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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43

 
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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/18/2019 6:08:46 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 40:
Still waiting for better weather.

Turn 41:
Light mud so I start attacking in France. I start with air interdiction and then attack west of St. Lo. I reduce the fort but am unable to take the hex on a 1.4:1 attack.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/18/2019 6:25:41 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 42:
My first attack west of St. Lo pushes the two infantry and one panzer division back. I advance in pursuit and am content with that gain for my turn.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/18/2019 6:40:40 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 43:
I’ve got an itchy trigger finger on my invasions of Brittany and the south of France, but the weather isn’t cooperating. A big storm is rolling through France bringing heavy mud in the north and rain in the south. The south was clear last turn but my 2nd task force had one more turn of preparation. With the storm front forecasted to dump some more rain, my plans will have to wait at least a couple of more turns. Turn 45 is the start of May, which promises the coming of clear weather. I halt my attacks and rest my air for a turn.

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/18/2019 8:14:48 AM   
CaptBeefheart


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Great AAR! I like the alt-history aspect. I gave this game a go after it came out and I may give it another shot based on your AAR.

Cheers,
CB

_____________________________

Beer, because barley makes lousy bread.

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/18/2019 7:10:02 PM   
TankBushido


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Thanks for reading, CaptBeefheart. I love the alternate history aspect of war games. I have a tentative plan to do a trilogy of AARs for WITW with this one being the first in the series, all based on What If scenarios around Allied strategic planning. I have the other two already in my head, but I don't want to get too ahead of myself as I need to get through this one first.

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/19/2019 3:47:34 AM   
EddyBear81

 

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I find it an interesting experimentation ! But in the end, your choice of invading in Cotentin put you in a hard bottleneck.

With hindsight, would you try to invade somewhere else ? At the price of lower air cover / higher chance of being pushed back by Panzer thrusts in clearer terrain (Britanny, Le Havre-area ?)

Also, what kind of Air settings do you use ? What level of strat bombing do you allocate ?

Keep up the regular posts !

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/19/2019 7:43:56 PM   
TankBushido


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Good questions. Given the intent of the operation was a capture and hold, I still think the Cotentin is the best choice because of the defensive terrain. I am somewhat bottled up right now, but I don't think I'm in a bad situation. I've proven that I can push the line and the line is going to be extending for the Germans as I push out of the peninsula. I think the German defense is a balloon that is going to pop and disperse quickly. Operation Cobra and the historic breakout took place in the last week of July and first week of August. We'll see how it plays out, but I feel like I'm in a position for a breakout 6-8 weeks ahead of that timeline. I feel like a breakout can happen within 3-6 weeks from my current position once there is good weather. I also have additional advantages over history in that I have a large secondary invasion coming to Brittany in May and my Operation Dragoon in Southern France will start in May/June instead of August. I'm expecting the German defensive situation to quickly collapse under the multiple threats with a pullback to eastern France expected by June. Wishful thinking? This is my first play through, so what do I know? We'll know soon enough.

Air is AI managed, but on attack turns I'm setting High Air Supremacy and Interdiction, with Low priority on Ground Support. Strategic bombers are bombing the Ruhr and beyond, but I will be switching them to Railyards in May.

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 2:45:18 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 44:
Some shifting front lines present some opportunities, both in France and in Italy.

Here the AI has hung a unit out to dry in Bayeux in France.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 2:49:40 AM   
TankBushido


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And here in Italy.






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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 3:02:13 AM   
TankBushido


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I take Bayeux in an easy attack.

In Italy, I count about 20 divisions on the line for the Germans in Italy. I only have around 15. Glad to be tying down some troops here.





