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Subject: TME 2nd ed. Eastern Front Portion Reviewed rss

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John Setear
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The expanded version of MMP’s The Mighty Endeavor, which covers the ETO in 1944-45, is what one might call a “mini-monster” game: 2 maps, more than 500 counters, and three rulebooks (one for the Standard Combat Series; one for the western-front portion of the game; and one for the expanded version of the game, which adds the eastern front). The core of the game is relatively simple, however: an IGO-UGO move-fight-armored move, with overruns during movement and a simple supply-trace view of logistics. The original version of the game covered the western ETO from the Normandy landings until the fall of Berlin, with rules for amphibious landings, air power, some more complex supply rules involving headquarters, and a few other details. An expansion (2d edition) added the ETO’s Eastern Front during the same time period, with a few more rules of its own. The expansion allocates the sides in the same fashion as SPI’s old Battle for Germany: one player controls both the Germans on the western front and the Soviets on the eastern front, while the other takes both the Western Allies on the western front and the Germans on the eastern front.


This is a review only of the Expansion portion of the game — that is, the eastern front. A stalwart and skilled gamer-friend of mine and I first played the game with four players, with him as the Soviets, me as the eastern-front Germans, and two other players handling the western front. When my friend and I saw how distinct the two fronts were, we decided to give the eastern front a few more two-player tries on its own, especially since he had already played the western-front portion of the game several times.


The rules don’t actually specify a way to judge victory in this, eastern-front-only situation; the winner is whichever of the Soviets and the Western Allies who garners more victory points from the geographical objectives on the map. But we didn’t mind. The map sets out a dividing line between the eastern and western front that corresponds well to the dividing line between Soviets and Western Allies at the end of the war, and all of the game’s scenarios extend to the historical end of the war, so it is at least easy to judge the degree to which the Soviets match their historical conquest. That was our reference point.


We played the game a total of five times.


In the first play, which was the sub-game in the four-player game mentioned above, the Germans (me) tried to defend everywhere and were soon reduced to a handful of ever-retreating units; the Soviets captured Berlin many months sooner than the historical surrender.


In the second play, we switched sides. The Germans stayed concentrated, but a series of lucky rolls for the Soviets on Attack HQs (more on this later) led to another quick debacle for the Hitlerites.


We tried again. This time, the Soviets, played by me, dispersed their armor early in the game after a huge break-through against the Germans, and the German armor instantly defeated them in detail. Lacking any armored punch, I resigned a few turns into the game.


On our fourth play, both sides stayed concentrated, but the Soviets left a couple of strong stacks in a non-continuous front, and the Germans whacked them; as in the third play-through, the Soviet player — me again — threw in the red towel.


On our fifth and final play-through, where I once more took the Soviets, both my opponent and I seemed to have the hang of things. The Germans and Soviets both stayed concentrated; the Soviets left no armor in advance of the general line; and (through no volition of ours) the dice rolls for Soviet Attack HQs were relatively consistent with statistical expectations.


This play-through went almost all the way to the end. Although the Soviets were less than a hundred miles from Berlin with a few turns to go, a wave of German infantry reinforcements and an impending wave of German SS armored reinforcements meant that the Red Army would surely be unable to get beyond the gates of Berlin before time expired. In fact, as described in more detail below, the entire Soviet offensive in Germany effectively drowned in the face of a few bad dice rolls and the perpetual shortage of Soviet armored units compared to their German counterparts.


The expanded version of The Mighty Endeavor has a lot going for it. The components are crisply functional. The rules, although scattered across three rulebooks, are complete and easy to grasp. There is sufficient chrome to make the game feel far from generic, yet there are almost no highly exceptional mandates to remember during play. Both sides have interesting choices to make on nearly every turn.


Unfortunately, the game has three flaws that will prevent us from playing it again. First, the game bears no relationship to the operational situation simulated. Second, the game depends too much on luck for our tastes. Third, the game allows strategic force movements that, for somewhat different reasons for each side, seem much too sweeping.


