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Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspective)

 
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Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspective) - 2/1/2021 9:26:56 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Multiplayer

Hello ladies and gents! As part of the run up to WitE2’s release, myself and 821Bobo will be playing an exhibition multi-player game. You can expect to see turn updates here roughly two to three times a week. As Bobo will take the Germans, his updates will often showcase the tactics and operations, while my more reactive Soviet posts will many times have a greater focus on systems.

I’m coming to this from a War in the West background, though as a beta tester I have played some WitE2 multiplayer at the beginner level. I’ll let Bobo introduce himself, but it’s safe to say with his extensive WitE experience he’s much more at home in the East than I am. We sincerely hope it’s an interesting match for you all to watch.

Starting the Game

Before we dive right in, there’s a few major and irrevocable decisions to be made about the game in the GAME OPTIONS screen. Since the Soviets have to initiate the ’41 campaign in PBEM, I’ll be setting these up mechanically, but it’s always good practice to discuss them with your opponent first!



Some of these will be familiar to WitX veterans, and some are entirely new to WitE2. Fog of war is pretty standard for MP for the obvious reasons, but the rest really are options. We chose to Lock HQs because we’re both the type who want tight control of our force structure and are willing to spend time deciding which supporting artillery regiment goes to who, but it bears noting that if you leave this unchecked the AI will handle apportionment of all of that – which saves you time, can be a great way to ensure new players can handle the big stuff without needing to delve into this, or just generally prevent one player’s system knowledge from impacting the game as much. There are also two items that will catch the eye of returning WitX vets.


New Options

Automate AI Air Assist: WitE2 has a comprehensive new air system to realistically portray the advantages, capabilities, and constraints of airpower on the Ostfront which allows players a lot of control while placing them under realistic restrictions. It in fact has it’s own phase of the turn (which will be familiar to WitW veterans). It adds a layer to the game and we are playing in full manual air mode to demonstrate the intricacies and possibilities of the engine. Also because we both have a slightly grognard tendency to masochistically managing details so that the air forces will do EXACTLY what we want.

But you don’t have to. You can use a very solid AI assist to handle as much of the air war as you want it to while still making decisions about which battles get air support. Really – it won’t screw you, even though its AI! While players can always use the AI assist, by checking this box make it so that both sides MUST use the AI assist. Why would you do that? Perhaps you want to play a faster or more casual game without fear that the other guy is going to start a micromanagement arms race…

(Incidentally, WitE2 is quite low on the Kabuki-trick scale, but wargamers are ever afraid that there will be a secret detail they missed. You can rest happy knowing a lot of beta effort has gone into making it so that decisions matter more than click-knowledge.)

Enhanced TB Control: Theater boxes are a brand new WitE2 feature, simulating the rest of war at large and it’s effects on the East Front (and vice versa). There’s an intuitive interface that lets you transfer units between theaters and set general parameters without going into spreadsheet detail. By leaving this box unclicked, we’re accepting that both sides will be subject to a generally historical rotation schedule for units – which helps keep the game authentic, at it’s tightest balance, and means you won’t see too many wild variants. We’ll still have some ability to send forces to and from other theaters, but not excessively so.

If it were checked…well…want to see what happens if you send the Afrika Korps to Russia? Think you can knock the Finns out of the war early with an extra quarter million men? Go for it. Just don’t be surprised when the Allies land in Italy a weeee bit ahead of schedule or you find that getting to Berlin is slow going.


< Message edited by Erik Rutins -- 2/3/2021 2:38:49 PM >
Post #: 1
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/2/2021 9:40:45 AM   
Sammy5IsAlive

 

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quote:

(Incidentally, WitE2 is quite low on the Kabuki-trick scale, but wargamers are ever afraid that there will be a secret detail they missed. You can rest happy knowing a lot of beta effort has gone into making it so that decisions matter more than click-knowledge.)


Yay! I think it is those kinds of efforts that will attract and retain new players.

Looking forward to this - I really enjoyed your contributions to the WITW AARs for your games v loki.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/3/2021 2:26:13 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T1




Sooo…turns out we may have slightly misjudged the posture of our, erm, fraternal German socialist friends. They were, it turns out, arch-fascisti enemies of the people all along.

The obvious part of this week is that vast chunks of the motherland have been conquered, and equally vast chunks of the Red Army are now in pockets waiting to die. The VVS didn’t have a great week either. It helps to have the historical perspective on this to add to your sangfroid, because it’s pretty easy to imagine how this catastrophe could convince you that the war was already over.

As Bobo has neatly demonstrated all of that, what can you as the Soviets do in the face of the maelstrom? Well, you can get cracking on building for the real war to come.

Evacuating the VVS before their bases are overrun.



Shipping troops to the front from the corners of the USSR.



Scorching the earth in front of the Germans.



Looking to the other theaters (Ok, we were not really ready for this...)



And in a few places you can start making life difficult – a little taste of things to come. In this case, that mostly involved operations against the Brest-Minsk rail line. Some of this came in the form of literally sitting on the line, some on occupying difficult terrain nearby it, some by aerial interdiction. All of them will force the Germans to fight to clear this critical line, tiring their troops and slowing down the infantry and rail repair units that would otherwise be racing to catch the panzers. Yes, there another major rail line that connects to Minsk, but for a railyard that will need to send supplies across nearly half the front, being fed by a single 30k line that is also shipping north is not ideal. The longer we fight here, the longer the panzers are burning their initial supply stocks further east…

A key part of this is the new admin movement system, which allows troops and supply columns in friendly territory to move faster (better roads = better bonuses), accrue less fatigue and movement attrition, and regenerate combat power quicker. Every hex you can deny this on is another one of the thousand cuts that will slowly wear down the seemingly unstoppable Wehrmacht.

