From: Denver Colorado
So Pelton and I have agreed to a game in which he will play the Soviet for the first time in his life. I will play Germany in the campaign against my fifth or sixth opponent. I am probably not a Ďvery goodí German player. Conceptually, I know what Iím supposed to do, but in execution, Iím not really aggressive enough. I tend to play with too much ďrealismĒ regarding flank security and deep penetration. I do not mule (not that one can anymore) and I do not trade divisions for armament factories.
Pelton, on the other hand, is one of the best German players, and one of the most controversial (as am I, but for different reasons perhaps, right Aurelian?). Heís a good friend where this game is concerned, and Iím happy to play him and lose (assuming past performance predicts future events), as it means heíll get to teach me an awful lot about how to improve myself (after he slays me) as Germany.
I do have a couple of things under my belt here.
Iíve played a lot of AI games, especially recently, and as a result, I think I understand the capacity of the logistics engine in terms of what I can do when Iím at a given space. An example of this is that I know now that the rail line to Leningrad doesnít really need to go north of Pskov more than a few hexes and Leningrad will have great supply (in clear). I also know that ground support is not seriously that important to Germany in 1941, so I can tone down the settings.
The other thing I have going for me is the AP concession given by Pelton (in return for some things I gave him). The first of which is the 200% AP setting. So I will be receiving 100 Admin Points per turn starting on Turn 2 (nothing can change the 30 APs of T1). Iíll discuss how that will be important to me later.
In return, we have agreed to Random Weather. Frankly, I prefer random weather as Germany, because it reinforces the need to conduct exploitations with serious concern to security/supply. But I do wonder if Random Weather may corrupt any attempt that Germany has to establish the deep penetrations that constrict Soviet Manpower into 1942/1943. We shall see. I donít expect to win in 1941/1942 unless Pelton does crazy ****, and I doubt he will.
We have the house rules that I witnessed in Glvacaís/MichaelTís games, which are:
1. No HQ bombing unless stacked with combat unit.
2. Max. 3 airbase attacks after first turn
3. No landings West of Sevastopol until 1943.
4. No para drops in 1941 (either side). No para drops to break pockets in 1942 and beyond.
There are some soft house rules that Iím contemplating and hoping I can fine-tune and use against Germany. Since I have this Admin setting that will vastly improve the amount of APs I use and spend, I thought that I should look at some fortification settings and try to establish a protocol that prevents me (as Germany) from fort-spamming the entire eastern front. Toward that end, this is my current idea:
Part 1: All German forts built MUST use 100 TOE (all minor power forts are excepted from this).
Part 2: Any German fort that is more than 10 hexes from a Soviet unit must immediately disband.
Now, Iím pretty sure I can manage part 1 easily and not screw up my theater of war. Where Iím less confident is whether 10 hexes is the right number. Maybe itís 8. Maybe itís 15. I doní t know. But the Ďhistorical rationalization of this restrictioní (as opposed to the mechanical that I do not want to fort spam) is that these align to the ďHitler was an idiotĒ principal. In Part 1, Hitler liked forts and didnít want them abandoned in the face of enemy attack. So the TOEs reflect the Fortress Europe/Bagration mentality. Go all-in if youíre going to build fortifications for defense. Part 2 is rationalized by Hitlerís wild exuberance for the next offensive. So when the front moves east, Hitler says ďTear down that fort, weíll never have to defend that land again because German offensives never fail!Ē
Where I know I will violate this rule is around garrisons for cities. An SEC division broken down tends to be less than 1,000 men from covering the entire garrison requirement for a city. In these instances, a Fort set to 50% TOE turns a city from yellow to blue, and that is an acceptable blind spot for me, given that ****ing partisans can simultaneously cut all supply to forces in the east if the die rolls go completely right.
Thatís about it for my intro to the game.
One thing to say is that I AM ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR STRATEGY ADVICE! Whatever complaints I have about game balance in WitE, I have never lost sight of the fact that I need to improve (by more than just a little bit) to be at the level of the Peltons, MichaelTs, and Glvacas of the community.
If you know how to run a rail line better, if you know how to allocate air bases better, if you know that from hex Y65/X77 that you can perform HQ buildup on Turn 7 (I just made that up), thatís useful stuff for me to know.
