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A Few Lessons From a Beginner

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A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 12/5/2019 4:19:17 AM   


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I just finished my first full game against the AI, winning a paltry minor victory as the WA. Around here, that is no great shakes as you can find folks who clean up the AI with decisive victories on the regular, but it did give me a few lessons that may be helpful to a beginner. I claim no status as an expert, but maybe you'll find something here that the experts assume you already know. Experts are of course free to provide their undoubtedly better advice, First up:

The VP War

Unless something has gone disastrously wrong (or amazingly right if you're the axis), the Allies will make steady progress -albeit in bursts- and the game will end in Germany sometime. The question is what the VP count will be when it happens. So here are the basics:

Bombing Points: Bombing is really a net Damage-Special Target(U-boat/V-Weapon) game, and it is far easier to remove Special Target penalties than build positive damage points.

When bombing industry for VPs, it is total damage that counts, not the number of targets hit. The damage to VP industries is not particularly consequential other than the VPs, so long bombs to pick off a small Fuel Refinery just because "hey I'm targeting fuel" is not worth as much as plastering dense target areas.

It is also generally easier to remove Special Target maluses than it is to build up positive points for damage to industry...particularly the U-boats. Any U-boat factory with 1% damage counts as out, whereas you would have to bomb giant HI centers flat to gain the same points. Even an unskilled player like myself can easily keep the U-boat penalty to -2 or better a turn (I lost 53 in the game) by focusing around hamburg/danzig and ignoring the deep factories, whereas it takes a more skilled player to move bombing VPs up above the natural 10-12 range you can get in NW Germany. This is particularly true as the war drags on and you need to basically smash Germany flat to get the same points you would get for bombing the Ruhr earlier.

V-Weapons are far trickier, on account to having factories everywhere. I initially thought culling the weapon sites would let me ignore the factories, but even consistent raids never ended the threat until I finally overran the last launch pads. In contrast to the U-boats, my game saw over 400 points lost to V-Weapon penalties! Even so, a comparative 10-15% of my bombing effort when I got wise was worth ~200 points saved, and I suspect a concerted campaign from the beginning could have saved another 200...

In contrast, my industry bombing points for the whole war were in the low 700s from basically NW Germany in '43, with Romanania and South Germany starting in late '43.. Granted, I'm not a master of systems and, but the scale of possible points should be obvious here. What ended up being a small ~150 point boon over the war would have a Minor Victory in it's own right had I attacked V-weapon factories rather than just launch sites earlier, a feat which rarely took too much off-line from bombing strength.

Cities: Until you get in to Germany, it is hard to make money with cities. They mostly offset the casualties you suffer taking them...mostly. Other than big bags of points like Rome, taking a city "for the points" is rarely a good reason to grind up forces - unless it also furthers your plans. Pay heed in Italy, and on how much effort you devote to things like the Atlantic ports. (I'm pretty sure the nation of Belgium's next two generations were wiped out battling for ports I didn't really need.) In converse, you are going to need city points. They will count for more than your bombing (mine were in the low 1050 range), and they are the only thing that fuels the VP casualty cost of your drive to Berlin.

Losses: British and Canadian units are tempting; they have beautiful CVs at times. Free French and Brazilians seem tailor made for those secondary efforts. But when they bleed, the drain your VPs and quick. Don't be shy about using them, but be cognizant that they aren't ideal for when there is no option but to sandpaper away the German front. Other than that, it is hard for losses to outpace cities unless you get caught out badly - an isolated British paratrooper drop for whom help never came is going to hurt, as is a panzer army crushing your lone armor division that "exploited" that "opportunity".

Also bear in mind that the act of crossing the water in an invasion can rack up quite a few losses, as can a gamble on crossing some neutral sea hexes. Prepare to pay a stiff penalty for Overlord and Avalanche.

The losses really start to stack up in France without city points until you breakout from the beaches, so if you are heading into Overlord in VP debt, that is a bad sign. Expect to take a 100 VP drop between the invasion and the breakout when cities start to offset your losses. My game (and many AARs around here), showed about an 1100 VP casualty count, making my casualty VPs outnumber my city points by 100 or so. I could have probably knocked a 100-200 off with better tactical control (game mechanics, mostly), but by and large so long as you don't throw men wantonly and endlessly at the Germans, this category and the Cities will be a near draw.