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< Message edited by TankBushido -- 6/20/2019 3:03:01 AM >

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 5:54:03 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 46:
Clear weather! There is still mud on the ground in some places, but Brittany looks mostly clear, so I launch my secondary invasion this turn. Air is fully committed to covering the invasion focusing on Supremacy, Interdiction, and Railyards.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 6:04:31 AM   
TankBushido


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I try to attack in Normandy, but the Germans have three reserve Panzer divisions that join in to stop the advance. I probably should have held my attacks here because I didn’t have air interdiction, but I thought I’d try.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 6:09:50 AM   
TankBushido


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Positions after the German turn.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 6:56:37 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 47:
I expand the beachhead in Brittany. My forces push one hex south in Normandy, but am unable to take Avranches.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/20/2019 6:59:14 AM   
TankBushido


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Operation Dragoon kicks off in the South of France.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 2:25:30 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 48:
Rain and light mud in France, but I take one hex in the south side of the front in Normandy. The Germans have committed around 12 divisions to cover the Brittany beachhead. They can’t hold everywhere, so I’m bound to be able to push somewhere.





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< Message edited by TankBushido -- 6/22/2019 2:29:27 AM >

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 2:31:24 AM   
TankBushido


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I consolidate my beachhead in Southern France as follow-on forces land ashore with even more ready off the coast of Corsica. I realize that I’m probably over-committed here and probably should have shipping some of these units to the beaches in NW France.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 2:39:41 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 49:
The German defense in Southern France is paper thin. It’s not a matter of if I’ll break out, but where. I decide to punch two holes in the line one eastward and one westward. My eastern thrust exploits across the river line north of Nice. In the west, I aim to encircle Marseille, but am only able to take one hex for now.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 4:17:51 AM   
TankBushido


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Breakout! I was trying to make a concerted effort to breakout in the south so I could threaten the German forces in Brittany with encirclement, but the Germans defended heavily there, so I shifted my axis or attack to weaker forces in the east of the front. I punched a hole in the line and armor poured through the hole. Caen is liberated and I push across the Orne river, cutting off an SS panzer division in the process. Fitting that it was on the first week in June; I like to think that the breakout was on June 6th.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 4:24:35 AM   
TankBushido


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And the German defensive bubble is popped. They break off and form a line east of my breakout. Not a moment too soon. Last turn the Germans hammered the 30th Infantry division holding the covering beach near the neck of Brittany; it was almost eliminated (saved by the beach defense last stand rules). I was really thin on troops in Brittany, but they did their job of pulling forces away from the decisive sector in Normandy.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 4:26:23 AM   
TankBushido


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And in the South of France, the defense disengages as well, forming a line in the Alps.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 5:12:58 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 50:
I hit the half a century mark in turns and things are really moving now on the ground. In the South of France, I surround the ports to the west and start running north. Nice is taken in some hard fighting.






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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/22/2019 6:13:54 AM   
TankBushido


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In NE France, I capture Brest and expand into open space. I punch through his line again and threaten encirclement of 7 divisions just south of the Seine on the north coast. The SS Panzer division trapped north of Caen surrenders.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/23/2019 1:01:32 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 51:
Happy times as I advance almost without resistance. I’m picking up a lot of city points as well as territory this turn which always feels good.

In the South of France, my vanguard pushes up the Rhone valley and takes Lyon. There are minimal blocking forces in the Alps which makes it look like that I have a real chance to break into the Po Valley in northern Italy. Are there more forces just across the border in the other garrison zone? I keep expecting the AI to pull forces from Central Italy to shore up other areas, but he still has 20+ divisions still on the Gustav line. My remaining forces are pushing ashore; North Africa is totally tapped out, so if I need reinforcements I will need to pull them from other theatres.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/23/2019 2:45:25 AM   
TankBushido


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In Northern France, I fan out and start grabbing territory. The paratrooper in the port in Brittany proves tough to dislodge; I need that hex to connect my rail line from Brest to the rest of the continent. And the SS Panzer division is still looking strong in Granville. I push up to the Seine River and make a crossing east of Le Harve. I make a few attacks on a weak stack on the west side of the river, but don’t have enough movement points to try to push across anywhere else.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/23/2019 4:58:22 AM   
TankBushido


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Turn 52:
On a rainy day at the end of June, the Canadians march into Paris and liberate it from German rule. There was much rejoicing and celebration in the city. But the war was still near, the Germans look to be staying and fighting in Picardy. Le Harve is surrounded and the only St. Malo and Granville remain in enemy control in Brittany and Normandy.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/23/2019 5:04:15 AM   
TankBushido


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In the South of France, Toulon is taken. I make contact with a security and infantry division on the Italian border along with fortifications.





