I think the GC is quite fine now. What I am missing is a Soviet GC major victory, or victory at all from the AARs, but I guess it will follow some time.
Else, it is very playable.
There is some room for improvement for WitE2, though, I believe. If you read a lot and compare, it seems that summer and autumn 41 are the phases that least compare to historical reports. Not in terms of actual progress, but more in the spirit and toughness of the contest. Read Glantz book on the German defensive doctrine, and you wonder where the tough battles for AGS are, that delayed the fall of Kiev by 2 months, depleted PzGr. 1 formations severely and ultimately prompted the assistance by AGC.
You wonder about the tough counterattacks at Minsk and Bialystok, and the month-long hard fighting around Yelnya ending in a German retreat, with several divisions suffering more than 30% infantry casualties. It kept strain on the supply net, forcing a delay to refit and resupply and leaving AGC stranded in a defensive stance for a while, allowing the Soviets to attrit them. You wonder about the heavy fighting AGN found itself in, also causing depletion and delays.
You look in other literature, and find similar things. In the daily Wehrmachtsberichte (the "Lageberichte OKW", situation reports), the hard fighting is also pronounced, and such is the resistance that the Soviets pockets presented for clean-up, which took quite a bit longer and heavier efforts in real life, it would seem. You wonder about the summer rain that started early July in the south, and moved up to the center by late July, hampering even road movement and causing hold-ups and supply shortages. Not as thick mud as the "Rasputiza" represented by the mud turns in-game, but something worse than a "clear" turn.
It doesn't yet feel perfectly right in comparison to this, even when taking into account the Lvov pocket and the correspondingly easy advances for AGN and AGC the first turn. Given hindsight, the huge movement radius in this turn in conjunction with the surprise rules, and the lack of any "defensive reaction orders" in-game make the first turns a lot easier for the Axis and eliminate a lot of the fighting forces that the Soviets used historically to cause this trouble. Logistics isn't a big break, and players can act with greater rashness and better risk-management than their historical counterparts since we all know the initial Soviet setup, capabilities, and likely reactions, probably much much better than our counterparts did. Nor do we have to be more cautious as this is just a game, there is nothing at stake.
What reasons had the Soviets to fight so hard and so long far forward? From what I read, the limiting factor seems not to have been the evacuations. Rail transport was plentiful, and Luftwaffe largely failed to interdict successfully. The game seems to mimic that quite well.
It seems primarily due to Stalin's orders, as well as the Red Army's plan to stop and deplete German formations. My impression is that within the first 4 weeks the Soviets didn't really know what they were up against, and fought "old-style", probably truly expecting to be able to grind the Germans to a halt after a few 100 miles. This is consistent with their sustained and heavy counterattacks. It also appears that the Soviets overestimated the effect of their resistance, and underestimated their own losses, else, for example, they probably would have ordered a retreat behind the Djnepr two weeks earlier, or less of these enormously bloody cavalry and unsupported infantry assaults.
What it would take to get there, I think, is threefold: First, some mechanism to prevent exploits so large like Lvov without a chance to defend against. It would take a little more random force setup (or player manipulated before turn 1) so that the both players have to exert more caution, keep reserves etc. Not for no reason AGN's true pace what a lot slower than typically in-game (add-in logistics, which plays more and more important roles the further the advances).
But the main point missing I find from my point of view (mostly Axis player), is "Soviet teeth": The Soviet units seem quite weak -- against AI you have to use >>110% settings in order to for them to counterattack you at least occasionally, and also for them to be not too weak so you can just overrun almost everything with hasty attacks.
This would probably make pockets also more resilient, taking longer to clean up. And it would probably lead to some very interesting and nerve-whacking fighting for bridgeheads (Soviet counterattacks), which so much characterized the early stages of Barbarossa. It would lead to depletion of ammo stocks, maybe lending more weight to the logistics chain. And it would deplete German units, which would perhaps enter blizzard in a weaker state, in better accordance with the state the Germans found themselves in when the Soviets started their winter offensives. Hence, dialing down the 1st blizzard combat rules would be necessary as consequence, hopefully reducing the impact of another one of these "artificial"-seeming, non-avoidable-no-matter-how-you-prepare rules.
I would really support the latter deal, weaker blizzard against initially stronger Soviets. Ultimately, it would allow to recreate the reason why the Soviets kept fighting forward, because the casualty ratio wasn't good, but also not as desperate is it is now. Add-in a more flexible setup, a rework of logistics, and perhaps a "reaction order", and it might be almost perfect. [But certainly there is no need for another artificial constraint, first to force the Soviets to fight, and after November to the end of the war to force Germans not to retread but rather (risk and) get pocketed].
The last thing missing, perhaps, is a change in mindset... Perhaps (we) Axis players should expect harder fighting, and no longer take it as a minimum expectation to be able to take Moscow, Leningrad, and much more by October. Perhaps we should not expect Lvov to work out always, but rather expect that our forces could indeed be fought to frazzles by the time they reach the gates of Moscow. Not sure where is expectation stems from, but I always try to compare my expectations to the reality: i.e. is it just that the Germans committed so huge screw-ups that it is but them to blame for not having taken Leningrad with comparable ease?
< Message edited by janh -- 4/10/2012 12:49:02 PM >