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Panzer (second edition)» Forums » General

Subject: What's wrong with Panzer as a simulation rss

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Andrei Shlepov
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This year I played all ten scenarios of Panzer Base Set FTF against
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Although we enjoyed the game sometimes (we found meeting engagement scenarios almost always inevitably ending with forward overwatch positions established, and then no one really wanted to step into the fire; other scenario types usually played quite exciting), we constantly questioned the game’s simulation validity. I hope it’s interesting to present these points here.

First of all, let’s set the scope right. We played Panzer Base Set, second edition, first printing, using AG rules (save first scenario) with no OR (save occasional Hidden Units). That’s the basis for the following points, no more, no less.

1) Let’s start with geography, and that’s a really bad start. We got two villages on the map named Stravrhevoy and Kurhva. The former name is just a set of sounds which probably sound Slavic to some ear. The latter one is a bit better but closely resembles a rather strong Polish word meaning a girl of reprehensible behavior. I doubt anyone wants to hail from such a village.

2) Turning to history now while not entirely leaving geography, let’s move to scenario descriptions. Scenario 10 sets Operation Kutuzov in Ukraine and credits Kutuzov with saving Moscow. That’s like crediting Hood with saving Atlanta. Nearly all scenario descriptions tell about actions on a front, army or corps level, and then we get to fight on a company level. It doesn’t look like any of the scenarios is depicting real action.

A fair question is why prate upon geography and history which bear no direct relation to the simulation value. But that’s a sure sign whether the system is being adapted to its subject matter, or vice versa.

3) My biggest complaint against Panzer is there is no difference in command between the two sides. There’s a command system which is probably a step ahead of many tactical games where you get a handful of squads and a slew of vehicles which are remarkably flexible as if no command level above squads and individual vehicles exist. The problem with command system in Panzer is it’s just abstract, generic and no different between the Germans and the Soviets. They just got different tanks but command them in the entirely identical way.

4) Panzer’s subtitle include Combined Arms Operations, and here lies another problem: there’s no problem of combined operations at all, as almost any formation you’re going to command is already an all-around combined arms force. It includes infantry and armor components and frequently its own AT and SP artillery, and that’s on a company level! These OOBs closely resemble Flames of War miniatures army lists where you’ll get to take a compulsory HQ and a couple of platoons but then just about every level of support so you could get infantry companies with heavy tanks, artillery and what not, so you really wonder who’s supporting whom.

5) Speaking of hardware, there’s a couple of troubling points. First of all, you could kill tanks with mortars, and not just early-war tin cans with some 120 mm but say late Mark IV modifications with 82 mm battalion mortar! That stretches my credulity to the utmost as I’ve never heard anyone considered their 82mm an AT asset.

6) Another strange point is indirect fire. It seems that the best way for vulnerable vehicles to weather barrage (all other things being equal) is just stop. Because moving vehicles would be attacked twice in a turn, and a stopped vehicle just once.
All in all, I think Panzer strongly belies its miniatures connection/background. In miniatures wargaming you usually fight not real actions but some generic scenarios using not real OOBs but some army lists with point system. Panzer could provide an enjoyable gaming experience but at the same time lacks many things as a simulation. I know that to game something, you got to simplify many things but in the end the game should still resemble its subject matter. Unfortunately, in my eyes Panzer does not.
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Eric Walters
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To me, Panzer (second edition) is very much a retro-style game, a title that not only belies its miniatures roots, but positively swims in them. For gamers that played all those old games such as Tobruk: Tank Battles in North Africa 1942 and the Jim Day progeny that followed, this treatment is a significant improvement.

That said, your comments on simulation value are spot-on. But then, I have a hard time saying any tactical wargame is a really good simulation as it is, coming straight out of the box. Of course, much depends on what one wants out of their simulations versus games.

My solutions have always been to play these kinds of games double-blind with an umpire. I also like to use the moving to contact situations in a way that the player only sees his set up board/map and discovers terrain when coming into an arbitrary range of the next board. Simulates running beyond one's tactical map! Of course, one can only play such situations with maybe one or two formations lest the game play get bogged down.

I also like to create home-brew rules and scenarios to fix what I might consider problems. If command and control is an issue, you can create your own system to handle it better. If you think there's too much variety too far down in the organization, you can write more historically accurate scenarios. Best of all, you can create your own maps that seem to better replicate historical terrain!

