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Subject: WWII Grand Strategy and "Scripting" rss

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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Recently, I've been doing a lot of reading on the grand strategic perspective of WWII in Europe. The personalities involved are fascinating, and so many historians tend to focus on the "Great Man of History." Warlords (http://www.amazon.com/Warlords-Extraordinary-Re-creation-Chu...), ferinstance, is a fascinating look into the day-by-day decision making of the four major personalities in the European war, starting in '39.

My current reading materiel is The Wages of Destruction. (http://www.amazon.com/Wages-Destruction-Making-Breaking-Econ...) It's an economic history of the Third Reich, and I find it to be enlightening about grand strategy in a way that so many other books are not. The author, Adam Tooze, delves into the decision-making of the principals of the Third Reich, and his explanations for their strategic choices is compelling. All the more so because it doesn't all come back to, "Hitler was bat**** crazy." Tooze understands the Germans' materiel balance quite well, and his understanding of the rationale for Barbarossa is less ideological and more materiel-based: The Germans needed access to Russia's raw materials.

I've played a few grand strategy WWII games in my day, starting with Axis & Allies back in the day, and continuing through up to the present. Europe Engulfed is my current favorite, although the upcoming Sturm Europa! has a few features that look intriguing. One thing that they tend to do is to "script" the early war moves upon the players. "You can't invade the Low Countries before the spring of '40." "The Russians may not attack before '42, and must play an up-front defense."

They also tend to understate the strength of the French Army. In 1940, France was Europe's pre-eminent power. Their army was considered the class of Europe, and with good reason. They had well-built tanks and the best artillery on the continent.

Why should a designer choose to do these things? Why put down artificial restrictions? Why tie the French player's hands? Why keep the Russians out of the war?

Because it isn't a WWII game without it. We have certain expectations about what a WWII game entails, and unless the French get smooshed early and the Germans launch the greatest land invasion in history, then we don't feel like we're playing a WWII game.

If you allow the French player to "play smart", then it's likely that the German advance into France stalls. Manstein's thrust through the Ardennes left the German army with no reserves whatsoever. All of the panzer and panzergrenadier divisions were committed on 10 May, and were heavily engaged until the initial phase of the campaign was over. Had the French and British been able to respond effectively, then Fall Gelb turns into The Battle of the Bulge all over again.

And let's face it: The French command structure was slow to react and made terrible strategic decisions. The Dyle Plan walked the cream of the Allied army right into a sack. Let's not even get started on the disjointed Allied command structure, or the refusal of the Belgians to let Britain and France violate Belgian neutrality. No sane player is about to repeat these mistakes.

Less obviously, no sane German player is going to commit resources to the surface forces of the Kriegsmarine, and is going to turn around and invest all of those spare resources into building the biggest and baddest U-boat fleet he can get.

Once the war hits '42 or so, you can afford the players a good deal of freedom of action, because these political constraints and command idiocies have generally been worked out of the system. Everyone's committed, by that point.

I've heard players complain about "scripting" when it comes to games like EE. Yeah. That's because the designers are choosing to make a trade off between the script and seriously ahistorical events.

I like to think that as game designers get better we'll see less emphasis on special rules to constrain such things and more clever mechanics that provide players with incentives and trade-offs about the historical process.

So, who thinks I'm way off base here?
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Wouldn't it be possible to take existing games and simply issue modified rules allowing for more freedom?

One example I can think of is EuroFront II. Almost every session of EuroFront II that I have read (I think there is only one), the French don't fall in 5 weeks. I would have to look at the rules, but I bet the French cannot hold out indefinitely because of built in constraints on French production, to make the game more historically accurate. Changing those constraints would allow for the more ahistorical results you are talking about.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you read the designer's notes for Krieg! World War II in Europe, which gets into these very issues. I think you can find them at Alan Emrich's website.
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Joseph
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robbbbbb wrote:

So, who thinks I'm way off base here?


You've got most of it down, so I have just a few comments.

You're correct that France's big problem was command and control. They had a lot of equipment, but their command structure dated back to WW1 and the concept of static fronts.

Simply put, it's all about activation points. In a gamist sense, the French had a pathetic number of activation points, and were not really able to much of anything. (Comparatively speaking) Their communication and command structure permitted responses in days if not weeks, while the new mobile warfare required responses in hours if not minutes. If I were to continue with this over simplification, I'd say that if it were a Memoir '44 game, the French would have 1 orders card, while the Germans would have between 4-6. That's how bad it was.

If France's command and control structure had been half way decent, they wouldn't have merely repelled the Germans, they would have likely crushed them. Rommel could have been cut off with a single strike at his overstretched supply line, and had to fight for his life. He admitted as much in his memoirs. He anticipated the French doing something like this, but they never did.

