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Subject: Force schedules and attrition in Normandy 44 rss

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Jason Cawley
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I've been playing this game only a little while but I enjoy analysis of a game like this, and I thought I'd share some of my reflections. The general subject is *attrition* in the campaign - the initial force balance, how fast each builds up, the nature of combat and expected losses, and the like.

I was prompted to look into it after noticing that in the first full game turn, the Allies had lost 33 steps and the Germans 17. Now, 7 of those allied step losses were from airborne scatter so they will be replaced, and most of the German losses were to their static strongpoint units, and naturally the invasion turn features many extra sources of losses. But the absolute loss rates are still high for the scale of the engaged forces, and it prompted this analysis.

The initial Allied force has 129 total steps, counting the follow on forces that land in the later part of turn 1, and the 2 glider formations that land at the very start of turn 2. The reserve forces available in England amounted to 179 additional steps. These can be taken as reinforcements at the rate of 6 per turn for each of the US and UK armies, in each non storm turn. Since storms will average one turn in 6, this means there are about 18 turns of full reinforcement stream available in England. The Allies can also expect an average of 2.5 replacement steps per turn - better in clear weather and worse in poor weather, etc.

The allied force arrival thus has a certain simplicity to it. A big lump of 129 steps lands on the continent immediately, and thereafter forces should flow into the beachhead at 12.5 steps per turn, clear to turn 18.

Naturally there can be variations and lumpiness from the timing of storms, and potentially some of the replacement space will be used for extra supplies to gain artillery shifts and the like. If the Allies stretch the England reserve over the full 22 turns of the campaign, the average arrival rate would be 8 steps, plus replacements to 10.5. But in the analysis below I will assume ground forces have priority and the weather works out as average.

The next point is to consider the on time losses the Allies can expect on the invasion turn. Sources of permanent losses include S2 scatter results for bad airdrops, especially for the 82nd airborne; losses to DD tanks (50% chance at 8 different locations), and the invasion combats themselves. The expectation from all of the above is a loss of 15 steps, while destroying 8 steps of German defenders directly on the beaches. One can also expect another 5 steps of temporary airborne losses from scatter but these will be recouped as replacements.

Net, then, the allied force arrival schedule looks like this -

about 110 steps alive and kicking at the end of turn 1.
about 15 steps per turn the next couple turns (airborne regroup etc).
12.5 steps a turn thereafter, clear to turn 18.
2.5 steps per turn in the last 4 turns.

Thus -

turn 1 - 110 minus losses
turn 2 - 125
turn 3 - 140
turn 5 - 165
turn 7 - 190
turn 14 - 280
turn 18 - 325
turn 22 - 337

The Germans start with 91 steps, but several categories are less than useful. There are 22 static steps in the likely battle area, 8 of which will automatically die in the invasion combats. There are 13 steps in the Cherbourg garrison that cannot leave it. There are 6 steps along the eastern coastline that can't activate unless allied forces come within 2 hexes. And there are mobile forces amounting to all of 51 steps.

I consider the static forces in the battle area "useful" because the allies will likely fight them and incur losses doing so. All the mobile forces are useful. I discount the forces that die in the invasion combats automatically. That leaves 65 immediately useful steps in the battle area.

Notice, this means the initial Allied margin in total steps, after the expected losses from the first turn, is 45 steps, 110 to 65.

The German reinforcement schedule is strong for the first week, and then gets distinctly weaker. It is sufficient to match the rate of Allied force additions, and this means the ratio of forces is moving in the German side's favor over the course of the first week.

Specifically, counting local mobilizations and the like, the Germans get -

19 steps on turn 2
15 steps turn 3
15 steps turn 4
13 steps turn 5
2 steps turn 6 (an "air pocket" in the stream)
21 steps turn 7 (balancing the previous day's low)

The useful German force thus builds to around 145 steps by turn 7. Notice, this means the margin between the forces remains at +45 steps Allied, minus any loss differential to date. The ratio of forces is moving marginally in the German favor, the absolute arrival rates are balanced.

