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RE: Unwelcome visitors to France

 
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RE: Unwelcome visitors to France - 5/10/2020 12:19:05 AM   
John B.


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Wow, look at all those German units on the Seine!

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RE: Unwelcome visitors to France - 5/10/2020 4:13:46 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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A Wary June

With it clear that Loki was deploying his armor en masse neat the Loire plains, I had no desire to advance into them until 3rd army was up and an initial layer of supply depots was put in. My line was running to single divisions with no backing in most places. I feared that if I advanced to his holding positions on the south Seine, not only would he slam units back painfully, he would take the opportunity to cut off and destroy divisions. Besides the VP cost, losing the critical edge in unit numbers would probably see my flank rolled up. Better if he charged across the Loire and then had to withdraw back to his defenses or risk the same with his panzers.

After one abortive and costly attack trying to cross the Seine up north, I settled down into an uneasy sitzkrieg with a 40 mile no-mans land of open terrain between the two side’s armor while the infantry stared at each other from their side of the Seine.

And unlike the historical allies, I could wait; the thrust coming up the Rhone valley was crunching north, and even if we never fought near Paris, he would have to leave eventually. In terms of VP/political masters, between North Italy and several cities in NW France I had no pressure to advance early and in terms of a drive on Berlin – well, I was already on the outskirts of Paris by June. My port taking corps could keep taking ports regardless of our eastward progress. Likewise, I did not need to launch the Calais landings early; no sense in sending in one army if his panzers could turn their full might on it and defeat it in detail. So we waited while 3rd army drove south and the Rhone valley campaign progressed.

Then, on 24 June, Loki began to commit. He sent a sally across no man’s land in the north, confirming my read that his panzers were massed south of Paris, and causing an aerial redployment scramble as he signaled the unexepectedly heavy commitment of the LW:



In the south, it looks like he attacked from the march as he deployed his covering force, though at least without air cover. I like to think he didn't see the troops from Hannibal and was just picking on an exposed brigade:



The Loire wasn’t quite ready to engage - you can see Patton is just arriving - but fortunately enough forces had been passed through the alps and raced past Marseilles using off the beach supplies to threaten a large scale envelopment.



And then the fighting really started...




< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 5/11/2020 2:41:26 AM >

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Post #: 152
Battle of France - July - 5/12/2020 1:24:37 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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July: The Month of Decision

Loki must have been encouraged by the results of his first raid to the west, or maybe he just thought he was running out of time in the Rhone, because July 1st saw a front wide offensive. Several attacks north of Paris failed to cross the Seine – I assume they were initiated to draw off airpower, and if so they mostly succeeded – before a heavy panzer force committed to crossing the gap for a major attack. Some fortunate reserve reactions and cautious positioning at the end of June mean only one position gave way from the main line:



Not pictured is that two of my cavalry groups were routed out of the woods near Orleans by another two panzer divisions. Still, the attack alone cost the Germans over 300x AFVs.


To get an idea of how much that is, you may recall during our last game Loki (accurately) called about 50 in one week a pretty good cull of the panzers. This really helps highlight the great challenge of the panzerwaffe – it can win, and it is the one tool that can really go on the offensive for the Germans. Massed, it will do some scary things. Either crushing battles or maybe even a breakthrough, but on the offense it must deal a killing blow before the edge comes off the scalpel.

Anyhow, this triggered a brute force counterattack aim at the now exposed German armor and panzergrenadiers.



As well as signaling the conditions for commitment of 1st Canadian Army to the Calais area landings.



The tank battles drew a German response, exposing 26th panzer to an encirclement.



Loki countered to free the 26th, but this exposed an SS panzer division and they were encircled next.



Another counterattack freed them, but we were now virtually on the banks of the southern river and the panzers were starting to run down. The threat of catastrophic breakthrough was gone and we could play up the gut attacks without worrying about a deep punching German counter – which meant the repair depots could be brought up a few miles behind the front for rapid refit. Through the end of July, tank formations simply smashed each other and were smashed in turn. The Germans ran out first.

Or maybe they didn’t, and the southern thrusts convinced Loki it was time to withdraw. I wish I could say there was some genius to the July phase of the Rhone valley, but it came down to force ratios. Any allied unit can become a motorized unit and a major mobility threat very quickly if you don’t mind robbing the logistics of someone else; and you don’t need the logistics unless you have a coherent front – a tank division at half theoretical strength and speed goes further into empty ground than one at full speed and strength goes through Germans. I had many more units than Loki and no coherent front, so I swarmed around his lines until most of his southern forces were pocketed. Not the most tactically artful, but it worked.





And so, on the 5th of August, the Heer began a withdrawal towards new positions in the low countries and the Ardennes-Moselle line.



