Crimea - OR: THE ZOC GUIDE

Let's keep only one thread active per scenario. What do you think about a particular scenario. Was it too easy, too hard? Did you win or lose at first? Post descriptions of your brilliant victories and unfortunate defeats here.
Red Dragon
First Lieutenant
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:54 am

Crimea - OR: THE ZOC GUIDE

Unread postby Red Dragon » Thu Nov 21, 2013 11:31 pm

THE ZOC GUIDE STARTS IN THE POST AFTER THIS ONE!

If you're interested in learning about the "Zone of Control" (ZOC) and improving your game, scroll down to the post below and ignore this one for now (as well as the attached file)
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I won a hilarious BV (Brilliant Victory) on Crimea by the skin of my teeth. :mrgreen:
Not how the scenario should be won in a perfect world, but in the face of randomness you gotta improvise... :D
A very hideous win while under the influence of alcohol. Please check out the next post showing how it should actually be done 8-)
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Last edited by Red Dragon on Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:19 pm, edited 5 times in total.

Red Dragon
First Lieutenant
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:54 am

Crimea - Competent replay + ZOC noob guide

Unread postby Red Dragon » Fri Nov 22, 2013 1:02 pm

A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE ABOUT ZOC

Understanding Zones of Control (ZOC) and how to effectively deal with them isn't properly taught in the tutorial (at least not in-depth). However, understanding how they work will improve your game several times over and enable you to gain brilliant victories, where they would be absolutely impossible without understanding how ZOC's work and especially how they can be removed. I think this basic mechanic is even much more important than knowing what the specialst steps do, so you should read this if you want to up your game tenfold and then try a Crimea brilliant-victory yourself. The scenario is small, but the basics used to win on time here apply almost everywhere*.

*The Red-Turn DLC introduces an exponential prestige penalty for removing aka. "disbanding" units in the DLC-campaign, so that particular trick is less of a viable tactic in those scenarios.

The best way to go about learning is to watch the review file attached to this post while reading simultaneously. So start UoC right now, then go into the options and switch from fullscreen to windowed, if you aren't playing in a window already. Then close the game but don't restart it yet. Download the file I attached at the end of this post (not the file in the post above, that replay is bad and I just played for shits and giggles and I thought the struggle and result was funny to behold). You can find instructions on where exactly you need put and how to load the replay-file in order to view it written right under the download link.

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So the file attached is once again a Crimea brilliant victory solution, but this time I actually play in a competent manner and not just for shits and giggles. As far as I can see I only made two minor mistakes that I will point out to you, and I really don't see a way to solve the scenario much better than this. (If any old veterans on this forum can do better strategy-wise, please share I'd be delighted). Unfortunately, one of my minor mistakes probably made me win on turn 4 instead of turn 3, which I will discuss later on. With extreme luck I think a turn 2 victory could even be possible, but it is much more risky than what I show you in the replay and with average luck, a 3-turn brillaint victory is commonly possible.

I would say with the tactic I use in this replay you can win a brilliant victory (BV) in maybe 70% of cases. There are several reasons why I think a BV isn't much more probable than that, especially because of random weather events, but it's also dependent on the way the AI places its units, your luck in destroying or not-destroying units and your overrun-probabilities play a role and can be decisive to some extent. Some luck, or at least the absense of really bad luck still is required for a BV.

Crimea_mud.jpg


Okay, load the review and start reading.
(Crtl + R starts the replay from the beginning, you need to press "play" after every completed turn to advance, so why not use these automatic breaks to read on when appropriate. You can also pause any time with "space" or the obvious button).

[*]Before we get specific with this scenario some general things that are important to know: If you played around with the tutorial, which you should have before reading this, then you have a basic understanding of what a ZOC is: Zones of control extend to all hexes around every non-weak unit, but they are only exerted inside each respective players territory, not over the fat red frontline. If one of your units enters an enemy hex with an enemy ZOC, you will be able to attack, but you won't be able to move your unit anymore after that, even if theoretically it still should have movement points left. Easy enough, but maybe you don't quite realize yet how to remove and exploit ZOC's properly, and how much depth this concept adds to your decisions. During the upcoming replay you can press the "Z" key to see the Soviet ZOC's and how I dismantle them. If you load my replay and hit "Z", you will see the enemy's ZOC during my turn and my ZOC during the enemy's turn. Unfortunately hitting "Z" also pauses the game, so you can't just play the scenario with ZOC's permanently visible, but after seeing where the ZOC's are located, you will know where they are: which happens to be everywhere actually.

[*]Here we'll concern ourselves mostly with how to dismantle enemy ZOC's, but remember that your units also have ZOC's that you can use defensively against your enemy. Sometimes you don't need entire lines of divisions to prevent a few rather weak enemies penetrating deep into your territory, ZOC's can prove sufficient to slow their advance... however, the AI knows how to remove your ZOC's as well and it will absolutely exploit that gap and brutalize you, if you don't plan your own ZOC's right.