As far as curbing impetuous players playing the Allies, I'd consider incentives instead of restraints. For every turn or whatever that they do not enter into the war, permit them to acquire builds, resources, or whatever that ceases immediately upon the start of hostilities. Give them a tough choice to make.

IIRC, Rise and Decline of the Third Reich penalises Russia 50 VP if they attack before a certain time. Russia has to weigh the cost versus the gain.

Make the players weigh the cost.

BTW - I'm reading "Wages of Destruction" also. Fascinating book!

Cheers.

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Paul Amala
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As another aside on what was going wrong in France, I think William Shirer's The Collapse of the Third Republic is the best.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Almost every session of EuroFront II that I have read (I think there is only one), the French don't fall in 5 weeks. I would have to look at the rules, but I bet the French cannot hold out indefinitely because of built in constraints on French production, to make the game more historically accurate.


Hm. To me, that's the worst of both worlds. The main French problem for a long war was not production so much as manpower, but that was a constraint that the Germans were dealing with, too. (And for much the same reasons! Both nations were dealing with the shadow of The Great War, where casualties and manpower diverted from the front led to extremely low birthrates. Note that '39 is exactly 21 years after '18, and so that's precisely the cohort you're dealing with.)

Truth be told, the French economy was in much better shape than the Germans in '40. The British blockade of Germany was beginning to take effect, and that seriously limited Germany's ability to acquire the raw materials needed to fuel the Wehrmacht. Everyone knows about Hitler's oil problem, but he had a problem with just about every raw material short of coal.

Historically, if the French could've stopped the Germans in May, and turned it into a war of attrition, the Germans would be quickly worn down. Hitler knew it, too, and that's why he risked all on the Manstein plan for quick victory in France.

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I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you read the designer's notes for Krieg! World War II in Europe, which gets into these very issues.


Thanks for the tip! I will tonight. I've learned more from designer's notes on wargames than I have from tomes of history.

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You've got most of it down, so I have just a few comments.


Dang. And I was so hoping to start an argument. I learn more from them.

But you make very good points about France's command structure. The French Army was well-trained and equipped, but had horrendous leadership problems.

I take your point about VP in Third Reich, too, but doesn't that seem like a heavy-handed way to do it?
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Mark Luta
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The French Army may have been regarded as the best in the world in 1939, but as any fan of college football knows, preseason rankings mean nothing! The Austrian Army was considered far superiour to the Prussian in 1866 in much the same way. And while many modern historians have taken the viewpoints described above, contemporary records tend to suggest otherwise. After all, it was the Army and not the politicians who were most strongly against offensive action against Germany in 1939.

Their vaunted tanks, for example, lacked decent road speed (as did the British models), and so could not practically be rushed to position to perform the massed attacks as the Germans performed (as an aside, the massed tank attacks were first used in large scale combat by the Russians, both in Manchuria and by their 'volunteers' in the Spanish Civil War). The Dyle Plan may have been idiotic, but faster vehicles could perhaps have got them out of this situation and back into defensive lines, and even cut German lines of communication.

French commanders, seasoned as junior officers in WWI, preferred to rely on telephone communications. The Germans (and British) saw the potential of radio, and so had much greater mobility.

In reality, though, airpower was the whole 'secret' to both the blitzkrieg, and the success of the German Army. And the French Air Force was woefully inadequate, while the German Air Force posessed both excellent modern aircraft and a close support doctrine of how to use them. Even had the French used their 'better' tanks 'properly,' it would have made little difference--indeed, when the Germans first encountered the Soviet heavy tanks supported by the nimble T-34, they had few effective ground weapons to counter these, yet calling in air support would over and over turn the tide of battle even before the German tank designs were improved. A careful look at North Africa reveals the same pattern, where Rommel had air superiourity, he won, and when the British achieved air superiourity, they won.

The games mentioned above use 'scripting' because of their simple rule systems designed to let them be played fairly quickly (in comparison with strategic level wargames, at least!). The effect of airpower is not really well modeled (though Sturm Europa may have some innovative ideas to bring to the fore the effects of the air war). The German Army in 1939 was depleted by the month of war in Poland, units needed to be moved west at the same time they were reorganized and resupplied. And producing 'unit steps' does not really consider the difficulties involved, the factories cannot realistically produce unlimited numbers of boots, rifles and tanks, regardless of how many production points are in the bank. German tank crews of the day were getting six months of training before ever being sent into combat, which meant the replacement crews recruited in October of 1939 were available for front line service in April 1940--curiously when the war on land started up once more...

It was not to their advantage to start invading western front countries then and risk provoking Britain and France to more offensive actions. The war at sea was not going well for Germany, they lost the Graf Spee that December and started the war with relatively few submarines. And there is the reverse of 'scripting' in play as well--the German player knows he wants to attack the USSR as early as possible, but this is just an artifact of how the future war did play out, in 1939 there was no particular reason to suspect this timing was in play (the real 'scripting' point here is the monthlong delay in 1941 caused by the intervention in Greece through Yugoslavia).

