Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (Full Version)

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HvS -> Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 4:54:44 PM)

Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR

by Michael Kollmann


Dear Audience,

this is the first post of the new Strategic Command Beta AAR.
This post will focus on strategic thoughts.


I have already played a couple of matches versus the AI.
Although I am a relatively experienced player, the AI gave me some tough nuts to crack.
In the previous build, I lost the Ottoman Empire due low National Morale in 1917, and this is something I don't want to see again.
This experience has changed my strategic view a bit.
It does not help me in the end if I defeat Russia quickly, but loose the Ottomans.
There a lot of interdependencies in this game, and maybe I did underestimate the AI a bit.
But you will be able to see what I mean.

In general, the game set up is very close to the real circumstances in WWI.
Offensive actions need a lot of resources (esp. Heavy Artillery), and these are limited.
It is not possible to attack on all frontiers, so I need to foucs on certain areas and defend the rest.

Western Front


My first target is to defeat Belgium quickly.
I do not expect problems at Lüttich, Brüssel or Antwerpen, but Lille will be difficult.
Once I get there, the city will be entrenched, and I decided to use my artillery in the east.
So need to let my infantry attack against an entrenched position, and this will not work without losses on my side.
Ypern and Boulogne would be a dream, and I can be happy if I conquer one of these two in 1914.
But even if I do not get them in 1914, they will be my first targets in 1915.
The most important thing is to establish a straight frontline without any corners or bulges.

Why is this so important?
I have already made the experience that, later in war, the AI puts its focus on exposed positions, and defending units are usually gone within a turn.
And yes: this makes attacking very difficult.
If I punch a hole into the enemy defense and send a unit in, it will be gone in the very next turn.
But let me come back to this point later.

To minimize my own losses, a straight frontline would be perfect.
This is why Boulogne is the most important city in the initial stage of the war.


In Eastern Prussia, I have 4 corps and 2 detachments.
In the previous build, I tried to defend Gumbinnen with just one corps, and I lost the town in the second AI turn.
This time I will send two corps so they can switch positions if one is badly mauled.
In late September, I get two fresh corps.. and I am quite sure I will need them.


I decided to place von Bülow in the east.
I want to conquer Lodz quickly.
Taking Kutno quickly after would be perfect.

I think the Russians are weaker in this theater than in Eastern Prussia or Galicia, so an attack here will have the biggest effect.
My long term strategic target is to take Warsaw, lower the Russian NM and make my frontline shorter.


Galicia is the most important theater in the initial stage of the war.
In RL, AH lost their best units there.. and Tarnopol, the oil wells, Lemberg and Prezemysl.
I want to avoid this, so I will put my focus on defending Galicia.
It might happen that I loose Tarnopol and the oil wells, but I draw a red line in front of Lemberg and Prezemysl.

As a result of this strategy, I will divert all troops to Galicia.
This means I will not be able to advance in Serbia quickly which is a problem.
But this is still better than loosing too much ground in Galicia.


In Serbia, I need to take Belgrad as soon as possible.
This is necessary to bring Bulgaria into the war sooner or later.
Once Belgrad is conquered and secured, I will remain defensive until Spring 1915.
By that time, my Heavy Artillery will arrive, and I need it to advance.

On the seas, I will be inactive in the first two years.
I need to strengthen my economy first.. otherwise I cannot afford expensive maritime adventures.
The only exception will be the Baltic Sea.
I will try to sink a few Russian ship to lower the Russian NM.

The AAR will start in the next post with the initial shots.

xwormwood -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 7:00:27 PM)

Could you explain what has changed in regard to SC WW1 classic apart from the different map (tiles to hexes, new UI)?
Is it still the same game like before, or are there any new engine features, ideas, concepts etc?
What has changed compared to the last two new releases apart from the WW1 setting? If something has changed, how does the AI handle the changes?
Btw.: Is there a good reason why Strasbourg wasn't spelled Straßburg (during this time, the City was -once more- part of Germany for 40 years, after France took an kept it somehwere in the 16.. years)?
Same question regarding Timisoara. I just looked on a (german) Map from 1899 where the city was called Temesvar. On your screenshot it is called Temeschburg, which probably is an even older name for the same city. But too old for a WW1 map, right?
Last question: wouldn't it be more fun to present a "classical" game compared to your attemp to win by leaving the historical road of WW1? I'm just asking this because of your plan to attack the russian Navy etc. (does this mean that the AI still isn't able to protect its Russian Navy?. And what about the minefields, don't they offer protection against naval adventures?
From my point of view you're allowed to make mistakes and even to lose the game, if this shows better how the AI is able to attack or defend.
So many thanks in advance for showing what the game has to offer (or not).

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 7:49:10 PM)

Hi Claus!

