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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(88697)

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C A U T I O N ***Screenshot heavy post *** SCREENSHOT HEAVY POST *** Screenshot heavy post *** C A U T I O N

Game Spec:

HOI3 FTM patched to v3.04. Scenerio: Germany; "1938, The Gathering Storm"; Difficulty: Normal. This is a vanilla game, and does not employ any mods or cheats. Autosaves are weekly. Run on AMD Athlon 64x2 Dual Core Processor 4800+964MHz 3.00GB RAM; XP Pro v2002 SP3.


Goal:

This AAR will illustrate a top-down design approach for the construction and deployment of large scale ground forces.

What's Different?

Designing an army from scratch is perhaps the most daunting task in HOI3. It is a virtual crap-shoot to come up with the proper units and in sufficient numbers to begin a major campaign on time.

Every moment of delay aids the enemy. As the great Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest once said, "I can always make it a rule to get there first with the most men."

The OOB development process in HOI3 is complex, that's part of the challenge. Indeed, the number of possible variables are too many to list. But, with the aid of a spreadsheet, and certain knowledge of the rules, one can develop a truely awesome OOB.


What's New? -- Top-Down Design Model

Most OOB's are created bottom-up, that is, build some units, create some HQ's, and viola! The top-down approach, however, looks carefully at the numbers and types of leaders, available manpower, technology, fuel requirements, supply requirements, and a host of production variables. Coming-up with the optimum fighting force takes a few hours of planning, but is infinitely more satisifying than the typical "seat-of-the pants" approach.


Preamble:

Germany was chosen for this AAR because it is the most played nation in HOI3. Another player may go with a different mix of armor and infantry than seen here, or choose a completely different path to victory, that's not important. The goal here is to create complex plans, and execute them down to the last detail. Nothing is worse than starting a campaign with too few corps, or postponing a launch date due to lack of planning.

The '38 scenerio was selected because war seems inevitable, and there's limited time to prepare for events. Creating superior forces from the '36 scenerio is one thing, but doing it in crunch time is what this AAR is all about!

HOUSE RULES:

There is NO HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE to this game--it will simply be played to win. This AAR uses the default victory conditions, and will continue until the game is won (or lost).

The player will use the same build rules as the AI, that is: No reserve units. One exception is granted to home guard units, they being, divisions designated for defense of core provinces and/or anti-partisian duty only. Such units may not be upgraded or used for any other purpose.

Ground forces will be under player command at all time. But, to be fair, the AI will be used to control all active air and sea units to the exent possible. Exceptions are made only for troop transport, invasions, and paratroop drops, also, designated reserves may remain under player control for refit or reorganization until released for combat duty.

SUBSCRIPTION UPDATES: The board will be updated twice a week; On Sundays, and again in the middle of the week (generally Wednesday or Thursday). Reports will be quarterly, that is, four reports per game year. This game should move along fairly quickly, and the entire campaign will likely take about 8 weeks to complete. Postings will be in retrospect, that is, a 3-month delay. For example, as you are reading this report the game has already progressed to January, 1939.

Thank-you. The author appreciates your subscription and any comments you may make.

Now, let's get on with it!


NOTE: A written synopsis of the top-down design approach may be found on the author's inkwell page.
 
Last edited:

Cybvep

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Interesting. Personally, I hate the micromanagement involved in making and/or reorganising a proper OOB with precise naming, careful leader assignation (except maybe armoured formations) etc., especially during the war, when it's a real pain in the ass and things get messed up very quickly. If this AAR helps me to make this process more enjoyable, then I will be really grateful to the author ;)
 

Darth Moose

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I usually have my general OOB planned as a sketch in my mind, based on historical counterparts, and somewhat modified to fit the game, essentially go with my hunches. I know I will do well with x many armored divisions, and need y infantry corps to cover such and such sectors. It will be interesting to see a detailed planning approach.

I'm curious to see your solutions - blitzkrieg, infiltration of key sectors, massive infantry assaults across the front? And will the OOB planning include the Luftwaffe?
 

TheBromgrev

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I just use a "standard" OOB that I apply to every country I play as, modified by MP. I strive to have a infantry army of 4 corps of 4 3xinf+support divisions with 3 Int/Ftr, 2 CAS, and 2 TAC attached (no TAC if I lack IC). For every two infantry armies I have a "mobile" army consisting of tank and motorized divisions in a 1:3 ratio of tanks to MOT divisions with the same attached aircraft. If I have the IC I increase that ratio to 1:1 tank:MOT. Army groups consist of 2 infantry armies and 1 mobile army. As far as special forces go, I normally have 1 corps of each type that I control myself, maybe using more marines depending on the nation I'm playing as. My navy setup and buildup is very nation-specific and outside what I think the scope of this AAR is.

