Half Again: Axis Perspective (Full Version)

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jjdenver -> Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 1:46:51 AM)


I've been asked to start an Axis AAR for this game. I'll write one but I'm not sure how updated I'll keep it nor how extensive it will be.

My thanks to Chuck for offering me a PBEM game and answering my questions about the game as we go. I'm learning a lot.

I'm a noob:
Just to set the stage I'm an experienced strategy gamer but an absolute neophyte with this game: RTV. I really enjoy a lot of things about it although it definitely has some ugly duckling flaws. I'm glad I bought it though.

I'd fiddled around w/ RTV against the AI but didn't feel like it was enough of a challenge to give me a real game so I played some of the 1941 scenario to see what the first month of Barbarossa was like, ran the first 18 months as Germany vs the AI, and that was about it.

My worst moment so far was in this game when I flew 2/3 of the Italian air force from Tobruk to the south part of Sicily thinking that I'd have a peek at Malta on the way back to northern Italy w/ my air unit. Malta had 2 units btw. The next turn I selected my air army to fly it up to Genoa but got the message from the game that I didn't have enough supply to rebase. What?? So I organized a convoy line (which I didn't want to do since the French navy would surely be waiting) to supply Sicily so I could get my air out of there. Chuck landed a unit next to my air unit, attacked and destroyed my air army. Wow! That was some serious pain to absorb. 2/3 of my Italian air force dead because I didn't know they couldn't rebase w/o some particular level of supply. :(

The special rules:
We are using Germany +50% production and UK +50% production since other AAR's here seem to have Germany losing consistently and never getting really any penetration at all into Russia.

The plan - or lack of plan....
My general strategy at the start of the game was pretty much non-existent. I really wasn't sure what was possible nor how to achieve it so I decided to build for the first year in a generic way that wouldn't commit me to any particular strategy while I got the feel of the game. I knew that I would probably diplo Spain and take Gibraltar and had a vague notion that I might try to make the Med an Axis lake, fortify the northern Euro coastline, D up against USSR, build a lot of subs/navy, and maybe fiddle with an attack on Turkey in the mid game if I had extra resources. Really I had no good plan nor any real idea how to achieve anything that I thought about doing. :)

The game started with what I thought was a rather bloody and difficult Polish campaign as the Germans quickly fell back into a Russian Doll defense of Warsaw. After Poland I took Denmark.

1940 (Low Countries)
Netherlands and Belgium also proved bloody as the Brits showed up to defend the low countries.

1940 (France)
I knew that I would have little chance to penetrate France's lines early so I concentrated on just bleeding them at every opportunity to wear them down so that I could achieve a breakthough somewhere.

Eventually I started to find some holes, outflank the French locally and force them back. When a break opened up west of Metz I threw everything I had into it and raced south to ensure the French couldn't reform anything resembling a defensive line against me. From that point it was just a matter of (a long) time until I could conquer all of France. It was bloody, it was slow to reduce French strongpoints, and the Brits defended south France to make things worse.

1940 (Spain)
I diplo-ed Spain into the Axis camp as soon as I had a hex on Spain to rail troops in and immediately went for Gibraltar and took out Portugal.

1940 (Yugo)
While I was reducing Marseilles, and banging my head against Gibraltar I organized an attack on Yugo to conquer it.

1940 (Italy - navy)
I have no clue whatsoever about how to play Italy effectively. I shipped some troops to Tobruk but I was afraid to sail the Regia Marina or set u convoy lines because the French navy was around for most of 1940 since France didn't take my Vichy offer. I sailed the Italian Navy once when I thought the French Navy would stay even after France surrendered but when I asked Chuck he informed me that the navy would go away once I conquered France so after that I didn't want to engage them further.

1940 (Italy - land)
Chuck ran mobile British troops around my Tobruk build-up. I had no supply so could only move 1 hex at a time and had no real shot to react. With the Brits swarming, French navy sitting in Central Med, and France several turns from surrender I decided to pull out of Africa completely and use the Italian army to garrison ports in Europe. N. Africa has only a few PP's, and I felt completely incompetent w/ Italy...so I decided to preserve their navy as a force in being, avoid a disaster to the Italian army, and just play it conservative with them. I know it was probably not a great move but really I just need to learn the game before I have any shot in a theatre like the Med vs a player like Chuck. I ran away to Italy w/ all the Italians I could get out of Africa. :)

