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Invading Mainland Italy - 6/4/2015 9:13:52 PM   
carlkay58

 

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Invading Mainland Italy:

I have divided the areas in mainland Italy into zones to discuss invasion planning. The invasion of Italy is
the most important decision for the Allies in the MTO in WitW. A bad invasion will get kicked back out to sea
and the VP losses will be huge for the Allies - potentially deciding the game. A cautious invasion will see
the Allies get bottled up easily by the Axis and another invasion or a lot of casualties will be required to
get beyond it.

The terrain of southern Italy favors the defense. There are many great defensive lines with both rivers and
rough/mountain terrain. The thing to remember for the Allies is that the war will not be won in Italy - but
it can definitely be lost there. Northern Italy is a great source of city VPs but you can't get there without
a solid presence in southern Italy. The prime locations in southern Italy are Rome, Tarranto, and Naples. The
capture of these cities will go far in setting up nice city VPs for the Allies as well as great airbases for
the strategic bombing of Ploesti and Vienna.

Area I is just too far into the Adriatic Sea. It is too far for Allied air support to reach and too easy for
the Axis to get naval control. This area should not even be a consideration for the first invasion. The trick
for the MTO is to need only a single invasion of the mainland, more than that and you are putting your ETO
invasion timetable into jeopardy.

Area H has some good points. It is a peninsula - easily cut off and some nice ports that are hard for the
Axis to defend. But the Axis are able to cut off the peninsula and force the Allies to lay siege to Tarranto
if they spend any time at all in preparing for defending the area. Once the Allies breakthrough that defense
they are into the plains and the Axis will have to retreat quite a ways. The Italian heel is a good location
for the strategic bombing of the Ploesti oil fields and will cause the Axis problems but it will not endanger
either Naples or Rome easily.

Area G is great for cutting the supplies off from Sicily. A good early turn (i.e. before turn 8) invasion
area to cut off Axis defending in Sicily. Other than that, this area has nothing going for it. It is easily
cut off and defended with only two or three good stacks and the Axis can hold out for a long time.

Area F is a bit better than G but also suffers from being easily cut off and defended. It requires a few more
hexes of good defense but it is still too far away for the strategic air campaign or to threaten either
Naples or Rome easily.

Area E (the historical choice) has some good and bad points. First you have the good defensive terrain around
the beach heads. This can work both for and against both sides. If the Allies are able to advance inland at
all they will make it harder to be tossed back into the sea. The Axis, on the other hand, will have an easier
time preventing break outs. Once the Allies do break out the Axis still have some excellent defensive lines
before either Naples or Rome are endangered.

Area D threatens Naples directly and that will usually also clear the toe and heel of Italy as the Axis
defend against this threat. It is also the farthest landing sites from any possible Allied airfields for air
support. Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica are all just a bit too far from these beaches for good solid air
support and the terrain gives both sides the same factors as Area E.

Area C (the historical second invasion choice) definitely threatens Rome which makes Naples and Taranto
harder to defend. It is on the southern portion of the western Italian plains so a breakout can be expanded
quickly. It is close enough to Sardinia for good air support and a tight enough area that good railyard and
interdiction attacks can be successful. There are two ports in the zone and the two northern ports in area D
are also easily within reach. The problem is none of the beaches or ports are on rail lines so the long term
supply situation could be trouble.

Area B threatens Rome well. It does not have any ports in the area I drew but it does have ports on either
side. It is well within air support range from both Sardinia and Corsica with beach heads on the rail line.
While it solves some of the problems for Area C it also has the problem of setting up an Axis defense
position on the Tevere River to defend Rome and any further eastern expansion.

Area A seems to just suck people into it. It looks great. Nice beaches along the rail line. Threatens the
entire supply line on the western side of Italy. Great terrain to break out into. Just look at how many
Allied players invade this area in the AARs (including me against Pelton). But it is a lousy area to invade.
The only port is on the southern edge of the area and it is a small port at that. The nice terrain to break
out through is also great terrain for Axis panzers to drive you back into the sea (and they can definitely do
that!). It is close enough to Corsica for good air support but it is also close enough to northern Italy for
good Axis air support which means the battle for naval countrol is going to be a grind. Yes it will be a
great place to grind the LW down but the Allies don't need another grinding place for that - Germany is the
better place to grind down the LW without endangering the Allied chances for victory as much as invading this
area will.