[*]Okay, to take Kerch on turn 2 (the objective to the right) you need to move your tank division as close as possible to the right on your 1st turn. It can still work out if the tank is one hex left of where it's placed in my replay, but it gives the AI more room to shuffle its units, and also you can't quasi-annihalate one of the 4 divisions squatting around Kerch with your tank on turn 1, making a brilliant victory much less probable overall.
You can get even one hex closer with your tank than I did, if you are lucky but that's just a bonus and not necessarily required.

[*]Notice that I don't immediately use the 28 Jäger division (the one with the stylish hat) to clear a Zone of Control in the beginning, but only later in the turn to remove a ZOC at the very back of the land tongue. That's because Jäger divisions have a one-hex extended movement range compared to your other infanrty, so after attacking with it and removing or retreating the first two pesky soviet divisions in my way, I move the Jäger division far into the land tongue to remove a ZOC all the way back there, which finally enables my tank division to move up close and bring the pain.

[*]If you are rather unlucky with your initial air and infantry attacks on the first two divisions I attacked, you may need to remove up to two of your units and even throw in the romanians on top, if that's what it takes to get the tank where it should be, even at the cost of permitting the two units I was able to pocket to roam freely. Since you deny them their supply on your first turn, it is a rather minor problem with them cutting your supply on their turn, so don't panic, they will run out of supply faster than you and you have either all or most of your steps full. The important thing is to have 3 infantry divisions lined behind your tank the way I do, so they can remove the zones of control that are in between your tank and the objective next turn...

[*] After the AI shuffles around, it's our turn 2... so the next step is to remove multiple ZOC's with your divisions in whichever way the AI positioning requires, the goal is to move the tank division around the soviet divisions without engaging them in combat and attacking the division squatting in Kerch with your tank division. Obviously you need to move the infantry furthest from Kerch into the enemy ZOC first, or else the movement range of your remaining infantry won't be enough to reach all the ZOC's between your tank division and Kerch.

[*]Weaken the defending Kerch division with air attacks and the Jäger division, then remove the Jäger to make room for your tank. If you were lucky the division was weakened enough to grant your tank a 90% "overrun" probability, so usually the infanrty will retreat or be destroyed outright. Since your tank didn't enter an enemy ZOC at all, it can move onto Kerch after its attack (with or without overrun) on the 2nd turn. Although things are a bit more complicated under the hood, which is why I love this game...

Turn2.0.jpg


[*]I made my first minor tactical mistake here, by air attacking the weak unit above Kerch with its one step. My thinking at the time was that if my tank division wasn't able to destroy the Kerch unit completely, that infantry unit would need room to retreat, which I hoped to accomplish by destroying the weak unit above. Let's go through this thought-experiment in detail: My tank could have moved into Kerch by either completely destroying or "overrunning" the Kerch unit (since even if it wasn't destroyed in the process, I would have had a follow-up attack in the event of an "overrun"). But I couldn't have placed my tanks over the objective on turn 2 by merely making the unit retreat, because it had no room to retreat to, which then instead would have resulted in the units' remaining steps being completely surpressed; But since my tank only gets a second attack with an "overrun", which generally never has over 90% probability, I would have gotten stuck at that point (my infantry divisions also couldn't have moved anymore, because they cleared the ZOC's). So if I destroyed the weak unit above I could have parked my tank with 100% certainty on Kerch even if the Kerch unit only "retreated", which it would have done to where the weak unit would have been destroyed, thus leaving my tank without an additional attack, but at least with enough movement to capture the objective on time (again, because my tank didn't enter a ZOC, it still had movement left). However, the probability of outright killing the weak unit with only one air-attack is significantly lower (1/3), than the gain of incapacitating the Kerch division significantly (which would have been very likely according to the game manual air attack table. Seriously, read the manual it's awesome and well-written). So an air attack on the Kerch-defending unit could have resulted in up to three of its steps being surpressed or up to two destroyed, which would have significantly increased the chance of my tank destroying it in the first place. That was my first mistake, I simply didn't think long enough about the air attack probabilities. You see, I love the tactical depth in this game. In the end though, my remaining air strikes were lucky and very effective, so destroying the weakened defending unit with the tanks was guaranteed. :mrgreen:

[*]Okay, let's turn west now. I didn't attack Sevastopol on the first or even second turn, because it's better to attack it once with as many divisions as possible, rather than half-assed over a few turns, because the Sevastopol unit revovers suppressed steps every turn and unless extremely lucky, almost the best you can do is supress two or three steps on your first turn, and honestly you often can't do much better on the second turn either. Don't forget to reinforce your Sevastopol attack divisions on turn 2 with the reinforcements that become automatically available on that turn in this scenario. It will give your units that much more "oomph" on turn 3. It makes a big difference: before with you having 6 steps the odds were you losing 4 steps while supressing just 1 step per attack. With the full 7 steps your odds improve to only 3 steps being killed while supressing 2 enemy steps. In addition, insted of 2 you now have 3 full divisions to attack with plus two full romanian divisions as back-up, which will get slaughtered if you send them first, but they can do some damage if you send them in last. I was unlucky with the weather so the southernmost of my units was out of supply and still only had 6 instead of 7 steps at the start of turn 3. This will be related to my second error, but before we even get there, let's wear down the unit defending Sevestopol...