I've resolved on a strategy that I'll pursue.
1) Finish off the last threat in Europe - Greece.
2) Use Italians and Axis minors to defend ports in Europe as much as I can. I'm going to pack them in thick at the ports though and where there aren't enough I'll use Germans instead. Festung Europe will be built. :)
3) Germans spent 200 PP on naval research - no more into Navy, everything into Luftwaffe and Wermacht.
4) Russia will be Germany's main target. Yes I'm aware that in every AAR Germany barely makes it into Russia before Russian winter, partisan effects (I'm not sure how that works in this game really), and hordes of red units forces the Germans on the permanent defensive. However I want to give Barbarossa a fair shot in this game. I don't expect to win, but I expect to gain some experience w/ the front, have some fun, and get a good idea whether it would ever be possible to succeed in Russia as Germany.
5) Maintain a rotating set of air units up in Russia so that they are always available to force a breakthrough in Russian lines. I understand that air as it's modeled in this game can't really be used as close air support efficiently (they take tons of losses). However I want to try to avoid a situation where the Red Army just forms a huge line that I can't penetrate and air might help me get breakthroughs.
6) Invest in tank units as a priority for the same reason - I don't want to get into a WW1 situation vs Russia if I can avoid it....and I know it may be impossible but I have to give it a try.
7) Focus the German effort in the north. The terrain is rough but the distance to Leningrad and Moskva is less than that to Stalingrad and Caucasus. Also a thrust in the south leaves a long left flank open to the Russians. I plan to aim between Leningrad and Moskva to threaten the flanks of both.

Here's a screenie of my paras staged in southern Yugoslavia preparing to drop on Athens. I will have 2 paras + 4 air for the Greek campaign. I'm not quite sure I can take it in one turn so I also have some armor + inf down there as backup.

FYI - I bought the 4th air to support breakthroughs in Russia, and I bought the first para to take Denmark early in the game. The only unit that I bought specifically for Greece is the 2nd para. I guess it might turn out to be useful later - not sure really. Maybe it's wasted PP's along w/ the Italian air I lost on Sicily and for that matter maybe the 4th air was wasted PP - I have no idea. :P


Chocolino -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 2:13:56 AM)

Great that you write an AAR from your perspective. Looking forward to it!

Attacking Russia is a valid option and it has been done in the AAR "Road to Where" by Gary as the Axis player (and I am sure by many other undocumented games). But I think his experience - even though he got quite far and did very well given the situation - was the reason people abstained later. Your PP situation may give you a fair chance at the USSR and I am very curious how this will play out.

Your attack on Belgrade was a novelty for me and it changed my evaluation of different axis minors relative to each other.

Partisans (since you mention them) appear randomly - but often - as an event once you enter the USSR. There appear to be some trigger hexes. Once partisans appear you will be given 3 choices: (1) do nothing and suffer severe penalties in efficiency ( enough to loose easily units as a result of USSR attacks if in touch with USSR units), (2) pay 50PP and suffer them only half as severe or (3) pay 100PP and supress the partisan effect completely. In a regular game the 50PP seems to work best for me but others may see this differently. This is also in addition to 25% USSR winter penalties that start with winter 41/42 and last until March 16 of each year. But this is not said to discourage you at all. Just good to be aware of.

Good luck!

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 3:00:55 AM)

Oh yeah - I wasn't sure how Axis minors worked - whether I would get them by event or how I'd get them. I asked Chuck and he said I had to diplo them. I had what seemed like a lot of diplo points so thought they'd fall to me quickly. (I was wrong - it takes a lot more points to get them all than I had!)

So I diplo'ed Hungary to get more hexes on Yugoslavia, then the next turn I added up my points compared to the effect I'd got on Hungary and realized I wasn't going to get them all. I was in for a penny, in for a pound on Hungary so I spent more to pull them in.

gwgardner -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 3:11:17 AM)

Your thinking on attacking the USSR may just do the trick. Armor and Air. I don't think you'll regret that extra air army at all.

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 3:51:36 AM)


ORIGINAL: gwgardner
Your thinking on attacking the USSR may just do the trick. Armor and Air. I don't think you'll regret that extra air army at all.

I think you gave me the idea about rotating air in a PM so thanks. We'll see if it's worth it. If not I can use the air to contest the Western Allies at least and make their job tougher.

gwgardner -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 1:58:12 PM)

I think for the 'rotating air' tactic to work you have to be dedicated in building up some percentage of your turn-by-turn PPs for air reinforcements. If one player does that, and the other player doesn't, the end result should be air dominance. In my next game I'm going to try to set percentages for PP expenditures, budgeting, as it were, that must be adhered to notwithstanding temporary exigencies.