If you want to get away from this degree of scripting, you will have to step up to more complex games which can model many of the reasons the 'script' does not allow certain actions in the games you are playing. Good examples would be 'Advanced Third Reich' or 'John Prados Third Reich'--the latter being not only much less scripted, but with variable events and the effects of diplomatic efforts which will force extreme changes in strategy from the historical. For more a look at the logisitical constraints, the OCS games (or the older GDW monsters) will help show part of the reason the French were not particularly offensive-minded.
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Joseph
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robbbbbb wrote:

I take your point about VP in Third Reich, too, but doesn't that seem like a heavy-handed way to do it?


Quite heavy handed. I dislike it myself. I was mentioning it as an example of solutions implemented by others. I made a mistake however, the VP penalty ws applied against the Germans if they attacked Russia too early, not the other way around.

Nonetheless, the fellow who we played against opted to attack Russia early anyways, and won the game. We didn't play the game to conclusion but resigned.

Turns out he'd played solitaire games against himself to see how the attack would play out, and was able to balance his agression in the west with his ambitions in the east.
 
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A few thoughts....


1) For whatever reason, folks who play WWII games typically like the scripted feel more so than someone who plays Paths of Glory or Empires in Arms. WWII gamers tend to like the war to be won on the steppes of Russia or beaches of Great Britain.

2) Simulations have to deal with the fact that we have "perfect" knowledge looking backward. Depending on the decision being revisited (BB's vs. Subs or Invade Russia or not) allowing the player too much freedom can launch the simulation into completely unchartered (and potentially un-modelable) territory.

3) We only have one timeline to model from. The reason we have a Vichy France rule and not a Narvik Norway rule is because Vichy happened so we write a specific case to customize the general surrender rule.

4) Lastly, if you think of a game as a simulation engine, the reason we want scripting is that as soon as you stray too far from the historic course of events, it strains the capabilities of the model beyond plausibility In your example, if France survives how does that affect Russia? Does Italy invade the Balkans? Will the US enter on time? Do FR and GB settle for a conditional surrender? Who knows. We can only guess as we extrapolate from the mean. The possiblities are so wide and varied that they in essence become uninteresting.
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alan beaumont
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"Scripting"
robbbbbb wrote:
My current reading materiel is The Wages of Destruction. ...The author, Adam Tooze, delves into the decision-making of the principals of the Third Reich, and his explanations for their strategic choices is compelling....The Germans needed access to Russia's raw materials......So, who thinks I'm way off base here?

Well, the respected author Richard Overy for one. In Russia's War (Penguin 1998) he writes:

"...in 1940 Germany was still a Soviet Ally. The last thing Stalin said to Ribbentrop....in August 1939 was that 'on his word of honour' the Soviet Union 'would not betray its partner.' Stalin took the pledge seriously." p53

Germany already had full access to Russian resources. The invasion throttled that supply. To that extent the decision was mad, but it was made for ideological reasons with the additional element of removing Britain's last potential ally of note. Ironically this was the only thing that could have thrown Stalin and Churchill together.
In game terms no one is going to invade the USSR unless it is the only way to win, because it's the certain way to lose as Germany if the game is a half decent model.

A more interesting design approach might be for players to secretly 'buy' both their capabilities, Blitz for example as a trade off for mass, and their victory conditions so it is possible to 'lose' without a military failure, as arguably Britain did. It took reverses in Russia before Germany went to a Total War footing. It is one of the reasons they subsequently folded so calamitously; too little, too late.
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Ken Feldman
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One way to get around the scripting and the added rules of when major powers can attack is to just start with a summer 1941 or January 1942 scenario. You avoid the whole problem of making the Germans too powerful and/or the French too weak and instead focus on when the war got interesting anyway.

You also shorten the playing time, which is an added bonus in my opinion.

Axis and Allies did this way back in 1981 when it came out. It's surprising to see games released this decade (like Europe Engulfed) abandoning that simple decision.
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Pete Belli
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We have certain expectations about what a WWII game entails, and unless the French get smooshed early and the Germans launch the greatest land invasion in history, then we don't feel like we're playing a WWII game.


Exactly.

WWII geeks have been conditioned to accept certain historical events as inevitable. However, the number of variables that could have affected the pattern of history in 1939 and 1940 is astounding.

I'm reading a fascinating WWII book called No Simple Victory by Norman Davies. He strips away the layers of sludge left by decades of conventional wisdom and offers some great insights into the conflict:

In August 1939 Zhukov defeated the Japanese at Nomonhan. Japan decided to direct the next phase of imperial expansion toward the south. Stalin was able to turn away from the Far East and slice Poland apart after signing the stunning non-aggression pact with Hitler.

After planning to avoid a general war until 1942 Hitler shifted gears and wanted to attack France in the fall of 1939.