In that vein, I also cut off the southern spearhead (they have enough supplies in tow to render this far less dramatic than it sounds, particularly as I have no doubts the supply line will be re-opened, but the sooner they burn unit stocks without replenishment, the sooner the Russian vastness will start to bite), and attempt to hem in the long narrow thrust down south. We even launch a counterattack that technically fails when the German division reserve arrives, but wrecks a good number of panzers and will help reduce the potential of those units next week.



(in reply to Sammy5IsAlive)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/4/2021 10:42:05 AM   
guctony


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RUSSIAN DELAYING TACTICS,

Is it possible to practice different possible delaying actions to see how the ne system is reacting. I mean now it seems it is possible to scatter Russian units to possible German advance lines to eat more of their movement. ?

_____________________________

"Unless a nation's life faces peril, war is murder."
"Sovereignty is not given, it is taken."
"After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."
Mustafa Kemal

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/4/2021 9:37:55 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Sammy: glad to hear it. Since the hooking and jabbing for ‘41 is a little more German focused, you’ll be seeing a lot more in the way of musings here.

Guctony: determining the best way to delay the Germans in ‘41 is essentially the ever shifting name of the game, at least until the winter comes. Some of those are immediately tactical - is it better to fall back four hexes or none, try to hold a coherent line or a disparate curtain, to create depth or reinforced positions (that one is often terrain dependent) - and some expand a little. In particular the new focus on combat preparation and logistics means that there are times when counterattacks can slow the Germans to a crawl for a moment, and times when they’re just frittering away your strength, times when committing to a big set piece defense will make for a multi-week grind, and times that just is going to get soviet armies trapped and annihilated. Basically, yes, there are hex-methods, but there are also much larger scale ways to alter the tempo.

Alas that goes both ways, so you also can’t count on the Germans to have the same rate of advance every game, making it much more dynamic. And Bobo is very good, easily the best German opponent I’ve had in 4 soviet games.

(in reply to guctony)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/5/2021 10:51:03 AM   
Nix77

 

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How many MPs did the 7MechD have at the start of the turn? Seems like it captured Zborov and even returned back north after that, isn't that like close to 40 MPs required since there's three ZOC-to-ZOC moves?

If the mechdivs have that many MPs, the Germans need to be really careful with their openings :)

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/5/2021 2:37:04 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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It was in the low 30s I think, and started in just the right place. As a whole the soviet mech and tank forces are far more dangerous than WitE1. Your BT-7s will still die hideously, but the Germans can’t just ignore the mobility. And when T-34s and KV-1s meet panzer IIIs you might see a lot more German individual tank losses even if the soviet division collapses.

You’ll see it later in the AAR, but WITE2 realizes that by mid summer the Soviets were counterattacking locally in many places, and this had real effects on the German operational pace. The capability of the TDs and mech to offer some nasty surprises is part of that. It’s a far more dynamic fight than just trying to redress the line every week.

(in reply to Nix77)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/6/2021 6:17:08 AM   
guctony


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quote:

ORIGINAL: GloriousRuse

Sammy: glad to hear it. Since the hooking and jabbing for ‘41 is a little more German focused, you’ll be seeing a lot more in the way of musings here.

Guctony: determining the best way to delay the Germans in ‘41 is essentially the ever shifting name of the game, at least until the winter comes. Some of those are immediately tactical - is it better to fall back four hexes or none, try to hold a coherent line or a disparate curtain, to create depth or reinforced positions (that one is often terrain dependent) - and some expand a little. In particular the new focus on combat preparation and logistics means that there are times when counterattacks can slow the Germans to a crawl for a moment, and times when they’re just frittering away your strength, times when committing to a big set piece defense will make for a multi-week grind, and times that just is going to get soviet armies trapped and annihilated. Basically, yes, there are hex-methods, but there are also much larger scale ways to alter the tempo.

Alas that goes both ways, so you also can’t count on the Germans to have the same rate of advance every game, making it much more dynamic. And Bobo is very good, easily the best German opponent I’ve had in 4 soviet games.



Apparently we will have a better chance of delaying action if Russians counter attack to reduce Germans preparation points by some local counter attack. So basically If catch German Panzer units on the frontline we can stage counter attack to reduce their movement points.

This would mimic historical endless counter attack of Russians.

Thanks


_____________________________

"Unless a nation's life faces peril, war is murder."
"Sovereignty is not given, it is taken."
"After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."
Mustafa Kemal

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 8
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/6/2021 6:41:07 AM   
Nix77

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: GloriousRuse

It was in the low 30s I think, and started in just the right place. As a whole the soviet mech and tank forces are far more dangerous than WitE1. Your BT-7s will still die hideously, but the Germans can’t just ignore the mobility. And when T-34s and KV-1s meet panzer IIIs you might see a lot more German individual tank losses even if the soviet division collapses.

You’ll see it later in the AAR, but WITE2 realizes that by mid summer the Soviets were counterattacking locally in many places, and this had real effects on the German operational pace. The capability of the TDs and mech to offer some nasty surprises is part of that. It’s a far more dynamic fight than just trying to redress the line every week.