For countries that can't field multiple armies I use armies of 4 inf corps and 1 cavalry or motorized corps.

Overall that setup works for me very well regardless of the country I play as. Looking forward to seeing how your OOB compares with my standard one, both in performance and composition.
 

unmerged(88697)

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September, 1938--operation fall weiss



GERMANY DECISION POINT—Munich Agreement: Germany desires to gain a core on Checkslovokia for thirteen (13) victory points, as well as for the strategic effects of the Automotive Plant at Rakonvnik.

FUTURE PLANNING: The next decision point will be on Poland, specifically, the strategic port of Danzig and a helium plant at Rawicz. The invasion of Poland has been designated: Operation Fall Weiss.





OPERATION FALL WEISS ARMY: Intellegence on Poland indicates they have about eighteen (18) divisions on the border with Germany, therefore, about 46 divisions are needed to gain a 3-1 advantage. An additional 50 percent reserve would include about 23 divisions, which could also be used to exploit openings in the line. There are 21 provinces that line the Polish border at present. Thus 46/21 yields about 2.1 divisions per province. Since the typical corps has four (4) divisions, that comes to eleven and ½ (11) corps--rounded up to twelve (12). Reserve divisions represent another six (6) corps for a total of 18 corps. With five (5) corps per army, this operation will require four (4) army's, half with five (5) corps each, and half with four (4) corps each. Reserves represent one corps per army.

Second-front contingency: Intellegence suggest the French have about twenty-five (25) divisions along the Rein. There are nine (9) provinces to defend. With two divisoins per province, at least eighteen (18) divisions are needed. For defense-in-depth strategy, another ten (10) divisoins are required. This brings the total to 28 divisions, with four divisions per corps, then seven (7) corps are required. These will be divided between two armies (4,3).

With 72 corps engaged in Poland, and 28 for the French frontier, Germany would need a total of 100 divisions minimum to insure success for Operation Fall Weiss. Germany has currently sixty-five (65) divisons of all types available, meaning that an additional thirty-five (35) divisions need to be built before commitment to Operation Fall Weiss.





Above: Divison, corps, and army configurations desiged specifically for Fall Weiss. Red text indicates fuel requirement. Manpower, supply and fuel needs are given by corps, and for the entire force.




Above: Detail of division composition. Solid magenta cell indicates "hard" division (<50 softness). Motorized infantry divisions all have combined arms bonus. Note the built-in upgrade path between pre-war (w/o spearhead doctrine) and regular armored formations. Essentially, the divisions remain the same, only more are added to the corps. Infantry divisions are designated "standard" or "light" depending on number of brigades. Note, built-in AA protection for every corps. Armored formations have no AA guns, but otherwise have higher armor quotient. A fire camp is essentially a rally point for mountain troops, also used to protect supply lines.


Operation Fall Weiss: Production request:

The army requests:

33 Artillery battilions
14 Tank Destroyer battilions
15 Light Panzer brigades
9 Medium Panzer brigades
58 Infantry brigades
32 Anti-aircraft battilions
11 Armored car battilions
2 Motorized brigades
3 Mountain brigades
1 Anti-tank battilion

The request requires 398 manpower, and 1314 are available. Total Army supply needs will be 251 per day, and with current stockpile of 15171, the army could operate for sixty (60) days. Total fuel need for motorized units will be 119 per day. Current stockpile is 10208, yielding 85 days of fuel (not including needs of air force or navy).





Above: Given 160 IC's and the sepcialized training request, it would take 535 days to complete the order. Unfortunately, only 360 days are available, which would leave about 32 percent of the forces still in the queue at the start date. With basic training only, production could be speeded up by twenty percent, which would leave only about 15 percent undone. Given further efficiencies to construction practical during this period it is estimated that between 95% and 100% of the order will be completed on time.

Since the army will be slightly short on unit construction, preferences will be given to armored formations and infantry brigades. Auxiliary battilions as artillery and AA guns will be built last. In this way the front will be completely covered and auxiliary battilions can be brought up as soon as they become available.


OPERATION FALL WEISS AIR FORCE: The German air force is the largest and most modern in Europe at this time. There are sufficient aircraft in current inventory to support this operation. No further requests are made at this time.

OPERATION FALL WEISS NAVY: Before the start of hostilities the navy will send surface raiders to the southern Atlantic. Submarines will operate from Atlantic ports, while the remainder of the surface fleet will go on station in the North Sea. None of the vessles cuurrently in the production queue will be given preference, except for submarines.