Then in week 2, the German stream goes into low gear, averaging only 4 steps per turn over the next 7 days. Since the Allies will not be close to "out" of England reinforcements, they will be getting their full 12.5 per turn in this period. And the force discrepancy thus grows. By turn 14, the Allies will have 103 more steps available to date, than the Germans - 275 to 175.

It continues to get worse until the Allied pool in England runs out, with a margin of 140 steps in favor of the allies on turn 18. It falls thereafter, back to 118 steps at the end of the campaign. The moral though is that in the whole last week, the large force discrepancy that built up in week 2 will remain. Timing of the arrival of the last Allied reinforcements, what they chose to do in the way of supplies vs. units earlier, weather to date, and such, may all matter by then, but won't change the expectation.

For the Allied side this means maintaining a favorable or evenly balanced rate of step loss attrition, coupled with a sufficiently high absolute loss rate on both sides, should suffice to destroy the German force. An evenly balanced loss scale of 10 steps a turn is more than sufficient for this - that would suffice to destroy the entire German army on the field, while leaving an Allied force bigger than the D-Day invasion force still standing. At a 5 step per turn balanced loss rate, The Germans would have a force in being of 110 steps, about the same as they would likely have at the end of the first week and probably enough to hold a line. The allies would in that case have built up to double their invasion strength.

Moral - a high even loss rate strongly favors the Allies, and the absolute loss rate that counts as "high" is about 10 steps per turn. 5 steps a turn isn't good enough, and the Allies can easily dial the loss rate higher and stand it more easily than the Germans can.

For the Germans, the first moral is that an even loss rate is unacceptable and will lose the battle. A 3 to 2 loss rate running in their favor with the level around 6 of theirs for 9 allies, is probably not good enough, but on the borderline of survival. It would mean a force at the end about as thin as they have in the first few days of the battle, against an Allied force at the end about their strength at that point, too - which in my limited experience is too thin to easily hold everything. This means the Germans either need to combine a 3:2 loss rate with a low rate on both sides (very hard to imagine pulling off) or an exchange rate signiciantly better than 3 to 2.

Now lets examine the CRT to see how likely any of that is. I ignore retreat results, and assume the defender has 2 steps. Then the expected loss ratios for fights at the various columns of the CRT are -

1 to 3 odds - 5 to 1 favor the defender
1 to 2 odds - 3 to 1 favor the defender
1 to 1 odds - 3 to 1 favor the defender
2 to 1 odds - 3 to 2 favor the defender
3 to 1 odds - 1 to 1, even losses
4 to 1 odds - 3 to 2 favor the attacker
5 to 1 odds - 5 to 2 favor the attacker
6 to 1 odds - 7 to 2 favor the attacker
7 to 1 odds - 9 to 2 favor the attacker

If the Allies fight at 3 to 1 odds or better and fight often, they are going to destroy the Germans completely, and stand all the losses to themselves easily.

If the Allies on average are attacking at 2 to 1 odds, the Germans will be hard pressed to hold to the end.

The Germans need some allied attacks going in at 1 to 1 after all shifts, or a significant number of their own counterattacks delivered at 5 to 1 or better supplementing many 2 to 1 allied attacks, to be able to stand the expected rate of attrition.

These considerations then immediately lead to some tactical advice in constructing German defense lines.

You need an infantry type unit to get the terrain bonus combat factors in *every* defense.
You can't afford to give the allies easy armor shifts. Their air, naval, and arty shift will be brutal enough without them.
You can't afford to give the allies easy 4 to 1s and up with small positions. 7 combat factors after terrain bonuses cannot be hit at better than 2 to 1 without shifts; that should be your standard whenever possible.
Use rivers to halve attackers whenever possible; it is your best bet of inducing multiple 1 to 1 Allied attacks to get over the river lines.

You own counterattacks need to go in at 5 to 1 and up. This means you need armor and quality shifts, supply for arty shifts, and it means you will need to be hitting lone regiments or less, not full stacks. You can't afford to brawl with full stacks with your own attacks, pretty much ever. (Large surround-kill opportunities are the only possible exception).

