Author Topic: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"  (Read 8308 times)

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Bobsalt

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Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« on: December 20, 2007, 08:22:01 AM »
Well, it’s your problem child again. I know that it seems like every time I make a post it’s because we had something weird happen that never seems to come up when anyone normal plays the game. Well, Peter and I played last night, and we had yet again another one of “those” games, which leads to more “what do we do if…” questions.

Peter was Axis and I was Allies. Peter started out with the attack on Poland. Now, he has always in my opinion gone a little light against Poland in order to have a strong punch against Belgium in the Winter 1939-40 turn. This time it turned out to be too light – believe it or not, be bounced off of BOTH Poznan and Warsaw. He had deployed all of his panzer grenadiers and armor west, so he had nothing to follow up with in the Mech phase so, as per the rules, the remaining Poles and territories went over to Russia.

When things go bad right at the start it’s sometimes a better idea to just reset the pieces and start over. It seems so often that when things go really wrong right at the start it sometimes just doesn’t get any better – something I’m sure we can all commiserate with from personal experience.

This was another one of those times.

The attack on Poland didn’t just go bad – it went REALLY bad. Not only did Peter not take out 2 out of 3 Polish Territories, I also rolled really well for Poland and inflicted VERY heavy casualties on Germany – so much so that they had only one ground unit left on the Eastern Front, which meant he had to place builds intended for the fight in Belgium in the east instead (as an aside, anyone ever notice that when you make a strategic blunder in a wargame, you will then compensate by rolling really bad dice – and it seems that your opponent will always also choose that moment to get really hot with the dice?).  The Polish fighter even shot down one of the German fighters.

To add insult to injury, the attacks on Denmark and Norway both bounced as well. He hit Denmark with 2 infantry and a fighter. Everything missed on round one, and the fighter hit on round two. Unfortunately, Denmark hit in both rounds so Germany couldn’t occupy Denmark. The exact same thing happened with Norway – Peter missed completely on the first round and hit on the second round – but I hit both times and he had no ground unit left to occupy Norway. Norway joins the Allies.

Remember how I said it might have been better to just reset the pieces and start over?

On turn two he hit Belgium. His paratrooper missed his roll to negate the river penalty, so all he had was half of his infantry and aircraft on the first round. He only got one hit on his attack versus three hits for the Belgians, who then retreated the remaining 4 INF and 1 ART into Northern France. Peter also strategically redeployed a bunch of Italian INF into Bardia to threaten the British, and occupied Denmark. The first two turns I didn’t do much more than just build in France and sent over the BEF to prepare for the usual carnage in France. However, I did manage to roll ones with my destroyers and sink both U-boats in the Atlantic.

Remember how I said it might have been better to just reset the pieces and start over?

On turn three, Peter’s attack into Northern France didn’t go too well. He again rolled poorly and I rolled about average – casualties were about dead even if I recall. The big thing is that I had two AT guns and they both hit, whittling down his armor a bit. On my turn, I took a gamble. There wasn’t much in Belgium, so I decided to make an amphibious attack into Belgium as well as counter-attack into Northern France. My reasoning was that if I could take Belgium, I might have a chance to eliminate his forces in Northern France. For the first time in the game, Peter rolled very well and I didn’t do so good. Bottom line was that he repelled my invasion – we both eliminated all of each other’s ground forces so even though I cleared Belgium I had nothing to occupy Belgium. So close… This wound up being a big factor because I rolled very well in the attack into Northern France and inflicted heavy casualties, forcing Peter to retreat back into Belgium with 3 ARM (all that survived).

In Summer 1940 I liberated Belgium and continued to build in France. I also redeployed 3 INF to Egypt to bolster my defenses against Italy, and sent the bulk of the British fleet to the Med to the sea zone with the Italian convoy.

