Kai von der Aa
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I never played FF4 with solitaire rules, but I read in this forum, that it might be balanced. But I have an unsolveable problem with winning FF4 with the German side if Soviets use the normal rules for a 2 Player FF.

In general

If the Soviets are played by an human, they naturally act more intelligent than with the solitaire rules (if the human knows how to apply the rules in certain situations of course). But in addition to a human opponent, the two player option of FF4 gives the Soviet also a veteran card, a weapon card and the possibility to start with two of his squads hidden anywhere on the board. Because wheat counts here as open ground, the Soviet can't hide the two Soviet squads within 2 hexes of the German squads, but elsewhere on the board (bad enough).

If the Soviet stays in the wood (and houses), the German could use the better firepower to get the soviet one by one. But that doesn't work, because the German have to advance in order to seek control over the control markers. So the German strategy is to advance to one of the control markers while shooting at the enemy in order to knock him out or hold him down at least.

The human Soviet knows about his lesser firepower and so would like to draw his squads in close combat. Here the veteran card given to the Soviet means "kill me in close combat and you are automatically killed too" is very strong, because one German kill means 2 VPs to the soviet and eliminating 25% of the German power. Killing one Soviet means just 1 VP to the German and eliminating approximately 10% of Soviet power.

What the Soviet ever should do is: Hide the two Soviet SMG squads in the near of the incoming Germans (very upper border of the map, so revealing them later will show their German foes facing towards the woods and houses and so made showing their flanks to the SMGs).

Variant 1

The other Soviets should be in the woods. Put ALL Soviet counters in both wood hexes (3 squads and 4 squads) in front to the German! No need for putting any squad in the houses. You have now the possibility to use combined fire with group actions. With no losses, you are able to fire at the first German unit with a FP 10 or FP 12 (Rifle '43 as fire leader with +4 as base FP and in addition +1 as fire support from every Rifle/MMG squad on the same or adjacent hex, giving you another +6. Add +2 with CAPs if you think you may have bad luck). With this firepower you will try to give the first German unit a certain kill (I recommend to add these 2 CAPs to ensure the instant kill, because with the German veteran card he will ignore the first wound and Soviet fire cost may not allow a second shot this round).

But first round is to the German: With this threat (the possibility of a deadly Soviet group fire) and also the option to fire to a stack of 4 or 3 enemy squads you will have the following options:

1) Fire upon one Soviet stack. Fire only with one unit (FP 5-7) or with combined fire (max. FP 7-9) against the Soviet DR 14 (in the woods) will cause a wound with 7-9 (single shot) or 5-7 (combined fire) or afflict an instant kill with 12 (single shot) or 10-12 (combined fire). As you can roll for every single unit in a stack it sounds a good tactic to do so, but you need good luck for an instant kill and afterwards as reaction the Soviet can shoot back (if at least on German squad is in normal range for group fire), make group rally with good modification (+1 for wood and +1 for unhit units in the same hex) or may retreat in the woods. Main tactic of the Soviet here is just to kill one German unit and then retreat backwards in the woods.

2) Group movement with 2 APs to have the opportunity to fire with your next action also with a combined fire of 8 or 10 (HMG move one foward, both middle PzGrens diagonal forward/backward, first PzGren one backwards). With a FP 8-10 you will ensure conflicting more wounds or even losses while firing in the Soviet stacks. Now the Soviet can react and just to avoid casualities move all his troops back in the woods with a CAP group action: Germans wasted 2 APs for moving, have no target and should now advancing - or the Soviet starts firing, just to inflict a very easy kill to the German (with optional movement rules the German have to pay an additional AP or his DR is after his move -1).

3) Think about the control markers and advance. Not recommended. Soviet reaction: Group fire. Deadly for one German squad very sure, especially when using the rule for cautious movement (or he spend a extra AP).

Whatever the German player does...with perhaps free AP, the hidden SMG squads will reveal, advancing the Germans and fire or went directly in close combat position for the next round (in the next round one Soviet squad statistically kills a German and one Soviet squad will be killed - using the Soviet veteran card the killed squad kill also the German squad if that happens in close combat).

If the German player spares APs for reaction against the hidden SMGs, it's also good for the Soviet. Just stay hidden, make nothing else and enjoy watching the German player wasting APs.

Variant 2

Another variant of Soviet behaviour is to stack all rifles '41 and rifles '43 in the wood hex with the control marker, out of sight from the German fire. The Germans have no target and have to advance. Perhaps he will spent APs for reaction fire. Good, then reveal the SMGs now in the back of the Germans. If the Germans don't react: Good. Shoot them in the back. If they react, also good: Advance separate with your six Soviet rifle squads, don't shoot, just assault to the very near of the German forces. Next round you will have a lot squads at close range and in the following fierce firefight perhaps you will loose more units, but the Germans will be nearly vanquished. And think about: An eliminated German is far more worth for the Soviet as otherwise.

