed about two hours to get the march to the FUP organized



so seems that the northern pincer attack will start at about 21:00. 751st staff officers haven't been much more efficient, and it's been a long wait until the FUP march plans have reached all sub units



It's interesting to note that while 753rd says their H Hour has slipped by about 3 hours, I haven't received word – yet – of any delays on behalf 751st Rgt

Day 2 17:15 to Day 3 07:58

There hasn't been any night attack at all. Both Rgts have decided to stop and rest for the night... so I guess I forgot to check the task modifiers to avoid that. Even more sad is that 753rd staff hasn't come around to plan the attack



the march to the FUP isn't completed yet. Meanwhile, 751st got its act together over the night, and sub units have their orders



let's see if the attack goes on before the end of the scenario (in about 5 hours).

Day 3 07:58 to Day 3 12:00

751st Rgt attack gets the Go! Order at 08:11



note how 751st forces have been organized in two groups, and seem to be doing a double envelopment attack of sorts. I keep my fingers' crossed.

One hour into the attack, and the situation is like this



two of 751st Coys have already reached their destination on the flanks, while German artillery has been pounding southern Höfen without having me to issue a single command. After two hours of indecision – some Coys with Assaulting orders waiting for “something” - 751st Rgt tells me they are abandoning the Attack



seems the reason is a lack of fuel. Which makes me to scratch my head: this is basically an infantry outfit... and the StuG's seem to me to be fully fueled



there's something that escapes. 753rd seems to be in some sort of “lock up”



the Move sub task corresponding to reaching the FUP has been delayed countless times already. Why it stills is not completed? The infantry and mortars got into position at about midnight...

The scenario ends with a Decisive Defeat



I think I need to go over the whole manual (and the tutorial) again. It's been a very long time since the last time I tried to play half seriously BftB, and seems I'm really rusty. It must be said that 326th VG it's a CRAP outfit. Whoever drew the plan for this Division to attack in this sector should be shot :-)

Please guys, comment on this. While the formation lock-up bug seems to be gone, but the behavior of 753rd Rgt doesn't have to me a clear explanation as WAD. Let's see if we figure out the – many – things I can't explain at all :) Here are my questions:


  • I knew the AI takes very seriously resting and all that. But I wonder what's the rationale behind stopping two attacks, with fresh troops - 753rd and 751st had been resting for a whole day - just because light goes out. Should I have tweaked the "Rest" related task parameters? If so, what settings should I have selected?
  • I have realized that attaching directly too much artillery to commands might not be a good idea at all. The footprint of the command gets really big, and it seems to cause troubles for AI to determine formation and stuff. Seems that for the time being, the best one can do is to assign heavier artillery Defend tasks so they become available to On Call fire missions (or those the player sets up).
  • The abortion of 751st attack and perhaps the "lock up" of 753rd while trying to deploy in its FUP might be related to things fixed in the patch, perhaps the HQ fuel level requirements. This is the most likely explation for 751st staff decision. However, this isn't a good explanation at all for 753rd inability to "reach" its FUP. Or rather, to acknowledge troops were already in position.
  • Then, I'm wondering how much sense does it make that 751st attack, with six companies of infantry and plenty artillery support - AI was allocating two or three fire missions per hour on the americans in Höfen - can't manage to just overwhelm a single US infantry company. Yes, 326th VG is basically crap. But those are 6:1 odds and with US artillery silenced by counterbattery fire. Looking at the attack, I saw a complete lack of aggressivenes, even with Aggro, ROF and Losses set to Max. Certainly, as an outcome, seems to me as a complete outlier. 395th Rgt L Coy should have retreated with heavy losses, or perhaps even surrendered, if the double envelopment the AI was trying to do had actually been finished...


I'll next play this out as the Germans with a fresh start from 4.2.248 and then with the US. I'm curious how the AI would play this out.

I hope this has been an interesting read, at least!

(in reply to Arjuna)
Post #: 5
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/9/2011 1:05:39 PM   
simovitch


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We gave more fuel to the Germans 'at start' in almost all the scenarios so when you try this again with the newer patch you shouldn't see the lockup.

