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Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe» Forums » General

Subject: Soloing on VASSAL rss

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Michael Hopcroft
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I've been looking at getting this game for years and finally pulled the trigger this month. But this is a physically big game that I don't see myself ever having room to set up. So I expect any playing I do is going to be on VASSAL. Maybe someday I can do a PBEM, but for now, I'm assuming it will mainly be soloing, as I run through the training scenarios.

Which leads to the question of what all I will have to track to play on VASSAL and whether I will need to have any sorts of side notes in order to know what the situation in.
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Jack Dillon
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The Unconditional Surrender modules is complete. Anything needing tracking in the physical game can be done with the module. Game can be saved at any time allowing you to return to the previous game state in a flash.

I am not so sure if the Unconditional Surrender has a notes feature but some Vassal modules have this feature allowing to to take notes.

All you need is the Vassal module.






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Mike Haggett
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I don't recall a notes feature, but I have soloed USE using the vassal module a number of times--no problems at all that I recall.
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Michael Hopcroft
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From the replay I read. just "diving in" is liable to be tricky. To get the desired result from an attack looks like it requires knowing who to send in first and who to hold back until there's a good opportunity to play to their strengths.
 
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Salvatore Vasta
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Thank you for buying the game. I hope you enjoy it.

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
From the replay I read. just "diving in" is liable to be tricky. To get the desired result from an attack looks like it requires knowing who to send in first and who to hold back until there's a good opportunity to play to their strengths.


That's an issue you'll deal with in just about every scenario. While you'll achieve more success with some play over others, the game does not lend itself to "optimized" movement and play. What works in one game may not in the next. It is a strength or weakness depending on what one expects to simulate or play.

Run through the Poland and France scenario a few times, trying different attack approaches, and you'll get a feel of what seems to work better than others.
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Michael Hopcroft
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svasta wrote:
Thank you for buying the game. I hope you enjoy it.

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
From the replay I read. just "diving in" is liable to be tricky. To get the desired result from an attack looks like it requires knowing who to send in first and who to hold back until there's a good opportunity to play to their strengths.


That's an issue you'll deal with in just about every scenario. While you'll achieve more success with some play over others, the game does not lend itself to "optimized" movement and play. What works in one game may not in the next. It is a strength or weakness depending on what one expects to simulate or play.

Run through the Poland and France scenario a few times, trying different attack approaches, and you'll get a feel of what seems to work better than others.


I noticed in a run through here that they player decided to send in the infantry first against Poland and then use Panzers to exploit the resulting holes in the line and gobble up territory on the race to Warsaw.
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Salvatore Vasta
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Michael Hopcroft wrote:
I noticed in a run through here that they player decided to send in the infantry first against Poland and then use Panzers to exploit the resulting holes in the line and gobble up territory on the race to Warsaw.


That is one approach. It frees the tank units to take open cities or to surround and attack defenders. This method became fairly standard late war Soviet doctrine.

The risk, however, is that the infantry is not as powerful so they may not make hole, leaving the tanks with nothing to exploit. Leading with the more powerful tanks provides a greater chance to break the line.
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Michael Hopcroft
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While I have everyone, someone on a different part of the Geek had a com[plaint about VASSAL which applies to VTTs in general, and something I have dealt with in my own experience. That is the difficulty of seeing the "big picture" when making moves and plans. The screen can only display part of the map (how much varies depending on the zoom).

There's no time pressure in a solo, but in a PBEM there is a challenge. I wonder if it's easier in USE. Why? because units have only two strengths, full and reduced, and a lot of their power depends on how much resources you are willing to invest in their actions IIRC. So it should be easier to see the state of your fronts at a larger zoom level than in a system where you need to read factors on counters and count factors in order to determine your advantages (or lack of same).

But are there other ways to cope with this on larger scenarios?
 
