TAO4 or TAO5

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TAO4 or TAO5

Postby ciril » Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:46 am

I want to start a new game of TAO with my long-time PBEM opponent. I no longer have BiN or BiI so I will have to buy them anew. At $40, I can afford only one. The question is, which engine/TAO scenario is better?

We played both a while ago. I am perhaps leaning more towards TAO5, because it emphasized road movement more. I didn't like outflanking through thick forest in TAO1-4, because the game would, as a consequence, often turn into a continuous static line. Also in TAO5, a dug in but unsupported US regiment would get wiped out by a determined German attack, which wasn't the case before, forcing me to stack TD battalions with the 101st airborne regiments; the airborne regiments were perhaps too tough on their own in TAO1-4.

Please voice your opinion, if you have one.
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Postby YappyRaccoon » Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:35 am

I don't know. By the sounds of it, that restricted road movement one is more realistic cause I know the tanks could not move off of it in most cases in the real battle. I think I played the #4 version last but it has a fatal flaw where the german player can use an exploit of funnelling everything through the middle all the way to the left side of the map before the americans have any units there to block it off. But anyways, I can play too if you want a second game of it going, just I prefer no one uses that exploit I mentioned just now cause the scenario is quite fun to play normally.
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Postby ciril » Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:24 pm

Thanks for the reply, YappyRaccoon. I've played both but it was so long ago (years) that I barely remember the mechanics.

I agree, TAO1-4 had the flaw (for want of a better word) in that it was possible to outflank the defender through thick woods. The defender would know this, too, so the game would quickly turn into fairly static warfare (too early for a Bulge battle, in my opinion).

I played only one PBEM game of TAO5, however. The TAO4 tactics no longer worked for me as the US player, as my skillful opponent attacked and destroyed too many units; I was not accustomed to the new mechanics. This, in turn, may cause me to resort to stacking more than in TAO4, which will allow for German outflanking. But since in TAO5 it's more difficult to drive through the woods, I'm hoping the battle won't be unrealistically mobile, either. So overall it seems that TAO5 is the way to go.
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Postby YappyRaccoon » Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:14 am

Yeah sounds good. In the real battle, it seems they couldn't drive the tanks offroad at all from what I've read of it so it was easy for the Americans to stall them.

Let' me know if you want to play me the TAO5 version. It sounds very interesting even if the Germans have little chance of winning.
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Postby ciril » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:15 pm

Thanks for the offer...I currently have an opponent and I can handle only one PBEM game at a time.

Hmmm too bad that the Germans have little chance of winning...As I said, that's not what happened to me last time!
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Postby YappyRaccoon » Sat Apr 26, 2014 5:35 am

Oh wow so the Germans won? That's good to hear. I just meant that usually it is very hard for the Germans to win in these Ardennes battles. You must have had a very smart opponent.
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Postby ciril » Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:12 am

My opponent was none other than this forum's Joel137, definitely a veteran DB player. I don't remember him conquering that much territory - the Meuse was not reached and Bastogne and Elsenborn did not fall - but a lot of US units were destroyed in frontal attacks. I could be wrong, but I think compared to TAO1-4 combat is more deadly. I remember digging in my 101st Airborne regiments at Bastogne - this would have turned the town into a fortress in TAO1-4 - but in our TAO5 game Joel hit at least one really hard and it was gone before I could reinforce it. I guess the moral is that one should stack TD units with infantry regiments. The same happened to at least one CC of the 9th or 10th Armored. So I expect to see bigger stacks in the next game, and more on roads than off.
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Postby ciril » Sun Apr 27, 2014 7:51 am

I see I am repeating myself a bit in this thread, sorry. :)
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Postby YappyRaccoon » Wed May 07, 2014 1:59 am

Be careful about big stacks cause there will be double dice results which means they have double the chance to force a retreat. Better not to go over 6 steps, although 4 is optimal if the defenders have decent shock defense (blue roundrels).

I haven't played #5 version, but you can check the terrain combat odds chart to see what is happening and compare the tables with the #4 version. Probably you've already seen the tables but just in case you haven't, this is a good way to know what's going on in combat.
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Postby ciril » Thu May 08, 2014 7:17 pm

Reading the manual and from the experience, big stacks are not more likely to retreat - only the first die can force a retreat.