This certainly sounds like good news! Counterattacking in -41 with the Soviets in WitE1 was usually not a good idea which encouraged the Soviet player to just run away and avoid any kind of contact in a very ahistorical way.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/6/2021 1:26:44 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T2
Well, this makes for depressing reading:



Part of that is the result of those opening pockets being reduced unit by unit. Those are…regrettable, but don’t particularly affect my real ability to establish a new defense. They were already dead, one a tragedy, million a statistic, and so forth. An unfortunate amount of those losses however are coming from units that I pushed into the line without time to prepare themselves:



Ok, that was an outlier, but I had several like this:



Preparation is a very big deal in WitE2, directly reflected in Combat Preparation Points. A division thrown into the front lines without time to organize itself, plan, and prepare has low (probably zero CPP) and is susceptible to all sorts of issues – not the least of which is if combined with low morale, potentially disintegrating if the fighting gets serious. And all soviet units start at zero.

A unit that rests and doesn’t spend all of its movement (and is preferably near their HQ, away from the front, and in Assault status) builds up CPP. This provides a slew of bonuses, the most notable of which are a direct increase in combat value and maximizing movement potential. Moving, attacking, being attacked, and worst of all being forced to retreat all drain CPP. The German units all start at 100, meaning the Wehrmacht pound for pound will never be deadlier than the opening weeks before the toll of fighting and just plain marching across the Russian vastness wear them down.

Which helps explain how the panzers blasted through the Sorot line in the north, shoved my divisions out of Vitebesk in the center, and even after being cut off down south linked up with the on-rushing Romanians to form a massive pocket, the “extended Lvov” in the vernacular of WitE1. It might feel dispiriting, but it helps to remember you’ll never be this outclassed again.

And you can still hit back.


Cutting off panzers.



Fighting in strong positions where you can.



Holding the supply lines to the last man.



Savoring occasional moment of glory.



And it turns out…



…we have reserves.

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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/6/2021 4:09:05 PM   
vinnie71

 

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Are soviet units built by the player or is there a roster of incoming reinforcements?

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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/6/2021 9:34:24 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Soviet units arrive in five basic ways:

1) On map mobilizations - this is mostly early '41 as reservists are activated.

2) Units mobilized in the "Strategic Reserve" theater box, which lets the player decide where to dispatch them (albeit the locations need rails and are sufficiently far from the front, plus the units arrive in a state of un-readiness). This becomes more prevalent as you move through '41 and into '42.

3) Second Foundations. Through the suummer of '41 when a soviet unit is destroyed, the empty shell gets sent to the reserves sometime over the next few months (there's a random element) and has to be filled back with men and equipment before being deployed as in 2.

4) They arrive from other theaters - either on historical schedule or as a result of movement decisions when you have full TB control - where units arrive at an appropriate railhead (Baku for units coming out of the transcaucus after Iran is secured for example).

5) You can opt to build shells of units at a cost in admin points up to a certain OOB limit. Those units then need to be filled with men, equipment, and so forth. This is not really a good idea until what you've already been assigned is taken care of - lots of half empty units is a recipe for your army collapsing violently when the Germans give it a good kick.


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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/8/2021 2:41:19 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T3

The German advance seems inexorable. I keep reminding myself that with every passing week my agency goes up and the value of the German opening assault goes down. But to give credit to Bobo, he’s had a very good opening three weeks and that definitely makes my job much harder.

In particular losing Pskov is a major blow. Taking Pskov by T3 is not an easy feat, and is a sign that the Germans are playing the opening phase very well. With two divisions in the city I was hoping that the Germans would try to encircle it or that it might repulse an assault after the attackers blew their way through the screen. Either would have bought precious time; time where the Germans lack an effective railhead in the north, and time for VPs.

Alas, that did not happen.

Which might be a good time to digress into how VPs work:

At any given moment, one side has the initiative and is scoring points. The Axis in the early war, and eventually the soviets after they start rolling back the Germans enough. Several historical target cities (Pskov is one) are worth points (usually 10, some 30s for places like Stalingrad, 60 for Moscow) for possession and a one time bonus of up to 6 more points based on when the attacking side takes them.Here you can see the Germans have Pskov, and if I were to retake it in some fanciful world, the bonus for me would be +6. (You can also see I'm playing with command efficiency on as an overlay - the soviet leadership is bad enough even in optimal conditions, setting up poor command structure is not something you want to do)



If you take them on the historical date it’s a 3 point bonus, with +1 for every week prior up to three weeks early, and -1 for each week after until there’s no bonus at all. Assuming no one wins an automatic victory, the highest score the Germans ever held is set as the High Water Mark – and that becomes the benchmark the Soviet player is racing against when he is on the attack. So had I been able to hold Pskov another week, that would be one less VP for the Germans on top of the immediate operational effects and come my turn in the sun is one week faster I’ll have to be somewhere to avoid losing the game.



Elsewhere, I’m a bit divided on what I think of this all. On one hand the Germans are moving fast and keeping up their momentum. They’re getting deeper than I’d like faster than I’d like and it seems like even going directly through my strongest lines can’t stop them. Its enough to make me wish I had Khruschev on hand to go out and “inspire” some of these generals.

