CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

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Diplomaticus
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CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Diplomaticus » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:20 pm

Since Xmas I've been experimenting vs. the AI and doing solo Hotseat games, getting a feel for the new version. Here are some early impressions:

*With proper tactics, Poland is a 1-turn thing. With horrible rolls you can still fail, but my success rate is roughly 80% in multiple trials.

*I love the new units: adding cav, mot, mountain units improves the texture of the game in very satisfying ways.

*The changes to the air ranges are huge. IMO the extended ranges in the early game really open up the tactical situations on the board.

*Barbarossa is a whole new ballgame. I haven't done enough playtesting to quite figure it out, but that fortress line in the south is a major game-changer.

*The free leaders (but with limited range) seem like an improvement, but there are so many of them that at some points they seem redundant.

*Another big change is making air and naval units independent of leaders. This used to be a very important part of the game--especially for air units. I haven't played through enough yet to see its long-term effects.

All in all my impressions of 4.0 are overwhelmingly positive. In so many ways it feels like a whole new game. I foresee many happy months ahead.... :- )

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:52 pm

The ranges for the leaders are shorter so you need more of them to keep the front line within leader range. From 1943 and later you have enough leaders to keep the front sections within leader change and some to spare. That means you can let some leaders be placed on units in the strategic reserve or on garrison duty.

In the real war all military units had leaders. Most of the GS leaders are army or army group sized leaders. The ranges for the leaders were calculated to be the range they commanded in the real war. E. g. Rundtstedt with command range of 4. He commanded Army Group South at the start of Barbarossa and that included German units in Romania.

Many leaders have command range of 1 or 2. If you get overlapping leaders everywhere then you might feel there is something wrong. However that doesn't happen unless you ignore having leaders for your rear units.

Having air or naval units be independent upon leaders is a game option you can turn off if you don't like it. At one point we discussed adding air and naval leaders, but felt that it was easier to abstract the leader bonuses on the air and naval leaders. This means you don't need to place land units in the rear to give leader bonus to air units as you had to do before. Now you move the air units where you want to and you know you get a bonus based on some techs instead.

Poland has a chance to fall in 1 turn since the Germans now have 4 motorised corps instead of 2 mech corps as they had before. This is according to the OOB. I'm not sure the chance is as high as 80%, but it's significant. That means the Allied player has to be prepared for a German blitzkrieg strategy.

Sealion also seems more viable in GS v4.0 for several reasons. One is the longer air ranges so the Luftwaffe can support an invasion better. Another is the start of an extra Axis air unit and free leaders. So the Axis player can build some more naval units early and be in a decent position to do a Sealion. It might be we have to tweak the Sealion conditions if it becomes too popular to do Sealions in GS v4.0 games. At least a significant percentage of Sealion attempts should fail so you have to have a certain reason to go for it, like an early fall of France. If France falls in June or later then Sealion should be risky, i. e. just a few turns fighting in England before you might get mud weather.

A good thing is that most Allied players now will send the Canadian reinforcements to England instead of directly to Egypt as they did before when they knew Sealion was really difficult.

The Stalin line fortifications along the Polish / Russian border means you can't blitz through the south as you used to and reach Stalingrad in 1941. However, the fortifications aren't that hard to deal with if you as the Axis hit them hard while the Russians suffer from the surprise morale penalty. The main problem with the units within is that they don't retreat. However, they don't inflict a lot of damage if they're down in orange or red morale. You can still reach Kiev in July 1941 with the new fortifications.

Adding Vyborg as a city has changed the Finnish war a lot as well. Now it's much harder for the Axis to put pressure on Leningrad very early. So taking Leningrad in 1941 is quite challenging.

On the other hand adding more fast running troops like motorised and cavalry units means the Axis can be more mobile than they used to. So most players will reach the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad in 1941 if they start with a strong May 1941 Barbarossa.

