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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter

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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/23/2010 12:25:19 AM   


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Turn 7 Axis:

(Permanent) Soviet casualties: two Rifle Regiments of the 179th Rifle Division (they had died before and are now permanently KIA'ed), the artillery regiment of the 233rd Rifle Division, 19th Army engineer battalion, 14th Tank Division AA battalion and Motorised Rifle Regiment, two Rifle Regiments of the 152nd Rifle Division, two Tank Regiments and the AA battalion of the 18th Tank Division, a Western Front AT battalion, the artillery regiment and the recon battalion of the 127th Rifle Division, the AT battalion of the 144th Rifle Division, a 19th Army artillery regiment, the artillery of the 24th Rifle Division, a Motorised Rifle Regiment and the AT battalion of the 1st Mechanised Division, two Airborne Brigades of the 4th Airborne Corps, a Rifle Regiment of the 167th Rifle Division, a Rifle Regiment of the 148th Rifle Division, a Rifle Regiment and the engineer battalion of the 108th Rifle Division, a Rifle Regiment of the 151st Rifle Division, a Motorised Rifle Regiment, a Tank Regiment and the recon battalion of the 50th Tank Division, a Tank Regiment and the T34 battalion of the 104th Tank Division, the AA battalion of the 69th Mechanised Division, the engineer battalion of the 232nd Rifle Division, a Motorised Rifle Regiment of the 55th Tank Division, a Rifle Regiment of the 61st Rifle Division, the AT battalion of the 102nd Rifle Division, a Rifle Regiment of the 187th Rifle Division, a Rifle Regiment of the 137th Rifle Division.

Not a lot of action in this part of the map, the Germans are killing some units that had already died once but no significant advances are being made.

The front at Demidov is quiet aside from a counterattack. The forces retreating from Vitebsk will soon be pocketed.

Not much happens around Orsha, but the Germans get across the Dnepr West of Smolensk and kill most of my counterattacking forces next to the German cavalry division.

Pretty quiet, nothing special.

Turn 7 Soviets:

Axis casualties: 2nd Panzergruppe MG battalion, the 3rd Panzer Division Pionier battalion, the 4th Panzer Division Pionier battalion, a Panzer battalion of the 10th Panzer Division is now KIA'd for the rest of the game, 12th Panzer Division recon and Pionier battalions, 20th Panzer Division's light FlaK battalion, 20th Motorised Division recon battalion and artillery regiment, 137th Infantry Division Infantry Regiment and recon battalion, 5th Corps Pionier battalion, 3rd Panzer Division Panzer battalion, 10th Motorised Division Motorised Infantry Regiment, Das Reich's Deutschland Regiment, 17th Panzer Panzer Grenadier regiment.

Soviet forces counterattack, almost killing an HQ in Velizh. The counterattacking forces are exposed, but the damage to German forces in the area is pretty bad.

The forces withdrawing from Vitebsk are trying to evade being pocketed, but their rear guard is too weak to stop the pocket from forming. Luckily, they're in the middle of a marsh so they probably won't be crushed in a single turn. Many of the forces that crossed the Dnepr West of Smolensk are dead or forced to move across the river again. Sadly, the recon units are still there and there's a German pontoon unit on the Southern bank. I knew he'd bridge the river on turn 8 if I didn't kill them, but I couldn't so he bridged the river and hit the forces in the area hard.

Some counterattacks, nothing too special. South of the screenshot's edge Soviet forces killed an infantry regiment and another battalion.

< Message edited by ComradeP -- 4/23/2010 12:50:32 AM >

(in reply to ComradeP)
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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/23/2010 3:39:22 PM   


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OK, I'm going to start working on an unofficial variant to this scenario too, as it seems to be impossible to get anything close to a historical result against any German player who knows what he's doing and even if the Germans are not too strong (which is something I doubt), the Soviets are certainly too weak.

