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Curtis Lemay -> KAISERSCHLACHT 1918 (MINI) AAR (9/14/2014 6:30:03 PM)

(This AAR was originally posted in the Development forum on March 28th. I'm finally posting it here).

This is an AAR for analysis of my test of my “Kaiserschlacht 1918 (Mini)” scenario. As I did with the “France 1944 D-Day”, “Germany 1945 (Last Stand)”, “Soviet Union 1941”, and “Leipzig 1813” AARs, I’ll play both sides in hot seat (“changing hats” each player turn). The game was played using TOAW version This covers Germany’s last chance offensive of World War I.

Before we start, let’s review the scenario a bit.

1. Special Settings: This trial uses the new features of TOAW 3.6 as follows: Both sides have Overextended Threshold Levels of 4. Any location with 3 or less location supply will be “Overextended”. The Allies have their RFC Scalar reduced from the default 10 to 5. This makes it twice as hard to RFC defenders. This reflects the fact that the Allies were not yet using fully modern tactics, and their offensive action would more compare to World War I success rates than World War II. The Germans, who are employing a revolutionary tactical doctrine, have no such penalty.

2. Special Rules: Note that all infantry combat units begin the game sub-divided. There is a special rule that forbids their recombination (which would create unrealistic overrun abilities and thwart density penalties even worse than when divided).

3. Options: Each side has a suite of hypothetical theater options that may be chosen on turn one for appropriate VP penalties. In this trial, I declined all options. That makes the scenario historical.

4. The Forces: The composition of the forces is very similar. However, the Germans, thanks to their tactics, have a significant edge in movement allowances, and enjoy the benefit of the Special Forces icon on all their Stosstruppen units. Their squads tend to be a step above the Allied squads. They have a proficiency advantage as well (all of these factors are to model the Germany’s improved tactics). And the Germans are a homogeneous force, while the Allies must combine British with French – sometimes giving an edge in cooperation. The Allies, however, have a smattering of tanks and armored cars that may stiffen their resistance. Both sides have huge artillery concentrations – this was World War I, after all.

5. The Map: The map is rather benign, terrain-wise. Only the presence of Fortified Line terrain in the northern half of the map aids the Allies in defensive factors. There are a few rivers which can slow the Germans down, and there is a large part of the map covered in Rocky terrain to model the area the Germans destroyed earlier, when they retreated from the Somme area. That will now slow them down when they most need to be fast. The map scale is 5km/hex, while the unit scale is divisions (actually corps/3). A more normal unit scale for that map scale would be battalions. So, the units – by themselves – violate the stacking limits. But, due to a flaw in TOAW, unstacked units will not suffer any density penalty – while virtually any stack will suffer it. So both sides must endeavor to avoid getting their units into stacked conditions – although combat will often force this against their will. This is especially an issue due to the huge artillery concentrations both sides enjoy.

6. The Starting Situation: The Allies suffer a 20% shock penalty on turn one to model the surprise the offensive caused. Worse, about half the Allied line is in disrepair and their units are in poor preparedness. Finally, the Allies are all in Limit Losses. This makes it easier to dislodge them. The Germans, meanwhile, have accumulated a huge force differential. The Germans must exploit these initial advantages to have any chance to win. The Allies will pour reinforcements and replacements into the battlefield as fast as they can, once the game starts. And they will certainly shift their units to Ignore Losses. The first turn is critical, but the follow up is equally important. The Germans must follow the infiltration principles at the operational level to succeed. To review, those principles are “Exploit Success, Abandon Failure”. Attempts to redeem operational failure will probably doom the offensive.

7. The Ending Situation: There are guaranteed to be at least ten turns. However, the German High Command may pull the plug on the offensive any time after that, depending upon how unsuccessful it has been. There is a 10% chance of that if the Victory Level hasn’t reached at least 0 by turn 11. There is a 21% chance of that if the Victory Level hasn’t reached 10 by turn 12. There is a 33% chance of that if the Victory Level hasn’t reached 20 by turn 13. There is a 46% chance of that if Amiens hasn’t been captured by turn 14. And there is a 60% chance of that if Amiens hasn’t been captured by turn 15. The game will automatically end after turn 15 if that turn has been reached.

8. Victory: The Germans must do a bit better than historically to even achieve a draw. To win, they will need to capture either Amiens or Arras.

Let’s get started.

Curtis Lemay -> Starting Situation: (9/14/2014 6:31:32 PM)

Starting Situation:

This shot shows the situation at the start. Note how thin and weak the Allied line is in the South. Note the lack of Fortified Line terrain in the South. That is where the breakout will occur if it occurs anywhere. The Germans, though, still have a significant fraction of their force concentrated against the more powerfully defended northern section. And that is also where their reserves are located. That will need to be rectified during this turn. Note that, where they are stacked, density is red-lined. That will also have to be rectified before carrying out any attacks.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 1 (9/14/2014 6:32:34 PM)

Turn 1:

I’m going to show turn one in detail – showing each combat round – since it’s so critical.