Some of the AAR's we seen show that the Axis are actually quite potent in GS v4.0. Things can go really bad for the Allies if they are not prepared. However, the Russian steamroller is still very formidable and stopping the Allied 1944 Overlord is very very difficult. Just as is used to be. So it seems to me that if the Axis player can only follow the historical progress up to 1943 then they will collapse as the real Germans did in 1943. However, the extra initial firepower means the Axis have a chance to do better than historical until 1943 and that gives them a good chance winning the game.

I think the Allied player can now more easily mess up his game than before. In GS v3.1 the Axis player had to play very well to challenge the Allied player. One strategic blunder and you would probably never recover. The Allies could recover more easily from blunders. In GS v4.0 you can get punished hard for blunders, even smaller ones.

It's hard to say if GS v4.0 is well balanced for all playing styles. So far via the AAR's we see a lot of spectacular strategies with interesting results. Not easy to draw any conclusions from that. At least it's good that GS v4.0 encourages players to try different strategies than before.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Vokt » Thu Jan 12, 2017 6:33 pm

I would like to bring here some new fresh impressions about 4.0.

My feel both from the games I'm current playing and from the numerous AAR's that are being posted in the forums, is that Axis, generally speaking, is stronger now. And specifically, Axis "Close the Med" and Middle East oilfields strategies are significantly favoured by the recent changes.

New air bases rules have had a certain effect but maybe not enough for avoiding the air blobs style of playing. This we can see it in the duncan vs supermax AAR game, where still massive air fleets can be gathered in places of dubious infrastructure capabilities for hosting such large number of air units. I'm referring to those 10 Allied air units deployed around Agadir, those 12 Axis fighters units deployed in Persia, those 10 VVS air units deployed around Baku, those another 6 VVS air units deployed on the eastern bank of Caspian Sea, etc. Honestly, this keeps on sounding like the old "funny" but unrealistic CEAW game since it's dubious, to say the least, that the real Allies and Axis had the logistical capability for deploying such large air fleets in such locations. Logistical problems for making such massive air deployments would have been huge. Not to mention the political and strategic considerations of Germany and USSR deploying huge air fleets far from the logical and natural objective of giving priority to the air defense of their respective homeland air space (Eastern Front main scenario appears to be stripped from air units).

Sea Lion appears to be between slightly and rather easier to execute now. This might be something to look at either. As implied on previous posts, this might have something to do with Poland being easier to conquer in 1 turn, which in turn makes Blitzkrieg strategy more successful and worthy which in turn accounts for an earlier than before Fall of France. Maybe be a slight OOB review would be needed here. Maybe French army is excessively "garrisoned" and for that reason is not able to respond more efficiently to the early weaker German 1939 invasions. Let's keep in mind that even Polish army is stronger than French one in 1939 scenario if we count total number of corps units and only via purchasing units the French can build a decent army. But this only can be done in case of Sitzkrieg strategies since in case of Blitzkrieg ones, let's admit it, France is virtually undefended.

So if we are to do something with this, I would do some little OOB changes both in France and Poland 1939 OOB's. For France, I would "trade" 5 initial French garrisons for 2 fresh French corps units. No game balance affecting should imply doing so since it's 75 PP's of the removed garrisons vs 70 PP's of the couple of French corps. Only thing that would change is the French having more combatant units (no more garrisons as "road blocks") for a move in Belgium. For Poland 1939 OOB we might consider to set 1 hex north of Warsaw as a fortification hex with a garrison unit on it, representing Modlin fortress. Doing so Germans would definitely need 2 turns for taking Poland as maybe it should be.

Furthermore, maybe fortification and fortress hexes should provide 1 supply point (just as rail depots) in case of being cut from main supply. That way, Germans would have a harder job of removing all of those Maginot Line fortress hexes in case of a rejected French armistice. Stalin Line fortifications would make more sense that way either. Right now they massively fall because of getting out of supply.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:04 pm

Remember that the Maginot fortress hexes were directional towards the Germans. When attacked in the rear they had no defenses. So the Maginot line quickly crumbled when the Germans broke through at the Ardennes.

