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Subject: Does the Unrealistic Supply/3C bother you? rss

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Robert Bracey
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I'm about 7 games of Barbarossa in to East Front II and am hugely impressed. Its a great game in the old hex game tradition, and is wonderful in evoking the feel and strategic problems of the operation.

But, there is no getting away from the fact that the Supply/3C is unrealistic. Since realism is such a contentious issue for wargamers let me make clear I am not talking about things that don't feel right, or I merely think are wrong, or trivial elements, but results/elements that are without doubt incorrect.

The combined supply/command system is one of those. It states two things. One, if you put twice as many supply trucks on the same road your infantry will march twice as fast (about 17 miles a day rather than 8-9), your tanks won't outrun their supply lines, and you can sustain an all out offensive for 8 weeks. Two, if you follow the actual German plan and split operational control into three zones it is impossible to keep pace with the historic rate of advance.

The first happens if you use HQs to sling-shot each other during blitzes, the second if you don't move HQs with other HQs. So your rates of advance are impossibly fast or unrealistically slow.

This problem has been kind of bothering me since about game 3 and I wonder if it nagged at anybody else.

Robert
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Niko Ruf
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I think this is more a problem of perception because supply is handled by units called HQs. If you think of them as stockpiles of resources that can be diverted to the part of the front with the most demand, the realism gap isn't that great. The resulting overall rate of advance is approximately correct.

Also, the EFII rules have already toned down the effectiveness of the "HQ slingshot".
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Borat Sagdiyev
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RobertBr wrote:

The first happens if you use HQs to sling-shot each other during blitzes, the second if you don't move HQs with other HQs. So your rates of advance are impossibly fast or unrealistically slow.


AFAIK you cannot do it in such hyperefficient way anymore.

5.43 DEACTIVATING HQS
When an HQ finishes commanding,
it is Deactivated by reducing it 1CV and
returning to upright (hidden) mode.
Deactivated HQs can not move again that
turn (even in Blitz Movement)

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Robert Bracey
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Niko, Borat,

Either you've both mis-understood or I've missed a rule somewhere. 5.43 is irrelevant. The slingshot works very simply:

HQ A deploys 1 forward and blitzes, picks up B (2 spaces behind) and pushes it 1 space in front in two blitz moves.
HQ B then deploys 1 forward and blitzes, picks up B (2 spaces behind) and pushes it 1 space in front in two blitz moves.
Both HQs recover 1 step in the supply phase.
The two HQs repeat the same procedure.

What HQs represent is irrelevant (and I referred to them as supply in the post), putting twice as much supply on a road does not make infantry march faster (it does the opposite). And if you historically spread the supply you can't achieve the historic rate of advance.

Robert
 
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Borat Sagdiyev
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RobertBr wrote:

HQ B then deploys 1 forward and blitzes, picks up B (2 spaces behind) and pushes it 1 space in front in two blitz moves.


I assume that you meant "HQ B then deploys 1 forward and blitzes, picks up A".

Well, that's not a legal move anymore due to 5.43.

Quote:

Both HQs recover 1 step in the supply phase.


This is wrong. Both HQs can only recover 1 step every month (i.e. every two turns).

Thus, you can only blitz once per month (i.e. every other turn) with each HQ, and when you've blitzed two months in a row with any given HQ you won't be able to do it again until two months after as you would need two production phases (i.e. 4 turns) to recover 2 steps.

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Robert Bracey
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Borat,

It is a legal move and 5.43 is irrelevant. All 5.43 prevents you from doing is moving HQs in the same turn they activated. There is nothing to stop A & B doing this because they operate in different turns, and they can both rebuild in the monthly supply phase (the restriction is 1 per HQ not 1 per month). And saying they can only do it twice misses the point that that covers 8 weeks of activity (or with 3 HQs the entire dry season).

Robert
 
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Borat Sagdiyev
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OK. I misunderstood you then.

However, you will still be able to blitz only twice per German HQ in the first three months and a half (i.e. seven turns/fortnights) of Barbarossa.

Btw, what you call the "HQ slingshot" has been an strategy that's been around for a while, and the general agreement seems to be that it is not a very effective one against a competent Soviet player.
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Niko Ruf
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RobertBr wrote:
Either you've both mis-understood or I've missed a rule somewhere. 5.43 is irrelevant.


I didn't say there was no slingshot. I said it was made less effective. That's what the change in 5.43 does, slow down paired HQs that activate on the same turn. I believe there was a pretty gamey strategy for EFI abusing this trick, but I only got into the game with EFII, so I can't really describe how it works.

Quote:
The slingshot works very simply:

HQ A deploys 1 forward and blitzes, picks up B (2 spaces behind) and pushes it 1 space in front in two blitz moves.
HQ B then deploys 1 forward and blitzes, picks up B (2 spaces behind) and pushes it 1 space in front in two blitz moves.
Both HQs recover 1 step in the supply phase.
The two HQs repeat the same procedure.


Ok, that's the basic slingshot. Without it, you can't even reach the Winter '41 position and the Germans lose big time due to the massive handicap. So it doesn't lead to unrealistic speeds.