I'll continue with the current game and should be able to add the reports of turn 8 and 9 in the weekend. It's kind of demoralizing to see *-D2/*-D3 rolls, often double ones, in every single turn and losing ~30 units each turn regardless of in what kind of hex they are. Admittedly, my opponent's good dice rolls on critical attacks and thus my resulting high loss rate make the game more difficult than it would be on average, but there's room for improvement I'd say.

I don't know how many of the people reading this thread are also active on the forums, but your suggestions are of course also welcome, the same goes for suggestions on Husky.

Currently, I'm thinking about the following things:

-Split the German forces into two different "countries" (as far as the game is concerned) with the Panzerkorps in one country and the infantry in the rest. I'm a bit tired of seeing "Panzer shock" attacks being carried out by infantry. The infantry would get its own special attack, probably something like "shock attack" which will provide something like a +1 defender casualty modifier and a -1 overrun threshold bonus. The attack would be 1/turn for the entire game.

-The Soviets will also get a special attack, something like "Wave attack" which gives +2 losses for the attacker, +1 for the defender, a +2 shift bonus, -1 retreat chance modifier and an -1 overrun threshold. The Soviets would get 1/turn in the first 10 or so turns and 2 afterwards.

-Soviet recon units will get a recon bonus, something like +2 or +3.

-All Soviet tank units will get a Tank Shock and Tank Defence modifier of +2/+2 at 4 steps and +1/+1 at 3 steps, as well as increased movement OP's. Now the Soviets can't use tanks as tanks because they don't get any kind of tank modifier aside from being tracked.

I'm also thinking about various other changes.

Another issue is that the battle is a lot more deadly than it was in real life, especially for the Soviets as the Germans get impressive odds on everything. In this case, the difference between the DB series and the Kharkov engine is quite apparent.

(in reply to ComradeP)
Post #: 32
RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/25/2010 5:32:27 PM   
JD Walter

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Fascinating AAR, ComradeP. Very well written, and the copious screenshots greatly aid in understanding all the action.

I, too, am very surprised at the lethality of the German formations. They appear to be brutally efficient at eliminating anything that stands in their way. It looks like the Russian player will have to deploy two, or even three, lines of defense around any vitally important location that must be held for VP's.

It certainly is a different army that the Russian player commands here, than in Kharkov. Between the two games, one can see how much the Red Army improves in just a year. AtD looks to be a good companion to the studies of authors like Col. David Glantz & John Ericsson; it really illustrates how different the German & Russian Armies are, and how much better aligned the Wehrmacht is to pursuing a mechanized/exploitation form of warfare at this time (1941).

I've learned as much about the game reading your AAR as plowing through the manual. Good work!

(in reply to ComradeP)
Post #: 33
RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/25/2010 6:00:52 PM   


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Thanks for the compliments.

The main problem remains that I don't think anything close to a historical result (with the Germans held just to the East of Demidov, Smolensk and Roslavl) is possible with the current Soviet forces, not if most German attacks more or less automatically destroy an entire stack in one go and most certainly not with the 20+ heavy artillery units the Germans get. Assuming the German advance can be stopped by the ground forces at some point, the German artillery will simply blow everything away.

There are, in this version, simply too many German divisions to attrite them to a halt.

There's also one feature which in this scenario tends to favour the Germans: the size of a combat unit doesn't matter when it comes to whether it gives a tactical shift or not. That's why, in theory, three 2 step Pioneer battalions, or about 1800-2000 men total, can get a +4 shift (when attacking from three sides) on three Rifle Regiments of a Rifle Division (5000-6000 men or so) with another 4 step Rifle Regiment in the same stack.

In the original ATD, and in many "Battle for Smolensk" scenarios in other games (the HPS title, TOAW scenarios), a concentrated counterattack is a good idea and can weaken German forces significantly. In this case, it will simply result in lots of Soviet casualties.