The Soviet attack on Finland in 1939-1940 almost led to a confrontation with Britain and France.

The tentative British violations of Norwegian neutrality in 1940 led Germany to expedite the attack on Scandinavia.

In the fall of 1940 the Germans offered Stalin a deal that would have divided Europe and the Middle East into spheres of influence. The Soviets were invited to join the Tripartite Pact with Germany, Italy, and Japan. The plan fell apart over the domination of Romania and because Stalin would not accept "control" of Persia (Iran) as a substitute for more Soviet influence in the Balkans.

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Kenfeldman wrote:
One way to get around the scripting and the added rules of when major powers can attack is to just start with a summer 1941 or January 1942 scenario. You avoid the whole problem of making the Germans too powerful and/or the French too weak and instead focus on when the war got interesting anyway.

You also shorten the playing time, which is an added bonus in my opinion.

Axis and Allies did this way back in 1981 when it came out. It's surprising to see games released this decade (like Europe Engulfed) abandoning that simple decision.


World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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This is the kind of response I was hoping for. Thanks, folks.

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Good examples would be 'Advanced Third Reich' or 'John Prados Third Reich'--the latter being not only much less scripted, but with variable events and the effects of diplomatic efforts which will force extreme changes in strategy from the historical.


I tired Prados' Third Reich once, and was not very impressed. Too much detail without corresponding increase in realism and/or fun. I may have to revisit it sometime.

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Lastly, if you think of a game as a simulation engine, the reason we want scripting is that as soon as you stray too far from the historic course of events, it strains the capabilities of the model beyond plausability


I think this is an excellent point that deserves re-stating.

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Germany already had full access to Russian resources. The invasion throttled that supply. To that extent the decision was mad, but it was made for ideological reasons with the additional element of removing Britain's last potential ally of note.


Access, perhaps, but not control. There's a substantive difference. In exchange for the Soviet raw materials, Hitler had to exchange export goods- in large part machine tools and the other elements of capital. This is production capacity diverted from the main war effort. If the Germans controlled both, then they could, theoretically increase the amount of the industrial base allocated to the war effort.

I won't deny the obvious ideological connection, here, though. Germany's relative poverty in raw materials led to envy of the British Empire's raw materials balance and export markets. The National Socialist platform explicitly argued that such materials were available in the East, and here we go charging off into Nazi racial theory, which I think we can all acknowledge was repugnant.

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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Mr. Belli makes some excellent counter-factual points here, which I'd like to emphasize. We tend to accept October '39, or June '41, or quite possibly the spring of '42 as "start dates" for a general WWII game.

However, there's a lot of interesting material to be covered from all kinds of "what-if" scenarios that start a lot earlier. In particular, Western Allied indignance at the Soviet aggression during the Winter War is particularly dicey. Churchill was absolutely opposed to the Soviet campaign, and ready to declare support for the Finns.

And I think there's something to be said for all of these things. One of the earlier commenters mentioned "buying" start points in a game with VP. That's not a bad idea. In fact, one of my favorite operational games (nostalgia from my youth) is The Game of France, 1940: German Blitzkrieg in the West. Jim Dunnigan knew that an operational game based on the German invasion would be a non-starter, because of the way he had to construct the game to make the historical result possible. So he included alternate orders of battle.

That's a relatively unexplored concept in grand strategy games, and one that is awfully interesting. "What If" scenarios to balance the start conditions between players of unequal skill level, or to allow players to explore some of these notions. "What If" the Japanese succeeded at Nomonhan/Khalkhin-Gol, and the Soviets were forced to fight a war in the East?

"What If" the Japanese choose not to engage the United States at Pearl Harbor, and elect instead to leave them alone? Likely, FDR can't commit to war without a sneak attack at Pearl, and American entry is delayed yet further.

Instead of trying to balance a game with force pools and the like, a range of different start conditions would be far more interesting and plausible.
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Ken Feldman
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TedW wrote:
Kenfeldman wrote:
One way to get around the scripting and the added rules of when major powers can attack is to just start with a summer 1941 or January 1942 scenario. You avoid the whole problem of making the Germans too powerful and/or the French too weak and instead focus on when the war got interesting anyway.

You also shorten the playing time, which is an added bonus in my opinion.

Axis and Allies did this way back in 1981 when it came out. It's surprising to see games released this decade (like Europe Engulfed) abandoning that simple decision.


World War II: Barbarossa to Berlin


Barbarossa to Berlin is the most scripted WWII game I've played! You have to play certain cards before you can play others (to preserve the historical order of events). The western allies have to play invasion cards to get reinforcements, there's no stockpiling in the UK and deciding where to invade later.
 
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Drew Heath
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I haven't played it so I may be wrong, but isn't World in Flames about as open-ended as you can get?

Maybe you should try it?
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Shad wrote:
I haven't played it so I may be wrong, but isn't World in Flames about as open-ended as you can get?

