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Testing the Road to Smolensk

 
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Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/20/2013 8:09:26 AM   
loki100


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This is going to be a relatively short AAR of a 'Road to Smolensk' PBEM between myself and SigUp as a result of part of the discussion in the Realism discussion thread. In particular if setting the logistics below 75 gives a more constrained, realistic feeling game.

Over a full game this should mean, for both sides, that offensives are hard to sustain and become focussed on a particular sector rather than front wide. Obviously in such a short scenario we will have no idea how this impacts on the Soviet offensives. However, one consequence is my strategy in this game was an active defense rather than running behind the Dniepr. In particular I wanted to see if reducing axis logistics allows something like the historical battles around Smolensk from July to October to develop,

Due to this, its possible that one of us ends up failing badly, but, as above, this was a deliberate attempt to test an idea so the outcome is less important than the information we gather.



When I opened the game after the Axis turn 1 I was presented with the usual disaster. A complete army from NW front is in the pocket to the north and the best part of 2 armies from W Front are scattered around that huge pocket in the centre. The Germans are at the gates of Minsk and I have masses of wrecked formations wandering around like Gogol's souls.



To me at least, so far so predictably horrible.

Casualties seemed as bad as to be expected:





First thing was to set the air doctrine. I actually think keeping the VVS in the field is a good strategy as anything that chips away at German movement points is a bonus. With that in mind, I've started to prioritise interdiction as a mission.



As ever in June 1941, the Soviet OOB looks very impressive. Almost 3,500 tanks and 1,500 aircraft in the 5 fronts and military districts involved in this sector. In total around 1 million men (some frozen armies are linked directly to Stavka) and 13,000 guns. Aye right.



Again some units at this stage are in independent corps linked to fronts or Stavka but that shows the same at the army level. Given the chaos of turn 1 and that most are locked, the only mobile and combat capable formations are 13 Army (Western Front) that I am going to use to contest the Berezina crossings and 21 Army (at this stage linked to Stavka) that covering the road to Velikie Luki (with the battered remants of 11 Army hiding behind).



The detailed OOBs for those two armies are:




Finally here is the situation for the VVS. I have sent some squadrons to reserve from the airfields in the pockets or that might be hit by a renewed German advance. Other than that, as historically, the VVS is going to be committed to an active defense of the USSR.



As to a response, well after sending most of the trashed stuff to the rear, I had no illusion about the ability to form a coherent front. In the north 11A and 21A are covering the way to Velikie Luki, in particular deployed to contest river crossings. 45 Rifle Corps (assigned to Stavka at the moment) is set up to guard Orsha.



In the south, 13 Army is set up to cover the Berezina and Mogilev. Of its formations, 44 Rifle Corps has been ordered to hold Minsk (I am not going to give up any major cities and that may take some effort to shift). The frozen 21 Army and most of the Paratroops are covering the road to Gomel.



Within the pockets, there wasn't a lot I could do except be as annoying as possible. Units are scattered around, deployed into poor terrain or sent on counterattacks into Poland (to disrupt the rails). They are all doomed I fear.





The post below has nothing to do with this AAR it just seems if I do not include it then none of the others will show up ...




< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/20/2013 8:16:15 AM >
Post #: 1
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/20/2013 9:57:03 AM   
Powloon

 

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Interesting idea Loki I for one look forward to seeing how this one pans out! The logistical capacity of both sides in this game are in my opinion bordering on the fantastical so should be interesting to see if a simple settings change can rectify this or indeed we have to wait for the planned improvements in WITW.

Good Luck!

Oh and that map is gorgeous is that Jison's map mod? I think the map on its own could pull me back into playing the game.

< Message edited by Powloon -- 8/20/2013 9:58:28 AM >

(in reply to loki100)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/20/2013 10:42:39 AM   
SigUp

 

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Yes, that's Jison's great map mod. I use it too, as well as his counters. As for the logistics, in addition to lower lower logistics I also won't use bombers in a resupply role, unless an unit has been encircled. Of course I'm not a good player, so anything I can do, other people can do it much better.

I do have experience with logistics on 60 against the AI and the effects when you decline on bomber resupply, as well as other technicalities to improve supply can be quite drastic. As early as turn 3 some forward mobile units I didn't prioritise flying fuel to, were down to less than 10 MP at the start of the turn. From that point onwards I could only do offensives in spurts (that is until the railheads caught up), meaning something like one or two turns advance, followed by one turn of rest and only seldomly did the MPs of the units exceed 35. Due to that and the quick morale gains of 1.07 with the AI on 119 morale, it took me till mid-August, until I had captured Smolensk. But of course, AI and a human opponent are entirely different animals.

(in reply to Powloon)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/20/2013 11:55:50 AM   
Dangun

 

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Two thoughts...

Firstly, don't you also need to run a control game at the same time. In other words you need a parallel game using the logistics level set at 100 with the GHC player committing to adopting a comparable strategy. Otherwise, what have you really demonstrated?

Secondly, the Soviets don't get to do much attacking in 'Road to Smolensk' so if you are right, as you say, and
quote:

"offensives are hard to sustain"
all you may have done is screw over the GHC even further.

(in reply to SigUp)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/20/2013 12:35:54 PM   
SigUp

 

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The aim is not to "prove" something. For that I am far too bad a player. It is a game to see (to quote loki) "In particular if setting the logistics below 75 gives a more constrained, realistic feeling game.". Of course on the other hand sometimes down the road a game has to be started to see if lower logistics have any effect on the Soviet ability to penetrate and sustain assaults in the blizzard.

