tyronec -> Axis players guide. (3/26/2021 10:37:44 AM)
Axis players guide – WITE2.
This guide was written during testing and some game features have been updated since then, so take it as an indicator rather than necessarily accurate.
The priorities for Axis in the early war are:
Extend the rail lines.
Take Victory objectives.
Without eliminating a lot of Soviet units throughout the first summer the advance will soon grind to a halt.
Air war (manual operations, have not used the auto system).
Delete all the pre-set directives. There is no need for recon on T1. All aircraft should be used to inflict maximum damage to the VVS. Ground support is unnecessary.
Short range bombers should be used to take out the close bases. The Ju87’s need fighter cover but that is best done by Air superiority directives rather than escort missions.
The directives to set up are:
Can do air superiority, fighter escorts or use the FBs as bombers. Not sure there is much difference..
Ground attack by TACs and 110’s against close airbases (target priority airfield).
Note that ADs are executed in the order listed so put the ones that will get rid of the Soviet fighters at the top.
Maybe some ground attack by surplus Me109s. (set them to Bomber)
Ground attack by LBs against further away airfields.
The Hungarian LBs need to be moved to air bases nearer the border.
Other aircraft can be moved forwards to get better targets (for example some JU87’s could be moved to attack the airbases around L’Vov).
There are diminishing returns for bombing throughout the week, Bomb on D1 and maybe D2 only.
Will get a few more kills if you reduce the altitude (just for T1) to below 10k.
Airbase bombing is not productive for Axis after T1.
As I understand it ‘Ops’ losses are related to miles flown. So air groups operating from a long way behind the front line will suffer heavier Ops losses. Further, there are multipliers for miles flown during bad weather. Thus there is a benefit in locating air groups as far forwards as possible. If there is a shortage of front line airbases you can switch AOGs around during the ground phase to bring more into action.
Consider building or expanding air bases where they are needed, the AI will usually assign an SU for each one. It does take supplies. You also need to consider that forward air bases will draw supplies away from the ground troops so there is no simple calculation here.
However see the section on Supply, there is a conundrum for Axis as top when to use the Luftwaffeto support the ground war and when to rest it so that more supplies go to the Panzers.
The most effective use for Axis bombers. Have your AOGs set to GS and you can switch it on and off accordingly as air support is needed for important attacks. You can lose a lot of aircraft doing GS so use it only for the important attacks, heavy GS makes quite a difference. Also consider what Soviet AA they are going to fly over, I would not use GS against cities with good AA or where the flight path takes them over a lot of Soviet equipped with AA.
Use GA-unit to concentrate massive air power against an individual unit. The disruption doesn’t carry forwards into combat like with GS, however this mission may be useful if you have just one or two critical attacks. I would not be using GA-Unit in ‘41, however it may have some value late war to help break a pocket.
I have not used the other GA target options as Axis.
There are 4 patrol air groups and 806 with Ju88s. Other LBs are moderate for naval interdiction. Stukas are hopeless.
If the Soviets garrison the likes of Odessa or Sevastapol with a strong City Fort they will be hard to capture without it Isolating first.
If you expect to cut off a Soviet port this turn then set up a Naval Interdiction directive to isolate it by sea. Best to do a single strike with 200+ aircraft for maybe 2-4 days, that way you can sustain it for several turns. Note that the interdiction covers hexes in the flight path so you only need to interdict the one hex as long as the flight path is set up correctly. You can set the directive to interdict a couple of hexes offshore (like in a semicircle), that way there will be less AA from the port. It takes 3 phases to Isolate: Friendly, Enemy, Friendly.
When Leningrad is cut off by land it can be isolated in a similar way by interdicting Osinovets (bombing ports is not too effective). However this can cost a lot of aircraft from AA and the VVS are well located to intervene.
If soviet aircraft are around can either set up an air superiority mission OR just have fighters nearby on no mission OR include them in the Patrol AD.
