Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

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Flamond
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Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by Flamond » Mon Oct 13, 2014 4:05 pm

The bottom line is that the answer to my question is: futility. By way of background, I started wargaming back in the cardboard and paper map days of Avalon Hill and SPI, through the first computer wargames, up to the present day simulations. I also have many years of military experience. IOW, I’m not a neophyte. Here are my views on the mega-campaign and a few comments on Afrika Corps (in no particular order).

• The Soviet level of resources grows as the war goes on, which is historically accurate, but there is a point to the Axis invasion: resources and living space. If one takes something away, it can’t be made up in a matter of weeks. Afrika Korps seems to be the prime example of this with the British. If the player gets as far as taking control of the Suez Canal, the oil pipeline in Palestine and Syria, and controls the port of Basra, then the Brits reasonably should be expected to show up with less. There was a point to the North Africa campaign and the ME other than bailing out the Italians. If there is no materiel benefit, and if the British don’t seem to have an additional burden, then what’s the point?
• As mentioned in other posts; a comment for the Normandy scenario I think, is right on. You can always count on the AI to behave like a petulant kid just as you are about to win and throw in those last gasp reinforcements manufactured out of whole cloth. Matrix’ SPWAW did the same thing. As my flanking movement was succeeding, I could see units appear right before my eyes directly in front of the flanking force, whereas I am allowed to get reinforcements at the reinforcement hexes only. I.e., the AI cheats. Another example in the mega-campaign, if you are doing well and the offensive proceeds at a good pace, it’s possible your fighters will encounter newly manufactured enemy aircraft in the upper right corner of the map – not at an airfield.
• The AI pulls bait and switch nicely. Spending 1939 – 1942 constructing a balanced combined arms team is nice. But the AI on the Eastern Front necessitates a tank heavy force which would get gobbled up in Stalingrad. I’ve faired pretty well in the Stalingrad scenarios, but I’ve got a unit limitation that the AI apparently does not, at any time, or any place on the battlefield.
• This is a good lead in to the discussion on soft caps. Assigning 400 to the human is player ludicrous given the AI’s unlimited cornucopia of units. Also, the scale of the mega-campaign is very different from the baseline Pz Corps. Pz Corps is operational, while the mega-campaign is grand tactical. That is, more area needs to be covered in order to prevent surprise from those invisible enemy reserves.
• The AI can construct a force which goes after the human player’s weaknesses, which is understandable, but it can do this scenario to scenario. For the human player, it takes months or years of game time to build a force to accomplish the missions. I will add the AI does some pretty non-standard force building just to prove a point; like in Afrika Korps making a division plus worth of 17 pounder anti-tank guns backed by artillery. Or miraculously shows up with fleets of aircraft when your air force has been depleted from the previous battle. This goes beyond the AI’s perfect intelligence, it’s called gamesmanship.
• There seems to be a huge delta between Sgt. and Lt. difficulty levels. I.e., Sgt. is ridiculously easy, while Lt. seems to jump to middling plus difficulty level.
• I have no quibble save one with specific unit capabilities; overall, the research team did a great job in this regard. My one comment is Brit infantry caught out in the open on flat desert terrain by an armor unit. I don’t care if the Brits were highly disciplined; infantry, in the open desert against armor, shouldn’t behave as if it were damn near invincible.
• Overall, the base Panzer Korps is a fine successor to the previous Panzer General series. I am, however, having trouble understanding the conceptual reasoning with the mega-campaigns and Afrika Korps. I’m not complaining about the difficulty. The designers did a bang up job in that regard. If they wanted to construct a simulation showing how WWII campaigns really ended even if the AI cheats, then they did a great job with that, too. But if you want to turn off generations of wargamers, especially new folks, then they’ve done that in spades. Just steer clear of the “can you change history?” marketing ploy because a lot of people will be disappointed. I think that the mega-campaigns and Afrika Korps need a serious patch. Barring that, I’ll be having a bad case of buyer’s remorse.

One final note, and this is not that important to hardcore gamers, but what’s with the modern national colors on the main menu and not the flags of the time? As a major belligerent, the US flag is not even present. The designers went to great lengths to insure historical accuracy, so why are the flags of modern nations depicted? Overriding concerns about some sensitivities perhaps?

best75
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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by best75 » Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:39 am

On you final note those flags on the main menu are for changing the language of the game.

Flamond
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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by Flamond » Tue Oct 14, 2014 2:04 pm

best75 wrote:On you final note those flags on the main menu are for changing the language of the game.
Thank you.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by bebro » Tue Oct 14, 2014 3:49 pm

Re "Brit infantry caught out in the open on flat desert terrain"

The two main reasons I would see when - in theory - superior units are doing bad vs. inf in the open are RNG or entrenchment.