A few thoughts to follow, but this brings us to within a month of where the game currently is.

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Post #: 153
RE: Battle of France - July - 5/14/2020 2:31:05 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Lessons

Go Where He Isn't: Despite the drama of the battles on the plains, neither side was making much headway. I suspect Loki could have kept swapping tanks through mid-August at the least without the line really moving. You would have to ask him, but if I had to guess, he began is displacement with a combination of the Rhone valley breakthrough and force densities getting low enough that I could start swinging 3rd army around Orleans while 1st Canadian threatened to move towards Antwerp if left unchecked. Regardless, what won Paris almost certainly was not the fighting near Paris. The reality is that the Germans can only cover so much ground well, and even allied units at the end of their tether can go farther, faster, and cheaper than allied units going in head on. More importantly, they present a real threat to the hard points in both the potential for encirclement and the potential to race towards important logistical and political objectives.

At the strategic level, it's worth noting that from Paris it is 490 miles (49 hex rows) east to Berlin, and 210 miles (21 hex rows) east to the Ruhr. Unless you bomb your way to victory - supposedly somewhat harder in the new version, and always leaves a bad taste - the goal is crossing those miles quickly and cheaply. Or, for the Germans, making it slow and expensive. This is particularly true in France - after the beachhead breakout and the first major port, there is virtually no key terrain. The rail lines are comparatively plentiful and the defensive terrain, aside from Seine-Paris line, is not really capable of canalizing or holding up movement on the cheap. And ultimately, you are going to take France unless things go hideously wrong. So there is no reason to fight your way into resistance other than to wear down the elites and hold the Germans in place.

Once Your Start Punching, Don't Stop Loki told me that in a way, the ultimate goal of the Germans is to turn a fight into WWI and the allies is the make sure that doesn't happen. When the Germans have time to rest, set their feet, align their depots, and dig...well, you get late war WWI. Once you pay the price to break them out of that, either with legs or blood, it is worth paying out the next week's price to keep the fight going. The Germans cannot keep up with the materiel loss rates of a continuous fight on the move, and as their edge goes down, so do your losses and your delays. It is better to leave 2,000 tanks unrepaired for two weeks than it is to let off the panzers once they start to fade, or to let the German's reform a line without giving up maximum ground.

On Ports I was looking for a way to put into practice the means the WA used to take Le Havre rather than Brest when I fiddled with the "regiment of artillery spotters" concept. The problem is that while it does replicate the effect of simply pummeling an isolated port into submission, it does it a-historically quickly. In contrast, German port fortresses with divisions are virtually immune to isolation, which means that not taking advantage of an air attack or bombardment this week means it didn't really happen. Both represent a historical inaccuracy. We know that taking ports from the march was expensive (Cherbourg, Brest), we also know that given a week or two of leading bombardments that looked more WWI than WWII, the ports fell cheaply and in a few days when line forces went in even if the defenders possessed the technical means to stage a Stalingrad. (Le Havre, Marseilles). So I am not sure how to replicate that in system. After seizing Nice, Touloun, and Cherbourg with this method, Loki raised the valid point that this might be causing a-historic outcomes or causing unintended engine consequences.

That lead me to a series of tests on old files. What it comes down to is that one division ports can generally be taken by lining up 120k men or so and attacking en masse. Even with a level 5 fortification, the allies simply have enough firepower to disrupt a division on the coast into nothingness if they really want to. The results are varied. One run, Toulon fell for 598 losses to a mass attack versus the 1300 it cost using the regiment of artillery spotters method, though doing so required using two more divisions that would otherwise have six additional MP that turn. In contrast, Cherbourg fell to a fairly small mass attack - four divisions - for about the same cost in losses and committed forces that the "regiment of artillery spotters" method cost. So at the single division defense ports, it is a fairly typical resource allocation decision set that costs a few MPs but does not necessarily have vast consequences at the higher levels.

I stopped using the technique in game before hitting the 2x division defense ports at Marseilles and Brest in case it turned out to be an exploit or a-historically gamey. And here it would seem to have a dramatic difference when I compared test results to in game results. Using regimental prep, Marseilles fell for about 1,300 casualties in one turn and opposed to closer to 4,000 over two turns it took me in game.

I would suggest that this be a discussion you have with your opponent pre-game; right now either port defenses are a-historically effective at sustained defense without the historical allied answer - blow the hell out of it well ahead of the assault, not just a H-Hour bombardment unavailable. Or taking well held ones with a rapid assault can be made a-historically cheap with the regiment of artillery spotters . There is a nominal difference in single division defenses, but a very noticeable one for two division defenses (probably because the second division adds enough elements that it is really hard to bomb them into disruption). How you want to house rule it with your opponent is up to you, as neither answer is all that satisfying.


