TAO4 Feature AAR

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TAO4 Feature AAR

Postby Robjess » Fri May 14, 2004 10:57 pm

As a bonus scenario, The Ardennes Offensive is receiving a facelift (TAO4) and will be included as part of the forthcoming Battles in Normandy Game.

We have decided to use this new updated scenario as the basis of an AAR to showcase the new Battles in Normandy engine and interface. Why did we pick the TAO scenario and not a BiN one? Given that you are familar with the TAO scenario, we thought it would give you a greater insight into what the changes are between KP and BIN and it will allow you to see just how much more dynamic and powerful the new engine is. Time permitting we may even arrange for an AAR of one of the smaller BIN scenarios in the very very near future.

Arriving on the TAO4 battlefield will be Herr Robjess (the apprentice) v General Roger Keating (the master). I can tell you now that the results of this battle is already a given - there is no way I can beat Roger - he is a true champ when it comes to this scenario. So dont bother placing bets folks, its a one horse race. The intention of the AAR is for you to get an insight into the new engine - feel free to ask questions as we go along.

Lets start out by having a look at is presented to the German commander on turn 1. The first thing you notice are that things sure have changed. There are now many attack opportunities all along the front - including those over the rivers down south! I expect that you will need to throw away those old TAO3 tactics - because they may no longer be welcome here!

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Before I send my panzers rumbling through the hilly forests of the Ardennes though, lets have our first look at something new to the game.

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Shown above are some new type of Detachment Markers. The purpose of these are to reflect the confusing that the Allies experienced behind their lines. At the start of the battle the Allies didnt exactly know where the Germans were going to strike and what their goals were. As such they were unable to adequately allocated units and resources in response to the German advance. These markers will cause the Allies movement penalties which reflects their inability to respond early on.

They do not replace the German Ground Interdiction though. The German Ground Interdiction reflects the german troops that were placed behind lines to disrupt the allied advance. These units posed as Allies and caused considerable confusing at junctions by changing road signs.

So back to my turn, after a mix of good and bad luck, I have order my units into the unknown. The new recon units with their enhanced exposure abilities enable them to 'spot' enemy units much better then regular units do, so I have attempted to get them as close to the front as I can - whilst also trying not to activate any allied units that I would prefer to remain surprised - like the 9th ARM.

More next turn..
Last edited by Robjess on Sun May 16, 2004 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Roger Keating » Sat May 15, 2004 8:31 am

Rob has decided not to advance with the troops in the South thus not activating the infantry guarding the riverline. He has, however, activated the 9th Armor as a unit of the 1SS up North got to 3 hexes of the 9th Arm unit there. Then, of course, all the division has received orders to move and are now rushing to plug numerous gaps.

I have chosen to move units from the South to positions in front of the main German advance. The situation in the South is....

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The situation in the North is not worth showing as all the US troops are still working out why their Christmas period has been interrupted.

A few features of BIN....

There is a new popup in the combat display. This shows the odds around the current combat table, allowing for better calculation of the odds, or a wish that you had a few additional men.

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In the replay a green die is now used when an overrun has been achieved, making it a bit easier to understand why your opponent is attacking so often..

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And in Bastogne, a new type of unit has been added to frustrate the German advance.

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This is a political unit that negates any retreat in the hex that it occupies, as long as it is not in the red, which means that the only way that German forces can capture the city is by an assault. The supply dump that exists in the city cannot distribute replacements, so when the city is surrounded the units in it can fight but cannot replace any losses so a battle of attrition can begin.

There is not much more to add at this time as most of the US forces have not yet realised that they are part of the war yet.
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Postby Robjess » Sat May 15, 2004 10:24 am

Turn 2 for the Germans.

Well some of my local commanders did not interpret my orders correctly. I clearly stated that I did not any of my units to come into contact with Allied ARM forces, particularly the 9th ARM. My commanders let me down in the northern sector, and due to poor recon, some of my forces advanced within spotting distance of the 9th ARM. They in turn radioed back to their HQ now it appears have been ordered to mobilise. So the Allies get an early advantage..

