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Subject: Eastfront II victory point philosophy rss

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Patrick B
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We played our first scenario a few weeks ago, starting with Barbarossa. One of the German players had played the Spanish Civil War scenario in Eurofront earlier, with my partner Soviet player, just to get a feel for the rules of the game.

The Germans ran into problems breaking through our lines, but they did manager to kill one Soviet HQ. By the end of the first scenario, they had pushed respectively, had powerful units, fully stocked HQs, and were ready for a good Spring campaign after all the mud stopped.

So, imagine their surprise, when after totaling their VP's (minus the 40 point handicap), they found they had a difference of 33 points, which gave a Decisive Russian victory. They had thought that they werre in a solid position, ready to push through to the rest of Russia, when they had already lost the game. Just the same, we decided to keep playing, and after 6 months, we totaled up the VP's again. Another Decisive Russian Victory. And yet, the German line looked solid and imposing.

We discussed what we thought was going on here, and tried to figure what the Victory conditions meant in EF2, and haven't come to any conclusion.

What do they represent? Do they represent a comparison to the historical results of the war? If so, does this mean that wehrmact fires you as a general if you can't accomplish as much as the the Axis army in Russia did historically?

Or do they represent a prediction of how the war will end? At a difference of 33 points, is the designer of the game saying "well, you may feel that you're going well, but with that much of a difference, you're so doomed you might as well quit now"?
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Jeff S
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It's hard to tell what was going on in your game without knowing how far the Germans actually advanced. Also, were you computing all the VPs accurately including dead units, HQ points, and VPs for cities the Axis start with?

In particular, the amount of loses and HQ points on each side can really swing the victory one way or the other.
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Patrick B
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Well, we all calculated the victory points as they do in 17.1. Current PP (started at 54, which was increased a bit when the germans conquered pp areas, with industrial areas doubled), + 2vps for every CV in HQ, minus VP for unbuilt german blocks (none). Minus the handicap of 40 for the first scenario, minus 25 for the second.

The German battleline was from Odessa, pretty much running straight north, more or less, to west of Leningrad. A pretty solid line of powerful tanks and infantry. All the Russian HQ's were present, and about 5 Russian units were still unbuilt.


In any case, what are your thoughts about Victory point system, and what it's supposed to measure, victory-wise?
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It sounds like you calculated the victory points correctly but didn't make enough headway as the Germans.

Remember, time favors the Soviets in this game. Soviet production keeps going up through December 1942. Soviet airpower gets stronger with time while German airpower weakens. And of course, Soviet units are half price. These factors mandate that the Germans need to put a hurting on the Soviets during the first summer -- ambling up to Odessa (3 hexes away from the starting line) is not going to do that.

A good (but not great) Summer 1941 campaign for the Germans involves cutting off Leningrad, getting close to Moscow, conquering most of the Ukraine (except for maybe Rostov), and having 15+ Soviet units in the dead pile. If the Germans stop at a line only running along, say, Riga-Minsk-Kiev-Odessa and the Soviets have most of their army built back, the war is as good as over.
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Chris Montgomery
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I think the VP system is a little weird. It seems to me that in play-testing there were/are specific strategies that work well with the system, and using them can get you where you need to be.

Just make sure that when you roll into another scenario, you only apply the handicap of the most-recent scenario--don't add up all the handicaps from scenarios leading up to it! Doesn't sound like you did, but just to be sure.

I'd like to see pictures of your game.

By the end of the second or third scenario, it seems to me like the Axis pretty much need to have a line from Leningrad to (close to) Stalingrad with Sevastopol in hand and contemplating an invasion of the Caucasus.

Can you walk us through your VP calculations? The scenario begins with (after applying the handicap) the Germans down 50 points - 40 VPs for the handicap, and 10 VPs for lower production. The only way to overcome that deficit is to kill the Soviets at a 2 to 1 exchange (netting you zero VPs) AND to capture 25 VPs worth of Russian cities and resources. To do that, Germany needs to capture A LOT of territory - something like Leningrad-Moscow-Stalingrad (or be close to those cities).

A very difficult job, indeed, especially considering that the Axis historically only captured about 16-20 VPs. That means you also need to kills Soviets at a 3:1 ratio just to hang on to a marginal victory at the beginning.

How far did your Axis guy get?