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 6:33:42 PM)

Greece is attacked. I forgot to upgrade one of my airborne divs to Lvl 2 but it turned out to be fine as Athens fell anyway. I made an attack on the Greek border at 7:1 just for kicks and took losses. Doh. I have no idea why I did that. :(

I just got lvl 3 inf and armor. Some units have been upgraded, some I'll upgrade next turn. I'm not sure what the optimal turn is to hit USSR. Is it right after winter ends, so April? Or is it better to wait until USSR is ready to get the production bonus in July(??) so that I can out-produce them for as long as possible. I'm not really sure.


Chocolino -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 11:27:48 PM)

Congratulations on your successful paratrooper campaign in Greece. That sped things up quite a bit.


I'm not sure what the optimal turn is to hit USSR.

There are greater USSR experts out there than me but I would say attack as soon as possible. The longer you wait the more they are prepared. Also, at one point US lend-lease will kick-in and help the USSR.

Mike Parker -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/7/2009 11:42:59 PM)

I also like that dual paratrooper idea.  And I think you can find a use for them other places to justify their cost (Norway Malta come to mind) being able to hit during the suprise turn is HUGE!

James Ward -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 3:27:54 AM)


ORIGINAL: jjdenver

I'm not sure what the optimal turn is to hit USSR. Is it right after winter ends, so April?

The best time is the earliest you feel you have the forces to make a deep penetration at the point of your choosing. Once it begins in the East it can consume a lot of resources. Most of your army will need to be built before attacking them.

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 5:00:25 AM)

I don't have a screenshot to post. I just did March 1 41 turn. I moved 2 units close enough to the border for Russia to see them in East Prussia because I want to be set up to move all units into position next turn for an attack on the following turn.

So my plan is
T - 2: Stage to within 1 move of border but don't let USSR see my units yet (that's what I did this turn other than 2 units)
T - 1: Move onto the border, obviously USSR can see me
T turn: invade

I overcommitted to Greece and Spain to be honest. It takes too long to get units back east and I was a little lazy with strategic transfers over the winter - thinking I had plenty of time.

I did my turn this turn as if it was T-2 turn however if I proceed on this schedule I'm going to have the following forces not available for T turn because they can't reach the border:
6x 4-4 corp
5x 2-5 div
1x 4-7 corp

I'll also have about a half dozen units that won't be in perfect position - i.e. a couple hexes off the border

I'm agonizing over whether to go ahead w/ the invasion on T turn or push it back by a turn and lose a turn of summer weather. :(

Any advice would be welcome. I can't decide.

Mike Parker -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 1:20:12 PM)

I think it would be a matter of how badly out of position those 12 units are you mention?  You ALWAYS need units to fill in gaps and hold the line to discourage Red counterattacks.  Other than the Motorized Corp those units are not primary attackers they are place keepers.  So if they are out of position but they can come up to the line in T + 1 I would go.

Its incredibly important to hit the Soviets as hard and as early as possible.  You need to be able to winter deep inside the USSR because winter and partisans are pretty harsh.  Sometimes you even pull back from gains you made in the summer to avoid having units destroyed in the winter.. and the further you are into the USSR the more times you can afford to pull back out of range of the Soviet attacking units.

James Ward -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 2:19:01 PM)

I think the most important thing is to make sure your forces are ready. A 1-2 turn delay is only a few hundred additional PP for the Soviets, not much in the overall scheme of things. If waiting a turn or two saves you a few hundred PP in losses to your units then it's a wash if you wait. And you will take losses! 

gwgardner -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 2:20:03 PM)

As Mike said, consider those units as a reserve, assuming you have enough other units to make the initial push.  I imagine most of us (at least me) tend to ignore the value of a reserve.

James Ward -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 3:09:47 PM)


ORIGINAL: gwgardner

As Mike said, consider those units as a reserve, assuming you have enough other units to make the initial push.  I imagine most of us (at least me) tend to ignore the value of a reserve.

I am always nervous when I go into Russia. My army alwys looks smaller than it did after a few turns even if I haven't lost any units. I not only like reserve units but also a large PP reserve. Going into Russia is like pulling the plug on the bath tub, it just drains you![:)]

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 5:04:50 PM)

After thinking it over and reading your helpful comments I've decided to delay a turn to get more troops east. So here is T-2 after I move troops east. Next turn will be T-1 which means I'll move up to the border and let the Russians see my deployments. Now that I'm lined up my forces look rather small to me after all.