Historically Unsatisfying.


The game bears no relationship to the operational situation simulated. As the German player, the game consists of a highly controlled withdrawal during which one may severely punish any Soviet units that get out in front of a glacially paced and contiguously connected wave of Soviet infantry. Conversely, as the Soviet player, you’re basically a frightened turtle crawling towards Berlin as you intermittently poke your head out of your shell.


One problem is the ever-present panzer threat. German armored divisions pack a potent punch, and there are quite a few of them. The CRT gives the Germans a definite advantage (through a Tactical Adeptness rule in which Germans do not suffer losses on the attack when Soviet units would). The CRT is generally attacker-friendly as well.


Of course, the Soviets have armored units as well. (Note: I use “armored” and/or "mechanized" here to mean “exploitation-capable.” Both sides have exploitation-capable units that are not only tank units but also mechanized infantry or even cavalry.) The problems with employing Soviet mechanized units as the Germans do are manifold, however.


First, the Germans can pretty easily throw up speed-bump units in front of the Soviets, and a unit that begins the movement phase in an enemy ZOC may not overrun. So the mighty Soviet masses of mechanized Muscovites are stuck as if in molasses, courtesy of one-step volksgrenadiers and the like. Soviet infantry, for its part, almost always has too low a movement allowance to overrun. The most common Soviet infantry units find it difficult even to bring opponents to ground for regular combat: their movement allowance of 4 and the +2 MP cost to enter an enemy ZOC means that an infantry unit can move only one clear-terrain hex before entering an EZOC in clear terrain. If the Germans can put any other terrain (of which there is a goodly amount, especially on the easternmost part of the map and in the environs of Berlin) between themselves and an infantry unit, then the infantry unit must start the turn with just one intervening hex between attacker and defender. So it’s generally up to the armor to lead the way.


That brings us to the second problem with the operational situation for the Soviets. Once the Soviets do clear away eine kleine deutsch and try to go somewhere with their armor during the mechanized-movement phase (here called “Exploitation”), another problem rears its head. Putting your armor out ahead of your infantry often results in a painful and lonely death. The Soviets must roll a 5 or 6 on a d6 to activate an HQ; without such an activation, no units within the HQ’s ambit may attack. (One may also concentrate HQ units in an effort to ensure that one of them will manage a 5 or 6 in the relevant sector, but then one must draw in all of one’s units into the Soviet version of the hedgehog, since the only way to maintain even defensive supply is also to be within range of an HQ — whether activated or not, thankfully.) So the Germans can, with the odds in their favor (though not with perfect certainty), surround Soviet armor (or infantry ahead of the general line), whack them hard, and then remain immune from counter-attack unless the Soviets manage a 5 or 6 in their next roll for that HQ. If the Germans actually surround the Soviets, and the near-by Soviet HQ misses two attack rolls in two consecutive turns, then no relief effort is possible, and so, under the supply rules, the pocketed Soviets are completely eliminated. Prominent in the German modus operandi is the fact that there is no extra moment cost to leave a ZOC, so German infiltration from ZOC to ZOC is no more difficult than simply moving into an EZOC in the first place.


Third, the Germans have a lot of mechanized punch. The amount of combat points in German armor and Soviet armor is in fact roughly equivalent. The Germans start with almost all of their armor on the board. The Soviets start with none on the board but obtain their armor as reinforcements relatively early in the game. At the start of the game, the Germans have 16 mechanized units totaling 104 attack factors. As reinforcements on the first turn, the Soviets receive 14 units totaling 101 attack factors. All of the Soviet units are two-steppers, while roughly half of the German units are one-step units, but it is so difficult for the Soviets to bring the German armor to grips that the technically greater staying power of the Soviets is barely relevant. Several turns into the game, the Soviets receive 10 mechanized units totaling 73 factors in the Hungarian sector, while the Germans receive roughly 8 units totaling around 50 factors in the same sector. The balance here is therefore in favor of Soviet mechanized forces, but the Danube, cities, and mountains channel the Soviet advance in the Hungarian sector so narrowly that the mechanized forces are simply high-value attackers rather than any threat to break through the German lines.