In those "home grown" situations, players get very little intelligence on the opposing side's OOB and victory conditions. They also have the option to call for reinforcements at a victory point cost. These elements add a great deal of excitement to the game as well as a little bit of additional simulation value.
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Brian McCue
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ericmwalters wrote:
My solutions have always been to play these kinds of games double-blind with an umpire.


That's my preferred solution as well. (Exception--one of the reasons that I like North Africa games is that the players' conventional omniscient view is somewhat less unrealistic in the desert than it is elsewhere.)

ericmwalters wrote:
I also like to use the moving to contact situations in a way that the player only sees his set up board/map and discovers terrain when coming into an arbitrary range of the next board.


That's an interesting idea and I have not tried it. OTOH, something I have tried (and gives a little of the double-blind feel without requiring a third person, though that option is always better) is for the defender to write down his troops' positions, and then the attacker only seems them upon coming into visibility range.

ericmwalters wrote:
In those "home grown" situations, players get very little intelligence on the opposing side's OOB and victory conditions.


Even without a referee, one can readily modify a scenario to have unknown victory conditions. In Panzer's cousin MBT, there tend to be VP for taking ground and killing the enemy: I would let players secretly write down that one of those would be doubled, and the other zero, or they could keep the original split.
 
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Nadir Elfarra
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Your basic premise is off - virtually no board game qualifies a simulation of warfare. As John Hill (Squad Leader designer) put it in an interview,
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"The whole hobby of wargaming is a gigantic fudge. In absolutely no way can we simulate the horror and fear and confusion of a battlefield. Any person who believes we are obtaining "realism" in any game of ours has very little understanding of war. On a realism scale of 1 to 10, the highest possible rating we can hope for with paper and cardboard is a 2. [...] The only way you could possibly approach an accurate simulation of the battle environment and its tension would be if both players had the clear understanding that the loser would be shot."


The Panzer map was never described as modeling a specific piece of ground. The move away from a map sheet to geomorphic boards reinforces this notion.

You say there is no difference between how the different sides command because the rules don't vary by nationality. I can't think of any commercially successful game that has drastically different methods of command for the two sides in a tactical level mechanized conflict (even GDW's "Assault" uses largely the same mechanics for command, as does the TCS series - it's only ratings and the like that change). If you use different Formation ratings with the Available Commands rules, you'll see a suitable variance (IMO) between how two sides fight - lower quality units will tend to stay together while better quality ones will be able to operate more independently.

Since discreet Formations cannot share commands you don't end up with everyone-is-a-kampfgruppe - unit attachments would have to have occurred prior to the game (unlike, for example, ASL, where units adjust and cooperate on the fly in ways that don't always match history).

As for your contention that it's odd that artillery can be used in an anti-armor role, that's simply not borne out by history. There are numerous accounts of tanks being destroyed or driven off by artillery (both indirectly firing and direct lay). An 82mm round landing on the roof of a tank isn't going to be pleasant for the crew, to say the least. Even shrapnel (if large enough) and blast effects can damage suspension, engine, sights, gun tube, etc., potentially scoring a mission-kill on an armored vehicle.

Regarding your specific rules-related complaints, you're certainly able to alter the rules to suit yourself. FYI, the 'double attack' feature you mention for moving vehicles in an artillery barrage is duplicated in ASL, so it's not unique to Panzer.

No game is all things to all players, but I think Panzer / MBT are excellent games.

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Jim P.
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Nadir_E wrote:

[...great post...]

No game is all things to all players, but I think Panzer / MBT are excellent games.



I sure agree.
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Fernando Sola Ramos
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This is a very interesting post, as Andrei is an experienced Panzer player, not a newcomer, so his thoughts should not be taken lightly, although I don't agree with many of his points. Let's see why.

Point 1:

You're the Russian, so you're the expert here. I don't have anything to say, except that you know I'm not the biggest fan of the map either.

Point 2:

Panzer tries to offer different tactical situations framed in historical big pictures, but take into account that all 10 situations are played on the same map, so the actions are, by nature, generic, and so are the descriptions. Nevertheless, I've always seen Panzer as a three part game. You need the next two expansions to get the whole Panzer "Eastern Front" experience complete, with more accurate maps and situations.