In Fall 1940 Peter took back Belgium, and Italy declared war on the Western Allies, and attacked Southern France. Seeing how things had gone so far, you can probably guess what happened next. Yep – Italy bounced off in their attack. He looked at attacking in Egypt, but only had 5 INF and a FTR to go against 4 British INF, and thought it was too risky. This also brings up a rule question that I’ll raise at the end of this post.

I think this was also the turn in which he went into Yugoslavia – and he lost here, too. This is one move he made that I don’t think was a good idea. The other setbacks (other than being overconfident with Poland) were as much due to bad die rolls as anything else. Yugoslavia, though, was at this stage a side show, and he really couldn’t afford to be diverting units there when things were going so badly in France. In the Allied half of the turn, I did something I had never done before – France made an amphibious invasion of Sicily, and won.

In Winter 1940-41 Peter tried to go into eastern France and bounced. Italy attacked Sicily and took it back, but was repulsed in his attack into southern France – really bad, since he lost all his ground units and thus had to place his builds in NW Italy to defend against a possible counterattack. In my half of the turn, even though I was holding France I had really been bled down, and so all I did was build. I did make an amphibious assault into NW Italy with Britain (I had redeployed 6 INF to Gibraltar the turn before) and took it with the loss of 1 INF. I also went after the Italian navy. He had air superiority, but I had 4 battleships so I felt like I could weather the storm. We both had 3 fighters, and both had one go air-to-air and the other two bypass to go to after each other’s ships. Both air-to-air fighters shot each other down. He had a Stuka and a bomber to go with his two fighters; I had a fighter and a naval fighter. We each lined up our targets and made our AA fire.

Remember how I said it might have been better to just reset the pieces and start over?

Have you ever experienced a moment in a wargame when you actually hope your opponent will roll well, or you will roll poorly, just so there will still be some challenge in a game?

I didn’t mean to do it. I mean it – I really didn’t mean to do it. But sometimes the dice just won’t cooperate.

Against his two aircraft going against the Rodney, I rolled snake eyes on my AA roll.

Needless to say, Peter was not impressed. We both managed to score one hit each with our aircraft, and then my battleships and cruiser proceeded to sink the Italian fleet except for one transport. I elected not to continue another round and risk letting his planes get at my ships again (although the way the dice were going, perhaps I should have). At any rate, the transport was useless – all the sea zones in the Med except the ones adjacent to Italy were British controlled, and Italy had no combat ships left, so the transport wasn’t going to be able to do anything.

In Spring 1941 Peter took Northern France; in my half of the turn I took it back. He also tried to push Britain out of Italy, and failed. I wasn’t able to do much, though, because he did bleed me down to two INF, and he had enough aircraft in Italy to prevent an amphibious assault (we use the rule from the forum that allows aircraft to react to a sea zone from which you’re making an amphibious assault).

In Summer 1941, Peter pulled a cute little trick and amphibiously landed two infantry in Brittany – I attacked and pushed him back out. So far so good – 8 turns in and France hasn’t had to make a surrender roll yet. Italy, meanwhile, passed their roll (and would succeed with every roll, as it turned out).

In Fall 1941, it finally happened – the die rolls caught up with me and Peter got hot. He was able to take eastern France (losing 10 infantry), and then mech’d into Paris with 4 or 5 armor and 6 panzer grenadiers to knock France out of the game. All remaining French ships were scuttled. In my half of the turn, I pulled my remaining BEF forces (about 5 INF, 3 ARM, 1 ART, 2 AT) into Brittany and reinforced there from England. At this point it was a little after 10:00 and we called it.

Analysis

Usually we pick up the next week and continue the game from that point – this time I’m just going to reset it and we’ll start clean next week. At this point Germany’s position is hopeless. Peter has to decide whether to attack into Brittany before the British forces there get too strong, If he does, he doesn’t have any INF there to absorb losses which means losing panzer grenadiers and armor; if he doesn’t I’ll just keep landing troops there every turn. He also has to occupy the rest of France if he wants the income.

