AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris--Morris welcome!

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Diplomaticus
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AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris--Morris welcome!

Post by Diplomaticus » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:45 pm

This is my first AAR, so low expectations, please.

This AAR is all about M's new menace: an all-out Barbarossa Blitz whose objective is to win the game in 1942 by knocking the USSR out of the war (or else so badly crippling Russia that it can't help the Allies enough for them to win).

We've already seen this in 2 recent AAR's, "Morris vs Joe Rock" and "Save the Bear" [aka "Richardsd vs Morris"]. In Joe Rock's game (which doesn't reflect the new rail changes) M got an April 23 1941 start, and by July 1942 he's taken Moscow and is threatening Omsk. In "Bear" M managed to seize both Leningrad and Stalingrad by the end of summer 1941 and threatens to outflank the Russians north and south.

Now let's take a look at M's opening against me:

Image

So, the first question I want to address is How does Morris manage to achieve such a massive concentration in the south while still having the forces to steamroll the north too? This is a crucial question, because if the M Blitz was in the south only, Russia wouldn't be in nearly such desperate straits.

Let's look at his forces: In the South he has 8 mechs (1 SS), 5 panzers, 1 strat, 3 tac, 3 fighters, 4 korps--all German. Added to this is the Italian airforce and nearly all of the minor allied armies. So you can see that he seems to have put all of his eggs into one basket. But let's look at a shot of the north from a few turns later in our game:

Image

Here he has--get this--23 Korps! This is backed up by 3 more German fighters a panzer or two and some odds and ends.

This is the secret to his success: He piles nearly entire mechanized/armored force into a blitzkrieg in the south while hitting the north with an absolute horde of infantry. The next question is this: How can he afford it?
Last edited by Diplomaticus on Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:45 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Diplomaticus » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:03 pm

So, how does M manage to pay for this enormous army?

I did a comparison of his opening force pool for Barbarossa with some similar games of mine where I did an early Barbarossa. One thing stood out--M starts with 10 more Korps than I did. That's a difference of 350 PP! I also noticed that he's got 6 German fighters, but only 3 tac. That means he built 5 German planes since the beginning of the game, which is high but not ridiculously so. He's maxed out his panzer/mech allowances, which isn't terribly unusual, but it does represent a huge amount of PP's when added to all those Korps and planes. So where does his money come from?

Stauffenberg has suggested that M must be putting minimal investment into his labs, counting on winning the game in 1942. I'm guessing that he's right about that. But there's something else, too. As far as I can tell, he has only purchased one leader, and that one is the relatively cheap Hausser. No Rommel. No Guderian. No Manstein.

Other than economizing on labs and leaders, the third explanation I can offer is that from the fall of France to the eve of Barbarossa, Morris was pretty passive overall. Yes, he took the usuals--Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia--but he put up only the most token resistance in Libya (transporting units out Tobruk and Benghazi at the first sight of the Brits) and even the u-boats were unusually quiet. I interpret this as more economizing on PP's, MP and oil. By minimizing losses in combat he was able to help save for his massive invasion horde.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Diplomaticus » Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:18 pm

My strategy in this game was basically to try to learn all I could from the two examples I had before me. First there was Morris vs Joe Rock. Now Joe's an elite player, but even he struggled when faced with M's first version of this gambit. (And again I emphasize that this was with the old rail rules.)

Joe was handicapped, as I am in this game, by an April 23rd opening to Barbarossa. This makes an already difficult situation for the Russians much, much harder.

One mistake I thought Joe made is shown here:

Image

and here:

Image

I'm guessing that Joe was desperately trying to buy time, but IMO this is happening too far west.

So, one thing I decided from the getgo was to make no more than the occasional gar speedbump resistance until the spearhead approached Rostov.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by kaigab73 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:08 pm

I believe he saves:
- 180 PP from building subs (he just use the ones he has)
- the PP from the 2 labs of subs (78+86)

this alone makes 354 PP. then he saves from not buying one or 2 leaders and that's it: 450PP more for barbarossa. basically he maximizes barbarossa at cost of weak atlantic war.

As the advantage of strong atlantic war for axis is seen only in 1943 (in 1942 UK and US can't make DDAY regardless of how many subs you use) obviously Axis is much stronger in 1941, 1942.

By '43 allies will have more units but if the tactic is successful Russia will be dead or in any case not in condition to hurt germans so germany will have as well more units to defend making hard for allies to get to berlin by '45 (or problably not able to get to berlin ever).