Anyway, it's really difficult to fulfill everyone's tastes, and it seems this is your case here.

Point 3:

This is the point I more disagree with. I think the command and control system of Panzer is way ahead of all the other tactical games, and that's because with this command system you can simulate either German tactics or Russian tactics with a common set of rules, no matter if the action takes place in 1941, 1943 or 1945. Maybe the situations represented in the base game don't take advantage of the advanced command system of Panzer, as all actions takes place when the Germans and Russians were comparable in terms of tactics and morale, but you can differentiate rather well how those two armies fought.

First of all, you should use morale rules when playing to take full advantage of command and control, as morale dictates when units start to reject combat. This, the hidden unit rules and the new command span rule are the only optional rules that should be mandatory, the others can be kept optional.

As I've said in other threads, if you put a Russian force with low Force grade, low Formation grade, short command span and high morale, you will lead a typical 1941 Russian unit with low flexibility, and so lacking initiative, which is obligued to fight very close together, as you will have a low number of commmands and your HQ units will only be able to command nearby units, but able to withstand heavy punishment before breaking. Put in front a high Force grade and high Formation grade German unit, and you will be displaying a typical 1941 action of tactical flexibility against raw numbers able to withstand impassible the onslaught.

The problem is that the 1943-44 era, which is the main time period of the base game, is when Russians and Germans were almost equal. That's why the base game really doesn't shine in terms of command and control. But you can't say the Command and Control rules are abstract because of this. As I've said before, Expansions 1 and 2 expands the game to newer levels, and you can experience what I say much better.

Point 4:

As you know, Panzer comes from the miniatures game, and something remains. As I've also said, the base game proposes typical tactical situations, a bit generic if you want. You can experiment the game with the base game and if you find it interesting you can go for the expansions, which enhance the experience. But this is a personal feeling I can't argue.

Point 5:

You're right, medium mortars can kill Pz IVs, but odds are low. An 82mm mortar unit firing against a non-moving Pz IVH at short range will achieve a KO result only 8% of the times. But that's against a Pz IVH. Against bigger cats no effective results are possible. That only means that there is a chance that a mortar unit can put out of action a tank. I know mortars are not AT weapons, but there is still a possibility. It's not that weird.

Point 6:

For me it's perfectly logic.

Maybe you're right about the spirit of the base game with regards to its miniatures connection, as it offers fairly generic situations. You can criticize this fact, but telling Panzer as a game engine is generic or that it lacks a lot of things as a simulation is not fair. I think Panzer offers an outstanding command and control system and a unique combat system. As in other games, you have to bear in mind that Panzer is just that: a game. Because we are discussing about warGAMES, not war simulations.

You know I appreciate you a lot, so don't take any of my points badly. I just happens that this time I don't agree with you.

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Andrei Shlepov
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1.Well, command question is still inescapable. German veterans are as good as Russian ones (and U.S., and British for that matter). Russian Greens are as bad as German etc. There’s really no difference, and assigning a few percent to one side or another won’t matter much. Take that Prokhorovka scenario from expansion set #1 with Germans fielding captured Russian tanks, and you’ll get a proverbial tank game with blue and red plastic tanks with tanks and command being identical. I’m feeling there’s a problem here, others do not. Great, let’s move on.


2.OOBs. Don’t know why publish TO&Es and then field a little tank corps at a company level with its own platoon of heavy tanks, SPA & AT artillery and medium artillery in support with motorized rifles and a tank component which you won’t find anywhere in the aforementioned TO&Es. Same here: feeling the problem, others do not. Move on.


3.Tank-killing 81mm mortars. I’ve read a book on Balaton defensive operation (Fruehlingserwachen for the Germans) in March 1945 recently. AKA ”Kursk in Hungary.” 3rd Ukrainian front tasked with stopping the German counteroffensive got 1,617 82mm mortars in its four armies and front assets. Why no wise guy said, let’s amass these tank-killing mortars into regimental, divisional, corps, army and even front-level groups as we’ve done with any other AT asset, including AT guns, heavy artillery and SP TDs, and just hurl them against enemy armored breakthroughs? Don’t know what they were thinking about.