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RE: Battle of France - July - 5/15/2020 12:23:00 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Loki may be taking an extended hiatus from regular posts, so I will try to keep updates going for roughly every month of game time - albeit, probably without Loki's level of mechanical insight.

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RE: Battle of France - July - 5/15/2020 12:45:43 PM   
John B.


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Loki will be missed. But, perhaps like Bill Watterson at the end of Calvin and Hobbes he has simply said everything that he wanted to say. :) Thanks for keeping the updates going!

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RE: Battle of France - July - 5/15/2020 1:10:36 PM   
EddyBear81

 

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Clearly I will miss his posts. I would have loved to see the strategic and operational thinking behind the bold moves that we can only imagine.

What was his goal(s) ?

Did he succeed at some of them ? Did he fail miserably and in this case is the "port-defense" issues played a great role and why ?

Is there hope of a protracted campaign in 1945 ?

What happened to U-530 ?

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Post #: 157
RE: Battle of France - July - 5/15/2020 3:01:14 PM   
loki100


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To summarise I had a two tier idea. First I stuffed the ports, both Med and NW Europe with the goal of slowing resupply and/or diverting a fair bit of allied effort. Second I wanted to keep the Pzrs together and hopefully at the end of the Allies supply tether.

Now as above, the brigade + TF routine made a mess of the delay bit. I may as well have just left FZ behind. Now I'd actually forgotten all about this option as it really doesn't work in WiTE2 and I've spent most of the last 5-6 years testing that. While there are simiiarities to WiTW, there is a lot that is very different.

I had little expectation that GR would make a mistake but clearly the hope was not just to hit over-exposed Allied units but maybe get some destroyed in pockets. Now given the VP situation, GR could take his time, it might be an interesting strategy to try in a more even game.

So I did a fair bit of damage, created a decent line on the Seine as a shield but it was all frontal stuff, so on balance, a conventional approach of contesting the beachheads would have paid off.

Worth confessing, I've been nursing the fall out from a bad mistake really all late 43 onwards. I'm not that experienced with the Germans (esp not the long term feedback routines) so I was very pleased with myself for rustling up so many powerful Pzr/PzrGr formations for Italy. The problem is they are truck heavy already and need to operate in an environment where you are already consuming trucks (assuming as GR did, the Allied player pays suitable attention to railyards with a side order of rail move interdiction). So as Pzr formations returned from the east, there were too few trucks for them. If he'd bothered to hit my truck production I would have been in an even worse mess.

So I went on a disband campaign, some painless like getting rid of the reserve pzr division with its Char B1s, some painful like a number of the mot/pzr brigades. But I still have a cluster of Pzr divisions with mobility <15.

Chuck that on top of the other issues and the one thing I couldn't do was the type of running battle in central France were I might have done the sort of damage I needed - about 50% of my notionally mobile force is defensive only.

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RE: Battle of France - July - 5/17/2020 1:37:34 AM   
Scona


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The last series of posts really underlined the difference of this game with WiTE; namely the smaller number of units available to each side. The area between the Seine and Loire rivers would be roughly the same length as Army Group Center on the east front, but each side fields maybe one half to two thirds the number of divisions as that formation. This makes it more crucial to manage operations on a unit by unit basis as it is easy for an unfortunate retreat or rout by one division to open the potential encirclement of a corps.

On another note the strategy of the Germans leaving Northern Italy is shown to have both positive and negative outcomes. The Germans will gain a strong defensive line based on the Tyrolean Alps, but the Allies will be able to flank march to the west to burst into southern France along the length of the Rhone valley.


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RE: Battle of France - July - 5/17/2020 6:50:55 AM   
loki100


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Scona

The last series of posts really underlined the difference of this game with WiTE; namely the smaller number of units available to each side. The area between the Seine and Loire rivers would be roughly the same length as Army Group Center on the east front, but each side fields maybe one half to two thirds the number of divisions as that formation. This makes it more crucial to manage operations on a unit by unit basis as it is easy for an unfortunate retreat or rout by one division to open the potential encirclement of a corps.

On another note the strategy of the Germans leaving Northern Italy is shown to have both positive and negative outcomes. The Germans will gain a strong defensive line based on the Tyrolean Alps, but the Allies will be able to flank march to the west to burst into southern France along the length of the Rhone valley.



aye agree with both of these points - but I'll confess it wasn't really a 'strategy' to retreat in Italy, just I had the choice of shoring up the front by diverting a lot of stuff or making the best of a bad job and stripping it down. The gamble was that the freed up units could do more good in N France before the allies inevitably pushed in force up the Rhone corridor.