This shot shows the German moves and attacks that have been set up for combat round one. Note that reserves have been moved from the north to the south via rail. I’m trying to focus force on the Allied weak section. Note that multiple attacks have been set up using only one attacker per defense and all using minimize losses. Using only one unit minimizes losses while maximizing artillery strength. The objective is to knock the defenders out of their deployments while only using a single combat round. Also, all stacked locations have been cleared of extra units if used as an attack launching position. That is necessary to avoid decimation due to over-stacking penalties. Unfortunately, I’m not using the German HQs in attacks. I only remembered much later in the game that they held some of the biggest artillery. Oh well.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn one, round two (9/14/2014 6:33:51 PM)

Turn one, round two:

This shot shows that every unit attacked was knocked out of its deployment (ten total) – a product of the huge amount of artillery employed. And, only one round was expended. Now we want to destroy as many units as possible. So the Germans are mostly attacking at ignore losses and using two or three units per attack. Seven attacks are set up.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn one, round three (9/14/2014 6:34:46 PM)

Turn one, round three:

Note that six of the seven attacks succeeded. Since that required much advancing, most German units are not in position to attack this phase, without being late. Only two attacks are set up.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn one, round four (9/14/2014 6:35:55 PM)

Turn one, round four:

One attack succeeded. Now more units have caught up with the round and two more attacks are set up.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn one, round five (9/14/2014 6:36:54 PM)

Turn one, round five:

Both attacks succeeded. One attack and one bombardment are set up.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn one, round eight (9/14/2014 6:37:48 PM)

Turn one, round eight:

The last phase expended three rounds. So there are only three left. Therefore, I won’t try to get any extra rounds from this point. Attacks will be planned under the assumption that this will be the last combat phase this turn. Three attacks are set up.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn one, end (9/14/2014 6:38:35 PM)

Turn one, end:

This shot shows that the German player’s turn ended, and the Allied player adjusted his units as best he could. Note that, in most cases, all that could be done was to dig in and switch to Ignore Losses. Gaps in the line even have to be filled with artillery. The German player gained 17 hexes and killed seven divisions – an excellent start despite only getting six combat rounds. Note that German forces have been repositioned from the north to exploit the situation in the south. That’s the infiltration principle: Exploit Success, Abandon Failure.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 2 end (9/14/2014 6:40:03 PM)

Turn 2 end:

From now on, I’ll just show the turn ending situation. Another 15 hexes have been gained. Note the huge concentration of force in the south versus the paltry remaining Allied presence there. If only it wasn’t for the desolated terrain (and the lack of motorization) the Germans could carry out a Blitzkrieg. They are in good position to “Exploit Success”. The Allies are rushing reinforcements from north and south to their ruptured front. But it’s not enough to get there; they need time to dig-in up to fortified deployment to hope to hold against this onslaught.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 3 end (9/14/2014 6:40:53 PM)

Turn 3 end:

Another 15 hexes were gained. The Allies are getting some units to the breach, but few are well dug-in.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 4 end (9/14/2014 6:41:51 PM)

Turn 4 end:

Another 17 hexes were gained. But the Allied line is stiffening in most places.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 5 end (9/14/2014 6:42:45 PM)

Turn 5 end:

Another 18 hexes were gained. The Allied line continues to stiffen, but where their units haven’t reached fortified deployment, they can’t hold. The offensive still has momentum.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 6 end (9/14/2014 6:43:37 PM)

Turn 6 end:

Another 18 hexes were gained. Note that a weak point in the scenario design is being revealed: The southern map edge will almost always be reached by the Germans. The Allied player can now use it as an un-manned barrier. The only compensation is that the Germans won’t have to man it either. But a front that should have been stretched across the south gets to strengthen the western lines unrealistically.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 7 end (9/14/2014 6:44:32 PM)

Turn 7 end:

Another 19 hexes were gained. The offensive isn’t being checked yet, although the area north of Amiens is firming up quickly. And now there is a threat to pocket a suite of divisions holding the original line in front of Arras. That could release another horde of Germans.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 8 end (9/14/2014 6:45:32 PM)

Turn 8 end:

Only 7 hexes were gained this turn. So, the rate of advance has slowed a bit. But three divisions have been trapped in the north. Their reduction will be costly and will release huge German reserves.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 9 end (9/14/2014 6:46:31 PM)

Turn 9 end:

Another 13 hexes were gained this turn. And the pocketed divisions have been pressed into a single hex. The advance has reached a hex adjacent to Amiens – and the entrained units in that hex were decimated as a result.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 10 end (9/14/2014 6:47:20 PM)

Turn 10 end:

Another 7 hexes were gained this turn. The pocketed divisions were eliminated and that has released a huge offensive towards Arras. Forces reducing the Allied forces trapped on the southern map edge have been released as well. But everywhere else the lines are getting pretty firm. This was the last guaranteed turn, but the victory level requirement for turn 11 has been met, so there will be a turn 11.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 11 end (9/14/2014 6:48:17 PM)