The same can be said to all fortifications hexes. The main purpose of the fortification hexes in Poland is to prevent retreat from them. That means the units within exert ZOC and slow movement. So you need to get rid of some of these fortifications hexes to be able to move quickly in southern Russia. The intent is not to completely stop the Axis, but rather slow them a bit as in the real war. Therefore we don't have a contiguous line of fortifications. If the fortifications slow down the Axis too little then having them every second hex instead of every third hex could be an idea. The Axis should be able to ooze through these fortifications and wear them down.

Having a fortifications with a garrison in Modlin could definitely be worth trying. A one turn conquest of Poland should be a lucky event rather than something you can hope for every time you try.

Not sure we need to do more regarding air basing. The situation we see in Duncan's won't happen very often and it seems to be balanced with no side having any advantage. Limiting the air basing further would require quite a bit of coding and it's not well suited for the current game engine. What we need is to be able to stack air units together with ground units with a separate stacking for the air units. Then we could let the air units stack inside cities only. E. g. capitals could allow 3 air units, cities could allow 2 air units and other resources could allow 1 air unit. However that's not possible to implement with the current game engine where stacking is not possible. So instead we have to allow air units to stack outside cities like now. Limiting the air units even further might make Overlord etc. harder to implement because you can't find enough airbases for your air units.

Replacing some French garrison units with corps units might be considered, however it will make the French rather vulnerable to a blitzkrieg attack since you don't have enough units to form a decent defense line. It takes a few turns before the French can purchase enough garrison units to fill the gap. They can afford about 1 garrison unit per turn. I think replacing 2 garrison units with 1 corps unit might be considered as an alternative.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by duncanr » Thu Jan 12, 2017 8:28 pm

Well I would say its quite possible to see the situation in my game over and over! - its really that a quick fall of Poland and good weather means Paris will fall in Feb 1940 no problem and that then gives the Axis free hand for a very long time. It will not be possible to stop the Axis closing the Med and getting Spain and Persia if they choose that. You also won't be able to stop a Sealion. So what I have learn't from my game is that you have to decide as the Allies what you are going to let them have and what you are going to keep. In my game I tried to stop the Axis in the Med but its just not possible when they get the fair weather head start - I needed to keep England and just give up the Med and Persia.

I think after people have had a few games we will see the Allies managing this situation better, i.e. they will know they can't stop a close the Med, so will either go hard to defend Persia or prep for a Europe focus (all the while keeping significant strength in England).

On a political/Strategic level I wonder what Russia and the US would have done had England fallen?

Apart from a few mistakes from me the real killer for the Allies is that the Axis is just way to far ahead in technology to effectively make headway once they have the oil and PP's.

So the key for me is the strategic decision making for the UK when the Axis takes this strategy along with I think maybe some consideration to tweaks to US and Russian LABS/PP's when the UK capital moves to Canada.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by duncanr » Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:44 am

one other thing to report, I have had a couple of SUB attacks against transports that have completely missed, thats new for me!

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Vokt » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:39 pm

Stauffenberg wrote:E. g. capitals could allow 3 air units, cities could allow 2 air units and other resources could allow 1 air unit.
What about setting those same limits per type of resource referred to the resource hex and its 6 adjacent hexes?

Once surpassed that stacking limit, airfield overuse would account for a certain amount of PP's paid. (Checked, in a 1944 scenario that Allies would have enough air bases for Overlord without exceeding the limit)

Besides, to further discourage the players from doing those air blobs, air units based on landing strips (clear hexes not adjacent to resources) shouldn't be possible to be fully repaired, getting only 1 step per turn (if any) repaired. This would represent not being possible to be made the proper maintenance on the aircrafts whilst far from the airfields.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:16 pm

Stacking is not allowed at all. So that is not possible. It would require a major redesign of the game engine to facilitate for allowing unit stacking.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Vokt » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:33 pm

I didn't mean real stacking (I know this is not possible in CEAW) but I was referring to a max limit of air units in a resource hex AND/OR in its adjacent hexes: 3 around capitals, 2 around cities and 1 around resources.

