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Stalingrad Pack AAR Thread


Kingfish

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Time to sound off!

Please us this thread to freely discuss the scenarios in the Stalingrad Pack. We would like to hear your thoughts on the individual scenarios / ops, the Pack in general, and any questions and suggestions you might have. Also, please include any AARs that you would like to share with us. A few might even find their way into the Boots and Tracks website ;)

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The following posts in this thread may contain spoiler info on the Stalingrad Pack.

Do not read beyond this point if you want to preserve FOW!

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Originally posted by Kingfish:

We would like to hear your thoughts on the individual scenarios / ops, the Pack in general, and any questions and suggestions you might have. Also, please include any AARs that you would like to share with us.

Where to begin? Name any SP scenario smaller than Huge and it's a deal.

I played that tiny city scenario which had the reinforcements-magically-appear-midfield problem, which the author soon thereafter claimed to have fixed and reuploaded; other than that one problem, all the scenarios I've played have been notably compelling and of long standing value.

Eden

[ December 03, 2002, 04:58 PM: Message edited by: Eden Smallwood ]

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I'm going to summarize first so that anyone who wants to avoid the spoilers - not that there are many spoilers here, IMO - may have a chance. I'll even summarize the summary: "Go ahead and jump in! The water is GREAT!"

Of the scenarios from the Stalingrad Pack I've tried, they range from good to awesome. I've been particularly impressed by how many of them are NOT in the city - I think only about 40% are in Stalingrad itself, and none of the ones I have tried are (though The Library is probably my next vs-AI game). This means that even if you're not ready for heavy-duty city fighting, there's a lot that may interest you. And if you love scenarios with the minors like I do, you get plenty of that too, since the Rumanians and Italians were heavily involved in the encirclement battles that ultimately doomed the German 6th Army.

Now, on to the MINOR SPOILERS....

I absolutely loved Into the Void. The map was a huge steppe map, but with enough features to be very interesting (farms, hills, a balka, a river). The Germans have about a panzer company and a half (IIs through IV F2s) plus a company of panzergrenadiers, some artillery support, and Stukas, and have to take a number of objectives AND exit most of their force. Along the way, you'll have to do your own recon, identify and neutralize threats, and MOVE to get across the river & off the map. The 40 turns looks long, but not when you see the size of the map you have to cross! I didn't look closely, but I think it's as big as the game allows.

My only complaints were the usual AI-counterattack issue when a flag falls (plus the AI didn't really seem to know what to do with its reinforcements, so left them bunched up as a wonderful Stuka target), and that the auto-surrender, IMO, isn't appropriate in scenarios like this where most of the points come from exiting. I suspect that the AI needs to be programmed specially (perhaps with a new Exit/Delay scenario type) for exit scenarios before it will be able to get them right, but it's close enough in this one. Also, as important as the hill was supposed to be, it probably should have had more & bigger flags - the value of all the flags combined was peanuts compared to the available exit points.

That said, it was still one hell of a great vs-AI scenario, with mucho nailbiting from first contact with the enemy to the very end. If you haven't tried a good armor + armored infantry assault in CMBB, go here first! Sure, you have to be husband them carefully, but once you unleash them it's really quite impressive to see how a single panzergrenadier platoon mounted on halftracks can roll into a farm and clear it like THAT against comparable numbers after it's been softened up just a little. Fear the SPW 251!

I don't know if the Germans would have much chance against a good Russian defender, though. I suspect not. I'm pretty sure I could have come up with a much tougher setup just by putting a few units (I think you'll know which ones after you've played it) in reverse-slope positions.

Overall, this was without a doubt the best CMBB scenario I've played yet. I'm just starting a PBEM of Kalach-na-Donu, which has the potential to be just as good, I think. Kalach-na-Donu is certainly unlike any other scenario I've played - though, given that I have the general idea of what happened historically (Germans, who happened to be training in a rear area with captured T-34s, caught with their pants down by the real thing showing up on their doorstep & failing to identify them as enemy until about the time the shooting started), I didn't expect it to be. So far the scenario is living up to my high expectations.