On the other, despite the vicious weekly losses, the Red Army is growing and mostly avoiding being pocketed. This is combined with lots and lots of German attacks which are hopefully burning off some of the pristine condition from the Wehrmacht. They are using up supplies, fatiguing units, draining out readiness and preparation, and of course slowly but surely sapping manpower and equipment out of those formations. I won’t see the results of that immediately, but I am hoping that in a few months all of this will add up to a much more even fight.

If I haven’t been executed by Stalin anyhow.

In the short term, it’s time to try to redress the lines yet again. A key component of that will be turning Smolensk into a fortress city, where my bravest/unluckiest heroes will stand to the last man for the Rodina. But more on those later…

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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 12:40:58 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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I have to say, I really didn’t expect the Germans to get to the last swamp and cut off Smolensk. Things are proceeding much faster than I would like. Everywhere, actually, but I was relying on Smolensk to anchor a decently long fight tied into the swamps and woods around it. Partially for VPs, but also because the terrain near it provides the first major chance to break up the German advance along the Moscow axis.

That’s why I turned the place into a city fort.



Think of this as the real word application of the city fort theory you’ve been seeing in the previews. I don’t just want this city to be a brawl, I want it to be a persistent thorn in the side of the Germans that locks down a specific strategic point and can only be removed by isolation or a painful storming process. Preferably both. By stacking five divisions into terrain that already has excellent defensive bonuses, I’ve made it a very hard nut indeed. If Bobo wasn’t so fast up the gut I might have even had time to dig deeper entrenchments and turn it into a real hell. As it is, it’s still going to take some time to remove.

The downside is that it will almost certainly be isolated before it goes. Which means those five divisions are lost to the cause for all intents and purposes. While I find this acceptable here, it’s a fair warning to just building these willy nilly (besides the AP cost and the limit of 8) – in the wrong place you’re just offering up troops to the Germans.

Of course, as mentioned, I really wasn’t hoping to have the place surrounded until say, week five or six. So we’ll need to open a path through those panzers. I can hear WitE1 veterans scoffing, but this isn’t WitE1.
First, we set the target unit up for some serious bombing in the air phase. This is the ’41 VVS and not the 9th AF of ’44, so I don’t expect the panzer division in question to crumble under bombardment, but enough planes with enough bombs can really help sap the strength of a German unit at a key point.



And of course we have GS assigned to the attacking HQ, and toggled “On” during the attack to signal I want air support for this – an important toggle, since any commitment is going to cost, perhaps prohibitively if German fighters are around. Fortunately my waves of bombers also served as fighter recon, so I feel somewhat safe.

From there, with the soviets at this stage it doesn’t pay to be fancy. A single massive deliberate attack with plenty of tanks backing the rifle squads, aimed solely at breaking open the corridor. The Germans will close it next week no matter what I do, but that’s another week where the Moscow axis heavily disrupted and another VP.

Plus when we trash this panzer division we’ll not only sap it of precious tanks, but remove all of it’s remaining CPP. It’ll take a moment before it’s ready to come back to the front lines, and even when it does it’ll never quite have the summer of ’41 aura of invincibility to it. The CPP can, theoretically, be recovered in the next 2-3 turns given that PG3 is almost certainly an Assault HQ and if Bobo removes the unit and co-locates it with it’s HQ. The tanks might not ever fully recover without specifically being marched back to a depot, but the division will probably be ready for violence in a couple weeks. Still, a couple weeks without a panzer division is a big deal in ’41.


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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 5:58:35 AM   
Nix77

 

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I think you might be better off holding the river lines more aggressively? Losing Velikaya-Sorot line usually spells doom for Pskov, and the assault on land bridge might have been delayed with speed bumps on Berezina and the terrain between land bridge and Minsk. Holding the Dnepr should be essential also.

In WitE1 I used to be railing units aggressively to the center and north to hold tge rivers with good terrain, is this now more difficult with the new logistics/rail system?

< Message edited by Nix77 -- 2/11/2021 6:00:37 AM >

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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 6:12:25 AM   
Mahrgell

 

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It is quite a change to see from wite1...
- Beating a PzDivision back T4, wow
- actually knocking out >20% of its tanks, WOW
- Having only about 30% of the German losses in a battle yourself? IMPOSSIBLE!

This was probably the most frustrating part in wite1, that regardless of how much invested, early on those things were invincible, and even if you beat them, somehow you automatically still got 10 times their losses.

Oh and grats! This was cool to see and should be morale boosting (even if not for your units, but for you)

< Message edited by Mahrgell -- 2/11/2021 6:13:12 AM >

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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 5:01:18 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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In response to nix's question, well, the railing is very WitW-esque, but that's not what is doing it. One of the new feels in WitE2 is that while soviet units can be victorious, they can also really fall apart under pressure in the early war, as can some axis minors and late war Germans. This can make it very difficult to form a coherent line at times because when you get knocked back units can retreat multiple hexes, rout, or generally enter an unready state that make sputting them in the line near-suicidal. Combine that with there are some substantial terrain updates vs WitE1 (It really, really, isn't just a fresh coat of paint on that map); heavy woods and swamps are vastly more inhibiting and defensible than light woods, to the point trying to go straight through them requires a whole lot of effort and a favorable balance of forces...especially for motorized units, as the value of infantry elements is greatly increased while AFVs get a malus, and combat often begins at closer ranges possibly resulting in the atatcker recieving a lot more AT fires and fires in general from a less suppressed defender. But none of that matters if you just roll through picking up ZoCs. There are many places where standing on the terrain can make a few hexes a mult-turn affair, while stands in lesser terrain might become suicidal until you've built a very solid army.

