OTP AAR Abwehr vs Lysimachus (no Lysimachus)

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OTP AAR Abwehr vs Lysimachus (no Lysimachus)

Postby Abwehr » Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:10 pm

Inspired by Amgot's excellent AAR, I'll also write an AAR for my game against Lysimachus.

The main reason for me to write this AAR is to compare the different playstyles between Amgot and me. The scenario allows the German player considerable freedom of choice regarding where to place which forces and how to use those forces, so naturally different strategies are developed.

Amgot and, judging by the comments, critter and others prefer a more aggressive stance. I prefer a defensive stance, with limited but deadly counterattacks. We all have different perspectives on what a good defence is in a scenario like this, so before I begin to explain my overall strategy I'd like to stress that I don't think this is the best possible strategy or the only successful one or anything like that. It's just my strategy. The more aggressive strategies favoured by some certainly have a lot of merit, but they don't suit my style.

To me, the key Allied advantages and disadvantages are:

+Plenty of replacements...
-...but not enough boots on the ground to break through early on.
+A large amount of independent combat units...
-...which don't get a divisional integrity modifier and are pretty weak in a fight with divisional German units. Independence from divisional control is both a blessing and a curse. That goes for independent units for both sides.
+Lots of artillery...
-...most of which won't arrive until July.
+Good battleship cover of the landing sites, which makes German counterattacks highly problematic...
-...but not enough battleships to cover the destruction of fortifications in all sectors, so they'll have to be shuffled around.
+Good air/partisan interdiction...
-...which the Germans can nullify to a significant extent through careful placement of AA and military police units. Many villages, towns and cities also have an AA radius.

To me, the key German advantages and disadvantages are:

+Very good mobile units...
-...but they can be bled white due to the limited armoured replacements and they can't be everywhere at once. They also trickle in slowly. Both Allied and German mobile units repair steps fairly slowly, which can be another handicap, especially for the Germans.
+A significant number of independent units of various shapes and sizes...
-...which won't be able to stop the Allies unless stacked with either combat units or support units.
+Some very good artillery units...
-...but not nearly enough to cover the entire front and getting from one side of Normandy to the other side without using transport assets is a nightmare. There's only a limited amount of rail capacity available.
+Infantry units are good enough to stop the Allies in the bocage...
-...but they can also be bled white like the mobile units and there's not much they can do against 10-1 attacks except pray they won't die, especially the 3 step ones.
+Good terrain to defend...
-...which can turn into a penalty when enough interdiction is placed in a single area.

House rules:

I normally don't play with houserules, but in this case it seemed sane to include one. Lysimachus has agreed: no landing in Cherbourg until a certain date after the city is captured. The formula for the certain date is: landings are possible from August 1st, but add one day for each day the port is captured beyond June 6th. If the port is captured on the historical date, the first troopships will also be able to arrive at the historical time.

A free landing in Cherbourg leads to all kinds of gamey situations where the Germans place artillery or non-combat units in the landing hexes, and this solution seems to be the most practical and historically accurate. There's no way in hell the Allies would be able to land in a mined and fortified port, especially as the crews of the forts are abstracted and the forts would be able to withstand barrages by battleships without too much difficulty. German engineers would also thoroughly wreck the port as soon as Allied ships or troops got near it, just like in real life.

Screenshots of the first 6 turns will be shown through taking screenshots of the replay screen (I'm waiting on turn 7 now), so unit presence and hex control isn't always 100% accurate and interdiction is missing.
Last edited by Abwehr on Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Abwehr » Sun Aug 22, 2010 11:31 pm

I'll start on turn 2, turn 1 wasn't too special aside from the 101st Airborne landing in a good position to attack Carentan on the short term.

The screenshots show the end of turn 2, after my movement.

Image

Caen/Bayeux sector. Nothing too special, the British are consolidating their position east of the Orne. I used two regiments from Hitlerjugend to make sure they didn't walk across the bridge, their position has been taken by StuGs. The broken bridge allows me to leave that hex open for a turn. The paratrooper regiment would be too weak to hold a woods hex on my side of the river for a turn. Unlike Amgot, I will build a line along the Dives. Leaving gaps is too risky, as Amgot eventually discovered. I'd rather have a handful of combat units less around Caen than worry about a possible Allied crossing which would seriously harm my defense.

I'm not sure why, but the Allies blew the bridge at Troarn. There are woods hexes on my side, so I doubt they're even going to be able to cross unless they outflank me.

My losses in the area: Merville guns, two Ost battalions.

Image

As you can see, Carentan's seriously exposed, but there's little I can do about it. Lysimachus rolled a 6 against one regiment of the 91st, so that's badly beaten up and it will be killed on turn 3 with another 6, not much I could do about that. My losses up to this point in that area are limited to a construction battalion which I used to prevent the Allies from coming across the river west of Carentan too easily.