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RE: Battle of France - July - 5/17/2020 10:47:20 AM   
EddyBear81

 

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How about shoring up forces for a defense of the Rhine on steroids ? Do you think it would have been a better option ? Maybe it's still possible ?

Anyway, completely abandoning Italy looks like a brillant move that opens up many operational options for the big show up to the endgame !

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August: Pursuit Phase - 5/18/2020 7:42:14 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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AUGUST

As the game enters October in play, it's time to release August.

Strategic Overview

As the Germans withdraw from France, there are really only one decision set left in the game: how to get into Germany for the allies while the Germans weigh how to best spend their final hand. By '45 its all tactics base don the decisions of late '44. There simply isn't the time, or for the Germans, forces, to make any new major strategic decisions. Even operational decisions are pretty limited.

The path to Germany starts the day after Paris, so it's worth making one final set of plans...

The Enemy

A Loki was withdrawing, I knew that he had a solid core of fresh infantry falling back from the Seine, I also knew that by now the panzers were limping, but locally dangerous. I knew he had a serious problem to contend with as my lead elements approached Belfort and the Rhone valley covering forces were destroyed, and that the LW was in tatters. And as the final piece of that equation, I knew that the Miracle in September was going to provide him reprieve in the form of one final wave of reinforcements as the fall came on.

What I had no idea on was how he was going to employ the three major forces in play; the Seine infantry, the panzers, and the reinforcements. Something was going to have to be deployed to the Belfort area, or at least the Southern Rhine (almost certainly the freshly arriving units as dictated by rails and geography), but other than that the Moselle sector, Ardennes sector, and Antwerp sector could have a wide variety of defenses set up.

The Plan

I have a rule of thumb that the most difficult variable to accommodate in a plan is the enemy (obvious, right?), and that geography, logistics, and so forth are almost always easier to work through than getting the match up wrong. And with the final real decisions on the horizon, I just didn't know enough to commit. So I decided to spend August trying to read Loki's last play.

To that end, I arranged the force structure in three echelons (Soviet Deep Battle theorists, eat your heart out). The first would be cavalry units reinforced with two armored divisions, meant to advance into the unknown (cav), knock away screening unit (armor divisions) and generally apply pressure to the retreat. The second echelon would be the bulk of my armor trying to not get too far ahead of the logistics, but ready to trap any units left behind in the retreats and to open up the ground. Finally, the infantry divisions would march up behind the ground the other echelons had cleared, with the goal being they should finish encircled units and allow the mechanized forces to keep hurling forward. This should let me figure out how Loki was setting his defense without needing to pre-emptively commit forces.

The Outcome

At the start of the month, I saw three heavy units that looked like either a delaying force, the outlines of a new forward line, or cripples. Deciding the one in the north was a bit too close to infantry for a lunge to work, I decided to "isolate by air" on that one. The cav and aerial recon got sent forward to check the situation on the other two. It turned out they were alone, so the second echelon pounced and raced to connect with the Rhone valley forces. You can see 2nd panzer, which I didn't want to get too close to with the rest of the Heer twenty miles east, had to withdraw through a layer of "9" interdiction. I don't know what it's truck status was before that, but it certainly couldn't have been good after.




Meanwhile, South France was all about mopping up the last of the resisting forces.




As those pockets were being finished up, and 2nd panzer run down as its infantry withdrew, Loki decided to punish one of my 1st echelon armor divisions.




Which brought the 2nd echelon forward to do their job.



Meanwhile, in sectors and Antwerp and Ardennes, the shape of Loki's heavily reinforced northern line became apparent...



As August drew to a close, I knew where the enemy was weak, where he was strong, and how I would be going to Germany.

< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 5/18/2020 8:11:11 PM >

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RE: August: Pursuit Phase - 5/19/2020 1:01:06 AM   
Sammy5IsAlive

 

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I'd be interested to hear loki's side of that engagement. Just going off your screenshots it looks to me like he counterattacked the wrong side of the Moselle - I'd have been waiting a little longer and then hitting your bridgeheads as you crossed the river. That way he'd have been the 'right' side of the river for supply purposes, had better natural flank protection and also the potential to score higher casualties retreating a unit back across the river. Although it is a long time since I played WITW so maybe I'm missing something fundamental in terms of mechanics.

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RE: August: Pursuit Phase - 5/19/2020 2:17:45 AM   
Scona


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Looking like a potential main thrust strategy south of the Ardennes this time? The rail repair units usually stuck in Italy would be available to get the railways hooked up from from the south up to Alsace, but could this effort be supported without the quick capture of Antwerp?