(in reply to Dangun)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/20/2013 5:47:23 PM   
SigUp

 

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Here's turn one from the German perspective. Pretty standard opening, easier to do for an average player like me due to the possibility of using Panzer Group 4 for making the northern passage foolproof, as well as not needing to push XXXXVI. Panzer Corps South.

In the North, unlike in my games against the AI, LVII. Panzer Corps remains South of the Dvina. Aim is to quickly push onto the landbridge on turn two.

In the air war the bombers are committed to ground support, before bombing the Soviet air bases. Losses of Stukas during ground support were disturbingly high with 47 lost during turn one.

The two transport squardrons fly fuel primarily to XXXXVII. and XXIV. Panzer Corps. However, I put the HQ of XXIV. Panzer Corps into a bad spot, and it got bumped by the Soviet tank division to the North.



As a preview I can say, I showcased my skills (or the lack thereof ) by some bad planning during turn two, that resulted in the majority of my motorized units being isolated. Even though it didn't affect fuel levels on turn three that much, it still will negatively affect Panzer Group 2's Dnepr crossing.





< Message edited by SigUp -- 8/20/2013 6:12:05 PM >

(in reply to SigUp)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/21/2013 7:48:07 PM   
loki100


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Feedback:

quote:

ORIGINAL: Powloon

Interesting idea Loki I for one look forward to seeing how this one pans out! The logistical capacity of both sides in this game are in my opinion bordering on the fantastical so should be interesting to see if a simple settings change can rectify this or indeed we have to wait for the planned improvements in WITW.

Good Luck!

Oh and that map is gorgeous is that Jison's map mod? I think the map on its own could pull me back into playing the game.


well in a way the complete beating you handed me is one inspiration to this. Its not that I have any objection to good game play or someone using one of the game systems to their benefit. But even against the most inept defense, AGC should not be at the gates of Moscow by turn 7.

It is a really stunner of a map – both visually appealing and presents the key information in a clear way. I don't use his counter mod as I find it too pastel for my eyes.
quote:

ORIGINAL: SigUp

Yes, that's Jison's great map mod. I use it too, as well as his counters. As for the logistics, in addition to lower lower logistics I also won't use bombers in a resupply role, unless an unit has been encircled. Of course I'm not a good player, so anything I can do, other people can do it much better.

I do have experience with logistics on 60 against the AI and the effects when you decline on bomber resupply, as well as other technicalities to improve supply can be quite drastic. As early as turn 3 some forward mobile units I didn't prioritise flying fuel to, were down to less than 10 MP at the start of the turn. From that point onwards I could only do offensives in spurts (that is until the railheads caught up), meaning something like one or two turns advance, followed by one turn of rest and only seldomly did the MPs of the units exceed 35. Due to that and the quick morale gains of 1.07 with the AI on 119 morale, it took me till mid-August, until I had captured Smolensk. But of course, AI and a human opponent are entirely different animals.


In a way this is a great summary of our goals, this is not to allow either of us to show how brilliant we are but to test two propositions. One is if the lower logistic rate gives a more constrained game for the attacker (which of couse in the context of this scenario is a vast boost for the Soviet side) but also if, in return, you can actively fight with the Red Army. In other words does the game return to being one of tactical movement and combat, not of logistics exploitation and counting MP. Not for everyone, but I'd rather allow untrammelled player competence but with a constrained game engine.

The AI is good, but its less likely to pull a surprising stunt.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dangun

Two thoughts...

Firstly, don't you also need to run a control game at the same time. In other words you need a parallel game using the logistics level set at 100 with the GHC player committing to adopting a comparable strategy. Otherwise, what have you really demonstrated?

Secondly, the Soviets don't get to do much attacking in 'Road to Smolensk' so if you are right, as you say, and
quote:

"offensives are hard to sustain"
all you may have done is screw over the GHC even further.


fair comment, I make most of my living doing real world social policy tests (and some more teaching social policy research design to PhD students) and to be honest, really can't face bringing the same rigour to my wargaming. I've played this scenario 3 times (1 against the AI, 2 PBEM), have played the Barbarossa scenario twice (one each) and one SP GC. So its not a great baseline but I have some feel for what I'd expect to see. Now just to confound the test, I'm trying a very active defense, I tried that against Powloon and it was an utter and complete disaster. He's a far better player than me in any case, but in effect any attempt to fight at Smolensk and before Bryansk led to a complete (and more importantly, unrealistic) disaster.

So yes, this change, plus the morale gain problem really hamper the axis player.

quote:

ORIGINAL: SigUp

Here's turn one from the German perspective. Pretty standard opening, easier to do for an average player like me due to the possibility of using Panzer Group 4 for making the northern passage foolproof, as well as not needing to push XXXXVI. Panzer Corps South.

In the North, unlike in my games against the AI, LVII. Panzer Corps remains South of the Dvina. Aim is to quickly push onto the landbridge on turn two.

In the air war the bombers are committed to ground support, before bombing the Soviet air bases. Losses of Stukas during ground support were disturbingly high with 47 lost during turn one.

The two transport squardrons fly fuel primarily to XXXXVII. and XXIV. Panzer Corps. However, I put the HQ of XXIV. Panzer Corps into a bad spot, and it got bumped by the Soviet tank division to the North.


The air losses would match my understanding, there is a lot of AA in the Soviet formations. This was consistent in the Red Army till the fall of the USSR (and I'd guess still part of Russian military doctrine). Partly that, on the offensive they expected to outrun air cover (esp with 1930s fighter ranges). In the NATO era, the Soviets simply planned on the assumption that in Germany they would never have air superiority.