Maybe you should try it?


And if you play Days of Decision prior to starting your game of World in Flames, you can set the stage for some real wild alternative history! And, to my mind, that's what I want in any grand strategic game...the chance to play out alternate time-lines. If I want to be led on a straightjacketed tour of the inevitable, I'll read a good book on the subject, not play a game.
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David Dockter
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Play WiF with Days of Decision if you want unscripted. But, you'll need a gang of strong players and a few hundred hours. Quite the gaming experience if you can manage to get committed players.
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@ markluta

Though I agree with your basic premise I respectfully disagree with some of your specifics.

markluta wrote:
Their vaunted tanks (the French), for example, lacked decent road speed (as did the British models), and so could not practically be rushed to position to perform the massed attacks as the Germans performed (as an aside, the massed tank attacks were first used in large scale combat by the Russians, both in Manchuria and by their 'volunteers' in the Spanish Civil War). The Dyle Plan may have been idiotic, but faster vehicles could perhaps have got them out of this situation and back into defensive lines, and even cut German lines of communication.


In fact, massed French armor fought German tanks to a standstill until ordered to withdraw at the Battle of Hannut or Gembloux Gap, 12 May 1940 - 15 May 1940. At this battle the French anachronistically named 'Cavalry' Corps consisting of two 'Light Mechanized Divisions' totaling 480 tanks fought against two German Panzer Divisions, the 3rd and 4th, consisting of 618 tanks (other sources have 411 French tanks to 674 German). Considering that the Germans were on the offensive and their advance had come to a halt the battle can be regarded as a French victory, that is until the French High Command had ordered a general withdrawal. The French lost 105 tanks and the Germans lost 164 tanks. This is pretty amazing considering the Germans had complete air superiority during the battle. At any rate, when the French had massed armor formations supported by infantry and artillery they showed that they could fight as well as German armored formations and that their tanks were indeed as good or even better than German tanks in battle (see http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=54&t=89148&hili... for a detailed description of the battle). I would love to see an operational level wargame on this battle.

Quote:
In reality, though, air power was the whole 'secret' to both the blitzkrieg, and the success of the German Army. And the French Air Force was woefully inadequate, while the German Air Force possessed both excellent modern aircraft and a close support doctrine of how to use them. Even had the French used their 'better' tanks 'properly,' it would have made little difference--indeed, when the Germans first encountered the Soviet heavy tanks supported by the nimble T-34, they had few effective ground weapons to counter these, yet calling in air support would over and over turn the tide of battle even before the German tank designs were improved. A careful look at North Africa reveals the same pattern, where Rommel had air superiority, he won, and when the British achieved air superiority, they won.


The French Curtis 75A fighter shot down 33 German fighters but lost only 3 of their own. The Morane-Saulnier 406 fighter shot down 31 German fighters and only lost 6 of their own. The Bloch 152 shot down 156 German fighters and only lost 59. The French Dewoitine 520 fighter shot down 175 German fighters and only lost 44 of their own. The French Air Force was certainly not inadequate or inferior to the German and could easily be argued to be far superior. Actually, the vast number of French and Allied air casualties were due to ground anti-aircraft fire of which the Germans were far better prepared. But the crucial flaw in French and Allied air strategy was not in equipment or numbers (the French and Allies actually had slightly more aircraft than the Germans). The main difference was operational. The Germans threw in their entire air force without holding any planes in reserve while the French Air Force only committed 580 planes of it's 2,200 available aircraft expecting a long and protracted conflict in a replay of WWI.

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If you want to get away from this degree of scripting, you will have to step up to more complex games which can model many of the reasons the 'script' does not allow certain actions in the games you are playing. Good examples would be 'Advanced Third Reich' or 'John Prados Third Reich'--the latter being not only much less scripted, but with variable events and the effects of diplomatic efforts which will force extreme changes in strategy from the historical. For more a look at the logisitical constraints, the OCS games (or the older GDW monsters) will help show part of the reason the French were not particularly offensive-minded.


Again, I respectfully disagree. I believe that a simple game could be made that would accurately reflect the decision making process of the French, Allies and Germans without artificial scripting, though of course, a game like this has not yet been made. It must be remembered that the Dyle Plan was made as a response to the WWI German Schlieffen Plan. Had Hitler accepted Halder's Plan, which was apparently a reworking of the Sclieffen Plan, the German offensive may have very well been stopped and the vast French air reserve may have made the difference in pushing the Germans back and an early end to the war. Of course, we now know that an offensive through the Ardennse is the correct response to the Dyle Plan. But imagine if the French had planned to concentrate their armor and the bulk of their armies in and around Sedan? Might the Halder Plan have quickly cut through Belgium, the north of France and easily taken Paris? While any French/Allied player would certainly have the foresight to defend Sedan to protect against a German assault through the Ardennes, wouldn't this leave some other region weak and vulnerable to a German schwerpunct somewhere else on the front line?