Including reinforcements I have between 30 and 40 divisions left that are not stuck somewhere. 10 of those divisions are Militia divisions. In short, the only viable strategy at this point is to place blocking units on the roads leading East and try to slow the Germans down a bit, as they certainly won't be stopped. The idea is to place a forest of detachments and put one unit on the road a few hexes from the nearest German unit. That way, the Germans can't get around it and even though the blocking unit will die, the German advance will be slightly slowed down.

In fact, that might be the best strategy for the entire scenario: forest of detachments, pull units back, place a few blocking units somewhere, repeat next turn. If you try to defend a line, that simply favours the Germans as relatively speaking it doesn't matter much if you have 1 or 3 units in a stack, as the Germans will kill it for negligible losses in any case, so you might as well place 1 unit in a stack. Units with 1 life that you intend to use as a blocking unit could be backed up by a support unit so they won't surrender at 20-1 odds. It's more or less irrelevant whether the other units surrender or not, they're only there to slow the Germans down through ZOC.

The good news is that, especially in the South, the Germans are still not even close to Roslavl.

I should be able to post both turn 8 and 9 today, which will show you the dire state my forces are in. The Germans are also running around with 2 and 3 step units, but they still get an additional 12 or so infantry divisions.

As I noted a few posts ago: this scenario really forces you to re-learn everything you think you knew about defending, because the Germans are so deadly.

In a feature edited version of the scenario, I'll also probably give the Soviets 2 artillery strikes/hex capability on turn 8, when Cavalry Group Kuliev arrives and the historical Soviets counterattack starts.

< Message edited by ComradeP -- 4/25/2010 6:03:41 PM >

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Post #: 34
RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/26/2010 9:25:58 AM   

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The Germans are really only lethal when attacking in open terrain with favourable tactical shifts. They have a lot less fun in the forest and none at all in swamps.

As the Russians, one approach is as follows:

Defend in depth on open lines of approach, doing everything possible to deny tactical shifts to Germans and placing AA units to mitigate German interdiction, while defending less strongly.

Forest, and especially marsh hexes close to German lines of communication should always be well defended. The German supply lines are somewhat precarious, and the Germans will be forced to winkle you out of these positions (which will take them a lot of time, trouble and attrition) or run the risk of having whole formations without supply, which will bring their Blitzkrieg to a screeching halt. Russian cavalry formations are ideal for causing trouble behind German lines, and should be used for this purpose whenever possible.

German players spend a lot of time worrying about their supply position and if you can cause them trouble in this area then you are doing the right thing. Every combat that is not an overrun is victory for the Russians. Every unit assaulted in a marsh is a double victory. Germans out of supply is cause for major celebration.



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(in reply to ComradeP)
Post #: 35
RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/26/2010 7:51:05 PM   


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Ran out of time again yesterday, so my apologies for the lack of updates. I hope to find the time to write an update today, but I can't promise anything, knowing how quickly my days seem to pass by as of late.

My opponent send me turn 10 today, I'll give a quick overview.

Aside from the great rolls he keeps getting on critical attacks, which just make me shrug as there's nothing I can do about them, I'm not all that unhappy with the state of the game. Sure, I've lost a lot of forces, but many of his infantry formations are depleted and he's basically besieging Smolensk with Panzer divisions.

Cavalry Group Kuliev captured Mogilev, killing a Security unit in the process and killed 46th Panzer Corps HQ on the other side of the Dnepr. Kuliev's HQ will probably be killed next turn, but even with 20 OP's, my cavalry should be able to be more than just an annoyance. If I can hold Mogilev for a turn, that's 200 VP's for me and it will at least force him to divert some strength. Kuliev's crew also cut the German supply source in Southwest.

Demidov's encircled but it has a Rifle Division as a garrison so without artillery it should take him a while to take it. I've changed control of Nevel too with a hidden 1 step unit. As I've moved its HQ closer to the front, the unit is actually in supply now. I had also hidden a 4 step unit in the area, which should cause him some difficulties if I can place it in Nevel and he tries to remove me with a Pionier battalion or two, which seems to be what he has in the area. Further South, the third isolated unit is moving to another German supply source.