(in reply to SigUp)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/21/2013 7:50:12 PM   
loki100


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So lets have a look. Ignoring what is left of the border pockets, it seems as if the Germans ignored my hasty Berezina-Minsk defense line and struck south and north, grabbing 13 Army into a large pocket.



Turning to the losses, I guess this reflects the steady slaughter and surrender of my units in the Western pockets.



I think the relatively low kill rates there indicate there was not much sustained combat anywhere. A very much borne out by the surrender lists.



My decision to leave the VVS on the field of battle led to predictable losses, mostly I-153s and I-16s. As ever the main killer of the Luftwaffe was Soviet AA.



In terms of my decision to prioritise interdiction attacks, well the VVS managed one ...



Has to help?

In terms of response, my first move was one of the rifle divisions holding Minsk retook Smolevichi, linking the two pockets. The remaining division still has a defensive CV of 10 so will take some shifting.



In the north, after a bit of air recon, I reckoned I could open the pocket using a security and rifle division from the Dvina forces and one of my tank divisions in the pocket. In a way that escalates my final losses, as I am not going to get anything out, but may give the Panzers something to think about.



Finally, and this surprised me, I was able to break the southern edge using one of my Para brigades. Their relatively high morale does give them some chance at moving into ZoCs.

Again, in a way that is escalating my losses, but it will really give the Panzers cause to pause before storming the Dniepr.

After some juggling of armies from Stavka to the fronts, it looks like my OOB has improved. However, a good 50% of the Western Front is in a pocket or has only the most tenuous line of communication. Reserve Front is still frozen but I've subordinated 20 Army, around Smolensk to it. Once I have some spare AP I'll try to put Koniev in charge.




With a few armies unfrozen and others able to move up to the front, I have the pretence of a front line.





3 armies of NW Front (though 8 Army still has a lot in the western pockets) trying to secure Vitebsk and Velikie Luki. I don't want to give that up without a fight (as in the first post, a very deliberate plan here is to test if nerfing logistics, allows a much historical Soviet response as well).

20 Army is clustered on Smolensk and 3 Army and 16 Army are trying to hold Orsha-Mogilev and contest the Dniepr crossings. In the south, 21 Army (now assigned to the Orel MD) is covering Gomel, aided by some W Front paras.

Looks good on an abstract map.

As to the test, well I can't see much dimunition of the Axis offensive compared to 100%. I think SigUp has chosen to avoid combat, and thus the loss of MP with 13 Army (there were a lot of Luftwaffe recon flights) and go for a double encirclement. Where the difference I think lies is in the southern edge where that group of Panzers and Motorised Divisions west of Osipovichi I guess lacked the MP needed to seal off any chance to breach the pocket.

In general thanks for reading and the comments, much appreciated. I'm now off to see what horrors have been inflicted on my nice fantasy defensive lines




< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/24/2013 8:26:35 AM >

(in reply to loki100)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/21/2013 8:38:06 PM   
SigUp

 

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Now, comments from the German side of things:

First, no matter how the logistics settings are, I would not expect any effect to show on turn two. German motorized units start with between 150% and 180% fuel, so on turn two one still can live off that reserve. For turn three, however, depending on the turn two operations, things could look different.

Then on to the operational side. To the North, as mentioned above, I intended on using LVII. Panzer Corps to quickly push onto the landbridge and secure the forest area to the West and South of Vitebsk. My reconnaissance correctly identified the Soviet forces guarding the Berezina, as well as the gap in front of LVII. Panzer Corps and a weak spot at Bobruisk, with only a weak Motorized Division guarding the crossing. Thus XXXIX. Panzer Corps was tasked with working together with XXXXVII. and XXIV. Panzer Corps to encircle the Soviets between them.

However, as already previewed in the last post, I showed some remarkably bad planning on turn two. First I pushed LVII. Panzer Corps forward, while forgetting about the 40-mile gap between infantry elements of Panzer Group 3 and the rear division of XXXIX. Panzer Corps. Second, I forgot that the Berezina grows wide at Bobruisk. So after XXXXVII. Panzer Corps had crossed the river, as well as the 3rd Panzer Division of XXIV. Panzer Corps, I noticed that neither 4th Panzer, nor 10th Motorized Division had enough MPs to shut the door there (4th Panzer lacked 1 I think). As a result, the entirety of Panzer Group 3 and XXXXVII. Panzer Corps got cut off.

In other matters, I probably am committing too many precious infantry divisions of 9th and 4th Army to cleaning up the pocket. I am never good in terms of regimental breakdowns, that make cleaning more efficient. Furthermore, having played the Summer months of 1941 against the AI on 119 security divisions and regiments struggle to clean out Soviet divisions in the woods, so I still was influence by that. So, generally speaking, this turn perhaps will delay my operations against Smolensk by one to two turns.


Panzer movement in black, green are my FBDs and red is the area I screwed up.

Even though large parts of my motorized forces got cut off, I think the difference won't be that noticable for the next turn. They have outrun their supply lines anyway. Where it will hurt is in the amount of fuel dumps in the HQs. I guess Panzer Group 3 won't have the necessary fuel to conduct the large operation for the Battle of Smolensk until turn five. Here are the fuel statistics for my mobile forces.



< Message edited by SigUp -- 8/21/2013 8:39:39 PM >

(in reply to loki100)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/22/2013 9:10:36 AM   
Powloon

 

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Nice break there Loki busting that pocket! I think the biggest affect of that (other than the minor fuel blip) will be the loss of the converted hexes which should impose a delay on his infantry reaching the Dnpner and consequently should give you an at least an extra turn to cement your defence.

I'm never sure in dual AAR's whether it is ok to comment on the tactical stuff are you posting a few turns behind the game?

