Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

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ferokapo
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Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by ferokapo » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:33 am

Having played GS 2.x a lot, I took a break but I am still interested in the game. Considering revisiting GS, I wanted to ask whether the single biggest problem (IMHO) has been addressed, or whether you plan to in 3.2, or what your thought on this are. Mind you, I enjoyed GS 2.x a LOT and I greatly respect your ongoing efforts in making this great mod.

My problem with Barbarossa always has been the unrealistic pace of it. I never quite understood why you never tackled this, because you do such a great job elsewhere to make GS a realistic game (within the limits of the engine). In GS 2.x, it was almost impossible to capture Moscow in 1941 simply because of the time needed to reach it, even if your army is fully mechanized and you start as early as possible. This rate of advance is highly unrealistic. If the Germans wouldn't have stopped for weeks in August '41, they would have made it easily to Moscow before the onset of problematic weather (not saying that this would have guaranteed success). Even Napolean was faster in 1812 than my armies are in 1941 (it took him just 82 days, or around 6 turns, to get to Moscow).

Making the units faster of course greatly impacts on overall game balance, I fully understand this. One could, as a compensation, change the victory conditions in favor of the Allies. What do you think?

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:25 pm

I think you can easily take Moscow in 1941 if you make Moscow your main target. But you can't take Moscow and also all of the Ukraine. This is the same problem the real Germans faced. The panzers near Smolensk were diverted south in August 1941 to take Kiev from the rear. Then the dash towards Moscow was resumed in October 1941, too late to take the capital.

Why can't you get to Moscow in 1941 if you start in May 1941? You surely have the speed in units to do it.

When I play as the Axis I go for a balanced attack. When the winter begins I have encircled Leningrad, got the main front line adjacent to Moscow and taken Rostov.

If I wanted Moscow I could have taken it in September 1941. If the Russians want to prevent that they need to sacrifice most of their units in front of Moscow, meaning that a 1942 Axis offensive can rush towards Omsk.

Look at the playstyle of some of the elite GS players and you see how fast they advance. In August 1941 you can have your panzers in the forests next to Moscow without much effort.

On turn 1 of Barbarossa I always manage to capture Kaunas, Vilna, Brest Litovsk and Lvov. Minsk falls on turn 2 and often Smolensk on turn 3 (turn 4 at the latest).

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by ferokapo » Thu Aug 20, 2015 6:26 pm

Hi Stauffenberg,

thanks for your detailed reply! I certainly am not an elite GS player, and I realize this contributes to my difficulties in taking Moscow. However, I do not remember many AARs even from elite players in which Moscow was taken in '41. In my opinion, this is because attempting it requires you to put literally everything into it, with meager chances for success. I do not have the game installed at this moment nor the manual ready, but due to the woods, it takes you (IIRC) 6 turns to reach the gates of Moscow in sufficient strength to actually accomplish anything. This would be the last August turn, if I am not mistaken. That leaves you with 2 turns to take it and consolidate a little against an impending counterattack. Nigh impossible against an average player, I think. The problem is aggravated by the fact that your only chance for Moscow is an open, direct approach, with all disadvantages that come with it. An average Allied player will see this immediately and prepare for it. The lack of movement of tanks and mechanized forces do not allow an indirect approach to Moscow. Once commmited in force and having reached Smolensk, your forces cannot do anything meaningful besides attacking Moscow. And I still do not like the fact that my tanks are slower than Napoleon who reached Moscow in 4 turns (I miscalculated last time). :-)

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:27 pm

If the Axis can get to Moscow by the end of August and try for the city in September then it sounds about right. It's certainly doable to take the city before the winter. Holding it is a different matter.

Remember that we have no info about whether the real Germans could take and hold Moscow if they had given more priority to Moscow. So you can't say that how most games progress are ahistorical.