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Bruce Tillotson
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If you zoom out far enough to see the entire map, you won't be able to make out important details. That said, the fronts are rather isolated from each other, so a moderate zoom level is fine to see the Western, Eastern, or Med fronts adequately. I played an entire campaign as the Axis via vassal and had no problems with seeing the map.
 
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Michael Hopcroft
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With my game on order (the retailer is waiting to get it from his supplier and will ship as soon as it does), so I'm doing my training with a hopefully clean conscience. I'm starting to grok the movement/Mobile Attack system, though my counting is still off. If any of you have played significant time on VASSAL, what advice do you have on:

Activation. When do you use the Activated marker on a unit -- during its move, or after as a reminder you can't move it again?

DRMs. I'm not sure what DRMs to apply in all cases after the basic national, armor, and air modifiers. I'm also thinking it would be good to use the chat box for this purpose when playing solo.

Sorties! I love this concept -- makes air much more powerful, but also fragile. You have to "budget" your air actions so that you still have the ability to use air support when you have a tough nut to crack. I wonder if in the main game you would want to max out on sorties seizing Poland since it'll take three months to return to full capacity. (And can you regain sorties while being redeployed west or east?). I'm still trying to figure out the best way to track them, though. The counters are handy, but they can probably get a little bit confusing if you have air and naval units in the same hex in later scenarios.

Control markers. I'm getting the hang of placing control markers on the map when I take a city, except I'm not sure if I have to spend an MP to take an unoccupied city in my path (in addition to the normal movement).

National Will Tracking: This I have not gotten the grasp of. There are a lot of ways to lose National Will, especially for the Poles. It turns out I do in fact need the tracking sheet because mentally I'm not grasping it. Which card does Poland use, as they are neither Soviet or Western allies? This is going to be important when I get to France 1940 and have six different nations to track.

Oh, and how do you regain National Will once it is lost? In a longer-term game, I'm wondering how you would do a Churchill and bolster the resolve of a nation that had been seeming defeated decisively on the battlefield.
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Timo Kellomäki
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I've played mostly physical, so more Vassal-centric players may have better hints, but here goes:

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
Activation. When do you use the Activated marker on a unit -- during its move, or after as a reminder you can't move it again?


I use them after or not at all. In the beginning I usually remember what has moved, but late game especially with USSR I tend to mark activated units (I use a 45 degree rotation in physical).

I also often just count the activated units so I don't have to track production points separately.

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DRMs. I'm not sure what DRMs to apply in all cases after the basic national, armor, and air modifiers.


Don't know how to help it, but it gets easier the more you play.

Quote:
I wonder if in the main game you would want to max out on sorties seizing Poland


Yes, and you possibly won't be making enough attacks to even max out on the Luftwaffe.

Quote:
And can you regain sorties while being redeployed west or east?


Yes, and it is sometimes beneficial to cycle air units between resting in the home defence duties and an active front.

Quote:
I'm still trying to figure out the best way to track them, though. The counters are handy, but they can probably get a little bit confusing if you have air and naval units in the same hex in later scenarios.


I just use the counters, no confusion there. To reduce stacking, I usually keep my ships in nearby sea hexes without danger of confusing in which port they are, because they can never stay in a sea hex anyway.

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Control markers. I'm getting the hang of placing control markers on the map when I take a city, except I'm not sure if I have to spend an MP to take an unoccupied city in my path (in addition to the normal movement).


I usually only mark exceptions, that is, those that are behind the front but still held by the original owner.

Yes, moving into an enemy city or fort costs 2 whatever the terrain there (and possibly extra from river/mountainside, note you can't use roads to move into an enemy city).

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Which card does Poland use, as they are neither Soviet or Western allies? This is going to be important when I get to France 1940 and have six different nations to track.


Poland is either a Soviet or Western ally, depending on which faction you declared war before declaring war on them. You can use their card, but it doesn't really matter. You will have a few different national wills tracked per card but it shouldn't be too confusing because they don't interact with each other and most of them change rarely.