I also liked Bitter End, but I thought it was a bit too easy in spite of the warning that "this doesn't mean it will be easy" in the briefing - I had the farm completely in hand after three of the four battles, and took out the piddling German reinforcements in battle 4 in about five minutes, most of which was spent finding them. It was sure fun firing off all that artillery, though slowly creeping the infantry forward was rather tedious (fortunately, it amounted to finding the limit of advance and then not returning to those units until I had done something about what was holding them up, so it really wasn't bad once I got out of the habit of using + to scroll through all the units).

I've also got a vs-AI game of Glimmer of Valor going, and though it's good, I don't think it's destined for greatness the way I believe Into the Void is and Kalach-na-Donu may be (though it is an interesting situation in its own right).

I would really like to thank the Boots & Tracks and Der Kessel teams for a truly outstanding effort.

[ December 03, 2002, 05:48 PM: Message edited by: demoss ]

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Hey Demoss, thanks for your comments!

"The Bitter End" SPOILER

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Originally posted by demoss:

I also liked Bitter End, but I thought it was a bit too easy in spite of the warning that "this doesn't mean it will be easy" in the briefing - I had the farm completely in hand after three of the four battles, and took out the piddling German reinforcements in battle 4 in about five minutes, most of which was spent finding them. It was sure fun firing off all that artillery, though slowly creeping the infantry forward was rather tedious (fortunately, it amounted to finding the limit of advance and then not returning to those units until I had done something about what was holding them up, so it really wasn't bad once I got out of the habit of using + to scroll through all the units).

Yeah, it's actually not that hard once you get the pattern down; that scenario is intended more to generate a particular historical feel than to be extremely challenging. I wimped out and decided that if people played a hundred turn operation of my design, they should more often than not deserve to at least capture the objective. smile.gif

Unfortunately, it appears that operations don't seem to generate point totals when one player wins; the scenario is designed in such a way that the Soviet player should be punished for expending casualties needlessly - it's about a 40% point penalty, if I remember correctly - but with how CMBB operations are designed, a win is a win is a win and if you take the farm and hold it, you apparently get a total victory. I had hoped that the "attacker casualty point factor" setting would help balance this one out, but unless you fail to take the objective by the end of the scenario, it doesn't appear to have any impact - so in the end I can't quite make the operation do what I wanted it to do.

Thanks for trying it out, and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I appreciate your feedback!

Scott

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Scott - what was your intended allowable casualty level? My casualties were much lower than the Germans' - probably about 1 to 3 by game end. I lost two tanks: one of the initial T-34s and one of the OT-34s (hey, you're just going to lose a flame tank to a lucky grenade hit occasionally).

The majority of the losses probably came in battle 2, where I felt the need to press forward as much as practical (which really wasn't that much) to get good setup areas for battle 3 if I was going to break in at all. After that battle, the Germans had very little fight left in them (due to lack of men AND ammo - and the application of the OT-34s) - I had expected a bit more.

A quirk of the operation is that it may well be a good idea to keep a few units exposed all over the map in battle 1 to get the Germans to expend as much MG ammo as possible at long range (I found that for the most part, those long-range shots didn't do much damage). I haven't tested this theory, nor do I intend to, but it's a thought that occurred to me.

[ December 03, 2002, 08:19 PM: Message edited by: demoss ]

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I've played Bitter End as well and tremendously enjoyed it. Great job! Fairly easy (though the first "meeting" with the German defensive line made me doubt if I'd be able to win as I lost both T-34s in the first battle), and in the end the AI surrendered in battle 4 with 15 soldiers left alive on map, but a lot of fun. It did feel very realistic and historical, which is my personal favorite style of battle (and especially operation). Kudos!

"Der Manstein kommt" (great map!) is next - if and when I find some time smile.gif

Martin

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Here's my AAR screenshot from The Library --AI -- playing the AXIS against the AI.

SP_The_Library_Result.jpg

As you can see, I had a 2 to 1 kill ratio, and a 1.5 to 1 overall casualty ratio, and took some prisoners. And I did manage to "rescue" some of the trapped recon guys.

But not getting the flag meant no victory, even though The Library building changed hands twice.

I probably should have taken some more risks with my spearhead infantry; I think I am just naturally too cautious on the attack.