You can usually isolate ports against the AI, more difficult against a human opponent who is reacting with fighters and counter Naval Patrols.
The BV138Cs will not survive a lot of interdiction missions because of the attrition of ops losses.
Plan to isolate any ports during clear or snow turns, interdiction effectiveness is greatly reduced during bad weather and you could throw away a lot of aircraft and accomplish nothing.
Naval Interdiction by LBs does use up a lot of supply so consider if you need it or if the job could be done just using ground troops.
Set up several AOGs with around 3-4 Recon air groups each. A radius of 5-7 on 1 day only will do a reasonable job of the whole front line. As you advance move the AOG forwards and reset the AD.
If supply is good you can do that at the start of each turn, however by mid ‘41 you may run out of forward supplies and will need to have moved the AOG at the end of the move ready for next turn.
I usually keep the Strategic Recon in their own AOGs and further back, to be used when needed. Recon will take heavy losses during the early moves but should reduce as the game progresses.
Keep moving the fighter AOGs forwards at the need of each turn to maintain fighter cover. They don’t have to have an AS AD to do this. AS missions lose aircraft to AA and Ops even when they are not engaging Soviet aircraft, so best avoided unless necessary. It is possible to split off individual air groups to cover more of the front.
110s are not great as fighters but I you could convert them to FIGHTER on T1 or T2.
Rumanians have few reserves or replacements, use them carefully.
Consider how much you want to use any of the allies in the early game, they could be taking up valuable space in the few forward airfields. Against the AI the Soviets will deteriorate during ‘41 so maybe mid summer is the time to deploy the better Romanian fighters.
You may want to leave some fighters behind to protect Ploesti.
Use to fly supplies to your lead units. Consider where you want them to operate from, closer to the front and they will get more missions but will be drawing from supply that could be used directly. They need to be on airbases that is within 1 hexes of a depot that has good supply. Click on an intermediate airbase to change the route to avoid flak. Supplying to an airbase is about twice as effective. If supplying to a hex without a depot a temporary depot will be created. Supplies can go to units within one hex of the supply target or to a permanent/temp depot. Preserve your transports, so avoid flying them over or adjacent to Soviet units who will shoot them down.
There may be periods in ‘41 when there are no depots with supplies available and within range of the front line to make use of transports, or sometimes the Baltic and Black ports have the only Depots that are useful.
At the start of each turn set any air groups on low morale (<50) to rest.
It may be worthwhile downgrading some air groups (on T2) to stockpiled aircraft types (109E-3, 111H-3, Hun Ca-310). Keep an eye on aircraft production even if you have groups on auto-upgrade.
Aircraft, and in particular bombers, use lots of supply. Consider carefully before moving them up to the front if they are going to draw supply away from your Panzers, so leave them where they are if you are not going to use them. I would generally keep the LBs behind the start line if they can operate within range from there. You could also wait until there is a surplus of supply showing at the depots before moving anything but single engine FBs and Recon up the line. This is a complicated area of the game so am really suggesting what to look at rather than having come to any conclusions.
Set up your AOGs so they have an appropriate number of aircraft to fit on 1 airbase. I would do it something like this:
Recon - 50 aircraft. 5 will fit on a Level 1 airbase
Strategic Recon - 100 aircraft. Level 2.
Fighters - 100 aircraft. One Level 2 or two Level 1.
Stukas - 100. Level 1.
110’s - 100. Level 2.
LBs - 100. Level 2.
Transports - 100. Level 2.
Would also keep them sorted by aircraft type as far as possible.
Put fighters on TPI.
Have not seen much if any advantage in tweaking load-outs yet, just possibly to give fighters drop tanks which is not automatic.
Manage your air force so that it maintains a suitable strength. If the Luftwaffe are getting run down you are over using it.
Supply is fundamental to WITE2. Read the manual well.
