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Subject: New OB & Card Beta's are out. Also a New Beta Map. rss

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ralph waldo
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I have quite a few questions (not complaints) about the new Beta offerings (they can be found on columbia's victory in europe page).

1.Why are there no armor units for any but the Russian and German OB's. Since the units represent such large forces, perhaps the game-makers thought this better reflected the capabilities of the nations involved.
2. The map board is quite a bit different. My only worry is that Alexandria/Suez is no longer worth any victory points. In fact, no Mediterranean victory points at all except for Italy and Southern France.
3.I thought the resource markers and oil rigs from the previous beta map were more attractive, but that is just my opinion. I notice that they still seem to be making a distinction between oil resources and non-oil resources. Perhaps oil rules are back in.
4.If I remember correctly, they added an additional space to the distance between Poland and Moscow.
5.Air unit movement is now quite a bit reduced. However, I think the new movement factors reflect distance out to mission, and then an equal distance back to base. I am only guessing though.
6.The cards now list a new value inside of a triangle. I am guessing that this may be free strategic movement, but again this is just a guess.


 
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Derry Salewski
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waldowanda wrote:
I have quite a few questions (not complaints) about the new Beta offerings (they can be found on columbia's victory in europe page).

1.Why are there no armor units for any but the Russian and German OB's. Since the units represent such large forces, perhaps the game-makers thought this better reflected the capabilities of the nations involved.
2. The map board is quite a bit different. My only worry is that Alexandria/Suez is no longer worth any victory points. In fact, no Mediterranean victory points at all except for Italy and Southern France.
3.I thought the resource markers and oil rigs from the previous beta map were more attractive, but that is just my opinion. I notice that they still seem to be making a distinction between oil resources and non-oil resources. Perhaps oil rules are back in.
4.If I remember correctly, they added an additional space to the distance between Poland and Moscow.
5.Air unit movement is now quite a bit reduced. However, I think the new movement factors reflect distance out to mission, and then an equal distance back to base. I am only guessing though.
6.The cards now list a new value inside of a triangle. I am guessing that this may be free strategic movement, but again this is just a guess.




Kickstarter updates ftw . . .

(Though not all of that is explained.)
 
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John Griffey
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Most German and Russian units relied on horse drawn transport--the Germans even more than the Russians. The minority which were fully mechanized motorized were comparatively elite units.

American and British divisions/corps/armies were 100% motorized.

I'm just guessing, but that's probably why the armor are not separated out as special units in the Western Allied OB.
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Chris Rice
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According to Tom it's because only the Russians and Germans had "Tank Armies" on sufficient scale to be represented by individual blocks.

The blocks in this game seem to represent Armies not corps/divisional scale units.

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I hate saying this but I am starting to have some misgivings. Besides the constant last minute tweaks, the latest oob has me scratching my head. French battleship block is inferior (but the Richleau class was probably the 3rd or 4th best of the whole war). All regular French infantry are D1. The French airforce, which started the war in the midst of modernization, cannot get beyond an A1. The Italians have no infantry units better than D1.

I know this is Columbia Games, where lately gameplay comes before accuracy. But most of their games serve history rather well and I felt this one was going to as well. Here's to hoping I am wrong.
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Chris Rice
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I agree that the last minute rule tweaks are a concern. Hopefully they will get it right

However, French and Italian infantry were generally poor other than elite units so I think D1 is correct.

As to the French Navy, although ( like the Italians) some of their vessels were considered advanced their personnel were below par compared to the British and German Naval services, so again I think their portrayal is accurate.
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Wimplesaur wrote:
However, French and Italian infantry were generally poor other than elite units so I think D1 is correct.


It is a matter of debate, as the French had a superb artillery doctrine and some excellent formations in the armies they sent into Belgium. I would like some variation in their blocks, since a few of their armies were of poor quality, mostly those on the Maginot Line. Generally they were no better or worse than their British allies; Germans had an edge in training but not firepower. As for the Italians, the Alpine troops were first rate. A block for them and some of the better led outfits, such as those that fought under Rommel, would add variation.

