Your Kharkov experience?

Discussion relating to Kharkov: Disaster on the Donets

Moderators: Run5 Staff, SSG Staff

Your Kharkov experience?

Postby The Red Baron » Sat Apr 10, 2010 1:52 pm

In playing Kharkov as the Soviets against a German AI, I was surprised by the results and the direction my strategy took. When the Germans attacked in the South, I expected to hold them for a turn or two as I withdrew in good order towards the river line that runs through Barvenkovo. Instead, the computer completely eliminated 6 rifle regiments on the first turn, blasting a 40km hole in my line. Despite attacking from enemy minefields against entrenched Soviet units, the AI seemed to have no problem hitting me at high odds and scoring a substantial amount of step losses on each attack. I was losing units left and right and wondering how I was going to stop Fritz from capturing Kupyansk by the 8th or 9th turn.

In a similar vein, I can't see how the Soviets are expected to advance against Kharkov from Staraya Saltov. As soon as you move out of your entrenchments, you're easy meat for the Germans as they pound your unentrenched units in open terrain with everything they possess. Maybe I'm conservative, but I pulled back rather than get slaughtered. I could launch a simultaneous attack with the 21st and 23rd TCs, but then I risk losing them in the same fashion. The Germans seem to possess an incredible amount of combat power around Kharkov. What's a good strategy in this situation? Has anyone else had a similar experience or is it just me?

My strategy has evolved (or maybe devolved?) into "sniping" unentrenched and exposed German units with 1-2 steps (like recce, AT, AA, etc) rather than launching a purposeful counterattack against their very powerful motorized and mechanized infantry regiments. I'm finding it very hard to eliminate a 4 step mechanized infantry regiment in one turn unless I strip a substantial amount of my defensive line to pile up enough tactical shifts. If I can't eliminate it in one turn, it's right back at me the following turn. Most of these units have 5-7 timed replacements and refit missing steps the very next turn. I've had to let the powerful German formations bludgeon themselves against my rifle regiments, which has had the unfortunate effect of nearly bleeding my rifle divisions white (and leaving me little with which to counterattack). What's an aspiring Marshal of the Soviet Union to do if he doesn't want Stalin to throw him in the GULag or execute him for incompetence?
User avatar
The Red Baron
Sergeant
Sergeant
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:18 pm
Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Postby jjdenver » Sat Apr 10, 2010 9:04 pm

It's a tough scenario I'd say. Hopefully someone more experienced than I am can contribute some help but you might want to try a game as the German side to get a feel for what they can do and see how the Soviet AI handles the Red Army.
jjdenver
Lieutenant
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:37 am

Postby Talos » Sun Apr 11, 2010 1:12 am

Have you had a look at the AAR's (links below). Both mine and Spuddy's attacks should give a good indication of what the Soviet player can do. The computer as some sub optimal strategies and it should be possible to take account of them especially in the south. In the first 4 turns use your arty, every unit should be firing every turn (turn 4 maybe not) because of the attack bonus the Soviet HQ's are dishing out. Against the computer you should be able to punch a hole through the German lines unless your luck is really off and destroy a high number of units.

http://www.ssg.com.au/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5075

http://www.ssg.com.au/forums/viewtopic.php?t=5073
"There is only one decisive victory: the last." (Karl von Clausewitz)
_____________________________
PBEMS
1: OTP Axis v Noakesy
2: OTP Axis v Spuddy
3: OTP Axis v JSS
4: Open

ImageImageImage ImageImageImage
User avatar
Talos
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
 
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 5:59 am
Location: Kent, UK

Postby Gregor Whiley » Mon Apr 12, 2010 2:22 pm

As the Soviet player, you have two, somewhat conflicting, objectives. You must make hay while the sub shines and kill as many Germans as possible while you have your artillery bonuses in the first few turns.

On the other hand, you still can't afford to leave attacking units isolated where they can be easily picked off by the defenders. There are, after all, two entire panzer divisions in Kharkov. So I try to advance my soviets as a wall, keeping a strait front line along the main axis of attack towards Kharkov.