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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/23/2019 2:27:10 PM   
John B.


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Exciting times! Do you plan to push into Northern Italy to cut off the troops south of Rome?

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/24/2019 1:36:36 AM   
TankBushido


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I do hope that I can break into the Po Valley. My immediate focus is taking Marseilles and then I must decide where those two corps will go. I think I will send them both north into France for the push into Germany. I think cutting off the forces on the Gustav line is not very likely (little to no chance); there is just too much ground to cover to cut them off and there will be plenty of time to pull them out. I suspect if I get even one hex in Northern Italy that the AI will kick into full redeployment mode and block my advances while retreating to the Gothic line. Italy is a dead end, in my opinion. Great for picking up some victory points and getting airbases for bombing the Romanian oilfields and targets in Southern Germany, but not a good use of ground forces.

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RE: Operation Sledgehammer ’43 - 6/24/2019 2:26:45 AM   
TankBushido


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Mid-term review:
It’s a year into the campaign and about the half-way point, so I thought it would be a good point to pause and reflect.

This is my first campaign. There is a learning curve on this game and it has immense depth. I’ve been taking a very casual approach to this game and haven’t dug into much of that detail, sacrificing detail for speed of play. I’m impressed with how playable it is on that level. You do have to have a basic understanding of invasions, supply, and command & control, but the game has been very enjoyable and playable at the “pushing counters around” level without the micromanagement.

The AI does a passable job handling the air operations, with some exceptions. It recons better than I do and does a decent job with strategic bombing and interdiction (although I was never able to get it to bomb V-weapon launch sites). The fault in the AI comes in understanding where your area of attack is. Multiple planned invasions confuses the AI. It isn’t up to the task of Island hopping, keeping invasion beaches under the air umbrella, or understanding the situation when multiple different invasions are planned. In France, it handles a narrow front fine, but when the front extends out, it doesn’t anticipate your axis of attack and will often provide air coverage over isolated units rather than the main front. I wish you could just tag a hex/area that could inform the AI to “focus air operations in this area”. When I was island hopping from Sardinia to Corsica to Southern France, the AI was constantly setting air directives over Central Italy. All are easily remedied by moving target hexes around, which isn’t hard, just time consuming. I wish it did it out of the box.

From a strategic standpoint, Operation Sledgehammer has been successful. I was able to invade France in 1943, take Cherbourg, and hold it until spring. I was able to breakout in June and am driving east roughly two months ahead of historical progress. I think I’ve made the mistake of diluting my main attacking force in France. I have four corps on cleanup duty in the west taking ports and reducing the SS Panzer division in Granville. And I probably should have transferred a corp or two from the Mediterranean to France. So I think my push east may be underpowered, but I’m going to quickly remedy that over the next few turns. Even so, that error should just reduced my two months ahead of history to one month ahead of history, which is still a good place to be. My main targets going forward will be focused on getting to the Ruhr as fast as possible and taking Antwerp on the way.

I’ve been focused more on the flow of the game and learning in the play through, but I should mention the crisis in victory points as well. The early invasion gives the Axis double victory points for V-weapons in early 1944, so my victory point situation has been deteriorating since the beginning of the year. Before I took Paris, it had ballooned to -1266 and I was losing 8-15 per turn. Part of that was the problem mentioned before of the AI just not hitting V-weapon launch sites, but also poor weather, strategic bomber focus on invasion support targets, and the double V-weapon points contributed to the problem. Also, since I haven’t been micro-managing things and been a little aggressive in my attacks, I’ve taken a lot of VP losses from unit losses. Regardless, I need to get to Germany and take German cities quickly make up some ground on the VP front. I’m playing catch up right now.

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