Have a plan for your rail network. You don’t need rail lines joined up, what is wanted is as many double and single rail lines as possible and leading East - so a like a tree growing East rather than a network.
The obvious doubles are:
Vilnius – Vitebsk – Smolensk – Vyazma – Moscow
Minsk – Gomel –Kursk/Orel
L’Vov – Vinnitsa – Fastov – D’town – Stalino
If you are going to take another one or two lines East then design them so there is not a bottleneck.
A typical set up would be to have one FBD on each of these 3 lines, possibly one heading towards Leningrad and the Romanians working their way along the coast.
Probably better to have the 4th Axis FBD on one of the single track lines heading East, you can get one North of Smolensk or there is one through Kiev. The capacity of a double is 30k and a single 12k but in practise the singles provide something around 60% of the supplies of a double.
Supply seems to work better if your E/W rail lines are not linked up, at least in the early game. Linked networks can cause bottlenecks during the logistics phase and less supply gets through.
Captured ports are another source of supply. They will begin to work two turns after capture. Note the limited sea transport capacity in the Baltic/Black sea. It works better if the supply through the Baltics is not linked up to the Smolensk line, that way you can put your lead depots on 4 without drawing away from supplies towards Moscow. The Black Sea requires careful management. Put Constanta on 4 on T1 and reduce it to 3 when you start using Naval supply. Put the target ports on 4 but keep other depots in the area on 3 so they won’t draw supplies away from Constanta.
As well at the 5 FBDs (the Rumanian one withdraws T14) there are 7 R.A.D. SUs that will repair rail lines. You can put them with a low level HQ to manage where they do their repairs. You get a lot of captured rail, T1-5, in the Baltics and a few SUs can do a great job linking up any gaps. It is possible to get good supply to Lenningrad if you make sure you capture all the useful Baltic rail in the first 5 turns and use the RAD SUs (assigned to Corps HQs) to repair the gaps. Note that if there is combat in a hex it will always be damaged. Once the Romanian FBD disbands you will get more rail SUs from that.
Axis will need a good network of depots behind the front line for the first winter, and for the autumn mud turns. You need to plan for this when you are looking at how far to advance, there is not much point in capturing a lot of terrain that is so far away from where you can get a working depot that any units there during the winter will not be able to be supplied. So you really want most of your front line to be within 3 hexes of a working depot, and then structure the blizzard defence to defend any critical parts of the rail network.
You can set supply priorities for HQs. My usual is 4 for Panzer Corps, 3 for German Infantry Corps and 1 for Allies. Also consider keeping allied troops back so that they are not using valuable supply capacity at the end of a long supply line. So the Rumanians can be used for mopping up pockets well behind the front line.
Use all the tools that are available to monitor your supply network - back to the manual !
Depots. There is a dark art to understanding how much supplies a depot will draw, but mastering best use of Depots is fundamental to making best use of your combat power. Every turn you want to look at how much supply each of your lead Depots are receiving (‘n’ key) and where your units are drawing supplies from (the ‘8’ key or you can look at the supply screen for each individual unit). You can also look at supply distribution on the Logistics screen.
I would usually aim to have a Depot every 4-6 hexes on my primary double rail lines heading East. Go for the cities with multiple rail yards. The 2 lead Depots will be on Priority ‘4’, the next back on Priority ‘3’ and the remainder on ‘0’ to ‘2’. You need to check the Depots to see if they are delivering supply as intended. You can build depots before the railhead gets there, which gives them time to repair. The AI will assign SUs to Depot repair (not if adjacent to a Soviet unit) but you can assign them yourself for critical situations.
Check where the rail yards are (industry toggle key) before building depots, it is better to start with a depot on damaged railyard than with a new one. Also look for multiple railyards, these are the ones that have the best capacity and are good for Super Depots:-
If a German FBD sits for the whole turn on a Depot you will get greatly increased delivery next turn, generally referred to as a Super Depot. This seems to work just as well for small or damaged railyards as for big ones. Just make sure all other depots on the same line are on 3’s.