Remember that any human Axis player will garrison every port with at least one decent regiment if not better.
The AI will also do that. The plains around Rome are a great place to keep a mobile Axis reserve - all the
better for tossing the Allies back into the sea. Some good Axis players are beginning to build a fort line
behind the beaches to stop or slow any expansion.






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Post #: 1
RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/5/2015 2:35:35 PM   
Seminole


Posts: 1941
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quote:

The trick for the MTO is to need only a single invasion of the mainland, more than that and you are putting your ETO invasion timetable into jeopardy.


For players that haven't played a campaign game from '43 through the ETO invasion from the WA side, how soon do you start gathering forces, or rather, what is the latest you'd wait to pull a division you 'needed' in the invasion, or first month thereof?
I can see troop ship numbers, but don't really know how it equates to lifting divisions of infantry on D-Day. Do you have a threshold you watch for operating in the MTO?
If you only plan a single invasion, does that mean you plan to simply slog up the boot - sit tight - what next?

quote:

Area I is just too far into the Adriatic Sea.


Agree. I've swallowed almost the entire 8th Army before for trying to go into Foggia without supporting airbases.
However, invading north of Termoli to unhinge that defensive line once you have the Foggia airbases stocked up I think is a worthwhile consideration.

quote:

Area H has some good points. It is a peninsula - easily cut off and some nice ports that are hard for the Axis to defend. But the Axis are able to cut off the peninsula and force the Allies to lay siege to Tarranto if they spend any time at all in preparing for defending the area.


Area H - The Heel - is my favorite spot. As you said, the Axis can't defend in the clear terrain, with so much of it exposed to naval gunfire support, and depending how you lay your invasion beaches you can cover a lot of ground with the 4xCV beachhead modifier to hold on if the Axis try to stay and fight. You will probably need to get some of your air transport into Sicily so that all the paratroopers you want can reach.
Taranto isn't actually necessary for the break out because the neck of the The Heel is three hexes wide. You can claw your way along the north shore with TF support and threaten to encircle Axis defenders in Taranto and the hills NW. Tons of available airfields, and again if you plan your invasion beaches carefully you can end up with a large number of size 2 airfields right off the bat.
Works great in the Battleground Italy scenario, especially because the Luftwaffe level bombers are withdrawn around turn 5 or 6 (about the time you can be ready to make this invasion after hitting Sicily).
In the campaign you'd need to bring down some naval patrol assets from The Channel, and I'd likewise devote the long range fighters to escort naval patrol / air superiority to chew on the LW level bombers.

I've only got to play a handful of turns that included some rain since the .37 beta, but it appears that TFs contribute much more to disrupting LW naval patrol, and LW naval patrol capability appears to have been nerfed a bit (this could have more to do with the weather cancelling flights, I didn't examine the logs or follow at a high message detail and I think I've only seen 4 turns since the .37 beta as real life has been hectic lately).

quote:

Area G is great for cutting the supplies off from Sicily.


It's the threat of a landing here that in no small part impels the Germans the bug out of Sicily. Not knowing the location of just one TF from the start of the game means the German player has to keep an eye on holding open the neck at the top of Area G until units to the south have extracted. But you're right it is no road to Rome.

quote:

Area F is a bit better than G but also suffers from being easily cut off and defended.


I consider this area worse for the Allies. Farther from air support, and the Germans can setup a great defensive line backstopped with a depot across the middle of it on mountains. They can then fall back to the hills beyond the river at the northern end and lay down air interdiction and counter attack stacks that cross the river (forcing extra retreat losses from interdiction and fleeing across a river). This can be expensive for the Western Allies unless they commit massive strength, which the German player should be more than happy to see parked this far south and not waiting in ports to land somewhere else.

quote:

Area E (the historical choice) has some good and bad points.


Not much better than F for the Allies. You're really stretching your air support, with little prospect for building or gaining additional airfields nearby. Germans can bottle a significant force here with just two or three divisions while they reinforce/re-align.

quote:

Area D threatens Naples directly and that will usually also clear the toe and heel of Italy as the Axis defend against this threat.


I think a German player is making a mistake leaving anything in the toe after he has gotten the last troops across the Messina Straits. The Heel is a little different (threat of being cut off not as severe except in Brindisi).
This area has a little more breathing area to get troops ashore, but it faces many of the same constraints with respect to breakout.
I would only consider a landing in Area D or E if it was accompanied by landings on the plains around Foggia. Without some kind of threat behind the beachhead these landing sites are favorable to the Germans.

quote:

Some good Axis players are beginning to build a fort line behind the beaches to stop or slow any expansion.


