From: Berlin, Germany
4.4 Design of the first turn
Beside variation in morale, experience and default damage of Soviet air and ground units, the conditions during the first turn are always the same. Therefore, a plan can be devised in advance to make the first move as good as possible. Against a strong Soviet player, it is almost mandatory to come up with a good start. Before looking at different T1 moves, we will examine the goals one can pursue on T1:
i) Destroy the Soviet army, both in terms of units, manpower and equipment, either by immediate encirclement or locking them in place for future turns
ii) Destroy the Soviet air force, aiming for overall aircraft kills, kills in certain branches or reduction of Soviet air group morale
iii) Increase the morale of Axis ground units, especially above the critical levels from the [Lnk]
iv) Increase morale and experience of Axis air units by using the weakened enemy air force as a sparring partner
v) Position mobile forces as far forward as possible
vi) Clear the path for the infantry following the motorised spearheads
vii) Ease the reduction of the formed pockets in future turns
viii) Ensure good resupply of the army in T2
ix) Move forces in a way conforming with future plans and force allocations
x) Keep losses and fatigue at a minimum for air and ground forces while saving ammunition, fuel and supplies for future turns
Several demands compete for the same resources and choices have to be made.
According to my personal doctrine, I focus on i) and iii) as the primary objectives in that order, followed by viii)
Depending on one’s aspiration, the T1 development can take some time. Below is a short overview of openings in no particular order which, in my opinion, are good ones to start with:
i) MichaelT: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/fb.asp?m=3287305 and, as an alternative, http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/fb.asp?m=4079066 Note that the second version locks the rail lines to the Western Pripyat marsh area, units routed there can’t be evacuated by rail.
ii) Tyronec: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=4375073 Effective opening that is not too difficult to replicate, so recommended for beginners. If one sets out to replicate it, the pocket in the centre should be made tight.
iii) Hardluckyetagain http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/fb.asp?m=4267387 Very effective in the South with moderate cost to the North and Centre.
4.5 A new first turn
As an alternative to the openings published so far on the forum, I would like to introduce a new one and explain the underlying thinking.
The primary goal of the first turn is to maximize the number of units and manpower/equipment pocketed over the first two turns. According to that demand, as many units as possible must either be immediately encircled on the first turn, or their escape by foot, truck, rail or disbanding during the Soviet T1 has to be denied. At the same time, the Axis forces must be able to strike deep in T2 to catch the refugees and to keep the enemy under pressure.
The problem with existent openings is that those which are strong in the North and Centre do not trap the 16th army at Shetepovka (west of Zhitomir), an opening move which is often referred to as the Super Lvov pocket. Reverse, openings which form the Super Lvov pocket need to replace the units of 2nd PG from the Centre by units from 3rd PG, forcing them to a movement South instead of East and weakening the advance in the North and to Minsk, which saves some Soviet units on T1 and T2. Others do both, but the Soviets can open many pockets and create chaos. Therefore, the decision to start from scratch. For the beginning, we assume that the +1 rule is deactivated. There are special rules for T1:
-Soviet infantry type units which did not participate in ground combat never have more than 8MPs (16/2)
-Soviet infantry type units which participated in ground barely have more than 8MPs
-cavalry MPs approximately halved, I suppose the cap is at 11MPs (22/2)
-motorised units have no cap, but low fuel stocks, damaged equipment, vehicle shortages, lack of support etc. ensures they barely, if ever, reach the 18MP cap, but usually are somewhere between 8 and 12.
-Axis units below the divisional level pay one more MP to enter a pending hexagon than usually (also applies to T2)
-before every ground battle, Soviet units get some elements disrupted, making combat easier. There are claims that this only applies once at the beginning of T1 and advice to avoid ground bombing before an attack has been derived from this. The combat reports contradict this however.
-Axis air field bombing is massively increased in effectivity, and the Soviet air force interception capability is decreased
To prepare the opening, we need some extra knowledge. Soviet infantry divisions with 41-60 morale pay 4MPs to enter a clear enemy hexagons, 5MPs if below 40morale and 3 if above 60. Cavalry pays one less in each case. So with the cap of 8MP on Soviet infantry units, a division will usually struggle to even cross two enemy hexagons. A division can convert a hexagon not contested by an enemy ZOC with its own without entering it, units of smaller size can’t. Together with other MP costs due to sheer distance or terrain, this knowledge can be used to design impregnable pockets for Soviet units with minimum effort.