I still have the following to move east next turn:
1x 5-7 mot
1x 5-4 inf
4x 3-5 inf

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 5:07:19 PM)

And here is AGS. I haven't been able to decide whether to give AGS one panzer korp to let me get high enough odds to keep attacking once the Soviets form a straight line. For now I haven't sent a panzer korp to AGS - they're all in the north. Maybe I should send one so they can make some progress and force the Soviets to commit more forces in the south.


Mike Parker -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 5:15:17 PM)

Are those falschimjager divisions adjacent to Konigsberg ready to drop?

Where are your leaders I don't see any leaders in any of your forces? 

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 5:21:14 PM)


ORIGINAL: Mike Parker
Are those falschimjager divisions adjacent to Konigsberg ready to drop?
Where are your leaders I don't see any leaders in any of your forces? 

The paras need I think 2 or 3 more turns to be ready to drop. They are in range of the crossings over the river just south of Riga - the Dvina (?) I think. So they might be helpful when I cross that river. I repaired and brought them back from Greece as quickly as possible.

I have all leaders in the force pool - I'll deploy them to units right before I make attacks on the turn I attack I guess.

Mike Parker -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/8/2009 6:34:28 PM)

Okay was just wondering.  You might consider saving the paratroopers and moving them next to Riga or even Pskov.  Your main thrust is north, I am not sure you will need them to penetrate the Rivers in Lithuania, but they might be better used later when your line is more extended.

I think you have plenty to begin your assault, you will likely need to build a few divisions of L1 infantry for AG Central and South to hold the line.

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/9/2009 4:50:44 AM)

T-turn - invasion of USSR launched. Many Soviet units on the front line mysteriously disappeared. When I asked Chuck how he told me that he disbanded them. Interesting move. I was disappointed that I didn't get to execute my planned first turn attacks.

Instead I advanced to find a massive line of Russians in the north. In the south he had not very much. I guess he figured out I was going to concentrate in the north.

A few attacks were launched and 3 cities taken in the north. No attacks in the south.


jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/9/2009 4:52:13 AM)

Here's the overall view also showing the continuing Soviet line in the north which had a

tech 4 tank. :(

He out-techs me - not a good start.

In the south you can see the much smaller Soviet forces.


jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/10/2009 1:55:02 PM)

I haven't updated in awhile. Here are some shots from German turn T+3...in other words after the 4th German move of Barbarossa.

The overall events have been:

1) Soviets have higher tech than Germany: 4 tank, 3 inf
2) Soviets deployed swarms of very small low tech units
3) Since Soviet lines were minimum double deep in all places, Germans have just focused on attriting the Soviets as efficiently and quickly as possible. This is the same strategy followed in France until a major rupture of the French line could be achieved. There's really no reasonable way to achieve penetrations and pockets when the Soviets have so many units. This is similar to the strategy the Wermacht followed in France. Even if a pocket in Russia could be formed the small units are hardly worth the effort. It's easier to just kill them.
4) Luftwaffe has flown only 1 sortie so far in the East - they've just been watching the war from their bases.
5) German losses have been light (6.66) while Soviet losses have I guess been reasonably large (56.78) although I'm not sure how to measure it since this is my first campaign vs Soviets. I've killed a ton of units for sure.
6) AGS has slowly advanced and probably is outnumbered. Kiev is 6 hexes away but as the front opens up AGS is careful of its flanks since there are so many Soviets around. Italy has the diplo points to bring in Romania but I think they might be more of a liability than an asset so I've left them neutral for the moment. A narrow front in the south favors AGS I think since the Soviets are so thick.
7) AGN/C has advanced rapidly. The Soviets have fallen back each turn to about 3 hexes away allowing the Infantry to advance 3 then attack which suits the Wermacht fine as we get a relatively quick advance and kill Soviets at the end of each turn's march. This turn (T+3) the Soviets fell back farther leaving just a few units behind in Minsk, Riga and a few other spots so there wasn't too much combat.
8) Germans are working on their strategic reserve to counter any attempts by the Commonwealth at invading Europe.

Here's a shot of the north. Germans have just taken Riga on the far left flank and Minsk in the center. Velikiye Luki and Pskov are the cities to the northeast. In this shot you can see that the Soviets fell back too far to reach effectively this turn.


jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/10/2009 1:55:33 PM)

And here's a shot of AGS.


gwgardner -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/10/2009 2:35:25 PM)

I think perhaps you need some small units on your flanks and to fill gaps, else your opponent will surprise you with an encirclment of his own.

jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/11/2009 5:39:16 PM)

Jun01_41, Axis T+5 turn (6th turn of Barbarossa)

I had initially considered the possibility of retreating to the Baltic states for the winter but things are going so well that I may give up too much ground doing that so on we go.