I'm finally getting into some battles with my Axis MTO strategy, so I'll post soon with how it goes. I want opponents to hit it a few times and see how they respond. There are surely responses I haven't considered.
You're right, that area is cheap for the Axis to toss down a few early forts and begin digging in, but do it off the beaches so it doesn't carry a high cost (you're most likely going to get bounced by an invasion anyway).

quote:

Area C (the historical second invasion choice) definitely threatens Rome which makes Naples and Taranto harder to defend.


I like that it bypasses the historical German defensive positions to the east. But as you noted, it would be hard to undertake without the islands under control, which can present its own timetable hazards. Not the greatest breakout spot either, but better than anywhere else on south of it on the Tyrrhenian Sea.

quote:

Area A seems to just suck people into it.


I would look at the A-B invasion zone as something to hit not as the first mainland invasion, but as part of the secondary hop after establishing in The Heel and pressing toward Foggia. Land in Area B with emphasis on isolating and taking the rough terrain NW of Rome and digging in on the river. As you attract Germans follow up invasions can come in Area A and Area I (north of Termoli on the Adriatic coast).
With the terrain you're holding in Area B you can backup the Area A & I landings with paradrops to cut off supply heading through central Italy rails.

Garrison requirements give the Allies a window to press the Germans in '43, but they need to stretch them. Maneuver is the Allies best weapon in the MTO, that's why I don't like the idea of just one mainland invasion. The real trick is you need to have the secondary hop planned out before the primary hop goes ashore, so you know what TFs to pull back to where/when.

(in reply to carlkay58)
Post #: 2
RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/6/2015 12:00:34 AM   
carlkay58

 

Posts: 8370
Joined: 7/25/2010
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quote:

For players that haven't played a campaign game from '43 through the ETO invasion from the WA side, how soon do you start gathering forces, or rather, what is the latest you'd wait to pull a division you 'needed' in the invasion, or first month thereof? I can see troop ship numbers, but don't really know how it equates to lifting divisions of infantry on D-Day. Do you have a threshold you watch for operating in the MTO? If you only plan a single invasion, does that mean you plan to simply slog up the boot - sit tight - what next?


I really don't track the transports that much unless I am worried about losses. Against the AI I never have too many worries about that but against a human it is something to keep aware of.

The timing issue for France is important. Amphibs must be there in February - the earlier the better. You need two division invasion forces in order to have some staying power - so only 6 prep points a turn for most of the invasion stacks. That means nine turns minimum for the 50 required prep points which is all of March and April if the Amphibs are back by the end of February. I tend to like more than 50 prep points, I prefer at least 70 - which is possible as the bad weather sticks around until mid to late May. The difference between 50 and 70 prep points for the condition of the landing force is HUGE!

The troops I transfer from the MTO for use in the ETO are usually going into the reserve waves - so they don't need to be there for the preparation phase. So I can hold on to them until late April or early May. Try to get them to Britain BEFORE the invasion so they aren't competing for transport assets. It is important to bring some of those units back to Britain for several reasons:

1. You need more troops in the ETO and that is where the war will be decided.

2. The MTO troops (i.e. II US Corps and 8th BR Army) are more experienced and better morale than the units that have been sitting in Britain. This is great for the punch and breakout phase along with continuing to put pressure on the Axis as they retreat across France.

3. Some of the leaders in the MTO (Patton, Bradley, Monty, Leese) are very good leaders that should not be left to hold defensive lines in Italy.


(in reply to Seminole)
Post #: 3
RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/6/2015 2:22:05 PM   
Q-Ball


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From: Chicago, Illinois
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This is a very good series of posts. Couple follow-on questions:

Alot of the advantages/disadvantages on these break down to timing, IMO. For example, area G, the TOE, is potentially a good place to land on Turn 2; you can air support it from Malta (not amazingly, but you can do it), and you can arrange the landings to completely isolate the Axis on Sicily, and potentially force an early Italian surrender. There is alot, IMO, to recommend an AREA G landing on Turn 2. Later on, landing in G or F is really pointless, because it's too easy to defend for Germany. Am I on target?

Before attempting a landing in the Heel, I would want airbases in Sicily first at a minimum; that makes it a Stage 2 landing, sometime in September probably. You're probably thinking the same thing, but just confirming. I also don't see how the Germans can defend right at the beach in-force, they are better off screening the landing and staged withdrawl to Cassino line.

