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Rome has Fallen - 3/26/2017 4:52:49 PM   
Rasputitsa


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Italian Campaign, Turn 59, 3rd June 1944.

Here is the situation a few turns before ROME is captured, the way North along the East coast is open with only the SS - Waffen Grenadier Brigade (Italia) in the way, but so many Allied units were out of 'combat supply', after holding against the encircled Axis break-out attempts and then finishing off the encircled units, that I could not exploit the situation and now the Germans are closing the gap, all the realistic frustrations of the Italian Campaign.

Look a the next post to see how the AI moves in new units to seal the front, whilst the 'combat supply' situation has stopped the Allied exploitation. What appears to be a firm defence of ROME in this image melted away, after the loss of the city depicted in the next post/image, they will form Axis defences further North.

It's not over as there is still a long way to go, but Allied units have reached the last mountain barrier, with hills and rough terrain beyond.






This is half way through a second playing of this scenario, as I had some queries over the game supply system, posted in the Tech Forum, but with no response. The second game was to explore the extent of the supply anomalies, without the delay of writing-up a posted AAR.

The first anomaly was the extent of supply from NAPLES and TARANTO, when they are fully opened as Allied ports, spreading 100% supply coverage to all hexes, irrespective of terrain effects and excluding the supply from all other ports, which seems excessive.

However, the PFE manual notes that - '….......... focus on capturing another port closer to the front line, such as Naples which can supply operations over a great swath of central Italy.', so this may be working as designed, but it doesn't look right.

I played on, to confirm this effect, which is present in both games and decided to modify the effect, never allowing the big ports (NAPLES/TARANTO) to achieve more than 50% capacity, by controlling the number of workers allocated to each port. Increasing and reducing the number of workers to keep near the 50% port capacity limit, which produced a more realistic supply coverage on the supply map overlay.

This is a personal preference, which does not make a huge difference in the game, as the most important supply feature is 'combat supply', which is a different issue and much more significant to playability. However, I am using a series of house rules to create more challenging game in playing against the AI and the above port restriction has been added to these house rules.

The next issue is in applying 'combat supply' to units, whilst they are still in the 'Arrivals' section of the Reinforcement List. This is a feature which was added in the v1.03 update and would have been useful in getting units ready for action, before they actually arrive. However, when playing in 'Windows 10', using this feature sends the supply system haywire, with the available supply points jumping into the 1000s.

Strangely, when 'combat supply' is added to units still in the 'Arrivals' list, they appear on the map with an action penalty and are unable to move, so there is no advantage in using this feature, no time is saved. You might as well wait until the unit appears on the map, to either apply 'combat supply', or decide to move it instead. The answer to this supply anomaly is to ignore this 'Arrivals' list feature.

I thought I had another port supply bug, which just turned out to be me miss-reading the map, so after playing through the test game my confidence in the game is restored. These supply issues are minor irritations and not game-breakers.

The next question is the performance of the AI, which turned out to be quite good. During the early turns the AI was able to exploit the powerful effect of ZoCs in this game and set up an effective defence right across the peninsular, with only four units carefully placed with interlocking ZoCs, which initially closed down the Allied advance.

Design Notes extract - 'Also, I prefer that a unit has the ability to perform only one action at a time. So no leave a ZoC, move, enter a different ZoC and attack in this game.'

The effect of ZoCs is an essential part of this game and understanding the limitations they impose is key to making progress.

The AI seemed to have more 'combat supply' than me, or was better at deploying it, as in the early battles the Axis units always had a higher level of 'combat supply'. In the latest turns the AI Axis seems to have suffered some sort of collapse, with units out of 'combat supply'.

The defence of ROME turned out to be a sham with the defending Axis units, including HG Motorised Div., out of 'combat supply' and effectively helpless. I was at first reluctant to attack again, as there was not enough 'combat supply' on the Allied side for a sustained attack. There was only enough supply for one attack, which would then leave the attacking units low on 'combat supply' and vulnerable, but the US 1st Arm. Div. and the Canadian 5th Arm. Div. will attack across the river TIBER and blow HG Motorised away (see next post/image). I was emboldened by the fact that HG Motorised withdraws across the river in the face of an attack in a later turn. The WEGO system and powerful FOW introduces enough doubt and uncertainty to make this a challenging game.