Normandy 44 is a long game and it is easy to lose sight of the main elements of victory in the search for tactical or terrain advantages. Those weren't the factors that won the historical battle (in late July it is true, not in June), and they are unlikely to prove decisive here. Instead, relentless attrition is the most important element in the equation. And both sides need to be looking at every battle through the lense, "is this something I could afford to duplicate over and over through the whole campaign, and win?"

I hope this is interesting...
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Richard Boyes
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Ouch!

I'm the Germans in a game of Normandy '44 that I've got lined up for Sept. 18.

Thanks for your analysis. Your straight talk in game play terms such as steps and odds is excellent.

But then again, I usually end up learning things the hard way.
 
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Jason Cawley
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Well there is a lot to learn in this game. There are many small tactics that matter, as I am discovering myself as I play it.

An example - the Allies can maintain those favorable odds for attacks readily enough if they don't attack many times per turn. Why? Because they can then afford to use naval gunfire, air support, or their limited supplies for artillery support, for each attack. Meaning they can make 1 to 1 "natural" odds attacks, on full sized German positions in good terrain, but "firepower" their way up to the 3 to 1 column, where the expected losses are even.

But if they fight only those battles, they will fight only in maybe 4 to 6 places per turn. And that only means 2-3 step losses per side, average. Not enough to bleed the Germans significantly.

To raise the overall loss rate the Allies need to make more attacks per turn. But that will outrun their available firepower arms odds shifts - or at least, limit those to 1 per attack, and frequently 2 to 1 columns as a result.

If the Germans leave weak spots where the allies can be "natural" 3 or 4 to 1, or 2-3 to 1 with armor or quality adds, then the allies should be hitting those things every chance they get.

But some examples... At the end of the German turn on game turn 2, here are the strengths of various German positions along the line in the British sector, from east to west -

Ranville 2131 - 21st Panzer Recon + 2 infantry battalions
7 natural strength, +4 town = 11, +1 QL from recon, behind a major river (British airborne driven back to the west of the Orne).

Strongpoint Hoffman - 200 PzJgr 88s, Pz Gdr Rgt from 21st Panzer, (2)-0 strongpoint = 9 natural strength, +2 terrain = 11. +1 QL from Pz Gdrs, 4 AT from 88s.

Mue river 2228 - 200 StuG Abt, 2 infantry battalions = 7 natural strength, +2 terrain = 9. 0 QL level and 3 AT from StuGs.

Caen-Bayeux highway 2126 (clear) - Pz IV Abt and Pz Gdr regiment from 21st Panzer, 10 natural and final strength, +1 QL and 3 AT.

near Tilly-Sur-Seulles, 2025 and 2123 - each one Pz Gdr regiment from 12SS (moved their by strategic movement). Each 8 natural strength +2 terrain = 10, with +1 QL level. One position behind a minor river as well. (Tanks not up yet to provide AT defense, one turn back).

Bayeux city 2322 - 3 infantry battalions (one added as replacement) = 6 natural strength, +5 for city = 11, and the city also negates armor. 0 QL.

Behind this line there are 3 armor battalions, one recon, and 3 infantry units in and near Caen as reserves (not "reserve" in game terms, just "second line"), along with corps headquarters for artillery support as needed.

7 locations present to the British army as possible points of attack. Only one of them - at the Mue river - is weak enough for a natural 2 to 1 odds ratio, and only if the Brits bring the maximum 18 strength to the combat. All the rest are 1 to 1 odds without shifts, best possible.

The 2 12SS positions could be hit for an armor shift. The Mue river position and Bayeux city positions could be hit for a +1 QL shift using British airborne or the special service brigades only. Everywhere else is protected against any armor shift and most places will get a quality shift on defense, unless the same Brit airborne or commando brigades are in the attack.

The weather is currently overcast 2, meaning no air support is available.