I've proved several times that it's certainly possible to take Moscow in 1941. I've even been able to get to Omsk and knock Russia out of the war. A feat way beyond what the real Germans could do. That is part of wargames. You can do different things than in the real war.

Increasing the movement allowance for units would have a huge impact on the game balance. E. g. it would mean the Allies can get from the Overlord beaches to Berlin much faster. The current movement allowances seem to suit the 20 day game turns pretty well.

Also remember than moving units in enemy territory wasn't the same as just driving on a highway in peace time. A lot of the movement was offroad and stopped from time to time by skirmishes etc. It was a fog of war so you had to advance carefully or you could run into an ambush. Therefore advances take time.

The only thing I would think is how the terrain is near Moscow. Maybe there was some more variety in terrain than a solid forest. However those forests also indicate defense lines like the Mozhaisk. In GS you can't build fortified lines. In forests you get entrenchment level 2 instead of 1 simulating those defense lines better than if the hexes had been clear.

What this does is that the advance towards Moscow is slowed down quite a bit.

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by Plaid » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:43 am

Historical possibility to capture Moscow in 1941 is highly questionable.
Real Germans did not even reach the city. And if they do, street fighting in so huge settlement can take forever.

In CEAW it's possible though, I have achieved it atleast once against human opponent. You will need untraditional force organisation (many tactical bombers help a lot) and deployment (with most troops in the center obviously).
Also it helps when Allied player tries forward defense on Dnepr or Desna and you manage to oveerun this position. If Moscow is protected by tightly packed units, entrenched in the forests, you are unlikely to capture it, but you are going to kill many units at low cost for yourself.

In general its much easier to destroy Moscow with strategic bomber, than to bother with capturing it. You achieve almost same gameplay effect for little cost.

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by duncanr » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:49 am

its of great benefit if you can get the Russian player to commit to an "over defense" of Moscow in 41, as has been said you can kill a lot of Russians

I make the same mistake over leningrad, I hate losing it in 41 (purely psychological) so I end up committing lost of troops, many of whom get destroyed

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by Rasputitsa » Mon Oct 19, 2015 7:46 am

Moscow was not the main objective of 'Barbarossa' (Directive 21), Leningrad and the Baltic coast, the Ukraine and the destruction of the Soviet Army close to the border were the objectives. The supply organisation had warned that the German Army could not be fully supplied beyond Smolensk, therefore Moscow was only significant if there was an unexpectedly sudden collapse of Soviet forces, which didn't happen.

As the campaign developed to Smolensk, a conflict in the German High command arose over what further objectives should be selected, as it became obvious that the Soviets had not been beaten. Hitler wanted to capture the economic areas of the Ukraine and destroy a large part of the Soviet army in that area (continuing with the initial objectives of 'Barbarossa'), some of the generals (Halder, Guderian) wanted to head for Moscow, believing that the Soviet Army could be drawn into its defence and destroyed.

There were several weeks delay as this command conflict was resolved (Hitler won) and the supply situation had deteriorated just as predicted, but the Germans eventually ran out of time in dealing with Kiev and then also attempting to take Moscow too late in the year.

The point of all this is, that you can take any of these objectives, but you are unlikely to be able to take all of them, this was true in history and I believe it the same in the game. You may be able to take Moscow, but not if you try and take the other objectives at the same time, so the game is representing the historical situation reasonably well and presents you with the same dilemma faced by the actual commanders.

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by mupawa » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:46 pm

Directive 21 saw as its objective establishing a defensive line "Archangelsk - Volga" against Asiatic Russia. This would of course mean Moscow would be this side of it. Moscow was an objective.

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by mupawa » Mon Oct 19, 2015 5:52 pm

But its true Germany lost the war when it abandoned the drive on Moscow to envelop the Ukraine. It's capture, while perhaps not war ending, would have pretty much cut the country in two since the north south rail lines ran through there. It would have at least delayed the Russian rebound, perhaps long enough for Germany to capture the oilfields of the caucuses and the development of weapons like the jet and type 21 u-boat to actually have impact.