HQs also increase capacity for damaged Depots.
Trucks are an essential part of your supply network. Trash your truck fleet and you trash your army, CVs and MPs will plummet. You can trash your truck fleet by operating for too long with too many units that are too many MPs away from supply sources, so consider if you really want to advance your Panzers through that swamp or maybe they would be better going around it. Manage your advance so that as far as possible units are operating at a reasonable range from your lead depots.
Units within 3 hexes of a functioning depot use horse transport, always good for stocking up a Panzer unit as it will maintain higher MPs.
It uses no rail capacity to transfer SUs around. Some SUs can be assigned directly to Divisions, consider these as your super-mobile troops that can be refitted with ease and used to boost your shock troops. I would convert all the Multi-role units to SUs. It may work to have OKH on Berlin to facilitate SU refits, you will miss out on some leader rolls because of the range.
Artillery - 6 per infantry corps.
Assorted infantry/AT/Pioneers - can be assigned to combat divisions. If used with mot/Pz divisions will give you more combat power but with a fuel overhead.
Stug/Flamm Pz – as above, however there is a limited number of AFVs available so they will get worn down.
AA – Some can be assigned to combat divisions. Difficult to know if that is justified for offensive operations (they only fight in defence).
If the VVS is active you need your AA to protect your combat units and airfields. Can have them attached to combat units or with HQs, they cover their own hex and adjacent hexes. They do not get activated against air attack the way SU’s do for ground combat. AA SUs will do a lot of damage to the VVS if the Soviets are being aggressive.
The prime use if for building Depots. Build them before your FBDs get there so they can be being repaired. You can also assign construction SU’s to critical depots for faster repair (not the turn they are captured) though I would not usually do this as Axis for the Campaign in ‘41.
Assault HQs. The next priority. An Infantry army on Assault can be invaluable for building up PPs.
Replace leaders as the APs become available.
Fly air supply with LBs.
Disband units (at least, not in the early game).
Start of turn:
Check Production screen and see if you want to upgrade any air groups.
Set appropriate air groups to Rest.
Reset all combat units to Normal (if you had any on Refit or Reserve)
End of turn.
Build new Depots.
Move HQ’s onto primary supply Depots.
Check any combat troops on Depots are on Refit mode.
On Commanders report check HQs are within command limits.
Spend any surplus APs on upgrading leaders.
Any SU movement.
Check if any Reinforcements are newly arrived or unfrozen (shift-r)
Check if any new air units have arrived.
Are very different from actual CV, read the manual to see what the Display CV includes.
Any unit with a Morale below 50 will have an inflated Display CV (early war Soviets typically by 3x). Likewise Axis Panzer units will have a deflated display CV because of their high morale and tanks (which are under rated).
Units defending cities often get their CVs increased in combat.
Isolated units have their Display CV halved, but in practice their CV only drops slowly. So the first turn of Isolation their actual CV will be higher than suggested, while after a few turns or it will begin to drop.
Sometimes you can guesstimate an enemy CV better by looking at the unit type and the terrain/fortification level that by looking at the display value, so if you see a Soviet Infantry Division in open terrain with a CV of 5 or so it is likely bogus. Display Attack CV and Defensive CV are calculated separately, so if they are more different than is justified by the terrain then one or other (or both) is bogus.
Units heavily fatigued or low on supplies will have overrated CVs. So a Panzer division could push back an Infantry division in two sequential attacks but fail in a third one because the attacker has lost more combat power than the defender (this can feel quite different to WITE1).
Also numbers count, so a Brigade in Fortified Heavy Woods will often lose if attacked by several infantry divisions, even if the CVs suggest otherwise.
It is essential to pocket as much as possible on T1.
Note that there is no Combat Delay for 10:1 hasty attack even if they have an adjacent unit.