The Brits have 1 supply point landed so far, which they could use for a single artillery support shift.

The fighting is still within range of naval gunfire, so the Brits can allocate 2 shifts from that, across the points they choose to attack.

This is how you have to operate to make a defense line the allies can't just steamroll into at middling odds. Make them get only 2 to 1s in places they use their firepower arm shifts each turn, and make them not attack at all elsewhere. The defenders are also robust enough everywhere to take a step loss and still contemplate a determined defense, with +1 quality adds many places, or favorable strongpoint or city columns for determined defense, or both.

I still expect a line that strong to get hammered at 2-3 points. The Brits might double up their artillery with naval gunfire to hit Strongpoint Hillman, for example (using the airborne), and then use a commando brigade attachment with a full 18 strength to hit the Mue river line position. Both on the direct route to Caen. Meanwhile they might pound Bayeux with a straight ahead 1 to 1 plus naval gunfire, not caring that the resulting exchange ratio on the first attack will be 3 to 2 against them. If they get a retreat result and then the Germans use determined defense, the overall result might be 2 step losses for each side, and they'd think "that's just fine, as an outcome for a key location using naval gunfire support".

On the Caen axis, a pair of 3 to 1s may just move the Germans, or they might stand fast at Hillman say, to exploit the strongpoint edge in determined defense.

Even though the line is strong enough to give only 1 to 1 nearly everywhere, reaching into the support and elite unit bag of tricks, the Brits can get off 3-4 low-ish odds attacks that will bled the German defense and likely move them too - or bleed them a bit faster for holding fast.

I hope this helps understand the system and the tactics it encourages...

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Kevin Bernatz
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First, let me say this is an excellent review of the probabilities in N'44. Great read!

But let me caution that you're telling only part of the story, based on play test results, etc. The DD table....

While the analysis of straight losses is, in all liklihood, correct (I trust other people's statistical analysis much more than mine....I'm a chemE by trade, not a statistics person), one thing that has to be factored into account is the additional losses likely to incur from the DD table. This is especially true when one is attacking key DD features, such as IPs, SPs and cities. These locales, held by elite German units, can often increase Allied losses by 50% or more...especially if the German player has Werfer's or supply points to spend on +2 drm shifts to the DD table. Nothing hurts more than an A1/DR result on a city, that then generates another A1 on the DD table for a final A2/- result! Ugh!

So the German player has to be aware that one way to potentially generate a more favorable loss rate is for judicial use of the DD table on key terrain features. Of course, they have to worry about the same when they counter-attack...but usually they can hit Allied units in less than idea DD terrain (non-cities, etc).

-K
Developer, N'44
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Jason Cawley
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I discount it because it mostly just drives the absolute loss rate higher. While it is an important tool to keep control of key terrain features and thus keep positions that give favorable odds or deter attacks along the rest of the line, the actual use of the determined defense rarely raises the expected loss ratio.

Yes it is possible to turn a 0 defender and 1 attacker loss into a 0 defender and 2 attacker loss, occasionally. It is equally possible to turn that original favorable result to a 1 to 1 even loss.

The first result that isn't a blank on every column of the DD table is that the defender cancels the retreat at the cost of taking an extra step loss himself. And most of the results immediately below that are extra exchange results - meaning higher losses to both sides, and the retreat cancelled. Only the highest results cause additional attacker loss without an extra defender loss.

Yes you can make those more likely by using shifts - marginally. That means the same shifts aren't being used to raise the column on some German counterattack. Generally you are removing one "blank" result to add one attacker loss result - so a shift spent on the DD table is generally worth 1/6th of an attacker step, in expectation.

Well, the Germans only get about 4 shifts a turn from firepower arms. From Werfers and their average of only a couple of supply points a turn for arty.

Normally, a shift spent raising a positive odds attack an extra column will add 2/6 expected losses to the defenders, which is better than you get on the DD table. When used on the low odds columns they generally add 1/6. But this is not a signficant source of extra expected losses, either way - it is a step a turn worth of "artillery bleed", pretty much.