Comments?

So does anyone have an idea how to deal with the Soviets in this FF4 (if they act not like in the solitaire game)? Because other firefights may be balanced, is the described Soviet behaviour just a main key for the Soviets here and can't be countered by the Germans except with luck?

Even with the next option, adding mortars to both enemies and also one artillery strike for the Germans will not change the outcome. Here the Soviet player may await the artillery strike in the woods and may not be deployed in the line of the German rifles. The wounded squads will rally very easy with a lot of modifications. Then the world will getting worse for the Germans at next round.
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Lukasz Biernat
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I actually found that all solitare firefights are unplayable because of the ridiculous lack of balance. And official proposed variants make things even worse. I just got tired of trying to fix those and I ignore them for now.
Really frustrating and disappointing.
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Tim McCormley
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Kihrin wrote:
But I have an unsolveable problem with winning FF4 with the German side if Soviets use the normal rules for a 2 Player FF.
Hide the two Soviet SMG squads in the near of the incoming Germans

The scenario only allows you to hide one unit.

Since you're hiding a submachine gun and must be at least three hexes away you will be at long range which gives you a -2 FP penalty. Even against the flank defense, you'll still need a 10 to hit, without spending any CAPS.

Quote:
Variant 1

The other Soviets should be in the woods. Put ALL Soviet counters in both wood hexes (3 squads and 4 squads) in front to the German!

Have you actually played this out?

I think putting all of your eggs in two large baskets is pretty risky for the Russians.

Since it costs 4 AP for the Russians to shoot,The Russians will get one or two shots at the Germans, depending on how many units you want to group fire with, your use of CAPS, and how many are actually capable of firing after the inevitable German response.

That German HMG can shoot three times in one round. FP of 6 (for a group fire) against a defense of 14. It only needs 8 to hit, or 6 if you spend CAPS.

Of course, that implies that the Russian should target the HMG whenever possible. Well, on the first turn the only unit that can hit it at normal range is the Maxim. So if the German takes out the Maxim first, all subsequent shots will at the HMG will be at -2 FP.

Now with 3 shots, that HMG has a reasonable shot of killing over half the Russians,depending on how you have them stacked. (Goodbye Russian CAPS!) With really good luck you could kill them all on the first round, especially if there are any surviving German PzGr from the initial Russian shooting, and the German has conserved CAPS. If the Germans are lucky enough (it's about a 50% chance) to get the "Command Action" card, their HMG can shoot 4 times that very first round. Ouch!

Certainly by the end of Round 2 I wouldn't expect there to be too many Russian survivors.

This defense doesn't seem insurmountable at all, but I agree that it depends a lot on who wins initiative on the first turn, and whether or not the German HMG gets a shot off. (You made the comment that the Germans go first, but actually you roll for initiative.) I would expect the Germans to have a high probability to win if they get the first shot and they have good luck.

Quote:
Another variant of Soviet behaviour is to stack all rifles '41 and rifles '43 in the wood hex with the control marker, out of sight from the German fire.

This presents more tactical problems for the Germans but, once again, I think you are underestimating the power of that German HMG. If I were the Germans, I would send a PzGr unit (or two) out toward the farm houses as bait. Now, do you shoot with the rifles? How many of them? If so, you better leave some CAPS over, or that's the only shot you get. And it will be at -2 FP. So the PzGr unit takes it on the chin...maybe. But they might get a shot back. How many Soviets survive?

And now the HMG to steps up and blasts the square to smithereens...probably.

Given all the possibilities that the cards introduce, there are all kinds of things that could go wrong with the Russian plan. Or the German plan, for that matter. But neither one of these approaches is a guaranteed Soviet victory in my estimation.

Tim
 
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Mike M
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We just played this one with all the options. I don't see any reasonable way the Germans can win with everything the Soviets get. You'd have to get really lucky.

By the end of round 2, all the initial German units were wiped out. The Soviets take some losses (hopefully not the mortars) from the German round 3 tanks, and then get revenge with their round 4 tanks. As long as you don't sit in the open and let the Stukas lay too much hurt on you in round 5 it is game over.

If there is a German strategy that evens the odds I'd love to hear it.
 
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Kai von der Aa
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armor_11 wrote:
Kihrin wrote:
Hide the two Soviet SMG squads in the near of the incoming Germans

The scenario only allows you to hide one unit.

Ok, that may be a translation error, because in the German version you are allowed hiding two units.

