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Duel in the North: The Leningrad Campaign, Jun-Sep 1941» Forums » Rules

Subject: Odd rules rss

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Apollo Yeh
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I like the overall game system, particularly the command chit mechanics, but I don't think that the game was very well play tested. My current interpretation of the rules results in some quirks.

Eliminated HQs automatically come back on the following turn adjacent to any subordinate formation units for Germans or adjacent to any unit for Soviets. This makes them extremely expendable, especially once they've already activated for the turn. You can deliberately place isolated HQs to block rail lines or clear terrain paths. The worst that can happen is that they get killed only to be subsequently repositioned in a more optimal location relative to their desired subordinate units.

Artillery cannot be used defensively, guaranteeing that the Soviets have little chance whatsoever to check overwhelming German force concentration and air superiority. I think that this omission stems from the desire to avoid the additional bookkeeping necessary to track how much artillery an HQ has expended per turn and the desire to avoid potential HQ subordination issues, particularly on the Soviet side.

The combination of aircraft attrition with a no effect result on the CRT seems like a way to omit dedicated anti-aircraft rules. I can respect the attempt to make the game simpler, but the rules are still unclear. I have interpreted them to mean that an attacker loses an aircraft when the CRT results in the DEFENDER suffering no effect. If aircraft were lost on any no effect result for the attack or defender, each aircraft would effectively become a single use asset.

There is no limit to how many aircraft can be used in any combat. This flexibility makes it very unlikely that a careful player will lose aircraft from the above mentioned aircraft loss rule. By committing enough aircraft at reasonable attack odds, the attacker can guarantee a high die roll result, forcing something other than "no effect" on the defender.

Dogfights occur if and only if both sides commit fighter cover. This leads to the weird case where one side, particularly the defender, can deliberately omit fighter cover to avoid any chance of losing one or more aircraft in a dogfight. It makes little sense that one side's fighter cover cannot do anything to the other side's close air support; I'd think the fighters would have a turkey shoot.

The lack of ZOCs across rivers leads to some very unusual consequences for defending a river line. You cannot prevent a direct crossing unless you occupy every hex behind the river, making the river more of a liability than a defensible position in certain cases.

Army Group North's Panzer group has two [yellow] command chits to activate its two HQs, which allows the group to activate up to twice per turn. In pursuit situations this ability isn't as powerful as one might think, because as far as I can tell, activating one HQ does not allow you to move the other HQ. Consequently, if the first activation moves subordinate units out of activation range of the second HQ, then the second HQ cannot activate those units that turn. In general, after activating the first HQ the German player wants to have as many subordinate units as possible end up in range of the second HQ to best take advantage of activating both HQs. As the German player, I did overrun attacks specifically to use the bonus movement to scurry back into the second HQ's activation range.
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Disclaimer: I do not work for DG nor am I associated with the designer or developer(s) of this game.
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mrstupid wrote:
I like the overall game system, particularly the command chit mechanics, but I don't think that the game was very well play tested. My current interpretation of the rules results in some quirks.


I have played a number of Paul Youde's designs using this same game system that were published by DG. I have played many sessions of this specific game. The "chit pull HQ activation" system has been well tested across those published games. I think most players are used to "IGOUGO" style games, but that style can present some strange combat effects (a "push pull" sort of frontline which is ahistorical). The "chit pull" system, at least to me, creates a more random combat & movement situation across a front, which in this case covers many many miles.

mrstupid wrote:
Eliminated HQs automatically come back on the following turn adjacent to any subordinate formation units for Germans or adjacent to any unit for Soviets. This makes them extremely expendable, especially once they've already activated for the turn. You can deliberately place isolated HQs to block rail lines or clear terrain paths. The worst that can happen is that they get killed only to be subsequently repositioned in a more optimal location relative to their desired subordinate units.


Yes, that is an oddity to most people, but completely knocking out a HQ is quite rare because it also means knocking out any replacement staff. The Germans had "bench strength" in both staff and commanders this early in the war, making German HQ units quite resilient. Also keep in mind that eliminating HQ units completely in this game would effectively stall game play in a truly ahistorical way because how else would German units "activate" within the constraints of the game system?

mrstupid wrote:
Artillery cannot be used defensively, guaranteeing that the Soviets have little chance whatsoever to check overwhelming German force concentration and air superiority. I think that this omission stems from the desire to avoid the additional bookkeeping necessary to track how much artillery an HQ has expended per turn and the desire to avoid potential HQ subordination issues, particularly on the Soviet side.


I don't agree. At this point in the war the Russian war machine was pretty ineffective in many ways. Many Russian air units were caught on the ground at the start of the war or quite weak in other ways. Russian artillery coordination did not exist at this time. Many Russian units lacked reliable transport and armored/mechanized units lacked tanks and other vehicles called for in their TO&E. Supplies for the Russian units that advanced beyond the historical Russian borders into the Baltic States and occupied Poland were poor to say the least. Finally, Russian units that did advance beyond the Russian borders were kept away from the "treaty border" with Germany so as to prevent conflict from occuring, and were not positioned in "combat ready" locations.