No Beachhead: Long story short, at default settings the Italy penalty will turn a win to a draw and a draw to a loss. The France/North Europe penalty will lose you the game. Don't short shrift an invasion dealing with these, and remember you may spend multiple turns advancing off the beaches so the initial naval/airborne landings need to carry a lot of the load. I'd say 8+ hexes need to grabbed in the initial France landings for example.

Time Time wins games, or loses them. End of story. Taking Berlin on turn 95 propelled a firm draw into a minor victory, for ~330 points just for the early finish...that is only 3 weeks ahead of schedule. If the east front box is on, the WA lose 100 points a turn once late penalties kick in. To put that another way, one turn late or early may be worth as much your entire air war, or 100k US losses!

In addition, because cities count every turn after they are taken, and lose value as the years go by, there is also a less dramatic yet tangible reward for faster and more successful operations in '43 and the initial Overlord portion. Just not nearly as relevant as the Berlin clock.

COMING NEXT: THE GROUND WAR (Or: How I learned that supporting units are really, really, important.)
Post #: 1
RE: A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 12/5/2019 11:55:10 PM   


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The complexity of the air war gets a lot of press, but as we saw above, ultimately you win or lose on the ground. So what should you know?

Attack Ratios

There is a lot to be said for airpower, artillery, properly aligned supports...but the fundamentals lay in stacking CVs against each other. Here are what I found useful rules of thumb for a good chance of success. These are all for prepared attacks (Shift R-click), and not hasty attacks (R-click). Hasties officially halve the attacker CV and honestly I tend to think it's closer to a third in terms of what results you get.

1:1 - Only for superbly supported attacks (Int 6+, ground support present, pre-battle ground attack air directives, lots of artillery in the HQ) or for pursuit of weak and tattered units. Possibly successful as a follow up attack after an initial stronger attack fails, but only if you saw the defensive CV crash.

2:1 - Exploitation and pursuit attacks; for example attacking a unit that just retreated into a clear hex. A likely successful follow up attack if an earlier heavy attack fails.

3:1 - Bog standard attack assuming some ground support and/or artillery is present.

8:1 - Breaking a heavily fortified or supported position.

16:1 - Reducing a fortress or cracking a dug in elite unit.

Regimental Caveat: Regardless of printed CVs, 3x divisions will almost always beat a regiment without reserves nearby. How many losses you take doing it is another matter.

But That Requires Insane CVs! My Infantry has, like 5 at can I get those ratios?

First and foremost, you can align support units directly to attacking divisions. Combat engineers, tank battalions, and tank destroyers are all good choices. Artillery is usually best left in the Corps HQ. You do this by right clicking the division icon on the right of your screen, then going to "assign." Reverting them to HQ is a less intuitive process where you change the higher headquarters of the SU after pulling up its info.

That's worth 1-3 CV more per division, which means in a straight frontal attack it could be 12 or more CV attacking in from two bordering hexes.

Second, fatigue and supply are real. Marching or fighting for a few turns straight will see CVs fall disproportionately to the real combat power of the unit. Pulling formations off the line for refit near a depot may be the answer if you can't seem to find CV anywhere. You have been building a steady depot network, right? not like I would have gotten by without remembering to do that in France for two months only to wonder why everything was going to pieces in the low countries...

Third, the RESERVE status will allow units near the attack to have a chance to join in, letting you pile on even more.

Finally, with some caveats about moderation, "the more you use, the less you lose." There is a great pressure to economize on your use of force. Dreams of breakouts and shattering fronts dance like sugar plums in our heads...if only we could conserve a few more units for movement. Oh, that attack failed, well, maybe if I only throw one more division at it, my sixth division can breakout..hmmm...crap...well, just one moorrreee….now all I have are 5 battered divisions. Whereas piling 5 divisions in at once, even if it means limiting expectations for the assault echelons, would probably have broken the enemy and left you a relatively intact force.

Artillery. Pile it on. Then pile on more. It kills and suppresses before the main event where riflemen and tanks get at it. It reduces fortifications. It's one of the easiest ways to stack more killing power onto a narrow point. It doesn't seem to lose value as depressingly fast as your direct combat units. It is good stuff. If you really want to weight an attack, make sure you have ASSIGNED lots of artillery to the involved Corps HQ.


(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 12/6/2019 11:04:47 PM   


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It turns out there's more to the ground war than piling up large CV numbers against small ones, then giving them lots of artillery and air support. Who knew?

Many of us from less...rigorous...wargaming backgrounds tend to see HQs as a sort of bonus layer. Perhaps they have a vague command bonus or some-such so long as they are within X of a unit. Nice to have, but the big mush of units will generally work itself out if you take some minimal precautions. Not so here.