Beyond the asymmetry (and historical ass-backwardness) of the panzer problem, another significant warping of the operational situation occurs because of the aforementioned dice rolls for Soviet Attack HQs. The need to roll a 5 or a 6 in order to conduct any attacks means that, on average, the units under a Soviet HQ can attack on only one of three turns. If the Soviet attack historically is often seen as a steamroller, the Soviet attack in this game mostly involves an idle construction crew.


Furthermore, even if the HQ in your sector allows attacks, the Soviets are strictly prohibited from moving beyond the six-hex supply range of the HQ. The Soviets can tear open a gaping hole in the German lines, but they can’t exploit it in depth. (The HQs move only in the regular movement phase.) Penetrations in depth by Soviet forces are therefore prohibited by the rules. The Germans, in contrast, have no HQs; they can always attack so long as they can trace supply to the middle of Germany, and they can penetrate as deeply as they wish without regard to any supply constraints.


To summarize, the game’s implicit view of history seems woefully inaccurate. The Soviet offensives of late 1944, as implied by the game, saw a poorly supplied Soviet army cautiously advancing in lock step, husbanding its armor and in constant fear of German counter-attacks. The Soviets portrayed in The Mighty Endeavor attacked only occasionally and refused to exploit even the largest holes in the German front beyond 100 miles from the original front line. If this is your view of Soviet operations during this period, then the game presents you with an accurate view of the historical situation between Germans and Soviets in mid-1944 through mid-1945. To us, however, this version of events seemed entirely fictional.


Too Dependent on the Dice.


The second main flaw of the game is its dependence on luck. This manifests itself in two important ways.


First, as mentioned, the units under a Soviet HQ cannot attack unless the HQ has rolled a 5 or a 6. The game has about 16 turns at its greatest length, and there are eventually 5 Soviet HQs on the map, so there are enough dice rolls that the luck evens out to some extent. But three of those HQs begin in the relatively indecisive Hungarian sector, while the much more important Polish-German sector has only 2 HQs initially allocated there. You are not, therefore, really rolling the dice all that many times for that crucial pair of HQs. A dry streak or a hot streak can completely change the character of the game. As mentioned, we played one game where the Soviet luck was so good that the Germans were pummeled into dust in just a few turns, and we played another game where the inability to have either of two HQs roll a 5 or 6 over two turns led to the utter destruction of big chunk of encircled Soviet armor.


Second, the CRT is a two-dice affair that varies wildly from top to bottom. Further increasing the variance is the fact that, when the Soviets are attacking, the losses for both attacker and defender are doubled. At 3-1 odds when the Soviets are attacking, a roll of 2 results in 4 step losses for the Soviets and no setback for the Germans, while a 12 results in 6 step losses for the Germans and a big Hitlerite retreat. This is a huge swing, as four step losses will generally result in flipping every unit in a potent Soviet mechanized stack, while 6 step losses for the Germans will eliminate almost any plausible German stack. Perhaps more disconcerting, there is a 1 in 12 chance that the Soviets will lose four steps even when attacking at 5-1 odds, and a 1 in 6 chance of inflicting four step losses on the Germans even at 1-2 odds.


The very last turn of the game that we played saw this problem with variable CRT results merge with some of the other problems with the game. The Soviet front of molasses was oozing towards Berlin, which is protected to the east by a spate of forests and rivers. With time running out, the infantry was too far away to engage the German front line. The Soviet armor, at nearly full strength, leapt a hex or two ahead of the infantry and engaged the Germans. The Soviet player rolled a 2, a 5, another 5, a 9, and an 11 on the CRT for his five attacks. With only armor available and good terrain assisting the Germans, the low rolls of 2 and 5 meant trivial casualties for the Germans but a reduction of every Soviet armored unit involved in those attacks to half strength. Since the rules prohibit mechanized movement if you start in an EZOC, the fact that the plucky Germans remained almost untouched also kept the Soviet armor glued in place during what might otherwise have been a phase in which it could have exploited. On the German turn, the panzers rolled in and wiped out the reduced Soviet armor. In a turn, more than half of the Soviet mechanized forces had disappeared. And the Germans were to receive six full-strength SS mechanized divisions on the next turn, which by itself nearly equaled what Soviet mech force remained! That was the end of that.