In the east – well, again, hopeless. Russia is growing. They’re not at tension level one yet - they have 49 points going into this turn though (I drew some VERY poor cards), so they will be at tension level one at the end of the turn. Needless to say, though, Germany will never be able to make up the gap in units in time to be able to attack Russia and probably won’t even be able to build up a credible defense for the Russian attack. On top of that, Russia has troops in Warsaw and Poznan, putting East Prussia in a very untenable spot.

Italy, too, is hopeless. All of North Africa is out of supply with no possibility of ever getting back in supply, and with NW Italy in British hands Italy is only building with 5 or 6 points (I don’t remember exactly which).

I haven’t talked about the Pacific, but there isn’t much to tell – everything there is fairly ordinary. Japan has a factory on the board, and placed a CV and a CVL, and is in good position in China. The US is at tension level one and is holding 36 points worth of cards toward level two. They place 2 factories this turn, and so will draw three cards at the end of the turn so have a good chance to go to tension level two this turn.

In my view, Peter overall didn’t play all that bad a game. He made the mistake of going too light into Poland and it cost him big. He has always gone a little on the light side – this time he cut it too close and it burned him. I can’t fault his attacks into France – they were fairly orthodox – he just had the bad luck to roll poorly and I rolled average or above average. After bouncing off of France I can’t really criticize much of what he did (with the exception of Yugoslavia – see my earlier comment). He pretty much had to react to events after that. I could go either way on him bringing Italy in. He wasn’t really strong enough to be able to adequately protect the Med and his forces in North Africa; on the other hand, bringing them in did cause me to commit the British fleet to the Med, which meant I wasn’t using it to harass him in the Channel & North Sea.

Now to the rule issues that came up.

First, if Germany doesn’t take all of Poland and they go to the Soviet Union, how does this affect the border garrison requirements for the SU? Does the requirement to have 5 ground units and 1 aircraft in every territory adjacent to Poland and East Prussia apply to the Polish Territories as well? This would require the SU to be penalized for Germany’s failure so that doesn’t seem right. However, I can see where the garrison rule might be interpreted that way.

Secondly, I have a question about supply related to the situation in our game. I had ships moving around a lot in the Med before Italy came into the war, and at the beginning of the turn Italy came in their North Africa territories were out of supply (they had been put out of supply the turn before. Should they be considered out of supply for the turn in which they declare war? We played it that they were indeed out of supply.

Third, when Germany attacks Belgium, can allied aircraft react to fly defensive air support for the Belgians? We have been playing that they cannot, as their flying to interdict German aircraft would be a violation of Belgian neutrality.
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Yoper

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Re: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2007, 10:57:22 AM »
My only comment/question would be to say/ask this: 

It seems that you are using the optional rules for USA and USSR entry into the war, but it sounds like you are still using the original rules for the collapse of Italy.

You should really use the alternate Italy rules that our group came up with.  It just makes playing Italy a better experience.

As for the USSR situation, it sounds like one of those things that the designer doesn't cover because he assumes that it will never come up. :o

Don't feel to bad about it.  We did this all the time to Mark. ;)

Constantly posting and emailing about problems that arose in our games.

Don't worry, he likes the fact that he is needed. ;D

Craig
« Last Edit: December 22, 2007, 03:48:40 AM by Yoper »

Mark

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Re: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2007, 01:38:17 PM »
Boy - ok, tough one.  Sounds like a disastrous game for the Axis.  I recall we played one game a few years ago that actually had the French invading Germany in 1941 - needless to say the Germans threw in the towel. . .

We created those Polish rules later to penalize the Germans for not taking out Poland and did not consider the effects on border requirements.

I think I am leaning to say that the border requirement rules stand only for the territories specified in the rulebook - it is the Soviet players option to dump more guys into Poland or not - but he is not forced to.  does that seem reasonable.