The other part is that Bobo is just damned fast. I mean, I'd love to have more stuff to put in his way, but getting bodies to the front still takes time.

(in reply to Mahrgell)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 6:16:06 PM   
Nix77

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: GloriousRuse

The other part is that Bobo is just damned fast. I mean, I'd love to have more stuff to put in his way, but getting bodies to the front still takes time.


Oh but that's the general Soviet feeling at least every time I'm playing them. The Germans are just too damned fast :D

Will be interesting to see how the opening turns pan out!

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
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RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 7:28:41 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Heh. it definitely is. Though this is my fourth HvH game as the soviets and I've never lost Pskov before T5 before. My own fastest run as the Germans got it on T2 against one opponent, but only because he made a fatal error.

Which actually brings to the fore a real point about WitE2. The systems are more subtle and specific than some games (WitE1 comes to mind) that model advantages by just making certain units 50% stronger. The German advantages comes from a lot of their tactical mobility and the presence of lots of assault HQs and a high initial CPP giving them the ability to pivot operationally faster than the soviets, as well as the ability to really convert potential energy to kinetic, so to speak, in a devastating burst that is hard to defend against. On the other hand their logistics situation is far more refined and prone to collapse if ill considered - it's not just "hook up a rail and it'll all work out".

Some of the genius of this is that those systems work with few if any player clicks required, but really place a premium on gameplay and decision. And those more subtle effects require deeper thought, not deeper clicks, to adjust to. The Germans as a whole are kind of like using contrcator grade power tools: if you're good at what you do, man, the things you can do. If you're not...it's got a chance to go bad.

A lot of that also reflects one of the truths behind Barbarossa: yeah, the grand strategy was kinda dumb, but the operational execution was dazzling. WitE2 places emphasis on the German player making it dazzles while giving him the tools, not making the German units invincible legions to replicate it.

Bobo so far is maximizing the less immediately obvious advantages and is moving very, very fast.


(in reply to Nix77)
Post #: 19
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 8:02:45 PM   
Nix77

 

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I'm just hoping the Soviet side has also enough tools in the box for a competent player to utilize. A bit worried about Soviet units being even weaker at the start of the campaign than in WitE1, ie more prone to shatter or get considerably weakened.

The German opening should still present a challenge even for experienced players when facing an equal opponent.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 20
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 9:03:50 PM   
CapAndGown


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quote:

ORIGINAL: GloriousRuse

A lot of that also reflects one of the truths behind Barbarossa: yeah, the grand strategy was kinda dumb, but the operational execution was dazzling. WitE2 places emphasis on the German player making it dazzles while giving him the tools, not making the German units invincible legions to replicate it.


This is a concern of mine about the new game. It seems to downplay the strategic in favor of the operational. Specifically, the new factory evacuation system means the Germans cannot try to target Soviet industry, or, to the extent they can, the Soviets have no way to respond. Factories that were evacuated historically are still rebuilt in the east, while factories that were not lost historically cannot be evacuated even if the Germans move to capture them.

Going after resources seems to be a bust. Going after oil is extremely hard and probably not worth it in game turns. Manpower is probably a valid target, but I can't say if it is in the new game. So what is the German strategy? Are we forced to replaying the OKH's war: a dramatic lunge to the east hoping the Soviets collapse before we hit our logistical limit 500km into the country? How do we impact the Soviets ability to wage war beyond successful operations?


< Message edited by CapAndGown -- 2/11/2021 9:05:33 PM >

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 21
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Bobo vs GR) - 2/11/2021 9:29:55 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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Well, speaking as a tester and not the designers, I would say you have certain strategic realities forced on you. Like that by the time you’ve “knocked out” the Russian war machine, you’ve also conquered Russia. There’s just no getting around the fact that outside of Ukraine, the bulk of Russian industry was in deep in the country or evacuated even further. Virtually anything west of Stalingrad and Moscow is exactly what it was historically - something that will take the edge off, but not a killing blow to the Soviets, especially once lend lease gets going.

Your other issue as the Germans is that Russia’s political capitals are not co-located with its industrial base. So causing political collapse and snapping up the resources are not identical goals.

That said, no, you don’t have to fight OKHs war. There are paths to victory that don’t even make it to Kalinin, others that aim for Moscow, ways to Saratov, and ways to the oil amongst others. I won one game by combining a seizure of Leningrad with a tolerable southern campaign and an advance into the industrial cities south of Moscow in ‘42. I never touched Stalingrad. In converse, OKHs performance is the pacing tool for the score, so if you come up with a clever plan the onus is on it to outperform history.

(in reply to CapAndGown)
Post #: 22
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 2/15/2021 4:06:25 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T5

A mixed bag of a week; I’m very happy to see the Moscow axis has stalled out for a moment, far less happy to see everywhere else the PGs continue to make big bold advances. As mentioned elsewhere, Bobo is very good at those, and it is of course wildly depressing to see lines dissolve in a pile of hasty attacks, but I hold out hope that this pace is trashing the Wehrmacht. Trash is a relative term because it takes a while for any army to fall apart, but one can hope that the constant drain will pay off later.

Of course, for that to matter I have to survive until later, and you already saw the interesting tactical bits in his post (ok, I cut off part of PG2 again), so what does that look like?