Turn 11 end:

Another 5 hexes were gained this turn. Clearly, the offensive can only make grinding progress at this point. But huge objectives are tantalizingly close. The bridge into Amiens has been blown, making it hard to attack it, since it is a super river and the major ferry assets are in the artillery units (a design bust that I’ll have to fix). The victory requirement for turn 12 was met, so there will be a turn 12.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 12 end (9/14/2014 6:49:12 PM)

Turn 12 end:

Another 4 hexes were gained this turn. The Germans are now adjacent to Amiens on two hexes. They are only two hexes away from Arras. The victory requirement for turn 13 was not met, so there is a 33% chance that the game will end instead of proceeding to turn 13.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 13 end (9/14/2014 6:50:05 PM)

Turn 13 end:

The game ending check was passed and there was a turn 13. Only 1 hex was gained this turn. Yet the Amiens defenders were bombarded to destruction. An artillery unit has been moved adjacent to the hex to occupy it the following turn if it were to remain unoccupied for some reason. And it has!! The lack of major ferry in anything except artillery units bites the Allies too! They can’t occupy the hex with anything, since no artillery unit started their turn adjacent to the hex. One now has been, but the Germans will win the race, if there is another turn. Unfortunately, the victory requirement hasn’t been met for turn 14, so there is a 46% chance that the game will end after this turn.


Curtis Lemay -> Turn 14 end (9/14/2014 6:50:59 PM)

Turn 14 end:

Ok, the game ending check actually failed and the game ended (in a draw). But, since I was curious about how the game would proceed around Amiens, I re-ran the check and got a pass. The turn was then played. Only 2 hexes were gained, but one was Amiens. The artillery unit was able to enter the hex, then provided ferry for an infantry unit to follow behind. The drive for Arras has halted and only bombardments are being conducted there.
In their turn, the Allies had no choice but to launch a futile, overstacked, attack against Amiens that blew off huge forces on both sides but failed to take the hex. With the capture of Amiens, the victory requirement for turn 15 has been met and so there will be a turn 15. The Germans have now met the requirements for a marginal victory.


Curtis Lemay -> Game end (9/14/2014 6:53:17 PM)

Game end:

Another 3 hexes were gained this turn for a total of 161 hexes gained over the course of the game. The Allies seriously weakened their position making the futile attack against Amiens last turn and so were vulnerable to having the offensive continued against them. I’m thinking I will give a few infantry units secondary amphibious icons, so there will be no need to use artillery to take or retake Super River hexes that have had their bridges blown. The final result was a German Marginal Victory, although a more realistic result was the draw achieved after turn 13.


Curtis Lemay -> Infantry Chart (9/14/2014 6:54:19 PM)

Infantry Chart:

Now let’s do some analysis. The first chart is the infantry chart. Solid lines are the assigned levels. Dashed lines are the losses. Blue is German. Red is Allied. Column marks are 5,000 squads. The Germans start out with a significant edge but their losses are only fractionally replaced while the Allies get huge reinforcements and replacements. So the margin progressively shrinks.


Curtis Lemay -> Light Weapons Chart (9/14/2014 6:55:18 PM)

Light Weapons Chart:

These are machine guns, mortars, etc. The German margin shrinks a bit, while the Allied replacements about equal their losses. Columns marks are 2,000 pieces.


Curtis Lemay -> Artillery Chart (9/14/2014 6:56:10 PM)

Artillery Chart:

With the exception of the one instance when an artillery unit was rushed into Amiens, and the resulting Allied attack against it, the Germans didn’t lose any artillery due to their never having to expose it. The Allies often found artillery in their front lines due to things getting too desperate. As a result, the German margin never really shrank. They maintained a huge edge in artillery. Column marks are 1,000 pieces.


Curtis Lemay -> Transport Chart (9/14/2014 6:57:04 PM)

Transport Chart:

This looks very similar to the artillery chart – which makes sense, because all the transport (horse teams) was used to tow artillery. Column marks are 1,000 teams.


Curtis Lemay -> Armored Vehicles Chart (9/14/2014 6:57:58 PM)

Armored Vehicles Chart:

The German armor was negligible. But even the Allied armor was a minor factor. Column marks are 50 vehicles.


Curtis Lemay -> Aircraft Chart (9/14/2014 6:58:49 PM)

Aircraft Chart:

Here the Allies overtake the Germans by the end of the game. That’s because the Germans suffer both AS and AAA losses since they were used in ground support mode. But it was worth the cost, since the large shell weights of aircraft make good de-trenchers – vital in this scenario. Column marks are 200 planes.


Curtis Lemay -> Total Chart (9/14/2014 6:59:40 PM)

Total Chart:

This looks similar to the infantry chart, since it is mostly infantry. Column marks are 10,000 items.


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