Here is another extract from the Design Notes :

Using the PFE system, the attacker and defender will enjoy moments of uncertainty., For example an attacker moving his forces up to a weak point in the line, then the defender will be able to order his forces to react although since everything is simultaneous the attacks will be going in while the defender is reacting. Nothing being certain, neither side will know for sure what the situation will be on the ensuing turn. Will the attacks succeed or fail? Will the defender’s reserves be able to create a new line in time? Does the attacker have fresh forces following up?

Frank has certainly succeeded in building a realistic uncertainty into the game system.

It has been a game of two halves, as on the West coast, historically represented by German 14 PzK, the AI has conducted a delaying campaign, holding the line forcing the me to concentrate units, commit 'combat supply' to units for a breakthrough, but withdrawing in good time to avoid serious loss, or encirclement. Whilst on the East coast, historically represented by 76 PzK, it has been a different strategy, as the AI has held on and not retreated.

Initially, it was a justifiable strategy for the AI to hold Eastern coastal towns and ports to stop me gaining supply and it worked, causing significant delay. The actual strategy used by the Germans in France 1944, to hold the Channel ports after D-Day, to impose supply problems on the Allies.

In the game, Allied units were on the limits of supply from BARI and couldn't amass enough 'combat supply' to make a meaningful attack, wasting many turns without progress. However, when NAPLES was taken the Allied supply situation improved dramatically and the German units holding the East coast strip were encircled and eventually destroyed. The ZoC restrictions finally worked in my favour, holding German units ensnared and eight Axis divisions were destroyed in two encircling operations, with the AI allowing itself to be trapped too easily. Which is strange, as the AI was performing much better in the Western coastal area, except that the possession of further ports was not so critical on that front and maybe not worth fighting for.



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/10/2017 3:48:38 PM >


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 3/26/2017 5:00:48 PM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 2169
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Italian Campaign, Turn 63, 19th June 1944.

Rome has fallen, the city was captured last turn (15th June 1944), which is slightly behind the historical time-line, but historically the Axis forces abandoned ROME, whilst in this game the AI seemed prepared to fight for the city.

Also about to have two of the US Infantry Divisions withdrawn, with the D-Day landings now taking place in France.

I had hoped to advance to FOLIGNO and block the lateral road, cutting Axis communications between the two coastal fronts, as the next available lateral route is up at FLORENCE and quite a way North. I couldn't risk the move without support, as so many units are low on 'combat supply' and interdiction air missions show German panzer divisions on the move further North, or am I being too cautious.

Some of the Axis unit counters are showing strength points, FOW hides the rest, with the units looking weaker than in earlier turns, but how much reliance to put on these figures, as it is only with combat reports after battle that you get an accurate reading of unit strength.

Units always show the stack value in a yellow circle, but this only gives an indication of unit size and not effectiveness, which will modify actual fighting strength. The German 27th Pz Bde. at RIETI looks weak in both stack value and strength points and I am tempted to attack, but I don't want to just push it back, using up 'combat supply' in the process, so will attempt to encircle and destroy it instead and advance the whole frontline at the same time.

US 36th Infantry Div., soon to be withdrawn, is carrying full 'combat supply' (green triangle) so I may as well use it in attack, rather than have all that valuable 'combat supply' disappear with the unit as it leaves the theatre.






The German units which survived the battle for ROME have withdrawn to the area around CIVITAVECCHIA and more are moving in from the North.

In an earlier turn I lost the North American Special Service Brigade (joint US/Canadian - Ranger/Commando unit) and 4th Indian Infantry Division in an ill-judged beach assault landing near VASTO, attempting to close the coastal encirclement from the sea, but overall the Germans have lost many more Casualty points. I thought the loss of eight Axis divisions might be terminal, but looking at the strategic map, the Germans seem to have many more units coming, although they are not as high quality, or as powerful, as the good motorised and airborne units they have already lost.