Random results are either something you get used to, or you switch in the options to dice chess or full chess mode. Against well entrenched troops you need coordinated attacks incl. arty and/or air support, you can't stomp them easily.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by braccada » Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:19 pm

Some tanks have very low soft attack and do badly against infantry. The Panzer IV which was originally designed as infantry support tank for example absolutely destroys infantry in the open. Most German tanks could switch amunition in order to be effective against soft and hard targets, but still there is a difference if a gun is designed to knock out tanks our to attack infantry. Problem was even more evident for the British tanks, which could not use different ammunition types.

Entrenchment should not be an issue in open terrain, the possible entrenchment is very limit there.

And regarding your question, I have not tried the Grand Campaign so far, but the Vanilla Campaign is great in my humble opinion!
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bebro
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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by bebro » Tue Oct 14, 2014 4:46 pm

braccada wrote: Entrenchment should not be an issue in open terrain, the possible entrenchment is very limit there.
Well, the longer a unit stays on the same hex, the better entrenched it gets. And of course entrenchment can be pre-set to any level during scn design in the editor.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by braccada » Tue Oct 14, 2014 10:13 pm

Preset yes, but I never saw a unit with more than 2 entrenchement in open terrain. Even if it stays there for more than 10 turns. So either there is a limit or it entrenches extremly slowly. As far as I unterstand there is a base entrenchment and a maximum entrenchment level for different terrain types and some units likes tanks have reduced values. However I just assumed the limit is 2 in the open, if you have more details I would be happy if you share them.
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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by alkafluence » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:52 am

Note: Different terrain also limits initiative.

Image

Then there is this enlightening post about increasing entrenchment.
Rudankort wrote:
Aloo wrote:In the library it says that the base entrenchment level is the level of entrenchment a unit gets upon entering the terrain. So I would understand that my inf get 3 ent. in deep forest upon right after entering (on enemy's turn?). Im fairly sure this is not the max ent level.
Correct, base entrenchment determines initial entrenchment after entering a hex, and also the rate of gaining entrenchment after that. Maximum entrenchment level a unit can have is base entrenchment+5. Different units will achieve this level with different speed. Infantry is the fastest to entrench, tanks are the slowest, and their entrenchment is limited by 2, unless a higher level is specified specifically in the Editor.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by zjorz » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:25 am

@flamond: its kinda strange to play a low complexity wargame and ask for more complexity. There are other wargames that have the realism that you prefer, why dont you just play those? The reason why panzer corps is so popular is because its semi realistic with the focus on entertaining gamplay.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by bebro » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:21 am

braccada wrote:Preset yes, but I never saw a unit with more than 2 entrenchement in open terrain. Even if it stays there for more than 10 turns. So either there is a limit or it entrenches extremly slowly. As far as I unterstand there is a base entrenchment and a maximum entrenchment level for different terrain types and some units likes tanks have reduced values. However I just assumed the limit is 2 in the open, if you have more details I would be happy if you share them.
viewtopic.php?t=29993

Quoting Rudankort from there:
Correct, base entrenchment determines initial entrenchment after entering a hex, and also the rate of gaining entrenchment after that. Maximum entrenchment level a unit can have is base entrenchment+5. Different units will achieve this level with different speed. Infantry is the fastest to entrench, tanks are the slowest, and their entrenchment is limited by 2, unless a higher level is specified specifically in the Editor.
Edit: ahh silly me, missed the earlier post from alkafluence that explained it already. :shock:

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by Flamond » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:27 am

bebro wrote:Re "Brit infantry caught out in the open on flat desert terrain"

The two main reasons I would see when - in theory - superior units are doing bad vs. inf in the open are RNG or entrenchment.

Random results are either something you get used to, or you switch in the options to dice chess or full chess mode. Against well entrenched troops you need coordinated attacks incl. arty and/or air support, you can't stomp them easily.
Not talking about well entrenched troops. I'm talking out in the open; no entrenchment.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by Flamond » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:33 am

zjorz wrote:@flamond: its kinda strange to play a low complexity wargame and ask for more complexity. There are other wargames that have the realism that you prefer, why dont you just play those? The reason why panzer corps is so popular is because its semi realistic with the focus on entertaining gamplay.
I never mentioned anything about "complexity." I'm saying the basic conceptual reasoning behind the AI's uber-resources and its ability to turn on on a dime organizationally with perfect intelligence is certainly not realistic, and I would think is a huge turn off for the new guy. What's so entertaining about the mega-campaign smashing the novice at every turn?