Ambiguous Division of the Strategic Geographical Approaches.


The third main flaw of the game is that the game suggests, but does not require, that the theater consist of two main areas of operations: Hungary (south of the Carpathians) and the German-Polish plain (north of the Carpathians). The presence of a single road over the Carpathians and the accompanying mountain hexes naturally divides the theater into two sectors. Furthermore, all the initial Soviet units arrive north of the Carpathian Mountains, with a very large batch of reinforcements arriving south of the Carpathians several turns later. Similarly, almost the only German units initially on the map are north of the Carpathians, and the Germans, like the Soviets, receive a big batch of reinforcements south of the Carpathians a number of turns into the game. (The southern German reinforcements arrive a little bit earlier, presumably fleeing for their lives from the Soviet onslaught.)


What’s not clear is whether the players are supposed to respect this implicit division. No rules enforce any such bifurcation. The Soviets will require a number of turns to push the Germans far enough back for the Soviets to manage any inter-sector transfers, and a stout German defense might prevent such transfers entirely. The Germans have freedom to re-allocate their forces throughout, however, so they can rush units northwards without much difficulty. If the Soviets do open up a line of communications through the Carpathians, may they move as many units, including HQs, northwards as they wish? They could certainly use such units on the Polish and German plains, much more so than they can make use of their forces in the constricted Hungarian sector. And the northern sector is sufficiently compact that sending HQs northwards, with the resulting possibility of overlapping HQ sectors, will make a big difference in the ability of the Soviets to conduct offensives.


Did the historical war, then, hinge mostly on carving a Soviet path through the Carpathians and rushing HQs and units northwards? If so, why didn’t the Soviets just send more forces north of the Carpathians from the beginning? It is simply an artifact of the edge of the map that the Carpathians divide Soviet forces in the game, after all; the Carpathians don’t extend eastwards beyond the map edge very far. If you leave the Soviet forces initially allocated to Hungary south of the Carpathians throughout the game, then you are going to have a fairly difficult time up north. If you move the Soviet forces initially allocated to Hungary northwards, however, then you feel as if you are doing something fairly gamey. Meanwhile, the Germans can use the road network (which doubles movement) and strategic movement (which again doubles movement) to scoot from north to south pretty much whenever they wish.


Summary.


If golf is a good walk spoiled by actually playing the game, then The Mighty Endeavor’s eastern-front portion is a good set of components and a clear set of rules spoiled by the actual course of the game, which sees Soviet armor shrinking before the mighty German panzers and the prospect of devastatingly bad dice rolls.





















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Nick Blank
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jsetear wrote:


If the Germans actually surround the Soviets, and the near-by Soviet HQ misses two attack rolls in two consecutive turns, then no relief effort is possible, and so, under the supply rules, the pocketed Soviets are completely eliminated. Prominent in the German modus operandi is the fact that there is no extra moment cost to leave a ZOC, so German infiltration from ZOC to ZOC is no more difficult than simply moving into an EZOC in the first place.



I have just set this up now (east and west fronts together) and am eager to see how the east portion works.

I don't think isolated Soviets should be eliminated as you state though, there is nothing I find in the expansion rules that changes rule 1.19 and 1.20 in the main Mighty Endeavor rule book. Only isolated Germans get eliminated via 1.20, isolated Allies cannot attack or exploit, but they are not eliminated even if OOS for consecutive turns. The Soviet rules are silent on the issue of OOS effects so there is no change to the standard rule when playing them. In order for the Germans to eliminate isolated Soviets they must actively attack them, they cannot just surround them and wait.