You can't win these scenarios without a bit more tactical micro-managing of your rifle coys and infantry guns to launch pinpoint attacks and defend avenues of approach (respectively). Use your Regt and above HQ's to bombard as fire groups - use every shell you got from every tube. Once you clear Hofen bring in your Regt HQ and attached support units onto the objective to free up the Bn's for the next task.

Historically the Germans got a few soldiers into Hofen but they were routed out before the end of the day. The German attack in this sector got nowhere with heavy casualties and the US lost only a handful of men.

_____________________________

simovitch


(in reply to Bletchley_Geek)
Post #: 6
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/9/2011 1:18:38 PM   
Bletchley_Geek


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quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch

We gave more fuel to the Germans 'at start' in almost all the scenarios so when you try this again with the newer patch you shouldn't see the lockup.


Ok, that certainly does explain 751st, but what about 753rd? What were those guys waiting for? Yet the increase in fuel doesn't explain either the fundamental problem I see with a mostly infantry attack being ditched because not having "fuel". Fuel for what exactly? Motorized combat units were fueled. Or it is supposed that an Inf Coy isn't going to operate normally because CO's Kübelwagen ran out of gas?

quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch
You can't win these scenarios without a bit more tactical micro-managing of your rifle coys and infantry guns to launch pinpoint attacks and defend avenues of approach (respectively). Use your Regt and above HQ's to bombard as fire groups - use every shell you got from every tube. Once you clear Hofen bring in your Regt HQ and attached support units onto the objective to free up the Bn's for the next task.


Ok, I certainly get the nudge towards focusing on Battalion and lower for the attack, though I don't really see why 751st attack went in the way it was.

What you say is very good general advice, but for this scenario doesn't really apply. US dispositions in this sector were flimsy at best: two Coys and a platoon in Monschau, two Coys in Northern Höfen and a lonely Coy supported by a AT platoon and a Tank platoon in south Höfen. There weren't many avenues of approach which needed any covering: 753rd and 751st were forming up out of sight of US troops, whose deployment wasn't the kind of defense in depth against which you advice would work best. Known US positions were bombardment for hours (with Min ROF missions).

German units weren't really under heavy fire or anything. The US seemed much less active during Day 3 than during Day 1. German units just were very, very slow. As if waiting for something to happen that didn't ever materialized. I try to understand the plan 751st staff came up with, and I'm left scratching my head.

I certainly remember Regimental level attacks to work much better both in CotA, HttR and even RdoA. At least they actually tried. Certainly these didn't have the sophisticated supply system BftB has.

quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch
Historically the Germans got a few soldiers into Hofen but they were routed out before the end of the day. The German attack in this sector got nowhere with heavy casualties and the US lost only a handful of men.


Hmmm, well I didn't smoke the cigar, but seems that the US got more than the Germans did. Most interesting is that 90% of casualties have been caused by bombardment. There has been very really little "actual" fighting being done...

EDIT: As I said, I'll be doing a replay. I'll insist in Rgt-level ops, basically because it is (or was) a great way to deal with the complexity of bigger scenarios. Now you can call me pig-headed :P

< Message edited by Bletchley_Geek -- 12/9/2011 1:23:48 PM >

(in reply to simovitch)
Post #: 7
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/9/2011 2:13:30 PM   
simovitch


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The only fuel demands that I see here is the Regimental bases - the vehicles used to bring supplies to the front. Without a saved game I can't see what your case actually was.

I would agree that in reality if these rear-area guys ran out of fuel the attack shouldn't be called off. But I doubt we will see a re-coding of the game to cater to this event.

If this is a problem, check fuel levels of subordinates prior to the attack - and maybe detach the bases from the HQ.

_____________________________

simovitch


(in reply to Bletchley_Geek)
Post #: 8
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/9/2011 3:21:09 PM   
Bletchley_Geek


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quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch

The only fuel demands that I see here is the Regimental bases - the vehicles used to bring supplies to the front. Without a saved game I can't see what your case actually was.


Ah! (BG slaps his forehead) the bases...