Chris

Also keep in mind that if you play the full campaign, you don't add handicaps at all.
 
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In answer to the question in your first post, I believe that (very roughly speaking), a draw in the points system represents the historical situation at that point in time.
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Chris Montgomery
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bignickel wrote:
minus VP for unbuilt german blocks (none). Minus the handicap of 40 for the first scenario, minus 25 for the second.


Only minus 25. You don't apply both handicaps, just the last one. If you play to the end of the second scenario, you only apply that scenario's handicap.

In other words, just by advancing into W'41, the Germans increase their VPs by 15.

Quote:
In any case, what are your thoughts about Victory point system, and what it's supposed to measure, victory-wise?


I'm really not sure. I've only played a couple times, and I am still confused about that. Though from listening to the veterans on the Geek, here, the game is pretty balanced, I think. You just need players of similar skill.

Chris
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Chris Montgomery
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Fizban517 wrote:
In answer to the question in your first post, I believe that (very roughly speaking), a draw in the points system represents the historical situation at that point in time.


Possibly, but the Germans can't get there by only grabbing the land they seized historically. The 50 VP deficit requires a HUGE land grab (which is possible) with lots of eliminated Soviets (which is more difficult). Since I haven't played this particular scenario, I don't know if that's easy to do or not.
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A lot of that is determined by whether one does a historical or free setup, what kind of strategy the Soviet player employs, and so forth.
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Borat Sagdiyev
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cmontgo2 wrote:
Fizban517 wrote:
In answer to the question in your first post, I believe that (very roughly speaking), a draw in the points system represents the historical situation at that point in time.


Possibly, but the Germans can't get there by only grabbing the land they seized historically.


In my personal experience, they certainly can.cool

Quote:
The 50 VP deficit requires a HUGE land grab (which is possible) with lots of eliminated Soviets (which is more difficult).


It is not impossible to eliminate 15+ Soviet units (including one or two HQs) by the end of Barbarossa if the Axis player does what the Wehrmatch historically did: Encircle as many red blocks as possible and eliminate them through supply attrition.

Quote:
Since I haven't played this particular scenario, I don't know if that's easy to do or not.


Nothing is easy for either side in this game. A small mistake can be almost decisive against a competente opponent.

That's one of the beauties of this gem.
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Patrick B
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bignickel wrote:
minus VP for unbuilt german blocks (none). Minus the handicap of 40 for the first scenario, minus 25 for the second.


Yes. That's what we did: we only subtracted 25 for the 2nd one. Both were Russian Decisive victories.

(by the way, I was one of the Russian players who held up the wehrmact onslaught).

Back to the topic at hand: fizbon, your answer seems to imply that you think the designer is saying that by only advancing as far as Odessa, with only 5 unbuilt Russian blocks, that the Germans are doomed. Is that what you think the victory point system is there for: to end the game when one side has so dominated the other, that defeat has almost become a certainty?

This is not what we're used to in most wargames, and caught the German players offguard. They were of the opinion that they had a stead onslaught of German units, and were taking their time advancing into Russia. "A totally playable position" if I remember correctly. He didn't feel that he was anywhere close to totally losing, and we two Soviet players didn't think he was losing either (although we suspected the victory point count was going to get him)

EDITED: to the webpage deciding to make the whole post a quote, even with no quote html on the end.
 
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Chris Montgomery
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Maybe it's a question of tactics, then.

I know that just by looking at the scenario starting conditions and having played the Kursk (S'43) scenario multiple times, the Germans should relatively easily be able to avoid a Decisive Victory - they only need to capture 13 cities/resource centers (26 PP swing) and hold even on unit losses. In my two plays, the Germans are pretty good about eliminating Russian units, so if the goal is simply to avoid a Decisive Russian Victory, the German player should be able to hang on to that.

It sounds like your German player needs to be more aggressive.

I'll stop now, though, and play it a couple times and see what happens in a game or two. Maybe there are real problems that I'm not seeing.

Thanks for posting the question... it's an interesting discussion, at least.

Cheers.

Chris
 
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Niko Ruf
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The handicap for Barbarossa ensures that you need to get about the same momentum as the Germans got historically. Take a look at the historical starting positions for the next scenario. That's how you get those VP. And yes, it is possible to get there by playing the game.