With a bit of luck (as in: if my opponent doesn't basically roll a 5 or 6 on everything like he's doing now), Smolensk could hold out until turn 13 or so. I fear Vyazma might fall around turn 15, but I'm not sure. It depends on what I can get into the area. It doesn't really help that some units only reconstitute in Smolensk and you can't move them to a different OMA.

I'd say I have a chance to hold Rzhev and especially Kirov, as the front is FAR away from Kirov. My opponent hasn't captured Mstislavl yet and at top speed it will take him 4 turns or so to reach Roslavl.

His infantry is mostly busy with destroying pockets. The Orsha pocket is finally gone aside from a single AT unit. The guys I moved into the marshes are attriting the Germans significantly. A fair number of his infantry divisions seem to be more or less burned out, although his Panzer units are in a decent shape. That will hopefully change if he uses them to attack Smolensk.

It feels weird to think that I could actually win this, although a lot will depend on how much I can disrupt his advance with delay tactics and whether I can continue to wreak havoc in his rear area with my cavalry.

He has a lead of about 300 points in unit KIA VP's at this point.

(in reply to Gregor_SSG)
Post #: 36
RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/27/2010 3:43:35 AM   


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Interesting AAR - thanks for posting it.

I think before concluding the scenario is imbalanced it might be helpful to get more sample size.

I guess the Red Army in this AAR chose to employ counterattacks heavily. It would be interesting to see how some other Soviet strategies work out as well.

I'm reading Raus' Panzer Operations recently and while reading the book I really get the sense that the panzer divisions in 1941 just couldn't be stopped prior to the rasputitsa (sp?) mud season. The majority of their tank attrition was from weather and mechanical issues after a very long 1941 campaign summer.

At one point when his 6th pz division is transferred to AGC for the attack on Moskva, his division is attacked in the flank by roughly 100 Soviet medium and light tanks. German losses are negligible and they are slowed by 2 hours. That's it, on goes the advance.

He also points out the inflexibility of Soviet artillery and the lack of coordination between the artillery units and ground or air forces. They seem to be largely limited to planned fire missions based on map coordinates - and he points out that when the Soviets launch a hasty attack there is not time for them to set up these fire missions. The German artillery on the other hand seems much more flexible. This may be part of the reason why Soviet fire missions are so limited in the scenario.

Soviet infantry (by Raus' account) while resilient and persistent - just can't stand up to German mobile formations. They aren't coordinated enough, nor well enough equipped. There are only a few cases prior to the winter of 41 that the Soviets are able to stop the 6th panzer and these only when they are fighting from prepared positions with avenues of approach constrained by marshy or wooded obstacles.

The Soviet infantry is certainly persistent - there is one bridgehead battle where the Soviets launch many successive human wave attacks. Each time they are stopped the Soviets use the bodies of dead Soviets from prior and current waves to build barriers and scoop dirt and sand over the bodies. The next wave then advances farther across the open ground to build another barrier of bodies in the same way. But the end result is ineffective as the Germans eventually drive them off with huge losses.

The main problem that the German mobile divisions have according to Raus' (outside of terrain, supply, weather, mechanical) is the KV-1 and a few heavily fortified Soviet positions that are eventually overcome by prepared assault. KV-1's are destroyed in every way possible: NCO's jumping on to pump pistol rounds into the drivers slit, explosive charges attached to barrels and tracks, 100mm field guns firing solid shot at point blank range to the rear of KV-1's, 88's (one instance has an 88 hit a KV-1 7 times with only 2 penetrations) which are always in short supply, point blank heavy AT gun fire (producing a hole the size of a pencil if a penetration is managed from the rear or side), etc.

Anyway the point is that the German panzer division's ability to slice through Soviet resistance really is what is also described in Raus' book.