Fernando, I'm sure you’ll quickly grasp the following situation. You're a Soviet commander with an on-map 82mm mortar section firing indirectly behind an obstacle. Your CHQ got to roll 5+ on a (10) die to get Called Indirect Fire response because that’s his Attached asset, a fair chance they’ll respond. Now you’re firing on a platoon of Mark IVG stacked together and poised to fire, and beating them to the punch, because you’re firing in your Indirect Fire Combat Step, even if you’re the Second Player. 82mm BM41 got GP Factor of 5 firing indirect up to 10 hexes and 4 up to 18. Mark IVG got GPD of 2A. So you got 39/68 and just a -20 GP Fire Modifier for firing at A-Type vehicle. On a roll of 88+ you’ll be potentially killing them, on a roll of 60 you’ll be suppressing them to no end because you got to roll against every unit in the hex, not just a single unit. Manage to do it for a couple of turns in a row while direct firing your tanks at the enemy. Against Mark IVH it’s 43/72, even with -20 still not unachievable on a (100) die. Just try hunting the German tanks with Russian mortars, and you’ll see how effective they’re. Still not seeing the problem? Let’s move on.


4.Moving through barrage. Well, ASL got different turn structure consisting of two player turns. I also don’t know about ASL OBA efficiency against AFVs. And besides, we’re discussing Panzer where a turn is single, OBA is very potent, and a stationary unit got attacked once while moving unit at least twice so it’s better stop under those shells rather than move. No problem? Let’s end it there.


I can say difference in opinions is a most common thing among people of different background and ways of life. Still I believe fair criticism is better than indifferent looking-forward-to-play unanimity.
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Nadir Elfarra
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Andrei:

It's clear you're unsatisfied with the way command & control works in Panzer/MBT. What do you propose as an alternative and how is your proposal a better model of Soviet, German, American, and British WWII C2?

I'm working on some scenarios for Sept 44 ETO and they feature combined arms in most cases (infantry + tank companies (or TDs) + supporting artillery) because that's how that period of the war was fought - by both sides, with the exception that there isn't any German airpower to speak of. Perhaps you should submit some scenarios of your own design for battles that illustrate your thoughts about how the war was fought at the tactical level - new scenarios would be most welcome.

Tanks & mortars - check out the first few moments of this video that shows damage done to a Sherman by Japanese mortars (it would be an immobilization result at the least). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nazV058SzQ There's an interesting discussion on the topic of artillery effectiveness versus tanks here: http://forum-console.worldoftanks.com/index.php?/topic/10041...
As noted previously, if you feel the game is overly generous to mortars then restrict their effectiveness in your games - it's a simple fix to say they can only achieve a suppression result at best. As long as you and your opponent agree, that's all that matters.

As to Soviet (or any nation's) forces massing mortar fire versus tanks - if that's all the local commander had at his disposal, I'm quite certain they would have done it. Sometimes an act is so common it doesn't get mentioned in the history books - consider, for example, how rarely narratives mention smoke grenades yet they were fairly common (ETO).

In ASL, indirect fire attacking an AFV is handled on the same table as infantry combat. The indirect fire needs to roll no more than one higher than a K/# result to damage an AFV (either an immobilization or Shock [crew effect] result) and a #/KIA result to knock it out. Firing unit caliber changes the required dice rolls (2 six sided dice, btw). ASL does account, however, for a "critical hit" (following a DR of 1,1 - 2.7% chance) in which case the firing unit's attack strength is doubled - this amounts to a direct hit on the vehicle. For your specific example of an 82mm mortar barrage (not a single tube) versus an PzIV, the odds of a result in ASL are as follows: KO: 8.3% [DR≤3], Immob/Crew-KO 27.7% [DR≤5]. For lightly armored vehicles the odds are higher, for more heavily armored vehicles the odds are lower.

I think one of the reasons we may see so little data regarding artillery effectiveness versus AFV results is for the simple fact that an AFV under a barrage will move out of the barrage area rather than sit around and take the pounding, unlike infantry who are often trapped for the duration of the attack.

Criticism is fine - especially when it comes with proposed solutions.
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Fernando Sola Ramos
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Quote:
Take that Prokhorovka scenario from expansion set #1 with Germans fielding captured Russian tanks, and you’ll get a proverbial tank game with blue and red plastic tanks with tanks and command being identical.


