View from the other side of the front:
Excellent AAR with fine graphics and some good jokes between the AAR posts.
When the game started around 2 years ago, the two teams mirrored the historical situation quite well: The Axis team was lead by an experienced player with great management skills (okay, that point is a bit ahistorical) with subordinates who were not all veterans, but played a solid T1 and good follow up turns. Axis team communications appeared to be regular and detailed.
The Soviet team on the other hand was composed of more or less complete rookie (including me). Communication broke down often and was scarce, a coherent strategy not really existent and micromanagement barely happened. Rather than blame Hortlund for that, I do think that it was part of his roleplay vision for the game.
As was to be expected given the conditions of the GC1941 and the differences in the team structure, the first half of the summer of 1941 was a series of defeats. Somehow, the Soviet Union, using its immense recovery abilities, managed to survive until the Blizzard in a very difficult situation, but not completely without options. At least one possible recruit turned down the offer to join the Red Army, stating that he "is not into hopeless missions". However, with M60 a veteran commander came on board in late summer and the team became more efficient.
During the snow time before blizzard in 1941, I was in command of the central front and had to hold a very weak Tula front, feared encirclement and repeatedly requested permission from M60 to retreat. No offensive took place and the stand fast order turned out to be the correct decision, because the Axis declined to use the opportunity. Apparently, the Axis mobile forces were already on the way to the winter quaters in T22? http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=4250683&mpage=11&key=
I noticed the Axis built allot of fortified zones. I am sceptical of their use. They draw resources away from combat units and start with low morale and experience, probably taking considerable losses to attrition. I doubt that the bonus for artillery in fortified zones (if existent?) is significant enough to justify the investments. Probably a different doctrine, firepower (Crackaces) vs. raw CV (me).
The Blizzard saw a stand fast defence of the Axis. Initially, I planned to attempt ZOC locks and encirclements in the Tula area, but M60s orders called for a focus on Guards farming. The Axis forward defence limited the Soviet land gain considerably, but helped Guards farming and allowed us to trade losses at a good ratio.
Interestingly, AGC counterattacked much. It was a win-win situation for both sides, as the Axis side could celebrate routed units, while Soviets were encouraged by the good loss ratios. I usually tried to put well rested rifle brigades in the front line to encourage counterattacks on them, as the fatigue level has a huge effect on losses.
After the Blizzard, I personally was very sceptical about the outlook of the game, and was surprised when the snow turns did not end with immediate doom and massive encirclements. Although I of course do not know the detailed Axis situation at this time, I think splitting the armoured attack into two not directly mutually supporting operations was a mistake. At least my greatest fear as the Centre commander was a Panzerballe biting of small chunks of units in a "pacman" strategy, while I welcomed the frontal pushing-back assault in the Tula area.
With snow becoming mud and then clear weather, the situation became increasingly difficult due to the growing mobility of the Axis forces and the slow growth of the Soviet manpower count. That was the situation when I resigned, because I was burned out with WitE at this point and university became more demanding.
Throughout the game, the Axis side heavily used strategic bombing and constantly attacked the Soviet air force. Due to their very good management, initial Soviet non-action in the air and snowball effects, Axis air superiority was secured until summer 1942 and beyond, a major + for them.
If playing the solo, I use spam bombing by Soviet bombers, which causes huge losses, something that simply did not happen here, saving the Axis several dozen k of manpower losses until T50 alone. Not to speak about the operational advantages of air superiority.
The non-air related strategic bombing strategy had mixed results. Armaments and HI bombing was without real effect, as the USSR had an armaments surplus since January 1942 IIRC and never ran short of supplies.
AFV factory bombing effect depended on the equipment type. Strategic bombing simply has zero effect until it actually causes a shortage. So from retroperspective the Axis bombing should have focused on Soviet fighters, light tanks an manpower (preferably small cities along static fronts).
If the above sounds overall critical it is because repeating all the positive things is a bit useless and I am interested in the Axis rationale behind the decisions, and of course it is clearly the Axis side's game to lose here with the Soviets needing luck, strong play and Axis mistakes and iron nerves to turn around the game.
Thanks to the Axis team as a whole for the game, during the entire time I played, you were fine opponents!
First and foremost, thanks to the Soviet team! I througly enjoyed the game while it lasted! One can see that EvK is a formidable opponent!
A couple of comments in response ...