I have ordered troops to move as far west as possible, looking to overrun and push through holes in the allied defenses where possible. Dare I say there arent alot of defenses at the moment - although Im sure that will change very shortly.

In the north....

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I am attempting to put pressure on Elsenborn both from assaults in front of it, and an attempt to slip around the back. I am cautious of this move though as I can see some Allied units already trying to form a line.. I also have some units sitting out on the open clear fields.. fingers crossed that General Keating does not attempt a valiant assault. He may even be able to get an overrun on these units, but his better judgement (or sympathy for me) may see through.

Looking towards the middle:
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I have a spear head pushing directly west after securing St Vith and Deifeldt and am heading for Vielsalm. Although I have one major problem. And thats with my recon unit. Recon units are now very powerful units in BIN - this is due to their ability to 'recon' ahead much better then normal units.. so you want them at the front so that they can spot enemy units.. but you need to balance this with not pushing them too far ahead so that they dont become easy targets. They are only 2 step units and are easily overrun. I suspect that this unit will be - or should be attacked and destroyed this turn - as Roger has some very very strong 9th ARM units in close proximity. Again, if he didnt attack it I would put that down to him giving me yet another chance :) Bless his soul.

Looking south...

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I am pushing towards Bastogne and Houffalize.. and I can see an Allied line forming already. Something tells me that Bastogne is going to be hard to take - esp with the new Political Unit in there that negates retreats. Apologies for forgetting to turn the names on the map on this turn.

Slow going further south as I attempt to clear strongpoints.. which leads me to this new feature...

Battles in Normandy introduces the ability for some ART units to bombard strongpoints (ships can also do this - and comes in very handy in the Normandy Scenarios). If the bombardment is successful then a step is taken away from the strong point. Obviously single step strongpoints are destroyed. Lets have a look at how it works.

Select your ART unit as you normally would, and then place the cursor over the strongpoint which you want to bombard, as shown below:

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Looking at the ART units in the unit display panel, you can see that there is a silhouette of a strongpoint with a dice next to it. The number on the dice shows the minimum number necessary to get a hit. These ART units have a 2 out of 6 chance - I need to roll either a 5 or a 6 to score a hit. ART units which are not capable of this ability will not have the silhouette or dice on their unit display.

To conduct on the bombardment all I do is select amd click on the target strongpoint. The sounds of shell's whizzing overhead will be an indication of the attack and if successful the strongpoint will disappear.
Last edited by Robjess on Mon May 17, 2004 6:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Roger Keating » Sat May 15, 2004 10:57 am

The Allies didn't attack this turn. They are still coming to terms with the fact that their Christmas may not be the event they thought this year.

One thing that does make life is a bit easier is that I have a strongpoint to lay down.

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I could have placed it on my isolated man behind the lines as placement is in Allied territory and at least 2 hexes from an Axis unit. From experience I have found that they are to valuable to place where they can be easily attacked. I therefore decide to place it in Malmedy, while I still can as the German forces are two hexes away. As the German player must head West fast there is an opportunity to occupy forces here for a few turns.

The situation at the moment is

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The blocking forces are in position while I am certainly going to say goodbye to a couple of artillery units next turn. Robs recon units are very fast but they are vulnerable but any attempt to attack at the moment would leave my line exposed so it is a case of digging in and await reinforcements.
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Postby Robjess » Sat May 15, 2004 12:17 pm

The morning of December 17 sees the German forces securing Diekirch down south and launch an assault on Wiltz. Rather then trying to bash my way through the Allied line which is running south from Houffalize, instead I have decided to push my units through a gap just to the north of Wiltz. This would have been an easier task of my attack on Wiltz itself was somewhat more successful.

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Way down south I still have some less important units tied by Allied strongpoints over the river. Slow to advance, they are moving now. The fact that the allied strongpoints are still there is testimony that General Keating hasnt called them up yet and means that he has 2 INF units still committed to the south and not infront of Bastogne or in Ettelbruck.

Gone are the ART units that Roger predicted would be overrun, but also gone is the Allied 112 INF from the 28 INF Div. Vielsalm also fell but due to poor planning I did not have an ENG unit in range to come in and repair the bridge this turn. Notwithstanding I managed to get some troops over the river and throw down an assault on an Allied Tank Destroyer - which was unsuccessful.