Technology: For the remainder of the year the leadership will focus on upgrading panzer, armored car gun, and artillery weapon systems. Army doctrines to be updated at this time are: Delay, Schwerpunct, Special Forces, mass assault, Peoples Army, and large front. Naval doctrines will include Destroyer and Battleship training, as well as Fleet Auxiliary Carrier Doctrine. Will also boost naval escort speeds. This will require 23 leadershp points, the remaining 7.35 will be dispursed according to needs.

AXIS DIPLOMACY: With signing of Treaty of Munich, Germany will gain a core on much of Checkslovokia, which will help speed production of panzers. We will initially provide the Italians assistance with their chemical engineering.

POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS: To boost production, Fridech Flick will replace Hermann Goring as Armament Minister. To boost leadership, Joseph Gobbles will succeed Henrich Himmler as Minister of Security.



Above: Field Marshall Hissmeyer (EL-4) is designated as overall commander for Operation Fall Weiss. Field Marshall von Kluge (EL-5) will command the main strategic thrust towards Warsaw. Field Marshall von Rundstedt (EL-5) will command a holding action for Eastern Prussia, and responsiblity for securing the port at Danzig. (EL=Experience level)

Initial leader assignment involves rather complex decision-making, particularly with Germany. Essentially, Experience Level-5 leaders are assigned to Army Group, while the highest ranking logistics wizzard go to Navy Group and Air Force Groups. The best EL-4 leaders with traits are assigned to Army HQs, while vanilla EL-4s are promoted to Theatre HQ.

Remaining EL-4s and EL-3s with important traits are assigned to Corps Hqs. The worst leaders, those that cannot rise above level 4, are typically promoted to 4-stars so they are effectively sidelined for the remainder of the game. Also, the most promising leaders, those that can rise to experience level 7-8-9, are given first choice among active divisions. The remainder of the divisions are filled out with the best of the rest, usually dependent on a combination of traits and/or experience. A preference is given to offensive-minded leaders since they are most useful overall.

Once leaders are assigned to divisions, they are not changed except through promotion, or in rare cases where they have the exact combination of skills needed elsewhere. Promotion is generally to Corps HQ, but could go higher depending on how much experience the leader has gained. If a leader goes to Corps HQ, typically the former Corps leader is swapped into the open spot at divisional level (thus saving mouse clicks). A similar swapping mechanism is used between HQ's, usually occurring after each major campaign. This method insures the most qualified leaders are matched to the most important positions.

end
 
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Avindian

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An amazingly detailed AAR, and one I will follow with the greatest interest.
 

Darth Moose

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Good, detailed planning. I will have to load up my games when I get back home from my trip, but I don't think I ever built that many divisions as Germany from a '36 start till the beginning of the war. I'll have 12 panzer divisions, with 3 more deployed just before or just after Sept. 1, '39.

I'm also a pig-headed historical OOB person - I dislike divisional & fleet structures that exploit the game mechanics. One reason why I like HPP, the naval doctrines make more sense and allows building a correct, balanced fleet structure.

IMHO, the combined arms bonus should be given not based on softness, but based on armor - infantry combo, with artillery-type units making a small contribution. Armor in this context would include units such as TDs, assault guns, ACs, which ever is available in a particular mod.

Anyway, lets see how the Wermacht does with this set-up. A smaller German force facing a larger Polish army, on hard, can win in 15 days.
 
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Matnjord

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Seems very intersting, will surely follow.

By the way, what do you mean by
those that cannot rise above level 4
and
Also, the most promising leaders, those that can rise to experience level 7-8-9, are given first choice among active divisions
Do you mean general who start whith a EL too low to hope reach higher levels or is there something else?
 

Hardradi

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Nice analysis. Look forward to seeing more. :)

I was reading a book the other night The Devil's Virtuosos: German Generals at War, 1940-5 and it was talking about the German command estimating the size of the Russian army before Barbarossa. Their approach seemed rather ad hoc.

about 46 divisions are needed to gain a 3-1 advantage.
Is there a methodology to your formula?

Can you rely on the base figure of 18 provided by your intelligence services?
 

delra

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I thought everyone is playing and designing their armies this way...
 

unmerged(88697)

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Winter 1939





AXIS NAVAL STRATEGY: Due to overwhelming strength of the combined English-French fleets, the Kreigsmarine will be unable to sortie out of bases into the North Atlantic. A temporary measure to divert the Allies attention is to send surface raiders into the South Atlantic. Three Hipper-class heavy cruisers, based out of Sardinia, are anchored off the coast of Africa. Here the ships will rely on safe harbors provided by Portugal, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.

