Rommel Difficulty, thoughts thus far

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deducter
Lieutenant Colonel - Fw 190A
Lieutenant Colonel - Fw 190A
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Rommel Difficulty, thoughts thus far

Post by deducter » Thu Sep 15, 2011 7:23 pm

Low Countries (DV)

Having 950 prestige, two level bombers, a Stuka, BF109, and a BF-110, a panzer II, 2 artillery pieces, and lots and lots of infantry made this mission quite a challenge. I had to disband(!) a infantry and level bomber and the BF110 to get back my prestige, I never did that before except with the useless panzer Is (although in beta actually they are quite a bit better). I scrapped together just enough prestige for 2 panzer IIIs, a panzer IV, another Stuka, and 2 more fighters, and an artillery piece. Fighting was tough in Belgium, and I did not have the prestige to reinforce my aux units. I used the rivers to maximum advantage and tried my best to lure AI units onto it. Knowledge of how retreats work is extremely valuable, since attacking from the right direction on a heavily suppressed unit can force it to go in an ideal direction. I achieved DV, but this was not trivial.
  • Using terrain to maximal advantage is key. For instance, past Sedan there was a french tank, normally barely a challenge, but wanted to minimize losses. Fortunately it wandered onto a hill, so I attack with Wehrmacht infantry, which had much better results than attacking with my panzer. Two infantry attacks and it was finished with minimal losses.

    Stukas are much better than level bombers when it comes to devastating tanks, artillery, and antitank units. They are also quite a bit cheaper, which makes them invaluable imo. I regularly did 4-6 damage on those targets. Use them correctly and they provide superb fire support.

    When I lost a Gebirgsjager due to careless positioning outside a French city to counterattacks, I felt that loss. There was no reason to rush, and I would've been better off waiting until all my units were in position to launch a massive attack from all directions on a fortified city.
France (DV)

This scenario is again fairly easy, I had enough prestige now to buy another Panzer IV and actually upgrade some of my units. Still several infantry did not have trucks, but it wasn't a problem. No chance to elite reinforce, much less overstrength units. Fairly unremarkable, except again using terrain is key, luring French tanks onto forests/hills open the opportunity for some devastating infantry attacks. In fact, I think the AI needs to be programmed to be very cautious in sending tank units into close terrain unless they have artillery support or something.... The only thing to note is that I loss a 6str panzer IV to an attack by a French antitank unit, and I very keenly felt that loss. Still using that panzer II, can be very good to mop up weakened units actually. Also I love recon units, even know now I have spoiler information. Great for quickly capturing city, finishing off weakened units, even giving some of your units a mass attack advantage. I tend to send it out a few hexes, then pull it back to safety with my main army. I always include a recon unit with a main army.

Sealion 40

Admittedly now I have spoiler information compared with last time, so I knew where the Royal Navy was. As it stood, with 4 strategic bombers (two core, two aux) I easily wiped out most of the Royal Navy's capital ships in two turns. My own capital ships finished off the destroyers. I had no trouble landing my own units afterwards. This time, I avoided using panzers to attack even cities and used retreat/surrender mechanics to their fullest (I did not know about those the first time through) and London despite being heavily fortified was not hard to take. Just force a series of surrenders by using artillery on a surrounded unit, and I blitzed through London in no time. A flanking Bridge Engineer on the Thames is still invaluable. Stukas are best kept in reserve, once most of the Royal Air Force is devastated then unleash them on AT, artillery, tanks, etc. I easily made DV with few losses. Thoughts below.
  • I also know that naval units obey ZOC rules, which frankly is fairly silly and probably should be changed so they don't. Also, I think it would be best to reposition some of the AI's Hurricanes and Spitfires to on turn 1 COVER the Royal Navy. In fact, those two changes may make the scenario quite a bit more difficult and realistic. I see the Royal Navy as sacrificing itself to go after my transports, which it would have done historitcally.. Losses should be inevitable in this scenario. Now I think most historians agree that Sealion 40 even with air superiority over the English Channel would be impossible, but this is a game after all.

