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.