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RE: August: Pursuit Phase - 5/19/2020 2:51:48 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Sammy: While he may chip in, my read is that this wasn’t a planned counterattack in the sense that there was a baited trap. His panzers were pretty run down from August, and there’s no guarantee he could throw back a deliberate bridgehead over the Moselle with further refit - where I suspect he wanted to seat his next line. Allowing me across the Moselle would be a 50/50 gamble at best (you can see the other attack that failed), that if it went wrong would mean losing a line that might hold for a month or more.

Rather, he likely saw some exposed armor running near the end of its supply line (low fuel affects combat value) and went for a quick punish. It’s worth remembering that in good weather, it’s a struggle to see, let alone ID, units 2-3 hexes away. In worse weather, a lot of times your first clue there’s a unit somewhere is running into it. The allies have a lot more aerial recon to help offset this...but still, there is the very real chance he simply didn’t see most of the units that came out of the 2nd echelon, or didn’t see the 3rd echelon and assumed those units would be pinned holding their pockets. The screenshots do him a bit of injustice because they happen after the fact, and you can see all my units.

@Spona: Well, I wouldn’t want to engage in serious combat without Antwerp, the point of August was to find a way in that would avoid serious combat...and a tank with two cans of gas and a box of machine gun ammo can be a holy terror in the rear.

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RE: August: Pursuit Phase - 5/21/2020 5:25:56 PM   
HermanGraf

 

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Without sounding like an ass, and trying not to offend. Loki did seem a little salty in his tone on previous posts. He is usually so good at posting, is the game still friendly?

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RE: August: Pursuit Phase - 5/21/2020 5:41:52 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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We’re discussing value theory in the e-mails around the turns, so it’s friendly enough. After that pocket, the game itself has less to lend from the German perspective (though I secretly suspect he is reforming the panzerwaffe just out of sight for a final battle)

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September - 5/22/2020 2:59:44 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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SEPTEMBER

With that last pocket of panzers, all plans and bets were off. There was now just one goal - get across the Rhine before Loki could reform. Nothing else mattered. Germans west of the Rhine would die or withdraw if I could get over in force, whereas Germans east of the Rhine I would have to fight for the rest of the war. Get there, and everything else would either be given up for free or represent the death of the Heer in a doomed final stand.



While that gap couldn't possibly be that big (again, in the mobile phases, you might be able to see 2-4 hexes, but move a dozen) it was clear that this was where the enemy was weak. The allied armies turned toward the Cologne-Mainz stretch of the River, thinning out Antwerp and Ardennes sectors to enable the uppercut. In the south, they would attempt to grab a few crossings - less to actually expand out of, more to fix Loki's forces into defending against them.



And no, the gap wasn't that big. But enough pressure was applied that Loki felt compelled to withdraw his southern forces to the Rhine, due east as allied armor lapped around. He launched a series of spoiling attacks, but by now the Allies have nearly 4M men in the field. The potential for a few thousand losses in a battle means little compared to the simple attrition chewing on an army at the end of an increasingly frail supply line. The only thing for it was to bull through and keep eyes on the prize. In the north, he began to refuse his line, which triggered a general offensive in the Ardennes and Namur-Liege axis to side-step his Antwerp line.



Ignoring the retreating antagonists, allied armor hurled NE. Imagine my joy at finding I had won the race to the Mainz Wiesdabden crossing, and then my horror at realizing the one division that could get there had no support and would need to fall back or risk encirclement. The only upside was that in this mobile war, Loki would have no idea what I actually had up there and his few remaining panzers could only move slowly - or fast, once.

My luck held - or the German truck supply didn't - and the rest of the force joined up next week, with lead elements taking Frankfurt. This drew a counter-attack, of course. Once the Germans lose a National Supply Source, they can no longer rebuild units. Production still happens, replacements still flow, reinforcement divisions still arrive on schedule, but a unit lost entire can never rise again. And Frankfurt is an NSS. With 12th SS panzer rebuffed, the war entered a new lethal phase for the Heer.



All across the front, the Germans were starting to dissolve. Local German attacks could punish, but not change the situation. Even the alpen-krieg saw American regiments and British brigades nearly arriving in South Germany. The center was ruptured. Only the low countries defenses held intact, and it became clear that they were receiving cases of Iron Crosses in their supply runs as they prepared to die in place near Antwerp, perhaps buying Germany the last needed gasp to rebuild the forces lost in August...







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RE: September - 5/22/2020 4:17:26 PM   
HermanGraf

 

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Oh wow! Now that's a different outcome than the normal WiTW games! You can push all the way to Berlin!!!! Man those panzers must be down crazy on TOE, the whole german army must after that gamble.