What would have happened if the French and Allies were to commit their entire Air Force from the start and the Germans only hesitantly advanced, just enough to lure out the Allied Air Forces, while holding their entire air force in reserve until their anti-aircraft batteries had whittled the French Air Force down to nothing and then blitzed and committed their air forces against now empty Allied skies? This type of game would make the French player weigh his options. Should he defend against a German attack through Holland and Northern Belgium? Through Central Belgium? Or Luxembourg and southern Belgium? Should he commit all of his air immediately or hold back a hefty reserve for a glorious French counter-offensive? To me this kind of game could certainly be made without any artificial scripting.

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Germany already had full access to Russian resources. The invasion throttled that supply. To that extent the decision was mad, but it was made for ideological reasons with the additional element of removing Britain's last potential ally of note.


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Access, perhaps, but not control. There's a substantive difference. In exchange for the Soviet raw materials, Hitler had to exchange export goods- in large part machine tools and the other elements of capital. This is production capacity diverted from the main war effort. If the Germans controlled both, then they could, theoretically increase the amount of the industrial base allocated to the war effort.

I won't deny the obvious ideological connection, here, though. Germany's relative poverty in raw materials led to envy of the British Empire's raw materials balance and export markets. The National Socialist platform explicitly argued that such materials were available in the East, and here we go charging off into Nazi racial theory, which I think we can all acknowledge was repugnant.

In a way both of these answers are slightly spurious because they analyze the situation out of context. What was the context? Hitler's Nazi Germany had already taken, Rhineland, Austria, Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia and Greece. Whether a country had resources or not, was capitalist, communist, liberal or nationalist made little difference. Being taken in by their own propaganda, Hitler, the Nazi Party and the German people perceived themselves to be all conquering ubermen. After such a seemingly endless string of glorious victories, they thought they were undefeatable. Russia, would have eventually been attacked by the Nazi's no matter what it's political alignment or resource situation.

1) The idea that Hitler invaded Russia to add to Germany's industrial capacity to 'add to the war effort' is simply wrong.

Hitler and the Nazi's were expecting a quick victory (before winter set in). So after Russia's fall what war effort were they going to be using Russia's industry for? The Germans had not yet declared war against the United States. So do you mean the war in North Africa? That was the only other war effort going on at the time. Had Germany doubled the amount of forces deployed to North Africa, in other words, two armored corps instead of one, the British would have been defeated. Certainly Germany didn't need all of Russia to supply two armored corps. Remember the Invasions of Belgium and France had been done with what amounts to 4 armored corps. I don't think Germany would have had any problem supporting two armored corps in North Africa without Russia's industrial base.

2) The idea that Hitler invaded Russia to remove Britain's last potential ally of note is slightly comical.

If that was the reason it would have been easier to have just not invaded Russia.

Also take note of Hitler's so-called mistake in declaring war against the United States in December of 1941. He didn't declare war because he wanted to add our industrial base to the 'war effort'. Again, if he conquered the US, what war effort are you talking about? His great offensive against Andorra? He did it because he thought the Japanese were going to steal the whole pie. Please, this was no mistake. It wasn't for ideological, raw material or industrial purposes, he thought he was the next Alexander the Great but not just him, the entire Nazi Party and the German people (I say that because I do not believe that WWII was caused by one mad man).

But as far as what Hitler said, most of what Hitler said at meetings and Party rallies was pure propaganda, rationalization rather than rational. Most of us have heard that he promised 'lasting peace' to Chamberlain and the whole world when he marched into Czechoslovakia. What most of us haven't heard is that he swore up and down that he was for peace! peace! peace! at the Nazi Party May Day Rally of 1939.

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The National Socialist platform explicitly argued that such materials were available in the East

The 'Nazi Party Platform', where did you find this? I would be curious to see it, though I still believe this would be pure propaganda ("propaganda" read: LIES).

 
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One of the reasons many WWII games suffer from scripting problems is that they often only deal with a very narrow scope. If players are allowed to ignore the political and economic environment that the real leaders had to deal with, of course some of their decisions seem silly. The amazing thing I've discovered as I've integrated more and more non-military events is that much of the scripting that I anticipated needing has disappeared entirely. I have no 1939 restrictions on the Soviets attacking Germany or vice versa because they are both much better served by creating a buffer zone and cooperating economically. Without some sort of Molotov-Ribbentrop arrangement, the Allied player would win almost every time.