Anyway, I highly recommend this scenario to cut your teeth on. See my post on City Tactics, which was generic enough not to require a *Spoiler" warning, but very much inspired by the challenges this particular scenario presented.

http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=7;t=001359

[ December 03, 2002, 09:23 PM: Message edited by: OGF Keller ]

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Demoss: Glad you liked Into the Void. Those AI issues are always tricky, especially given how fickle it is. Play is much more interesting against another human, but the germans need a mistake or two to win in that case. The map is only nearly as big as the engine allows, and I hear you on the flags but I wanted to push the player towards the exit. The flags are there to give the AI a hint or two.

In any case I am glad you enjoyed it.

WWB

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Demoss: Glad you liked Into the Void. Those AI issues are always tricky, especially given how fickle it is. Play is much more interesting against another human, but the germans need a mistake or two to win in that case. The map is only nearly as big as the engine allows, and I hear you on the flags but I wanted to push the player towards the exit. The flags are there to give the AI a hint or two.
If that's all the flags are for, it might be best to just remove them. As long as you follow the recommendation of using the default setup, the AI doesn't really need hints (except for the reinforcements, where it really doesn't know what to do anyway) - counterattacking here is a BAD idea. Of course, then you probably COULDN'T give the AI freedom to place units, but is that so bad?

As I said, it's a truly outstanding scenario. I loved the tension inherent to having almost all of my units need to exit. It might just be possible to make it work with the AI's quirks a wee bit better, though. I'm not really sure, having not yet designed a scenario myself.

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Originally posted by Andreas:

Yeah, sorry about the bug with the reinforcements.

Oh stop. The point in context was exactly that this being the biggest complaint proves that we're doing pretty dern well.
'Waltzing Matilda' is a lot smaller than huge.
Well that fat lady was pretty Huge for me, in a couple ways. A huge win, a huge aggravation, a huge wonderment at what-the-heck-am-I-doing-out-here with a bazillion AP rounds but almost no HE???, a huge bug in CM, a huge cloaking device on that enemy ATR who I positively could NOT find until the penultimate turn, that turkey!

So. Where to begin, again? The briefing, as I'm sure you know, is utterly complete, telling us not just how to play/setup, but indeed your email whatnot and whatall- thank you. Please apply pressure to some of your competitors. Ironically, though, there is one thing which I wished would have been there, which drove me crazy during the game- Why all that AP and no HE in the fat ladies??? Historical? Sadism?

I soon figured out what a minimal effect those rounds have on infantry. Hee. But that's a large part of what made the battle a sustained fight. The battle- for me, this was one of those rare major victories where I never once had the option of just glancing around, giving a few orders, hitting Go... From early on, I had to precisely micromanage every unit to advance, a situation which didn't change.

Oh btw bonus points also go to anyone finding a historical battle where we get to use some of these less common units and things. I know that they might have been rare here, or nonexistent there, but it would be nice to have them used *sometimes* in a scenario where it fits. Like how many scenarios are there with Italians? Not many I think. Anyhow.

Back to the battle: Did I say "Major" victory? I was *robbed* I tell you, Robbed!! No really- I was, but that was due to the bug; that comes later. The question the author probably wants to know for SP is, "can the AI put up a good fight?" and although I won I was kept very constricted and constipated in that middle copse; as I said, there never came a time when I could stretch my legs and advance. Notwithstanding the fact that I got useful work out of all my units but the peon-vehicles...

Well I'm sure my writing style is *exactly* the kind of thing desired at the B&T AAR section, but with the bug that comes later I can only put half a heart into this one; so saying, here goes:

Begin: A middle copse, a smooth hill on the left, a bunch of weird tanks and a few peashooterwagen. OK. The guns will go up the left hill, to overlook the universe, using Eden's SOP #14- when the truck towing you gets knocked out, set up your gun. Might sound amateur, but it worked great. All of those guns would provide useful fire for the entire game, right down to their last few AP rounds... It cost a couple trucks, but I had insurance. In fact, that's about all I would lose- five little vehicles, and one Matilda *bogged* (sigh). "Major" indeed.