Also note that (rule 2.3 in expansion rules) when the Soviets get a 5 or 6 roll and flip a headquarters to "attack" mode, if they don't attack with units supplied by that headquarters then it is not flipped back at the end of the turn, you can keep it in attack mode across the turn break in an attempt to get several headquarters in attack mode simultaneously in order to stage a larger attack. Nothing forces them to "use it or lose it" and make a more limited assault. I am not sure if you were doing this or not from your explanation.

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Michael McCalpin
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A well-written and thorough evaluation of the expansion. Thanks.

Your points about the Attack HQ activation method for the Soviets hit a particular weak spot in the system. Not only does luck play an awfully large role in the flow of the game, but the Soviet player himself does not know from one turn to the next if he will have any supplies in the following turn. I understand the desire to make the game simple, and I don't necessarily have a better mechanism in mind, but this seems odd and mightily ahistorical. Perhaps the Soviet player can draw and conceal supply chits several turns in advance, revealing them when he is ready to use them?

As I do the math on the Axis mechanized units at start, there are fourteen total units (totaling 121 attack factors), of which thirteen are at risk due to the Crippled Remnants rule. Given normal luck, one would expect to completely lose 2.2 of the thirteen at-risk units, for an expected loss of around 19 attack factors. You would also expect to lose another 6.5 steps as units are reduced, and this would result in another 19 attack factors lost. As a result, the German should expect to have around twelve mechanized units with a total of 83 attack factors when the Soviets arrive with their 101 attack factors. Of course, the Soviets get more reinforcements than the Germans do over the next few turns, but as you said, the Germans have the flexibility to move units north and south as desired.

I am still in my first VASSAL game of the full game, so I don't know how the later parts of the game resolve, but I agree that this doesn't quite feel right thus far. Still enjoying the exploration, mind you.
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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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Maybe some sort of modified chit pull where 2/3 of the chits are blank, that are pulled from until used up. This would reduce the odds of the Russian getting screwed (or extremely lucky).
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Joe Donnelly
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An interesting discussion. What seems to be lacking is STAVKA-like strategic direction over the whole Soviet effort.

I wonder if this might work: roll one die per dormant HQ, but allocate the actual successes to HQs chosen by the player.
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Matt Irsik
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I was afraid of this and is the one reason I've stayed with my first edition. This same thing happened to Red Dragon Rising where they added another map, units, rules, etc., for the Red Dragon/Green Crescent version in Modern War. Basically, it didn't add much to the overall game, was lopsided in some scenarios, and clearly wasn't play tested.

I also have to agree with the combat results table offering too many extremes, which does have the effect of ruining some SCS games almost before they really get going. It's been a huge problem for me in Heights of Courage where one or two really good Syrian rolls in the first turn or two means that you may as well start over.
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Roger Hobden
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Interesting review. Thanks.

To what extent do you think would these problems be fixable, apart from the CRT itself ?

EDIT: I am hoping to get some suggestions, since I have already purchased the game.
 
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Austin Richards
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I had a more positive reaction to TME2, though it isn't perfect.

Thanks to Crippled Remnants, I didn't feel like the Panzers could easily rough the Tank Corps up. The Soviets can tear holes in the German line, which makes it hard to concentrate the Panzers. Plus, they get some replacements, which the east Germans don't. On non-attacking turns, the Soviets can move up infantry, worm into gaps, step armor back a hex as needed, etc. When the Panzers strike back, and bloody a nose, they're performing their historical fire brigade role. So, I don't get so much of a sense of such a big difference from history.

On supply, the historical Soviets had big pauses between big offensives. So, the attack should be herky-jerky. The rules provide for a very simple supply method, but the inability to plan more than one turn of attacking is a disadvantage. Maybe a more satisfying alternative would be to let an HQ store supply? That would have to be offset somehow, maybe by lower German losses as they enter on turns 4-6?