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by BiteNibbleChomp » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:48 am

Flamond wrote: I’ve got a unit limitation that the AI apparently does not,
It does actually. But it's like 150+ for nearly every scenario past Stalingrad. Western Allies also get similar, but usually <80

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by wargovichr » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:42 pm

If the German, playing the DLCs, wins in the East in '41, '42, '43, etc., then that means an end to the game notwithstanding the Battle for Britain via '42--'45 West DLCs.
Staff told me that most players enjoyed the long "historical path" and losing the war though winning repeated decisive victories. From the marketing viewpoint, though, a company would not earn much if Germany was allowed to win early in the game-- players would not purchase any more DLCs!!. In response to the problem they revised the DLCs so that Germany can win, but, in both East and West, one is required to win decisive victories while losing all the way back to Berlin where Germany can win a final disposition. Get it?
The unit experience/core building is fascinating in the DLCs along with more varied tantalizing tactical challenges and higher unit number until '43 at least anyway. The scripted AI units from hell appearing out of no where are frustrating but are explainable as fog of war as the German consistently underestimated Russian industrial might and manpower capabilities throughout the war. I wish staff would make these counterattacks from hell as variable random AI generations that would make DLCs replays, which we all do, more exciting, especially if they were added as a patch. However, they are constrained that each scenario is reliably balanced and so the nix on that.
I have been very much in favor of "The Big One," an entire eastern front only game ''41 to '4? with perhaps weapon/production control, long-range bomber option, interacting front transfers: west vs. east, etc. But with the staff involved on so many side projects and running behind on demand for Allied Corps DLCs and a Soviet Corps, that one ain't going to happen. Besides, once again, the what if Germany wins too early problem.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by TJLionheart » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:05 pm

I used to play board games back in the 70s, first one being Third Reich, and then SPI's War in Europe. I think the DLC's are the best product out there, wish there were move. A close second is Nikvvd's GTGP 1.12 campaign. Absolutely love the game and these add ons.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by captainjack » Thu Oct 16, 2014 2:27 am

I've played all the way through to the end of 45 West (but not via Sealion 45) but have never completed 44 East. I haven't yet played 45East.

Both east and west are losing paths but the western path has (so far) held my interest better. I think that the mix of scenarios and challenges seems a little more varied in the western path than 44 East which works for me, although to be fair I ran into severe prestige cap issues last time I played 44 East and haven't had another go since disabling the cap.

Anyway, I've enjoyed 8 1/2 of 10 DLCs, which is a pretty good success rate.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by edahl1980 » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:35 am

I come to 43, run out of prestige, lose interest and quit. ;)
When i am no longer able to reinforce my tanks its just no fun. But that was before i was aware of the soft cap. Now i will try a new game where i will only have SE tanks +Kerscher&Rondorf. And i will keep the soft cap in mind. More AA guns, less fighters and so on. Will be interesting to see how it goes.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by wargovichr » Thu Oct 16, 2014 12:49 pm

Postby TigerIII » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:35 am
I come to 43, run out of prestige, lose interest and quit. ;)
When i am no longer able to reinforce my tanks its just no fun. But that was before i was aware of the soft cap. Now i will try a new game where i will only have SE tanks +Kerscher&Rondorf. And i will keep the soft cap in mind. More AA guns, less fighters and so on. Will be interesting to see how it goes.

One option, not too far from a realistic course, is to do '39 East as Sargent, build up huge hordes of prestige, then at the start of each year you receive "promotion", so '40/41 as lietenenant, '42/43 as Colonel, '44 as General, '45 as FM. You'll have a well built varied core and enough prestige to make it in to the later war years while progressively challenging yourself to more difficulty, finally swaggering around in your bemedalled FM threads!

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by edahl1980 » Thu Oct 16, 2014 1:10 pm

wargovichr wrote:One option, not too far from a realistic course, is to do '39 East as Sargent, build up huge hordes of prestige, then at the start of each year you receive "promotion", so '40/41 as lietenenant, '42/43 as Colonel, '44 as General, '45 as FM. You'll have a well built varied core and enough prestige to make it in to the later war years while progressively challenging yourself to more difficulty, finally swaggering around in your bemedalled FM threads!
That does sound like an interesting challenge. But i imagine i will grow bored before i am done with Poland.

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Re: Mega-campaign: Challenging or an exercise in futility?

Post by captainjack » Fri Oct 17, 2014 11:09 pm

Tiger III,
My response to soft cap troubles in 43 East was to switch off the soft cap.

I view an ever-growing pile of prestige as a mark of success as much as my ability to minimise avoidable casualties and (especially) avoidable unit losses, so a prestige cap was never likely to appeal to me. I have used a greater variety of units since switching off the cap than I ever did with the cap on, but my struggles to finish 44 East suggest that it's not just a prestige issue and probably that the mix of scenarios isn't to my taste.

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