This doesn't prevent counter-attacks, but it means you don't give away any easy options to the Germans. Try and put infantry stacks with AT guns in the most vulnerable positions, and keep your armour just behind the front line. Use interdiction to help protect your flanks by making it harder for the Germans to concentrate there.

Finally, if you don't make a real effort in the south, the Germans can just concentrate on stopping and then cutting up your Kharkov attack. Your written orders mandate an all out attack, and so long as you can prove that your every action was in accordance with your orders, then you won't get sent to the Gulag, no matter how many Red Army soldiers die as a result. It is only independent thought, words or deeds that are dangerous and must be crushed wherever they emerge.

Gregor
Gregor Whiley
Vice President, SSG
www.ssg.com.au
User avatar
Gregor Whiley
SSG
 
Posts: 712
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2003 10:55 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby Talos » Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:11 pm

Gregor Whiley wrote:This doesn't prevent counter-attacks, but it means you don't give away any easy options to the Germans. Try and put infantry stacks with AT guns in the most vulnerable positions, and keep your armour just behind the front line. Use interdiction to help protect your flanks by making it harder for the Germans to concentrate there.


The bit about armour is probable where i would disagree with Gregor, i believe in using it aggressively which shows up in my AAR of the Soviets, Spuddy is more in the Gregor camp i think in this regard. Its also means i tend to lose a fair number of my Tank Brigades, but this more than balances out in what i gain for it, any way my two pennies worth. :D

As an added note the computer will try and protect Krosnograd early on which is probable not an optimal strategy and you should be able to take advantage of it by hitting some of the other locations and opening up a route from the south side of Kharkov to the Soviet souther forces, which is a major plus especially later in the game, though all being well Krosnograd should fall as well but at a time of your chosing, releasing the 17th Army reserves to early can be a major problem.

I also try and make German units surrender where possible as it means the Panzer Bn's and Infantry regiments do not reappear.
"There is only one decisive victory: the last." (Karl von Clausewitz)
_____________________________
PBEMS
1: OTP Axis v Noakesy
2: OTP Axis v Spuddy
3: OTP Axis v JSS
4: Open

ImageImageImage ImageImageImage
User avatar
Talos
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
 
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 5:59 am
Location: Kent, UK

Postby The Red Baron » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:14 pm

Talos,

I appreciate the AARs. Spuddy followed a plan in the Southern Front sector that I had not considered: repair the bridge and do your best to withdraw across the major river line prior to first PzA's attack. Instead, I tried to maintain a continuous front with a small reserve for counter attack purposes, but the AI had no problem obliterating entire units in one fell swoop and punching holes in my line. The AI has split my forces and several divisions of the 57th Army have been cut off in the Lozovaya-Panutino area. The AO limits their retreat hexes so there's no way I can move them to the correct side of the river with German forces intervening. I am sure they will become statistics in the next turn or two.

I also appreciate the tip on surrender. I've concentrated on eliminating units to score the VPs, but I think I would sacrifice the extra points rather than face the same units again. What's the best way to force a surrender?

I've followed Gregor's advice outside Kharkov by forming a solid wall of units with the TBs just to the rear of the front line. I have to admit I'm conservative when it comes to the TBs. Unlike the German Panzer Battalions, once they're eliminated, they're gone for good and that makes me nervous. I've used them to some effect to polish off weakened or isolated German units and wear down Fritz's more powerful formations.

I captured Krasnograd "early" (turn 7) and now (turn 12) 17th Army is hammering away at my positions. I wish I had timed my "acquisition" a little later per your suggestion.