Anyway, guessing that implementing such thing would require quite a bit of coding, so maybe this is not for now.

But reducing the ability to repair losses of air units not based on airfields (let's consider airfields the resource hex and its 6 adjacent hexes) could be a good thing.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by ncali » Sun Jan 15, 2017 5:50 pm

Looks like fun! Thanks for the good work. I haven't played the game in a while, but really enjoyed it a few years back. I just downloaded 4.00, and am interested in all the game tweaks and features that have been added.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:59 pm

Vokt wrote: And specifically, Axis "Close the Med" and Middle East oilfields strategies are significantly favoured by the recent changes.
Hmmm... I must be missing something then. Unless there's a successful Sealion, how does the Axis take Egypt? Again, I may be missing something, but it looks to me that it's quite easy for the UK to set up a double or triple defense line in the narrow strip just north of the Qattarra Depression that is very easy to defend. The supply limits on units in North Africa and the narrow strip of hexes make it very hard for the Axis to take advantage of superior numbers. A few reinforcements from Canada are all that are needed--or so it seems to me--to set up a rock-hard wall. By sending the Malta fighter over to Egypt and the Atlantic CV as well, if needed, the UK should have at least air parity, no?

Maybe there is something wrong with my tactics, but I recently experimented with a Hotseat game trying my hardest to break through to Suez with the Axis. My conclusion: it could be done, but only at the too-high price of a late/weak Barbarossa.

Comments?

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by duncanr » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:00 pm

so that means you are giving up Spain without an real effort or loss on the Axis and could easily lose the UK to Sealion - just look at Plaids AAR he will take Paris the first fine turn of February, it just takes a bit of fine weather to get to this position - Paris could have fallen Feb 8th it had been fine. There is no stopping the Axis with the UK alone, you will have to make so choices about what the UK wants to keep because you can't keep it all!

Specifically the three changes that help the Axis early on are:

1. no need to buy leaders which gives you greater offensive power (more units)
2. easier fall of Poland
3. longer air ranges make it easier for Sealion and fall of France

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Diplomaticus » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:20 pm

duncanr wrote:so that means you are giving up Spain without an real effort or loss on the Axis and could easily lose the UK to Sealion - just look at Plaids AAR he will take Paris the first fine turn of February, it just takes a bit of fine weather to get to this position - Paris could have fallen Feb 8th it had been fine. There is no stopping the Axis with the UK alone, you will have to make so choices about what the UK wants to keep because you can't keep it all!

Specifically the three changes that help the Axis early on are:

1. no need to buy leaders which gives you greater offensive power (more units)
2. easier fall of Poland
3. longer air ranges make it easier for Sealion and fall of France
Hmmm.... This picture just doesn't match my experience. With anything like normal weather rolls, I am confident I will hold Paris until May at the very least. Sure, if Axis gets great weather it's possible to do an early Blitz, but there is only 25% chance of clear weather in February turns. In my experience taking Paris in February is extremely rare. June is far more typical, again unless Axis gets very lucky with weather.

And, yes, UK cannot possibly defend everything, but there are consequences if Axis declines French surrender. If the UK gets the French fleet & air force, that's a pretty good compensation for Spain.

I'm ready to put my money where my mouth is. Anyone want to be Axis in a PBEM?

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by duncanr » Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:40 pm

I agree with your comments, but you have the advantage of some other peoples experience :-), knowing what I know now I would just forgo Spain - but that's a big change from previous versions - it was always a very hard task for the Axis to get Spain

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by duncanr » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:04 am

also its the fair weather in 39 with the early fall of Poland, extra units and greater air range that gives the advantage, not the Feb weather - its all over by then. It's going to be reasonably common given its happened in at least two of the v4 AAR's that are being done.

happy to play a game if you like, but I wouldn't be so lucky as to get the weather so I would like to try and play better as the allies in my second v4 outing!