IMO since this tactic is meant to knock russia out of the war in '41 by forcing russian units to fight in '41 (and in any game where russia try to fight in '41 regardless of when barbarossa starts is a game Axis wins easy) i believe the only countermeasure is to simply retreat further east and avoid to lose units. Stalingrad is 5PP a turn, giving them to germans means losing in 18 turns (1 year) 90PP: i think it's better this way than losing 6-9 units and losing it anyway at the end. I would personally focus on trying to hold Moscow and avoid any fights in south where he has his elite units.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:16 pm

Morris started Barbarossa in April in this game too. Maybe we should have a look at the weather chances in the east?

These are the current settings:
NORTH_MUD_CHANCE_APRIL 50
NORTH_WINTER_CHANCE_APRIL 35

NORTH_MUD_CHANCE_MAY 0
NORTH_WINTER_CHANCE_MAY 0

So you have a 15% chance for fair weather in the north in April and 100% chance for fair in May. Maybe we can alter this to something like:
NORTH_MUD_CHANCE_APRIL 60
NORTH_WINTER_CHANCE_APRIL 35

NORTH_MUD_CHANCE_MAY 10
NORTH_WINTER_CHANCE_MAY 0

That means only 5% chance for fair in April and 10% chance for mud in May. My experience from living in Norway is that April is almost always a month where the ground is drying up from all the snow just melted in March and early April. So April is often muddy in Norway (even more so in the 40's). If you have fair weather in April then it's because the winter ended early and the snow was melted already in March. This year is such a year. We have patches of snow outside in Oslo now, and the ground is wet. I hope it will be able to dry up so April will be a nice fair weather month.

May can be muddy if the winter ended late and there was snow in April that had to be thawed. Then the ground is still wet in May. I've seen it a few times in Oslo during my life time. Not the last 10-20 years, but in the 60-70's the winters lasted longer.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:21 pm

For GS v2.2 I think that we should consider refining the weather rules so the weather in the previous turn will affect the weather in the next turn.

E. g. we could do like:
North weather in May is by default 0% mud and 0% winter, but if the weather in April was winter in the north then the chance is 10% for mud.

One thing we should look into is to reduce the chance of going straight from fair to winter or winter to fair. Usually there were turns with mud in between, especially in the spring when the snow during the winter had to melt. You could go quickly from winter to fair in April if e. g. the temperature became 20C+ for quite awhile. I've seen it happen in Oslo. Then the snow disappeared in no time and the ground dried up too.

The suggested changes above is something we should consider for GS v2.2 and not now.

The easiest change we can do now is to close down the chance for fair weather in the east in April. Barbarossa starting already in April can be devastating for the Allies.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by joerock22 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:26 pm

Diplomaticus wrote:One mistake I thought Joe made is shown here:

I'm guessing that Joe was desperately trying to buy time, but IMO this is happening too far west.

So, one thing I decided from the getgo was to make no more than the occasional gar speedbump resistance until the spearhead approached Rostov.
Yes, that was definitely a mistake, and you were right not to repeat it. In retrospect, I should have built a line somewhere further east instead of doing a "fighting retreat." Defending using ZoC is just not effective because the Axis can get to hexes that should be blockd off by the ZoC as long as the Russian units aren't visible to the Axis when they move (see the mech in your first screenshot). Then they can catch your retreating corps line on the next turn.

I really don't like the way that works, but apparently nobody agrees with me.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:37 pm

We just can't prevent Morris from building the way he does. There are already enough restrictions against blob strategy. So a strategy to beat his strategy must be found on the battleground.

I think the solution has to be found with the western Allies. If you know you face Morris then you know he won't invest in many labs, leaders and subs. That means the western Allies don't need to build many more ships and focus investment in naval. Instead they can build more air and land units and launch a strong invasion of France already in 1941 or at least in 1942. Morris is not sending troops to Libya so it should be possible to take Libya early and then attack the soft underbelly. Knocking Italy out of the war early means fewer troops in the east or France for defense against an early Overlord.

If the western Allies are too passive then the Russians will crumble against Morris. The problem is that you can't alter your strategy mid-game if you already begun building naval units. So you have to decide from the very beginning and if the Germans then play normally and focus on subs then you have a problem.

Morris'es strategy is a simple one. He focuses all he can on Russia and hope to cripple the Russians in 1942. If he succeeds the game is over and if he fails the game is also over. So you won't see an even game going to 1945. Either Morris wins big time or he goes up in smoke very early. Facing such an opponent can be frustrating because you know that you can't force him on the defense. He will attack until there are no troops left hoping he will get Omsk and Moscow. Calling off the offensive means he will lose long term so that's not an option.

