Black Turn, serious business.

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Vaktathi
First Lieutenant
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Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:16 am

Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby Vaktathi » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:22 pm

So I picked up Black Turn yesterday as soon as I got home, looking forward to hopping into a new set of scenarios, and apparently when they said it would be hard, they meant it.

In the original campaign on my first try at the Stalingrad scenario I handily managed a Decisive victory, managing a Brilliant the second time around. The first time I try the Moscow scenario, I'm sitting there at the end of the last turn, 3 of 5 objectives taken, Kalinin's (is that right?) garrison has retreated but I have no available units to move in, while Moscow is defended by a completely suppressed 3-step infantry unit that I just do not have any way of finishing off.

The whole thing really felt like it expressed the truly grinding nature of the battle for Moscow very well. The German units are still highly capable but depleted in numbers and support, supply lines are stretched thin and the weather pisses away any chance of achieving objectives in timely manner, while the Russians are dug in everywhere and just keep coming turn after turn, refusing to give ground until annihilated. Every minor breakthrough feels like a major victory, every objective feels like its own entire scenario (and nigh impossible to boot), and the whole thing feels precarious every step of the way.

Lots of fun, I'll have to see if I can crack the scenario tonight. I've got absolutely no clue how to snag a Brilliant on there. :lol:

Great job 2x2! :mrgreen:

monkspider
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Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby monkspider » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:39 am

Some of the brilliant victory conditions are insane, I am having a lot of fun though. I am shocked that the campaign seems twice or even thrice as long as the default German campaign. I never picked up Red Turn either so I picked that up too since it was on sale. I foresee many hours of Unity of Command in my future. Great work 2x2!

aulty
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Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2012 12:38 pm

Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby aulty » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:47 am

I managed to get a BV on moscow last night but accidentally moved a unit off an objective only for it to get retaken demoting it to DV.
I didn't find it that hard, more grinding especially with that weather, took like two hours! The main priority is to punch through the 4 turn and 7 turn objectives.
The rest of the flanking spearheads should focus on punching through, cutting supply lines and preparing to take the late game objectives that you assign to them, the north and southern spearheads can additionally help in the assault on Moscow. Defend the corridors supplying the panzers with infantry congas.

Some of the units on the rail lines especially in the south east were dug in hard so I found it more expedient to cut off their supply and bleed them, moving the panzers on as far as possible.

Note that the south eastern rail line pretty much has to be taken to support an attack on the eastern objective, you could however try a different approach and feint here pinning forces and race around the north side of the objective.

ComradeP
Colonel
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Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 4:03 pm

Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby ComradeP » Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:57 pm

How hard Taifun is often depends on when the weather turns ugly. If the mud appears fairly late, it gives you a lot more time to get going initially. If you get mud early on it's much more likely the advance will be slow.

Vaktathi
First Lieutenant
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:16 am

Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby Vaktathi » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:24 pm

Yeah I started getting rain and mud on turns 2 and 3 on both playthroughs so far and had it going pretty fierce the entire time, I'd imagine if the weather holds off a couple more turns it'd be easier to punch through to the first couple objectives. I did manage to beat the mission the 2nd time around, took relatively few casualties but just could not clear stuff fast enough because of the weather to make good time.

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Sjarlatan
First Lieutenant
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Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby Sjarlatan » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:36 pm

Just "finished" Black Turn.

Great fun! :D

I've just now finished the last scenario(Which amounted to my only loss. :oops: ) with 6870 prestige. All in one go and at the first try, except the Tartar Ditch, which had unreasonable weather the first time. :P

Donbas nip after a 12 hour day? Didn't work! :D I bet that served as a Soviet moral boost after the loss of both Moscow and Leningrad, and if I were
Other than Lake Ladoga and Typhoon as regular victories, and a BV on Kiev, all the other ones where decisive ones. Something of which I'm quite pleased with.

All in all: Great campaign! Can't complain about anything except the constant need for MOAR.

Though I just managed a victory on the 17th turn of Typhoon, it is the one that caused the most celebration when the final objective was in my grasp! It was so incredibly long, and with destructivly realistic weather and painfully diminshed German strength. Crippling rain on the second turn forced me to cancel the first pincer movement, and set me back immensly. My new strategy worked in the end, but I was fairly sweaty when it was over. :)

sourdust
Captain
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:30 am

Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby sourdust » Sun Dec 15, 2013 11:59 pm

I just finished my first campaign of “Black Turn”. Warning: bragging to follow.

With no replays, no use of reserve steps or units, and no spoilers, I managed to get 5 decisive and 7 brilliant victories, for a total of 9,470 Prestige (out of 10,000 theoretical maximum). Ladoga was my only “regular” victory, but even there I managed to get most of the prestige (960/1100). Not bad for a first time through, if I do say so myself!

The AI in this game is just fantastic. It ruthlessly exploits any weakness in your plans to cut off your supply, slow your advance, and punch exposed units in the nose. I love it.

The scenarios are extremely well-crafted as well. The first 10 scenarios are not overly difficult for a veteran UoC player, though the timetables for brilliant victory are sometimes very ambitious.

But it’s the final three scenarios where the game really comes into its own.

Taifun is just monstrously complex and hard. The mud and seemingly endless supply of Russian infantry/cavalry is difficult enough, but the brittleness of the Wehrmacht is the hardest aspect. Most units start at 4 or 5 steps. An infantry unit reduced to 3 steps is next to useless for anything but mopping up operations and holding the line, and even then only if there are no T-34s around. A 2-step unit is no good for anything but replacements… yet with a replacement limit of just 2 steps per turn, you can’t just disband depleted units to keep others at full strength. As a result, the German player here feels keenly every single hit, especially on panzer or motorised units. The overall feeling is that fewer and fewer of your forces are combat effective as time goes on. Just as it should be.