The French player is also not forced to play "stupid" for Germany to conquer France. As Joseph mentioned an easy and realistic way (IMO) to handicap the French player is to limit his command capability. French units may be an even match for German units but that doesn't matter if they can never get into position. The German advantage with mobility and air power, combined with Hitler's lack of political constraints, gives the Axis a decisive edge over the Allies even without an Ardennes style attack. The Dyle Plan was partly a byproduct of the weak political alliances between Belgium, France, and Britain. Belgium was officially neutral and would not allow Allied troops to setup defensive positions on Belgian soil until after the Germans attacked. Yet the Allies surely felt some obligation to assist Belgium and Holland if invaded. This played right into the sickle cut in Manstein's plan. In Sturm Europa! the Allied player will suffer political consequences if he does not honor pre-war alliances with Belgium and Holland. Just as Western Betrayal (the failure of the French to honor their alliance with Poland) swayed nations like Hungary and Romania closer to the Axis camp, a similiar abandonment of Belgium and Holland would influence Western European neutrals like Spain, Switzerland, Greece, and Turkey as well.
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I also recommend World in Flames for hot unscripted World War 2 grand strategy action. It's so unscripted it can get silly, but hey, that is part of the deal in alternate realities. Makes the game interesting and different from other games in the genre.
 
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bartman347 wrote:
Quote:
Germany already had full access to Russian resources. The invasion throttled that supply. To that extent the decision was mad, but it was made for ideological reasons with the additional element of removing Britain's last potential ally of note.


Quote:
Access, perhaps, but not control. There's a substantive difference. In exchange for the Soviet raw materials, Hitler had to exchange export goods- in large part machine tools and the other elements of capital. This is production capacity diverted from the main war effort. If the Germans controlled both, then they could, theoretically increase the amount of the industrial base allocated to the war effort.

I won't deny the obvious ideological connection, here, though. Germany's relative poverty in raw materials led to envy of the British Empire's raw materials balance and export markets. The National Socialist platform explicitly argued that such materials were available in the East, and here we go charging off into Nazi racial theory, which I think we can all acknowledge was repugnant.

In a way both of these answers are slightly spurious because they analyze the situation out of context. What was the context? Hitler's Nazi Germany had already taken, Rhineland, Austria, Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Danzig, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France, Yugoslavia and Greece. Whether a country had resources or not, was capitalist, communist, liberal or nationalist made little difference. Being taken in by their own propaganda, Hitler, the Nazi Party and the German people perceived themselves to be all conquering ubermen. After such a seemingly endless string of glorious victories, they thought they were undefeatable. Russia, would have eventually been attacked by the Nazi's no matter what it's political alignment or resource situation.

1) The idea that Hitler invaded Russia to add to Germany's industrial capacity to 'add to the war effort' is simply wrong.

Hitler and the Nazi's were expecting a quick victory (before winter set in). So after Russia's fall what war effort were they going to be using Russia's industry for? The Germans had not yet declared war against the United States. So do you mean the war in North Africa? That was the only other war effort going on at the time. Had Germany doubled the amount of forces deployed to North Africa, in other words, two armored corps instead of one, the British would have been defeated. Certainly Germany didn't need all of Russia to supply two armored corps. Remember the Invasions of Belgium and France had been done with what amounts to 4 armored corps. I don't think Germany would have had any problem supporting two armored corps in North Africa without Russia's industrial base.

2) The idea that Hitler invaded Russia to remove Britain's last potential ally of note is slightly comical.

If that was the reason it would have been easier to have just not invaded Russia.

Also take note of Hitler's so-called mistake in declaring war against the United States in December of 1941. He didn't declare war because he wanted to add our industrial base to the 'war effort'. Again, if he conquered the US, what war effort are you talking about? His great offensive against Andorra? He did it because he thought the Japanese were going to steal the whole pie. Please, this was no mistake. It wasn't for ideological, raw material or industrial purposes, he thought he was the next Alexander the Great but not just him, the entire Nazi Party and the German people (I say that because I do not believe that WWII was caused by one mad man).

But as far as what Hitler said, most of what Hitler said at meetings and Party rallies was pure propaganda, rationalization rather than rational. Most of us have heard that he promised 'lasting peace' to Chamberlain and the whole world when he marched into Czechoslovakia. What most of us haven't heard is that he swore up and down that he was for peace! peace! peace! at the Nazi Party May Day Rally of 1939.

Quote:
The National Socialist platform explicitly argued that such materials were available in the East

The 'Nazi Party Platform', where did you find this? I would be curious to see it, though I still believe this would be pure propaganda.



I strongly recommend you read "Wages of Destruction". Germany relied on imports to some extent for almost ALL raw materials: food, oil, iron ore, manganese, copper etc... After the blockade by the Allies their pre-1939 avenues for obtaining these raw materials were largely cutoff. Germany had no choice but to ally with the Soviet Union to continue its armament drive and prevent economic collapse on the home front. The partition of Poland and the conquest of Western Europe further added to this strain. Belgium, France, The Netherlands, and Poland were all nations that were heavily dependent on imports - much like Germany. Once they fell under Nazi rule, those countries also lost their trade avenues for imports (USSR, British Empire, USA). Germany obviously prioritized itself over occupied states when rationing scarce goods so those economies collapsed as a result. Germany also lost indirect imports that were obtained via third parties in Western Europe or via the black market. Without these imports France reverted to an almost agrarian society. Military contractors in France who were actually quite willing to collaborate with the Nazis (for a profit) were largely unproductive because they lacked the raw materials to operate their factories at per-war levels.