So. The PSW (peashooterwagen) and inf will go sniffing around that middle copse, and hopefully my tanks will be soon behind, hiding back there till the next recon by infantry advance. OK.

But one little wagen is getting holes in his paint job- where is *that* coming from? Lay down area fire all over yin yang, move PSW a bit... Hmmm, can't really tell if I suppresed it or what. Well, ok- it's not perfectly safe back here, right behind the forest, although it *should* be, but most of it seems ok. Pretty soon a nice little party is happening in back of that copse, more towards the left side than the right, since the right side is strangely dangerous, and infantry are ready to walk and find out more.

One little wagen peeking around the left side of the copse valiantly discovers an ATG in town- Great going guys! And pretty soon the infantry have valiantly discovered enough enemy that they can't go anywhere further.

So I start creeping tanks around the safer left side, bit by bit I'm finding people to shoot at, but the AP ammo doesn't do a heck of alot and it takes awhile.

That ATG in town needs to be purified before much more tank motion; one of my big guns on the hill will inch forward until he has sight within a few meters of that foxhole... Get it? He lays down HE within a few meters; enemy can't take it any longer, move someone else in sight... I almost felt sorry, almost. Not sure if that was gamey, though.

Geez- it's been *awhile*, and I *still* haven't found that ATR who's cramping my right side... In fact I would never get over to that right side of the map- there could have been an entire battalion over there.

One Matilda I would move *through* the scattered trees towards town- he's not getting poked full o' holes, while covered in brush, and I really need some kind of firepower facing the right side of town. No, this isn't the one that got bogged.

He made it to the town side of the forest, only to rediscover the joy of taking ATR shots in the nose without being able to figure out where they're coming from. He would finish the game there, and though I found the ATR on the penultimate turn, I couldn't do anything about it due to the bug. The rest of the force spent the remainder making slow steady advance, finally jumping a littlewagen across the road and chewing on enemy from two sides.

So. The bug I mentioned in t'other forum, but there was no interest from BFC, no interest from anyone, actually, but I would feel goofy to not reiterate it while discussing this scenario where it occurred.

Somewhere during the fourth quarter that BA-64 I mentioned who took a chance crossing the road just wouldn't fire at anyone, although he had "15" ammo and was in great shape otherwise. Hmm, I thought- that's weird, so I watched and commanded him for a few turns... He *still* wouldn't fire, not at anyone for any reason.

Then I started looking around and I found that my Matildas had quit firing their AP; MG, ok, but AP, no way, not for any reason not even when in imminent peril. That one in the forest I mentioned still had 77 rounds, so while the force as a whole was pretty low, still...

If a Matilda had both MG and AP, it would ask me "Use Main Gun?" to which I'd say "Yes, you idiot", but when the time came it would only MG. Hmmm.

Well unless someone has a *really* interesting explanation on that one I say it's a bug, like with a capital BUG. But I never saw it before, haven't seen it again.

Shew! In other words, good scenario. smile.gif

Eden

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I've finished 1 scenario PBEM and have another 2 on the go. So far I'm very happy with the scens.

Glimmer of Valor: Won a 93-7 major as the Soviets, knocking out 21 vehicles for no loss. It sounds even at the start but the Romanians were bouncing shots off my front plates while I was knocking them out left and right. The infantry fight was pretty even at the start but once the tank advantage was mine they lost heart and I could advance to get the SMGs into action. The T-3s and T-4s worried me a little but were picked off by coordinated action around the buildings by the T34s. I think I got pretty lucky on this one, but the Axis may need a little boost if you want it to be balanced.

The Library (Axis)- interesting concept, I keep having to tell myself to push harder than I'd like, to try and rescue my guys. The Library is holding out better than I thought. The Sov sharpshooters are hell on my TCs. Hope to pull a victory out of this one.

What Might Have Been (Axis)- wow, what atmosphere! I love the look of the map in the fog. Don't love the first-round kills the Sovs are getting on my fast moving tanks. It's going to be a tough one.

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This should be the longest most active thread around; can someone tell me why it's not as long as the XBOX thread?