[*]Every air attack has a 10% chance (independent, not cumulative) of turning the city into "ruins", giving the defending Sevastopol unit another combat shift in its favor. I didn't do the math at the time, but four air attacks have a roughly 35% chance of turning the city into ruins. Also, I didn't look it up at the time and went with my gut, but I'm doing this right now out of interest: air attack odds on mouse-over say "-2 odds". So looking up the air attack casualties table in the manual tells me on average each air attack will supress one step in a -2 odds case, yet still grant me a whopping 50%-50% probability per attack to suppress at least one step, and even a 1 in 6 probability of supressing three steps. Totally worth the risk of ruining that city.

[*]In case you saw my first disorganized "mad-dash" replay, you saw that you can actually manage to take Kerch with your tank division and get it across the whole map to attack Sevestopol as well. If you think you can hold Kerch with your 2+ infantry divisions until turn 4 (I think that should be easy) you can actually try getting your tank division over to Sevastopol. I didn't bother because the weather was bad and turned the area in front of Sevastopol muddy, so I couldn't have reached it with my tank division anyway.

[*]My second minor tactical error on turn 3 was attacking Sevastopol with the southernmost unit first, which only had 6 active steps instead of 7 like the other two. I saw the red exclamation mark, but I forgot that one of its steps was still supressed, because the one step I reinforced didn't get supply thanks to bad weather. This mistake probably cost me an early victory at turn 3, so instead I mopped up the remaining divisions and took Sevastopol on turn 4.

[*]Realize that it is not always the best thing to attack with your strongest unit first, but in the Sevastopol case it definitely would have been. There are other cases however, where that might not be hold true. If your strong units (tanks, motorized, PzGrenadier etc.) are in a hurry to take something (which is pretty much always) then you should sometimes delegate attacks to your weaker infantry in favor of covering more distance with your mobile hard hitters.

[*]Some more very general tips:

Think and plan before you act, winning this this game is more about strategy and less about tactics and requires a long view. Take enough time to study the territory before you even take your first step, none of this time is wasted because it will help you play so much better, since all most of your troop movements will fall in line with your greater purpose - namely bringing you one step closer to the objectives and a brilliant victory. ;)

This game has deep mechanics, but generally when I look at a scenario, I first look at the supply lines of myself and the enemy to figure out which lifeline(s) will form the umbilical cord of my advancing army, which lifelines I could get away with sacrificing in order to use the defending units otherwise, and which lifelines of my enemy I could reasonably sever in time (including the extra turn supply shortage becomes truly noticable) to be worth the effort. Also I need to know which of my lifelines to extend if the scenario features the appropriate theater asset.

Then I move on to study the territory and take special care to identify rivers, cities, swamps, bridges, bridge building opportunities (if available) and I scan for all the little annoyances in territory that will slow me down, or that will help me defend.

Especially when playing the Germans, I think of everything that has an engine as the tip of my spear, or the edge of my scalpel. These units pack a punch and I need them to close the distance between me and the objective as fast as possible, and if possible without sacrificing their integrity. The infantry is mainly there to form and defend the umbilical cord between my supply lines and the tip of my spear. I find having this rough picture in the back of my head is very useful for playing the Germans, and to quite a reasonable degree the Russians as well. Yesterday I won two brilliant victories in the first two German campaign operations without spending any prestige on extra OKH Reserve units, so I find this analogy of infantry as umbilical cords and mobile units as scalpels very useful when planning my advance. At the beginning of a scenario it's rarely a good idea to use a strong mobile unit to punch a hole into the enemy line, instead try to punch a hole by shuffling around infantry, then use your infantry to clear ZOC's around the breach, and only then concentrate on pouring your mobile units through the created gap and on "safely" covering as much ground as you can with your mobile units while somehow maintaining their supply-lifeline.

I was recently watching one of my old replays from back when I thought I undestood ZOC, but actually didn't... I could harldy believe how badly I was playing and just how much I improved since then only by getting a handle on the ZOC mechanics :idea: I hope you enjoyed reading this and I hope I could help you with improving your game, and maybe with seeing a bit more depth in this fantastic game than perhaps you initially saw. :mrgreen: If you found this useful, please point this guide out to other players, if you feel they could benefit from reading it :!:
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