Supply for the Allies is constantly short, always trying to balance the need for 'combat supply' to fight, against the requirement for fuel to move units and not having enough of either. There are reinforcing units in MESSINA, but I cannot afford the sea transport points to move them, without compromising the battle at the front. I have tried to move some of these units overland from REGGIO, but the fuel cost is proving too high, now that the frontline is so far North.

I have some units back up to medium 'combat supply' (yellow), but many are still at low (red), or none (black), including all the units at MESSINA still at low 'combat supply' and waiting for sea transport.

In this campaign, the Allies need 130 victory points to gain a marginal victory and 240 victory points for a decisive victory.

Have 108 victory points so far, so not much further to go for a marginal victory, but a lot more is required to gain a decisive victory. I need to destroy many more axis units and get to FLORENCE, BOLOGNA, MANTUA and VENICE quickly. The sooner that happens, the more victory points gained.

Enjoyed the game, much better than shovelling countless counters, the inputs are simple and all this game demands is deep thinking.

Real life keeps intervening, but I will finish this scenario, then try a re-run as Axis, however, I think I have given enough detail on the functions of the game in the AAR turns I have posted so far. The game is quick to play, although there is so much hidden detail that it pays to take some time to review the information available. As with other Frank Hunter games, it doesn't overwhelm with detail, but all that is shown is important and should not be ignored.



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/15/2017 6:24:18 PM >


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 3/28/2017 9:25:55 AM   
Rasputitsa


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I don't know if this game has any more development future, the lack of response from Matrix indicates, probably not.

I found the game interesting to play and a good representation of the WW2 Italian Campaign, although the game system is different from most other titles, once understood, it plays easily and quickly, with the minimum mouse clicks to achieve a deep and challenging strategic game.

The AI is competent, but as with all such games is limited, although it can be assisted with some simple house rules to raise the level of the contest.

One Allied general commented that even without the German army being present, just some engineers and a few demolitions would have created the same difficulties, combined with the Italian terrain and winter weather. So this scenario can be challenging without too much fancy strategy from the AI.

Looking forward to trying the scenario from the Axis side and, as the Allies where plagued with unimaginative leadership, the Allied AI should not have too much trouble reproducing an historical 'feel'.

With Chemkid's Map and Counter Mod installed the game looks perfect for the scale that it represents and I will enjoy playing on, but I will stop the AARs now, as there has been sufficient detail to show the full depth of the game.

The Design Notes set the game objectives:

..... I wanted the system to be as easy to play as possible so I hoped the base system would meet those goals.

I hope the result gives a feel for the Italian Campaign and that the game itself is of interest to players.


These objectives are fully met.



< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 3/28/2017 4:27:17 PM >


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 3/29/2017 4:53:14 PM   
Rasputitsa


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Here is a little move to show how the AI thinks :






IMAGE 1, SS-Waffen Grenadier Bde. was blocking the way North even though it is only a small unit (stacking value 2), can't see the unit strength, might be FOW, or black text on a black counter. edit: FOW clears in later turns, text is white, unit strength 6.

Allied units previously with not enough 'combat supply' to push through and, whilst I am waiting for supply, German 94th Inf. Div. arrives to block the coastal road, but SS-WG is still vulnerable.

The plan of attack is to hit SS-WG from two sides ensuring that it should be destroyed, or at least forced to retreat. Units forced to retreat do not exert ZOC (new in v1.04), so very good chance that the red outlined hex will be free of ZOC. I plan to move 1st Canadian and 2nd NZ divs. through the gap and over the river CHIENTI, a speculative move, but worth a try.

3rd Polish Carpathian Div. is to complete the move by positioning next to the German 28th Pz Bde. to hold the shoulder of the breakthrough.

With the PFE WEGO system nothing is certain, but it will be a good move if it works and fuel reserves are very low, so anything could happen.

.....................

What does the AI do, see IMAGE Section 2.

In most other games you would have made your moves and the AI would have just sat waiting for it's turn and I would be a great general, but this is WEGO.