The assault on Elsenborn continues with the destruction of a Tank Destroyer unit and good placement for a direct assault on the town itself in the next 12 hours - so long as it is not reinforced.

Von Der hyte drops behind the Allied lines north of Stavelot - but isnt able to do much apart from disrupt allied supplies. This unit in this version of TAO doesnt have combat capabilities and is a support unit. This is to reflect that historicially it didnt really have a great deal of impact and realistically would not have been able to mount any sort of attack on allied units. In terms of disrupting supplies and ZOC though it will do that - but not for long.

Elsewhere there are reports of German troops over the river behind Malmedy.

Apologies for lack of screen shots this turn.. but I sent the turn off to Roger before I managed to do a map dump.

But what I will do this turn is give you a bit of a look at the new Supplied Hexes overlay. Note that the units in this image are not reflective of their positions for this turn - this image is based upon a previous turns dump.

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The new Supplied hexes overlay shows all supplied hexes as green. Those hexes with an icon of a supply truck in it are being supplied via a supply truck, those without are being supplied directly from a supply source (map edge or dump). Also note that with a Supply Truck selected, a green dashed line is traced from the supply truck back to the supply source that it is currently drawing its supply from - neat new feature hey!
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Postby Roger Keating » Sat May 15, 2004 5:24 pm

Turn 3 in the past was always a difficult turn for the Allies as the parachute unit could destroy a supply truck or artillery park, not any more.

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As you can see, being a support unit, it can't put up much of a fight. The normal result is...

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Rob hasn't crossed the river in the South so my men there are faithfully defending it as they are 'surprised'. In the old version you could always release these units but I need the Germans to come closer. However, they will be soon able to move of their own accord and may move to a better position. The current position is...

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Still trying to form a line but knowing that everyone should soon get the message that they should be moving to defensive positions
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Postby Robjess » Sun May 16, 2004 11:46 am

At the start of my German Turn 4 - it looks like I have a clear run to Bastogne.

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I know I dont, a look at Roger's screen shot above tells me that. In Battles in Normandy recon really comes into its own - it is quite exciting watching units appear and disappear through out the game and a turn. It really makes a difference whilst watching the replay of your opponents turn.. unlike in KP where the exposure setting for a units complete path of movement was based upon its highest state at any part through that path - in BiN you find units appearing and disappearing all over the map as they move.

It really does add a completely new element to the game as you now need to recon an area properly or at the very least 2nd guess where you think your opponent will be. Thats more of a challange for players like me because I normally just rush on in there and hope for the best :)

To show the point more clearly, Im going to move an standard INF unit towards Bastogne and then following that I move a Recon unit to the same hex.. this way we will be able to see the marked difference in Recon abilities of both units.

First off lets move an element of the 26VG up to Bastogne.. this is what they are able to see:

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Now lets move a Recon unit into the same hex..

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Roger is blocking the any move north west by my units, its clear he doesnt want me to move into the Bastogne - Houffalize corridor. I dont blame him really. So I either bash my way through, assault Bastogne or go south. I dont like the idea of that political unit in Bastogne.. and I think the only way to get the town is to isolate it.. does that sound familiar? But I think thats easier said then done..

Plus my intel tells me that he has dropped a mine infront of one of his units in the line (the one northern one in the above image). This also a new feature in BiN. Like interdiction markers, on some turns players are able to drop strongpoints (as Roger noted) and Mines.

Deciding not to conduct any major assaults this turn - except for opportunity targets (and a major assault on Elsenborn - which was repelled by staunch allied defenders) I took this turn as an opportunity to move ART towards the front and attempted to get units into some sort of a position. A position to do what I dont know :)

Pushing further west between Manhay and Stoumont and also up past Houffalize (which will cause my problems I know as you I really think you need to get Houffalize to keep your supply lines open).

Roger's 7th ARM concerns me as they are very strong and look ready to pounce. Also where as in TAO3 the 9th ARM were not very strong.. well have I got news for you! To make matters worse the 10th ARM arrives for Roger this turn and I expect they also have had an overhaul..