I've checking them, and I see indeed that 326 VG stores are nearly depleted... 752nd and 753rd are OK (that's 100%) but 751st isn't. Its stocks are about 60% fuel.

quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch
I would agree that in reality if these rear-area guys ran out of fuel the attack shouldn't be called off. But I doubt we will see a re-coding of the game to cater to this event.


Sure, keeping this in mind is much more economic than re-coding, indeed.

quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch
If this is a problem, check fuel levels of subordinates prior to the attack - and maybe detach the bases from the HQ.


I'm running a quick test now, tweaking attack task settings and organization as per your suggestions. Thank you for the advice, simovitch.

(in reply to simovitch)
Post #: 9
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/9/2011 3:53:58 PM   
Bletchley_Geek


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Much better now... I did as simovitch suggested w.r.t. detaching the Rgt bases, as well as tweaking other Attack parameters (Rest set to None, Task supply levels set to Min).

And I got my night attack:



Regarding the 751st issue it has re-appeared again: the StuGs actually ran out of fuel, but they get resupplied pretty quickly. So quickly that last time this not so little detail just went unnoticed...

(in reply to Bletchley_Geek)
Post #: 10
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/11/2011 7:24:52 PM   
DerGrenadier


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quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch

Use your Regt and above HQ's to bombard as fire groups - use every shell you got from every tube.



How do you do this, using Reg HQs as fire groups?


_____________________________







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Post #: 11
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/11/2011 7:29:05 PM   
Bletchley_Geek


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DerGrenadier


quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch

Use your Regt and above HQ's to bombard as fire groups - use every shell you got from every tube.



How do you do this, using Reg HQs as fire groups?



I guess it means attaching to them artillery assets and then issuing Fire/Bombard missions as you see fit.

(in reply to DerGrenadier)
Post #: 12
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/11/2011 8:01:16 PM   
DerGrenadier


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Bletchley_Geek


quote:

ORIGINAL: DerGrenadier


quote:

ORIGINAL: simovitch

Use your Regt and above HQ's to bombard as fire groups - use every shell you got from every tube.



How do you do this, using Reg HQs as fire groups?



I guess it means attaching to them artillery assets and then issuing Fire/Bombard missions as you see fit.



So you dont use them to coordinate their organic Batalions attacks?

_____________________________







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Post #: 13
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/11/2011 9:13:21 PM   
simovitch


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DerGrenadier


How do you do this, using Reg HQs as fire groups?



If you click on an HQ you may see the bombard order available if it has attached artillery. Give the HQ a bombard order and all of it's subordinate guns will fire TOT. Works great at the Corps level too.

What it lacks in actual historical applicability it makes up for in whup-ass.


_____________________________

simovitch


(in reply to DerGrenadier)
Post #: 14
RE: 4.2.28 Hofen Ho-Down Mini AAR - 12/12/2011 9:28:52 AM   
Bletchley_Geek


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quote:

ORIGINAL: DerGrenadier
So you dont use them to coordinate their organic Batalions attacks?


That's actually my preferred way of doing things, but don't shrug from using Battalions or ad-hoc commands when the situation requires it.

Now that the lock-up bug seems to be squashed, I'm realizing that Rgt level attacks can be very difficult to perform properly when there's a scarcity of fuel or other basic commodities. For the next installment I've been doing some test games on this scenario - which is certainly difficult because of the low strength of the Germans and the parlous logistics - and I need to figure out a few things:

* How to influence the priority of arrival of supply. I think a good idea is to issue Rest orders and set Supply priority to Max. That should allow the units under that command to stockpile supplies.
* Tailor Regiment OOB - by detaching specific units - to avoid delays because of stuff such as repositioning a Nebelwerfer Bn which lacks fuel for his trucks.

What I've realized is that the AI really does what you tell it to do e.g. "attack with 2 inf Bns and a StuG coy". If for whatever reason, the StuG's run out of fuel, the AI will ditch the attack since it won't be able to do precisely what you tell her to do. One thing that perhaps we'll see in next iterations of the engine is that the "Stragglers" setting takes care of this (so the AI will say "Ok, let's drop the slackers and press on").

(in reply to DerGrenadier)
Post #: 15
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