As the turn resolves, the AI is moving at the same time, withdrawing SS-WG over the CHIENTI out of harms way, but not just pulling back, 94th Inf. Div. does a side step leaving a gap for SS-WG to move onto the coast road.

In PFE the units with the highest quality (elite, etc.), move first, I can't see the quality of SS-WG (due FOW), but it must be better than the Allied units, so SS-WG moves first and the Allied attack falls on empty air.

94th Inf. Div. (the stronger unit) has moved to cover the gap, the ZOCs are still interlocking with the 28th Pz Bde., 1st Canadian doesn't get over the river and SS-WG is tucked up against the coast and I didn't breakthrough over the river CHIENTI.

2nd NZ Inf. Div. was blocked and tried to find another way around the coastal flank, whilst the Germans have an established line on the river.

British 6th Arm. Div. has been waiting at the port at SAN BENEDETTO until enough 'combat supply' becomes available, so is not of much use yet.

Just a skirmish on the coastal road and I'll breakthrough next time, unless the AI has more units to throw in, but it illustrates the depth in the game system.

Neat move by the AI.


Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/9/2017 6:00:42 PM >


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 3/30/2017 11:55:24 AM   
Yogi the Great


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Yes, that "WEGO" and the supply, combat supply system makes this a special game that too few have the pleasure of experiencing.

Thanks again for your posts.

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RE: Rome has Fallen - 3/30/2017 12:43:03 PM   
Rasputitsa


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From: Bedfordshire UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Yogi the Great
Yes, that "WEGO" and the supply, combat supply system makes this a special game that too few have the pleasure of experiencing.

Thanks again for your posts.


I think many people, overlook the depth that is in this apparently simple game, with a playing style which is so different from most other titles.

I cannot keep up the whole AAR in the depth that I have been covering it, but I hope that I have done enough to show what's in the game. I am continuing to play and will post from time to time as it develops, but the sun is shining, spring is here and there are hedges to cut.

It has also been discouraging to have such little response from Matrix, but even in it's present form the game is well worth playing.


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 4/20/2017 5:01:41 PM   
Rasputitsa


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Another lesson from the AI :






In the West a plan to pin the Axis 3rd Motorised by moving in British 9th Arm. Bde., whilst British 1st Arm. Div. moves into position NE Lago di Bolsena to be able to move down towards the coast road next turn. The other units (US 85th Inf. Div. and British 1st Inf. Div.) unable to move as combat supply has been added this turn. Combat supply is always the problem, there is just not enough reaching this theatre for the Allies, but not surprising as the battle in Normandy is at its height in July 1944.

There is a gap and I am hoping to use it.

Over on the Adriatic Front the AI has set up interlocking ZOCs, but Axis 305 Inf. Div. must be weak, as it has been forced to retreat after combat in a previous turn and if that unit is driven back, or destroyed, it will open a gap to send units up the road and into the Axis rear, unlocking this part of the front. Again there is a lack of combat supply (British 4th Inf. Div. showing low combat supply) and it will need a delay to equip supporting units to make use of any gap created.

I need this breakthrough, as the bridgehead over the river CHIENTI, nearer the coast, has been effectively sealed off by the AI.

I can allocate full air ground support and attacks have been successful, as Axis units are weakening. This is the end of turn, just before hitting the button to resolve the moves, the red bar across the top of the unit counters shows orders have been issued and this is the intended position that units should move to, but the AI will be moving at the same time.

What happens next?



Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/20/2017 6:51:54 PM >


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 4/20/2017 5:27:58 PM   
Rasputitsa


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Next Turn :






In the West, Axis 3rd Motorised moved first (better quality unit) and was not pinned by British 9th Arm. Bde., the AI achieved interlocking ZOCs and British 1st Arm. Div. will not be breaking through to the coast road this turn.

In the centre the Axis line looks thin (unit strength points are low), but Allied supply is low in the central hills and even with CIVITAVECCHIA, on the West coast, recently opened as a port, units in the centre are already on the margins for supply. There is not another port on the West coast until LIVORNO, so it is problematic whether a successful advance can be adequately supplied on this coast.