(in reply to SigUp)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/22/2013 9:37:51 AM   
SigUp

 

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We are always one turn ahead in the game. Besides, it's a small scenario with fixed objectives and we are not exactly trying to outsmart each other.

EDIT: Yeah, that foul-up with the pocket will delay my infantry by a turn. But on the other hand, due to fuel constraints I wouldn't have been in a position for a Smolensk lunge anyway.

< Message edited by SigUp -- 8/22/2013 9:39:10 AM >

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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/22/2013 11:02:14 AM   
Powloon

 

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Hi SigUp will be interesting to see if / when the fuel crunch occurs. When I played this scenario it seemed like all my panzers were in the high 30 early 40 movement point range for the first 8 turns or so (which was a very different experience to when I played the campaign where you start noticing a significant drop from turn 3). I'm not sure what the difference was?

I would recommend using 18th Army to sweep your pockets clean as they withdraw on turn 7 or 8 anyway (If i remember correctly). Anyway in the interests of fairness good luck

Loki I'm not sure it is worth trying to defend Minsk even though it is a short scenario there is nothing stopping SigUP isolating the garrison and sweeping it up on turn 4 or so with a security division.

(in reply to SigUp)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/22/2013 11:32:05 AM   
SigUp

 

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More on that later, when loki posts turn three. But so much I can say, my logistics have crashed, even the divisions of XXIV. Panzer Corps not isolated didn't have 20 MPs on turn 3.

Yeah, utilizing 16th Army to clear pockets would have been better. But anyway, I already sent them North to convert hexes on the road to Velikie Luki.

(in reply to Powloon)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/22/2013 11:04:08 PM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Powloon

Hi SigUp will be interesting to see if / when the fuel crunch occurs. When I played this scenario it seemed like all my panzers were in the high 30 early 40 movement point range for the first 8 turns or so (which was a very different experience to when I played the campaign where you start noticing a significant drop from turn 3). I'm not sure what the difference was?

I would recommend using 18th Army to sweep your pockets clean as they withdraw on turn 7 or 8 anyway (If i remember correctly). Anyway in the interests of fairness good luck

Loki I'm not sure it is worth trying to defend Minsk even though it is a short scenario there is nothing stopping SigUP isolating the garrison and sweeping it up on turn 4 or so with a security division.


I'm starting to think that using 75 is too harsh, in effect the next turn was quite a respite (as long as you weren't serving in the 13 Army) which is unique in my experience.

As to Minsk, yep, I think I have finally realised that it really isn't worth the effort. I guess it depends if the MPs that are used to clear me out come from units that have little else to do, or if it knocks down just a little bit more MP off the axis spearheads

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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/22/2013 11:05:08 PM   
loki100


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On opening this turn, it was no surprise to find 13 Army very firmly back in encirclement. I suspect I've managed to engineer a very expensive way to protect the Dniepr crossings. However, apart from just south of Mogilev the German eastward drive has stalled on the Dniepr. On the northern axis, Vitebsk has fallen but I still hold the north bank of the Dvina.



Most of the fighting, and resulting losses, has clearly happened in the encirclement battles in Bielorussia.





The air war has calmed down. My main weapon against the Luftwaffe remains AA and the VVS managed to deliver the grand total of zero interdiction attacks.



The chart below is selected to show my relatively high CV rifle divisions. I have 3 with a score of 4 and quite a lot with 3 (the new beta patch was installed after this turn so the rather liberal morale gain rules were in force).



In response, I did a certain amount of adjusting my lines to make the best use of terrain but there was no major redeployment.





I think this lack of pressure towards Smolensk is new and a product of the changes we agreed. I have held the city till turn 7/8 in a Barbarossa PBEM but there I was able to bring in units from other sectors. On that basis, the front is not unique (in my limited experience) but I think the lack of probes and feeling of being on the edge of disaster is.

This maybe a rather false optimism, but its maybe a hint that by setting the logistics at 75 we've slightly overdone it (should say I am also writing this in part influenced by having since played out the next turn).

Anyway, to complete here's the detailed OOBs at Front and Army level. Some 1.8 million men, almost 18,000 guns, 3,300 AFVs and 2,300 aircraft bar the road to Moscow.



Western Front still deploys two powerful armies (3 and 16), 10A is a shell formation and 13A is vastly overstated as most of its units will be destroyed next turn.





(ignore this image, just trying to make the rest appear -- no idea why embedding links to an image hosting site is so hard on this forum)



< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/22/2013 11:08:47 PM >

(in reply to loki100)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/22/2013 11:34:49 PM   
SigUp

 

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On turn three the German logistics really crashed. While on turn two 3.641 tons of ammunition were delivered to frontline units, the next turn only 175 turn arrived. Granted, a big chunk was lost due to a whole bunch of units getting cut off, but the drop-off was quite stunning.

As indicated in my previous post, getting cut off had no huge immediate effect on the MP and fuel levels of my units. XXIV. Panzer Corps' HQ, as well as two of its divisions were West of the Berezina and still only possessed 15 and 17 MPs. By comparison, XXXXVII. Panzer Corps' units had MPs of 12, 11 and 10. The difference, however, was in the amount of fuel dumps inside the HQ. XXIV. Panzer Corps possessed 61, while XXXXVII. Panzer Corps' were down to only 12. As such it was largely impossible to conduct wide-range operations with my mobile units.



Beginning the turn, infantry of Panzer Group 3 and 16th Army re-established connection with the Panzer Corps. Combined with XXXXVII. Panzer Corps' efforts in the South, the Berezina pocket was closed for good, though the one turn delay for my infantry hurts. On the North bank of the Dvina, units of 16th Army began flipping hexes on the road to Velikie Luki.

