AAR OtP vs JSS (VICTORY!)

Discussion relating to Battles in Normandy

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Postby Abwehr » Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:33 am

Are you not (ab)using the retreat priority rules out of principle or? I didn't do so either before my game with Noakesy, but it's basically the only way to really cause some unit losses to the Commonwealth forces.
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Postby Amgot » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:05 am

I would use them if I could. It might not be apparent in the screenshots but JSS is very much aware of how I could trap his units with the retreat rules, and he is very careful not to give my any interesting opportunity.
To be honest, I had one opportunity this turn, but it required a total of four attacks, including one against the CW stack in the woods north of Bourguebus ridge (ie at 8-1 odds and higher, only 2 chances out of 3 to get a retreat). I would probably have suffered a 3 to 6 steps loss, so I reckoned it wasn't worth it, as I wasn't even sure it would work.
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Postby Amgot » Thu Mar 10, 2011 5:12 am

After a two-month break, JSS and I are back in Normandy for the last 20 turns.

Turn 55, July 30th, 1944 – And here comes the mud…

This turn is the first of four consecutive mud turns, with a mostly rainy weather. I can only hope this will hamper JSS’s ability to attack. News from the front are lukewarm, with both good news at Trecy and bad news at Coutances and Thury-Harcourt. Regular infantry replacements are running low (15 left for the last 20 turns), mech are ok (10 left, and most mech units still have at least 2 timed replacements). I’m gonna have to stop reinforcing three-step infantry units, keeping regular replacements for four-step units only.


Thanks to a huge concentration of artillery and other assets combined with a lucky dice roll, U.S. troops establish a foothold over the Sienne river, pushing back a panzergrenadier regiment of the 116th Panzer. This is bad news – I had hoped I would be able to hold this line for at least a few turns. In the Agon-Coutainville peninsula, the two encircled regiment of the 243rd Division inflict heavy losses to American attackers but are now out of supply.

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The other troops we had left on the north bank of the river are too exposed now and are ordered to retreat to the south bank.

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It seems that my swift reaction to last turn’s breakthrough at Trecy has shed JSS’s hopes of pocketing my units of the 276th Division. He has limited himself to pounding a three-step regiment of the 265th Division exposed on four sides northwest of Trecy (which miraculously survived five attacks but is now out of supply), as well as pushing back two regiments of the 352nd and 709th Division on the northeast side of the bulge.

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Some exposed units are ordered to retreat. In the eastern part of this sector, the whole line pulls back one hex due to British pressure near Aunay.

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Along with his crossing of the Sienne river south of Coutances, this sector is where JSS was the most successful this turn. He has concentrated most of the British arty and quite a lot of units there, and four grinding attacks have been enough to destroy the panzer regiment of the 21st Panzer guarding the road to Thury-Harcourt. Thankfully, he didn’t exploit the gap to try and advance toward the Orne and the bridge there.

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The 17th SS PzG and 16th Division are ordered to pull back after British grinding proved too effective last turn. Entrenching behind the Orne should render British grinding much more difficult.

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JSS hasn’t tried anything in the plains south of Caen.

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I resolve to try and use to my advantage the retreat rules. In the ensuing fight, a 4-step regiment of Cromwells is destroyed for 60 VPs for a loss of only one step on my side. Bourguebus ridge is exposed on three sides and is thus abandoned for fear that JSS plays the same trick I just played on him.

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Postby Amgot » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:11 pm

Turn 56, July 31st, 1944 – Operation Totalize

With only a week of advance compared to the historical operation, JSS has finally launched his great offensive south of Caen. His objective: break through the panzer lines and use his numerical superiority to advance in the plains toward Falaise. Whether I can push it back and retreat in an orderly manner or not will probably decide the fate of the campaign. Meanwhile, the Americans have a pretty ineffective turn.


Still mired in my minefields, American forces fail to break out of their tiny bridgehead south of the Sienne river despite several attacks. In the Agon-Coutainville peninsula, the last two regiments of the 243rd Division have finally surrendered.

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The orders here are clear: hold the ground. The only exception is a limited tactical retreat south of Cerisy, which frees up some troops.

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In the westernmost area, the 4th U.S. Armor makes some progress on the road leading south to the village of Villebaudon, though it fails to inflict serious casualties to my units, thanks to a couple of early retreats. Only minor skirmishes are signaled in the rest of the sector.

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The absence of aerial interdiction shows that this sector is not JSS’s focus point anymore (though it could be again very quickly), so a handful of reserve assets are moved east toward Thury-Harcourt and Caen.

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British grinding is ineffective this turn: two attacks are pushed back by the 17th SS PzG and KG Von Luck with only light losses on our side.

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However, I’m once again forced to withdraw. I have too many stacks incapable of sustaining a concentrated British grinding with +4 shock units, and I don’t want to lose units holding ground that has no VP worth whatsoever. The bad news is that by withdrawing there, I’m extending my front. Already, I can’t form a second defense line in many places.

