I have now played the 1944-45 Campaign with the D-Day start 11 times. With a few exceptions, I have done better each time in terms of victory points, but I have never won an Alied victory or even drawn the game. Games Two through 11 were all Axis minor victories. I'm interested both in tips and in just hearing about what your own experiences with this scenario have been. Thanks in advance!
The D-Day landings themselves have always been successful. There is then a period of months when the Allies capture Cherbourg (usually around the beginning of July) and slog through the bocage. The Germans seem, programmed to execute a dramatic retreat behind the Seine as soon as the Allies have cleared the Axis from the bocage. After a couple of weeks necessary merely to re-contact the Germans, and a few weeks of re-building and repairing rail lines, the Allies threaten that new line and, without much of a fight, the Germans retreat roughly to the southern Netherlands and to the eastern-most portions of France and Belgium. In my play-throughs, the Germans execute that first retreat between late August and and late October, dependent entirely upon Allied progress; they execute that second retreat in November or December. They seem adept at retreating before I can pull off any significant encirclements, and they jump back in a major way when they do retreat. By the time that Allies re-engage with the southern Netherlands / eastern France line, the weather is generally quite poor, which greatly slows any advance during the early part of 1945. Additionally, the Maas / Wall / Nederrjin lines in the Netherlands, and the Maas / Moselle / Rhine, greatly inhibit an advance into the northern Netherlands and into Germany, respectively.
When the game ends in May (not August, although the scenario says that it will run until August), I am at best just across the Rhine and east of the Ruhr cities. I am generally threatening Rotterdam and Amsterdam but only sometimes actually occupy them, even with a supporting amphibious invasion against the Dutch coast. The Germans are generally falling apart at this point, with lots of units with 1 and 2 defense strengths. That is scant comfort in light of my failure to occupy more of German more quickly, however. An Axis marginal victory results.
Italy is part of this scenario, of course. I find the advance there to be steady but slow. On one occasion, I kept everything in the Mediterranean theater that was there initially in Italy throughout the game. I broke the German line in Italy in the early spring of 1945, but they simply retreated to a line in northeastern Italy anchored by the Alps. The cities that I captured in the meantime were not worth much, apparently.
I have conducted an invasion of southern France at various times ranging from September to Jnauary. That invasion is successful, especially since the Germans don't contest it very strongly, but it doesn't produce much, either. You can liberate all of southern France with a handful of units, but the pay-off does not appear to be very high.
Throughout all of my plays of the game, I have left the game's AI settings, in terms of general difficulty level and the sub-levels (Morale, Fort Build, etc.) at their defaults.
In terms of the Air game, I have gradually taken over more and more of the decision-making from the AI. When I first played, I let the AI handle the air war almost entirely. I always selected "AI Manage Air." For a couple of months of game time, I would leave all of the air directives as they were created and simply chose "Execute." In August or so, I would change "Amphib Support North" from "On" to "Off." Eventually, after the Allies had broken out of the Cotentin Peninsula, I would change "Ground Attack North" for Strategic Air Day and Strategic Air Night to "N." After that, I would still let the game set and execute the air directives in all other aspects.
After a half-dozen or so play-throughs, however, I began to take more control of the air war. Now, I still choose "AI Manage Air" throughout the game, but I always examine the air directives that result from allowing the computer to execute them, and I often change them. I was taking a lot of attrition in moving troops from England to France in the first weeks, so I often devote air resources (usually the 2nd RAF Tactical AF) to Naval Air Patrols for a month or two. Sometimes, the AI will place its targeting boxes in non-sensical places or in very small boxes. In those situations, I move or expand the box. I also frequently change the fly-able weather from "All" to "Fair." I have deleted any Ground Support directives.
I have never modified air doctrines, however. As I said, I always leave "AI Manage Air" to "On." So I don't build air bases, or move planes from one base to another, or assign aircraft from one command to another.
In terms of logistics, I make sure that units on the continent have a high supply priority compared to units cooling their heels in England. Otherwise, I let the game take care of logistics entirely until my most recent play-through or two. In those play-throughs, I have set up depots near the advancing front line, and I have reduced the supply priority of depots in the heartland of England (non-port hexes) to 2 and done the same with some depots in southern Italy (wehther these are ports or not).
I have never done anything with Leaders. I just let the game handle that.
As mentioned, my results have improved over time, but only incrementally. My first play-through or two was an Axis marginal victory on the spectrum favorable to the Axis, while my latest games have been an Axis marginal victory vwery close to a draw.
So, I'm trying to figure out if I'm doing something wrong, since I do worse than the Allies did historically, and I have not been improving very significantly even as I have devoted more time to running the game myself rather than leaving the air war to the AI.
If you recount your own experience or offer me tips, please let me know whether these stem from actual play of the D-Day campaign with the D-Day start date. I saw one AAR with the late-May start date, for example, and the German player had set up many more units near Calais than the scenario with the June start date provides, and so the Allied player, who landed in Normandy, had a much easier time of it than you have if you play the D-Day start date scenario with the historical set-ups.
I do have one self-imposed limitation, which is that I will not place any of the follow-up waves in England on boats until the turn after the invasion itself. I'll put them in ports, but I won't put them in ships. Even with that limitation, I feel that the rate at which the Allies can reinforce the actual amphibious invasion is much more rapid than the historical rate.
Thanks! I look forward to hearing from folks.