The explanations you were asking for will follow one by one during the course of the AAR.
I will show detailed examples of the changes that were done since the last release.
The biggest change is the AI. It is capable of conducting a series of attacks on fortified positions, and it took Hubert a while to get there.

Concerning your question concerning a "classical" game or not: I got toastes twice on the western front as I tried to establish the historical frontlines.
If there is an angle around Lille, Germany looses quite a gew units there.
Going the historical path would mean secure defeat, and earlier than 1918.
Esp. in Galicia: if the Russian steamroller rolls, nothing can stop it.
I can repeat the mistakes Hötzendorf did in 1914, but this will lead to a different development, because the AI does not make the same mistakes as the Russians in RL.

Concerning the Russian Navy: if I hide the German fleet, Russia will not attack.
But the AI does convoy warfare in the Baltic Sea.
The German fleet is much stronger than the Russian fleet.
If I use the combined strength, the AI will loose a few ships, and this will help my NM.
But to achieve this, I need to have the whole German fleet there.

Mines help a lot if you put them on the right places. [:D]

xwormwood -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 7:52:26 PM)

Thanks HvS!

Hubert Cater -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 9:01:19 PM)

Hi xwormwood,

One of the items I overhauled was the AI on several key points:

1) Unit grouping and use of Artillery
2) Entrenchment
3) Naval AI

1) You should find the flow of the WWI combat much improved, especially on the more fluid fronts such as the Eastern Front as the game now has Dynamic Movement which our previous released did not have, and the AI will make much better use of its stronger units, Corps and eventually Tanks, as well as Artillery. For example, in the past when front lines thickened up, if Artillery or Tanks were a few rows back, the AI was not able to essentially move them forward for an effective combined arms assault. With this release, this is no longer an issue as the AI swaps these critical units forward until they are in the appropriate strike range to be finally effective. It will also do a better job of protecting these units, such as Artillery, HQs, Aircraft and so on as front lines change over time with ebb and flow.

2) The AI uses a much more effective algorithm when it comes to when to entrench and when not to entrench much more closely mimicking what human players are able to achieve. For example, if a unit attacks, it cannot entrench, so the AI now does a much better job of knowing when to attack, when to move forward and entrench, and when to attack and then move out of the way so that follow up units (if available) can then move forward and entrench. This should make all fronts much more challenging when playing against the AI.

3) The Naval AI, or I should say Naval AI scripting, takes into account the fact that naval losses are double when it comes to National Morale losses. So for some countries such as Russia, fleet preservation is more important early on than losing naval strength points unnecessarily. The use of Naval Mines also helps in this regard as the AI will either offensively or defensively use them as needed throughout. It certainly adds a very exciting and interesting new dynamic to the naval game for this release.

Hope this helps!

xwormwood -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 9:12:08 PM)

Everything helps, Hubert.

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 9:29:51 PM)


Turn 1



I did start the game in Expert mode.
This might not be the right choice for less experienced players, because this makes the AI really tough.
But I play the Strategic Command series for more than 15 years, and I should be able to get along with it.
And if not: cheers to Hubert for a well programmed AI.


As mentioned above, I decide to place these units in Schlesien.
Serbia would be nice as well, but this way I hope to achieve a quicker victory over Russia.
The pressure on Eastern Prussia and Galicia is big, and maybe I can take away some this pressure by defeating the Russians in Poland.


This will be more difficult as it sounds.
But my priority is to stop the Russians in Galicia.
Once this has been achieved, I will divert troops to Serbia.
Not to forget the upcoming conflict with Italy.


I need to be quick in the west.
If this means that the British will be in the war early, I need to cope with this.


I need to pay attention on the Netherlands.
Maybe I should invest a Diplomacy chit to be save.
But where shall I take the MPPs from?


The first thing I do is to declare war on Belgium.
This brings the UK into the war.
Now I will try to defeat Belgium as soon as possible.


This went well, very low losses.
But there was just a garrison unit in Lüttich.. Brüssel will be tougher to crack.


This was the last attack in the west against an unprepared enemy.
All following attacks will cause much higher losses.


I hope two corps will be enough to hold Gumbinnen.
Loosing the town will not be a catastrophe, but I will try to avoid it.


Lodz it entrenched, and an attack would have caused high casualties.
I cannot afford losses at this stage, so I need to wait until next turn.
Then I can use the Prepared Attack Bonus, this will help.


I don't have enough units in Galicia.
Tarnopol will be the first target of the Russian Army.
I doubt it will hold, but my strategy is delay.


This is a great step ahead!
But my losses are quite high.. 7 steps in total.
Next turn I will entrench all units.

This was the last offensive action in this turn.
Up to now I am happy with my progress.
I was able to take Lüttich, Brüssel and Belgrad, and this is a good start.


I decide to send the Goeben to Istanbul.
This might bring the Ottomans earlier into the war.


Galicia has absolute priority, so Serbia has to wait.