In the East, on the Adriatic Front, the AI moved Axis 114th Inf. Div. from the coast to support 305 Inf., so now even if that unit is driven back there will still be a ZOC barrier and there can be no quick breakthrough here either.

The only option now is to bludgeon a way through, but this will burn up combat supply, which I don't have enough of, meanwhile new Allied units are still waiting at MESSINA for sea transport to the front, which means diverting combat supply from the fighting units. I have moved some units overland through REGGIO, but it takes forever waiting enroute for spare fuel and there is precious little of that.

I saw two weak points in the Axis line, but so did the AI, which neatly took action to close down those opportunities.

Hopes of a quick breakthrough to the PO valley are fading and the summer weather is not going to last forever. The Overall Strategic map shows 5 more axis divisions off the Tactical map to the North and a recently arrived SS motorised division has now disappeared and could arrive at the front anytime.

Situation difficult, but still having fun.

'Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea' (Michael Cain; 'The Italian Job' - 1969), the SS Waffen Grenadier Bde. looks weak, maybe I can ride a carpet of air ground support through to ANCONA and bag some of those Axis units on the coast !

Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/21/2017 10:42:39 AM >


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 4/21/2017 1:52:22 AM   
Michael T


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It's a great system. But the subject matter is very limited. It needs to be expanded to North Africa or North Western Europe.

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RE: Rome has Fallen - 4/21/2017 8:20:23 AM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 2169
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Michael T

It's a great system. But the subject matter is very limited. It needs to be expanded to North Africa or North Western Europe.


The WEGO system is priceless as Frank uses it in this game and, in this form, it works best with a low unit count, but I have been impressed with the way it has reproduced the frustrations and supply difficulties of the Italian Campaign and the terrain of Italy.

For 'Campaigns on the Danube', with many more unit counters, Frank has used a command system, where orders are still only given to a manageable number of units, but it translates into action for many sub-units.

Each game is different, but has the same ability to add a realistic uncertainty, rather than end up as an 'odds/click fest' and merely playing with statistics. The apparent simplicity hides a fiendish complexity in decision making, the holy grail of easy to play, but difficult to master.

The titles for the other campaigns are buried in the game files and it would be great to see them developed, but there has been little response from Matrix.

I am still playing this game, when many other supposedly bigger and better titles remain unused on the HDD, as I actually see myself finishing this campaign and am likely to play many more, whilst still having time for real life.

I just wish Matrix and Frank would consider more development.

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/21/2017 8:30:41 AM >


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RE: Rome has Fallen - 4/21/2017 11:01:08 AM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 2169
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From: Bedfordshire UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rasputitsa

'Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea' (Michael Cain; 'The Italian Job' - 1969), the SS Waffen Grenadier Bde. looks weak, maybe I can ride a carpet of air ground support through to ANCONA and bag some of those Axis units on the coast !


Didn't work for Michael Cain in his Italian Job and it didn't work for me in my Italian Campaign








The air ground support was disappointing, will have to look at what priorities were allocated to other units, as I did not achieve the concentration I had hoped for, but it was always going to be a questionable attack, not knowing what strength points SS Waffen-Grenadiers had (FOW).

I moved Canadian 1st Inf. Div. into the hex SW of the combat hex, to hold the route open if the two divisions of the Polish corps had been successful in the attack and had stayed in the combat hex. When the Polish divisions had to retreat back to their start position after the attack failed, the game has allowed an over-stack, with the hilly terrain hex having a stack limit of 7, and the units totalling 9 after the retreat.

The missing SS 16th Mot. Div. has re-appeared and will move further South to reinforce the Axis ANCONA sector, so hopes for a breakthrough here are fading.

Moving attention back to the centre and still hoping to breakthrough on the road to URBINO, but still the problem of getting enough 'combat supply' to feed an extended attack. The situation in the West is favourable, but with no more ports in easy reach, any success will be limited.

The game might have a limited subject in the 'Italian Campaign', without the possibilities of large exciting armoured thrusts across the open steppes, but it does have its own 'charm' and is certainly challenging, especially with house rules to enhance the realistic feel.

Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 4/21/2017 11:38:24 AM >


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