From: Living in the fair city of Melbourne, Australia
Erm, the doctrine changes will be going in at coy level I presume sort of under the hood, something we wont actually see I expect. Also like as Dave said he will be adding Soviet formations and I suppose taking others away. It's always been said that the first thing needed for the east front game is a Russain combat doctrine by players and more importantly Dave, so it is going to happen. It wont take away control, you may have to change your tactics which isn't bad thing as it gives variation between the two sides.
Without this change as I said you may aswell have the US vs germans on the russian steppe with the US with russian weapons. So it will be more or less like BftB then. I want to have to change my style of play and tactical thinking when I play different nations in games.
We play as the US using their combat doctrine in BFTB and you still have the control you need.
Wahst the point of playing against or as the Soviets if they are going to fight like the US? May aswell be the US with different weapons. Thats why I love the idea of different combat doctrines in this game. Not many wargames go down this route and I think it will be superb. It will feel and hopefully play far more realistically then any other eats front game out I'm. I expect the Russians will have alot more forces but take more casualties yet still manage to win as their Objectives will probably ignore any allied losses.
Regarding doctrine for the period - which from what I understand from the map is actually covering Star, Gallop and the Kharkov see-saw March-April battles - some stuff indeed needs to be accounted for. For instance, that of the Soviets intensive use of tanks to transport infantry. Or that of Soviet Cavalry divisions, which I'm not sure what do they entail. Arjuna already commented on certain formations which are specific of the Red Army.
Other than that, the actual differences we'll see between German and Soviet units and commands will be regarding command efficiency - the Soviets are notorious for their centralized planning of operations, which I guess could be modeled by higher Command and Force delays overall -, and lower average initiative and experience for their commanders. Regarding the troops themselves, I also expect to see an average lower experience for Soviet tank, infantry and cavalry, with Guards units having better stats, comparable with German Line units.
So far, I think these differences are minor nor should be deemed very polemic.
The actual major differences are in how German and Soviet forces are organized and equipped. This one I think it's what really makes the Eastern Front quite different, and entails the most work. Things that come to my mind are for instance how Soviet artillery tends to be massed in pretty big and relatively speaking unwieldly formations. Other is that of Tank, Mechanized and Cavalry Corps, extremely flexible - yet somewhat uncapable due to poor command and training - combined arms formations.
Yet another big difference is that of the environment... the extreme cold doesn't really cater for men to get a rest while in the open. Towns and cities can become extremely important (or vital).
Last, and probably the hardest thing to get right, and that will provide one of the key difference, is how Red Army logistics are modelled. Should the Red Army formations have less supply bases - comparatively speaking - than the Germans with similar capabilities. Or the same number, but much less capable?
Regarding the new features. I think that some of them - such as the notion of triggers and contingency plans - would be a great addition and something that will add something really valuable to us.
Consider the example of a German infantry regiment having to do fighting withdrawal. Off-road movement is very difficult because of deep, soft snow, and they're confined to roads. Two Soviet Cavalry divisions and a Tank Brigade are in pursuit. The Cavalry can flank the hapless Germans, since horses can negotiate better than men the snow.
With the current features, we would be using a combination of withdraw / delay orders while falling back. You have to choose the route to escape, and there are two possible options, as the road forks passing through two different towns. With current features you'd have to either: a) divide your force and send each group one way or another, b) cast your lot with one of the options.
As expected, the Soviet cavalry gets first to one of those towns. If you chose a) probably you can kiss goodbye to the group going through that town. If you chose b) you have 50%-50% chances of either making your escape good or not. If you were unlucky, we would have to force a replan - inducing probably a considerable delay - to navigate around those pesky Soviet cavalrymen. With contingency plans, our force would just switch its course, without that delay.
That can make quite a big difference, I think.