The following is my primer for PanzerCorps. It is not all inclusive but will help any commander at any phase or year of the game.
You may want to play as Sargent for '39 and maybe '40. This way you will accumulate a lot of prestige points that you will need for later. Don't forget you can change the player difficulty level at the START of each expansion year and play as lieutenant or as you get better. That is the sweet spot. Colonel and especially General is very challenging but you WILL run out of prestige which means you know what.
The most important theme is keep your core units together, that is, close to each other for support. NOT spread out all over. This is VERY important at deployment. This means attention to adequate air superiority to protect your forces from enemy bombing runs. This is VERY important for the long run. If you don't have enough fighter cover and one or two AA units you will survive but suffer long term higher losses. This may mean slimming down your tactical bombers to keep adequate fighter numbers.
The other most important thing is protecting your core units to survive and get promotion capabilities and experience. I can't say how important this is. REMEMBER, to protect your SE units as they do not count towards your core unit total at each scenario deployment! You MUST protect them at all cost until they get experience. Even then, the AI will attempt to kill these units first.
Another important thing is to buy enough ARTILLERY units especially the mobile ones such as the wurframen or Hummel. NOT towed artillery or Nbf that are NOT ready to fire next turn!!! They allow you to advance into new territory and PROTECT your advancing force against sudden counterattack. Most times the AI will not counterattack units protected in this fashion.
A MIX of units fighter, AA, armor, artillery and infantry is KEY. Infantry are necessary to hit other infantry and any hard armored target that is not on clear or countryside terrain. REMEMBER that. ALWAYS keep armor on clear or country side hexes unless you have good artillery support behind it. An enemy unit can easily kill an experienced armor unit by itself in a city,forest, or swamp hex!
Soften up enemy units before attacking them--artillery or bombers. watch he suppression build up meaning a weak or aborted counterattack!
Always check the enemy entrenchment factor BEFORE attacking. Soften it up first if above 1 or 2!
Use recon well. Always have one recon unit. Air is good too but you may take some lumps from AA. Use fighter spotters. Take advantage of bad weather turns! Fly your fighters to unseen enemy hexes. Next turn, with return of clear weather you get a snapshot of enemy forces and then can fly away to safety away from AA without getting shot at!
recon can gain experience SAFELY by letting them kill off badly damaged units. Then, with the higher experience level they stand a better chance of survival!
Capture of enemy airfields is VERY important as your easy availability to refuel or rebuild air assets is CRITICAL. At each scenario plan your attack route according to location of airfields. The AI likes nothing more than to wait until it sees your excellent air cover is almost out of fuel and then suddenly bomb your forces unprotected next turn while you are forced to refuel at airfield.. "Cycle" refueling so you have fighter cover. One air unit will cover the hex and the surrounding hexes! PROTECT your soft targets FIRST, that is, artillery and infantry. The AI loves to weaken those units badly so your offensive comes to a halt since now you lose ability to siege future hard entrenched targets.
Terrain is VERY important. Keep tanks on clear and countryside hexes. Try to keep infantry on forest, rough. mountain, city hexes. Try to AVOID keeping ANY unit on a river hex which dramatically increases the AI want to attack the unit which has weak counterattack abilities while on the vulnerable river hex. ALWAYS back up a unit with artillery next to it if on a river hex! keep YOUR units BEHIND river hexes. oftentimes a single friendly unit defending behind a river at a crossing totaly denies this area to the enemy.
Use recon wisely. Keep them upfront but BEHIND your front line. The AI LOVES to kill recon units. Move them up to get a glimpse of what is ahead then PULL THEM BACK where they are protected. Check you ability to withdraw to safet by using the redo button. if no escape to safety do NOT leave the recon unit exposed.
Procuring EXTRA captured units** is key also. In addition to capturing major objectives remember that these free units are often at minor city objectives. You never know which. So, get out there and capture those too.