Originally I intended to have XXXXVI. Panzer Corps do a HQ-buildup on turn three to cross the Dnepr in force. However, after spotting a gap between Mogilev and Bykhov I decided to push the Corps forward. Großdeutschland and 10th Panzer Division cleared Mogilev, enabling Das Reich a safe passage over the Dnepr. On the landbridge Panzer Group 3 only did minimal movement, with LVII. Panzer Corps taking Vitebsk.



With the logistics breaking down, I guess the mobile units will have to wait at least another turn before continuing the push. In the meantime the infantry should clear the Berezina pocket and catch up to the motorized units.

(in reply to loki100)
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RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/23/2013 6:46:35 PM   
loki100


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This was a relatively quiet turn as the Germans were digesting the Berezina pocket.

As we've been playing, we have been exchanging emails about impressions. My feeling up to this turn, is that the progress feels historical, 2 turns of dramatic axis advances, throwing the Red Army off balance, followed by an operational pause as the axis logistics catch up. That was worsened by my opening the pocket briefly.

Here's a Soviet map of the Berezina-Dvina battles more or less in this time span. If you can't read Russian, the river on the lhs is the Berezina and on the rhs is the Dniepr, the city in the upper right is Orsha. Historically the Soviet defeat at Orsha was also the first phase of the Smolensk battles. Mogilev held out longer.



Here's the map when I opened the turn:



The Berezina pocket is gone, the German bridgehead at Mogilev is slightly enlarged, but in general my front line units had a chance to recover and dig. The reserves had a chance to refit and reorganise. Reserve Front is still fixed.

Losses, again reflect surrenders in pockets rather than intensity of fighting.




In the air:



Again this shows my best CV units. No real change from the last turn.



Since we applied the beta patch this turn, I'll stop reporting that unless it seems to really add anything to the information.

My OOB.

Slight increase in manpower (up to 1.9m), Western Front has shrunk (its now within its command capacity).



At the army level, several fresh armies are now around Moscow. I need to think carefully about how to release them but at the moment they are organising the various, mostly disorganised, replacements I am receiving. Note that I spent AP on putting Timoshenko in charge of the Reserve Front. I'll start ditching some of the more inept army commanders next turn.



In terms of on-map deployment, I didn't move much. In the north a little bit of adjustment.



In the south, I've even the start of reserve lines. More optimism than reality, and, as I found next turn, with some gaps that I hadn't been aware of (there are some I was fully aware of but they would have taken the Panzers away from Moscow).







(as before ... ignore this image, just trying to make the rest appear -- no idea why embedding links to an image hosting site is so hard on this forum)



< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/23/2013 6:48:35 PM >

(in reply to SigUp)
Post #: 17
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/23/2013 7:16:45 PM   
SigUp

 

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Turn four for the German side was more or less a turn of rest. The logistics were still terrible on this turn. Only 320 tons of ammunition reached the frontlines and this time no unit was cut off and unable to receive any. Fuel-wise only three divisions possessed enough to push them over 20 MPs. The majority was around 15. XXXXVI. Panzer Corps, due to aerial resupply the last turn, had enough MPs to be operational, while XXXXVII. Panzer Corps was more or less immobile.



Therefore, operationally not much happened. As a first move, elements of 9th Army and 4th Army cleared the Berezina pocket, while the rest of the infantry units tried to catch up to the mobile forces. After Das Reich cleared hexes to its North and South the entirety of XXXXVI. Panzer Corps, as well as four infantry divisions managed to cross the Dnepr, establishing a solid bridgehead. On the landbridge Panzer Group 3's fast units held their positions, while infantry elements pushed ahead. The biggest advance was undertaken by 16th Army, with II. Corps taking Nevel and preparing the stage for an attack on Velikie Luki. Meanwhile XXIV. Panzer Corps remained in their positions on the East bank of the Berezina and did an HQ-buildup.



All in all, this game is pretty much in line with history. But the German side surely benefits by Reserve Front being frozen, so I only have to deal with a portion of the total Soviet forces.

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 18
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/23/2013 11:02:17 PM   
carlkay58

 

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Turn 3 is typically a bad supply turn for the Axis, even with Logistics at 100. It will take until turn 5 or 6 for the railheads to advance enough to start picking up the supply rate.

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Post #: 19
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/24/2013 8:29:15 AM   
loki100


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So, this turn starts on 17 July and ends 23 July and saw our version of the battle for Smolensk. Here's another Soviet operational map:



The scale is a little harder to read but Smolensk is just below the encirclement of 16A and 20A.

When I opened the game I found:



ouch, obviously the Panzers were recouping during their rest last turn and managed to find a weak spot in my set up. I was expecting an attempted encirclement but thought I'd set everything up so as to mean I'd keep a supply line open.

I went back a turn and worked out I'd meant to only leave 1 rifle division in Smolensk and another in deeper reserve. Obviously forgot to actually make the change. This is, to me, another advantage of the 'Road Tos', they are small enough that you can learn from your mistakes.

Actual combat losses remain light, and I had no combat formations destroyed this turn (just the start of losing the corps HQ)



Air losses are mounting on both sides. In particular in that turn the German JU-87s took a beating but mostly from ground based flak rather than aircombat.



I also managed an interdiction attack – I don't think it quite deserves the description 'successful'.



Anyway, air recon indicated a wee gap in the German lines around Vitebsk. I had a single rifle division in 22 Army with 15 MP and 50 Morale. The counterattack was not quite the historical operation of 19 Army but did a fair bit of damage. 3-4 Luftwaffe bases had to run for the rear. My only regret was I had no cavalry to hand or I could have made more of that incursion.