The SS guys are worse at manning those Soviet tanks (considered captured equipment), as they are Seasoned grade, but the SS panzer company as a formation is much more fanatic than the Soviet tank companies and will withstand more punishment than their Soviet counterparts before breaking (outstanding morale against excellent morale). Since the Soviets don't field political commissars things are not the same...
So there's a difference.

Quote:
OOBs


OOBs are there for you in order to help scenario creation. You begin with TO&Es and then you adapt them as you research more about a particualr action. But TO&Es help you for not fielding impossible mixes of troops.

Quote:
Tank-killing 81mm mortars


Is this the tactical role of mortars? No. That's why a wise Soviet guy didn't amass all those mortars in AT missions. And because the Soviet had zillions of AT guns much better than mortars to stop the German tanks, leaving the mortars for their original mission of supporting infantry.

I'm an artillery officer and I can tell you that the primary mission of field artillery is to provide fire support to front units. There are emergency procedures for anti-tank fire, but if you waste valuable and scarce artillery assets in AT missions you won't be accomplishing your primary mission of supporting your front troops. Can you fire a 155mm shell of an SPA against a tank? Of course you can, and it can turn over an APC only with the strength of the hit. But it's not its mission.

So, can you use mortars against tanks? Yes, but your troops will not have mortar support against dangerous (and vulnerable to mortar fire) enemy infantry approaching while you waste low hit-probability rounds against tanks because there is a chance you can kill them.

It's a generalised problem of games (not only of Panzer): you can do things not done in reality.

Quote:
a stationary unit got attacked once while moving unit at least twice


It is suppossed that stationary units use terrain to their favour. If you move under an artillery strike area you will be more vulnerable than if stationary. In addition, one of the artillery missions is to stop enemy advances. If you can make an enemy unit to stop moving, no matter if you damage it or not, you will be accomplishing your mission. I guess that effect fits in this situation.

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Still I believe fair criticism is better than indifferent looking-forward-to-play unanimity.


So do I.
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Andrei Shlepov
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To Nadir,

Sorry for being selective but I’ll talk just about 82mm mortars again. Tank use was understandably limited in PTO, probably just in pieces, rarely companies. And to think about it, WWII US armor had seldom experience in true massed tank use, either. I got these numbers: out of 120 US armor actions in Western Europe only 10 were above company level. And how many of the rest were above battalion level? (In passing, that means Panzer could potentially simulate any of 110 US armor actions in Europe.) At this level of tank warfare, any anomalies and anecdotes could happen to individual tanks, including being killed by mortars. That’s probably how this got into military lore and from there to wargaming design. Now this baggage is being applied to the Eastern front but that’s a whole different dimension of tank warfare. Tanks were used in as high as whole armies. Just imagine how grand was Kursk: each day there was a Goodwood for a week, and that’s just in one sector, another Goodwood was happening near. Some routine German panzer attacks and Soviet tank counterattacks were exceeding any WWII US armor combat experience both in scale and numbers. Any anomalies are becoming non-existent at this level. To stop a tank army, you can’t rely on anecdotes, only on statistics. You got to provide real AT weapons for your troops, and they couldn’t be 82mm mortars because, well, they were not provided for that role.

Here’s a good example: what was officially the best hope of a Soviet infantryman in stopping enemy panzers? It was his formation’s (battalion) AT guns. After the 1941 disaster and huge loss of material, formations were reorganized with AT guns being concentrated at regimental level. So what was being given to infantry instead to stiffen them against panzers? The answer was not more 82mm mortars but antitank rifles. And mind you, it was a stopgap measure, not at all popular with the troops who called ATRs “fishing rods” and “a long barrel, a short life.” If 82mm mortars were more potent tank killers, shouldn’t they had been issued to the troops instead? There were independent ATR battalions, even at Kursk, so why no one have heard of tank-hunting independent 82mm mortars battalions? Because they were never considered an AT asset.

To Fernando,

1.Tank-killing mortars, again. But why to allow such a gamey use at all? There’s also another strange anomaly in Panzer with Soviet 82mm mortar being able to kill German workhorse Mark IV but German 81mm mortar not being able to kill Soviet workhorse T-34 due to the latter higher GPD. If we agree mortars could kill tanks only by accidents, shouldn’t there be equality between both sides?