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RE: September - 5/22/2020 5:08:56 PM   
EwaldvonKleist


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That is a very good offensive. It doesn't look like the Germans will ever be able to reform a line. If WitE experience can be transferred at all to WitW, I think the problem was the constant loss of a unit here and there. IMO it is rarely worth to lose a unit to encirclement/surrender. Throwing away a unit to hold a location a little longer gives a one-time benefit while keeping it for the rest of the game gives constant benefit. There surely are cases when it is worth it but they are rare. The "fortified places" strategy by Hitler was opposed by the German military for good reason.

The pockets South of Paris and the September offensive show the downsides of losing too many units, unit density simply isn't high enough anymore for the Germans. Each lost ID may only be 9kish men or so but it can still hold the line against a weak attack or construct fortifications or provide ZOC.



< Message edited by EwaldvonKleist -- 5/24/2020 2:32:58 PM >


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RE: September - 5/22/2020 10:01:09 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Ewald has the right of it. The ports cost the Germans about 7 infantry divisions. The Rhone cost them an FJ division, a Panzer division, and a PzG division plus Schmalz and an infantry corps. Then the initial August pursuit bagged two more panzer divisions and a PzG. The last pocket in August took three panzer divisions and two PzGs out of the fight.

The inland battle losses weren't Heer breaking, aside from the truck burn after Italy. The August pursuit losses are what got us to today.

(in reply to EwaldvonKleist)
Post #: 171
RE: September - 5/23/2020 9:43:07 PM   
Scona


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From: Central AB, Canada
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Are you playing with historic East front reinforcements? If so then any roadblocks that could be erected have to be taken from out of the flanking fronts in Belgium and Austria, which is possible only if the rail net is largely intact.

_____________________________

"Everything else being equal, the army with the best looking uniforms usually losses." Murphy's law of military history.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 172
RE: September - 5/24/2020 12:17:24 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

Posts: 257
Joined: 10/26/2013
Status: online
On 25 November, German high command made overtures for peace. On 3 December, 1944, twelve allied divisions, supported by nearly 4000 aircraft, launched one final assault on Berlin after bypassing Potsdam and Brandenburg. The last defenders caved. Hitler was found dead in a bunker.

(On T74, Loki told me he would give me his PW given the state of the game, and I said that I would run the siege of Berlin on his current defenses.)


(in reply to Scona)
Post #: 173
RE: September - 5/24/2020 3:54:44 PM   
Zombly

 

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well, having been lerking since the start of the first of these two AARs, i have to say its been a fun read
i hope to see more games by you two in the near future, its very nice to have a game that actually completes within my life time

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 174
RE: September - 5/24/2020 6:21:43 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

Posts: 257
Joined: 10/26/2013
Status: online
Thank you. Always good to hear more people who appreciated the effort - particularly on Loki's part; I found that even running a month together at once is a time consuming event, so to do a turn by turn posting while maintaining one turn a day is a truly massive investment of personal effort from him. His steady turn rate (helped by us being on opposite sides of the pond, so essentially each of us would send a turn sometime after work in our time zone, which would be received in the morning for the other guy) really let us keep the pace. He was a great opponent both in and out of game.

Also, WitW itself lends itself to a sweet spot for rapid completion for anyone considering a GC. Italy starts off small enough to prevent early game fizzles because the opening 28 turns are short(er, minus the t1 air reforms) and the game never gets too unmanageable in size. The steady 97 turns with significant changes in the nature of play every 20 or so helps keep the scope manageable and different as well.

As a final recommendation, it's a great game to get into the series in. I own WitE, WitP, and WitW (there was sale...how could I pass?), but honestly opening both WitE and WitP made me go "holy &^%$, there's how many things I need to do right now to set the conditions for a 200 turn game, with how many different ^&(%$! mechanics I need to learn up front or risk Moltke's wrath later?". With WitW you have some space and time to grow into the game and into the mechanics. It also benefits from having several exceptional AARs (many of which are Loki's) that are as much about how to work the mechanics as they are who went right instead of left.

All of this made for a great first MP experience in the WitX series, as did Loki's constant willingness to teach, dsicuss, and advise on the system.

I, at least, am going to take a breather for a few weeks before kicking off any mega-click hungry games (and, honestly, I don't like to go against humans in such games until I've run the mechanics vs the AI enough to know I won't sacrifice 3 months because of something everyone competent takes for granted but I never figured on). If there's an appetite, I might post a truncated OCT-DEC version of events, but the real meat of the game is already present. I will also post some final high level lessons, and a short post on some house rules you might consider if you decide to play a game.

(in reply to Zombly)
Post #: 175
RE: September - 5/24/2020 6:29:54 PM   
Laits


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Thank you for this awesome AAR and congratulation for the victory!
I'm eager to read tour lessons from this campaign.