The allies are getting 4 naval, 3 air, and 2 arty shifts a turn, average. On low odds attacks those will bleed the Germans 1.5 steps a turn and on high odds attacks 3 steps a turn.

The Germans can get better DD columns from improved positions, and better results from unit quality shifts from their elites - which pretty much means the Pz Gdrs and the FJ. But using those for determined defense constantly will also bleed them more rapidly than otherwise - the lead unit used for a QL shift must take the first loss generated by the DD table.

Overall, excessive use of determined defense is just going to drive the loss rate higher for both sides and burn out the best German units faster. Neither is moving the attrition *ratio* appreciable in the German's favor, and they are the ones that want to control the overall attrition rate, not the ones who benefit from driving it higher.

Again, it has tactical uses. Keeping a river line that halves attackes or a +5 combat factor city hex may be worth a higher local attrition rate. But it isn't something the Germans can expect to just win by using it all the time.

The underlying logic is pretty unforgiving on the absolute loss rate. The Germans have about 220 steps for the whole 22 turn campaign, and a force of 50 steps or so does not suffice to cover the frontage. The initial 65 isn't really enough, even. Well that means if they are supposed to be holding strong at turn 18 or so, they can't average even 8 lost steps per turn. 6 they might stand, if the Allies are bleeding significantly faster.

If you make a habit of invoking DD for every retreat result, you will cut the number of decent attacks the Allies need to manage each turn to reach those loss rates, in half. That way lies sorrow.
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Fernando Darlington
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Excellent analysis Jason, thanks a lot for sharing it.

This analysis makes me like this game even more as it shows the game is a battle of attrition and logistics instead of a battle of generals. Which is exactly what Normandy was.
 
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Cezary Domalski
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Yes, a very useful analysis Jason - thanks for sharing it! Waiting with impatience for a game (I hope that U-Boats did n't get this already) and i read Antony Beevor's "D-Day: Battle for Normandy". It's a very interresting book, which shows exactly what was a Normandy battle - an attrition struggle between armies which have different methods of preparations, experience, equipment, morale etc. Beevor states that in Normandy German daily losess in manpower was bigger than average losess in Eastern Front. I do not remeber how big was the difference, but it was significant. I recommend that book and of course this analysis
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Benoit Larose
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Excellent analysis!

I do agree that this is an attritional system/game, as it should be I guess.

Past midgame it's a bit boring if the Allies were able to keep the number of cadres low. I found that the Allied replacements need to be spared to quickly send cadres back to the holding box and not to put regiments back to full strenght. It makes it very hard for the Germans once the initial week is gone by to attain automatic victory and in the long run they can only lose I think.

B.
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Marc Guenette
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Excellent analysis. It should be attritional, as Benoit says, at some point the writing is on the wall, you're playing just for the sake of playing. As we both discussed. The Germans should get a VP when they eliminate a third step of a Division, no matter if it comes back or not, altho it would be very deterministic especially at the end of the game as the Germans would be more keen to hunt for these than for position. Or simply, one VP for every remnants on the board, meaning they made enough damage to a Division that it lost it's fighting hability as a complete division.

I'd sure try it this way.
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Benoit Larose
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Kwebec wrote:
The Germans should get a VP when they eliminate a third step of a Division, no matter if it comes back or not, altho it would be very deterministic especially at the end of the game as the Germans would be more keen to hunt for these than for position. Or simply, one VP for every remnants on the board, meaning they made enough damage to a Division that it lost it's fighting hability as a complete division.


It's already a bit "deterministic". The Germans tend to focus on hexes defended by reduced units, trying to kill that 3rd step.

In order to keep tension up as the mid-game, and normal stabilization (and grind) of the front steps in, maybe some territorial objectives (or points) should be set at the end of each week for each player. If sides reaches it, the game continue.

This could help force the players to push and do better than history and it would shorten the game unless it it very close.

The campaign game, the full 22 turns, is not playable in one setting. It should be.
 
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