A commentary about how I will use Admin Points and my rationalizations for this:
About a year ago, I documented that the starting generals for the Soviet and for Germany differ in quality by only about 20% (I summed the generalís values for Initiative+Admin+Morale+Infantry+Mech, dividing by the total number of generals starting the 1941 campaign). Nevertheless, if you open any Soviet HQ and view the costs for switching a divisionís HQ, the costs are almost always 1 AP to any other HQ. The average is certainly less than 2 AP, and the most Iíve ever seen is 5 AP or so. Germany, by comparison, tends to have a minimum cost of 4 APs for a division, and often they are in the range of 5-7 APs. This is to say nothing about the ****ing Romanians. Both sides can see this cost halved, of course, but half of 1 in game terms is still 1. In fact, itís 1 for any cost value up to 3.9. And the Germans only have about a 20% greater chance of succeeding in an Admin roll, and will still play three times the amount (2 or 3 for Germany, 1 for Soviet).
To me, that is unacceptable for a game in which one power (the Soviet) had to devise field tactics suited to the illiterate, and where the average private could not read a manual on maintaining his own equipment; the other side (Germany) trained everyone to know other jobs in your squad and platoon, where NCOs were fully capable of performing a Hauptmanís role, and an army which moved panzer groups all across the front with regularity, often unloading from railhead and ending up in combat the same day (at least, late war).
This is to say nothing of the German Kampfgruppe, which proved itself from 1940 to 1945 as a force multiplier unequaled by anything but late-war artillery concentrations and allied air power (in the West). The AP costs are reversed from what they should be historically, I believe, and in this campaign, I intend to prove what Germany can achieve when you give it Adminis superiority. Frankly, I think Germany can do a lot with this (I know I have against the AI, but thenÖ).
What kinds of things?
First, I can move SUs with much more precision. Just because wartime Germany had no idea that 5 or 6 SUs is the maximal efficiency level, I see no reason to create a ****-tastically inefficient SU allocation system that creates both an artifice that results in competitive difficulty, and that is extremely un-****ing fun (for both sides). The Soviets have a certain 1941 advantage in this regard in that evacuating SUs is to the Sovietís advantage, and that can be achieved well via 0 Support setting. (Iíve changed my mind that the Soviet ability to create SUs exactly where they are needed is unbalancing. I think it was M60 who changed my mind. Soviets still need to both create SUs for, and assign SUs to, their combat corps.
Germany meanwhile will be required to move SUs from Leningrad to Moscow to Rostov to Sevastapol, etc., often on short notice, and the this admin setting frees APs to achieve optimized control, and thus more efficient fighting. I understand that APs for the Soviet are constricted around building new units. I get that. But to me, Matrix ameliorated that constriction by giving the Soviet an Ďoutí in transferring divisions, in giving the Soviet free divisions in 1941 (which seriously compounds the shell ZOC problem in the same way brigades do), and by giving the Soviet a massive benefit over history in that all reinforcements arrive and can be re-assigned for 0 AP from Stavka. Yes, Germany gets the same benefit, but in game terms, who benefits more from free re-assignment of reinforcement combat units? The answer is the side that will see more units arrive as reinforcements and re-constituted units. By a factor of probably a thousand APs (over the course of a 1941-1944 game), the designers gave the Soviet way too much ability to optimize its command. Meanwhile, Germany is shackled with the problems of Army Group South and Center that will ALWAYS BE.
Iíve heard many people say ďWell, eventually Germany ends up with more APs than it can spend.Ē Also true. But in 1941, having them and spending them increases the efficiency of your army, which means fewer combat penalties, better leaders sooner, and an ability to stay in command at the strategic level that can actually out-perform the Soviet. But if you want to argue that APs donít matter to Germany, my response to that would be ďThen play me as Germany and give me a 400% AP bonus throughout the game).
So how will I use those APS? Well, I have two basic methodologies.
First, itís the SUs. With 100 APs starting on Turn 2, and Turn 3, I can probably have my SUs sorted out by Turn 3 or 4. Everywhere. 17.Army, 11.Army, the Finns, the Romanians Ė all will have a well-balanced setup of SUs. Further, when Leningrad falls (assumingÖ), I can have the SUs out in one or two turns. The difference between having to wait for SUs to arrive at OKH (and subsequently abusing the magical railroad powers of a high command) and assigning them from Army and Army Group HQs is huge. Whatís more, I feel it is realistic, but you may disagree. It is certainly less hassle (along the same lines, if a Soviet wants the historical OOB with an AP balance downward, Iíd entertain the notion).
Second, when you have the same relative cost to switch divisions from one HQ to another, Germany can then design every turnís moves and attacks around WHO HAS THE MPs. This may be less realistic historically speaking, but hey, if you donít know now that I can butcher any historically grounded argument for anything in this game by noting some exceptionally unrealistic thing that the game allows (particularly to the Soviet side Ė and Iím talking to YOU limitless airborne drops in 1941!). You should not bring historical justifications to counter my ideas, because we wonít get anywhere. Instead, if you think something Iím doing is anti-competitive, I will gladly discuss competitive game design amicably, though we may occasionally disagree.