Hitler correctly realized the only solution was to invade the Soviet Union to obtain those raw materials that they were so heavily dependent upon. The Ukraine and the Caucusus had all ther resources that Germany would need to become a true global superpower that was not dependent on foreign imports. The problem was it was an impossibly difficult task. Germany did not control the Ukraine or Maikop long enough for them to extract meaningful quantities of food, ore, and oil to stimulate their economy. The bottom line was that Germany really only benefitted from the reserve stocks that they captured when conquering those nations.

As for whom Germany was preparing to wage war with, even in Mein Kampf and many of Hitler's earliest writings, he made it very clear that he saw an inevitable showdown with the United States whom he viewed correctly as the emerging pre-eminant super power. Britannia ruled the seas so he saw Germany as the third super power if he was able to secure domination of continental Europe. Conquering France and the Soviet Union were the only means Hitler saw to create a level playing field to compete with the United States and UK.
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Hitler correctly realized the only solution was to invade the Soviet Union to obtain those raw materials that they were so heavily dependent upon.

This sounds quite convincing but this rationalization fails under the light of logic.

1) The Invasion of Russia consisted of 3.9 million men, 3,600 tanks and 4,390 aircraft and all the supplies and fuel for the soldiers and equipment.
2) At the same time Panzer Group Africa in North Africa, the only other active war going on at the time, consisted of only two German divisions (approximately 40,000 men, I'm guessing), the 5th Light Division and the 15th Panzer Division (having 120 German tanks, The Rommel papers, his memoirs), and the Italian Ariete Division with 80 tanks (again The Rommel Papers), and perhaps 8 Italian Infantry Divisions equaling 160,000 men for a grand total of 200,000 men and 200 tanks and as many planes. That's 5% of the total strength that invaded Russia.
3) Considering that it's very unlikely that any of Russia's industrial capacity was effectively utilized by Germany within the first six months of the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, in the main, the Invasion of Russia was completely supplied by non-Russian sources of supply until winter (actually, as you point out the Germans never effectively utilized any of Russia's industrial capacity).
4) If Russia was not invaded and all of the men and materials that were sent to Russia were instead sent to North Africa and assuming half of it was interdicted before it got to Libya then the Africa Corps would have still been 10 times it's actual size and would have easily conquered Egypt, and for that matter the entire Middle East. With the loss of Iraqi, Kuwaiti, and Saudi Arabian oil the British Fleet would have been in serious trouble and the German Army would have had plenty of fuel for whatever it's needs would have been.

Quote:
Germany did not control the Ukraine or Maikop long enough for them to extract meaningful quantities of food, ore, and oil to stimulate their economy. The bottom line was that Germany really only benefited from the reserve stocks that they captured when conquering those nations.

5) Considering that the Soviets literally took apart their factories and shipped them east along with raw materials that were being warehoused, the Germans only captured the crumbs that had rolled off the table as they took large swathes of Russian territory. In other words, the German Invasion of Russia never really paid off economically.
6) I don't understand how you can say "Hitler correctly realized" anything when the German Invasion of Russia never really paid off economically.

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As for whom Germany was preparing to wage war with, even in Mein Kampf and many of Hitler's earliest writings, he made it very clear that he saw an inevitable showdown with the United States whom he viewed correctly as the emerging pre-eminent super power. Britannia ruled the seas so he saw Germany as the third super power if he was able to secure domination of continental Europe. Conquering France and the Soviet Union were the only means Hitler saw to create a level playing field to compete with the United States and UK.

Mein Kampf was not the window to his soul. Actually, it's filled with lies. The fact of the matter is Hitler was not looking for a position of parity or a level playing field with anyone. I'm surprised people still fall for this. That's another one of his 'humble' lies. Along with his self-proclaimed fiction that he was the 'Peace' candidate of Germany. Something that gets buried in hindsight since we now know he started and perpetrated WWII. He had one goal - world domination. Of course he wanted to attack the United States, the UK and anyone else who did not surrender or acquiesce to his desires. I don't have to read Mein Kampf to understand that.

Look, you don't have to agree with me. But I'm not buying that Hitler was some great or brilliant guy. I see him instead as someone who lied his way to the top and "waterboarded" his opponents, looted the defenseless Jews and ended German unemployment by replacing Jewish workers with German ones. He actually behaved more like an ignorant third world dictator than some genius. In his memoirs Rommel says that the Italian soldier fought just as hard as the Germans but he had antiquated equipment. If Hitler had one original idea it was investing in technology. But that trick only lasted until everyone else jumped on the band wagon.



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