Did my 'Real Man's AAR' of Matilda shame all of you, (except mPisi) so much that you can't even post? Hmmm yeah, that's probably it. smile.gif

C'mon you guys- all that asking 'where is the StalinPack?™' and now hardly anybody wants to rant about the scenarios?

Eden

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---spoiler Hollow Legion----

I'm only at the turn 10 (out of 35), playing those poor italians. I could see the horror in the face of them, seeing hordes of soviet getting closer, closer... and finally overrunning the positions, one after the other.

The AI bunched up his inf battalion in a 50 m broad corridor, making the run "en masse" towards my positions. Tis time this usual AI tactic was adequate. The italian troop killed 3 times their own number before being slaughtered, but the soviets just keep coming...

Such ass-kicking let these questions arise :

1°) I wondered if playing the allied side, as proposed by the author, could be of any fun with such umerical superiority, and no wild card at all in hands of axis side (see 4th point). Perhaps it was historically the way it is, a esay walk for the soviet, but why advise the solo play as allied ?

2°) Is such a slaughter due to the italian default setup ?

Due to short LOS (200m), the russian battalion-sized inf attacking force overwhelms each italian defense line (each roughly platoon sized) one at a time. The more deeper italian lines just don't see the fiht in the lines in front of them, and are of no use.

3°) I was disappointed that the italian guns couldn't fire on the TRP without LOS on it

4°) If there is no magical reinforcement, I'll be completely trashed, unless I change the default setup (see 2), i hate this tongue.gif

Edited :

Now I'm on turn 30, and I can answer myself somme of these questions :

2°) I held 20 turns on the MLR, but now i ran out of amno, i'm overrun, yes. 4:1 kill ratio, not too bad...

To achieve this i gathered my 3 platoons in the center.

4°) a platoon, bu no real AT asset

In fact the italian default setup would be adapted for clear weather, but with that short LOS, each line of defense cannot support each other

[ December 08, 2002, 09:32 PM: Message edited by: Sigurd ]

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>Why all that AP and no HE in the fat ladies???

I remember reading somewhere that although an HE round was ultimately developed for the 2 pounder, it wasn't widely deployed (perhaps not deployed at all in combat? I don't know). I'm guessing the Brits didn't bother to pack any for the care package to Uncle Joe, if they even had them at the time of shipment.

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I really enjoyed "A Morning Commute" for play against the AI as the Soviets.

********Spoiler***************

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It was a fun little scenario. It was not too horrible difficult against the AI, although it was a little tricky to get those guns in a position to do anything.

The best moment was towards the end. I had a couple of squads on the left side of the victory-flagged factory, and a couple more were working through the the rubble to the right of the factory tiles. Lo and behold, a pioneer flamethrower pops up and targets my squad. I am preparing myself mentally for screaming Russians and a broken squad when chumpy the flamethrower misses my squad by roughly 20 meters and manages to put not one but two squirts through the window of the factory and directly on top of a HMG 42, a german squad and an HQ. Needless to say, it was quite a lucky break!

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•••• A Morning Commute ••••

Originally posted by Lumbergh:

chumpy the flamethrower misses my squad by roughly 20 meters and manages to put not one but two squirts through the window of the factory and directly on top of a HMG 42, a german squad and an HQ. Needless to say, it was quite a lucky break!

Luckier than you would think! I also encountered Chumpy, but my luck was not so in tune.

Coming up the left side, same as you, ( My Co HQ took out a gun all by himself! ), it eventually happened that all my squads from the left and from the front pretty much *flooded* into that factory at the same time- it was a *BIG* party.

Next turn, Chumpy, who was hiding the rubble next door picked the right moment to play Burnin' Down the House. Ruined the Cheese Dip, I can tell you.

Eden

[ December 10, 2002, 02:33 PM: Message edited by: Eden Smallwood ]

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****** Der Manstein kommt ******

What weather should be used for the first battle ? From a historicaly point of view ? and for gameplay ?

I sometimes get blizzard, sometimes overcast weather. The battle plays very differently following this seting : the very short LOS of blizzard (100m) allows you to bring all your forces to the river, witout a shot. While overcast has 800+m LOS, so you've got to deal with all the russian nasty stuff

Any thought ?