Still, this is part of GS. Players should be allowed to have different strategies. Once a clever Allied player finds a way to regularly beat Morris'es strategy then he will abandon it and try something else instead. This is something we see in most wargames. A clever player finds a way to get the initiative and others copy him. Then another clever strategy finds a good counter strategy and others copy that too. And so on.

So my suggestion is to just let this be and try to beat Morris on the battleground. If it's not possible there is always a chance for GS v2.2 where we can fine tune even further.

Still, I'm a bit tired to alter game balance just because the strategy of ONE guy. We've seen before that people try to copy Morris'es strategy and just can't perform as well as Morris. So it's not like the strategy is a killer. It's only a killer in the hands of Morris. So far I've only seen one guy who can fully cope with Morris and that is Supermax. This indicates that you need to be very aggressive with the Allies if you want to stop Morris.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Cybvep » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:43 pm

5% chance for mud during May is a bad idea. Let the Axis start Barbarossa sooner if they can - sometimes it's their only chance to deal enough damage to the Russians. However, chance for fair weather in April could be decreased, as it should happen only once in a while, even if only for game balance reasons.

No major balance changes for 2.1. Everything that could be done to stop Morris without massive game changes has already been done. ATM it seems that both sides can win the game if they know what they are doing and have some luck. There are still some balance problems, but solving them is outside the scope of 2.1 IMO.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:48 pm

joerock22 wrote:
Diplomaticus wrote:One mistake I thought Joe made is shown here:

I'm guessing that Joe was desperately trying to buy time, but IMO this is happening too far west.

So, one thing I decided from the getgo was to make no more than the occasional gar speedbump resistance until the spearhead approached Rostov.
Yes, that was definitely a mistake, and you were right not to repeat it. In retrospect, I should have built a line somewhere further east instead of doing a "fighting retreat." Defending using ZoC is just not effective because the Axis can get to hexes that should be blockd off by the ZoC as long as the Russian units aren't visible to the Axis when they move (see the mech in your first screenshot). Then they can catch your retreating corps line on the next turn.

I really don't like the way that works, but apparently nobody agrees with me.
It's not like we don't agree, but that the game engine has to be changed in order to do that. The biggest obstacle is that hidden units would exert ZOC so you can't move to a hex and then you know there is a hidden unit somewhere. We made the change so you can't attack after movement if you revealed a hidden unit during movement. So it's at least better than it was. Before you could exploit moving without ZOC if the units were hidden and still attack afterwards when the unit was stopped early.

So if we want to change this then we need to rethink how fog of war works. One way to do it could be to let a unit pay +1 mp for entering an unspotted hex. That could take care of the problem you describe and would mean you have to fly air units close to the front line units to spot ahead.

The problem is that this will affect game balance elsewhere and that's not something we can do now if we want GS v2.1 sent to Slitherine March 20th.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by kaigab73 » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:26 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:We just can't prevent Morris from building the way he does. There are already enough restrictions against blob strategy. So a strategy to beat his strategy must be found on the battleground.

I think the solution has to be found with the western Allies. If you know you face Morris then you know he won't invest in many labs, leaders and subs. That means the western Allies don't need to build many more ships and focus investment in naval. Instead they can build more air and land units and launch a strong invasion of France already in 1941 or at least in 1942. Morris is not sending troops to Libya so it should be possible to take Libya early and then attack the soft underbelly. Knocking Italy out of the war early means fewer troops in the east or France for defense against an early Overlord.

If the western Allies are too passive then the Russians will crumble against Morris. The problem is that you can't alter your strategy mid-game if you already begun building naval units. So you have to decide from the very beginning and if the Germans then play normally and focus on subs then you have a problem.

Morris'es strategy is a simple one. He focuses all he can on Russia and hope to cripple the Russians in 1942. If he succeeds the game is over and if he fails the game is also over. So you won't see an even game going to 1945. Either Morris wins big time or he goes up in smoke very early. Facing such an opponent can be frustrating because you know that you can't force him on the defense. He will attack until there are no troops left hoping he will get Omsk and Moscow. Calling off the offensive means he will lose long term so that's not an option.

Still, this is part of GS. Players should be allowed to have different strategies. Once a clever Allied player finds a way to regularly beat Morris'es strategy then he will abandon it and try something else instead. This is something we see in most wargames. A clever player finds a way to get the initiative and others copy him. Then another clever strategy finds a good counter strategy and others copy that too. And so on.

So my suggestion is to just let this be and try to beat Morris on the battleground. If it's not possible there is always a chance for GS v2.2 where we can fine tune even further.