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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/6/2015 4:10:25 PM   
decourcy2

 

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Qball, I think if an allied player invades the toe first vs a human that the Germans have enough air assets to isolate the beaches. Also, many people become obsessed looking at victory point counters. If I was playing the Axis in that situation I would strip garrisons somewhat to give me a counter attack force against the partly isolated beaches.

If the Allies have no successful landing in Italy in '43, the lack of a few garrison points will not matter. I feel that an allied player needs either Corsica or Sicily to launch a real invasion.

(in reply to Q-Ball)
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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/6/2015 7:40:15 PM   
marion61

 

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Out of the 4 times I've attempted a landing on the toe, I haven't failed one, yet. 2 were vs experienced players.

On turn two the axis can't get enough troops to really stop the 8th Army from getting someone ashore and once ashore they can easily expand it to cut Sicily. The key is to get Malta Air Command out off that big base, and move enough air from RAF Coastal in Britain and put them on Malta. Turn two they are ready to fly naval for the invasions, and Tac Air can fly AS from Victoria, so it will be a fight, but the axis can't really win the air fight there. Around Crotone they can, but at the cost of lots of bombers if the allies have AS up.

The biggest part about an invasion is helping your opponent think your landing somewhere else than where you intend, and your right that you need Sardinia and Corsica before trying further up the Mainland, plus they threaten the entire Med. once Corsica is taken and you can land just about anywhere in the Med on this side of Italy.

The only real reason's to hit the mainland early is to knock Italy out of the war quickly so you get Crosica without an invasion, and avoid the penalty if the option is on.

The bottom line is, if you have air power, and it's within range, the axis no matter how good can kick you back into the sea. The air war requires the synergy of ALL the AD's, not just the ones that kill Germans directly.

(in reply to decourcy2)
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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/6/2015 8:19:55 PM   
Seminole


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quote:

Alot of the advantages/disadvantages on these break down to timing, IMO. For example, area G, the TOE, is potentially a good place to land on Turn 2; you can air support it from Malta (not amazingly, but you can do it), and you can arrange the landings to completely isolate the Axis on Sicily, and potentially force an early Italian surrender. There is alot, IMO, to recommend an AREA G landing on Turn 2. Later on, landing in G or F is really pointless, because it's too easy to defend for Germany. Am I on target?


With the threat of Italian surrender and the rail disruption it causes I wouldn't want any German units in the toe longer than necessary. It's why I consider the Italian beachhead penalty to be moot.
I do set my German and Italian forces on turn 2 and 3 to support the withdrawal from Sicily and contain any landing sites for at least long enough to finish extraction. With the changes to naval interdiction I think the Axis would have a hard time committing enough forces to isolate the beachheads and force them into the sea. I've thrown back landings in this area before launched on turn 2, but I was prepared, and East Front box was on. With EF box off and the .37 naval interdiction I would not want to commit the necessary forces if I couldn't account for all the Allied Task Forces.

As the Axis I usually defend F, but not G. A coordinated and fortunate (paratroops not getting the shaft) landing around the Carachi river could trap German units.

quote:

Before attempting a landing in the Heel, I would want airbases in Sicily first at a minimum; that makes it a Stage 2 landing, sometime in September probably. You're probably thinking the same thing, but just confirming.


When I've done it in my the Battleground Italy AARs it was a follow on invasion launched the first week that Italian surrender can be triggered.
I had the Sicily air bases, but sufficient air fields to move all of Tactical Air Force and some other units into The Heel. My inability to get them properly staffed with air support led to me learning some more about how that works. I also think the latest beta made a change to air base replacement, but I haven't seen how they impact the staffing problems I experienced.

quote:

I also don't see how the Germans can defend right at the beach in-force, they are better off screening the landing and staged withdrawl to Cassino line.


There is a lot of terrain favorable to the defender east of Naples and south of Foggia. If I can make the Allies bleed on it, I want them to. Mainly trying to avoid freebies. If I can keep the Allies in the toe until '44 the VP modifier changes significantly. Haven't conducted a thorough analysis of how many points are available in '43 south of the Barbara Line, but I instinctively want to deny them to the Allies.
I've only forced back a large invasion when I let the balloon expand away from the temporary ports, and then popped the balloon and dashed into the undefended ports. The rough terrain on the western coast of the mainland makes this practically impossible. You can just pin them on the beaches for a bit and force them to commit enough to expand.