The Allied landings were fairly bloody overall. They lost a tank battalion, a Priest battalion (one less 2 defensive shift artillery to worry about) as well as an engineer regiment and a fair number of steps on many units.
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Postby JSS » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:21 am

Very nice AAR, looking forward to seeing more! Its really nice to see a thread I can read in this discussion area :)

Here's my perspective on a couple of points:

- Troan and Collumbelles are really difficult to hold as the Allied player unless you've taken a hex or two of Caen city terrain.

- The ability for the Allies to land in Cherbourg was done for a couple of reasons. First, IMHO, too many players were abandoning Cherbourg and sending all units forward... totally ahistorical, so the design decision was to make landings impossible if hexes are occupied (i.e. by the garrision units and artillery types needed to defend the port)... this was a very early attempt at establishing an AO :) Secondly, as you note in the house rules, there were Allied landings that took place in Cherbourg... So the capability was added (either leaving weak units or agreeing to house rules are the obvious choices for a given play style) to maximize historical experience (i.e. not replaying history).

Again, looking forward to the next post!

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Postby Abwehr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:33 am

I can understand your feelings regarding the one active thread being the one you are not allowed to read. Well, as you already said now you have one you can read and your impressions from the Allied side are naturally quite welcome.

Regarding Cherbourg, it seemed a houserule was the most logical way to solve the issue. The Germans could, in my opinion at least, have held the city against a seaborne approach with just the fortress units, without mobile units. Landing would also have been problematic due to the presence of guns the navy could not neutralize and mines, not to mention the harbour being wrecked. A landing at the beaches around Cherbourg might've been possible, but would've required a diversion of Allied ships. Just like it's gamey for the Germans to leave the port empty for prolonged amounts of time, it's equally questionable that the Allies can neutralize all the forts with a handful of battleships, whilst fortifications typically needed a ground assault before they stopped firing.

As to the area east of the Orne: the battleship shifts make it very difficult/impossible to counterattack, and the Allies can pour reinforcements into the area. Although the area is also next to a German reinforcement area, it's also next to an Allied one. It's similar to the Voroshilovgrad/Stalino problem in Last victory in Russia/Kharkov 1943.

I can understand why Amgot decided to take an offensive stance, but too me it requires too many dice rolls to work. I know from experience that you can never rely on dice rolls, as I've gotten both good and bad rolls at completely unexpected moments. I'd rather base a plan on something I can manage, like making sure the Allies are not going to get anywhere east of the Orne by using minimal forces to keep as many Allied forces as possible busy. There's a truckload of German artillery in the area, so my few forces in the area should be able to bump the British back to where they came from if they decide to attack.

Lysimachus has been smart not to attack in the area thus far, although he has moved in a lot more troops than I expected and, in my opinion, isn't using all of them economically, more of that in the next few posts.
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Postby Abwehr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:48 am

If anyone wants to see the Allied part of the turn, just say so. I'm posting end turn screenshots because on most turns the frontline don't really move all that much and what happened is probably pretty clear.

Turn 3:

Image

A British AT battalion dies when landing. 50th Infantry Division recon is also too exposed and is killed.

The situation near Caen remains fairly stable. I don't really care whether the British get into the city or not, as long as they don't capture the VH's. I'm also trying to keep the east-west road across the map open as it really helps. In Amgot's game, the Allies advanced into the bocage quickly which more or less closed down that road early. As you can see, I moved Panzer Lehr there on turn 2 to avoid that. It makes the situation at Caen somewhat dangerous, but on the long term the operational benefits are substantial in my opinion, especially as it keeps the British in clear hexes with limited means to advance into a bocage hex and being open to being flanked when they do advance which allows me to pull of a very nice attack in a few turns as you can see.

Image

The Americans take Carentan, they kill an AA unit and a regiment of the 91st. I knew the AA unit would die, but I had hoped Lysimachus would not roll another 6 against the regiment he had mauled last turn. Ah well. His good to incredible rolls on crucial attacks stopped on turn 4, as he even rolled snake eyes in that one. The pull back from Omaha and Bayeux is orderly whilst still slowing the Allies down. As you can see, the road south from Bayeux is firmly in German hands.
Last edited by Abwehr on Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Lysimachus » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:49 am

I'll admit my use of the units across the Orne has been a bit ... suckish. It's just with Abwehr's clever use of the woods, villages and urban to form his defence it's impossible to launch any good attacks. Attacking in the bocage however is just futile considering rather than just dealing with the occasional village or woods, I would be dealing with a whole line of hexes with a hostile CRT.

Might have to wait quite a while to play my next turn though, my computer access right now is extremely limited.
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Postby Abwehr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:52 am

I see you missed the "no Lysimachus" :wink: It's not a problem for now, but I'd appreciate it if you'd stop reading when I get to turn 5 or so.