AGN should take the two easy ports. Maybe assault Riga (you can get to it with two Panzer Divisions if need be). Clear the rail lines for T2. It is not necessary to attack most of the Soviets, just make a way through and at least some infantry should advance as far as possible. Use a stack of 2+ infantry divisions to make hasty attacks on the critical hexes to make a hole with no Combat Delay.
AGC. Clear out Brest-Litovsk so the FBD can get moving. Be prepared to break down motorised divisions to force Soviets to retreat in the direction you want. There is merit in moving one or two corps from PG2 to AGS where the terrain is more open. Try and take out as many of the pocketed Soviet depots as possible to reduce their supplies. Pocketed units still take a couple of months to degrade on their own but everything helps.
AGS. Note that any Soviets East of Romania are frozen T1. Also beware that movement can be a bit strange around the boundary between AGC and AGS because the ‘no ZOC’ rule doesn’t apply in the South. The attack is difficult, lots of Soviets are on Reserve and ZOCs are active. Try to break through the front line and advance adjacent to the 2nd line units so they don’t activate. The aim should be to clear the rail line and advance East/SE. Linking up with Rumania creates more possibilities for pockets on T2. Just remember, the 1st objective is to pocket as much as possible.
Don’t be concerned about over running airbases, a few extra aircraft kills is of little importance.
T2-3. It is important to advance as fast as possible and grab a lot of terrain while the Soviets are very weak. This is particularly important for AGC and to some extent AGN. So it may be better to rout scattered Soviet units out of the way rather then trying to pocket them which will slow things up. Also it is difficult to make good pockets until your infantry catch up.
T4 onwards. Priorities are a combination of clearing the rail lines for the FBDs, making pockets, protecting converted rail and keeping your army up to strength.
Consider that you have three parts to the army.
Panzer armies are making the pockets and clearing the way forwards.
Some infantry are following the Panzers at full speed and should maintain their PPs, ready for combat as required.
The rest are there to mop up the pockets, keep the soviets trapped and protect the rail lines.
Only do attacks that are useful; the war is won by pocketing units and not by winning a lot of individual battles. An alternative approach is to just smash lots of Soviets when they are weak and you can inflict a lot of damage with frontal attacks - this can be effective but in my view playing for pockets is a better strategy.
Once the front lines have settled down, around T4 or so, you will be faced with a solid Soviet front line. The objective is to break through with the infantry and create a pocket with the Panzers.
The heavy fighting needs to be done by the infantry. Aim to be attacking with some units while others are resting and building up PPs. Typically you might have 1/3 Infantry attacking, 1/3 Infantry advancing and guarding flanks and 1/3 Infantry static and building up PPs. Have your best infantry under Assault HQs, the Panzer Armies can take on an extra Corps or two of Infantry and/or set another Infantry army to assault as soon as you can.
Use Reserve activations to help break a strong front line.
Take care of your Panzers, losses are likely to outstrip replacements while Motorised units can rebuild from the general pool. You can get heavy tank losses from:
Fighting Soviet Tank units.
Heavy combats at mediocre odds.
So if you can do the attacking with the Mot. units (and in particular SS) and seal the pockets with the Panzers.
Once you have a gap send motorised units through to control where the Soviets retreat to and limit reserve activations.
Cities are strong defensive points, for example Smolensk could hold up the whole advance for a couple of turns or more. It is far better to pocket it before the FBD gets there than to be faced with a frontal assault. A close pocket of Panzer regiments (or even Mot divisions) is unlikely to hold as the Soviets will usually have the strength to counter attack.
Guard your flanks, Soviet cavalry can easily move through a defensive screen without interlocking ZOCs. If they get to your active rail line it can break up the whole offensive.