In modeling 1940, I prefer games that don't show the French having an inferior army. Evidence from throughout the war showed that concentrated tank attacks supported by air superiority were the deciding factor; even good infantry armies were no match. As Rodolfo Graziani lammented "In this theatre of operations [North Africa] a single armoured division is more important than an entire [infantry] army." The fall of France just happened to illustrate the point rather boldly. It is telling that the generals most shocked by France's quick fall were the Germans themselves. Indeed, a later German offensive, once the French had more Dewoitine D.520 fighter, might have ended in the sort of long-term stalemate the Germans feared.

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As to the French Navy, although ( like the Italians) some of their vessels were considered advanced their personnel were below par compared to the British and German Naval services, so again I think their portrayal is accurate.


This is highly debatable. For one thing the French never fought a large naval battle like those the German engaged in, so they never got to really show off. I would argue French training was probably better because they undertook more long range across the ocean cruises and rotations before the war. As navies they seem to me to be on par. The Royal Navy is another matter altogether, although they were hampered in World War II by some poor ship designs their training was still second to none before the war.
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Chris Rice
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As you say, it is a matter of debate.

However, the the fact is that the units you mention did not perform well during the war. That could have been because they did not get the chance, but there is no way to know what they could have done, only what they did.

Unlike you, I am happy for the French and Italians to be weak as this for me matches how I feel they actually performed.
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It is not an accurate portrayal of how they performed. Rather it is an illustration of the inherent bias against the French and the desire by WWII designers to "hurry up and get to the eastern front." Indeed, the specific units I mentioned did perform rather well.

These nations had some good units. Their orders of battle should be mixed rather than uniform (which holds true for the other powers as well). At least the French have the Algerians in this game. If not for that I would be cancelling my pledge if it is possible to do so. If I don't I will create my usual round of extra rules to improve the game's accuracy.
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Chris Rice
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It just goes to show that in a game of such scope, pleasing everyone will be impossible.

I'm not sure about "inherent bias against the French". The fact of history is that the Main French forces were knocked out early on. In any case, I don't rate them as highly as you do.

This is a game that will allow some latitude against history, so the French may survive later than was historical - perhaps the entire war, but in my view it would be a mistake to make them more powerful.

That's just my view and you're certainly entitled to yours and can house rule to suit yourself.



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Wimplesaur wrote:
It just goes to show that in a game of such scope, pleasing everyone will be impossible.


I'm not sure about "inherent bias against the French". The fact of history is that the Main French forces were knocked out early on. In any case, I don't rate them as highly as you do.

This is a game that will allow some latitude against history, so the French may survive later than was historical - perhaps the entire war, but in my view it would be a mistake to make them more powerful.[/q]

This is more a comment on what lazy designs have done. The French should never be too strong. They went into the war with an inferior doctrine as compared to the Germans. However, EVERYONE was a step behind the Germans until late 1942. I don't see the point in making the French that much weaker when really no one else was much better or worse. I especially don't see a point in making their battleship fleet weak nor failed to show that their air-force was in the midst of modernization. Prados' Third Reich did it right be making the French navy solid and the army average.

But let's say the French do survive 1940. Is there anyway to make them better? Can they upgrade the way the Soviets do or the Germans with their heavy tank units? So maybe that is asking for too many units, but a simple rule could aid things.

I know the game has its limits. I also prefer variation between blocks as opposed to uniformity in stats. That is my bias. I have hope for the design in part because of Draker's work on Prussia's Defiant Stand. That game simulated the history well with a few different touches than your average block game, and remained fairly simple. I just don't want another missed opportunity since a playable ETO game is still hard to find. The slew of last minute changes do not help things on my end.

At this point I have nothing more to say, as I will be going in circles. These are my reasons and my concerns.
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Starting from late 1941 to the loss of Lybia and Tunisia italian forces in North Africa performed extremely well, that is also considering the chronic lack of adequate supply and equipment. This fact is sadly not granted enough attention, partly because of the "mythology" built around the figure of Rommel and the DAK. Italian first army in Tunisia lead by Gen. Messe is an example, outperforming the cobelligerant german fifth lead by Gen. Von Arnim specifically in motivation and sense of self sacrifice.