As regards France 1940, I quickly went to check French mortar GP Effectiveness. It’s 1-3. So I could guarantee you, the French could be wreaking havoc with their mortar indirect fire among German panzers who surely would have mainly a GPD of 2A.


2. Barrage Movement. Well, I’ll leave it to experts. If it’s safer for a tank under barrage to stay put, Panzer got it right. If it’s better to move away, Panzer got it wrong.
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Nadir Elfarra
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Andrei Shlepov wrote:
Sorry for being selective but I’ll talk just about 82mm mortars again. ...You got to provide real AT weapons for your troops, and they couldn’t be 82mm mortars because, well, they were not provided for that role.


No one is arguing that the 81-82mm mortar was _intended_ or even used as a primary anti-tank weapon. As you point out, anti-tank guns, anti-tank rifles, other tanks, etc. were designed for that purpose. That is not the same as saying that other weapons _could_ have a chance of affecting a tank. You seem to be arguing that because it wasn't the primary purpose of artillery to attack tanks, it shouldn't be something that is modeled in a game, even with a relatively small chance of having any effect. That's the part where you and I disagree. I don't believe Panzer replaces AT guns with mortars - I believe both are present and the player will use whichever is best suited for the job at hand.

Quote:
Here’s a good example: what was officially the best hope of a Soviet infantryman in stopping enemy panzers? It was his formation’s (battalion) AT guns.


Show me anywhere in our discussion where I have disagreed with such a statement.

Quote:
...If 82mm mortars were more potent tank killers

As above - show me where I or anyone here has said mortars are better anti-tank weapons than anti-tank guns.

Quote:
1.Tank-killing mortars, again. But why to allow such a gamey use at all?

Because it's historically accurate to suggest that an indirect fire high explosive round _could_ affect an armored vehicle. That's not the same as saying it had a _great_ effect. Why argue that such weapon systems had _no_ effect when evidence has already been shown the contrary?

Quote:
...shouldn’t there be equality between both sides?

I agree with you here provided all things are equal. It appears a T34 and a PzIV both had roof-top armor of 20mm, so in that regard they seem the same. Not sure what goes into the calculation of a GPD number, though, so it's possible another factor is at play.

Historical example of artillery being used against tanks - September 1944, 191st Field Artillery Battalion (155mm towed artillery).
Quote:
Again at 1330 our elements were attacked by a stronger force and this time in one group of 8 tanks taken under fire, 5 were knocked out, and an hour later 4 more were put out of action by combined Artillery and Tank Destroyer fire. During the day the Battalion fired 485 Rounds, mostly observed missions and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. Two of our Forward Observers directed fire on advancing enemy elements within 200 yards of their positions, the tanks being within direct fire range at one time of our own guns.


Does it say the artillery was better than the Tank Destroyers? No. Does it say they didn't bother to fire the artillery because artillery isn't a very good tank killer? No. They were under attack and used every weapon at their disposal against the enemy tanks, whether they were great for that purpose or not.

-N
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Nadir Elfarra
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Simply because we're on the topic of fighting tanks, I thought everyone would enjoy this trailer, particularly Andrei as it's in Russian.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=145&v=R-QBqT9RQA...
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Francisco Belmonte
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Sadly, this history has been proved to be a hoax
 
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Andrei Shlepov
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Well, I think I've already said all I wanted to say. Let other players with actual FTF/PBEM experience voice their opinions.
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Joe Steel
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They were under attack and used every weapon at their disposal against the enemy tanks, whether they were great for that purpose or not.


This is the most important point.

Mortar fire might not destroy a tank but it will force the crew to button up and fight degraded (suppressed in gamer terminology).

Maybe not to use mortars against enemy tanks charging over open ground but if the enemy tanks are sitting in a wood line or in a town why not use mortars fire if it is available.

The commander decides what "available" means. The game rules shouldn't decide.

If the commander feels there isn't an infantry threat or feels he needs to do something now to suppress enemy tanks he could use mortars.

