From: Utlima Thule
This covers a game vs the Soviet AI on challenging settings.
This covers everything up to the start of T11 (31 August).
It uses the current .exe for beta testing, so some things will be a bit different, not least the latest has reduced the ratio of killed pilots:operational losses.
I've decided there are plenty of turn by turn AARs so this will group turns together and pull out larger trends. I also used this game to test out some ideas that I am (partly) using in a MP game so it suits me to obscure a few choices (though I am convinced the AI reads AARs).
T1 was mostly conventional, air set up to hit the airbases with fighters and then to use GS to wreck the VVS. At the end of this, the Soviets had lost 3,900 planes and the Axis 155.
On the ground, I originally set it up as solitaire to test out pocket formation etc. Then flipped it to an AI game once I was content. I permanently motorised 2 infantry divisions – there are a lot of claims flying around about this and wanted to see how much difference it really makes. I never attack the fortified zones on the west edge of the Bialystok pocket on T1 (better to destroy them when no elements return to the Soviet pools), as an experiment I bypassed a lot of Soviet border forces on the AGN/C sectors, again with a view to destroying when fully isolated.
T1 was predictable. AGN took Riga and Daugavipils, AGC reached Minsk and elements of PG3 pushed along the south of the Dvina. AGS took Lvov and 1PG mainly focussed on an attack towards Rovno (but diverted some units to ZoC constrain the Soviet divisions south of Przemysl.
VP or killed units?
I decided that the key was to destroy Soviet units, so as the game progressed, I looked for pockets even at the cost of gaining VP. The other big decision was to write off Smolensk for any time bonus, having decided to do this, gave me a lot more flexibility around AGC.
Playing the AI
The last bit was to play knowing how the AI reacts at 110. There is no point to partial pockets that will close the next turn, you need to at least ZoC lock a salient. Equally you need to use the motorised divisions to place the front line in ZoC or face endless reserve reactions.
Related to this is that you need 4 (ideally 5) angles of attack. Given how the AI responds, a single powerful thrust will be covered. Multiple threats, and letting some stay latent for a turn, will mean it will leave gaps that you can exploit.
Tried out some ideas.
The AP cost of motorisation meant only a few depots could be built and had to make the best of the starting command chain. Main voluntary expenditure was to set 17A to assault (with hindsight this would have been better with 6A as that has better leadership).
Stripped the SU back to OKH. In particular all the Stug, tank destroyer and pioneer formations. Heavier artillery partly sent to 11A (with a lot of pioneers) or held in OKH. Corps left mostly with 2 artillery and 2 AA SU, each motorised division got at least one AA SU as a direct attachment.
For the infantry my goal is to split it 50/50. So half the corps can constantly move, never really gain CPP but essential for flank protection and/or small battles. The other half try to get over 70 CPP and keep there, for the main round of battles.
For the motorised formations, run the mot divisions into the ground if needed, try not to fight with the Pzrs. Between low production and poor replacement its too hard to repair these, ideally they should be fresh for say September when the decisive phase of 1941 occurs.
Mostly set up around GS. Naval assets to the Black Sea and reinforce with a KG from L4.
Recon, use the army commands just with biplanes for a lot of recon in support of each army. End up running out of these but it really helps with planning. Use the army group recon for longer range over what I think is the key sector (in a MP game I might opt to misdirect with this).
My main aim here was to give the AI another focus. My feeling is that vs the AI if you really commit here the outcome will be worse than in MP (not least there is the chance a human Soviet player doesn't spot what you are doing).
In terms of VP, my assumption was to write off the time bonus for Pskov and assume a +6 for Talinin. Instead 4 PG cut a direct route east of Pskov. My immediate goals were a defensive line on the Narva-Luga-Novgorod line. If I could gain any more that would be useful for depth. As it is, the AI was badly beaten in some fighting around Novgorod and a relatively fresh Pzr Corps managed to exploit. If I can cut the land connections to Leningrad I will.
Elsewhere, 16A was meant to take Velikie Luki and a few hexes east. Happy to hold that line (relatively easy to keep in supply over winter) unless the AI seriously collapses.
Elements of 3 PG and 9A have helped generate a sequence of small pockets in the Vitebsk-Velikie Luki sector.
Here, the basic operational design was 2 thrusts to spread out the AI. This has worked in part as every now and then one or the other Pzr Grp has been presented with an opportunity.
As is clear from the map, I've really struggled for secondary pockets. The one between Mogilev and Gomel is the first army (+) scale pocket since T2.
Overall I've put the VP chart out of mind here. My entire plan rests on the second half of the summer offensive. With some luck, the next few turns gets me out of the constricted terrain, 2 PG is relatively well supplied and once its free there is a cluster of targets in the NE Ukraine and the Orel-Tula sector. I doubt I'll get a massive pocked west of Kharkov but the scope is there.
9A has had a leisurely trip to the front lines but when it attacked it wrecked the Soviet lines (lots of routs) and just absorbed any reserve responses. The result was an easy encirclement of Smolensk. It will now move on towards Vyazma supported by PG3. Neither a Soviet player nor the AI can ignore a direct threat towards Moscow, but being pragmatic, this is not an attack designed for VP but more to absorb the Soviets and possibly open up options.
One unresolved idea is to pull a Pzr Corps from 4PG, if I can take the line of the Volkhov I can usefully scale back on the commitment to AGN.
My intention was to keep PG1 on the northern sector and look to cross the Dnepr east of Kiev (leaving that to 6A. Soviet deployments would have a bearing on whether I committed to the cities in the Dnepr bend or towards Kharkov.
The AI has set the pace here. Its tended to pull back at least 4 hexes meaning almost no secondary pockets. The one on the Rumanian border was large and mostly a product of pushing a Pzr Corps south. The exception was when it stood to fight in the Cherkassy sector. You can see from the map how poor my immediate recon is (this is before the airphase) and that for the infantry its mostly been marching.
Acquired full time bonus for Kiev and Odessa, doubt I will get much for Zaporezhye but should gain the bonus for Dnepropetrovsk.
In my favour, I've not had to send much down here and the infantry formations are near full strength. Stalino and Kharkov are feasible as is Rostov and Sevastopol.
I'll do a seperate post on logistics etc as that is (as ever) worth a discussion.
So the main loss charts:
The AI has run a few bombing raids on my depots. Not a bad idea but I have protected them with flak and fighters, so I suspect that has fed into the relatively high LB losses for the AI.
One thing in the current test .exe is that SU are destroyed if their HQ has to displace (choice or as a result of combat) out of encirclement. So there are maybe a few more lost artillery regiments on that list compared to normal.
No idea if that is enough, but for the first time am finding gaps in the Soviet lines.
Worth noting that at 110, the Soviet AI gets a few (four if I recall) free rifle divisions each turn, so its a lot harder to keep the AI below 3m.
My twin goals were secondary pockets (I've happily taken out single divisions where I can) and to deliver the Wehrmacht relatively intact to what will be the critical 6-8 turns.
Not done that great for the first goal but the AI doesn't co-operate (neither will a Soviet player). The second has worked, the infantry in 9 and 17 Armies is around 60+ CPP, my Pzr divisions are mostly intact. If I can gain either open terrain or close contact (ideally both), then I might be able to do some serious damage as a result.
< Message edited by loki100 -- 9/28/2021 11:31:10 AM >