This is one reason why I was hanging onto Velikie Luki (and indeed in the south around Gomel). It stretches the front creating potential gaps like this, or alternatively tempts the German into time consuming swipes to clear you out. Obviously at some stage you need to pull back but its one of the consequences of slowing the tempo that the decision to hold/run seems more finely judged.

The other main change in this period was two formations from Reserve Front (24 and 28 Armies) unlocked. I used them to start to build a defense line on the upper Dniepr. 30 Army has been released from Stavka reserve to close up the gap that had been opened to the rear of 22 Army.



My gamble here is that the Panzers are not strong enough to both keep the Smolensk pocket sealed and lash out again. As a result, I'm going to make the German infantry fight for Velikie Luki as I conduct a fighting retreat towards Toropets.



The bulk of 2 armies are in encirclement with no way out. Again I just spread them out, trying to ensure that all the Panzers started the next turn in a Soviet ZoC.

To the south, 3 Army lost a bit of ground but is starting to dig into a line on the Oster. Wouldn't hold a concentrated assault but slowly reserves are feeding in. Here 29 Army has been deployed to the Orel MD from Stavka reserve, covering the approach to Bryansk.



Generally, the Smolensk disaster has stretched the lines but I have quite powerful forces (and there are now more cavalry divisions available) on the flanks of the main German advance.

Overall manpower is pretty much the same as last turn (1.96m) but my tank collection has shrunk (and a lot of what is left is in the Smolensk encirclement).



The other main change is I have been juggling airbases to ensure as much airpower as possible is assigned to the Fronts that are bearing the brunt of the battle (the stuff in the Moscow MD tends not to react that well in my experience).

At the army level, I've spent a fair bit of my AP collection on removing some of the more inept commanders.



I also this turn, pulled out the last of the forces in the Pripyet region (they are the only reason why 10A and 4A) are not showing as just shell formations, Lack of pressure towards Gomel has helped in that respect.

Good fun turn, lots of decisions, lots of double checking and a lot of gambling on potential trade offs.






(as before ... ignore this image, just trying to make the rest appear -- no idea why embedding links to an image hosting site is so hard on this forum)




< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/24/2013 8:33:43 AM >

(in reply to carlkay58)
Post #: 20
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/24/2013 9:01:50 AM   
morvael


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If I understand the air settings correctly you have reduced your chance for interdiction attacks, because you want the game to send 210% of bombers it deems required for an interdiction attack, escorted by 210% of fighters it deems required for those bombers. That makes it hard to find suitable numbers of planes.

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Post #: 21
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/24/2013 10:12:19 AM   
SigUp

 

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Beginning turn five, ammunition supply to the troops took yet another dip with 296 tons reaching the units. But this drop may partly be attributed to two infantry divisions of 16th Army leaving. As for fuel supply, that turn rest has pushed the divisions of Panzer Group 3, as well as XXXXVI. Panzer Corps back into 20-30 MP territory. In addition to the HQ buildup of XXIV. Panzer Corps I possessed enough fuel for another push.



However, I wasn't sure in the beginning whether I should launch the push right now, or wait for an additional turn. Waiting for an additional turn had the benefit of my units possessing enough fuel in any case, for a link up behind Smolensk. Striking now on the other hand prevented the Soviets from continuing their digging operations, as well as bringing in new reinforcements. Thus, I decided to strike. The original plan was for Panzer Group 3 to reach Yartsevo and establish a broad corridor separating Smolensk from the North. In the South infantry and XXXXVI. Panzer Corps should push over the Pronya to allow XXIV. Panzer Corps, coming from the area of the Berezina, to reach the Sozh. The door should be closed on the following turn.

On the landbridge Panzer Group 3 and infantry divisions of 9th Army fulfilled their task, despite some tough battles, especially with a dug-in tank division 30 miles west of Smolensk and a motorized division at Yartsevo. In the South, things were proceeding smoother than anticipated, despite some fierce resistance. Infantry divisions of Panzer Group 2 pushed back a Soviet rifle division behind the Pronya and then successfully attacked over the river. XXXXVI. Panzer Corps exploited that breakthrough and after clearing a few hexes to the north of the original bridgehead, found an open path to the Sozh. 4th Panzer Division of XXIV. Panzer Corps then pushed forward, cleared two Soviet divisions on the West bank of the river and then successfully attacked over it. Finally the other two divisions of XXIV. Panzer Corps had enough MPs to reach the Dnepr and Panzer Group 3 sent a motorized division for the link up, trapping some 10+ Soviet divisions in the Smolensk pocket.

In the North 16th Army reached the Lovat south of Velikie Luki. As the divisions did not have enough MPs left to launch a deliberate attack at Velikie Luki, they instead pushed back a Soviet division south of the city. Though the Soviets will return to the hex, the fortification has been cleared. In the South 2nd Army finally reached the frontlines near Zhlobin.



This turn five saw some of the heaviest fighting of the campaign, despite overall Soviet losses being the lowest yet. German losses surpassed even the ones taken on the opening turn, although the number of KIA were lower. Panzer losses, however, reached a high with 122. Soviet losses numbered only around 24.000, but the death toll was the highest since turn one with close to 5.000.