Allied units are truly rubbish, this is not WITE1. There may be a case for using the elite units for combat, if you do then transfer them to German HQs (you will have lots of spare capacity once a couple more armies are converted to Assault). The rest I would use for flipping hexes, a second line of defence to stop Tank/Cavalry incursions or possibly to defend strong positions like cities/swamps/major rivers (but only under German HQs). You can also use them to screen pockets once they have been bypassed, works well against the AI. Do not use them to reduce pockets until the defenders are down to a CV or 0.1 or so. Using Allied using for combat expends supplies that would better go to German units and replacing any casualties will use up valuable rail capacity.
You can assign allied SUs to German units, this may work OK and if they get trashed they can easily be sent home to Refit.
It is probably not possible to take Leningrad against a skilled Soviet player. Too much dense terrain.
Moscow is also challenging, frontal assault is difficult and the terrain you have to go through to make a pocket suits the defenders. So you need to get up close early and make the pocket in good time.
The South is where it is easiest to attack because of the open terrain. The Soviet player has to make a defensive line or with the FBD advancing 8 hexes a turn Axis could be well past historical by the end of the Summer. So use AGS to chew up the Soviet army.
Port hop along the two coasts to get extra supplies in by sea. If the Soviets strongly garrison the ports then make them pay for it by Isolating with Naval Patrols and forcing the Surrender.
Axis will only win in ‘41 if the Soviet player makes major mistakes.
There are good prospects for a win in ‘42 if you can take Moscow in ‘41 or ‘42. Failing that it may be possible to get the VPs by taking Stalingrad and some more southern objectives. This all assumes you take Tallinn, Pskov and Sevastapol but no need to go anywhere near Lenningrad. If you fail to win in ‘42 then likely you will be crushed by the Soviets in ‘43 and ‘44.
To facilitate this strategy would use two Panzer armies in the Center and two in the South.
AGN use PG4 to clear as much terrain as possible on T1 and T2, then switch to support the advance on Smolensk. The infantry can work their way up to Tallinn and take Pskov.
For AGC, Smolensk is critical. You need to isolate it by around T5, to do this get across the river by T2/3 and do a right hook. This is where you need the support of PG4 and as much infantry from 4th/9th army as possible. Maybe you can take Smolensk by frontal assault if it is not well garrisoned. Once past Smolensk the terrain opens up a little. You also need to get the Minsk rail line extended past Gomel and on to Bryansk/Kursk, it. probably requires some of AGS coming up behind Kiev to accomplish this.
Moscow has some very difficult terrain to fight through. To take it in ‘41 you will have to pocket it before the mud turns, this is a big ask.
AGS should be able to get to Rostov and beyond in ‘41. Take Sevastapol before the mud if possible, or if not during the snow turns. You are probably not going to be able to cross Kerch against strong opposition. Unlike WITE1 it is possible to take large areas of the map between Rostov and Moscow in ‘41 because the supply systems are so different, but to keep all the FBDs moving requires you to make progress against the Kiev area in good time.
This is the approach I would take during ‘41:
On T1 maximise air base bombing and set up GS directives for each Army Group.
On the first few turns switch GS ON for very important combats (or more likely only use Luftwaffe bombers for T1 D1 and Naval Interdiction), don’t waste it if it is not needed. It will make maximum difference against small units that are in the open, while against larger stacks you will take heavier AA losses and against larger units/stacks that are entrenched/rough terrain it will have relatively less impact. You can get more use of the Luftwaffe with AGS where generally the supply situation is better during the early moves, there is a case for preserving all AGC supplies for the ground forces.
Move the fighters and recon forwards as required but leave the bombers behind the Start line where there is good supply.
At some stage you will outdistance GS range. Probably the area of captured terrain will be short of supply. You now have a number of choices:
Move the bombers forwards, recognising that their supply draw will slow the Panzers down.
Do without GS.
Get more supplies forwards, using Super Depots or possibly by using captured ports.
Playing the AI.
This is primarily written about playing Axis in the Campaign with the Soviets on 110. Playing at NORMAL will be a lot easier; good luck to anyone who can take on the AI at 120 !