    I also notice that despite radar, the British fighters don't seem to be too tough. They launched some good attacks, one good AI attack on my paratroops, despite me arranging my planes in a nice pattern so that each is covered by two fighters. I lost a core Fallschirmjager to two spitfires, very well done. However thereafter the perform of the RAF was lackluster to say the least... Quite a few groups of my bombers only had one fighter covering it. The AI could absorb the initial screening attack, then send in a swarm of fighters to finish off the bombers, with all those RADAR stations they have perfect sight and should be able to execute this tactic. I also escorted with strength 6 or 5 fighters, they AI can dart in and finish those weakened units off. In fact, the AI needs to probably have the highest targeting priority on weakened fighters. That will force me to withdraw those fighters. The AI instead used its fighters mostly to screen their own bombers or to strafe surface units, to little avail. It seems the AI is coded not to purchase air units? I know they are expensive, but buying one or two after some losses can make a big difference, I do it when I lose fighters. I think the AI needs to concentrate more on finishing off my fighters, or if the opportunity arises, to do repeated mass attacks on my bombers. Even with strength 6-7 fighters they should attack, I notice the AI will retreat to an airbase even with some damage.

    The Royal Navy could stand to have a more ships actually, I'd say in the north coming down from Scapa Flow. I think the Royal Air Force could stand to lose all its bombers and add more fighters. Or better yet, stop escorting the bombers just for this scenario. After all, I do see the British in the event of an invasion to throw everything they have at trying to shoot down the German planes, their own losses be damned. I guess if the AI were better the RAF actually would have enough units. The British land units are fine.
Maybe it's just me, I want to see Sealion 40 as basically impossible, or at least on the bonus difficulties, and so far it does not seem so. Low Countries was harder. Maybe Guderian it could be tricky, since London takes a while to capture, but I think I beat DV by two turns, and with more, better units and a more aggressive advance I could shave that off even more. Since I was curious about the British/American invasion scenarios, I purposefully choose a marginal victory.

monkspider
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Post by monkspider » Fri Sep 16, 2011 8:41 pm

Wow great writeup. I think you might be the one player who might be able to give Kerensky a run for his money! Sealion really gives me a lot of trouble, even on general. I think I have only decisive'ed it once out of about four tries. I will try to borrow some of your tactics though, never thought of using a bridging engineer on the Thames, that sounds like it would probably make things easier.

deducter
Lieutenant Colonel - Fw 190A
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Post by deducter » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:04 pm

Barbarossa

Not too hard, especially with my super stukas. I actually had enough prestige to overstrength certain units, notably artillery, level bombers, and my stukas, which were so cheap. All I know is the obsolete Soviet armor here is a pushover, but even more of a pushover when my stukas regularly do 6+ damage on them. Even that T34 took 6 points of damage, then one hit from a PzIII killed it. Just like in history I think, PzIII were no good against T34 individually, but with proper support they perform superbly.

Kiev

Easy even on Rommel, as it should be. Soviet Air Force was annoying.

Moscow 41

Ah, now we had a realistic turn of events. So many turns of rain. So many turns of muddy terrain. My panzers crawing forward 2 hexes a turn. Running out of fuel. Entrench Soviet defenders refusing to surrender, fighting to the last man. This is what I expected Moscow 41 to be. I even got to see the Russian winter which I didn't the first time around. I won MV with about 3 turns to spare, not even close to DV. Part of the reason was that I advanced very cautiously, not willing to attack entrenched units without artillery support. Also lots of rain meant I had little air support. I also belatedly realized that roads still function in muddy terrain and if I worked more on controlling the roads, I might've been able to advance faster. A DV might be possible, but would be very difficult. Regardless, great fun.

I noticed that not all the T34s on the southeastern corner of the map attacked me. I think only one did. Those could have presented a huge problem on my advance to Tula if they showed up. Is this a bug? In fact, in many places I bypassed AI infantry, even near victory hexes. It seems some of these units are hardcoded to stay in their hex, which is silly. They could easy come around and capture a victory hex from me once my panzers have blitzed passed. Some sort of reworking of the "fortified" units seem appropriate.