In the skies over the area, Luftwaffe fighters still reigned supreme and shot down Soviet planes like it's a turkey shoot. Stuka losses, however, were once again sky-high. All in all more than half of my total aircraft losses are Stukas. Even before that blunder with the airfields (more on that later), the Stuka losses surpassed 100 planes, despite always flying with figher escort (well, they are shot down by AA after all). Considering historically the Germans lost some 320 Stukas on the East Front in 1941 total, the Stuka losses in WITE are way over the top. And by the time the Red Airforce has modernized and can bring 100+ fighters into the battle they are completely useless.

That said, this turn I made another mistake, that hurt the Luftwaffe. I underestimated the MPs and morale of the Soviet divisions and placed the airfields (as well as the HQs of 9th Army and Panzer Group 3) in a position from which they were bumped. 60 aircraft were lost in the process and especially losing 19 fighters (I lost a total of 10 up to that point) hurt.


(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 22
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/24/2013 11:26:25 AM   
Gabriel B.

 

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It nice to see that movement of panzer corps folows more or less historical lines however:

there is not much oportunity to fight for LVII corps north of Vilnius.
the 12, 19 and 20 pz divisions are build after the battle of france and lack experience, imho they should do as much fighting as posible in the first turn to gain morale and burn out exces armor that increses fuel requirements.

I send LVII corps south and the XXXIX corps north and reasign 20 pz division directly to Hoth in the first turn.

(in reply to SigUp)
Post #: 23
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/25/2013 8:48:09 AM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gabriel B.

It nice to see that movement of panzer corps folows more or less historical lines however:

there is not much oportunity to fight for LVII corps north of Vilnius.
the 12, 19 and 20 pz divisions are build after the battle of france and lack experience, imho they should do as much fighting as posible in the first turn to gain morale and burn out exces armor that increses fuel requirements.

I send LVII corps south and the XXXIX corps north and reasign 20 pz division directly to Hoth in the first turn.


I think in general, this has followed a realistic tempo, if anything its produced more encirclement battles than a conventional 100 for logistics - in part as I've been over tempted to dispute key terrain

(in reply to Gabriel B.)
Post #: 24
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/25/2013 8:49:01 AM   
loki100


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In terms of timeframe, this is the last week in July, so historically part of the Smolensk battle.

However, my first act was to ensure my air doctrine was set up to do what I wanted to do, not the complete opposite ...



Judging by the battle reports, most of the German action was clearing the pocket (pity as I had sort of hoped it would last more than 1 turn). Their infantry were in action in the north and took Velikie Luki and in the south (off image, made some slow progress towards Gomel). It looked like the Panzers took a week off which is ominous for next turn.

Losses are starting to creep up for both sides. Notably, the numbers killed with the Germans losing 3,500 and the Soviets losing 3,000.



Naturally, this relatively equal state of affairs was drawfed by my losses in the pocket.



In the air, again the Germans took quite a few losses (I'll ignore any reference to mine), the 64 will include those that were lost on the airfields I overran last turn (I guess these are in 'operational losses'?). Soviet flak remains dangerous, the VVS pretty much more of a danger to itself than anything else.



But I did manage to land a series of interdiction attacks around the Smolensk pocket




In which, I hit a tank. I suspect it was a PzI, but there we have it, the first confirmed tank kill by the VVS in the campaign.

Anyway, in the spirit of optimism, and wanting to keep the threat very much in my opponent's thinking. I reran last turn's raid, this time using a cavalry division. Unfortunately, this time there are infantry divisions guarding the luftwaffe.



Well I guess if they are there, they are not pressing towards Moscow.

Since I expect the Panzers to lash out again next turn, I had quite a lot to think about. With the MP situation, they can do one of three things and I suspect will go north to try and turn the Moscow defences at Kalinin. Despite this, overall NW Front does tactical rather than strategic adjustments, as I have a decent local reserve now.
1543



In the south, I pull 21 Army back on Gomel as the German infantry are arriving in some force. Overall here, my goals are to defend Bryansk and the gap through Spas-Demyansk (which in turn opens up the south of Moscow and Tula).



On both flanks, I'm trying to hang on as far west as I dare. My hope is this, more than any notional strength of the Reserve Front, will stall any drive directly for Moscow. Equally it may be forcing the Germans to keep more of a reserve in case I get lucky in poking around behind the flanks.

In terms of OOB, the total number has dipped a bit (1.95m-1.93m) reflecting the Smolensk encirclement. Zhukov has taken over the Western Front (this was done by Stalin not me) and despite its hammering it remains a powerful force in terms of armour and airpower.



At the army level, most of Reserve Front is still locked in place, only 24 and 28 Armies are mobile and 20A was more or less destroyed last term apart from a single unit that had earlier been pulled out to recover. 16A (West Front) is similar, some formations were out the pocket and 10A has no combat forces under its command).















(as before ... ignore this image, just trying to make the rest appear -- would appreciate any advice on what is the magic command to use)




< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/25/2013 8:50:33 AM >

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 25
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/25/2013 10:21:39 AM   
SigUp

 

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This turn the raillines slowly started to catch up to the front as ammunition deliveries increased to 546 tons. After the advance to Smolensk the Panzers have used up their powder and were in need of a rest. The mass of Panzer Group 3's mobile elements possessed between 10 and 15 MPs, with only 12th Panzer Division going up to 20. On the Southern wing successfully locking by Soviet units prevented 3rd Panzer and 10th Motorized Division of getting much fuel, locking them at 3 and 5 MPs. 4th Panzer Division was the beneficiary, upping its stock to 94%. XXXXVI. Panzer Corps likewise was largely inoperational with only 9-12 MPs. So, even after resting on turns three and four the advance can't be sustained for more than a single turn. Of course getting my mobile units cut off hurt my logistics, but turns three and four are some of the worst turns in terms of logistics and without bomber air supply and logistics on 75 it is tough to get fuel forward.



