There is a funny mix-up going on in this thread between the terms "historically ..." and what most people seem to refer to, "technically feasible", or "realistically accurate".
In some respects, both are somewhat linked: e.g. the logistics should have the historically correct, equaling technically feasible, supply rates, but with historical orders, these are quite arbitrary, and many may as well never have happened. Thus, it seems quite arbitrary what some ask for, i.e. historical orders for one side, but not the other. It just kills some of the freedom of a game if you tune it too far away from a "physically accurate simulation towards a reenactment with very narrow freedom.
The logistics model, on the other hand, which partially adds to high op-tempos (besides our hindsight, the non-existing "personal" consequences for rashness or commanding failures, and further factors) and requires "artificial rules" to mimic the 41 winter disaster and surprise, could theoretically be nailed down to facts.
As an Axis player, I feel that the Lvov pocket is unrealistic historically but feel without it the game would be seriously unbalanced in the Soviet's favor. Even with it the Soviets still typically have a stronger Red Army going into the winter and the Axis advance is limited by logistics anyways. I feel some mechanism would be needed to force/encourage a Soviet player to put his forces at risk or he would even be stronger going into his winter offensive.
With regard to Lvov, I consider it primarily an "artificial" consequence of the I-Go-U-Go system of the game, and the ratio between "long" turn length/high movement rate. If there were reaction orders for the units of the non-phasing player that would allow units with sufficient excess MP to move into a path of advance or blocking position (very much along the lines of reserve stance, or like the reaction feature for naval assets there are in WitP), Lvov would be much harder to pull off, and if it came so with strong detachments from AGC, much more plausible to accept. Such orders would make "defensive" fighting more fun, more systematic (rather than preposition guessing games), and ultimately would also decrease op-tempo in offensive moves.
The other thing to be noted about Lvov, seems to me still to be more general about Soviet forces in 41, and 42. Especially in 41 I find Soviet counters weak, quite weak, and nothing much to recon with on the advance until December. Their biggest threat is ZOC Locs, or cutting of my advanced spearheads, which could cost me valuable MPs for the next jump forward. But other than that, I fear a random mud turn more. And obviously, without fighting value, you cannot blame a Soviet for trading space versus ground. Which, for reasons of the 1st blizzard rules, you can presently neither blame Axis.
If you play AI, you have to bump levels of to >=130% moral in 1941 to get somewhat resistance-capable Soviet counters. And even then, I still lack the feel that the Soviets permanently counterattack, costly or not, to delay etc. -- perhaps I might be mislead by my choice of literature, but not only in the 1st two weeks against AGC they heavily counterattacked and created some crisis as well as heavy permanent losses to PzGrp 1, but also at Bialystok, Minsk, later at the landbridge between Vitebesk and Smolensk or at the Dauga bridgheads and Pskov/Ostrov the Russian attacked multiple times on tactical as well as strategic levels. In the process, they severely attrited themselves, but also in some occasions successfully delayed advances, endangered the rings of pockets, and also caused losses to the Germans.
If the Soviet units were more dangerous -- for PBEM as well as against AI -- Axis op-tempo in 41 would have to be slower and more cautious, and not with probabilities to close to certainty result in the loss of Leningrad and Moscow. Gaining these two cities would mean a lot more in terms of challenge and skill. So since you can't bump up moral by skill settings in PBEM, I would think patching up Soviet intial morale a bit would help. Could be done with the editor in part, but unfortunately the NM proficiency factor can't be modded. For AI games, the morale setting is your friend.
Another factor to be considered when talking about the weak Soviets in 41 and their lack of ability to put up a fight (without useless waste of counters), is certainly in this context also the consequence of the 1st turn surprise, and there mainly again the Lvov opening: after a Lvov opening, a lot of the strongest Soviet units are gone, after which a Soviet player is in the disastrous situation to shuffle forces down south and stabilize the AO there; necessarily this means that his forces contesting AGN and AGC will also be much weaker than the contemporary ones, and the rest you can guess yourself. Similarly, aided by hindsight, Axis successes in AGN and AGC areas are much accelerated compared to contemporary progress, and Soviets loose more units quicker.
Riga and Minks, for example, fall quicker than they did, maybe because Axis mobile movement rater are "quite high" (with respect to the situation), maybe just because hindsight gives us perfect knowledge of the force setup of the Soviets, and which allows us -- in conjunction with purely static defense stances -- to optimize the 1st turn to gain the most at the least risk.
All that must necessarily have far reaching consequences for game play. Essentially after an "optimized 1st turn", the Soviet side is in a much worse position than back in history, and it will take a long time to recover -- long after 1st blizzard it seems from most present AARs.
When playing the AI I can only suggest you not to do Lvov, and to dial up AI moral setting at least for the initial ca 8 turns to 130, until you feel your situation becomes a bit more strained. You should see some AI attempts to counterattack on a small scale, which feels much more interesting than at <=110%. I find it a lot more challenging, and closer to what I "imagine" that the fighting and uncertainties of war must have been. If you want to feel more strain on the logistics level, you can even not use the RR units for the first few turns, or just limit them to two hexes per turn -- you will really outrun your supply, and between Minsk and Smolensk you will have to take a refit break!
Also, from an admittedly bias point of view, I feel the first winter rules should be avoidable, perhaps with an AP expenditure.
One of the design decisions is obviously that Germans always live through the logistic breakdown and the blizzard surprise of Soviet large scale counterattacks. Much as it is a design decisions that force positioning at the start of each GC is a constant. Neither side can apply hindsight there. It would be nice, though, if those special rules like the 1st blizzard ones, or the 1st turn surprise, were open to modding. As much as it would be nice if there was a "fictional GC", where players prior to the first turn could repositions and reassign units, even just within some limits. That would recreate some nice uncertainties and interesting games?
If you do not like the 1st winter penalties, and want to introduce some of them from supply, then you can avoid to move all units into cover early, as well as tone down the AI moral level to 100, which will remedy some of the force multiplier issues. You could reduce it to 80-90 as well as increase you admin, logisitics and transport levels in december if you want to mimic a farsighted preplanning. Continuously dial AI moral level back up to 110 by February, after which I keep it stable (or reset it to higher values, if you want a bigger challenge). Try and find your own recipe...
< Message edited by janh -- 3/25/2012 6:37:13 PM >