I've played and thoroughly enjoyed all of the DB series games, but it seems to me that combat in Kharkov is far deadlier. It also seems artillery is less effective. The chance for light or medium caliber artillery in Kharkov to remove a step against an entrenched unit (especially where terrain negatively impacts its chances) seems more luck than anything else. I've pounded away against entrenched units for several turns to little effect; a waste of ammo if you ask me. I miss the tactical shifts that artillery provided in the earlier game engines, especially the two defensive shifts provided by the American M7 105mm Priest units. Strategically positioned, these units gave awesome protection for advancing infantry and armor divisions in the Italy and Normandy games. I'm sure the designers explained their logic in modeling artillery differently when Battlefront was released. Does anyone remember the reasoning behind eliminating the shift system?
User avatar
The Red Baron
Sergeant
Sergeant
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:18 pm
Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Postby Gregor Whiley » Tue Apr 13, 2010 4:05 pm

I did a reply to another post which went into what I see as the advantages of our new artillery system, but I would like to talk here about the issue of artillery effectiveness.

The fact is that firing divisional artillery against a well entrenched enemy is not likely to cause them a lot of grief. If you want to cause real trouble, you either round up a huge number of guns and/or bring in the heavy brigade from corps/army level.

Where divisional level guns come into their own is in punishing any attackers, who usually have to leave their entrenchments and move adjacent to attack, or picking off retreating units forced out of entrenchment by combat. This way, your artillery units get to be part of an active defense, especially if you combine them with a well timed counter-attack.

Gregor
Gregor Whiley
Vice President, SSG
www.ssg.com.au
User avatar
Gregor Whiley
SSG
 
Posts: 712
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2003 10:55 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby Talos » Tue Apr 13, 2010 9:29 pm

For units having a chance to surrender it can happen as low as the 8-1 combat table on a roll of a 6, but you need to have the 3 shift armour to get it up to that and no defensive shifts for anti tank. Generally you will get an automatic or almost automatic surrender chance at 20-1 and about 50% at 12-1, the CRT's will show it in detail if you check them. I forgo the other advantages in forcing units to surrender, you do not use any attack supply and attacking units suffer no combat losses as well as units not reappearing.

Taking Krosnograd is best after turn 8 so the Germans get less replacements for taking such a crucial location or about turn 13/14 so the 17th Army reinforcements don't really get a chance to do any thing.

Gregor is right in general its better to use arty after a units been forced to retreat is a lot more vunrable. There are a couple of cavats to this, the first 3/4 turns for the Soviets when they get the arty bonus, use this for all its worth and the heavy arty. Also each successful arty and air strike increase the chance of a unit retreating in combat. So the Soviets in the first four turns basically pick a few units/stacks, pound them with arty, then close combat and then arty again after hopefully they have retreated at which point the units in question or stack of units are toast.

Another tactic you can use with Soviet forces is just a series of low odds attacks to just gradually wear down German units over the course of a number of attacks a turn. This can be very effective as the Soviets have more replacements and more units so they can afford the losses so they cann afford to attack on the 1-1 combat table.

As an added note most of the Soviet Tank Brigades is generally not that good apart from the T34's and KV's, so i am not to fussed if lose them part from the high VP's combat wise they are not that effective, their other use is to use them to soak up losses in attacks and to keep the infantry regiments in a stronger state.
"There is only one decisive victory: the last." (Karl von Clausewitz)
_____________________________
PBEMS
1: OTP Axis v Noakesy
2: OTP Axis v Spuddy
3: OTP Axis v JSS
4: Open

ImageImageImage ImageImageImage
User avatar
Talos
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
 
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 5:59 am
Location: Kent, UK

Postby The Red Baron » Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:17 pm

I see your point about divisional artillery. In the DB series, they typically received a +1 shift while the corps/army level artillery (like the American 240mm and 8" howitzers) received +2 and +3 shifts. While the engines model artillery differently, the designers have kept their effectiveness consistent from game to game (divisional artillery requiring a roll of 4-6 to score a hit while corps/army artillery hits with a roll of 2-3). I find myself using artillery in the exact way you describe Gregor. I bring up the Katyushas and mortars to punish retreating units or unentrenched attackers while pounding away at entrenchments with the Soviet 152mm.