_____________________________

More majorum

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 176
A few observations - 5/24/2020 9:35:04 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

Posts: 257
Joined: 10/26/2013
Status: online
A few big picture lessons. Hopefully not too much "buy low, sell high", but a certain amount of that is in there:

It’s All About the Force Ratios.

In both games played, despite our focus on operational and tactical level decisions in the moment, the outcomes in a theater stemmed from the strategic level – which meant force ratios here. Not to re-hash Boyd et al, but higher levels of war trumped lower ones.

Basically, in whatever sub-theater the allies have enough forces for overmatch, they will win. Either through blunt force or by moving into space and just going places no moderate amount of force would consider, or can cover. Once they start winning big enough, they start killing units and not just men. Once units start dying, the ratios get more lopsided, and more and more holes open in a cascading failure. The only re-dress the Germans have if this starts is abandoning terrain -locally, operationally, or even strategically - and hoping to patch together a line somewhere where the allies can’t just overwhelm them with power and mobility. In contrast, where the Germans can keep the ratios only marginally disadvantageous, they can bleed the allied VP score pretty badly.

Bluntly, Loki is a superior mechanical/tactical player than me. His experience, his talent for assembling powerful custom formations, his eye for detail – all things I can’t match without sitting down and pouring a lot of thought into it, whereas he does naturally.

I didn’t get through the mountains of N. Italy faster than Loki because I was better, or because my narrow thrust operations were all that more clever than his shifting broad front. I got through because I had another army’s worth of divisions and thousands of aircraft down there.

As an earlier example, I was barely able to contain Loki’s Rome landings with tattered regiments, whereas he handily destroyed multiple US divisions. In part due to his superior tactical skill and my choice of landing sites, but also because he had several powerful panzer formations in theater whereas I had pissed away some of mine in the south and had not been able to get many more into Italy.

In the Rhone, I didn’t win through being any better at the game. Far from it. I won because I could throw two full armies against a couple reinforced corps.

And so on. Assuming two players within a reasonable range of mechanical capability, the guy who brings a disproportionately large force (beyond the basic “allies have more stuff”) to the party wins.

For the allies, this is mostly a matter of math with some redeployment scheduling (Med to England – 7 week planning factor after accounting for refit, England to Med is 5 because you’re bringing fresh troops who don’t need to march before getting on boats and rails.)

For the Germans, there is the added complication that merely employing your best units – where you really make up your ratios - runs both them and the supporting national stockpiles down. I’m now thinking of the game for the Germans as 5 boxes – S. Italy, N. Italy, S. France, N. France, Low Countries – where you have to get the right units to the right box, knowing that while you might be able to use them later, once used they’ll be much reduced in value.

So…if that’s true…

Then the two most important decision cycles in the game are early ’43 and early ’44. Not because of how you decide to invade/defend Italy or France, but because those are the periods you really decide what is going where, and when/where you’ll be strong. For the Germans in particular, what you send down to Italy in those first few desperate turns has a massive impact on the rest of the game.

For the WA Jan-April ’44 period essentially locks in your force ratios and determines how easy or hard each sub theater is going to be. By extension, it determines the tempo and opportunities in each theater as well. Basically, you’re each making calls on a mix between what you want to achieve/deny for the next 30-40 turns, and balancing that with where you actually think you can create the sort of force mismatch that will allow you to do that. Kind of chicken-egg, though I’m leaning towards the idea that if the allies can create a big win anywhere, it unhinges the Germans everywhere.

I would be interested to hear people's means and methods for handling this decision, given it appears to be so utterly vital.

The Allied Secret Weapon is Mobility

So – I got the first hints of this in an embarrassing turn set last game where Loki tore me apart near Paris. He was merciful. Yes, the WA have scads of airpower. And sea power. And firepower. And stuff. But everyone knows that.

What is overlooked is just how good the WA are at mobile operations.

1. They have plenty of good cavalry. Both in terms of the actual cav groups, and separate regiments and brigades. The Germans have a handful of motorized brigades and press-ganged security regiments. They can’t afford to spend their panzers as cav. Meanwhile the allies can freely recon virtually any apparent opening – by July of my run as the WA, I was literally preceding every major move by sending a cav group to poke around and see what was out there, and if the lines were in contact, by seeing if I could float around the flank or at least see if there was nasty surprise being held in reserve. Between this and air recon, where information is scarce the WA are much more capable of developing the situation. And if a ground recon element gets knocked back…well, 1,000 troops sounds like a lot, but is nothing at all compared to a full multi-week assault.