The Riga with one Panzer division is particularly risky, despite Manstein, SUs and air support. The T1 plan therefore has a fork at this place. If the first attack fails, the 1st Panzer division, which usually locks the airborne brigade at Daugavpils, joins the second attack.
All pockets are designed to hold. The advantages of unbreakable pockets are plenty:
-Soviet players like to hug Axis units. An isolated unit can be easily pushed aside and might even surrender after retreat, a unit in supply can rout out and put up stronger resistance
-the pocket can be liquidated easier
-once broken, the CV malus is immediately removed from encircled units and they can more successfully attempt further counterattacks
-a breached wall around a pocket often equates a cut supply line and an interrupted path for the infantry
The opening requires precise movement of motorised and to a limited extent of infantry forces, a single mis-click can make the pockets leaky or even impossible. Knowing my own unreliability, I made this map illustrating the motorised movements and attacks in the North and Centre to make it a bit easier. Unfortunately, I have no such map to share for the South. Since then, a few minor changes have been made, but it should still help if someone is interested in creating an own version of this opening. Green marks the movement path, orange points of split up, red is reserved for attacks. I think I made minor improvements while actually playing the opening, but do not recall all details as it was on-the-fly.
Note that the infantry attacks are a bit tricky as well and the basic movement should be practised/memorised.
The following link should give you access to three folders with practice runs under different game versions I played. Note that I am not done with moving HQs/airfield bombing/assigning SUs/admin and paid less attention to details as it is only a practice: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1UZzqUHQAkVL-lyvoIQkq8VHjIZ5FQiUq
As the safety clearance is generally low, one must do what is possible to maximize chances in battles. Some of the things I do to improve odds:
-optimize HQ and unit movement. First move the unit to the battlefield, then assign SUs. On this way, SUs are not fatigued from the march of the combat unit or the HQ
-AFVs CV is halved, infantry CV doubled in rough, mountain, swamp and urban hexagons
(I think also if fort level is above 2), that must be figured in the SU choice if, for example, assaulting Riga with Panzer divisions
-range does not matter for leader check odds for corps level HQs, but for everything above. Moving army HQs close to the action improves odds. 2nd PG initially is west of Brest-Litovsk for the AGC attacks of 2nd PG, then moves South to support the forming of the super Lvov pocket
-ground bombing and ground support should be flown for important attacks
-change leaders, for example I put Model in LVII PC for crucial around Minsk
-use soaking off attacks (more costly with the +1 cost for each consecutive attack introduced on a hex). In the current iteration, I use a soaking-off attack on the strong 34th tank division near Rovno opposing AGS
-switch units from HQs with a bad leader to one with a good leader before the attack
It has been said that I assume no +1 for this opening. The units forming the Southern tip of the Super Lvov spear are vulnerable to counterattack under with this rule enabled. I have not worked out the details, but am optimistic the opening can still be made secure with acceptable trade-offs, namely less secure supply line for the eathernmost units.
Overall, the opening is quite risky, although it worked in several training/developement runs and server games, sometimes a roll will fail if you play the opening often. However, the risky must win battles happen at a point in the turn where you can easily switch to a plan B which should still give you a good opening, basically a very strong North/Center opening with a pocket South of Rovno, but without the claws locking the Soviet 16th Army.
As an annotation, the opening has not been made possible by the conversion of the 1st cavalry division to motorised status in 1.11.00, to pre-empt criticism of the patch team. At the cost of some safety clearance, the opening works for 1.10.00 as well, I developed it for and with this version, even though it only saw field tests (use in server games) under 1.11.01 and 1.11.03. I never bothered to check if 1st Cavalry historically indeed fitted the criteria for a motorised division.
As another annotation, the new rule of 1.11.02, which adds a +1 cost for each consecutive attack on a hexagon, increases the risk for an opening. Before this version, a 4MP division had 4 chances to win a battle (that is not a complaint!!!)
< Message edited by EwaldvonKleist -- 3/7/2019 12:48:04 PM >