I also wouldn't say your placement of forces was "suckish", it's just that I was surprised you're using a motorized division to guard the flank at the Dives, whilst you know I'm not going to cross the river as I can only do that with some infantry formations and I only have one credible division there and that one isn't going to win me the war. As long as you keep a battalion with a support unit or the like in Cabourg, and a battalion or so two hexes south of that, and another two hexes south of that and just garrison Troarn with some good units, you free up a division.

You have a number of MG battalions. You could also use commando battalions, although their shock attack bonus is probably better than the fact that the MG battalions are motorized. I also just noticed that the British don't really have much in the form of support units.
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Postby Lysimachus » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:02 am

I know I shouldn't have read it, it's just my email provider is messing up right now and I thought I should tell you now that I won't be able to play a turn for quite a while. At least these are turns played a while ago though, and you didn't play a turn in a single sitting either, so when I noticed it then I was able to see all of your dispositions anyway. I'll leave now though, sorry :)
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Postby Abwehr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:48 am

It seems that there's a chance the PBEM session and thus this AAR won't continue, as Lysimachus seems to have some difficulties with his PC, and Secure games can't be continued on PC's other than the one they were started on.

The "you can see enemy moves if the enemy closes the game whilst playing his turn" thing is also rather annoying. I usually get numerous turns in a day, so for BiI games I tend to watch the replay first, close the game and then watch the other replays. In BiN, that seems to be problematic.

I'll post turn 4 and 5 (I've completed turn 6, but don't have end of turn screenshots for that) and that might be it as far as this AAR is concerned, depending on how severe Lysimachus' PC access problems are.
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Postby Abwehr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:52 am

Turn 4:

Image

I vacate 2 Caen city hexes to shorten my front, the British have already captured a third non-VH city hex.

The artillery residue you see east of Hitlerjugend is from an attack against a paratrooper regiment and a commando battalion, which rolled two dice. I believe the result was A1-D4, it might also have been A2-D4.

Other than that, nothing too special is happening in the area.

Image

The Americans are serious about getting to Cherbourg, but their progress is slow. 2nd Armor can't really do much to speed up the advance. 243rd Infantry kills an engineer regiment (below the tank battalion, it was there on turn 3). It had only 1 step, so it was an easy target. The Ost battalion behind enemy lines is deliberate and should've caused some supply difficulties by sitting on the only road from the beaches, aside from the road from Utah through Carentan.
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Postby Abwehr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:04 am

Turn 5:

Image

The attack I mentioned earlier was aimed at British units in Fontenay. I'm not really sure why he moved his units in between two of my stacks, but he did.

In Fontenay was XXXth Corps 4 step Sherman unit and a commando battalion. North of Fontenay was an independent motorized brigade and the recon battalion of the 49th Infantry. In the hex where you see Panzer Lehr's Panzer regiment was an independent recon battalion and a commando battalion.

A regiment from the 3rd Fallschirmjaeger with heavy artillery support removed the units from north of Fontenay (A2-D2R) and moved into its hex. The units in Fontenay were hit with an overrun attack (in a town/bocage hex!) and died, I believe the total result was A1-D6, both from the attacks and from the "can't retreat" KIA's. 21st Panzer and Panzer Lehr then removed the independent recon battalion and the commando battalion from their hex (A1-D2 or the like) and 21st Panzer's recon battalion, supported by artillery, killed the independent recon unit across the minor river. A very nice sequence of attacks, in my opinion.

Around turn 10, I would've been able to make about 4 attacks supported by a +8 artillery shift each turn, and still have enough other artillery to make even more attacks with good shifts. It would not be a good time to be a British soldier in a clear hex.

Image

The Americans kill a tank battalion and push the line north, slightly out of range of the screenshot but the penetration was not problematic: you can see the approaching 319th Infantry division.

-

I'm not sure if this concludes my AAR. If not, I'll update it when Lysimachus sends me a turn. If so, I'll start a new one. I'll discuss my strategies when this continues or when I start a new game, as it's kind of pointless to talk about how you intended a strategy to work if you can't see the results.
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Postby Amgot » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:21 am

Damn, I hope you can continue your game, I was very curious about your totally different style of defense east of the Orne! I never play secure game anymore, it's just too frustrating to lose games because of technical problems such as these.

About the defense on the Dives: even more important than having a continuous line is holding the city of Dives. If you hold the bridge, then the paratroopers and commandos are isolated in clear terrain east of the river with no means to defend against a counter-attack. I only left an Ost unit and a fusilier battalion in Dives. When JSS attacked, he had a +1 shock balance + elite units + the support of destroyer guns. If only I had positioned my nearby elite Stug unit in the city, I would have been able to nullify the first two advantages and I might have hold the city for one or two more turns. By then, I would have been able to launch a counter-attack on the weak commando and para units east of the river. Unfortunately, JSS crossed the Dives just as I had moved my AA unit elsewhere and thus his aerial interdiction slowed down the arrival of my reinforcements.