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JSS hasn’t been half-hearted in his attempt to break the stalemate south of Caen. Although no combat has occurred yet, he has ordered forward all his units in the area, putting pressure on my line and hampering my possibilities to counter-attack effectively. While the U.S. corps, spearheaded by the 6th Armor, threatens Rocquancourt, the Anglo-Canadians have occupied Bourguebus ridge and Vimont. Finally, the 11th Armour and 3rd Division seem to be attacking on my east flank although from the volume of forces engaged (2 divisions), I would tend to think that it is a diversion attack.
I’m not sure this attack was long-planned. Rather, it might have been due to a combination of me retreating from Bourguebus ridge, while eliminating a British unit in clear terrain and then safely retreating behind my lines. It is perfectly possible that frustrated with the stalemate in this area in the last seven turns and infuriated by my ability to strike at his units in clear terrain while suffering no losses, JSS decided to take a risk and attack.

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I’m at risk of being overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemy units. A few Allied stacks are pushed back with only light losses: JSS uses his numerical superiority well and denies me tactical shifts, making it difficult to get good odds even against unentrenched stacks in clear terrain. Still, I manage to destroy a Canadian regiment worth 48 VPs in a series of encounters southwest of Vimont.

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Postby Amgot » Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:44 pm

And this AAR will go no further after JSS unconditionnally surrendered!

Here is what he had to say:

"No reason to continue this one. Its been over for 15+ turns. Weather remains terrible which changes the scenario balancing in a really significant way (crushingly so with my poor opening moves and your excellent defense)."

That's a pretty good summary of our game. Weather has been clearly to my advantage since the beginning: the only time I experienced real supply issues was during the Cotentin withdrawal - and still only for a turn or two.


Regarding JSS's suboptimal opening moves, I would say that he made three main mistakes with the Americans:

- not attacking sooner in the Cotentin. After a good first week (Carentan captured on turn 7, good dice rolls), he focused solely on advancing toward St-Lo. However, at that point, his dice rolls went down and in 20 turns, he didn't make much progress. Meanwhile, I was bringing in units and strengthening my defense line in this sector, while my defense line in the Cotentin remained weak as ever.
- when he finally attacked in the Cotentin, he advanced toward Cherbourg instead of attacking toward St-Sauveur and cutting the peninsula in half. I didn't have much to stop him around St-Sauveur, even if the terrain is not very favorable to the attacker there.
- more generally, I would say he favored grinding a little bit too much over outflanking in the first half of the game.


Also, I noticed a couple of very minor mistakes with the scenario:

- the German 275th Division cannot use trucks
- 2nd French Armor: "cheveux légers" -> "chevaux légers" (the latter means "light horses" but the former means "light hair"!).
- a couple of U.S. independent recon units have different VP values (eg: 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance = 36 VPs ; 102th Cavalry Reconnaissance = 40 VPs)
- the engineer battalion of the 4th Canadian Armour has only +3 shock


Finally, I reckon two engine features would dramatically improve the gameplay - at least for the defender. First, the possibility for the player to specify retreat conditions (e.g retreat at the first attack, retreat when down to X steps, retreat when anti-shock <2, etc...) for each stack would eliminate the infamous 7-1 grinding. Second, the ability to designate favored retreat hexes for each defending stacks would make it much more difficult for the attacking player to take advantage of the retreat rules to trap enemy units in the open, like I did on several occasions.
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Postby Noakesy » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:13 am

Very good AAR I have to say, well done to you both. :D
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Great AAR

Postby critter » Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:40 pm

Great Job guys.
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Postby Abwehr » Sun Mar 27, 2011 9:11 pm

Well played Amgot.

My game with Noakesy will probably continue at some point, but it's temporarily on hold.

If the Allies get good dice rolls, they can really grind a lot of steps into a pulp per turn, Noakesy's current record is 10 steps or so in a single turn. That's pretty good considering that we're only halfway through the scenario.

I'm hoping that the many Commonwealth forces I destroyed will help me out in the end, but obviously 10 steps/turn isn't really sustainable.

Of course, in the end it's not about unit preservation but about holding VH's, but still.

I agree that the scenario could use some improvements, but even in the latest engine, Pete AU ran into balancing issues that just couldn't really be avoided/fixed.

My main problem with scenarios like this, and the reason why I prefer scenarios with more open terrain like Kharkov or Fall Gelb, is that a lot/too much depends on dice rolls. You get good ones as the Allies, you get rolling. You get poor ones, you're essentially stuck. In difficult terrain scenarios, more depends on luck than skill and that's not a situation I favour.
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Postby Amgot » Mon Mar 28, 2011 12:27 am

Thanks for the comment guys. I'm still waiting for JSS to come and share his analysis of the game. ;)
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Postby dravid456 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:03 pm

keep up the good work Great work.
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