For the forum -- The combat resolution is quite complex. The 2x3 AAR now on the second page of this posting covers this system quite extensively. However, it is worth mentioning some fundamentals. Combat starts with a beginning CV and leadership die rolls, which results in the first adjusted CV. Depending on odds the attack can stop right then and there with a "scout" result. Then the combat system proceeds that each squad and device engages a random squad or device according to a decreasing range from the longest Attacker device. Think of each type of squad or device as a small colored bead, Infantry squad blue, a 105mm gun red, a 150mm gun purple etc. The engine picks one of these devices at random but what is picked is highly influenced by the number of type of squads/devices. If there are 100 purple beads and 1000 blue beads -- a blue bead is 10 times more likely to be picked. Now think a 64 Crayola crayon box of colors grouping different devices and squad types with many random selections within a unit or combined units. This process continues with the range decreasing to the next range band until some magical threshold is reached or the infantry engage. There are three combat results of interest destroyed, damaged, and disrupted. The first two results are quite obvious but the disrupted result is very interesting. A disrupted unit no longer contributes to combat. Pushing the defense back or forcing the offense to a held result does not take killing or damaging -- it only takes disrupting enough devices or squads. Finally, if combat reaches the very end point the total effective CV of both sides are compared and a combat result posted. The real crux of this system takes an understanding of both CV and firepower to master optimizing attacks and defensive situations.
Now to add to EvK's observation. I am a firepower guy. It was my contribution to the team. Fundamentally before I start an attack I try to understand the makeup of the target hexes along with possible committed reserves. Then I commit the right SU's to maximize effect. With the Soviet cavalry it was committing quad 20mm to maximize ROF and maximum number of squads engaged because the cavalry units disrupt easily once engaged on the attack. On the other hand armor units full of KV1's and T34's require 88mm that are in LW mixed and heavy flak units. In general Soviets in the open are dealt with 105's but I like 150 howitzers because of ROF. This logic extends into a very lengthy discussion but I hope it adds to EvK's observation. Although the system does not match the right device to the right target every time -- you can maximize the likelihood this might occur.
There were thoughts for attacks in the Tula area. IN fact one attack got started but the Southern commander needed resources to rescue a salient that crossed the Don. Resources being diverted happens more than once and in a couple of cases at a most inopportune moment. In this AAR I mention rigging up a true gambit and then have the rug pulled out from under me. The last Gambit really worked, but the Soviets unfortunately resigned and we never saw the whole strategy play out.
One thing for the forum is the thought on the use of forts. One advantage of forts on the defense is that you can attach SU's directly to the fort unit. I have played with this a bit in test cases. I have found that the fort level protects the tubes from harm (mostly) while the fort level adds to the accuracy of the attached devices. At level 3 this advantage can be devastating on a number of dimensions. There is no consideration for "real life" ranges or "real life" accuracy given a range. A HEAT round has a range and really does not improve much in real life with registered fire, but in WITE this is not the case. So a 150mm HEAT round engaging a T34 using the fort bonus is very likely to hit and if it does that is one dead tank. From an infantry side disruptions are far more likely. So (3) 12 tube mixed art SU are going to disrupt 96 squads, possibly more, depending on how combat goes. That is a real CV changer as these squads will not contribute towards the final effective CV.
The broad advance rather than the "pacman" approach was an intentional decision. Fundamentally, we figured we could destroy the Soviet army in the Summer. A look at turn 54 shows the jump off points to do so with units surrounded. Once I secured the use of multiple Panzer armies that were not going to be pulled away -- the most important objective was: 1) secure the Oka-Para river line; 2) secure advanced rail line for airbases; and, 3) secure jump off points for securing Tambov and key rail lines to make the Soviets rail LOC as untenable North to South as possible. That mission was accomplished on turn 54.
One thing about how the center advanced. One can put pressure on an objective and threaten isolation forcing a retreat. This was an overall operational consideration for AGC. Attack in places and show armor that could potentially isolate units in a "Pacman" type attack. The Soviets often obliged by retreating from the objective.
Finally (in this post) strategic bombing and routing units. I might offer that strategic bombing does not yield instant results. Rather, focusing on certain targets accumulates over time in opportunity costs. Ten tanks not produced over 100 turns is 1000 tanks not produced. The argument might be that it does not matter as in 1944 the Soviets have so much stuff they can disband units. We did not feel that would be the case given the OOB. This leads to why to rout units. The instant battle result was pretty favorable to the Soviet. The German's were taking battle casualties and winter attrition. But, the next logistics phase told another story as devices and squads take die rolls for additional damage. Then there is the cost of morale and being unready for some number of turns. In our minds that was a long term benefit.
It was one hell of a match up!
"What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so"