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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/27/2010 1:36:39 PM   
Talos Run5

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I have three games just started as the Soviets (as Abwehr seems to think they are the toughest to play), against Slevi, Bertram and Avatar47 so i will keep this thread posted of how it goes and my thoughts on the scenario.

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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/27/2010 6:59:07 PM   


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I'm not of the opinion that the entire scenario is unbalanced, but some balancing measures could be introduced.

I don't favour luck over skill, yet I naturally suffer equally from lucky results as those that do believe in luck over skill. My opponent gets overrun results on most of his rolls and if there's a 50% chance for double dice, he also gets that too. What that means is that stacks, no matter how good, evaporate when attacked, which is why I think a bit of a balance in the shape of increased capabilities for some units could be introduced for the Soviets.

It will be interesting to read about your experiences, Talos. I think a game where the Germans don't get good rolls will be radically different than a game where they do get good rolls. However, a game where the Soviets get good rolls won't necessarily be too different from a game where they don't, as an attack at 8-1 or 12-1 odds is usually not possible.

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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/28/2010 7:54:23 AM   

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Raus's book is a superb of my favourite east front memiors.

Also if I'm write in thinking the Germans did in the end smash through with relative ease...I stress if its easy to win as the Germans and hard as the soviet then thats the way it should be....maybe the victory conditions need to be changed for the to win you have to be better than the Germans historical ending.

< Message edited by wodin -- 4/28/2010 7:58:11 AM >


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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/28/2010 4:25:30 PM   


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Except that the Germans didn't come close to Vyazma, Rzhev or Kirov during the operation, so that would basically require an overhaul of the scenario where a marginal victory is the capture of all locations up to the historical frontline, where Smolensk would be more important than Vyazma. Vyazma's worth too much for the Germans now in any case, considering how easy it is to capture it.

Random weather would be very nice too, as now both sides but primarily the Germans enjoy a period of sunshine that wasn't there in the actual battle.

< Message edited by ComradeP -- 4/28/2010 4:27:08 PM >

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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 4/30/2010 12:17:51 PM   
Talos Run5

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An update on my games, just basically on the first turn and some thoughts about it. All 3 games have been different, with Avatar47 having the best start (i think i lost 47 units), i have turn 2 to play tonight. Slevi's game has advanced the furthest and i have managed to lose both Orsha (lost on turn 4) and Mogilev (lost on turn 2) the fist was just attacked 4 or 5 times in one turn and just wore the defenders down though they did inflict a fair few casualties on the attacking German forces. Mogilev just had to few defenders in it and was just wiped out along with the forces i had put in to 2nd echelon. I have since evacuated most of the way across the map in a north south line starting in the heavy forest west of Demidov and basically heading due south through the marsh and forest. Though i have been losing units nothing spectacular so far as i am trying to avoid major encirclements in this game so far. In the last game the Germans failed to take Vitebesk on turn 1 and allowed me to get substantial troops into the city also they did not get far elsewhere along the front line and allowed a large number of counter attacks against exposed individual units, which has some what blunted the German advance over the first couple of turns.

It looks like trying to get an optimum start as The Germans can make a big difference over the first few turns and also trying to keep the mobile forces intact as much as possible. I will have better idea once the other two games have got to about turn 4 to see how things progress.

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Post #: 42
RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 5/9/2010 2:17:45 PM   


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I've conceded the game against Squatter.

Nothing I tried was working, some of his good rolls seriously sped up his progress and cities fall like domino's regardless of how many guys are in the city hex.

Probably my worst defeat in a long while, really depressing how everything just kept on failing.

I'll spend the next few days working on a variant.

I won't finish/update the AAR beyond what's there now, unless people ask for it. I'll probably start an AAR for the next ATD PBEM session.

< Message edited by ComradeP -- 5/9/2010 2:19:00 PM >

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RE: ATD2 Soviet AAR - no Squatter - 6/11/2010 6:35:27 AM   


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Thank you for your work here ComradeP.  I enjoyed it.

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