I enjoyed reading the review; you've certainly spent more time playing it so far than I have.
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Kev.
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There appear to be several major errors in game play.
You might want to revisit 3.7, supply and combat results.

I'm not suggesting that you are wrong in your assessment but it appears you are not playing with the same rules I have.
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Nick Blank
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Well, I had to reset things a bit on turn 2. Fortunately I think I got things back to more or less where they were. I returned to the game to find a stack of ASL binders next to the map had fallen over (after having previously been quite stable for a long time), dashing all the counters around, including all the neatly organized reinforcements grouped by turn) and ripping a hole in the map in the west coast of France -- grrr.... (this portion of map was sticking out from under the plexi due to its odd overall shape). I think the ASL manuals were jealous that there was a different game set up and staged a surprise attack when I was out of the room....
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John Setear
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This is a response to Nick Blank's observations, in the post right after my initial review, about Soviet OOS effects and about the persistence of Soviet HQ attack-capable status.

I agree with you that I mis-played the Soviet OOS rules. Thanks! I agree that the surround Soviet units should have been able to remain around indefinitely. I don't know how we got that wrong. I don't know what longer-term effect playing this rule correctly would have had; it certainly would remain difficult for the OOS Soviets (no attack, halved on defense) to do much, and I assume that the Germans could clobber them. But you are absolutely right, I now see, that the Soviets should not just have disappeared. And it obviously takes more German effort to clobber them than just to watch in glee as they evaporate.

On your second point about the fact that Soviet HQs that make their attack roll but don't support an attack can stay flipped to their attack-support-capable side, I agree, and we did play this rule. That rule generates one of the interesting choices for the Soviets -- whether to ensure some subsequent offensive capability, or instead use it right away and hope that you roll a 5 or 6 in the next turn. Note, though, that there is no way to get around the fundamental fact that Soviet HQs activate only on a 1/3 chance. (And in fact, carrying over an attack-support-capable status makes, on average, for even fewer than 1/3 of your HQs attacking on a given turn.
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John Setear
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mmccalpin wrote:



As I do the math on the Axis mechanized units at start, there are fourteen total units (totaling 121 attack factors), of which thirteen are at risk due to the Crippled Remnants rule. Given normal luck, one would expect to completely lose 2.2 of the thirteen at-risk units, for an expected loss of around 19 attack factors. You would also expect to lose another 6.5 steps as units are reduced, and this would result in another 19 attack factors lost. As a result, the German should expect to have around twelve mechanized units with a total of 83 attack factors when the Soviets arrive with their 101 attack factors. Of course, the Soviets get more reinforcements than the Germans do over the next few turns, but as you said, the Germans have the flexibility to move units north and south as desired.



Thanks for the kind words about my review!

In terms of Crippled Remnants, I don't think that any of the units at the start of the August 44 scenario are at risk. Crippled Remnants affects reinforcements, not units starting on the map. It is true that some of the at-start units are reduced, though.

I will go back over my calculations and see if I applied the Crippled Remnants rule as I should have.
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John Setear
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You are correct that I misplayed the supply rules regarding OOS Soviet units. They should not have been eliminated.

I did play with 3.7 (Crippled Remnants), although I need to go back and see if my armor-point calculations included it correctly. But when I played the actual game, we rolled for crippled remnants for all German reinforcements entering in areas A through F.

I don't know to what other errors you're referring. You mention combat results, but I need something more specific to figure out if I did something wrong.

Thanks!

hipshot wrote:
There appear to be several major errors in game play.
You might want to revisit 3.7, supply and combat results.

I'm not suggesting that you are wrong in your assessment but it appears you are not playing with the same rules I have.
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John Setear
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AA41 wrote:


Thanks to Crippled Remnants, I didn't feel like the Panzers could easily rough the Tank Corps up. The Soviets can tear holes in the German line, which makes it hard to concentrate the Panzers. Plus, they get some replacements, which the east Germans don't. On non-attacking turns, the Soviets can move up infantry, worm into gaps, step armor back a hex as needed, etc. When the Panzers strike back, and bloody a nose, they're performing their historical fire brigade role. So, I don't get so much of a sense of such a big difference from history.