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Originally posted by demoss:

>Why all that AP and no HE in the fat ladies???

I remember reading somewhere that although an HE round was ultimately developed for the 2 pounder, it wasn't widely deployed (perhaps not deployed at all in combat? I don't know). I'm guessing the Brits didn't bother to pack any for the care package to Uncle Joe, if they even had them at the time of shipment.

Actually, the British shipped large quantities of 2-pr HE to the Soviets. For example for the period 7/43-6/44 55,070 such rounds were shipped. The only question that arises is the time at which such rounds became available.
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Originally posted by Sigurd:

---spoiler Hollow Legion----

I'm only at the turn 10 (out of 35), playing those poor italians. I could see the horror in the face of them, seeing hordes of soviet getting closer, closer... and finally overrunning the positions, one after the other.

The AI bunched up his inf battalion in a 50 m broad corridor, making the run "en masse" towards my positions. Tis time this usual AI tactic was adequate. The italian troop killed 3 times their own number before being slaughtered, but the soviets just keep coming...

Such ass-kicking let these questions arise :

1°) I wondered if playing the allied side, as proposed by the author, could be of any fun with such umerical superiority, and no wild card at all in hands of axis side (see 4th point). Perhaps it was historically the way it is, a esay walk for the soviet, but why advise the solo play as allied ?

2°) Is such a slaughter due to the italian default setup ?

Due to short LOS (200m), the russian battalion-sized inf attacking force overwhelms each italian defense line (each roughly platoon sized) one at a time. The more deeper italian lines just don't see the fiht in the lines in front of them, and are of no use.

3°) I was disappointed that the italian guns couldn't fire on the TRP without LOS on it

4°) If there is no magical reinforcement, I'll be completely trashed, unless I change the default setup (see 2), i hate this tongue.gif

Edited :

Now I'm on turn 30, and I can answer myself somme of these questions :

2°) I held 20 turns on the MLR, but now i ran out of amno, i'm overrun, yes. 4:1 kill ratio, not too bad...

To achieve this i gathered my 3 platoons in the center.

4°) a platoon, bu no real AT asset

In fact the italian default setup would be adapted for clear weather, but with that short LOS, each line of defense cannot support each other

For precisely the reasons you set forth, this one is MEANT to be played AGAINST the Italians. You precisely did the opposite of what was recommended. And now, you criticise it. Nice.
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Originally posted by Sigurd:

****** Der Manstein kommt ******

What weather should be used for the first battle ? From a historicaly point of view ? and for gameplay ?

I sometimes get blizzard, sometimes overcast weather. The battle plays very differently following this seting : the very short LOS of blizzard (100m) allows you to bring all your forces to the river, witout a shot. While overcast has 800+m LOS, so you've got to deal with all the russian nasty stuff

Any thought ?

Historically, it should start out cold, clear, and overcast. There's no control over this, however, unless you restart the game until you get that result.

F

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Eye of the Storm

****** SPOILERS (dah !)***********

I just finish playing this scenario as the germans against an other player. The map and the matchup of units (pioneers with howitzers and AT guns defending a village from an armored assault) are great but it is really not balanced. The german player has no chance against a decent opponent simply because the soviet player has enough firepower (in the form of 15 T-34s) to level the village three times while the germans have very limited long range AT capabilities. I guess this is all to show how hopeless the german situation was at that time (it sure did show me...) but it can be a frustrating game.

I know the briefing stated that this scenario might not be balanced for your "playing style" (I guess I was warn...) but it also suggess playing as the soviets against the AI. Even with the poor skill of the AI on the attack, I think it would be much more of a challenge to play the german against the AI.

For me, this scenario was mostly a great learning experience on the good placement of HMG, guns and other infantry units on defense but not a battle I could win. This is not necessarily bad but it should be made more obvious.

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The Library - strangely moving, my advance just getting into sight of the Library building as the defenders are overrun :(

That damn %%$# in the building also got me, I thought it would be a perfect position for one, but decided to move into view anyways, because I didn't know if the designers would go to those efforts or not. Good job to you guys, bad deal for me. Hope nobody remembered you can do the same with antipersonnel mines.

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