But it is important to remember to track the will especially for the majors because it is crucial to the result, easy to forget to reduce after some city is taken or unit lost, and you can't always easily deduce whether you remembered to move it or not.

Quote:
Oh, and how do you regain National Will once it is lost? In a longer-term game, I'm wondering how you would do a Churchill and bolster the resolve of a nation that had been seeming defeated decisively on the battlefield.


Not very easy for the USA or UK, the trick is to not lose it Taking back the lost cities is one way that works for everyone. Germany gets extra from conquests and major power collapses, and USSR from the ceded countries.
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Bruce Tillotson
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Michael Hopcroft wrote:
Activation. When do you use the Activated marker on a unit -- during its move, or after as a reminder you can't move it again?

I use the activated marker after each unit has completed its activation. For small situations, such as Poland, it's not really needed, but as Timo says, late game and on the Eastern Front, it really helps one remember which units have already moved, and its a great method of counting activation costs.

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
DRMs. I'm not sure what DRMs to apply in all cases after the basic national, armor, and air modifiers. I'm also thinking it would be good to use the chat box for this purpose when playing solo.

There are boxes in the upper right and lower left of the map for tracking DRMs. Use it for every battle while learning the game - it will help. As for the DRMs themselves, I find it helps to go through the CRT sheet for each battle, just to be sure I didn't miss anything. And keep in mind, the DRMs are cumulative, so all of them count (up to the maximum for each battle).

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
Sorties! I love this concept -- makes air much more powerful, but also fragile. You have to "budget" your air actions so that you still have the ability to use air support when you have a tough nut to crack. I wonder if in the main game you would want to max out on sorties seizing Poland since it'll take three months to return to full capacity. (And can you regain sorties while being redeployed west or east?). I'm still trying to figure out the best way to track them, though. The counters are handy, but they can probably get a little bit confusing if you have air and naval units in the same hex in later scenarios.

Just be sure to always put the sorties marker above or below the unit. It doesn't matter which, so long as you are consistent. Then you can easily just put the mouse pointer over the stack and Vassal will show you all the counters in order. Easy to tell how many sorties each unit has.

If by redeployment, you mean Strategic Movement, no you cannot buy back sorties on the unit that uses SM that turn. If a unit just rebases during the turn, you can buy back up to two sorties.

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
Control markers. I'm getting the hang of placing control markers on the map when I take a city, except I'm not sure if I have to spend an MP to take an unoccupied city in my path (in addition to the normal movement).

I'm with Timo here - I only use these to mark cities behind the lines. And yes, enemy cities cost more MP to enter than friendly ones, and do not negate terrain, such as rivers, for movement purposes. One tactic I use a lot during Barbarossa is to have a minor unit occupy an empty city near the front line so the stronger German units spend fewer MPs moving through it. This allows the better units to penetrate the front faster, maybe with enough MPs to launch an attack or two.

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
National Will Tracking: This I have not gotten the grasp of. There are a lot of ways to lose National Will, especially for the Poles. It turns out I do in fact need the tracking sheet because mentally I'm not grasping it. Which card does Poland use, as they are neither Soviet or Western allies? This is going to be important when I get to France 1940 and have six different nations to track.

Every minor must join one of the three factions when activated. If Germany is at war with France/Britain (Western Allies, WAL), put the counters on that card. If Germany is at war with the Soviets, use that card. Unless the German player is suicidal, he won't be at war with both at the same time during the early war, so it will be easy to know which faction a minor joins. BTW, the German card gets pretty busy by mid-campaign, as they'll have counters for all their minor allies.

Michael Hopcroft wrote:
Oh, and how do you regain National Will once it is lost? In a longer-term game, I'm wondering how you would do a Churchill and bolster the resolve of a nation that had been seeming defeated decisively on the battlefield.