The Soviets have fallen back to a line Pskov-Velikye Luki-Smolensk-Bryansk. The last couple of turns have been spent doing a few repairs on units and trying to push the Wermacht infantry forward as quickly as possible.

I divided up my forces as follows:

Drive on Tallin:
2 inf korp
1 inf div

Drive on Pksov:
2 pz korp
1 mot korp
3 inf korp
5 inf div

Drive on Smolensk:
5 pz korp (one newly built)
2 mot korp
5 inf korp
7 inf div

Drive on Gomel:
2 inf korp
2 inf div

AGS consists of:
8 inf korp
9 inf div

I decided to ignore for the moment Velikiye Luki since the strongest Soviet defenders are there. If I take Smolensk and Pskov I think Velikiye Luki is less tenable for the Soviets to defend due to the risk of encirclement so I think by taking those 2 I almost force the Soviets to shift forces to oppose my advance on Moskva and Leningrad and away from Velikiye Luki. If they Soviets leave a strong force there I have the option of surrounding it from north and south. Another factor is that because of the way the rivers around Velikiye and Smolensk run, if I assault Velikiye then advance on Smolensk I'm crossing multiple river lines. But if I go for Smolensk then Velikiye I've essentially outflanked all of the river lines by default.

The Soviet deployment seems to be swarms of small units in the south, a mixed infantry defense of Pskov, and all of their mobile forces (growing stronger and stronger) strung along the line Smolensk-Velikiye Luki.

This turn around Pskov 2 panzer korps forced a crossing of the river south of the city. This approach will render the Soviet defenses west of the river line moot I think so the city is bound to fall in 2 or 3 turns. A screen is run south from this crossing to defend against the strong Soviet armor near Velikiye Luki.


jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/11/2009 8:43:45 PM)

Jun01_41 (continued)
In the center the Wermacht infantry screens the armor near Velikiye Luki, left flank anchored on a river line.

The 3 panzer korps advance directly on Smolensk. The Soviets have a strong tank corp (9-7 lvl 3 corp) deployed in the hex SW of Smolensk. I notice that this unit has no leader so is probably more vulnerable than it will be later, and is also only lvl 3 so manage-able. The Luftwaffe is called in for the 2nd time on the East Front. 4 air strikes reduce the tank corp and the panzer korps destroy it.

The panzers then move south to cross the river, preparing for a thrust at Bryansk or around the south flank of the Soviet defenders next turn. Assaulting Smolensk across the river would be folly so the south flank is the only reasonable way to approach the city I think. This is combined w/ the fact that a strong Soviet tank presence would threaten my flank directly if I advanced north of Smolensk.

Wermacht infantry continues to struggle up from the area around Minsk.

Overall losses are shown also in the screenshot.


jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/11/2009 8:45:39 PM)

Jun01_41 (continued)
AGS falls back even farther this turn as Soviets continue to work around the flanks. Several attacks are made to reduce the Soviets on the flanks.

I should also mention that there is a sub war raging all along the north part of the naval map as Spanish, Italian, and German subs raid the lend lease convoy lines from UK to USSR.

I sallied the Regia Marina to the East Med this turn, hoping to perhaps catch the RN weak while they deal w/ the northern sub war. If they don't engage then I may consider sailing them around the Iberian Peninsula to join up w/ the Kriegsmarine. The combined navies could then pick one sea zone per turn to sail in, perhaps gaining local superiority vs the RN.


jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/13/2009 3:48:36 AM)

Jun16_41, Axis T+7 turn (8th turn of Barbarossa)

Things are getting so tough in Russia - the advance has slowed down drastically as we grapple for control of Pskov, Smolensk, Gomel.

AGN pushes up to the Baltic Sea east of Talinn but is forced to fall back by Soviet divisions that push into the east flank of the northward advance.

Around Pskov it's a slow grind east of the river hex by hex. The paras prepping for a drop are forced to cover the east flank of AGN against any thrust from Velikiye Luki. This happens because I had to rush units north to protect the east flank of the Talinn thrust.


jjdenver -> RE: Half Again: Axis Perspective (4/13/2009 3:52:36 AM)

Jun16_41, Axis T+7 turn (8th turn of Barbarossa) (continued)

AGC widens the gap south of Smolensk and while doing this the panzer korps rotate back a few hexes to 1 or 2 at a time to take replacements. The going is very tough.


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