1. Units attacking from a different Corps HQ suffer a combat penalty. The more naturally separated in the command structure, the bigger the penalty. Multinational operations with units from different army groups are a not so good idea. A -50% idea, specifically.

2. You can solve this by assigning units directly to a Corps HQ, which is very flexible. The WA can mix and match brits, US, free French, whatever, in one corps without penalty - it feels a bit gamey, but you can do it. The assigning has two drawbacks. The first is that it costs admin points. The second is that after a point (5 Divisions, MAX) you start incurring penalties. The more units the bigger the penalty.

As a rule of thumb, HQs work in 3s. 3x reinforced divisions is a corps at or near capacity. 3x such corps is an Army. 3x Armies is about the max for an army group.

3. All supporting units (like artillery!) have a chance to support the fight of any subordinate unit in range. And unlike a division, you aren't capped at three support battalions. You can really pile it on in an HQ. The chance to support goes down if the HQ moves. So, beyond vague command range penalties, a HQ provides very real combat power across a sector. It isn't just admin staff!

4. Units attached to super high HQs both suffer a large combat penalty and only have one chance to pass any admin/supply/replacement/etc. checks. SHAEF shouldn't own any units you're actually planning on using.


All supply is drawn from a depot; nowhere else. The "supply line" is actually usually a line of hexes heading back to a depot, connected by a rail line to a port or industrial center, with amounts of freight being shipped to the ports, downloaded, shipped along the rails to a depot, downloaded, and then finally shipped to the units by truck. Every hex away from a depot and especially bad terrain puts wear and tear on the trucks (not such a big deal for the allies, huge deal for the Germans), and increases the burn:receive rate - you may technically be "in supply" in the alps and still be out of supplies as a result. Not that my French patriots ever were in that situation.

You can create new depots by clicking the town name in the hex info, then clicking CREATE DEPOT. You can set priority of supply with the named button. For the allies, it's pretty easy to keep a string of high priority (4) depots feeding your entire front so long as you occasionally remember to clean up and disband pointless ones, AND YOU KEEP THE RAIL LINES REPAIRED. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LAND RAIL REPAIR UNITS SOON AFTER YOU INVADE. THEY ARE WORTH MORE THAN TANKS.

I hear the Germans have to be far more judicious in their supply management, but for the WA a simple rule works "On the front , priority four, that's where to park your corp. Behind that priority three, that's for your Army. Priority two for non-rhyming England and West Africa."

Air supply is your saving grace - it will keep your spearheads driving. Slowly, perhaps, but driving. Deliver to airfields - air supply affects all units in the target and adjacent hexes, so it is often best to get the order of magnitude higher freight load from landing one hex away than it is to pinpoint deliver airdrops. Really, its the difference between 20 tons and 200.

Despite all this, you may find yourself running low on supplies; here are a few ways to counter that.

1. Send your assault and exploitation formations to the rear to resupply. They'll be drawing from the least damaged rails/ports and also not draining your nascent depots.

2. While your next move is resupplying, let the frontal depots build up. Depots can store supplies, so a large on hand stock can keep an offensive lunge going for three weeks or so...which is about how much time it's going to take to connect the rails to your gains, build new depots, and ship them supplies.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 1/15/2020 2:17:13 AM   


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As loki is busy demolishing my poor reichland, I have noticed that it may have behooved me to be more specific in how bombing points are earned. So, here we are:

1. The base "Bombing VP" for a target is equal to (Factory Size X Damage) / (1000 x Date Modifier).

In 1943 that modifier is 1945 it is 18.

A. So, let us say that you bomb the Heavy Industry in Essen. The factory size is 40, and we'll say we did 50% damage. That becomes (40 x 50) / (1000 x 6) = 2000/6000 = 0.33 VPs per turn.

Now, that doesn't seem impressive - until you realize that without priority repairs, it will take 25 turns to fix that up. Potentially a T1 strike will keep paying until the end of '43. That one strike would be worth 3.96 VPs unless the Germans spend Admin points and construction BNs repairing the place. Which until sitting down to write this, I hadn't really considered doing because I missed the long term implications of the air war. Now I feel a bit sheepish. Still, 4 VPs total falls into the "nice, but not decisive" category.

Consider what would happen if the Essen HI were flattened. It would only count for .66 per turn, but the repair time (without priority repairs) means it would be worth 16.83 VPs due to both the higher pay outs and number of times it paid out. That is 5% of the way to a minor victory, or the invasion tax for two mid sized landings in Italy.