Well in ’41 we have three key VP marks to care about:



1. The first is the German sudden loss point – it probably won’t be an issue this game, but it is certainly a factor to consider in many. If by the start of the new year, the German High Water Mark is not at least 525 points, they lose the game. Another check is made at 575 in late ’42. Now, the HWM is not the current score. It is, as the name implies, the highest score the Germans have achieved. (The historical HWM for ’41 is 591 I believe). But you do need to get there.

This gap represents 155 VPs from where the Germans start, or roughly 12 target cities taken on historical schedule – or maybe 13-14 a bit slower. There are 17 target cities with 1941 dates, plus several “never taken” targets, so that doesn’t sound unachievable (it’s not), but it does have a few effects.

First is that the Germans can’t just hunker down on a nice line in ’41 and start digging in come the mud season. There is a real incentive to keep pushing through November and December, even if it means being over-exposed when the winter comes. It also means there is an incentive to hold on to gains through the winter – give away cities and you might give away the game in ’42.

Second is that there is a reasonable incentive to keep pushing on multiple axes. You simply need the VP – you can barely afford to be stopped on one axis, and if you’re stopped on two things will start looking very ugly for the Germans. Now, this can be paid off if you get a big win like Leningrad or Moscow, but you need to win that gamble if you took the forces off another axis.

And finally, there is an incentive to push hard and fast like Bobo is doing. The harder and faster you push, the more you move from burning the candle at both ends to putting it in front of a bonfire, but the more likely you are to immediately cross the line into safety. This is not cost free – running ahead of your supplies is murderous on trucks, tanks, and even infantry squads, but what option is ever free?

2. The auto-win condition at the start of the mud season (sort of-the weather model makes this much more variable) requires 700 VPs. That is a LOT of VPs – every single ’41 historical city on time or faster, and a few big bonus pick ups as well. It can be done, it can even be done without Moscow, but if it didn’t involve Moscow it would involve kicking the almighty crap out of the soviets everywhere else.

Unlike the “don’t” lose mark, the check requires the Axis to actively be holding those points when the time comes, not a once had HWM, so the soviets have their last chance to handle that.

For the obvious reasons I would like this not to happen to me.

The chief effect of this is to prevent the Russians from conducting a “run away” defense. Simply put you need to fight, at least some times in some places, or the Germans can win the game with less raw territory than they might require later. As you’ll see in coming weeks, we will soon be at the point where the soviets need to fight.

3. That 750 VP mark sticks with the Axis through most of ’42. This is a pretty big deal and by far the most potentially possible of the checks. The historical German HWM was around 694 in Oct ‘42, so in essence recreating the German campaign through their peak with most of Stalingrad fallen at blazing speed OR with a few bonus objectives can win them the game (or Moscow). Suffice to say this is also one I do not want to happen to me. Also suffice to say it prevents any concerns about me setting my defensive lines at Saratov and Gorky.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 23
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 2/18/2021 3:44:07 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T6

The Germans are just moving too damned fast. WitE1 veterans will probably say “looks pretty typical to me”, so you’ll just have to take my word for it that this is not typical for WitE2. Usually the preparation, combat delay, new terrain features, and logistics systems drag the German advance down in speed. Bobo is really tearing across the Rodina, far more than normal. The flip of all those new things dragging down the advance is that unlike WitE1, losing Moscow and Leningrad has a good chance to be all she wrote rather than an annoying setback.

Time for the Russian historical response. Granted, they did this in August and not late July, buuuuuttt...

URRAH! URRAH! URRAH!



In the north, the Luga line is fr too valuable to give up to a single regiment. (And I really didn't see the Germans managing to make it through the heavy woods like they did - more fool me for under-estimating my opponent.) Fortunately, lone regiments are easy to cut off, making counterattacks deadlier. As an added bonus, when motorized units ROUT they often leave a pile of their trucks behind, which is a body blow that will drain their movement potential until their stocks are fully restored.



On the road to Moscow we have a unique opportunity to catch the panzers in a flanking movement, knowing that the Smolensk fortress will hold for a while longer. Nothing fancy here, just what happens when you are willing to throw 100k men into an attack:



And while it isn't going to win the war or anything, I'm pretty proud of this counterstroke against PG2, which not only punished 3rd panzer for breaking down into regiments in the face of serious soviet opposition, but cuts off most of the PG and works on some of the units in the cauldron as well. Particularly helpful now as cut off units have an incredibly difficult time dealing with broken down and damaged elements and those numbers are building up as the panzers keep fighting.



Alas that after that dash over the southern Dnepr we aren't in a position to serve up PG1 with much in this manner 14th panzer gets knocked back because it looked a little overextended, but that's it.

If T4 showed that counterattacks are viable, this week hopefully shows that they can be used to really change the flow of a German advance. I would go so far as to say that against a good opponent counterattacks are an absolute necessity. With WitE2s variable retreat results - particularly for low morale and unprepared units - just drawing the "perfect" defensive line will not succeed. Units will rout, retreat fifty miles, or otherwise perform in manners that you cannot mechanistically predict. Something will go wrong and giving the Germans a free hand to impose their will on you will end poorly.

The other side of that coin is that you are of course draining out your own CPP to conduct these attacks and need to generate that readiness to begin with by staying somewhat static and well supplied for a week or two. A poorly judged counterattack can unlock you defensive line in a hurry, just as a good one can give the Germans a sudden crisis. And you may have noticed from the sizes involved, half measures are no measures for the Red Army. If you want to win, you need to bring a massive hammer to the table.