And the icing on the cake is that whilst my Panzers trail blaze through the Ardennes I am watching my fuel reserves being consumed like a there is no tomorrow..

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Postby Roger Keating » Sun May 16, 2004 7:42 pm

As all my units are now responding to orders the South has now been abandoned as units rush towards the road junction at Bastogne. A sort of solid line has been formed although Laroche is very weakly defended.

One thing that Rob will now have to look out for is Allied Air interdiction. This is a lot more lethal in TAO4 compared to previous versions. As the extended movement comes out of your reserve, and German armor units have to use a lot of it to arrive in the front lines, there is a danger of having your units in the front line unable to move. The positioning of AA units on crucial junctions is vital for the German player to keep those important roads open.

The other way is to capture a number of roads so that there are multiple ways to supply your units. This is a very hard thing to achieve unless you capture those vital towns of Houffalize, Manhay and Bastogne. The crucial sector is...

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I tried the combat advisor this turn and overruns occured in numerous areas showing that attacks, if I had the opportunity to carry them out, would be very difficult for the German player. The airborne forces are still a turn or so away so the men in the front line will have to hang on. These are the 'exciting' turns for the Allied player
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Postby Bertram » Wed May 19, 2004 4:35 pm

I kind of hate these AAR's.

Now I have to check every day (at least) if there is a new turn up, and I am going to be disappointed way to often :(.

Fun reading, keep it moving!!


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Postby Roger Keating » Wed May 19, 2004 5:41 pm

Due to a change in the program I had to have my turn again, so the units are not excatly in the same place as the previous post, but close enough. Rob can now have his turn and we can continue.

Rob should have his turn tonight..
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Postby Robjess » Wed May 19, 2004 6:00 pm

Except.. Real Life dictates that I have to go out tonight.. so it wont happen tonight.. sorry :)
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Postby Maxblaster » Thu May 20, 2004 6:25 pm

and now Rob has a hangover I assume...
:mrgreen: enough excuses, you must play your turn now :twisted:
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Postby Robjess » Thu May 20, 2004 6:35 pm

Nah no hang overs.. Im working my way through the 'to do' list now.. my TAO turn in on there dont worry.. I have just got a new update of BIN from SSG and have just installed it and loaded up my turn to see if its still working.. and it is :) So I will get to it very shortly.. probably later tonight once I feed myself..
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Postby Robjess » Thu May 20, 2004 9:20 pm

Here we go troops! The German war machine rumbles.. well ok putts along.. I have heard on the grape vine that in this incarnation of TAO - version 4 - the Germans should be able to replicate what they did historically before the Allied punch comes - and from what I hear it really is an allied punch. Of course I have no chance of replicating German moves here against SSG giant Roger :)

So here I am at the end of Turn 5 - things are looking tough.. Bastogne is like a brick wall.. so I am deploying south, but all of the allied ARM is quite strong so I dont think I will go very far there..

My assault on Elsenborn sees the Allies hold out, in the Centre I am trying to slip past Manhay.. but the gas is scarce and I hope the skys dont open up with Allied fighter bombers.. Sorry, I dont have time for a lengthy explaination of what else occured this turn.. as they say a picture paints a thousand words..

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Apologies for the low image quality.. I had to squeeze it in..
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Postby Roger Keating » Thu May 20, 2004 10:12 pm

The interesting situation is around Manhay. Rob is keen to get the important road junction there, the Allies are keen that they don't.

The situation is....


Image


The air condition is bleak which is a downer for the poor old Allied aircrews and we only have a two hex spread. That should be enough, however, for the Axis to have some problems in getting fuel up to the forward elements. I will be interested to hear what Rob has to say.

Next turn it is clear air and the Allied air interdiction is three hexes which is a great deal more effective. I won't say how many I have to put down next turn, I am sure Rob will comment on it.
I have seen one of Robs AA unit just behnd the line so have avoided placing an air marker on it, but in the rear it is a bit of guesswork.

Ah well, over to you, Rob.
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