I had exactly your reaction the first time I played Barbarossa as the Axis. Just that the revelation came half way through the scenario as I took a look at where I was supposed to be at the end of summer. wow

The key (for me at least) is to realize that you don't have to fight every Soviet unit to the death (takes too long) and don't encircle them either (binds too many units). Engage them, but only fight the mandatory combat turn. Then keep them engaged but move everybody else around them. They can't retreat (you control all surrounding hexes) and will waste away for being out of supply, while the bulk of your units marches to the gates of Moscow. Teaming up HQs for extra speed at critical moments also helps.
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Patrick B
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Niko, is it you position that the VP requirements force the player to do as well as the Germans did historically? Does that mean that at a 'draw' they are doing as well historically as the Germans?

That said, if both sides do a 'draw' for every single scenario from S41 to the end, would that inevitably end with the Soviets in Germany? I'm just curious of the mathematics of it.
 
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bignickel wrote:
That said, if both sides do a 'draw' for every single scenario from S41 to the end, would that inevitably end with the Soviets in Germany?

Oh, yeah. Note that victory in the campaign game is determined by when the Soviets roll into Germany.
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bignickel wrote:
Back to the topic at hand: fizbon, your answer seems to imply that you think the designer is saying that by only advancing as far as Odessa, with only 5 unbuilt Russian blocks, that the Germans are doomed. Is that what you think the victory point system is there for: to end the game when one side has so dominated the other, that defeat has almost become a certainty?


I would not say the VP system is there to end the game if you are playing the full campaign; EastFront games are prone to wild swings. VP's just provide a rough glance at how well one is doing compared to their historical counterpart.

bignickel wrote:
This is not what we're used to in most wargames, and caught the German players offguard. They were of the opinion that they had a stead onslaught of German units, and were taking their time advancing into Russia. "A totally playable position" if I remember correctly. He didn't feel that he was anywhere close to totally losing, and we two Soviet players didn't think he was losing either (although we suspected the victory point count was going to get him)


I'm sure at the end of the summer the German line looked very strong, but that illusion would have ended once the winter hit. From your description, it doesn't sound like the German player had more than 60 PP or so. Imagine a winter of fighting as the German player with 15 PP HQ steps, 8 PP armor steps, and 4 PP infantry steps. It wouldn't take more than a big battle or two before German losses started to exceed replacements.
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Chris Montgomery
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Fizban517 wrote:
bignickel wrote:
Back to the topic at hand: fizbon, your answer seems to imply that you think the designer is saying that by only advancing as far as Odessa, with only 5 unbuilt Russian blocks, that the Germans are doomed. Is that what you think the victory point system is there for: to end the game when one side has so dominated the other, that defeat has almost become a certainty?


I would not say the VP system is there to end the game if you are playing the full campaign; EastFront games are prone to wild swings. VP's just provide a rough glance at how well one is doing compared to their historical counterpart.


I understand your point here, but just to be clear, the campaign rules do say:

"When playing the campaign game, at the end of each scenario, players calculate Victory Points and declare a game winner if a Decisive Victory (only) has been scored. Otherwise, continue play into the next scenario." [17.4]

I guess in that sense, they are there to end the full campaign--of course, as with other opponents of mine, you can choose to ignore it and keep playing.

Cheers.

Chris
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I didn't have time to add this earlier, but my understanding is that (as others have said) the VP levels are intended to compare roughly to historical performance, and/or to give you some guide as to whether you have a hope of eventually winning the campaign game. It's a simplified comparison--obviously an army of 4CV non-HQ units is in much better shape & has much better prospects than an army of 1CV non-HQ units, yet the VP calculation treats them the same--but it's a lot faster than adding up the step costs of the units on the map & number of hexes between Germany & the front line, etc. (And I'm perfectly happy to keep playing past a decisive loss, just to see how bad things can get, and whether I can turn it around.)

In Barbarossa specifically, what has happened in almost all of my plays is that the Axis stomps the crap out of the Soviets for four hours, and then you add up the VPs, and it's a Soviet victory. The Axis player is happy because they were unstoppable, and the Soviet player is happy because they won.

