Those damn Allied aircraft have really caused me some problems this turn. This is by far the most difficult turn I have had... and the biggest problem I have is supply. I have clicked on the 'Show Supplied Hexes' button..
..to highlight all hexes in supply as green and all hexes out of supply as red. I have also selected the supply truck which is feeding the area around Houffalize, Laroche and Manhay. Note that the supply trucks radius is shown as the green dragon's teeth surrounding all of the hexes it is able to supply NEXT turn.
Let's pause here for a moment though and read an article that SSG Design Director, Steve Ford created which deals with the correct method for indentifing supply problems and bottlenecks. Click here to open it up in a new window, and then return here after you have read it .
As you can see I have a problem! You should just be able to see the silohette of the markers from where Chris allocated his air interdiction last turn. Its smack bang on my supply truck in Houffalize. Nice one - Not! This is potentially what has caused my supply problems - although I cant be sure. But it shows just how powerful a well placed air interdiction can be. And the allies get a fair few of this later in the game..
You can also see that my main force just over the river from Larcohe is not being supplied this turn - as they are on red supply hexes. This is a major problem for me.
Since these units can not trace a path back to a supply truck - they can not received any supplies - food, ammo, fuel. Each unit has what is called 'bullets'. The bullets indicates how long a unit can continue to operate without supply on the reserves its carries before it runs low on the essentials and is deemed go be 'cut off' and 'in the red'.
Lets have a look at a stack of these units - I have selected the stack that contains the 1SS Pnz.
As you can see from above, the 1SS Panzer is an ARM unit that has 4 steps - which means its at full strength, has an attack value of 28, a defence value of 30,has 14 movement points - but can trade their attack capability in for extended movement to give it 24 movement points.
Next to the units attack value of 28, you can see that it has 2 full bullets and 1 half bullet. This means that this unit can function for 3 'turns' (I will expand upon this later) without the need to be supplied before it runs out of ammo. We can see that 1 of its bullets is expended, and there are only 2 bullets left. Which means it can only function for 2 more 'turns' without the need to replenish supplies from the supply truck.
The unit under the 1SS Panzer in the stack is the 2SS Pz Grenadier. This unit we can see has a maximum of 2 bullets, but one of them has been used and it only has one more remaining. The same can be seen for the remaining units in the stack.
When a unit moves to a hex that is in supply all units in that hex will replenish all of their bullets at the begining of the next turn. So if a unit with a maximum of 3 bullets is down to its last bullet, it will recieve all of its bullets back when it is within range of a supply truck (or supply source).
In my explaination above I said that a unit with 2 bullets can function for 2 'turns' without the need to trace a path back to the supply truck for replenishment. This is a good rule of thumb, but its not an exact explaination. A unit will only expend a bullet when it uses its Attacking Action Capability (AAC). A units AAC is used when it, attacks, takes a replacement step, digs in, drops a detachment or uses its extended movement. So if a unit can not trace a path back to a supply truck and it doesnt perform any of these tasks (ie: uses its attack capability), then it will not lose a bullet.
So a unit could remain behind enemy lines or on a hex that is not being supplied indefinately without any concern - so long as it didnt use its Attacking Action Capability. So even though a unit only has 1 bullet - it could sit on an unsupplied hex for several or indeed many turns. A good example of this is Chris' 106th INF that he has wandering around behind my lines near St Vith.
Here Chris has 3 allied units behind my lines. They have been there since the start of the game - although he has moved them around a bit. There is no way that they are able to trace a path back to one of his supply trucks or a supply source. So they are not receiving any supply whatsoever. But are they feeling the effects of this? Well no not really. Not yet anyway. Out of the 3 units, only one of them is what we refer to as 'in the red'. In the red means they are completely cut off and out of supply - they have no ammo! The two other units are functioning quite ok. They each have one bullet which suggests that they one 1 'combat capabity turn' of supply left. So they can either attack, dig in, take a replacement drop a detachment etc.. once before they run out of ammo. But is that the end of it all.. well no.. lets go on..
We have said that a unit using its attacking action capability expends a bullet - and that all bullets are replaced at the begining of each turn - so long as the unit can trace a path to a supply source.
But there is more to it then that. What happens when a unit that is not in a supplied hex and is attacked??!
Any unit that is attacked (so defending units) also will expend a bullet through the defence that they put up. Ie: You have to use supplies to defend yourself! You may never have realised that defending units expend a bullet. In most instances you would not need to be aware of it because at the start of the defending players attacking turn (ie the next turn), all of their units will have had their bullets replenished - so its as if they didnt use a bullet anyway.
To explain that a bit more. The Allies attack a German unit that is in supply and defending. The German unit expends a bullet to defend. The Allies end their turn and the Germans start their turn. All German units in supply replenish their bullets - so the defending German unit gets its bullet back. The German player is free to attack or dig in or whatever with the unit that was attacked by the Allies during their turn. Follow? Hope I havent confused everyone.. but I do mention this for a reason.
Remember we said that at the start of each turn all units that can trace a path back to a supply truck will have their bullets replenished? Well at the start of each turn a unit that can not trace a path back to the supply truck will not get their bullets replenished.
So if a unit is on an unsupplied hex and it is attacked (defending) it will lose a bullet but it will not get it back at the start of their next attacking turn.. see where I am going..
Chris' 106th INF units that are behind my lines? Well even though only 1 out of 3 of those units are 'in the red' and have run out of ammo, the other 2 units will also expend their bullet and run out of ammo once I start attacking them. They cant defend forever!
So to sum all of that up.. each unit has a number of bullets. Bullets indicate how long a unit can remain 'functional' without the need for them to trace a path back to a supply source. Using your attacking action capability (through either attack, digging in, extended movement etc) expends a bullet. All units in a supplied hex will have all of their bullets replenished at the start of each turn. Any unit that is attacked (defending) and cant trace a path back to a supply source will also lose a bullet and not have it replenished - until they become supplied again.
In a future post I will look at what happens when a unit loses all of its bullets and 'goes into the red'..