In the next turn, Germany will start to support AH.
This will be necessary during the first few turns.
I will explain in detail how this works.

Sugar -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/11/2019 11:38:35 PM)

Many thx for the first impression, HvS!

Nice to see the costumization of the AI-Boni. [:)]

The map seems to be much smaller, though. What about the action points of the units, do they differ from Breakthrough?

Tanaka -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/12/2019 3:33:13 AM)

Looks great! Does this use the same map size as WIE?

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/12/2019 7:14:20 AM)

Dear Sugar,

you are most welcome.
The map is a bit smaller than in Breakthrough, and this has to do with hex structure.
The scale itself did not change too much.

Normal corps have 4 AP when fully supplied.
Cavalry has 6 AP.
Units need to have 1 AP left to entrench themselves, and this is very important.

Dear Tanaka,

Thank you.
It is more or less the same map as in WiE.

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/12/2019 8:31:31 AM)


Turn 2 (AI)



A Belgian counterattack via Brüssel causes losses at the the II Corps.
French troops occupy Reims and Lille.
So they have time to entrench.


Russian troops surround Gumbinnen, but don't attack.
The AI can judge if it is better to attack this turn oder next turn.
This depends on its expectations on inflicted damage and own casualties.
The German unit in Gumbinnen is a veteran units, and so the AI decided it needs the Prepared Attack Bonus next turn.


I have definitely surprised the Russians.
Just to detachments and a Cavalry Corps.. that should work.
A quick victory in this theater will force the AI to divert troops from other theaters.


In this case the AI decided to attack immediately, and it was the right decision.
The oil wells are surrounded, and the only thing I can do at the moment is to delay the Russian advance.
I will try to dig in.


Same situation here: dig in and wait.

Sugar -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/12/2019 6:43:52 PM)

So less space to manouevre, less action points considering vital entrenchement, and probably less units on a smaller map? How many units can an HQ support?

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 1:27:18 PM)

Dear Sugar,

up to now I have the impression that there is no lack of mobility.
Infantry can move 3 hexes and entrench.
Of course this gets more difficult in entrenched areas, but I think this is the way it should be.

Concerning the amount of units: this game is corps-based and does not know armies.
So there are more units around than in WiE, esp. in later stages.

A HQ can support 5 units, but this number increased with each levle of command and control.

ArtDen -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 2:32:05 PM)

Continue plz. How often can we see new posts?

ArtDen -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 2:34:46 PM)

Due to a little scale of map in the West is it real to knock out AI in France in 1914?
In a classic game I tried many times but I understood it's not possible.
How is it about new game?

Hubert Cater -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 2:36:02 PM)

In terms of maneuverability, from the design side we'd actually argue that it increases in this game as we now have dynamic movement.

In the past once you moved a unit, whether to simply move forward or to also attack, its movement was complete for that turn regardless of any remaining AP. This is of course no longer the case and as a result players have more options when it comes to combat and when it comes to moving units in and out of position. In Strategic Command World War I, players can now move forward, attack, move back and then move fresh units forward to entrench and so on.

This was simply not possible under our older title, and players did comment with that title on how difficult it could sometimes become to advance without being able to entrench. This is no longer an issue with the new game.

Hubert Cater -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 2:38:43 PM)


Due to a little scale of map in the West is it real to knock out AI in France in 1914?
In a classic game I tried many times but I understood it's not possible.
How is it about new game?

This is very individual so it would be difficult to answer with certainty for you, but that being said the challenges and experiences should pass forward to the new game quite well on all accounts.

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 3:03:46 PM)

Dear ArtDen,

I try to post a turn a day.

Knocking out the French seems impossible to me in 1914..
At least on expert level.
As soon as every unit on the Western Front is entrenched, you need artillery to advance.
Otherwise own casualties are too high.
And the AI toastes every unit that is exposed.

eriador08 -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 3:26:52 PM)

Thank you for this preview AAR. It is always a pleasure when a new Strategic Command arrives. My friend and i cant wait for some WW1 action.

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 3:42:27 PM)


Turn 3



Unfortunately, I don't have any MPPs left to purchase the destroyed corps.
This has to wait.
But I must not forget this until the Italians enter the war.


For me it is a good thing that the UK seizes the Ottoman DN.
Otherwise it would be mid 1915 until the Ottomans join the CP.
From my perspective: the sooner, the better.


Definitely.. no further explanation necessary.


National Morale is quite important in this game.. yes.


In the west, Brüssel is taken by German troops.
The Belgian Government moves to Antwerpen.
Also I have started an attack on Ypern.
So during the AI turn, the defending unit can either entrench or refresh.