Operationally 16th Army used its last turn on the map for launching a deliberate attack with three divisions on Velikie Luki and occupied it. Clearing the Smolensk pocket proceeded smoothly and resistance was eliminated in a single turn. In the South 2nd Army crossed the Dnepr and massed for a strong push towards Gomel. Meanwhile the mobile elements were taken out of the immediate frontlines to recuperate. XXXIX. and LVII. Panzer Corps HQs were furthermore put in a position from which they were 20 MPs away from the raillines the next turn. XXXXVII. Panzer Corps moved forward a little with the HQ still staying in Mogilev, also within 20 MPs of a railline the next turn. But I was not fixed on doing an HQ buildup, rather I would make it dependent on whether I would find a weakness in the Soviet lines.



Despite losing a good number of planes due to my mistake the last turn the Luftwaffe still dominated the skies over the operation area shooting down Soviet planes at will. This time I took care to protect their airbases with a forward-moving infantry division.



In terms of the scenario outcome, it is still in the air, but German offensive power is dropping. Combined with Soviets digging and units on reserve mode it could get nasty. Bryansk probably is too far away and with the protection in front of Vyazma I doubt I can get it.

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 26
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/25/2013 1:04:14 PM   
Gabriel B.

 

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Despite the logistic levels ,one bad operational decision lead to another so far for the axis .

Lida grouping was not destroyed in turn 1 , as result 9th army cant put the presure on Minsk on turn 2.
if you are going to atack across the Ulla river , place one Pz hq near Globukoe where it can perform a Hq build up on turn 3,
because no matter the logistic level, you are out of fuel by turn 3.

Other suited locations are Slusk (which i rarely use ) and Borisov (arguably the best because it can be used by both panzer groups as a staging area).

Turn 2 is arguably the worse i saw yet , every mechanised unit is either in danger of being cut off, or tracing supply across 2 or 3 rivers and wooded terrain .





< Message edited by Gabriel B. -- 8/25/2013 1:08:04 PM >

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Post #: 27
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/25/2013 2:09:49 PM   
SigUp

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gabriel B.

Despite the logistic levels ,one bad operational decision lead to another so far for the axis .

Lida grouping was not destroyed in turn 1 , as result 9th army cant put the presure on Minsk on turn 2.
if you are going to atack across the Ulla river , place one Pz hq near Globukoe where it can perform a Hq build up on turn 3,
because no matter the logistic level, you are out of fuel by turn 3.

Other suited locations are Slusk (which i rarely use ) and Borisov (arguably the best because it can be used by both panzer groups as a staging area).

Turn 2 is arguably the worse i saw yet , every mechanised unit is either in danger of being cut off, or tracing supply across 2 or 3 rivers and wooded terrain.

Thanks for the suggestions, though the tone is a little harsh. Anyway, a specific question, what should be used for getting rid of the Lida group?

(in reply to Gabriel B.)
Post #: 28
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/25/2013 3:11:46 PM   
Gabriel B.

 

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Rout them out of the way .

the division in Varena by 9th army infantry .
the motorised division north of the neman river by one of Lemelsen divisions.
the others by 20th panzer division of pz grupe 3.



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Post #: 29
RE: Testing the Road to Smolensk - 8/25/2013 10:29:28 PM   
loki100


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Last turn I spent an age fussing about the extended location of NW Front. In favour of leaving it where it was were the entrenchments that had been constructed and that it was, along with the Orel MD units around Gomel, stretching the German lines.

Against was it was very vulnerable to a strike from the Panzers to the east of Smolensk.

I ended up putting some reserve cavalry formations in behind 30A and pulling the airbases back to around Rzhev.

I really should have pulled back towards Rzhev ... that would have been the bright solution.



That is most of NW Front in encirclement and 3A from the West Front to the south.

Combat intensity continues to increase with just over 3,000 German dead and around 7,000 Soviets. As ever my combat losses are made worse by surrenders, only 10,0000 this turnbut almost 550,000 since the campaign began (and going to get worse).



Thought it might be useful to look at the VP screen. Currently fairly even, but my losses are going to escalate. In terms of cities I expect to hold Kaluga, Vyazma and Bryansk. Given the events on the northern sector, Rzhev may be at some risk but should be safe.



That will give me around 600 at the end compared to 900 for the Germans.

My response was to try to break out and break in. Almost managed it and if I'd opened the pocket then the Germans could have been in some problems.



In the south, I decided it was time to abandon Gomel and I pull all the Orel MD back to long prepared lines on the Dniepr and around Bryansk. With the Panzers now tied up in the north I can't see a sustained threat around here.



Overall manpower is inching upwards (1.98m now) but I fear that is going to change. I've been steadily allocating the airbases that start with the Moscow MD to the combat formations to try and gain better cover over the front.



A number of Reserve Front armies still slumber. Perhaps the main thing there is the steady decline in the number of tanks I have available.



As an afterward, we played one more German turn, but its pretty clear that we have slipped into a stalemate at this stage, so we agreed to call it day. As above, I'd say that is a marginal German victory.

We're going to try the extended Moscow scenario using the same 75% logistics so we have some idea of the impact on the blizzard. Will report the outcomes once they are to hand, but probably not as an AAR as I find the process of getting (or not getting) images to embed too stressful compared to the much easier AGEOD/Paradox system I've grown used to.




(as before ... ignore this image, just trying to make the rest appear -- would appreciate any advice on what is the magic command to use)




< Message edited by loki100 -- 8/25/2013 10:33:01 PM >

(in reply to Gabriel B.)
Post #: 30
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