The moves may come in leaps (to fast this month, too slow the next), but the overall rate of advancement seems ok. I actually think allowing units to go a further on a blitz turn is a nice way to show the momentum gained by a breakthrough. As movement is discretized, the best way of showing that your opponent can't react is to be able to move twice before it's his turn again.

You also can't do this very often as blitzing depletes HQs faster than they can be rebuilt. Timing blitzes and when to use the slingshot, while at the same time keeping HQs at a reasonable strength, is what the Barbarossa scenario is all about. Getting the Germans to the outskirts of Moscow isn't that easy.

The only conceptual problem I have with it is that it doesn't make sense (to give an extreme example) to rail AGR north to help the push on Leningrad. If you think of HQs as mobile supply depots rather than general staff it works out better.
 
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Niko Ruf
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RobertBr wrote:
What HQs represent is irrelevant (and I referred to them as supply in the post), putting twice as much supply on a road does not make infantry march faster (it does the opposite).


Giving your troops all the fuel, ammo, and careful guidance needed to exploit a breakthrough should make them move faster. The movement rate of a unit is hardly its top speed under ordinary (non-war) conditions. I'm guessing the scale is 60 miles per hex, so infantry can move 120 miles in 2 weeks without the blitz, or 240 miles while blitzing. Easily achievable in peacetime, but takes skill and planning in war.

Quote:
And if you historically spread the supply you can't achieve the historic rate of advance.


I would argue that supplies were concentrated in case they were needed at a critical point. I have not studied WWII logistics, but I know the Wehrmacht put a lot of thought into avoiding the tactical errors of WWI. The actual army group HQs stayed with the troops they were supposed to command - they were just a little short of fuel that month to do much. That's why I think calling supply blocks 'HQs' is a bit misleading.
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Robert Bracey
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Niko,

"Ok, that's the basic slingshot. Without it, you can't even reach the Winter '41 position and the Germans lose big time due to the massive handicap. So it doesn't lead to unrealistic speeds."

This is rather my point. It therefore follows that the 'general consensus' Borat refers to is wrong, the maneuvre is not merely effective but absolutely required. It means that the only way to reach the W'41 positions is not to follow the German plan, in other words, the original German plan cannot work.

And you can do it very often, for 8 weeks with 2 HQs, the entire good weather season with 3, and an unlimited period of time with 4. Even facing Soviet resistance in the form of establishing a new front every time you break through (not practical as the soviet army collapses from casualties after about 6 weeks) your troops march 17 miles a day. 17 miles a day is a hell of a pace with equipment and maintaining good order. You would be hard pressed in peace-time, and the game is suggesting it under battlefield conditions with active resistance. It means Moscow in late August.

"The moves may come in leaps (to fast this month, too slow the next), but the overall rate of advancement seems ok."

That is what nags at me the most. That is how the game is intended to play but the slingshot in effect negates it entirely by permitting a continuous advance at full speed. Granted if you can't use all four HQs it eventually runs out of fuel (and I've only so far tried it with three) though not until the bad weather sets in.

In any case it doesn't detract from the game as a game, which as an abstracted wargame works fine, and it seems the lack of realism only really bothers me.

Robert

 
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Niko Ruf
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RobertBr wrote:
This is rather my point. It therefore follows that the 'general consensus' Borat refers to is wrong, the maneuvre is not merely effective but absolutely required. It means that the only way to reach the W'41 positions is not to follow the German plan, in other words, the original German plan cannot work.


The movement rules make it possible to reach the historical frontline positions for winter '41. It requires using HQs in a manner that may seem counter-intuitive (and to me only because they are called 'HQs' and not 'fuel stocks'), but since supply and command are abstracted to a high degree, how does this not represent the original German plan?

Quote:
And you can do it very often, for 8 weeks with 2 HQs, the entire good weather season with 3, and an unlimited period of time with 4.


But concentrating all your forces on such a narrow front isn't effective. Your total front-line will be too long, as you have to connect back to those units you are not advancing in order to protect supply. Also, there are hardly enough VP to be gained by a single spear-head advance. I doubt you can take Moscow in August against a competent Soveit player because he can reinforce there without having to worry about pressure at other points. A 2 HQ slingshot is required to reach historical momentum, more HQs and you are wasting resources, because you aren't moving as many units forward as you could.

Quote:
Even facing Soviet resistance in the form of establishing a new front every time you break through (not practical as the soviet army collapses from casualties after about 6 weeks) your troops march 17 miles a day. 17 miles a day is a hell of a pace with equipment and maintaining good order. You would be hard pressed in peace-time, and the game is suggesting it under battlefield conditions with active resistance. It means Moscow in late August.


I suppose committing all your resources to a single thrust means that more transportation is available, so your troops aren't marching all the way, or march with very light equipment.
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Borat Sagdiyev
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Right on, Niko.
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Robert Bracey
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I can see why it wouldn't bother somebody that the game is unrealistic, what surprises me is somebody defending a clearly unrealistic element as being realistic.

This is not an abstraction issue, it has nothing to do with what you call the command points that run the games movement system. It is a simple realism issue, advance on all fronts as the Germans did and you can't advance fast enough. Advance on narrow spear-heads and you move faster than is actually possible (infantry and supplies keep pace with armoured groups).