Not that you always want to win - I advocate for it because it realy does do a number on the German plans - but lesser attacks are still useful. Even a failed attack drains MP, supplies, and combat power out of the German formation. There is a time and a place for attacks that you know will fail just to limit the German advance, but you want to know that is going to happen: you don't want to fail in attack you thought was going to win. So bring a big bloody hammer, because there's no reward for "almost won" efficiency with the Soviets.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 24
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 2/18/2021 9:26:37 PM   
MAS

 

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Nice ripostes GloriousRuse! Love the propaganda poster too. Regarding the 3 combat reports you've shared, I have a couple observations and would appreciate your comments on them.

1) German losses are much higher than in WITE, which I think is realistic and more in line with the heavy losses they actually suffered from the moment Barbarossa began (e.g. about 63,000 dead in July '41 alone). However(comma)...

2) Soviet losses are much lower than my experience in either playing WITE or understanding of the history. From my reading, the Soviets suffered horrendous casualties in their attacks from the summer on through their winter counteroffensive, due partly to poor officer training and poor coordination with (and sometimes lack of) heavy weapons.

These 3 combat results don't seem realistic regarding soviet casualties. In all three you're taking fewer personnel casualties than the defender is. While this could be chalked up to blown leadership rolls, high fatigue, low ammo, and/or massive suppressing fire effects, effective leadership checks, etc., I'm wondering if these three results are typical or atypical for WITE2?

Also, did WITE2 do away with the option for the +1 CV bonus at the cost of higher Soviet casualties? It sure seems it isn't needed anymore!

Thanks much!


(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 25
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 2/18/2021 10:00:54 PM   
loki100


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2), if you win, Soviet losses are sometimes not too bad, if you lose then its a slaughter, you can easily lose 2,000+ in that sort of attack

there is the enduring oddity in the WiTx design that reported kia can only come from destroyed elements, so sometimes you can attack, pick up a mass of disruptions and damaged but relatively few destroyed elements

So if you re-enact the Yelny'a style attacks then you will see very heavy Soviet losses, but equally you can drive the Germans nuts as their Pzrs are strung out taking low level losses, never shedding fatigue or recovering their CPP.

+1 is dead ... (along with the HQBU concept), both are far more logically modelled in very different ways

_____________________________


(in reply to MAS)
Post #: 26
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 2/21/2021 1:46:15 AM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T7

A fairly quiet turn as the Germans mostly extricate themselves from last week's attacks and finish off the odd pocketed unit. I batter a few of the panzer/motor divisions down in PG1, but if you've read Bobo's T7 you get the gist of it.

So, since it's out there, lets talk losses.



First things first, the tempo of this game has been rather high. Both sides are bleeding freely; some less aggressive games would see lower losses on both sides. The fantastic rate of constant attacking has been pushing both armies to the wall, though the Germans obviously start in a much better position to absorb that sort of shock. Between that and their superior formations which won't usually rout until battered into nothingness, the overall cost to the Germans is going to be lower in a fangs out hair on fire strategy like this.

Before we go deeper, what causes losses?

The most obvious is direct combat. On the combat resolution screen you can see how many losses have been assessed from destroyed elements, predominantly translating to KIA and POWs. That part is straight forward. given the early war Russian propensity for collapsing into fiery ruin, more of their apparent losses can be seen in the immediate screen.



(It turns out that units that are less at the extreme end of their rope maybe kill more Russians...and that T26s are not good tanks. Who'd have guessed?)

However, you'll notice that there are large rows of "Damaged" elements. Like those 130 soviet rifle squads or some of the German howitzers in the screenshot. A Damaged element is just as hors de combat as a destroyed one as far as fighting is concerned, but generally the casualty effect is not immediately obvious. This is because Damaged elements are not processed until the logistics phase where they have a chance for recovery, cannibalization (turn two damaged elements into one functional and one destroyed one), return to the national pool at a roughly %40 manpower loss, or just plain being lost. Generally speaking the worse the supply situation, the lower the experience, the lower the morale, the higher the fatigue, the harder recovering damaged elements is. Being in contact with the enemy really hurts those odds further, and being Isolated is just a bad day for everyone. So in this case there's a pretty good chance there are a lot more soviet losses coming out of this attack than the cobat shows - we just won't know until the maintenance folks and field hospitals get their shot. The men who are lost will primarily be Disabled - seriously wounded that have a very low return rate on one end and a very low rate of dying of their wounds on the other.

Beyond that, the act of moving, particularly when fatigue is high and supplies are low, also piles up damage. Fall outs and blown engines take their toll. This accumulates as Damaged elements, and as such also is not readily evident until the logistics phase processes.

Finally, attrition rears its ugly head. Men and machines break under the best of circumstances, and the barren Ost is rarely anything close. Generally, poor supply, poor morale, poor weather, poor readiness, and poor fatigue all lead to higher rates of incidental attrition. Being in contact also increases attrition as patrols, barrages, and other minor tactical actions beneath the scope of the player are assumed to be taking place when units are next to each other.

As you can see, the immediately confirmed dead and dying at the end of an attack are usually just the tip of the iceberg for what is actually being lost.

