Background and aims...
Warning - Screenshot heavy AAR
THE showstopper for me for HOI3 versions 1.1 and 1.2 was the flawed HQ AI. At the core of this, is the move to the brigade level in this game, which is just too much micromanagement for my tastes. In theory though, a working HQ AI holds out so much in the way of realism. Think about it. Hitler, sitting in his bunker, did not personally control every brigade and division. He relied on his commanders and their sub-commanders. If things started looking sticky in one part of the theatre, he would take personal interest, otherwise, he worked through his generals, and if they stuffed up... well, they got a cyanide capsule..
That's what happens right through life, when organising large masses of people (except the suicide bit for the most part ). So, the way we play the HOI series, by micromanaging the military aspects, is actually not very realistic. Using the HQ AI approach really is groundbreaking in this respect.
I also want a slightly stupid AI. I want to deal with the frustrations of Generals not doing exactly as they are told. But I also want the majority to at least go in the right direction, and attack and defend when and where they are told. So on the release of 1.3, I decided to do a Military only Assessment using the AI as I hoped it was designed for.
I welcome discussion. I am not an ace player of this game, I am still learning.
Learnings (or how to run an HQ AI Military Game and Survive)
Edit: I've brought my Learnings Page to the start of the thread for easy review.
Here are my steps to AI Happiness (recent changes are in yellow):
- Organise your entire Armed Forces using the Theater/Army Group/Army/Corp/Division/Brigade hierarchy/OOB.
- However, only organise to the highest level which you believe will have an impact on the front line in question. Beware of attaching to higher HQs, if those HQs cover different fronts or sectors far away in the Theater. The reason for this is that the higher level HQ can move troops between sectors/fronts, which can ruin your carefully prepared plan of attack.
- In practical terms, this often means that Theater HQs can be disruptive in multi-front theaters or theaters covering large areas. Gladiator has had some success detaching the front line armies from the Theater HQ, and using it to control garrison units in the rear:
- Don't leave any spare units reporting outside the hierarchy or they won't get used.
- Forget the micromanagement / clickfest approach. Wean yourself off it. Give orders at the Army level. Temporarily detach units or set Corps level objectives for special tasks or objectives which are in a different direction to your main thrust.
- Plan your War beforehand. Give your Armies objectives.
- Get to enjoy building your OOB. Give your armies memorable names where possible, to help you remember what their objectives are.
- Ensure your HQ is close to its subordinates(within Radio Range). Manually move it towards them if not. Once all units are close, the AI will keep them together in most circumstances, with the HQs and Air Groups following a few provinces behind. THIS IS ESSENTIAL IF YOU WANT THE HQ AI TO WORK
- Attach your Air Wings and Groups to the Army Level. Any higher, and they won't fight well. Ensure they are close to their Army HQ.
- Create Air Groups of the same aircraft type, or else the AI will split it up. Note they may split up anyway due to the needs of the combat zone. Apart from ruining your organisation, this does NOT seem to affect their use
- Don't attach your Main Battlefleets to any HQ. They tend to be split up into small Flotillas, and come the day you need to summon the Fleet, you will need to reorganise again.
- Armies seem to follow your orders better if you place both attack and defend orders INSIDE enemy territory if possible.
- The AI WILL override your orders and objectives if it thinks something is more pressing. For example, if there is a hole in the line, and it figures you are vulnerable. Accept this as local commander initiative. Very often, there is a very good reason for it.
- The best way to keep your armies focused on the objective is to use Axis of Advance. Procedure:
----click on the objective icon in the Army's selection box
----right click your objective
----shift right click to set the Axis of Advance
- One objective per army is best
- WORK IN PROGRESS. AI Amphibious Assaults are difficult to create, but achieveable in the right circumstances. Gladiator has achieved some success here (post 61)
- WORK IN PROGRESS. I've not seen AI controlled Air Landings work above Division Level. This could be because HQs cannot enter transports. In the case of both amphibious assaults and air landings, I strongly recommend manual control for now.
- HQ AI does not work at all if you send troops to a region outside a theater. In 1.3, theater creation does not work all the time, so if you are a minor outside of Europe and you want to send troops there, you may not be able to create a new theater and hence the AI won't work.
Wishlist from PI.
- Get Prepare working properly. I see no difference between it and Defend.
- An AI override Button for each HQ. This will say: keep exactly the same forces in this unit together, and follow orders to the hilt". This means that you can instruct certain units to conduct specific tasks without changing the OOB.
So lets get going....
I decided to play as Germany starting with the Blitzkrieg campaign. I switched all the tabs to AI, not wanting to ever look in those tabs, and as this was not a long term campaign, I did not particulalry care.
I then settled down to the reorganisation of my armies. If you want the AI to control your units, you can't have spare divisions hanging around reporting to the theatre command, unless they are guard units in Kiel or somewhere. The Blitzkrieg campaign starts with a lot of these, so they need to find homes. The HOI3 process for reorganising your armies is non-graphical, clumsy and painful. It would be very much improved if you could at least use drag and drop in the OOB view on the right of the screen. The thread below discusses this and it looks like we may see some mods soon to improve matters. Lets hope so...
I reorganised so that there were (where possible) 3-5 Divisions for every Corps, 3-5 Corps to an Army, 2 or 3 Armies for every Army Group. and kept the OB West and OD Wehrmacht Theatres. We've just declared war with Poland, so no time to tidy up at the Brigade level. I made sure that the naval and air units were assigned to a corresponding Army Group.
Here is the West Theatre before the reorg and after.
Here it is the East Theatre:
Hmm, much more manageable. I had a problem where I had a few too many Army HQs, and couldn't figure out how to demote them to fit them into a sensible structure. So there are a few very small Armies (eg the Reserve Armies in the West Theatre) which do not follow the standard organisation format.
Once completed, I told the OBW to Defend. That's it. Just wanted to see what v1.3 would do handling a whole theatre.
Now the big question. At what level would I manage my armies. I'm Hitler, sitting in my bunker remember. It either had to be at the Corps level or the Army level. In the end, I did both. Look at Heeresgruppe (Army Group) Nord. It contains the 3 and 4 Armies. 3 Armee occupy the vulnerable strip of land to the East of Danzig. By and large, I want them to Defend or Prepare, They are relatively weak,and the real fight is coming from the West. However, I do want the troops near Danzig to attack south-west and help encircle the Poles in the Danzig corridor. So this was an example where Corps level orders are appropriate, so I ordered Stab Wodrig and 1 Armeecorps to Prepare, and XXI ArmeeCorps to Attack.
On the other hand at the other side of the theatre, 14 Army have a fairly straight forward front, so I felt comfortable giving it one order, Prepare. Yes, Prepare. I wanted to hold off for a while, and see if the Poles would move troops away from the sector to meet the onslaught from the West. After a few days they would go into a full boodied attack.
4, 8 and 10 Armies were all given Corps level orders as well - I just didn't trust the AI enough . What I wanted to see was if the AI was clever enough to conduct the planned for encirclements shown.
Next time... Battle is joined...