First you need to understand how the AI plays. Units that are not pocketed or ZOC’d have unlimited movement (except on NORMAL setting), so the AI will attempt to rebalance it’s whole front line every turn. It likes to have two solid lines of units but will go with one if that is all that the troops it has available. All of them will be on Reserve so you can expect lots of Activations.
So you don’t need to be winning across the whole front, keep pocketing larger numbers of units in the South and the whole line will begin to thin out, or at least get weaker.
Activations are a real problem. To counter this first ZOC everything within range on the front line before making any attacks. Broken down units are good for this. Then when you have a gap in the first line send motorised units through to ZOC the 2nd line. This also helps to steer units retreating from subsequent attacks. Be willing to use up MPs of your mobile units to make a few focused attacks more effective; fuel can be resupplied a lot quicker than Fuel + Ammo + PPs can be built up.
Other tactics you can use are attacking at huge odds (defenders will not activate if the odds are too bad) OR doing less critical attacks first to absorb some of the activations (but this will not work if the Soviets have a several of units available).
The AI will not do many attacks up to T4 so use this period to advance into contact with your Panzers every turn (broken down units will do) so that the infantry can follow up quicker. Pockets can be sealed with weak units (this was with an earlier patch, not sure if it still applies).
Later the AI will start doing some attrition attacks and attempting to break pockets so your pockets need to be stronger. AI attacks can be used to work in your favour, if your front line is strong the AI can really weaken itself. However if you have a lot of regiments in the front line the AI will have them for dinner.
Be patient, the AI will make mistakes. So don’t attack all out with your Panzers every turn, let them build up PPs and Supply ready for the critical strike. But you need to provoke mistakes. So break up the front line, a typical probing attack might have infantry fighting their way 3 hexes forwards on a very narrow front and then advance another hex or two with Panzers (which need to be strong enough to withstand counters). Now you have a 5 hex incursion into the Soviet front line, if they stand you may have a chance to make a pocket next turn. If they retreat you have got a 5 hex advance without having any Panzer combat. It is far more effective to make one big incursion than to grind forwards a little every turn. Once the front is broken up the AI will start making mistakes and giving you opportunities to pocket units.
The AI does not defend river lines, so manoeuvre your way past them.
It doesn’t look at what is opposing it, so you can concentrate your strike force while stretching the defenders by extending the front line.
Have a secure front line, any gaps and the AI will advance through and flip a lot of hexes. Generally this would be an infantry division on alternate hexes. It will also target rail lines, so you need to push it away from critical rail so you have at least 2-3 hexes of buffer.
The AI has unlimited movement so can redeploy faster than you can. It can also concentrate units to do attacks and then redeploy them to make a good front line. This mitigates towards having a shorter front line than you might against a human player, having large bulges for long periods benefits the AI.
You want to play well every turn. For a while it may seem like you are not making progress and the AI continues to rebuild it’s front line every turn, but if you can keep making pockets eventually it will run low on units and the game will open up. However if you fail to do this and the Soviets are building up over 4M manpower during Summer ‘41 then you have probably lost.
As with most wargames the AI is better at defending than attacking. Here are my suggestions as to which sides play best for the various scenarios:
Velike Luki. Soviet.
Road to Minsk. Axis.
Road to Leningrad. Axis or HvH. Good starter scenario.
Destruction of the SW Front. Axis or HvH. Best of the small scenarios.
Typhoon. Axis or maybe HvH. Good for learning the Blizzard. Most of the action is on the first few turns.
Red god of war - have not played it.
Red Army resurgent - have not played it.
These are the three Campaigns,the later start ones are both well worth having a go at. VtB in particular makes a good ‘shorter’ game.
1941 Campaign. Axis or HvH. Possibly as Soviets.
Stalingrad to Berlin. Soviet, HvH or maybe Axis
Vistula to Berlin. Soviet, HvH or maybe Axis.