I agree that the difference in replacements (none for the Germans) does make a difference. One thing that the Soviet player in our games might have done better would be to make sure that he had taken enough casualties to take advantage of the greater replacement rate. But I frequently found that the inability to get good die rolls on the Attack HQ rolls made it difficult to generate enough attrition to take advantage properly of the fact that only the Soviets get replacements. Soviet replacements don't accumulate, and they are very "lumpy," so you have to have the losses in advance of their receipt. And if you generate the losses many turns in advance of the replacements to make sure that you have guys in the dead pile to replace, you are depriving yourself of significant combat power in the intervening turns.

On fire brigades, my interpretation of the fire brigades is that the panzers rushed around to plug holes in the line and to counter-attack. So I agree with you, if the panzers bloodied a nose in a sector where there was whole torn open in the line, that would be historical. But in our games, it was very difficult to generate a hole, and the paucity of Soviet armored units meant that a German panzer counter-attack could be devastating to future Soviet chances, so the panzers often delivered a knock-out blow to Soviet strategic chances rather than bloodying a nose.
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John Setear
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AA41 wrote:

On supply, the historical Soviets had big pauses between big offensives. So, the attack should be herky-jerky. The rules provide for a very simple supply method, but the inability to plan more than one turn of attacking is a disadvantage. Maybe a more satisfying alternative would be to let an HQ store supply? That would have to be offset somehow, maybe by lower German losses as they enter on turns 4-6?


I agree that there should be discontinuous Soviet offensives -- the big pauses and herky-jerky quality that you mention. But my understanding of the history is that there would be a long period of continuous offensive action across a very wide sector of the front, followed by a long period of continuous inactivity while the supply lines caught up. The game imposes a much more granular sense of discontinuity and herky-jerkiness -- it happens turn by turn, and HQ by HQ. That was what I found so frustrating.

Accumulating HQ supply might make sense, as you suggest. Or maybe just giving the Soviets a certain number of points with no dice rolls in the system at all. Or, simpler, just giving them a certain number of turns where they can declare an offensive. I assume that, with some tinkering, you could set it up so that the Soviet naturally had periods of multi-turn offensives followed by periods of multi-turn sitting around.
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Kev.
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or moving/keeping HQ's nearer each other, for significant offensives.

Keep in mind the Soviets can put Germans oos and eliminate with out a fight. As long as they do not deliberately place themselves oos.

SCS is one of those systems that give a 'feel' for a situation but should not be confused with it be highly historical or granular. IT does also lend it self well to fan based chrome add ons. INS is another example of the game system not playing out the history well at all. 3-4 pages of chrome would fix that.
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Michael McCalpin
United States
McKinney
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jsetear wrote:
mmccalpin wrote:
As I do the math on the Axis mechanized units at start, there are fourteen total units (totaling 121 attack factors), of which thirteen are at risk due to the Crippled Remnants rule. Given normal luck, one would expect to completely lose 2.2 of the thirteen at-risk units, for an expected loss of around 19 attack factors. You would also expect to lose another 6.5 steps as units are reduced, and this would result in another 19 attack factors lost. As a result, the German should expect to have around twelve mechanized units with a total of 83 attack factors when the Soviets arrive with their 101 attack factors. Of course, the Soviets get more reinforcements than the Germans do over the next few turns, but as you said, the Germans have the flexibility to move units north and south as desired.

Thanks for the kind words about my review!

In terms of Crippled Remnants, I don't think that any of the units at the start of the August 44 scenario are at risk. Crippled Remnants affects reinforcements, not units starting on the map. It is true that some of the at-start units are reduced, though.