With surrender I was hoping there was an easier way besides achieving a +3 shock bonus or piling up 12-1 and 20-1 odds. I hesitate to attack at low odds because there's a good chance the loss ratio will be quite unfavorable for the attacker and you miss the chance at an overrun, which I try to grab whenever I can.

It's amazing to see the difference in philosophies when it comes to strategy but that's what makes the game (for me) such fun to play; lots of variety and things to try before you wear yourself out. Let me take this opportunity to express my gratitude to, and admiration for, SSG. Since the days of Korsun Pocket, your efforts have provided me with an inexpensive and enjoyable hobby and hours of fun (and frustration). It says something when SSG is the last surviving developer (that I know of) from the days of the Commodore 64 and Apple IIe. I look forward to new titles using the Kharkov engine (can't wait to start ATD2), and I hope SSG will remain a viable concern for years to come. I'll do my best to support your efforts.
User avatar
The Red Baron
Sergeant
Sergeant
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:18 pm
Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Postby Gregor Whiley » Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:24 pm

The Red Baron wrote:I see your point about divisional artillery. In the DB series, they typically received a +1 shift while the corps/army level artillery (like the American 240mm and 8" howitzers) received +2 and +3 shifts. While the engines model artillery differently, the designers have kept their effectiveness consistent from game to game (divisional artillery requiring a roll of 4-6 to score a hit while corps/army artillery hits with a roll of 2-3). I find myself using artillery in the exact way you describe Gregor. I bring up the Katyushas and mortars to punish retreating units or unentrenched attackers while pounding away at entrenchments with the Soviet 152mm.

With surrender I was hoping there was an easier way besides achieving a +3 shock bonus or piling up 12-1 and 20-1 odds. I hesitate to attack at low odds because there's a good chance the loss ratio will be quite unfavorable for the attacker and you miss the chance at an overrun, which I try to grab whenever I can.

It's amazing to see the difference in philosophies when it comes to strategy but that's what makes the game (for me) such fun to play; lots of variety and things to try before you wear yourself out. Let me take this opportunity to express my gratitude to, and admiration for, SSG. Since the days of Korsun Pocket, your efforts have provided me with an inexpensive and enjoyable hobby and hours of fun (and frustration). It says something when SSG is the last surviving developer (that I know of) from the days of the Commodore 64 and Apple IIe. I look forward to new titles using the Kharkov engine (can't wait to start ATD2), and I hope SSG will remain a viable concern for years to come. I'll do my best to support your efforts.


Thank you for your support, we'll do our best to keep going and to keep up the good work.

Gregor
Gregor Whiley
Vice President, SSG
www.ssg.com.au
User avatar
Gregor Whiley
SSG
 
Posts: 712
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2003 10:55 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Postby Talos » Thu Apr 15, 2010 9:34 pm

As an added thought the Kharkov combat system rewards aggressive play (combat, movement, placement of units, exploitation etc) and keeping the initiative. The last being probable the most important, i can't describe it better than this, but it seems to work this way both against the AI and humans, as soon as you start hunkering down unless you absolutely have to you lose control of the out come of the game to very large extent.
"There is only one decisive victory: the last." (Karl von Clausewitz)
_____________________________
PBEMS
1: OTP Axis v Noakesy
2: OTP Axis v Spuddy
3: OTP Axis v JSS
4: Open

ImageImageImage ImageImageImage
User avatar
Talos
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
 
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 5:59 am
Location: Kent, UK

Postby Henri » Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:13 am

One important thing is to know that the Soviets can afford to lose a LOT more units than the Germans (they can lose up to 10 times more units and still win), and more importantly, the victory locations are a LOT more important to the Soviets than to the Germans. Some victory locations give nothing to the Germans, but can give an overwhelming victory to the Soviets if they hold them for a few moves. Check out the Kharkov VPs for an example.