Where this MP-centric organization is concerned, I point you to the massive number of board games that simply give all units of a class/type the exact same movement allowance each turn. It works for Third Reich/World in Flames/Fire in the East, etc., it really canít be awful here.
The idea is simply this: With a 1-3 AP cost to switch a division, boundaries and attachments will be much more fluid. Maybe 1.Korps has 4 infantry divisions, 2 of which received 14 MPs, one of which received 11, and one received 10. Meanwhile, 26.Korps has 3 divisions, one of which received 16 MPs. Now I can take the 26.Korps infantry and move him as far as Iím moving the 1.Korps infantry, and if a combat requires it, I can re-assign the lone division into 1.Korps so it can participate at full strength in combats with other units from 1.Korps. Make sense?
I will of course be swapping leaders out with much greater regularity, though the above issues will take primacy.
On the level of switching divisions, the German side is effectively reduced in cost to 25%. Double the APs effectively reduces cost by half. The impossibility of failing Admin die rolls when switching HQs also reduces costs by half (and often more, given the favorable rounding). I should say Iím not certain it is Ďimpossibleí to fail admin rolls, but Iíll let you know if it happens. When I was making notes this turn, I noted all of the successes, but clearly my bookkeeping will benefit from only counting failures.
Speaking of Bookkeeping, I will track every line division and brigade starting around Turn 3 (unless theyíre in a pocket, which I donít track even then). If youíre not familiar with my past examples of doing so, youíll see around Turn 3.
Start of Turn 1:
At the start of Turn 1, Iím doing a little TOE screwing around. First, I select the 355mm artillery, the 240mm Artillery, and the 305mm artillery and set them to 50% TOE. Those things cost a fortune in armaments to build, and Iím not a fan of them. Can always adjust it later.
As time goes on in the summer campaign, I will reduce the TOE of infantry divisions that have 70 morale. For important divisions that are on the withdrawal list before the blizzard begins will be set to 91 TOE (a number I pick as a mental note Ė no other units are set to 91 TOE) or 71 TOE (depending on starting morale and whether itís infantry or armor Ė armor being higher regardless).
After that, itís time to do recon and bomb aircraft bases.
Initial Air Settings (Recon escort OFF). Ground Support: 40 (Escort 60) I donít use much ground attack, no changes. Airfield attack 100/150. Interdiction OFF (I do not believe in it against an overwhelmingly numerically superior air force). Fighter Intercept 195 (75 to Night). I donít know if these are good overall, but on T1, itís hard to screw up. If there are air settings that others find useful in 1.06, Iíd be happy to know them and why you employ them. Otherwise, this aspect of the game will be trial & error as I know a human will play remarkably differently than the AI in the air.
It was a very pathetic showing, even given 1.06 restrictions. Soviet losses: 1,901 and Axis losses: 97. Reflective of history (although correct me if Iím wrong, Germany scored over 2K kills in the opening days). Meh, the air war is more or less written in stone in this game. It seems to me the Axis must manage a losing war of attrition regardless. I donít mind the air war being a little borked. Itís one less thing for me to need to focus too much on.
The Army Group North operations go Ďnormallyí for Turn 1. I use 23.Corps (9.Army) to start the breakout of 3.Panzer, as well as the southern-most corps of 16.Army (which shattered the tough armor unit south of Kaunas Ė Iíve had three shattered of tank divisions this turn 1 Ė unusual. Riga falls on the first try. I have to figure out how to defend the area between 4.Panzer and 3.Panzer to the south, because against the AI, you can actually Ďguardí that area from flipping using army airbases (try it, it works!). Iím never sure what to do with Totenkopfís remaining MP after itís beach cruise. So I spend 1 AP (roll succeeded, and they will a lot at this setting) to incorporate SS Tot. into 38.Corps, and it will get better than average supply by staying within 5 hexes of the HQ.
I low-balled the Direct attack on Brest-Litovsk (5 divisions across the river from 4.Army plus 1 division from 12.Corps, for roughly 53 CV (on map) to 63. Nice result Ė two retreats and a route Ė no getting away.
Next entry will be screenshot of whole front, with circled areas of interest. In my games against the AI, I have started using some of the Army airfields to help avoid Ďhex flippingí in neutral areas. Where a town is available, I put them there. We shall see how it works against a human. The Army airfields arenít a terrible risk at this point.
