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AAR v1.04 Italian Campaign : Summary

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AAR v1.04 Italian Campaign : Summary - 7/20/2017 10:02:03 AM   

Posts: 2621
Joined: 6/30/2001
From: Bedfordshire UK
Status: offline
There is nothing in the game that became a game-breaker, there are some issues, but none of these stopped a complete enjoyment of a full campaign of 132 turns.

Withdrawal: An anomaly is that if you select an action, the game allows you to then cancel/change it, except for 'Withdraw'. If you select 'withdraw', to look at the available hexes to move to, and then do not proceed to activate that move, the unit will still withdraw during the resolution phase. I was surprised several times when units made an un-commanded move back, until I realised that I had been exploring 'withdraw' options for those units, even though I had not actually set a 'withdraw' move.

When you explore the 'withdraw' options for a unit (check the highlighted hexes available for a move), then move on to look at other units without activating a withdrawal order, if you return to the first unit to check withdrawal options again, you find less hexes highlighted than on the first check. Just guessing, but has the game allocated fuel for the withdrawal move even though you haven't actually activated the order, so now there is less fuel, fewer hexes to move to, when you do the next withdrawal check. I need to run more situations, to see if there is any pattern in this behaviour.

I have put more detail on this issue in Tech Support :

ZOC : the manual states that ZOCs are important in this game and so they are, with the AI demonstrating that it is fully able to set up a defence line with very few units, but making good use of interlocking ZOCs. Unfortunately the AI can become trapped in the same web of ZOC, by allowing itself to be encircled too easily. On many occasions the AI made a good job of using well timed withdrawals, just before a major attack was to be made, but on other occasions it crowded units into hopeless positions, which were too easily cut-off. The AI was placing great importance on holding ports, which is sensible, but went into over-kill risking far too many units, to be pinned against the coast and destroyed.

Historically, I think the Germans found it much easier to slip away, after holding ground, and maybe there is some fix which can moderate the effects of ZOC in these situations, after all the Axis knew the ground better, as they had been in occupation for sometimes months, whilst the Allies were always moving into the unknown, to some extent. I think what I am suggesting is moderating the effect of ZOCs when hexes are, or have been, your own territory.

It is more likely that a side can exert control over a hex that has been in its ownership, by demolitions, booby-traps and stay-behind-units, etc., than a side can exert the same control over a hex that it has never previously occupied.

Could there be a feature where by selecting a unit and pressing a hot-key, all the hexes where that unit exerts a ZOC could be highlighted.

Is there a case where units from opposing sides can exert a ZOC over the same hex and should the side which has ownership of the hex take priory in ZOC.

Supply : Playing as Allies because the Allied side has the initiative in this campaign and has the most decisions to make, where to land, what to land, when to land, etc.. For the Allies, supply is always short, which is historical, especially when the D-Day landings start to claim most of the available Allied resources. You find that you are fighting supply problems, rather than the Germans, but getting the balance between fuel and supply is difficult and mainly a matter of guesswork. An unexpected breakthrough may require larger amounts of fuel, which you haven't prepared for, because you were prioritising supply for a big battle, which hasn't happened.

There was an issue with the supply levels from the larger ports of Naples and Taranto, which seem to be able to bring large swaths of territory up to 100% supply, regardless of terrain and roads. It may be WAD, but I thought the supply effect from these ports was too strong, so by juggling the number of port workers allocated I kept Naples, in particular, at 50% capacity which seemed to restore some balance, but this is a personal preference.

The AI is never going to be as challenging as a human opponent, although it did show me some tricks from time to time and was able to punish mistakes. Overall, as with this supply issue, keeping the Allied side realistically constrained, ensures a more challenging game against the AI and if it becomes too easy, there is always the game balance preference to favour the AI side.

Disruption: only became a significant factor during one period of the campaign and I think that it should have been more of a feature, with units building up more disruption after combat and not just weather and supply effects, important though they may be.

Fortification: Fortification v Digging-in, Axis fortifications spread like a rash all over the map (only the Axis can fortify) and needs more coherence and should take longer to prepare, with bigger defensive effects.

The current game handling of fortification looks more like digging-in. It can happen quickly after the unit has been in a hex and doesn't seem to play as decisive a role in combat as it should. The current game routine could be seen as digging in, which the Allies could do as well, with a deeper fortification routine taking longer to achieve and giving more defensive benefits, as befitting the construction of concrete prepared fortification, which would take longer than a 4 day turn to have effect.