NW lost from occupied cities can be regained by reconquering those cities. NW lost from destroyed units can never be regained, so watch your losses. My own opinion is that Germany usually loses the game because it lost too many ground units. It's a guarantee that Germany will lose some cities in 1944/45. The key to survival is to ensure it only falls if the central cities are taken, e.g., Kiel, Hamburg, Hannover, Leipzig. Every single ground loss adds up.
 
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Bruce Tillotson
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A tip for planning moves: It's 1943, Eastern Front. As the German, I plan to fall back a few hexes to mitigate the upcoming Soviet attacks. How do I plan out a line before I move a bunch of units, then change my mind?

Control markers from a different faction. On the EF, I'll use WAL control markers, as those aren't normally used there. In Italy or France, I'll use Soviet control markers for the same reason. This way I know the markers only represent planning, not actual control. If you don't want to use control markers, Nuclear Strike counters work just as well. (Note, this works in Vassal and face to face, though you may run out of some counters face to face.)

This allows me to see if I've left any obvious holes in my lines, if I have enough units to form the line, if units have enough MPs to move into position, ensure I have enough PP for the moves, and so forth. Once the units are in their final positions, I just move the markers to a map corner for the next time I need them.

 
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Michael Hopcroft
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sirwhiskers wrote:


Michael Hopcroft wrote:
Oh, and how do you regain National Will once it is lost? In a longer-term game, I'm wondering how you would do a Churchill and bolster the resolve of a nation that had been seeming defeated decisively on the battlefield.

NW lost from occupied cities can be regained by reconquering those cities. NW lost from destroyed units can never be regained, so watch your losses. My own opinion is that Germany usually loses the game because it lost too many ground units. It's a guarantee that Germany will lose some cities in 1944/45. The key to survival is to ensure it only falls if the central cities are taken, e.g., Kiel, Hamburg, Hannover, Leipzig. Every single ground loss adds up.


Clever way to represent the effects of the decline of German manpower as the war dragged on. And in between cities and losses, Russia must have all kinds of problems early in Barbarossa!

It seems those problems are made worse because I don't see a DRM advantage for Soviet units, so they are always at a disadvantage to the Germans. They will use units -- a lot of units -- early in Barbarossa and throughout the war. This may be the only WWII grand strategy game I've seen where Barbarossa can be considered a good idea. Especially since the Soviets will enter the war anyway at a certain time and can roll over an unattentive Axis player through sheer numbers. This is something a German player should fear with some justification.
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Bruce Tillotson
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Michael Hopcroft wrote:
It seems those problems are made worse because I don't see a DRM advantage for Soviet units, so they are always at a disadvantage to the Germans. They will use units -- a lot of units -- early in Barbarossa and throughout the war. This may be the only WWII grand strategy game I've seen where Barbarossa can be considered a good idea. Especially since the Soviets will enter the war anyway at a certain time and can roll over an unattentive Axis player through sheer numbers. This is something a German player should fear with some justification.

Beginning with the arrival of the Shock armies, the Soviets get quite a few elite units, each of which has a +1 DRM just for being elite (5 Shock, 6 Guards Armor, 11 Guards MOT). The late game Soviet tank armies aren't quite equal to panzers, but they're still better than German INF in good weather. By 1944, the Soviet steamroller is a thing to be feared.

As you note, since the Soviets are going to be in the war at some point, the Axis will want to push them back with Barbarossa. In the late game, the Germans simply can't hold, so the more ground they have to give up outside of Germany, the better their chances of survival. Of course, they can't run full speed, so they'll have to fight at times. And fighting means taking losses, which hurts NW, which brings Germany closer to collapse... It's a delicate balancing act.
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Timo Kellomäki
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sirwhiskers wrote:
Beginning with the arrival of the Shock armies, the Soviets get quite a few elite units, each of which has a +1 DRM just for being elite (5 Shock, 6 Guards Armor, 11 Guards MOT). The late game Soviet tank armies aren't quite equal to panzers, but they're still better than German INF in good weather. By 1944, the Soviet steamroller is a thing to be feared.


Also, air advantage means a lot and that will change decisively during the game.
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