It's not a math equation if one is playing as the US/UK/Germans typically the commander has a choice, if one is playing a Soviet/Warsaw pact force strictly by their doctrine then one might have less of a choice.
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Scott Shafer
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Well, I love the command system in this game. The way that nationalities are differentiated in ASL, Up Front, and Combat Commander feels completely aritificial to me. That's just my two cents.
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Andrei Shlepov
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Well, Parshall and Tully departed from the notion that the IJN used their carriers in the same manner as the USN and got a good book on Midway from the Japanese perspective. Why don't try the same in wargames?

I think nationality distinctions (and especially command distinctions) are very important for WWII wargames when you sometimes couldn't discern players without a card. So it's better to done them wrong than not at all. But that's just an opinion, too.
 
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Warren Wawrosch
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Brimfield Township
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This is a very interesting thread.

The idea of nationality distinctions should be based on rigidity of following through on pre-determined orders. The possibility of inflexibility could be introduced for early war Soviets by predetermining commands in advance and having to rigidly follow through on those commands. This would be mitigated as the war continued. Arguably the Soviets and Germans were tactically on parity from 1943 onward and the effect would be gone.

For example, in the Command Phase the Soviet player would predesignate commands for a number of turns based on the year of the war by stacking command counters on the unit. The top most command being used for the current turn and once expended is removed from play. When the stack of command counters are exhausted the Soviet player would once again have to predesignate his commands with a new stack of commands.

The schedule of the number of predesignated commands would be as follows,
1941: three predesignated commands
1942: two predesignated commands
1943+: one command, normal

For more Soviet variability a d6 result would be rolled for each formation, regardless of year, and the result would be as follows,
1-2: one command
3-5: two commands
6: three commands

For solo play this could introduce some unpredictability for enjoyment of the scenario forcing the player to rigidly pre-plan commands and following through on the outcomes. Note that the variable schedule could be tweaked for other nationalities. Need to try this and see how it breaks.
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Andrei Shlepov
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It's a hard thing to predesignate a Fire command beforehand as it requires a spotted target. Maybe a pending Move command could be substituted by Fire but with Overwatch penalties.

There's another feature wich could be accounted for. During the battle of Kursk, e.g., when Soviet tanks and AT assets were commanded by their respective arms' staffs, they were almost always used effectively and in accordance with their field manuals. But then they were commanded by infantry commanders, they were frequently misused in direct infantry support and were in essence wasted (AT artillery placed before infantry, tanks dispersed in supporting infantry attack or thrown piecemeal at enemy tanks).

That could be shown by making player's role more pronounced. Who's actually a Soviet player? With mixed TO&Es in the base set, a Soviet player effectively commands a combined-arms force at a company level. That's basically the skills required of divisional-level commanders, if not at tank corps command level. Just by representing the more pure same-arms formations, the limitations in command could be better shown.
 
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Warren Wawrosch
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Andrei Shlepov wrote:
It's a hard thing to predesignate a Fire command beforehand as it requires a spotted target. Maybe a pending Move command could be substituted by Fire but with Overwatch penalties.


Rule 4.6.1 has you covered. I like the idea of locking into an order and being forced to face the consequences.
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Andrei Shlepov
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Well, I finally came with something of an ultimate out of box solution to make the Panzer base set a better simulation. It just requires new scenarios.

1) Use provided TO&E for the Soviet side and field purely same-arms formations. If it's an infantry company, let it be infantry company. If it's a tank company, make it so. If it's an AT or SP gun battery, you get the idea. Make them understrength if you want, but not mixed or strengthened by other arms. Exception: you can add tank riders to your tank company.

2) Designate a Soviet player to represent either a tank or infantry commander if attacking, or additionally, an artillery commander if defending (at Kursk, many artillery officers were responsible for some defense sectors; infantrymen much to the their chagrin were subordinated to them; although it proved to be a good idea in the end).

3) Next, downgrade Formation Grade for all formations not of the same arms as your overall commander; that would represent them fighting not directly under your command, just alongside under their own chain of command, and so not performing smoothly and exactly what you want.

4) You can buy more formations with the now spare points. If you don't have points to field a CHQ, add some stray platoon to some formation but downgrade its Unit Grade to represent it being a burden on this particular command.

5) Probably do the same for the Germans. I doubt their company commanders were some Wunderkindern and could command all arms indifferently.

That I think would constitute a better simulation than the base set scenarios provided.

 
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