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by Plaid » Mon Oct 19, 2015 6:30 pm

If Germans go for Moscow ignoring Kiev they would probably get Stalingrad-like defeat there, but with entire Army Group cut off. They simple had no troops to man so long flanks.

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by Morris » Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:41 am

Axis should not be able to take Moscow in 1941 unless USSR make too many mistake or have wrong defence strategy . The game Balance in Russia is almost perfect in 3.1 . But It seems some changes in 3.2 will destroy it ! :(

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Re: Barbarossa balance in GS 3.1

Post by Rasputitsa » Sat Oct 24, 2015 1:01 am

mupawa wrote:Directive 21 saw as its objective establishing a defensive line "Archangelsk - Volga" against Asiatic Russia. This would of course mean Moscow would be this side of it. Moscow was an objective.

General purpose of the operation, which is the destruction of Soviet forces, to be accomplished in the border areas - with no specific mention of Moscow, any city in Western Russia has a similar position.

quote : Directive 21

The mass of the Russian Army in western Russia is to be destroyed in daring operations, by driving forward deep armored wedges, and the retreat of units capable of combat into the vastness of Russian territory is to be prevented.

In quick pursuit a line is then to be reached from which the Russian Air Force will no longer be able to attack the territory of the German Reich. The ultimate objective of the operation is to establish a cover against Asiatic Russia from the general line Volga-Archangel. Then, in case of necessity, the last industrial area left to Russia in the Urals can be eliminated by the Luftwaffe.


..........

Conduct of Operations - Leningrad and the Baltic coast are the main objectives, along with the destruction of Soviet Forces.

quote:

This will create a situation which will enable strong formations of mobile troops to swing north; such formations will then cooperate with the northern army group - advancing from East Prussia in the general direction of Leningrad - in destroying the enemy forces in the area of the Baltic states. Only after the accomplishment of these offensive operations, which must be followed by the capture of Leningrad and Kronstadt, are further offensive operations to be initiated with the objective of occupying the important center of communications and of armament production, Moscow.

Only a surprisingly rapid collapse of the Russian ability to resist could justify an attempt to achieve both objectives simultaneously.


..........

Moscow only really becomes an objective for the pursuit phase, which was envisaged as a 'Railway War' such had occurred during WW1 when, after the defeat of the Russian Forces in the border region, the Germans were able to advance into the interior against little opposition, using the railway network.

quote:

Once the battle south or north of the Pripet Marshes have been fought, the pursuit is to be undertaken with the following objectives:

In the south the rapid occupation of the economically important Donetz Basin, in the north the speedy capture of Moscow. This city is a political and economical center, and is a main railway junction point.


..........

At no point is Moscow the main objective of 'Barbarossa' and the references to Moscow were inserted by Halder, in an effort to be able to move the emphasis of the operation later, having failed to get agreement to have Moscow set as a primary objective during the planning stage. Hitler confirmed verbally in meetings and in presentations to the Officer Corps that he initially had no specific interest Moscow (Hitler believed Moscow to be of "no great importance" in the defeat of the Soviet Union).

The main point being that Moscow was not the main objective of 'Barbarossa' (initially there was no drive on Moscow - which only existed in Halder's mind and not in Hitler's) and all the above indicates the difficulty of attempting to set too many objectives, which occurred after 'Barbarossa' failed to achieve its main objectives of destroying the Soviet army and capturing Leningrad.

As 'Barbarossa' was clearly aimed at Leningrad and the quick destruction of Soviet forces, it is difficult to judge the ability of the German forces to reach Moscow directly, because they were not heading for Moscow until the launch of 'Operation Typhoon', which was a forlorn attempt (so late in the season) to recover something from the failure of 'Barbarossa'.

The game presents just the same choices of objective and is a good representation of the campaign priorities faced by the commanders at the time.

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