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Case Blue (moved from Beta test forum)

Posted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 2:13 pm
by Hentzau
The setup seemed simple. Germans outflank the Russians at the northern end of the line, so it looked like it'd be fairly easy to send Panzer divisions sweeping southwards cutting off the huge mass of Soviet infantry dug in against the river and then go on to take the objectives. But the way the supply's been set up in this scenario is fantastic; once I did the above I realised that said huge mass of Soviet infantry was sitting slap bang on the main supply line I'd need to push any meaningful offensive deeper into Soviet territory. The AI for this game is absolutely brutal (in a good way) and was extremely quick to exploit any opportunity it could find to hang on to the objectives and the supply lines for even a single extra turn, and that's often what ended up in my quitting and restarting the scenario once it became apparent victory was beyond me.

I eventually realised my mistake was in over-prioritising Rostov. That NKVD-backed infantry division holding it just won't die and it's sufficient to simply cut the road route leading from it to give the Soviets a major supply problem, so there was no need to send four of my six Panzer divisions through a narrow strip of hilly, forested terrain when two would do the job perfectly well. Instead I laid a new bridge over the river from the south and targeted the pocket of cut-off Soviet infanty with a pincer movement - the southern thrust supported by the tanks freed up from Rostov, while the two tank divisons in the north raced ahead to secure the first objective and run interference on any enemy divisions forming up for a counterattack. It took a while to kill all the Soviets caught in the pocket even with the extra tanks and I captured Rostov two turns late, but once I'd shattered their frontline defeating the troops in their backfield was absolutely trivial, even with the new Soviet tank divisions drip-dripping onto the battlefield. The last three objectives were all captured on the same turn, which was enough for a Decisive Victory.

Overall, the first scenario where I haven't blundered to victory on the final turn but instead actually had to rethink my strategy and gradually tease out a winning one almost in the manner of a puzzle game. It was hard without being irritatingly so; I always felt that victory was within my grasp if I could just get it right this time around. The AI in this game is an absolute monster, a real achievement. While I'm sure it's got it's weird idiosyncracies that will became apparent after long-term play - all AIs do - it rarely fights battles it can't win (in fact I've only seen it fight one battle where the understrength attacking tank division promptly blew up) and it places a far higher priority on cutting supply than it does destroying my units, which makes sense when its objective isn't to "win" but instead to run the clock down so that I lose. It seems to understand perfectly which moves will throw a spanner in my carefully planned works and it's refreshing to play a game where the AI doesn't rely on brute force power and hidden bonuses for its difficulty.

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:06 pm
by ComradeP
This is a very nice scenario, a real gem in some ways. Brilliant victory on the final turn. I could've taken Rostov on turn 4 (I destroyed the defenders, but couldn't move anything in), but turn 5 was good enough. A textbook blitzkrieg scenario.

The first scenario where I could really see my plan unfold and watch the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, as the Soviet scenarios were mostly a case of bulldozing my way through with some flanking movement, but nothing like what happened in this one.

Unlike Hentzau (who correctly identified the weak part of the Soviet line in the hilly/forested terrain above the Mius), I did push through there with every mobile unit that started in the south. I cut the Soviets in the central part of the map off from their supply on turn 2 by cutting the rail line northeast of Rostov.

First, find the weak spot in the enemy line for a tactical victory, turn that victory into an operational one and after that in sort of a strategic one.

The key for supply was to get the rail line up and running to Rostov and beyond by removing the 3 Soviet units sitting on it on the western part of the map and by repairing the bridge over the Mius, the rail line was fully operational on turn 5 (probably possible on turn 4, but it being a turn late didn't cause any real supply problems). You probably need some luck for the objective across the Don, as you need to park a unit next to it by turn 3 if you want to have a realistic chance of capturing it on time.

All in all, very nice scenario, the difficulty also seems to be quite right, at least for the brilliant victory.

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:07 pm
by ComradeP
The saved game, there's still some room for improvement but overall I'm really happy with how it went.

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:12 pm
by ComradeP
The turn 2 screenshot at the start of the AI's turn. As you can see, the only remaining Soviet mobile unit is sitting on the rail line in the west and it thus won't move. Without mobile units, the AI is powerless to do more than slow me down.

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:00 pm
by ComradeP
I just noticed that Wiking isn't a motorised division in this scenario.

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 7:09 pm
by Tomislav Uzelac
Crap. You're right, that's wrong. I can change them to SS Motorized (we have one more build scheduled for Thursday) but I'm worried about upsetting scenario balance.

As I see it, this would push things even more in favor your favorite strategy (as posted on Matrix forums) of outflanking the Mius line from the north. The way I usually play it (except if weather dictates otherwise) is the historical move: muscle my way across the Donets east of Izium and then sprint along the northern bank.

The way it could be done probably would be to position the 1st Pz Army units (14 PzD, 16 PzD) further to the west... in fact IIRC I placed them slightly eastward precisely to make the Rostov thing more tempting :oops:

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:32 pm
by ComradeP
Yeah, my strategy is not very historical, even though it works like a charm, the same goes for my strategy for Terek, I guess.

If we're supposed to blast our way across the Donets, I'd suggest setting the turn limit for the objective across the Don to at least turn 5. Everything has to go right to get adjacent to it by late turn 3 with my current strategy and it's probably more difficult to get to if you're attacking along the northern bank of the Donets.

Did you like the AAR, by the way, or are there things that I should've done different according to you in terms of how I presented the game?

By the way: in Case Blue and in other scenarios, there are still 7 step Fortified Region units.

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:09 pm
by Tomislav Uzelac
The Matrix AAR? It's very nice, I like the way you explained the mechanics as you went along. Thanks a bunch!

As for your strategy, you are a bit of a troublemaker coming up with all these ahistorical ways of thrashing the scenarios, but I guess that's what testing is all about, eh? ;)

Re: Case Blue

Posted: Thu Dec 08, 2011 3:23 pm
by 2xPelin
Moved from BETA test forum. Continue discussion here.