I don't have BIN and TAO4 to compare with. But certainly compared to TAO3 there is more emphasis on roads, as noted in the scenario notes. Going offroad means more penalties, which means slow movement and more risk of running out of supply. This, coupled with the bullets carried by the units getting outflanked, makes for more difficult flanking through the woods. On the other hand, as I mentioned several times, attacking head on repeatedly can wipe out a whole regiment; not so in TAO3 - there I'd dig in an infantry regiment and just let them ride it out. In fact, even battalions could hold out for a while, now they just get overrun.
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Re: TAO4 or TAO5

Postby YappyRaccoon » Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:10 am

That's good to know. I had the impression that a double dice roll also doubled the danger of retreating.
There was a dangerous player called Carl that told me to limit my defenses to 4 steps after he smashed a big stack of my defenders so that's what made me scared of using stacked defenders.
He also smashed my non-stacked defenses so I became scared of anything he did.
That Carl player could magically slap around any defensive arrangement but I was a beginner and wasn't too sure at the time how to play well.
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Re: TAO4 or TAO5

Postby ciril » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:07 pm

Ha ha, that's funny! But I beg to differ about the double stacks. Rather, it's not just a matter of stack size, but other factors as well. If the stack has strong flanks or uses natural defenses (river, forest, city), and you want to hold the hex, then why not have a big stack. Also, smashing a big stack is not necessarily a game winning move; if the attacker has to commit too many resources, then a destroyed stack may actually lose the game.

Meanwhile, my opponent and I broke the curse again - the Germans won decisively. So maybe it's not so terribly unbalanced. The Germans do have to play the first 5 turns exactly right, though, or else they'll get more and more stuck as the US reinforcements arrive. So I guess it's probably better balanced for players who have experience with TAO.
Last edited by ciril on Sat Aug 02, 2014 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TAO4 or TAO5

Postby Abwehr » Tue Jul 29, 2014 3:15 pm

In TAO5 I've never seen the Germans lose if they know what they're doing. As in many DB series scenarios, counterattacking can be very difficult. The US have limited artillery and the Germans get something like 2 defensive shifts and a 70% defensive strength bonus from entrenching on difficult terrain CRT's that in many cases require 8:1 odds for a realistic chance of removing the defender, or even a chance. This is one of those scenarios where the defensive bonuses feel unbalanced. The scenario is too short for grinding.
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Re: TAO4 or TAO5

Postby ciril » Sat Aug 02, 2014 7:30 pm

Agreed that the terrain is difficult for the attacker. A dug in attacker can hold for a long time, and then the scenario ends. However, it is difficult for the Germans, too. The US can dig in, too. But if the Germans are highly successful in the first 10 turns, then the US cannot bulldoze their way back.

As for the artillery, I did not find that the US don't have enough. There is an almost constant stream of arty reinforcements throughout the game, and, perhaps more importantly, they are far more mobile than the horse-drawn German nebelwerfer. Also their range is greater. Consequently, you can have arty support wherever and whenever you need it. But again, if the Germans got too far in an organized fashion, you cannot push them back one hex at a time.
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Re: TAO4 or TAO5

Postby Abwehr » Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:23 am

There are numerous US artillery units, but many of them are just +1. For good attacks, you need +2 or +3 artillery units that you can use to counter the advantages enjoyed by the defender. Depending on how far the Germans get, the road network also limits the interior lines advantage that could otherwise be used by the motorized artillery units. I found it difficult to move artillery from one sector of the front to the next in a timely manner.

I don't think the US has enough units to slow the Germans down enough early on, and every regiment lost by the US will eventually be missed.

In my game against JSS, I preserved most of my forces but was simply unable to counterattack due to the limited number of good artillery units. Attacking a good elite entrenched unit with 8 units of my own often still gave 1.5:1 odds at best, so you need good artillery to get to the odds you need for a retreat to be possible. Even then, you can only launch 3-4 of those attacks each turn, each with only a small chance of succeeding.
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