Kerensky
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Post by Kerensky » Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:37 pm

deducter wrote:In fact, in many places I bypassed AI infantry, even near victory hexes. It seems some of these units are hardcoded to stay in their hex, which is silly. They could easy come around and capture a victory hex from me once my panzers have blitzed passed. Some sort of reworking of the "fortified" units seem appropriate.
This requires new editor functions that do not exist in 1.00(changing specific unit AI mid scenario). They do exist in 1.01BETA3, however, so future already has this feature implemented. I wish I could tell you exact details, but I'm not allowed yet. Suffice to say, you won't be disappointed in this department, and I may make you eat those words and have you wish that bypassed units don't 'wake up'. ;)

deducter
Lieutenant Colonel - Fw 190A
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Post by deducter » Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:06 pm

Stalingrad

The initial soviet armor resistance was easily brushed aside with my stukas. The Soviet KV tanks were harder to deal with, but round the clock bombardment from artillery and a combination of stukas and strategic bombers eventually wore them down. I was not keen to attack until they were weakened, since I wanted to preserve my units as much as possible. There wasn't much of an opposition to my advance into the Caucasus, so I diverted some of my troops to flank Stalingrad from the south. A bridge engineer on the Volga to the north also helped. I had an elite SS Wehrmacht Infantry with +1 move, which I had since Norway and I valued very much. Yet careless positioning outside of Stalingrad got it bombarded and counterattacked to its destruction. My attempt to attack the Red Army Camp was hindered by armor counterattacks and heavy bombardment. Yet because the Caucasus were so lightly guarded, I simply seized Baku and launched an all-out attack on the three victory hexes in Stalingrad, which got my DV on the last possible turn.

Kursk

This time, all I could afford were two tigers and two panthers. One of these was my SS unit, which I even overstrengthed. I purchased numerous hummel artillery, and I upgraded everything I could. I still used several PzIV and a PzIII. The PzIV are still very good against soft targets. The initial advance was slow, but my super stukas absolutely wrecked soviet tanks, often doing 8-9 damage to T34s. Alas one turn I forgot to escort one of my 14 str Stuka and it got blown out of the sky. After that, I became very, very cautious with my remaining super stuka. I used my tigers and panthers to absorb blows from the Soviet Armor, and lured them onto hills whenever possible. Infantry do very well against even KV tanks once they are heavily suppressed and on hills. I think one of my Gebirgsjager did 4 damage to a KV tank that way, more than my panthers or tigers could do. Once I destroyed most of the soviet armor, it just took some time to advance through the remaining victory hexes, and I could have achieved DV (albeit with just barely so), but I wanted to find out about the defensive scenarios, so I waited a turn and got MV.

Bagration

This scenario was great fun, and I enjoyed the initial Soviet Onslaught very much. So many JS2 heavy tanks. Truly the onslaught felt overwhelming. At key points I positioned Tigers or Tiger IIs, in particular was a highly valued SS Tiger I unit which I fed elite reinforcements and actually overstrength. I had a total of 2 Tiger IIs, 2 Tiger Is, I think 3 Panthers, and various lesser tanks and infantry/artillery. Seeing so many Soviet units, I decided to withdraw whenever a frontier city was threatened. I staged a gradual withdraw whenever I could, using Tigers to screen the retreat and forcing the Soviets to river chokepoints where possible. It was a good thing I left some units in the back cities, some 88 AAs and one or two artillery pieces along with garrisoning infantry. The battle was brutal and almost every turn of the onslaught was exciting, I cannot describe them all. Things of interest to note:
  • I initially left my SE Tiger tank too exposed and it was surrounded and massively attack by JS2 tanks, which it survived. But it could barely move, couldn’t reinforce or even resupply. Only through skillful action, the sacrifice of a panther, a PzIV, and the use of my remaining super stuka and many turns was I able to withdraw it to safety. It survived a ridiculous amount of Soviet attacks, despite being out of ammo for 2 turns or so. I was very lucky, and very glad I had fed what little prestige I had to elite reinforce it.

    I tried to hold the southeastern most city for too long, resulting in massive Soviet artillery bombardment and the loss of numerous units, including panthers and jagpanthers. At one point I was so low on prestige and desperate that I started to buy jadPzIVs and StuG antitank units to plug the gap. The situation was ultimately untenable, so I withdrew those units after many turns of brutal fighting and some losses.

    The Soviet Air Force wasn’t that impressive, my veteran fighters, a mixture of 2 upgraded FW190s and remaining BF109s were more than capable of holding off and defeating the Soviet Air Force reasonably quickly.