I got a bit lucky on this scenario, despite mud on turn one over the main Vyasma area. Grrr. Still, both the turn 4 and turn 7 objectives fell just on time to very lucky 10% retreat chance attacks. I then managed to pull off two sizeable pockets, and over the course of the scenario slowly built up a few of my mobile formations into tough 6 step units with engineers attached, which are essential for bashing through fortified positions and whittling down the tough guards formations. Disbanding a panzer division or two early is useful; hurts in the short-term, but allows you to build other units up into formidable overrun machines. One suggestion: the Moscow defenders (except for the one on the victory hex) all left their fortified positions too early to try to block my advancing spearheads. In so doing, they abandoned fortifications that would have made my assault on the city far more difficult. I took Moscow on time on turn 14, but a slightly better defensive posture could’ve delayed me at least one turn. I think they should be locked in position.

The two hypothetical scenarios are both very tough as well, though not quite as epic as Taifun. At Lake Ladoga, I detached a panzer unit to help storm Leningrad itself. That helped immensely at Leningrad, which I took on turn 3, but meant I struggled with the eastern objectives, two of which I took a turn behind schedule. The AI here was quite aggressive, and I feared for my supply lines more than once. This was the only scenario where I seriously considered requisitioning a reserve unit (a step of engineers really would’ve helped!) Also, after taking the Leningrad victory hex, there was no reason for me to continue trying to reduce the Leningrad pocket. Perhaps the supply hex on Lake Ladoga itself should be an objective as well?

Donbas Nip looked impossible when I loaded it up the first time. But I managed to push very aggressively across the Mius on turn one, and scooted a panzer division forward to the crucial bridge at Kamesk on turn three, where it sat for the rest of the game, cut off but getting the occasional aerial resupply. The Soviet supply net was totally gummed up as a result, and the other two objectives were just a question of slogging through hordes of soviet units that were at or beyond the limits of supply. Meanwhile, the Soviet attack over the Donets was a real worry for the first few turns. A bit more determination by the AI could have cut my main supply line over the Mius – they were within one hex of it for much of the game, and I had no reserves!

A few suggestions on improving the AI:

1) A few times, Russian units with artillery steps launched disastrous counterattacks, getting repulsed with heavy losses. I wonder if there is a glitch, perhaps the AI is calculating odds before moving, then moves and doesn’t get to use the artillery, so attacks at hopeless odds?
2) The AI never reassigns specialist steps. I suppose this reflects nicely the difficulties the Soviets had at this stage in combined arms coordination, but in the game the AI would be much tougher if it assigned a Katyusha or a T-34 step to its tank units.
3) AI abandons fortified positions a bit too easily; it’s a royal pain evicting an infantry dug in with AT guns in the forest with mud and snow weather! Basically, such units should often stay put even if out of supply, because they either inflict lots of casualties, or force the player to tie up units waiting them out for 2/3 turns.
4) A couple of times, when the AI re-establishes supply to a cut off pocket of troops, I was delighted to see it rush more units into the pocket, rather than evacuate those units inside. I suppose this is hard to fix, the AI doesn’t have a human’s sense of battlefield geometry, and so I suppose doesn’t realise when a pocket is untenable and should be evacuated.

Nice work UoC developers! I’m ready for the next expansion!

Now, on to the 2 stand-alone Soviet scenarios…

ComradeP
Colonel
Posts: 243
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Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby ComradeP » Mon Dec 16, 2013 8:04 am

Thanks for the feedback!

All scenarios were tweaked as to be BV-winnable without additional units or (specialist) steps, and without reorganizing units (which gives the player an advantage, if used well).

The strength of the AI, its flexibility and adaptability, is also its weakness in some scenarios as I can't literally tell it what to do. There is no AI hint that lets me glue a unit in place. Even when an area is "passive", units may still move out to attack weak units or recapture nearby objectives. I only discovered these limitations late in the design process, so improved AI hints will be added to a future release, but I had to deal with it in Black Turn.

As with virtually all AI's, long term strategies are not its main strength, which is why you might see AI units make moves that might make sense purely for a particular turn, but that can end up with its units being pocketed later on.

The AI abandoning its positions near Moscow is caused by something I just noticed when checking the AI hints after reading your posts: after I made the first versions of the scenario, Tomislav did the finishing touches and some units were relocated. As such, some hints are no longer in their correct places/no longer have their desired effect. I should've rechecked prior to release, but didn't think the changes would cause this behaviour. This will be fixed in the first patch.

Vaktathi
First Lieutenant
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:16 am

Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby Vaktathi » Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:34 pm

I've played through all the Black Turn scenarios and beaten them all now, definitely see what other people ran into on the Donbas Nip mission. I managed to beat that one by securing the bridge where your Panzer divisions are and just shuffling them back and forth each turn across the bridge and annihilating everything on the other side for a few turns (clearing out the massive pocket of meatshield divisions) before bursting through and engaging the objective locations and securing them in short order for DV. This mission felt *really* tight as I was constantly expecting a Soviet breakthrough in the north until I could reinforce a couple of solid German divisons (while the poor allied divisions served their purpose...) to block Soviet breakthrough to the supply lines.

Clx-
First Lieutenant
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon May 14, 2012 4:54 pm

Re: Black Turn, serious business.

Unread postby Clx- » Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:46 pm

That unit relocate outside Moscow is the only reason I finished in 14 turns, hah.


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