Also keep in mind that adding complexity like artillery supply tracking adds a level of complexity to the game that is "out of place" given that other forms of supply are not detailed within the game; supply is a fairly abstract concept in this game.

mrstupid wrote:
The combination of aircraft attrition with a no effect result on the CRT seems like a way to omit dedicated anti-aircraft rules. I can respect the attempt to make the game simpler, but the rules are still unclear. I have interpreted them to mean that an attacker loses an aircraft when the CRT results in the DEFENDER suffering no effect. If aircraft were lost on any no effect result for the attack or defender, each aircraft would effectively become a single use asset.


I think you grasp the idea of simplifying the aircraft rules. It does eliminate the need for added AA units and AA fire, but that reflects the level/scale of combat; AA fire is subsumed into ground units, but AA fire was mostly ineffective at this point in the war. It would be like saying, "German infantry units had inherent mortar, artillery, and HMG sections so why are there not rules for them?" As for your interpretation of the rules, I would have to go find my copy and read the rules a few times to understand the designer & developer's intent.

mrstupid wrote:
There is no limit to how many aircraft can be used in any combat. This flexibility makes it very unlikely that a careful player will lose aircraft from the above mentioned aircraft loss rule. By committing enough aircraft at reasonable attack odds, the attacker can guarantee a high die roll result, forcing something other than "no effect" on the defender.


I think the sort of "overloading" that you describe is quite reasonable for this period of time.

mrstupid wrote:
Dogfights occur if and only if both sides commit fighter cover. This leads to the weird case where one side, particularly the defender, can deliberately omit fighter cover to avoid any chance of losing one or more aircraft in a dogfight. It makes little sense that one side's fighter cover cannot do anything to the other side's close air support; I'd think the fighters would have a turkey shoot.


I would have to re-read the rules a few times before I would comment.

mrstupid wrote:
The lack of ZOCs across rivers leads to some very unusual consequences for defending a river line. You cannot prevent a direct crossing unless you occupy every hex behind the river, making the river more of a liability than a defensible position in certain cases.


I think the game is trying to reflect the fluid nature of mobile warfare as practiced by the Germans. Russian troops at this time of the war really lacked the combat skills and firepower to exert ZOC, much less ZOC across a river.

mrstupid wrote:
Army Group North's Panzer group has two [yellow] command chits to activate its two HQs, which allows the group to activate up to twice per turn. In pursuit situations this ability isn't as powerful as one might think, because as far as I can tell, activating one HQ does not allow you to move the other HQ. Consequently, if the first activation moves subordinate units out of activation range of the second HQ, then the second HQ cannot activate those units that turn. In general, after activating the first HQ the German player wants to have as many subordinate units as possible end up in range of the second HQ to best take advantage of activating both HQs. As the German player, I did overrun attacks specifically to use the bonus movement to scurry back into the second HQ's activation range.


I agree with your assessment of German [yellow] unit "command & control".

I think the game places a challenge on the German player to either (1) be cautious and keep [yellow] units within activation range at all times; or, (2) "go for broke" when necessary to exploit breaks in the Russian defenses at the expense of loss of control of some or all units.

What I have found in my own game sessions is there is no "one size fits all" strategy to fighting and controlling the German [yellow] units. Historically German Panzer Corps commanders could have worked together when necessary; German doctrine, staff work, and communications capabilities not only allows for that but actually enables that. In this game the German player has to adapt their strategy with the [yellow] units as the situation presents itself over the course of the entire game. I think that "adaptive" style of play is reflective of German blitzkrieg strategy of the day.

Think about it this way, if you have blown a huge gap in Russian lines and you see little or nothing in the way of Russian units "backstopping" that broken line or available to the Russian player in the "reinforcement pipeline", why not "go for broke" and exploit as much "open" territory as you can? Historically that is what the Germans did. Conversely, when Russian defenses get heavier, then it may make sense to keep the German [yellow] units concentrated and within range of both [yellow] HQ units so the German player can make a "1 - 2 punch" from activating both HQ in the same game turn in order to create a breakthrough.
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Tom Krynicki
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mrstupid wrote:
Dogfights occur if and only if both sides commit fighter cover. This leads to the weird case where one side, particularly the defender, can deliberately omit fighter cover to avoid any chance of losing one or more aircraft in a dogfight. It makes little sense that one side's fighter cover cannot do anything to the other side's close air support; I'd think the fighters would have a turkey shoot.


Although Rule 11.1 (Dogfights) is very poorly worded....read in it's entirety, I don't think that is what it is saying.

The 2nd "Note" in 11.1 states:

"In the event that one player only has
Close Air Support air units present during a
Dogfight (against enemy Fighter Cover air
units), that player must nevertheless roll one
6-sided die per each of his Close Air Support
air units present during that Dogfight (but
only If no friendly Fighter Cover air units are
present). However, Close Air Support air
units do not ever eliminate any enemy air
units if rolling highest, but cause an end to
the Dogfight without suffering any possible
eliminations in that case (although they
are aborted automatically, nevertheless)."


It seems to me fighters CAN attack (dogfight) unescorted CAS units and the best the CAS can hope for is to not be blasted from the air before being chased off.

 
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