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Peter Stauffenberg » Tue Jan 17, 2017 10:53 am

The questions is then if we should do as Vokt suggested and add the Modlin fortifications 1x of Warsaw and place a garrison unit there. That means it will be a lot harder to do a one turn conquest of Poland. That means delay for sending forces from Poland to the west if a blitz attack on Belgium in 1939?

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Diplomaticus » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:41 pm

[quote="Stauffenberg"]The questions is then if we should do as Vokt suggested and add the Modlin fortifications 1x of Warsaw and place a garrison unit there.quote]

I vote a resounding "No!"

My reasoning:

1. Poland really ought to fall in 1 turn, not 2. Historically, the Polish government fled the country 18 days after the invasion was launched, and Warsaw fell a week later. Given game turns of 20 days, 1 turn is far more representative than 40 days.

2. I haven't seen any evidence that the game has become too Axis-friendly. I've been playing this game for a long time, and in general it's been tilted toward the Allies. Sure, the Axis can win, but against opponents of equal ability, usually all it took was a single mistake on the Axis player's part, and the game was lost. The Allies could always afford to slip up numerous times and still bounce back in the end.

3. Yes, it's true that the early German Blitz is formidbable... if, and only if, the German gets lucky with the weather. It's a gamble--and a costly one, too. Think of all those PP's lost due to over-railing costs. With even normal weather rolls, the Axis, IMO, doesn't gain an edge from the early Blitz.

4. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The evidence of a couple of AAR's to me isn't compelling evidence that we need to "fix" this. I suggest that folks experiment with the early Blitz with multiple Hotseat games and some PBEM play-testing before we go leaping to conclusions.

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by AugustusTiberius » Wed Jan 18, 2017 3:05 am

Not sure about how often Poland falls in one turn, I play a lot and I have not had a one-turn conquest in years. As for saying it should fall in one I disagree. There were mop ups, gathering prisoners, refitting tired and spread out troops etc., all things the Wehrmacht had to do - and did. The idea that it should take two turns is pretty much correct.

However, not crazy about the tendency (preponderance) towards a fall Case Yellow but it is all about trade offs.

So, I support no. 4 above, if it ain't broke...

AT

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Diplomaticus » Wed Jan 18, 2017 1:15 pm

AugustusTiberius wrote:were mop ups, gathering prisoners, refitting tired and spread out troops etc., all things the Wehrmacht had to do - and did. The idea that it should take two turns is pretty much correct.
What you say is true, but it's also true that the German typically has tons of units in and all around Poland in the immediate aftermath. It typically takes me several turns to move/rail every unit to the Western Front, so there's no lack of corps to "go round up the usual suspects."

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Re: CEAW 4.0: First Impressions

Post by Vokt » Wed Jan 18, 2017 4:31 pm

Poland campaign officially lasted until early October 1939 when the last battles between German and Polish armies occurred. That's turn 3 (October 11) in CEAW time line. So at first glance, a turn 1 (September 1) conquer of Poland appears to be an excessively early one.

As duncanr has pointed out, what we may have here is a chain of events that make Axis to, first, make a 1-turn conquest of Poland, then to carry out an early Blitzkrieg with a Fall of France by February-March 1940 and then, to execute a successful Sealion and close the Med strategy.

And as duncanr said, we don't want this type of strategy becoming the norm when playing as Axis. Players, in seeing that there are now added benefits for it, would give it a try most of the times. On the contrary, if players see that succeeding with that strategy is not that easy (first by adding Modlin fortress and second, by making slight changes in French army OOB) then, they will think twice about carrying it out.

So my vote is to finally add Modlin fortress with a garrison on it (it surrendered on September 29) as a way to make less profitable Axis Blitzkrieg strategy.

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