My railroad plan is this: Two FBDs working together, starting THIS turn out of the Koenigsburg area, heading toward Riga. At a couple of times, I will be able to branch, but not complete more than a few short hexes. My RHG HQs will, in time, be stocked each with 4 construction units in an attempt to Ďpassively-reinforceí secondary line development. Iím messing around with it, but itís wildly unpredictable whether your SUs will deploy. They do only deploy within 5 hexes though, enabling you to get some important work done at times. Iíve found that more SUs in the RHG HQ are less efficient. Two almost always deploy. Three most of the time. Four it seemed to be Ďoften enoughí and 5 seemed to be the cutoff where the second standard deviation lay. Six and more would rarely see more than 4 used too. But thatís a nice, small, but possibly important strategic benefit of the extra Admin points Ė you can use your RHG HQs in a somewhat useful role.
The line from Brest Litovsk is not going to start. Yep. No point. Turn 2, you start with really good supply anyway, and by turn 3, you can be drawing supply through the area west of Minsk and up toward Vilnius. So the FBD by 4 army hopped on the railroad and got itself one hex over the border on the Baltic line into Kaunas. Once it exits a few hexes toward Minsk, Iím not sure if it will support more toward Smolensk, or if Iíll hop it north of the Daugava to support the 16.Army/9.Army boundary area.
I remove the Ju-52s from AGC and place them with AGN. I assign the reserve Ju-52 to AGS. I made an absent-minded mistake when moving 46.Panzer corps down to the south, and when I meant to click on Das Reich, I actually clicked and moved 10.Motorized first. Done and sealed, looks like AGS is getting heavily reinforced. But honestly, who knows where 46.Panzer corps ends up; I have routinely used it to smash the eastern edge of the Lvov pocket, driving up itís morale to peak form, then moving them north along the frontier and back into the Minsk area by Turn 4, while on the way they move on refit and rebuild the tanks lost in Lvov Ė itís fairly efficient, freeing 17.Army. It also has the advantage of guarding the NW Pripyet, which some Soviets like to use as a spoiling attack area.
Anyway, that brings me back to the point of the AGC southern-most FBD. Iím abandoning the area between Minsk and Brest-Lit. If he wants to annoy me, he can feel free, there will be some pocket clearing units there for a bit. But by Turn 3, my supply corrider will center at Minsk and go Northwest.
In the South, I use a ploy that Pelton himself instructed me on. AGSís FBD is on a railroad in the middle of Slovakia, waiting for Hungary to allow passage next turn, where it will meet up with 11.Armyís FBD and tandem build out of the northeast corner of Romania toward Kiev-ish.
Now my AP expenditures on Turn 1 (a feature throughout the game, so you see the benefit Iím deriving competitively).
AP NOTES T1: Note that (dr) means a successful die roll resulted in the cost listed.
1 AP to move Totenkopf into 38.Corps (18.Army).
3 AP to move 3 SUs to 23.Corps (from 8.Corps)
2 AP to embed 2 pioneers in armor for the Riga attack
3 AP to move 3 SUs to 53.Corps (from 2.PzrGrp panzerkorps).
3 AP to move 3 SU to 13.Corps (from 12.Corps)
1 AP (dr) to move 99 Jaeger into 3.Panzer
3 AP (dr) to move 10 Motorized to 46.Panzer (I made a mistake moving it south)
2 AP (dr) to move 14 PzrDiv to 48.Panzer.
2 AP (dr) to move 1 Cav to 6.Army (it was in range, and a good strategic option)
1 AP (dr) to move Grossdeutschland Rgt into 6.Army
3 AP (dr) to move 290.Inf into 1.Corps (it has 80 Morale) from one of the panzer corps.
I think I missed 3 AP somewhere, probably SU movement.
Finished turn with 4 AP.
I set all aircraft to Night missions at end of Turn 1, and set night interception to 300% (WTF!). I'm experimenting with two things. One, that German aircraft perform better with less fatigue, so only have them fight on your terms. Two, not using your aircraft much in the first 10 or so turns (except at Leningrad) doesn't lose you much operational effectiveness. Two (b) is that letting the Red Air Force fly unopposed also doesn't lose you much.
And I'd like to starve partisans, if at all possible. Less of them would be nice.
Okay, no major problems or successes in Turn 1. Screenshot now.
Spring 2018-Playing: Demyansk Shield: Frozen Fortress; Advanced Squad Leader,
Rulebooks: ASL (always ASL), Holland'44, Demyansk Shield: Frozen Fortress