Re-creating this German strategy is a bit risky. When war starts, and the straits of Gibraltar will be closed, the ships will loose their basing. They could be forced to return to Germany, which may be disasterious. But, if this strategy does work, even temporarily, it is worth the effort since the Allied fleets will be quickly divered away from the North Sea.



GERMANY DECISION POINT—Sudentenland Agreement: The allied powers have conceded the situation in the former Czechoslovakia, therefore the Sudetenland is ceded to Germany immediately.




GERMANY DECISION POINT--1st Vienna Award: In order to further our relations with Hungary, and to gain control over the Automotive Industry at Rakonvnik, the 1st Vienna Award is granted. The former Czechoslovakia is now a puppet of Germany.

Note the diplomatic situation in Europe at this time; countries are about evenly divided between Axis and Allies, with Poland drifting in between.

ITALY DECISION POINT: As of the 1st of January, 1939, Italy has annexed Albania.





OPERATION FALL WEISS—Production:

(above) The added IC's to Germany were more than expected, therefore 176 IC's are now devoted to production instead of 160. Still, not quite out of the woods, however, as about a quarter (26%) of the force cannot be built in time. So, it is still necessary to use basic training, and to create small runs of parallel builds in order to improve production practicals.

[Note the baseline used for German troops is specialized training-which will be used on elite forces (paratroops, mountain, etc.) regardless]

The first batch of light tanks (total 7) to be completed in early January. This will boost armor practical to above ten (10). After that, strategic effects from automotive plant at Rakovnilk will speed up production a further 15%. This will come in very handy in building the remainder of the light and medium panzers.




OPERATION FALL WEISS—East Prussia Strategy: Four corps are assigned General Student's army of East Prussia with Field Marshall Von Rundstedt in overall command. Infantry corps under Lt. General von Roques and Schorner to hold the line (white arrows), and wait to be relieved.

Note: Preference in this case is for defensive skills and commando leades, especially on the far right of the line, which will be the last to be relieved. It will otherwise be very difficult for the Poles to defeat two full German corps before relief arrives.




Motorized infantry corps (1.) under Lt. General von Kuchler supported by infantry corps (2.) under Lt. General Halder to crack the Polish line at Danzig, then roll-up the enemy defenses all along the East Prussian pocket (purple arrows). Two corps is deemed sufficient since Danzig is virtually undefendable if attacked from two sides.
 
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unmerged(88697)

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@Matnjord: Leaders have a max skill they can reach. However, this value isn't available in-game, but rather in the leader files themselves.
Correct. Download this file into a spreadsheet, and create a listing. Not technically a hack or cheat, rather just good in-game knowledge.

But, yes. The leaders that can reach EL-7, 8, 9 are geared to gain experience faster. So, if they are currently at EL-2 or 3, then get them into the fighting at divisional level as they will come in handy later in the game.

FTM is a bit different in that battles are limited in duration. Not like the old days(v1.4)--one can't simply start a long, continuous, battle for the Channel Islands and raise a number of good EL-6 leaders.
 

unmerged(88697)

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Is there a methodology to your formula? Can you rely on the base figure of 18 provided by your intelligence services?
Not in this case, this was just a quick-and-dirty estimate. The AI puts its troops right on the border, which makes them easy to count. Notice that Germany is careful to stage its forces one or more provinces from the border, a good habit to get into for MP.

Intel on Poland sez they have 42 divisions, of which 5 are HQ's (so, about 37 divisions total). While half (18 divisions) are on the German border at present, the rest are probably facing the Soviets.

This is the reason to create reserves, because one must assume the enemy has reserves too.

Will post a more detailed intellegence estimate for the war in the west to give a better idea how this works. It's really essential in MP games to get an idea what the opponent is doing.
 
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Rensslaer

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Valentinian,

I am almost totally indisposed right now, trying to publish a book, but I got your PM and will get back to you when I can.

I've always believed AARs were an effective way to do strategy guides -- My Imperio Novo was intended to do that for HOI v1.2, but that's so totally out of date it's time for a new set. Thanks for doing what you're doing!

Rensslaer
 

jbarradale

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Okay, I guess I am missing some things. I see for my leaders Skill = 5 and Experience = Percentage. I do not see Experience Level.
 

Darth Moose

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@ jbarradale: Skill is the experience level being referred to. Some leaders have max. skill levels up to 9, others are very poor performers.

I'm eager for the next update. Especially what you have planned for the western and southern Polish fronts, where the war against Poland will be won.