I would include a D2 infantry in the italian OB to reflect these circumstances.

Also, in my opinion the removal of armored armies from all the OBs should be replaced not by infantry icons but rather by new mechanized infantry icons.
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Chris Rice
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You make good points, which I appreciate. I've also made my points. Fair play.

Let's see how the game pans out.
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Derry Salewski
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I'd want some variation just for variation's sake! (though I'd also appreciate it for historical sake as well.)
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John Griffey
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Some of gittes complaint could be satisfied this way:

--Make two of the four 3-step French armies at start a D2 army. This will give the French a little offensive power in 1939.

--Instead of being available at start, make the two other 3-step French armies available in 1940 and 1941, also with firepower D2.

--Make two 3-step Italian armies available in 1940 and 1941, with firepower D2.

--Make the at-start 2-step French Fighter a 3-step Fighter.

--Move the at-start 1-step French Fighter from the starting set up. Make it available as an A2 Fighter (3-step max)in 1940.
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Michael Dworkin
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As to the rating for French naval forces, one could point to the significance of doctrine and skill compared to ship-design specs, and to the lack of anti-aircraft fittings on even the most modern classes in the French fleet. Introduction of anti-ship gunnery radar would also have been slow, given that pace was well beyond that of the Brits up to date of French Armistice. The need for very specialized ammunition of quite disparate nature also turned out to be a mission-critical reason for failures when ships were deployed later. So, the theoretical base for low French naval ratings is strong.

However, there's no need to do that kind of hypothetical analysis because, actually, we DO KNOW from EMPIRICAL evidence, not just from design specs, how the French Navy's combat effectiveness compared to that of the British.

* At Mers-el-Kebir in 1940, a British squadron destroyed a roughly equal French force, despite it being in harbor with significant land based air and anti aircraft support. And the French did not inflict enough casualties to reduce effectiveness of any British ships.

* a similar result occurred in the British attack on French vessels at Oran in 1940 and

* in the minimal damage caused to the British by French attacks on Gibraltar where multiple Vichy French cruisers, destroyers and aircraft were damaged or destroyed when they launched 'retaliation attacks" on Gibraltar and nearby British shipping.

* and, also at Dakar, a weak British squadron damaged the Richelieu enough to put it out of combat for more than two and half years.....and then it needed a year in New York harbor to return it to combat status. Allied naval forces did not lose mission status.

* and in Nov 1942 combined US/British attacks on French shipping in four North African ports lead , in every case, to destruction of French naval assets with very very light Allied casualties.

Thus, the track record, shows repeatedly and consistently that in every case of significant combat between French vessels versus Allied ones, the French lost badly and inflicted too few casualties to even (in game terms) rotate a naval block.
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MHDworkin wrote:
As to the rating for French naval forces, one could point to the significance of doctrine and skill compared to ship-design specs, and to the lack of anti-aircraft fittings on even the most modern classes in the French fleet. Introduction of anti-ship gunnery radar would also have been slow, given that pace was well beyond that of the Brits up to date of French Armistice. The need for very specialized ammunition of quite disparate nature also turned out to be a mission-critical reason for failures when ships were deployed later. So, the theoretical base for low French naval ratings is strong.


Interesting you mention the lack of anti-aircraft guns: every navy was guilty of that in 1939. The French were nothing special in this regard. Even as late as 1942 British anti-aircraft emplacements were suspect, which the Japanese fully exploited.

As for radar, the French had actually made some leaps in that direction in 1940. The laboratories of CSF in Paris made crucial breakthroughs that were later utilized by Britain and America. As far as ship radar is concerned, everyone was lacking in 1939.

Quote:
* At Mers-el-Kebir in 1940, a British squadron destroyed a roughly equal French force, despite it being in harbor with significant land based air and anti aircraft support. And the French did not inflict enough casualties to reduce effectiveness of any British ships.


The French were bottled in their harbor and suffered from a confusing situation. Some thought the British were not going to even attack. As bad as the battle was for the French, the bulk of the losses came when Bretagne, an out-dated battlewagon, exploded.