2. Any allied unit can be a mobile unit. Another Loki trick - temporary motorization means that for little more than a week’s AP, an entire corps can be attacking a weak point, surrounding a unit, going through a gap or holding open a breakthrough. You can use this as a hammer by shifting power to a weak spot, but I found its greatest value came in meaning the WA really have a reserve anywhere. If you hold off on moving a handful of infantry divisions until you’ve seen what some recon and initial attacks bear out, all of a sudden you can have the forces you want where you want them – in essence, you can almost always support a breakthrough, finish a pocket, or go to an open flank. It costs someone else in trucks and supplies, but chances are that’s a lot less relevant than wherever you just committed. Or you can save up and motorize an entire army to go where no German player could reasonably predict it should be. And you won’t have Monty crumping about it either…

3. More prosaically, they just have more mobile formations that move faster (not technically any different in max speed, but by the time you’re out of Italy, the German truck pools and tracks are losing some steam) and can move longer than the Germans (better logistics until you get to the Rhine, by which time the Germans are out of everything).


< Message edited by GloriousRuse -- 5/25/2020 8:14:04 PM >

(in reply to Laits)
Post #: 177
RE: A few observations - 5/25/2020 9:17:08 AM   
loki100


Posts: 6617
Joined: 10/20/2012
From: Utlima Thule
Status: online
Or to add

Ok, I made 2 early mistakes that came back to haunt me constantly:

a) I still think stacking up Corsica is a valid approach, but you can't defend one of the ports just by naval interdiction - in the end the Allies will pay the price to grab it. So its crudely a 5 division commitment or don't bother. Linked to this is the approach of retreating units out of a port into an open hex so they are destroyed not just routed back the mainland;
b) I've mentioned this, I was very pleased with myself for easing out so many Pzr/PzrGr formations out of the garrisons and into Italy. With hindsight this is not a good idea. You have the illusion of strength but of course the Allies can always (should always) go around you. At the time their mobility stayed in the 40-45 MP range so the cost in trucks was obscured and it was pleasing to more or less wipe out a few US armoured divisions.

The problem hit when they came back from playing with Uncle Joe, and found an empty truck pool. All those returns which should be the heart of your 1944 force were effectively for show and defense only. As mentioned, if GR had added to the misery by hitting the truck production then things would have been even worse.

I'm not sure if my 1944 strategy had any validity or not. My logic was bot to lock too much too far west was going to ensure I paid a full price for compromised mobility. I know playing the Allies that the advance phase can be tricky to manage but I think I forgot why. In most games, that comes after a set of bruising battles, you know the Pzrs are weakened but dangerous, so your goal is not to give them a target while grabbing as much as you can before the front settles down. My approach changed this decision frame radically, in effect the Allies know there is something waiting for them that can indeed chew up a weak/isolated spearhead. So there is no reward for pushing forward and an obvious penalty, so you advance with caution.

That leads onto a couple of other issues.

We've discussed the issue of using brigades + TF to undermine port defences (crudely the TF artillery gives you masses of disruptions meaning it falls easily to a main attack). Its one of those things that are either a bit exploitative or an excellent use of the game mechanics. What it did do was to remove one of the pillars behind my 1944 approach.

The other pre-existing issue was that GR was sitting on a huge VP score. Most of this was earned by simply better strategic management of his resources (as is clear from the posts, he spends a lot of time putting this together and has the enviable ability to always have one more unit than you'd expect). But BC doing day bombing in 1943 also acts as a very large multiplier. This has been discussed at length and no point saying more but not only is it VP rich, it effectively takes 30% of the German fighters out of the game.

So my approach was based on a couple of things that just weren't the case. There was no reason why the Allies should advance as if they were in the post-landing pursuit phase. Equally once they had established contact, they could just wait - existing VP score and the evaporation of my port defences in the south.

So I could have pulled back, I did think about this, if all I wanted to do was to grind the game out as long as possible, in theory I could pull back so far as to recreate the supply dynamics I was trying for - but there really is no point to that.

In general, these 2 games have changed my views on Italy radically. I've often promoted a take Rome for the VP, grab the Northern Tuscan cities (because you can), flip to defend mindset. In my game, I didn't actually leave much more in Italy than you'd need for this, but managed to spend the summer of 1944 levering the Axis out of the Appenines. GR simply left another complete army there - I wasn't prepared to even think of matching that, so lost it all before the summer of 1944.

_____________________________


(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 178
RE: A few observations - 5/25/2020 4:08:38 PM   
HermanGraf

 

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Joined: 6/17/2009
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GR and Loki - Thank you for another fantastic AAR!!! I learn a whole lot from these posts!!

(in reply to loki100)
Post #: 179
RE: A few observations - 5/26/2020 9:48:38 PM   
John B.


Posts: 3591
Joined: 9/25/2011
From: Virginia
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Thanks for another outstanding AAR!

(in reply to HermanGraf)
Post #: 180
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