That also leads to the situation where both players are holding their heads & moaning--the Soviets because they're getting stomped & are on the brink of collapse, and the Axis because they know they're not stomping the Soviets hard enough--which is fun. I like it when both players are sure they're losing.
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It should be noted that an aggressive VP schedule for the Germans in the first six months of the war is appropriate to the mindset of their high command. Hitler had more or less promised to have defeated Russia before Winter '41-42, home before the leaves fall and all that; his entire political mandate was based on avoiding a protracted war. IMO, the German player should feel like he's dug a hole too large to climb out of, VP-wise.
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The responses thus far seem to evenly divide between 1. have to do as well historically and 2. designer says you're doomed if you haven't destroyed enough Russian blocks and taken enough towns.

Except for Rusty, who seems to agree with both.

One of the suggestions I had come up with was that in a particular scenario of the campaign, if one side got a Decisive or Major victory, that would be the end of it UNLESS the losing side had possession of cities X, Y, or Z. (or for all I know, BOTH A and B, or C).

This would lead to the player getting slammed by handicaps having a directed goal at possibly 1 or 2 places, while forcing the 'vp winner' to have to hedge his bets if he wanted to end the campaign right there (the vp winner might decide that hedging his bets was too dangerious, and might put up a more even defence, knowing that the vp totals wouldn't matter if the 'vp loser' was able to grab 1 or 2 of his targets, but deciding that having the game continue would be less dangerous than trying to end it in the here and now).

The people who think the VP system already pushes the aggressor player to kill blocks and grab lots of territory would find my suggestion redundant.
 
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Borat Sagdiyev
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I would say that most responses seem to agree with both POVs.

Historically the Germans did extremely well by destroying many Soviet divisions and conquering many cities during the first 3-4 months of their advance.

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bignickel wrote:
The responses thus far seem to evenly divide between 1. have to do as well historically and 2. designer says you're doomed if you haven't destroyed enough Russian blocks and taken enough towns.


What I was trying to say was:

The VP system is not perfect by any means but it provides a rough approximation of how well one is doing as compared to their historical counterpart, with a Draw representing the historical situation.

That being said, fortunes can sometimes swing wildly in an EastFront game, and I would recommend playing on, irrespective of VP totals, until one side resigns.

Situations exist where one side can have a Major or Decisive scenario victory but go on to lose the war. For example, the Germans might have a really great summer and capture a lot of PP, but get destroyed over the winter because their line was too thin and stretched out. The German player is doomed in the game you described because he did not capture enough PP or destroy enough Soviet units. He is not doomed because the VP totals say so.
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Patrick B
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The game that I described was just to provide some background on what provoked our interest in the the topic of this thread. It would probably have been better not to mention it at all.

"He is not doomed because the VP totals say so."

Is it then your contention that the VP check at the end of each sceneario does not reflect on the true situation on the board? As such, I take it that in your campaign games, you ignore the results of the vp check, and you and your opponent decide when the game ends based on the board situation, instead of vp counts?
 
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bignickel wrote:
Is it then your contention that the VP check at the end of each sceneario does not reflect on the true situation on the board? As such, I take it that in your campaign games, you ignore the results of the vp check, and you and your opponent decide when the game ends based on the board situation, instead of vp counts?


The VP totals are good as a rule of thumb, but there are exceptions to the rule.

I have only played EastFront for a couple of years but after a few games, one learns to recognize situations where the VP total says one thing but the board says another. The most common example is where the Germans conquer a lot of territory in the summer of 1941 or 1942, have a really good VP total at the scenario break, but lose the war over the winter because their line was too thin and could not be defended. I have also seen games where the Soviets have a good VP total to start the summer, because they have a lot of units on the board, but later lose because those units were very weak.

They key point in those examples was that some condition (e.g. an overstretched line) counterbalanced the VP total. To return to the example you gave, I think the German player would have lost because I did not see anything that refuted the VP total. The Soviets had plenty of PP, almost their whole army on the board, and a whole winter to attack and build up.

Except for the occasional Stalingrad or Kursk scenario, I usually just play the campaign game. The problem with a single scenario, IMO, is that VP considerations can influence your builds. Say you are the Soviets in November 1941. In the campaign game, you would probably be strengthening your existing infantry and armor in preparation for a winter counterattack. The VP system, however, does not measure the strength of existing units but only whether units are in the dead pile or not. So to maximize his VP score, the Soviet player would build new infantry cadres instead of strengthening already existing units.

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I'm curious, when you say 'one of the Russian players', did you have two people playing Russia, and two people playing Germany? How did that work out? How did you and your partner work through issues etc?
 
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