Next time I play FF4 in 2-player mode we will cancel the soviet option for hiding any units and also forbid the stacking of units in the soviet setup. With this restrictions the soviet must put 3 units in the houses and the other units in the woods. I'm curious what this will do to game balance...

Tim, if you play FF4 in 2-player mode I also would like to hear how your experience was.
 
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Brian H
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Speaking a player who was pounded in this scenario many times as a German, I think it would be very much more playable wtihout the Soviet mortars but keep all othe other options for a 2 player scenario.

The mortars are ruthless and can take out units quickly without shots being taken by the Germans.

I had my mortar team taken out (they got one smoke round off to block the MMG from firing at anyone which was great) and then my HMG team (couldn't even activate it) in the first few turns of Round 1.

There are moments of joy when the Stukas come in or the Panzers ... but, they are followed by a lot of devestation too.

If the Soviets lost their mortars or had one 5cm one, that might be a lot better in terms of balance.

Maybe we'll get to try out a variant of it someday ...
 
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Tim McCormley
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Kihrin wrote:

Tim, if you play FF4 in 2-player mode I also would like to hear how your experience was.

Well, I'm not trying to say that the scenario is balanced. I'm just saying that if you stack all the Soviets together in the woods hexes, especially if they're in full view of the Germans, there's a good chance the Germans would win.

Tim
 
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David Favilla
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Not sure what the German's can do here, but I got my ass totally annihilated both times we played. Especially when you HMG gets taken out on the first roll of the game with the death counter. I honestly think that the Germans should get some sort of reinforcements through out the scenario.

No freaking clue...

Anyone?
 
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Lonnie H
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Just tried this today(without the tanks), with a couple mistakes.....not noticing that wheat was not in effect (so the Rus SMG unit set up hidden too close to the Germans at 2 hexes away). But most of the Germans were wiped out in turn one.

One other change, I noticed. Now the FF book v1.1 shows that the Russian only get one mortar.

Basically the Russian mortars wound or took out the German mortar and HMG, then the hidden Rus infantry to the left and right behind the Germans killed off the remaining ger. hvy weapons, and start to shoot the inf in the backs. As the inf pivot to shoot the visible rus inf, they get shot by the other one. By now it was pretty much safe for the rus inf in the woods to human wave charge to rifle range and get in another shot. Granted the Russians were also losing some units, but they have plenty to spare. The funny thing is the Germans all started with Hasty Defenses due to the card. Another side issue, the Rus were getting good rolls.

With wheat not being in season, this will move the ambushing rus inf a little farther out, and in the newer FF book with only one mortar, it will help the Germans a little....but the mortar does start hidden and so will often get the first shot at the Ger hvy weapons.

I join the crowd of perplexed on how the German's can pull this one off.
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Dan Carey
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I was able to win as the Germans, but my opponent had not used mortars before. He did not make good use out of them. I did make better use of my HMG, mortar, and the panzer grenadiers firing in a group on the first turn. At the end of the first round he brought some of his infantry out of the woods. Then in the second round my artillery hit those units in the woods taking them out of the fight for the turn. My HMG and mortar cleaned up on his infantry in the open, as well as one of his mortars in LOS of my HMG. By the time his units in the woods recovered, he was in a very unfavorable position. The game essentially ended in round four, his final unit was destroyed, but I only had two. With the remaining rounds I could have taken the control markers to win.

So the Germans must make very good use of their fire power advantage and range advantage and other resources. Even then, it will be close. Against a better Soviet player who used his mortars better, I probably would not have won.


I've played this one and scenario 5, as well as a few others. I've concluded the scenarios created for solitaire play are not very good for FtF play.
 
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T Ross
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We just played this for the first time w/ option 2 (mortars and German arty, but no tanks and planes). I definitely agree that two Soviet mortars are too much. After the damage they did the first round, we had a gentleman's agreement to remove the two hidden Soviet SMG units from play. We made it another few rounds, with the Germans managing to make it into the farmhouses, but at such heavy cost that they were all killed off the next round. I think the next time we play it, it'll have to be only one mortar, and maybe one hidden unit, if any.
 
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Jesse LeBreton
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It is only 1 Russian mortar now. See updated PDF. In my PDF the Germans do have initiative on round 1 and the Soviets can hide 2 SMG's. Ok with that new setup do the Germans have a good chance? Not from my play of it. My German HMG never gets a chance to have an impact nor the mortar. Off the cuff I would say change the Soviet mortar to a 5CM one so that it can't use spotters. After 2 plays of this FF I haven't looked back. It does need some changes.
 
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T Ross
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Also agree that the scenario needs tweaking. We did away with the two hidden Soviet units and they still wiped the floor with the Germans. Didn't realize it had been revised down to one mortar. Will try it that way next time.
 
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