    Dual purpose 88, got to love it. First they help shoot down Soviet planes. Then they maul soviet armor on rivers. What’s not to like?

    Ultimately I made my stand in the central city of Minsk, by the time the Soviets arrived I had 3 artillery and the advantage of terrain, where Soviet units were lured onto rivers and hills and destroyed by attacks. Heroic fighting in the south actually worked out for me, because I only started my withdraw when a good number of the northern Soviet units were destroyed. The Soviets raced across the flat terrain to Minsk, but their fighting strength was severely depleted, and heavy bombardment from artillery and my air force was eventually successful.

    Key weakness of JS2 tanks and the ISU152 tank hunters: low ammunition. One strategic bomber attack, then an attack by a strong unit like a Tiger, and they are out of ammo. If on hills, infantry crush them easily. Even in flat ground they become vulnerable to Panthers/Jadpanthers.
    None of my Tigers or Tiger IIs were lost, but I did lose a good number of other units, including some valuable panthers and veteran infantry.

    Overall a good scenario, the initial onslaught was very good, but after I destroyed all the Soviet attackers it was over. None of their cities had any units left to defend, and I literally just walked into them and won a DV with many turns to spare.

    My only thoughts are that the Soviets needed many, many more artillery/infantry/fighters to help in their attack, maybe fewer JS2s. JS2 are tough, but they can be defeated with the right tactics. If the Soviets had a more balanced army, things might actually be quite a bit more difficult. If, for instance, the Soviets bought like 20 conscripts to exhaust the ammunition of my Tigers/artillery, I’d be in some serious trouble when the JS2 then attacked. The conscripts would also do well in the rough terrain north of Minsk. The AI either also need to force an attack across a river, or try to bypass the river by flanking around the north or south. Also something needs to be done so the Soviets kept a force to protect their gains, so I can’t just walk back into their cities after I stopped the attack.
Ardennes

I should have remembered that bad weather precluded the use of air units historically, and I deployed way too many air units. The scenario was mostly unremarkable, even though I underestimated the strength of the Allied resistance in their backtier cities. As it stood, I barely achieved MV, capturing the last needed hex on the last turn. Mostly due to incorrect deployment of forces more than anything, but nonetheless an interesting scenario. Perhaps the Americans and British could use more armor, since I ran into few tank units.

Germany West

I used the lessons learned from Bagration to stage a phased withdraw from the front. I was much more successful this time, with few difficulties in extricating my units and I refused to stay in any city for long. Me-262s, even new ones, still devastate Allied air units. I could only afford two, but in conjunction with my remaining fighters they worked well. I noticed the AI still attack my fighters if they have odds, like they attacked my Bf109s, but not my FW190s or Me-262s. In general the Allied armor was fine, but they would do well to have more bridge engineers/artillery and try to force river crossings more. Instead I funneled Allied units into chokepoints at Hamburg, at Munich, and outside of Berlin, where I crushed them all in turn. After that it was simply a matter of walking into victory hexes, the Allies tried to reinforce with the odd infantry/antitank unit, but it didn’t matter. DV was quite easy to achieved, although I may have lost the odd infantry/fighter/tank destroyer. Those JadPzIVs are quite nice if used correctly.
Overall thoughts: I guess I wished there were more defensive scenarios, although it is probably much harder to write decent AI for them, and maybe it’d only be possible to compensate with more units. I know for instance the Soviets often had between 4:1 and 10:1 numerical advantage against the Germans, so it maybe not be unrealistic to just give them more and more units. The AI should do their best to try to force as broad a front as possible, if I couldn’t funnel units into chokepoints to destroy things would be much, much tougher. Just the simple act of moving units into a flanking position, which necessarily even attacking, will force me to divert precious units to try to deal with it, and would make things so much more complicated. I guess the way to compensate for what I feel is insufficient AI units is by playing on Manstein difficulty, which I will try next.

Kerensky
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Post by Kerensky » Mon Sep 19, 2011 9:20 pm

Mmmmmmmmm Manstein. That's all I ever play. Looking forward to comments on that mode. :)

Just don't burn yourself out, there's more content on the horizon. ;)

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