I will go back over my calculations and see if I applied the Crippled Remnants rule as I should have.

Since you were only playing the East Front, of course it made sense that you skipped ahead to the August 1944 scenario: I had not considered that, and that probably explains the difference in our counts of Axis armor.

In the meantime, I am enjoying the commentary and suggested house rules presented here.
 
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John Setear
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Virginia
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hipshot wrote:
or moving/keeping HQ's nearer each other, for significant offensives.


Keeping two Soviet HQs close to one another is a tactic that the Soviet player tried a number of times during the game. It is one of the interesting choices that the Soviet player has throughout the game. We didn't consider it to make a gigantic difference either way, because putting multiple HQs very close certainly telegraphs to the German player where the Soviet player intends to push. But it is definitely something worth pondering and trying out.
 
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John Setear
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hipshot wrote:

SCS is one of those systems that give a 'feel' for a situation but should not be confused with it be highly historical or granular.


I agree that it would be unfair to assume that the SCS can portray history in the way that, say, the OCS might. But I do think it's fair to hold any system to some fidelity to the historical situation. To have a game about the Soviet 1944-45 offensive in which the Soviets advance in lock-step, perpetually afraid that their armored spearheads are vulnerable to a crippling German counter-attack, is a gross distortion of history. I'm not complaining because some particular maneuver that a corps pulled off is not possible in the game, or that there's insufficient differentiation in units.
 
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Kev.
United States
Austin
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jsetear wrote:
hipshot wrote:

SCS is one of those systems that give a 'feel' for a situation but should not be confused with it be highly historical or granular.


I agree that it would be unfair to assume that the SCS can portray history in the way that, say, the OCS might. But I do think it's fair to hold any system to some fidelity to the historical situation. To have a game about the Soviet 1944-45 offensive in which the Soviets advance in lock-step, perpetually afraid that their armored spearheads are vulnerable to a crippling German counter-attack, is a gross distortion of history. I'm not complaining because some particular maneuver that a corps pulled off is not possible in the game, or that there's insufficient differentiation in units.

Then dont play INS. it is even worse. I find it frustrating. But it is a good base system for smart guys to lay on chrome.
 
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John Setear
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hipshot wrote:
There appear to be several major errors in game play.
You might want to revisit 3.7, supply and combat results.

I'm not suggesting that you are wrong in your assessment but it appears you are not playing with the same rules I have.


Kev,

I just wanted to ask again if you could let me know which major errors in game play I may have committed. As I said, I did mess up the treatment of isolated Allied units. Beyond that, I wasn't sure what you were referring to in your post. If I've committed major errors, it would be helpful for those who might rely on my evaluations to know what they were. Thanks!

John
 
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John Setear
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hipshot wrote:
[q="jsetear"][q="hipshot"]
Then dont play INS. it is even worse. I find it frustrating. But it is a good base system for smart guys to lay on chrome.


Thanks for the tip on It Never Snows ....! It might help me to know what, in a general sense, you thought the problem with it is. One friend says that it is very difficult for the Allies to win, although he didn't go into much detail.
 
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John Setear
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jsetear wrote:

A stalwart and skilled gamer-friend of mine and I ... played the game ....


I just wanted to mention that the aforementioned gamer-friend is John "Tex" Teixeira, whose careful play and patient discussions always inspire me. Also, in this particular case, Tex was kind enough to read the drafts of my review,and I would like to acknowledge his thoughtful remarks and general encouragement of my efforts.

Also, although you should not hold him responsible for particular phrasings and so forth, I think it is fair to say that he agrees with the general outlines and conclusions of the review, in case you want to ask him questions as well.
 
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Kev.
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Austin
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John I appreciate you want feedback, but I'm not able to go thru your review line item style, nor correct tactics etc. As long as you had fun that's cool.
Everyone plays differently and can interpret rules differently. Tex has a long history with games I'll assume everything was good and I'm likely wrong, wouldn't be the first time.
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John Setear
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Thanks for replying, Kev.
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