This is also true of AtD2. Check out my Ai vs AI tests for Karkov on the Matrix forum and more numerous ones for AtD2 also on the Matrix forum.

In sum, as the Soviets, don't worry about losing this division or that or even a whole army, as long as you can get VPs in exchange. Do this as the Germans and you are sure to lose.

Henri :?
Henri
New Recruit
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jan 10, 2004 5:15 am

Postby The Red Baron » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:12 pm

I noticed at the beginning of the second turn (I think) that the computer projected the Soviets to win a decisive victory (by several thousand points) if no further casualties or change in territory occurred. I was quite surprised as I had captured no objectives yet and scored only a handful of KIAs. I realized the German player, whether AI or human, was under great pressure to capture and hold lots of objectives and eliminate as many Soviet units as possible. This seemed a little unfair but after thinking about it, the victory conditions for the game mirror the problems the German army faced in real life.

That being said, I still feel uncomfortable with losing an entire Army (the 9th) on the Southern Front. The balance of combat in the south seems a little too lopsided. In one turn I lost 36 steps distributed among 10-15 units while the AI suffered only 5-6 step losses; timed replacements will replace those losses the very next turn. I stacked 6-7 steps per hex and each unit was entrenched. It made no difference. The Germans rolled over me as if I my units sat unentrenched in clear terrain. Anyone else playing the Soviet side have a similar experience?

In any case I've decided to ratchet up the aggression level and make an effort to capture Kharkov. I don't need the points, but it will change my AOs allowing me to reinforce the Southern Front with units from the Southwestern Front.

Has anyone had any success withdrawing their units across the major river line in the South and holding the 1st PzA below it for most of the game?
User avatar
The Red Baron
Sergeant
Sergeant
 
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2007 12:18 pm
Location: Huntsville, Alabama

Postby Noakesy » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:48 pm

The Red Baron wrote:Has anyone had any success withdrawing their units across the major river line in the South and holding the 1st PzA below it for most of the game?


Yep, although can depend when your russki forces are released by the capture of Barvenko by the Hun (IIRC). If Fritz releases russki forces they can get back and form a very effective defensive line. There are also other ideas (such as those I picked up from Carl, who I think picked it up from Mario), that allows a large number of troops to escape a battering in the south and therefore preserve them for a defence or back-hand blow in the south.
Image ImageImage
User avatar
Noakesy
Colonel
Colonel
 
Posts: 1968
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 9:23 pm
Location: UK

Postby Talos » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:15 pm

Noakesy wrote:
The Red Baron wrote:Has anyone had any success withdrawing their units across the major river line in the South and holding the 1st PzA below it for most of the game?


Yep, although can depend when your russki forces are released by the capture of Barvenko by the Hun (IIRC). If Fritz releases russki forces they can get back and form a very effective defensive line. There are also other ideas (such as those I picked up from Carl, who I think picked it up from Mario), that allows a large number of troops to escape a battering in the south and therefore preserve them for a defence or back-hand blow in the south.


The south can be defended in a number of ways, to have any chance though you to have the units in position before the German advance accross the river to Izyum. If Barevenkovo is taken you can get the 9th Army units in place, its unlikely that the 57th Army will get in place though. In addition if you are going to try and defend the river line you need the SW front reserve units and if you get them the three extra alert divisions. Its just about possible to hold the river line for a turn or two with the SW front attached forces (5 Rifle Divisions, 3 Engineering units, 2 Tank Brigades, 1 Infantry Brigade plus the AA and AT units) but they will need reinforcing in short order.
"There is only one decisive victory: the last." (Karl von Clausewitz)
_____________________________
PBEMS
1: OTP Axis v Noakesy
2: OTP Axis v Spuddy
3: OTP Axis v JSS
4: Open

ImageImageImage ImageImageImage
User avatar
Talos
Lieutenant-Colonel
Lieutenant-Colonel
 
Posts: 755
Joined: Wed May 04, 2005 5:59 am
Location: Kent, UK

Next

Return to Kharkov Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron