One of BCS's puzzles is whether, on the attack, to use one artillery point for suppression or use one to three points to eliminate the defender's steps. I created a spreadsheet and made some tables to analyze what effect the various uses of artillery have. I haven't reproduced the tables, because it's pointless to know, look up, or take into account the exact probabilities -- a BCS formation's turn shouldn't take that long. Instead I tried to boil it down to easy-to-remember lessons.
The spreadsheet I created looks at the probabilities of getting defender retreats, traffic, attacker losses and defender losses. I mostly assumed the defender was in Terrain (i.e. it takes a 4-6 to cause a step loss), which is plentiful in Last Blitzkrieg. I looked at the case where the defender is in Prepared Defense/Defensible Terrain and when the defender isn't. I looked at non-artillery die roll modifiers (i.e. including AR's, Assists, etc) of -2 to +2. For those cases, I looked at no artillery, Suppression Mission, 1 point barrage, 2 point barrage, and 3 point barrage. Lastly, I looked at the cases where the defender has 4 or more steps, 3 steps, 2 steps, and 1 step. I also looked at the odds of eliminating a unit, since in BCS a 1-step unit, while fragile, can do as much as a full-strength unit. So, there's a big benefit to removing an enemy unit from the map.
What I Learned:
1) Use Artilley, unless you have modifiers of +3 or more or are willing to accept losses.
2) Generally, if you want the hex, fire a Suppression Mission.
3) Comparing a 1 point barrage with a Suppresion Mission, the 1 point barrage will on average cause more damage, but the attacker will suffer more damage. Unless you aren't worried about attrition ratios, 1 point barrage attacks usually aren't advisable.
4) 2 or 3 point barrage attacks will result in a better attrition ratio than a Suppression Mission.
5) Suppression Missions are more valuable the higher the positive die roll modifer. For a large, negative modifier, barrage missions are more valuable because barrage results don't depend on AR.
6) Do not use a Suppression Mission on a 1-step defender, unless it's in a city.
7) A defender in a city should be attacked with either a Suppression Mission or a 3-point barrage.
8) A Hard unit should be attacked with a Suppression Mission, unless it is a 1-step unit not in prepared defense/defensible terrain, then choose between Suppression Mission or a 3-point barrage.
9) In open terrain (i.e. barrage success on a 3-6 die) Suppression Mission and 1-point barrage have the same attrition ratios.
All of this advice is based on probabilities, so there are no guarantees. As always, it's up to the player to figure out if they should attrit the enemy or take their territory. Knowing how best to use artillery will help you achieve your objectives.
Just as in your summary, my rule of thumb is that I use multiple (usually all three) arty points when I want to kill the target and suppression for if I just want to move it.
That decision does depend on what the target is... It's a rare day that I'll expend 3 arty points on the off chance of hitting a Hard Armor target. lol
Flanks and Gaps in Impulse Games
Am very fond of impulse style (maybe there is a better term of art?) games such as Last Blitz, but...
How does one avoid creating exploitable gaps in one's line?
For instance, in an overall situation where the US is withdrawing:
- Unit A Activates and pulls out.
- But this leaves Unit B with an open flank until the next US Activation, so...
- ...Panzerdivision X Activates and pounces on Unit B through the unavoidable gap...
Yes, units fail to coordinate in Real Life, but they also coordinate very effectively, with Unit B covering the withdrawal of Unit A or withdrawing simultaneously.
Just a thought.
You raise a good point. A strict back and forth impulse system combined with the gamers inch perfect satellite intelligence of enemy positions can lead to difficulties when you open a gap with either a strong advance or significant withdrawal.
As you point out, in real life commanders would try to coordinate the actions of multiple formations to cover the gaps formed by advances/retreat. That is the approach I take playing BCS. I try to arrange supporting formations and my sequence of activation such that I can mount effective counter actions to enemy attempts to exploit gaps.