Still, I'm a bit tired to alter game balance just because the strategy of ONE guy. We've seen before that people try to copy Morris'es strategy and just can't perform as well as Morris. So it's not like the strategy is a killer. It's only a killer in the hands of Morris. So far I've only seen one guy who can fully cope with Morris and that is Supermax. This indicates that you need to be very aggressive with the Allies if you want to stop Morris.
agreed. letting axis having different strategies makes every game different. it's up to the allies player to find a strategy to hold his all or nothing approach in russia.

Btw, i don't think morris strategy fails if he doesn't take OMSK. if he can destroy several russian units in '41 or '42 i think russia is weak enough that they can't attack in '43.

btw, why allies should build many ships? right now there is a flaw in the game. if you have USA building ONLY tacticals and UK only mechs and fighters, you can have a strong DDay in '43 without the subs intercepting a single troop. US can fly the TAC through the northern bases.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by peterjfrigate » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:56 pm

It's a small point, but here's something I haven't seen anybody do yet:

Image

Notice in the first shot of this AAR Morris has overrun Odessa and is at the gates of Kherson on the first turn. But this can be delayed by placing the 3 GARS in green before Barbarossa. A slight advantage, but it should buy the Russians a turn by keeping the spearhead in the vicinity of the Dniester.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:03 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:For GS v2.2 I think that we should consider refining the weather rules so the weather in the previous turn will affect the weather in the next turn.
I agree that we should consider tweaking the weather rules, but I'd like to keep the changes as minimal as possible.

April 23 1941 is a special case, because the consequences of that extra turn of clear weather (15% chance) are potentially so sweeping. Rather than change the weather for all April turns, I'd suggest just reducing to zero the chance of clear on that particular turn, if that's possible.

As far as some of the other suggestions go, I'll say that one thing I regret about CEAW is how massively the fate of the game can be swayed by good luck/bad luck on weather rolls at certain key points of the game. For 2.2 I would suggest maybe adding an option at the start screen for less randomized weather, the idea being to allow players to reduce the chances of one or two key weather turns having too great an impact on the game.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris (No Morris Pls)

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:18 pm

Back to the AAR.

As I wrote above, I had decided early on to set up my line to the east, anchored at Rostov, and following river lines to Stalingrad. This was to be similar to what Richardsd did in "Save the Bear," but I wanted to see if it was possible to hold a longer line. As it turned out, the answer was "no," but that will be illustrated in a later post.

The other lesson I tried to take from Joe Rock’s game is shown in these screenshots from the beginning of severe winter ’41-42:

Image


Image

Joe ended up beating his head against an unyielding rock here, so he didn’t end up making much of his winter offensive.

I decided to deploy my troops—especially my surviving mechs—to try to target more vulnerable areas when winter struck. We will see how successful I was.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris

Post by supermax » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:23 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:We just can't prevent Morris from building the way he does. There are already enough restrictions against blob strategy. So a strategy to beat his strategy must be found on the battleground.

I think the solution has to be found with the western Allies. If you know you face Morris then you know he won't invest in many labs, leaders and subs. That means the western Allies don't need to build many more ships and focus investment in naval. Instead they can build more air and land units and launch a strong invasion of France already in 1941 or at least in 1942. Morris is not sending troops to Libya so it should be possible to take Libya early and then attack the soft underbelly. Knocking Italy out of the war early means fewer troops in the east or France for defense against an early Overlord.

If the western Allies are too passive then the Russians will crumble against Morris. The problem is that you can't alter your strategy mid-game if you already begun building naval units. So you have to decide from the very beginning and if the Germans then play normally and focus on subs then you have a problem.

Morris'es strategy is a simple one. He focuses all he can on Russia and hope to cripple the Russians in 1942. If he succeeds the game is over and if he fails the game is also over. So you won't see an even game going to 1945. Either Morris wins big time or he goes up in smoke very early. Facing such an opponent can be frustrating because you know that you can't force him on the defense. He will attack until there are no troops left hoping he will get Omsk and Moscow. Calling off the offensive means he will lose long term so that's not an option.

Still, this is part of GS. Players should be allowed to have different strategies. Once a clever Allied player finds a way to regularly beat Morris'es strategy then he will abandon it and try something else instead. This is something we see in most wargames. A clever player finds a way to get the initiative and others copy him. Then another clever strategy finds a good counter strategy and others copy that too. And so on.

So my suggestion is to just let this be and try to beat Morris on the battleground. If it's not possible there is always a chance for GS v2.2 where we can fine tune even further.