Lets try another example.

B. We bomb a size 3 fuel plant in Belgium. The VPs still count because it's fuel! Being a small plant, we flatten it. 100%. Go bombers.

That's (3 x 100) /(1000 x 6) = .05 VPs.

Less than 1/6th the initial points of Essen's half gone HI. To make matters worse, it going to repair at 6% per turn. This mission was worth a total of 0.44 VPs by the time repairs are done. Probably only worth it if you have aircraft that aren't suitable for something else.


Some implications of this:

1) Big targets generate VP disproportionate to their apparent size. A ruined size 15 plant is worth more than 5 ruined size 3 plants.

2) Re-engaging a big target can be worth more than finding a new one.

3) But the germans will probably repair big targets. While within the german repair capacity, a lot of the VP value of these targets will be suppressed and allied bombing points will come from a mix of them and smaller targets.

4) At a certain point, enough big targets will break beyond the German ability to repair. The result will be a rapid explosion of points as old damage keeps chipping in and new targets pay out in full but can't be contained.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 1/15/2020 9:07:37 AM   

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Nice thread going on here. I'll note a small correction that can be found in the living manual.


ORIGINAL: GloriousRuse

1. The base "Bombing VP" for a target is equal to (Factory Size X Damage) / (1000 x Date Modifier).

In 1943 that modifier is 1945 it is 18.

The date modifiers are
1943: 2
Jan-Jun 1944: 6
Jul-Dec 1944: 9
1945: 12

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 1/16/2020 1:59:50 AM   


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That right there is why you should listen to the experts. I'm only reading the manual, they know where the updated stuff is.

(in reply to Erzac)
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RE: A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 1/19/2020 10:27:13 PM   


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Naval Interdiction

As I have found out playing Loki:

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: A Few Lessons From a Beginner - 2/5/2020 5:32:54 AM   


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Defending the Beaches

Having now been on the receiving end of the day of days, a few helpful bits for a new Axis player to know:

For all intents and purposes, only one regiment is used to determine if a non-port beach holds or folds. Given it is going to be slammed by up to two divisions, naval gunfire, and probably some ground attack bombing on the way in...the best you can hope for is to hurt a serious invasion a little bit. But since it is going to cost you a battered unit anyhow, you can’t rely on a beach defense regiment to also be a containment regiment.

Which in turn means guessing a couple landing sites and stacking them with divisions is not really an effective as you might think.

Airborne units get a special bonus reduction to enemy CV during their landing. Which means that a division can pretty easily jump in on top of a regiment and have a solid chance. Good bombing prep helps (though how you’d see it coming in the hurricane of pre-invasion bombing is another question). So a regimental rear line is still vulnerable to airborne attacks.

Between these two factors, it becomes clear that your divisions should be behind the beach, with regiments on it - if you choose to occupy at all.

For a fun trick, if you are sure the enemy is coming, you can fly some bombers on naval patrol in front of likely beaches - during the enemy air phase. The Allied player can’t see it coming and is now left with the option of invading through the interdiction (attrition and maybe some second wave transports hit) or giving you a very obvious tell on where he’s going.

Which brings us to a major technical/tactical question: Is it worth it to hold the beaches at all?

Essentially, holding a non-port beach does two things: it forces a battle that will likely wreck your regiment but also inflict casualties on the attacker. And it makes the allies prepare a division or larger attack. So you get a shot at some VP and maybe slowing down the allies ability to attack the week after landing, and move the landing prep cycle into the two month or more range. But as mentioned, the regiment you put out there won’t really be able to resist that attack.

To my mind, there’s the D-Day landings (and maybe a bold three army Italian landing), and everything else. Holding the beaches against D-Day seems pointless. The defenders will get butchered for little gain, and the allies can’t risk landing a small force: naval gun fire or no, the panzer armies pose a threat of throwing troops back into the sea. In the med and after D-day though, the allies struggle to put together truly massive invasions. They can still put two divisions on a beach if they want to, but rarely have lots of forces to follow up - and often have a limited invasion season. In these cases, the act of forcing multiple divisions into a landing may be enough to deter an attack, or force an ever ticking clock closer to the bad weather ..and damaged assault echelons may matter. So at places you absolutely can’t have the Allies take cheaply, a beach defense makes sense., even if it just forces the landings somewhere else.

< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 2/5/2020 6:24:51 AM >

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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