----------

What does this all mean strategically? Stay tuned for the next slower Soviet turn, when we'll cover production and freight.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 27
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 2/25/2021 3:42:19 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T8

Well, for the first time we have some real significant differences in how fronts are playing out. Up north the relatively tough terrain has made it harder for the Germans to blitz across the Rodina, but has also shielded them from serious counterattacks. The result is their panzers can still explode with a lot of potential...like this:



This often makes the north a more reactive front for the soviets, with a focus on building defensive lines just-so and trying to maximize the use of Swamps and Heavy Woods (at 8 MP base cost for poor roads, a special Dense setting that favors infantry over AFVs, and high defensive bonuses those can really break up an attack. It's one of the few places in the early years where it may actually be better to build strong positions rather than an extensive defense in depth. After all, you don't have much terrain to give, but what you do have is formidable.

As we approach Moscow, both sides are taking a breather. I honestly expected the panzers to be on the march again, and this is one of those terrifying moments where you know they've built up potential energy but there is little you can do about it other than try to hem them in. I'd usually say two weeks of relative non-violence is a gift, but Bobo has proven very capable at the explosive lunges that follow a logistics period, and which so historically accurately characterize the blitz.



In contrast, down near Bryansk we have a problem. The loss of the city means soon the rails will be up. followed by super depots and logistics build up. When that happens, this will quickly turn from a back and forth battle near the gap to a desperate defense of Orel. Reasoning it's best to fight while the fighting is good, another series of counterattacks work on those panzers I can find exposed. Everyone else gets to dig for life.



The south looks much like Moscow. The counterattacks last week apparently put the breaks on the drive, but this only makes me all the more wary of the potential for next week to be very dynamic. My one counterattack is foiled by Grossdeutchland and the Slovak mobile forces waiting in reserve, which is enough for me to see where this would be going if pursued in full. Instead, I set new lines along the Dnepr. This early in the war, tying to a river is a bit of a gamble. The Germans WILL make it over, and probably thrash your divisions in the process. And they will make it over with more gas left in the tank than you want, and with you in a predictable and easily known disposition. At the same time, those crossings will force the Germans to concentrate, so they can help keep "screening" sectors from advancing too quickly. Just don't call it wrong...they aren't going to stop a real offensive this early and excessive faith in their delaying and defensive properties is an excellent way to lose lots of troops (which Stalin could no doubt attest to).


(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 28
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 3/2/2021 1:51:12 PM   
GloriousRuse

 

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T9

Remember where I said that panzers coming off a rest can be explosive? Right. No doubt the garrison in Vyazma would both agree with me and wonder why I didn’t put a heavier division there. Well, I didn’t really see them being THAT explosive. Bobo strikes again. Down in Ukraine the thrust was more predictable, but the constant casualties are making it hard to put together something coherent enough to stop a major thrust – particularly as in this fine weather the Germans can choose their point of penetration. At least up north the Germans are still grinding through the terrain…too bad it’s the one place I don’t have terrain to give.

None the less, this is all coming at a cost.

To the ongoing discussion in the axis thread (these turns are several behind for security), there is much talk about what the panzers can or cannot do with logistics. There may be a slight mathematical variance here or there, but the fundamental truth of logistics is apparent here: armies don't collapse in a day, a week, or even a month: not at this scale. Unit stocks get run low. Then the prioritization gets stiffer. Eventually down at the company and platoon level stuff starts getting cannibalized, people hook up tanks to tow-bars, someone borrows from the next unit over. And somehow it all keeps running, just in a manner that is basically cutting the guts out of the operational whole while the tactical leaders get it done. Reality can't be defied, but there is a surprising amount of flex...

Which is where we are now, with less than half of the panzerwaffe actually able to drive. Constant explosive drives on an increasingly rickety logistics base have not been kind to the Wehrmacht, particularly the panzerwaffe. Granted they have also not been kind to the Red Army, but this is boiling down to an OKH style strategic bet - can a successful '41 justify running the Wehrmacht hot?



Anyhow, might as well help that along. The 19th panzer is looking weak and strung out in regimental packets to cover the breakout. With the panzers committed, my need to maintain a strong general defense is lessened and I can converge locally. The 19th panzer is defeated in detail to cut off Vyazma. It won't stop a drive dead, it won't reclaim the city, but week by week my hope is that these body blows will start to tell.



Down south, the FoW is high, but a reading of the battle reports shows me that the 11th panzer division isn't really a division at all. I don't have the forces to "win" in the traditional sense, but the unit is simply too battered to stand up under pressure. Low on supply, heavily fatigued, and with only a handful of it's nominal strength actually able to fight the division simply melts away from positions it should have been able to hold.



Overall this latest drive has left me to decide to hold or abandon the Dnepr line cities...after some thought I decide to hold. Partially because of political considerations (VPs), but also because so long as I'm in those cities the Germans will really struggle to supply PG1. They will manage it, of course, but at an ever increasing cost in trucks, fallen out soldiers, and broken tracks. The fate of 100k more Russians is sealed.


(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 29
RE: Panzers vs The Bear: A WitE2 MP AAR (Soviet Perspec... - 3/2/2021 2:27:25 PM   
Sammy5IsAlive

 

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Are combat results like that last one new in WITE2? As far as I remember in previous versions stuff like fatigue/supply/available elements went into calculating the final CV and outcome and it was only subsequent to that outcome that rout results were determined. I can't remember anything like that battle where a unit 'won' its battle but still routed.

(in reply to GloriousRuse)
Post #: 30
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