Still, I'm a bit tired to alter game balance just because the strategy of ONE guy. We've seen before that people try to copy Morris'es strategy and just can't perform as well as Morris. So it's not like the strategy is a killer. It's only a killer in the hands of Morris. So far I've only seen one guy who can fully cope with Morris and that is Supermax. This indicates that you need to be very aggressive with the Allies if you want to stop Morris.
Well. I totally agree with you my friend. No changes are needed. I fail to see the end of the allies with this successeful Barbarossa... Yes, it is very effective, but it remains to be seen that the germans can really knock the russians out against a smart defense and an agressive western allies strategy. Maybee i should start a game with Moriss with the Allies just to see how i would fare? i<ll contact him.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris (No Morris Pls)

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:32 pm

On to the lessons I tried to learn from Richardsd and his "Save the Bear" AAR.

Richard had the good idea to do a '41 invasion of France to siphon off some of the Barbarossa strength:

Image


Image

But it all ended badly.

Image

Despite creating the impression that he'd put all his forces into play in the East, somehow M had enough on hand to crush the invasion.

So in my AAR I decided that the UK just isn't strong enough to fight on the Continent in 1941. My strategy would involve initial attacks on secondary fronts, as we'll see.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris (No Morris Pls)

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:39 pm

The second lesson I tried to learn from Richard had to do with his deployment of the Red Army, particularly his Rostov-Stalingrad line:

Image

Image

At this point, R's strategy seemed to be working pretty well, but I didn't like that huge hole north of Stalingrad. I remembered Joe Rock's terrible situation with that powerful German blob based at Uralsk, so I didn't fancy letting M drive at will farther east than Stalingrad.

My response was to attempt a thinner line that would block the road north and east of Stalingrad. My hope was to retreat the whole line in good order to keep slowing him down until winter:
Image

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris (No Morris Pls)

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:45 pm

As we'll see in upcoming posts, my experiment failed. Despite his problems, Richard's defense based on huge groupings at Moscow and south of Rostov works much better than my approach. In my own defense, when I deployed my troops I wasn't yet aware of the scale of M's northern forces. I (wrongly) assumed that with the kind of concentration of force he was deploying in the south he wouldn't be able to threaten both Leningrad and Moscow.

Speaking of which, we had speculated that M was able to afford all this by skimping on labs, but what I'm seeing in the game doesn't bear that out. The 2 German battleships show up as '6' when I click on Upgrade, and the mechs and tanks are highly upgraded, showing up as '9's or similar. I just don't understand how he can do that and still afford all these units. I want to try to do what he does in a hotseat game to find out.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris (No Morris Pls)

Post by kaigab73 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:31 pm

Diplomaticus wrote:As we'll see in upcoming posts, my experiment failed. Despite his problems, Richard's defense based on huge groupings at Moscow and south of Rostov works much better than my approach. In my own defense, when I deployed my troops I wasn't yet aware of the scale of M's northern forces. I (wrongly) assumed that with the kind of concentration of force he was deploying in the south he wouldn't be able to threaten both Leningrad and Moscow.

Speaking of which, we had speculated that M was able to afford all this by skimping on labs, but what I'm seeing in the game doesn't bear that out. The 2 German battleships show up as '6' when I click on Upgrade, and the mechs and tanks are highly upgraded, showing up as '9's or similar. I just don't understand how he can do that and still afford all these units. I want to try to do what he does in a hotseat game to find out.
i tried myself in hotseat. I did this:
- didn't buy any lab in navy (all other labs were maxed as usual as soon as possible)
- didn't build any sub
- conquered norway, greece yugo as usual
- moved out of africa as soon as possible
- didn't build any more lab in '41 before finishing my OOB for barbarossa

i ended up, all ready deployed and upgraded by 3rd April, with a Wermacht of:
- 30 inf
- 7 mechs
- 6 armor
- 5 TAC
- 5 FTR
- 3 leaders (Kleist/Hausser and obliviously Rundstedt)

In theory, you could even afford a lab in navy (75PP or something like that), it just means by 23rd of april you have 2 infantry less. As you can't possibly use all infantry in first 2 turns of barbarossa (simply cause too many infs and some remain out of range of enemy) so you can have a lab in navy, and still have your 30 inf (25 of which for leningrad/Moscow goal) by May.

then you can max out labs next 2 turns since with huge force invasion you really don't need to build anything for '41 for east.

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Re: AAR: Diplomaticus vs Morris (No Morris Pls)

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:19 pm

Thanks very much for that investigation. I think you've identified how M must be doing this. In my present game, he definitely put at least 1 into navy labs, but as you calculate it, that's still possible with the forces he has arrayed. I should also note that the figure of 23 Korps in the North 1/2 (north of the marshes) was based on a screen shot in June 1941, so he could have started his campaign with a few less infantry.

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