In the south, three German corps have driven back a French corps.
There a two reasons why I am doing this.
The first is attrition. I just lost 3 steps, the French 7.
The second is a long term strategy.
To capture Verdun, I need to control the surrounding hexes.
So I will try do keep the French away from these hexes.
At the moment, there are three free hexes in the east of Verdun.
The longer I can keep them free, the better.
I could try to occupy them, but without any research in Trench Warfare, this would be suicide.


Overstrength units are expensive, but I think I need one in this case.
There are too many Russian units around Gumbinnen, and I need to take every bit I can get.


This is exactly what I need.
A cavalry corps and a detachment gone, a second detachment encircled.
This will force the AI to move a couple of units to Warsaw.

Also, we will have the chance to see a new feature.
Encircled units with supply zero receive a special treatment.
They might loose strength points (attrition losses) once per turn, and they will suffer much higher casualties when attacked.
So I could afford to let this units starve to death.
But my front is not entrenched and vulnerable, so I will destroy the unit next turn.


The only thing I can do is to hope that the AI reacts on the lost Battle of Lodz.
Otherwise I will loose the oil wells.


I have switched the corps in Sarajevo with a detachment.
This means I have 5 corps to attack before I need to divert one to the Italian front.
If I am lucky, I can conquer Valjevo before.


Another new feature: most nations have the possibility to help other nations.
I.e. Russia can help Serbia, AH can help the Ottomans.
But a land connection is necessary.
This means AH can support the Ottomans as soon as Bulgaria is in the war and Serbia is out.


Germany invests in Trench Warfare (in my eyes the most important tech) and Infantry Weapons.


AH cannot afford IW this turn, but this will follow next turn.


This will bring the Ottomans earlier into the war... yes.


In Galicia, I need every unit I can get... yes.


HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 3:45:35 PM)

Dear eriador08,

thanks for your interest.
If you enjoyed the previous games, you will also enjoy this one for sure.

HjalfnarFeuerwolf -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 6:03:28 PM)

Wow, it's been a while since I used this account. Following your AAR with huge interest, werter HvS!

ArtDen -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/13/2019 8:57:37 PM)

I think 1AP for 1 entrenchment point is not a good decision. In a previous game you needed one full turn for this.
How do you see is a game more static? Especially in the Eastern front?
I'm looking at Galicia front and afraid of this. I think previous game was really balanced in this component.

vonspee -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/14/2019 2:05:07 AM)

Really enjoying this AAR. I appreciate the fact that you have exposed a few new mechanics that the Classic release did not have. I also have noticed quite a few more decisions, which is great. This release looks like it will give WW1 a very good representation. Can't wait for the next post!

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/14/2019 6:32:32 AM)

Dear Hjalfnar,

nice to see you here as well.

Dear ArtDen,

it takes a unit 1 AP to build entrenchments. This does not mean that a unit a already fully entrenched; it just means the trenches are build.
It still takes a while until the unit is fully entrenched.

Dear vonspee,

Thanks for your interest.
I will continue to highlight new features.
I might post Turn 4 later today.

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/14/2019 11:07:18 AM)


Turn 4 (AI)



I did not loose a unit, but 13 strength points in total.
Unfortunately I don't have the MPPs to refresh these units, so I have to remove them from the frontline.


There are 6 visible Russian corps against 3 German.
I need to react.
Königsberg must not fall to the enemy, this would hurt my NM in a way I cannot recover from.


Everything fine in Poland.
During the AI turn, I have seen that the AI did operate a couple of units to Warzaw which is exactly what I was hoping for.


The Russians dig in which might be the best idea in the long run.
The III Cavalry Corps is lucky to survive.


A Serbian attack is halted with losses on both sides.

Kardinalinfant81 -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/14/2019 11:48:00 AM)

Hey HvS,

thanks for your interesting AAR. One Question regaridng the western front: Wouldn't it be better, to retreat in Elsaß-Lothringen one Hex back to the line Straßburg - Mühlhausen? It wouldn't be longer than your line, but it should be easier to defend because of the Defence Boni from Straßburg (City) and Mühlhausen (Fortress). Maybe you could avoid some of those nasty losses you had this turn...

HvS -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/15/2019 8:04:22 AM)

Dear Kardinalinfant,

in general you are right. Straßburg and the Fortified town Mühlhausen would be much better to defend.
But I have made the experience that with progress in Trench Warfare attacks down there get less.
The French have huge losses as well, so I can get away with this.
But the final and deciding reason is: I need to advance sooner or later.
To conquer Verdun, you need a lot of artillery.
To conquer Verdun and keep it, you need to control the surrounding hexes.
If I retreat now, I would have to take these hexes back sooner or later, and this means a lot effort.
In my eyes taking losses in defending these hexes is less effort than taking them back in 1915.

Cfant -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/15/2019 8:49:28 AM)

Thanks for this AAR! I'm hooked already.

LochLomond -> RE: Strategic Command WWI Beta AAR (11/15/2019 9:37:53 AM)

I follow this AAR with high interest

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