Quote:
* in the minimal damage caused to the British by French attacks on Gibraltar where multiple Vichy French cruisers, destroyers and aircraft were damaged or destroyed when they launched 'retaliation attacks" on Gibraltar and nearby British shipping.


It really would not make a difference if the ships were French or not, since Gibraltar was a heavily fortified position with a string fleet in place. The wonder is that these strikes did not lead to heavy French losses. That their bombers underperformed is not a shocker: the French bomber force was perhaps their weakest arm overall.

Quote:
* and, also at Dakar, a weak British squadron damaged the Richelieu enough to put it out of combat for more than two and half years.....and then it needed a year in New York harbor to return it to combat status. Allied naval forces did not lose mission status.


The British had the Ark Royal (their best carrier), two battleships, and five cruisers. The French had one battleship and two light cruisers. They out-numbered the French 2 to 1. If the French had broke out into the sea they would have had a tough time getting home. All of this considered, the real question is why didn't the British do better?

As for Richelieu, it was hampered by the inferior facilities at Dakar, which made a full repair impossible. By the time it reached New York City it had been in Dakar for two-years without a full repair or the means to do some basic maintenance. The year at New York harbor would have occurred for just about any ship in that condition and in need of some crucial updates, particularly in radar and anti-air defenses.

Quote:
* and in Nov 1942 combined US/British attacks on French shipping in four North African ports lead , in every case, to destruction of French naval assets with very very light Allied casualties.


Unprepared ships in harbor, many in a state of disrepair, against overwhelming force which included radar controlled warships led by battle-experienced admirals. Not really ever in doubt.

Quote:
Thus, the track record, shows repeatedly and consistently that in every case of significant combat between French vessels versus Allied ones, the French lost badly and inflicted too few casualties to even (in game terms) rotate a naval block.


By that logic we should make all Axis naval blocks after 1943 only hit on a one. After all, they never sank an Allied capital ship after USS Hornet went down. In other words, a B2 rating would make sense in 1942 given Allied experience and weapon advancements. We might even call it generous. In 1939 the French navy is not as good as the British, but in no way inferior to that of Germany and arguably it was superior to that of Italy. A B3 makes more sense, at least for the battleship block.

The French did not get a chance to fight in the open all that often. Everything you named was an attack on a Vichy harbor where French forces were not prepared and suffered from confused political leadership. No navy can perform well under such circumstances. The one battle they did fight in the open was a victory: Ko Chang. I know smashing the Thai fleet is not worthy of Trafalgar. But you make the French navy sound like it was run by the Three Stooges.

To be honest it would irk me less except that every French army block is a D1 and their aircraft are all A1 and the game in no way gives you a chance to see this situation improve, as it did with Russia. According to this game Norway, Spain, Greece, Yugosalvia, Switzerland, and Sweden have a better army. That is a stretch overall. The vibe I get is one of "make the French weak across the board" and if not for the Algerian blocks I really would be screaming bloody murder.

On this count, John Pardos still wins the award for "best handling of France in a strategic ETO game."
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** and, also at Dakar, a weak British squadron damaged the Richelieu enough to put it out of combat for more than two and half years.....and then it needed a year in New York harbor to return it to combat status. Allied naval forces did not lose mission status.**

You really might want on read further on that engagement and rethink that statement. While suffering losses, French forces gave the Brits a bloody nose here, and forced Operation Menace to be called off.

An earlier statement denigrating the training of French naval forces couldn't be more wrong. After a lackluster performance in The Great War, Admiral Darlan worked a small miracle in improving both the training and morale of the arm. Well respected by their peers, the British, the navy could sadly do little to win a land war, though the carrier Bearn did donate its air wing, and an older BB, The Courbet and her escorts provided offshore support in the Channel. Likewise, the Miracle at Dunkirk was not an all British affair, French ships assisted also. My favorite action during the brief campaign was when Darlan ordered the raid along the Ligurian Coast, further enhancing Il Duce's embarrassment!

While the army caved and the air force was a non-factor, the French Navy fought valiantly ...non-stop... from 1939-45 under three flags, 3rd Republic, Vichy, and Free.