About Cherbourg, I'm still not convinced that allowing Allied battleships to destroy the habor's fortifications is a good idea. It ruins the very reason why those types of fortifications exist in BiN i.e to simulate fixed defensive positions that can't be destroyed through aerial or naval bombardment. Abwehr and Lysimachus's house rule seems like a good idea.

JSS, I asked you by email but we can as well discuss it here: what's your take on Abwehr's assertion that it's next to impossible to push back the Brits from their bridgehead east of the Orne in the first few turns?
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Postby Abwehr » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:51 am

As long as there's some pressure west of Caen, the odds that the Germans are going to push the British off the east bank of the Orne are minimal. I don't really see a way for them to get to Ranville unless they commit basically everyone they have and get good dice rolls, which isn't going to happen. ~ 2 Panzer divisions with little artillery support are simply not enough to clear out a stack of 4 entrenched units with good AT modifiers from a town hex, or even a clear hex as long as the Allies place detachments.

Removing the British before the mud would take too many resources that are not really available, if it's even possible at all. The Germans didn't really try that hard in real life, partially because the British mostly kept themselves west of the Orne and partially because it could require resources that were not available. Panzer divisions attacking in clear terrain, in view of Allied forward observers and everybody who's looking for targets are just begging to be utterly wrecked by land and sea based artillery and aircraft before they even get to their targets.

As to battleships: the problem is that there's basically only one type of fort in the sense that all forts can be targeted by barrage fire. Forts on a beach, visible from the sea, are thus the same kind of targets as forts hidden away in cities or in the bocage, even though the chance of battleships hitting such fortifications is minimal, not to mention their chance of disabling them. Perhaps a houserule that battleships can only fire on strongpoints at the beaches and in support of ground forces/can only fire at strongpoints within a certain radius of ground troops would make sense.

In a way, it's quite silly that battleships can hit strongpoints as far as Tilly and Balleroy and in all the bocage hexes between those towns and the Channel. The Allies could only dream of such support in real life. Battleships firing at bocage terrain would blow up a some trees, but hardly any Germans in bunkers.
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Postby JSS » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:12 am

Amgot wrote:
...About Cherbourg, I'm still not convinced that allowing Allied battleships to destroy the habor's fortifications is a good idea. It ruins the very reason why those types of fortifications exist in BiN i.e to simulate fixed defensive positions that can't be destroyed through aerial or naval bombardment. Abwehr and Lysimachus's house rule seems like a good idea.


My counter argument is that a hex that's tough to dislodge defenders from should be a terrain type and not an SP... see this as a "six one way, half dozen another" discussion... either approach is equally valid IMHO.

JSS, I asked you by email but we can as well discuss it here: what's your take on Abwehr's assertion that it's next to impossible to push back the Brits from their bridgehead east of the Orne in the first few turns?


Have successfully done this against a very dangerous opponent (and he very nearly did it to me in the mirror game). Took 14 turns to do... was very difficult (2010 understandment of the year on these boards). Also had some very open terrain West of Caen as a result... its a matter of balance and necessity. If you (as a German player) don't truly enjoy going toe-to-toe in all out assault, then Abwehr's assessment is correct. If the circumstances allow AND you have a high tolerance for risk, then the effort is worth it IMHO.

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Postby Abwehr » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:23 am

What did that opponent commit for the defense east of the Orne and what, roughly speaking, was your dice roll average if you recall that? To me, it's just too risky to commit many forces to kicking an opponent back to the other side of the Orne, although I might try it in the future. A few good dice rolls by the defender can nullify a lot of progress as the game between you and Amgot has shown.

From my perspective, my dice have a tendency to fail when I need a good roll, "best laid plans" and all that so I'm not going to commit ~4 SS/Panzer divisions to an operation that might very well be completely pointless or turn into an attritional conflict the Germans can only lose, which is another thing the game between Amgot and you has clearly shown: if the defenders are not removed from the east side of the Orne, the Germans have basically lost a lot of timed steps and possibly a few units for nothing (damage to non-para units can easily be repaired by the British).

I don't mind an all out assault, but I do mind an all out assault with questionable chances of any real success. To each his own.

If I were to guess, for the one time you managed to do it, your attempts failed a number of times in other games.

My counter argument is that a hex that's tough to dislodge defenders from should be a terrain type and not an SP


As an aside: Cherbourg is a city CRT like all other cities, the forts don't add anything as they're physical and can thus be destroyed, instead of being abstracted into the CRT. It's not more difficult for the Allies to capture the partially fortified city of Cherbourg than it is to capture Caen.
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