The Axis AI is spending a lot of its resources building fortifications, seemingly at random then not making much effort to defend, while it is legitimate to fortify cities, especially ports, other fortifications need to be linked to be effective, so could the AI be encouraged to build fortifications linking across the peninsular. If digging-in became a feature, that would be random depending on where units stopped. Maybe a 'digging-in' feature could be extended into fortification, if the hex remained occupied (would it necessarily have to be the same unit) for more turns and more resources were expended.

Terrain Rough/Hills : I think the game has transposed Hilly for Rough terrain in all text references. The map looks correct in the display of terrain and the figures being applied look correct if the terrain names (Hilly/Rough) were simply reversed in all game Manual text and in-game references. I have adjusted my copy of the map mod, changing the 'Map Legend' to show what I believe is the correct order of terrain features.

This is how it should look :

Air superiority and landings : All is ready for an amphibious landing, but the available beaches don't light up and I suspect that this is because there isn't the required air superiority. Which is OK, this can happen in reality, but a message to indicate why the landing cannot go ahead would be useful. It would be unrealistic to know exactly how much air superiority you would need, as you would never know what the enemy air reaction would be, until the event. They might send up all their planes, or none at all, it's air superiority potential that is being measured, but if a feature cannot be activated it would help to know why.

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< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 12/20/2017 9:12:11 AM >


"In politics stupidity is not a handicap" - Napoleon

“A people which is able to say everything becomes able to do everything” - Napoleon

“Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress" - Napoleon
Post #: 1
RE: AAR v1.04 Italian Campaign : Summary - 7/20/2017 10:04:33 AM   

Posts: 2621
Joined: 6/30/2001
From: Bedfordshire UK
Status: offline
Map and counter mods – I have made a small adaption to my copy of the counter mod, to clear up the over-print of unit attributes with the non-ZOC triangle, which are both shown in the same top left section of the counter. The attribute 'C', 'M', etc., can obscure the small red triangle which appears on the counter when a unit is either too small (or unable after retreat) to exert a ZOC, so I have moved these attribute icons to the right of the unit type indicator .

The CHEMKID map and counter mod (shown in these images) transforms the game, as the realistic map appearance really adds to the immersion effect and makes the game so much more pleasant to play. I know eye-candy should not be the measure of the game, but it sure helps.

The overall effect of the game is excellent, delivering a near historical situation, but with the impression that some changed decisions could have given a different effect. I played with some caution, as the Allies did in the actual campaign, some of that caution was forced by the supply and terrain situation, but I think that I acted historically and got a near-historical result. It is a great achievement to design a game, with an AI opponent, which can perform over a whole campaign of 132 turns and still deliver a believable result.

I was using house-rules, which have been noted in other threads, to keep an historical balance and avoid overwhelming the AI too easily. These house rules reflect the limitations that the Allies were subject to in reality.

Which comes to the big reality bonus, the WEGO system. Turn based games are like a boxing match where you stand waiting to be hit, then your opponent stands and waits for you to hit back. Where is the sparring, feints, duck and weave of real combat.

In a turn based game you get to make your moves in an essentially fixed situation, there may be some enemy units hidden in FOW, but once enemy units are revealed all your subsequent unit moves can take them into account. With WEGO, the enemy is moving at the same time as your units start to enact your orders. Will the target for attack still be there, will one enemy unit you are attacking become three, will the gap you intend to exploit still be a gap when your units move. You quickly learn that the realistic uncertainty that this game delivers will not allow intricate, complicated, plans and that you must be more realistic. The enemy is not going to wait to be hit, he is going to 'duck and weave'. You are going to become frustrated and sometimes outmanoeuvred, but if you win, the victory will be more satisfying.

There is a simple elegance in the game system, not sure how it would transfer to other campaigns as the Italian theatre was heavily constrained by the terrain and supply, not necessarily just lack of supply, but in getting the supply to where it was needed.

The game is quick to play, with easy to use inputs, but don't be deceived by the simplicity, it's worth taking some time to work out a long term strategy and to carefully consider the intricacies of the move options that you have. The game does not bury you in data sheets and odds calculations, but the information that it does show is all relevant and worth noting, if it's on screen, it's important.

It would work in 'Normandy' for the early period, but I am sure Frank could extend the scenarios as he seems to know how to get to the essence of an historical situation.

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< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 12/20/2017 9:19:08 AM >


"In politics stupidity is not a handicap" - Napoleon

“A people which is able to say everything becomes able to do everything” - Napoleon

“Among those who dislike oppression are many who like to oppress" - Napoleon

(in reply to Rasputitsa)
Post #: 2
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