Don't even get me started on the Soviet Navy

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As somebody already pointed out, if not as a refined historical simulation, what I think it would be desirable to see in the OBs is:

1 - a little more variation;

2 - slightly more powerful blocks available later then 1939, to reflect that nation's adjustments and advances as war progresses. This is true especially if that nation manages to survive longer then historically expected (i.e.: France and Italy).
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GEKO wrote:
As somebody already pointed out, if not as a refined historical simulation, what I think it would be desirable to see in the OBs is:

1 - a little more variation;

2 - slightly more powerful blocks available later then 1939, to reflect that nation's adjustments and advances as war progresses. This is true especially if that nation manages to survive longer then historically expected (i.e.: France and Italy).


That would need even more blocks. I think the cards deal with the allies increasing power as the war progresses. You could easily house rule an improved performance for the French if they survive past 1940, if that is your preference.
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Wimplesaur wrote:
That would need even more blocks. I think the cards deal with the allies increasing power as the war progresses. You could easily house rule an improved performance for the French if they survive past 1940, if that is your preference.


It appears that the cards do reflect that for the Allies. But with no French cards after 1940, it appears the game is going for "France falls no matter what" angle. Admittedly that is usually the default for ETO games on this scale.

A simple rule could be that the British cards post 1940 can also be used by the French. Just a thought for now.
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The fall (or not) of France certainly poses interesting questions for any game of this sort.

If the Germans had failed in their attack on France in 1940 how would the war have progressed? The fact is, it probably wouldn't have. The Germans would have been unlikely to have attacked Russia with an unbowed France at their rear.

I haven't played the game yet, so I don't know what alternative strategies could work. Could the Axis attack Russia first without defeating the French?

It will be interesting to see.

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I was thinking about this today because I have been in a real game design mood. Basically if France is scripted to fall a game can become tedious in its opening moves. Yet if France holds the Eastern Front will not occur, at least not before 1942. This will upset many gamers. In general, strategic wargames are hard to pull off but those pertaining to the ETO seem particularly daunting.

If France holds Italy would not join the Axis, unless well compensated, so no need for German troops and resources to have to bolster Il Duce. Germany might have to take a more indirect approach to the war, targeting French and British colonies. We also have to wonder if Stalin might throw in some of his forces to aid Hitler. The western Allies had no love for the Soviet dictator, who from all appearances was fairly happy with his alliance with Germany. Then there is the factor of when do Japan and America get involved.

Just some thoughts mind you. If I were going to do an ETO game at this scale it would have a variable start date (1936-1940) and be only for 2 players: Germany vs. France/Britain. From there the diplomacy is wide open. Maybe the Allies can resurrect the Stresa Front? Maybe Stalin's overtures to the Allies are taken seriously?
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gittes wrote:
I was thinking about this today because I have been in a real game design mood. Basically if France is scripted to fall a game can become tedious in its opening moves. Yet if France holds the Eastern Front will not occur, at least not before 1942. This will upset many gamers. In general, strategic wargames are hard to pull off but those pertaining to the ETO seem particularly daunting.

If France holds Italy would not join the Axis, unless well compensated, so no need for German troops and resources to have to bolster Il Duce. Germany might have to take a more indirect approach to the war, targeting French and British colonies. We also have to wonder if Stalin might throw in some of his forces to aid Hitler. The western Allies had no love for the Soviet dictator, who from all appearances was fairly happy with his alliance with Germany. Then there is the factor of when do Japan and America get involved.

Just some thoughts mind you. If I were going to do an ETO game at this scale it would have a variable start date (1936-1940) and be only for 2 players: Germany vs. France/Britain. From there the diplomacy is wide open. Maybe the Allies can resurrect the Stresa Front? Maybe Stalin's overtures to the Allies are taken seriously?


I'd kickstart your game
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i would like to point out one thing. WW2 is directly linked to germany loosing WW1. i would like to see a game of WW1 and if germany can win that have a diplomacy phase in between wars. germany wins probly no nazi no hitler. they may have even helped the tzars hold onto power in exchange for the territory they took.
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