"I suppose committing all your resources to a single thrust means that more transportation is available, so your troops aren't marching all the way, or march with very light equipment."

Are you suggesting 1/3 of all German Infantry Corps in '41 were mechanized? Or that a unit who didn't have to carry their own packs could march 17 miles a day for 8 weeks without losing combat effectiveness?

"But concentrating all your forces on such a narrow front isn't effective."

This is a strategic rather than a realism point. And its a silly one, two fronts of four-six hexes each is two fronts of four-six hexes each, regardless of if you split them 3HQs/1HQ, or 2HQs/2HQs. I can see how a 4HQ drive would involve more risk but suspect you can overcome it.

"Also, there are hardly enough VP to be gained by a single spear-head advance. I doubt you can take Moscow in August against a competent Soveit player because he can reinforce there without having to worry about pressure at other points."

Again its a strategic point rather than a realism one. The Soviets have no way of knowing if you will hit Rostov or Moscow until after you have passed Kiev. If they can stop you from taking one of them in August, they can stop you taking both in October.

It also misses the point of the scenario. If the Soviets have intact and near full strength HQs you have a 60 point deficit plus your own fuel expenditure to make up in order to win (80 for a decisive). Rostov is worth 22, Moscow 20, Leningrad 12, Sevastapol 4, Odessa 3. Soviet casualties may net 10 as will the central locations, that would still leave you needing Rostov & Moscow, and possible more (to avoid a Soviet win). On the other hand the Soviet HQs are worth 52 points. The Soviet job is to keep the HQs alive first, defend territory second. Trying to take two objectives ignores the games victory conditions, to win you must engage and destroy the HQs. If you exhaust your own HQs with simultaneous pushes on both Moscow and Rostov the Soviets can simply walk out of both cities and still claim a victory.

Robert
 
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Borat Sagdiyev
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It truly amazes me how somebody can have such a categorical opinion about realism and strategy after just seven games, when Eastfront is not precisely what I would call a simple game. cool

But to answer some of your overall concerns, maybe you just need to do what the Germans historically did: Advance with two or three spearheads in different areas of the map and try to encircle as many Soviet units as possible in the process.

I can assure you that such strategy really works and can make the Wehrmatch reach its historical October 1941 position (or even put them in good shape when trying to conquer Moscow a few months later).

Peace.
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Niko Ruf
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RobertBr wrote:
I can see why it wouldn't bother somebody that the game is unrealistic, what surprises me is somebody defending a clearly unrealistic element as being realistic.


The reason I believe it is realistic is that it permits for the exploitation of breakthroughs. If my opponent was allowed to plug any gaps after I create them, the game would be far too static and resemble WWI more than WWII. I think it is important that the game handles this well - even if it means that my infantry is sometimes capable of surpring bouts of speed.

Quote:
This is not an abstraction issue, it has nothing to do with what you call the command points that run the games movement system. It is a simple realism issue, advance on all fronts as the Germans did and you can't advance fast enough.


It is possible. I'v done it

You sometimes need to pair two HQs but not 3 or 4. And doing it to often will run them down to fast, force a rest on your troops, and give the enemy precious time to rebuild.

Quote:
Advance on narrow spear-heads and you move faster than is actually possible (infantry and supplies keep pace with armoured groups).


Armor is still faster. It' just the HQs that can't keep up, so the tanks have to wait.

Quote:
"I suppose committing all your resources to a single thrust means that more transportation is available, so your troops aren't marching all the way, or march with very light equipment."

Are you suggesting 1/3 of all German Infantry Corps in '41 were mechanized?


I suggest that commiting 3 or 4 HQs to a narrow advance represents stripping most of the fuel reserves and transports from the rest of the front. So that would make maybe 1/3 or 1/4 of your infantry "mechanized" (not that they get DF on defense). Allied infantry units (non-mech) in WF have a higher rate of movement because they have overall better transportation. I don't think it's too far off the mark.

Quote:
This is a strategic rather than a realism point.


Hard to separate the two. I don't think a game has to have rules against every unrealistic action its players might take. Only those which invalidate good strategy need to be take care off. And I believe what you are proposing is not good strategy (and not as unrealistic as you make it out to be, see above).

I'm not defending EFII as being the pinnacle of realism. I just think it gets the major issues right.
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Niko Ruf
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harzal wrote:
But to answer some of your overall concerns, maybe you just need to do what the Germans historically did: Advance with two or three spearheads in different areas of the map and try to encircle as many Soviet units as possible in the process.

I can assure you that such strategy really works and can make the Wehrmatch reach its historical October 1941 position (or even put them in good shape when trying to conquer Moscow a few months later).


What he said.

Quote:
Peace.


Yes, peace! I have taken this as a friendly discussion. Not always easy to get that across on the 'net.
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Robert Bracey
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Niko Ruf wrote:
Yes, peace! I have taken this as a friendly discussion. Not always easy to get that across on the 'net.


That was my intent, though I suspect there is a danger of it getting out of hand if we were to pursue it. You have at least answered my original query.

Robert
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