If you are near victory near the end of a scenario, hold off in taking the LAST major objective. Then, drop back a hex or two and let the AI attempt to defend this last hex. Oftentimes these are weak units Then in your last turn or two wipe the enemy out again. This allows your newbie units to gain experience and BLEEDS the AI of prestige for future scenarios!
I suggest upgrading captured enemy armor to good quality German as the AI LOVES to attack and kill these units. It sees the upgraded unit as a regular German and then lays off.
Don't forget about scenarios where there are any enemy naval or transport units. Bringing one or two strategic bombers (excellent against naval) is KEY to killing those units. Look at the naval kill factor. JU-188s and HE-177s are best.
ALWAYS have a fighter next to your bomber to protect it. Since you have few of them it is WISE to have TWO fighters adjacent, if you can. Remember the AI can only see what is exposed. Then you can predict where to place your fighters to protect against enemy air attack next turn.. Two hexes is usual enemy sighting ability except if they have recon. KILL OFF ENEMY RECON as a priority. Then, the AI can't see YOU!
Preposition infantry two hexes away from the next turns target so they are within striking range. Better if you are on a road as terrain limits infantry movement. Attack efficiency is what you are aiming for. Keep them behind armor units if you can. Remember to protect advancing units from counterattack by placing mobile artillery behind them*****!
Killing AA: first scout with air or recon. Flank around and hit AA FIRST with armor or infantry. Two attacks may be necessary. If you have any long range artillery, use it. A Stuka can THEN come in and finish it off. Then the city complex is helpless against your tactical bombers! Experienced strategic bombers can be useful to suppress AA but it is not common to have them around. Develop one over time.
Utilize the fact that the more friendly units you bring adjacent to the enemy hex the worse his ability to defend. This critical in avoiding burning prestige to rebuild damaged units!!! SAVE PRESTIGE! I rarely attack with armor if predicted losses are higher than "1". Wait a turn and use combined arms. Of course, you have to pace yourself towards victory. The KEY equation is balancing losses against gaining victory!!!
Use a mix of armor types. PzIIIh for enemy armor and Pz IV for infantry. Upgrade to PzIV G or especially Tiger as soon as possible. Panthers are FAST and move farther.
Use maybe one or two at MOST of anti-tank units. They are best at ambush as opposed to first attack of enemy armor. Bad against infantry.
If you have the prestige build up auxiliary troops before attacking or upgrade if you can. watch out--the AI LOVES to kill off auxiliary units!
Upgrade infantry to the best possible transport available.
Know your tactical bombers. Stuka D against soft targets, Stuka G or Henschel against armor/hard targets. There is a MARKED difference in result. Avoid ME-110 etc., and Fw-190 etc., series for tactical bombing.
Upgrade fighters immediately especially to Fw-190 or Me-262!!!***
Utilize rail travel in certain scenarios. They embark/offload on city objective hexes only. Some scenarios allow, some don't. You never know.
Pioneer infantry best against city or entrenched enemy units**. Otherwise employ grenadier infantry only. Paratroops not worth the effort after say 1942. Employ with extreme caution.** UPGRADE to "'43" infantry IMMEDIATELY whn available***
At deployment pre-plan the first turn attack by placing infantry close to the nearest objective with artillery that doesn't have to move. You are then ready to attack on first turn! Have or two armor units ready to hit associated enemy artillery units. Efficiency.
REMEMBER, conserving prestige is all important. Near the last few turns of a scenario WAIT till deployment of next mission to rebuild units. It is MUCH cheaper then.**
REMEMBER, ARTILLERY UNITS! Reduce losses at attack and great at defense. Buy a LOT of them.
REMEMBER, fighters for air superiority. Wiping out the enemy air is ALWAYS FIRST priority.Protect bombers and infantry and artillery especially if they are moving. Be READY, there will be unexpected waves of enemy units. Kill off their fighters FIRST!*** Then, the defenseless bombers.