< Message edited by Seminole -- 6/7/2015 2:57:48 AM >

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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/7/2015 1:54:52 AM   
Seminole


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quote:

ORIGINAL: meklore61
The only real reason's to hit the mainland early is to knock Italy out of the war quickly so you get Crosica without an invasion, and avoid the penalty if the option is on.


Getting the islands of Corsica and Sardinia without an invasion require German compliance. I've found they can be defended in '43 and you can extract a price in time and resources to clear them. German player can't possibly hold them for the duration against a determined assault, but requiring a determined assault is a strategic win in my view.

(in reply to marion61)
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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/7/2015 10:40:51 AM   
carlkay58

 

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Corsica and Sardinia are easy places for the Axis player to slow down the Allied player and put the MTO schedule way behind. You can't really invade very far up Italy until you have the islands secured - both as large aircraft carriers and also to take out the ports for naval interdiction values.

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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/7/2015 10:59:33 AM   
marion61

 

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Once you have Sardinia, Corsica has no hope. Between bombing out the 4 ports, and having naval control from Sardinia, you have no chance of holding Corsica. Plus I retarget my 6th TF on turn one to hit Corsica later if I need it too. If I do land that way, Corsica would be in ruins without hope of supply.

Those islands are death traps for axis units on them when the allies turn to take them. Sardinia is just as easily taken, as it has only 4 ports too. If you can't get supplies, you can't hold them. Island hopping 101.

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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 6/7/2015 2:19:26 PM   
Q-Ball


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quote:

ORIGINAL: meklore61

Once you have Sardinia, Corsica has no hope. Between bombing out the 4 ports, and having naval control from Sardinia, you have no chance of holding Corsica. Plus I retarget my 6th TF on turn one to hit Corsica later if I need it too. If I do land that way, Corsica would be in ruins without hope of supply.

Those islands are death traps for axis units on them when the allies turn to take them. Sardinia is just as easily taken, as it has only 4 ports too. If you can't get supplies, you can't hold them. Island hopping 101.


I agree, It's too easy for the Allies to bomb out all the ports. Once that happens, nothing heavy can get in or out; at that point the Germans have to rely on airlifts. While workable, that could get very expensive in transport planes, and any heavy equipment will be left behind. Airlift is unreliable, expensive, and messy.

I can see merit to putting a Regt in every port on Corsica; this would lock out the Italians, and prevent the Allies from easy support. I would keep Airlift nearby for a quick extraction. If the Allies show up on even one beach, though, it would be time to bug out for me. Germans could drop a Fort Zone in each port, but a fort zone by itself could be taken by the Italians.

It may also be possible for the Allies to counter that Corsica move by airlifting in troops, and supplying by air; tricky, but if the Island is isolated by sea I think the Allies can probably take it that way. They just need 1 para Div to take a port, and it's probably over for Germany. Allies should have access to at least one airfield when Italy surrenders.

_____________________________


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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 4/8/2017 1:44:29 AM   
Gilmer


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If any of you are still monitoring this thread - HOW do I get amphibious transports from Mediterranean to The English isles? And if this seems a dumb question, please take it easy on me. I've never gone beyond Husky.

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"Venimus, vidimus, Deus vicit" John III Sobieski as he entered Vienna on 9/11/1683. "I came, I saw, God conquered."
He that has a mind to fight, let him fight, for now is the time. - Anacreon

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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 4/8/2017 6:12:31 AM   
Devonport


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Use the sea transport button, I think it is F3, and move the Amphibious Task Forces to the far west (left) of the screen where you will see it marked as move to uk (or something similar). Next turn they will be there - can't remember exactly where but land units end up on Merseyside.

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RE: Invading Mainland Italy - 4/8/2017 3:33:19 PM   
Gilmer


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Devonport

Use the sea transport button, I think it is F3, and move the Amphibious Task Forces to the far west (left) of the screen where you will see it marked as move to uk (or something similar). Next turn they will be there - can't remember exactly where but land units end up on Merseyside.


Thank you very much!

_____________________________

"Venimus, vidimus, Deus vicit" John III Sobieski as he entered Vienna on 9/11/1683. "I came, I saw, God conquered."
He that has a mind to fight, let him fight, for now is the time. - Anacreon

(in reply to Devonport)
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