Another thought is to put a few sudden death victory points in the game like: If Poland does not fall to the Axis on the first turn, they lose.  And, if France does not fall by end Winter 1940, the Axis lose.  It seems to me that if France is not out of the game by then, it is just a long agonizing defeat for the Germans anyway.  I could be wrong on that - I mean a poor Russian player or great Italian play against the Brits could still swing the game Axis. .

John D.

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Re: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2007, 02:46:39 PM »
Bob,
    To answer your 2nd question:

First turn - nothing is ever out of supply. You check for supply at the END of each turn. If Italy was neutral, nothing is putting it out of supply. When they declare war, supply is checked at the end of the Italian turn.

3rd question:

Yes, allied fighters can help defend. Axis declare war - then Belgium goes under Allied control - then moves are made and attacks done...

Later- John
   


derdiktator

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Re: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2007, 08:44:25 AM »
When things go bad right at the start it’s sometimes a better idea to just reset the pieces and start over. It seems so often that when things go really wrong right at the start it sometimes just doesn’t get any better – something I’m sure we can all commiserate with from personal experience.

This was another one of those times....

Amen to that!!  The first time I ever tried to play Germany on my own, the dice gutted my Wehrmacht in Poland. We immediately reset the game, I got gutted even worse, but persisted on into an even worse disaster in France. So, we reset the game yet again and fired me and my dice as the German player, letting someone else take over (Vinny, as I remember, and whatever did become of him?).

Ugh!

dd

Yoper

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Re: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2007, 06:01:40 AM »
It took us a while to get past the year 1941.

Between not know the game well enough early on and not having four competent gamers really made things tough.

Once we got to the point of feeling comfortable with the game (and got our fourth player back into the swing of coming all the time- darn newlyweds!), we recognized that the game is very tippy early on.

It doesn't take much for the game to implode in the beginning.  From German missteps in Poland and France to mishandling Italy in France or North Africa.

Then the Battle of the Atlantic can go against the UK to such an extant that they are really hindered from doing just about anything.  The clarification concerning the limit of PP reduction that can be done to the UK help that a bit though.

Other instances were the early/base rules for the entry of Spain and/or Turkey.  The Turkey roll could really throw the Eastern Front out of whack.  Or the cutting off of the Allies supply in Asia by the Japanese and the European Axis especially if the EA get through the Suez Canal.

The Japanese cutting off supply was a more "gamey" situation than the EA getting into the Indian Ocean.  If the EA get into the Middle East and then the Indian Ocean, then that is a more realistic that you should have your supply cut.

Craig


Bobsalt

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Re: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2007, 03:47:37 AM »
Boy - ok, tough one.  Sounds like a disastrous game for the Axis.  I recall we played one game a few years ago that actually had the French invading Germany in 1941 - needless to say the Germans threw in the towel. . .

We created those Polish rules later to penalize the Germans for not taking out Poland and did not consider the effects on border requirements.

I think I am leaning to say that the border requirement rules stand only for the territories specified in the rulebook - it is the Soviet players option to dump more guys into Poland or not - but he is not forced to.  does that seem reasonable.
This seems reasonable to me, and this is the way that we played it.

Another thought is to put a few sudden death victory points in the game like: If Poland does not fall to the Axis on the first turn, they lose.  And, if France does not fall by end Winter 1940, the Axis lose.  It seems to me that if France is not out of the game by then, it is just a long agonizing defeat for the Germans anyway.  I could be wrong on that - I mean a poor Russian player or great Italian play against the Brits could still swing the game Axis. .
I don’t agree with the idea of a “sudden death” provision such as you mention here, precisely for the scenario you suggest at the end. We had 2 games in a row where I just couldn’t get a break as Germany, but the Italians absolutely ran wild. Because of this, even though the British had the upper hand in France and the North Atlantic, the Italians created no end of problems. In both of these games as Italy I took out both Gibraltar and the Suez, then on to take out Persia and cut the British Empire out of supply. In both games, after the disasters in Africa my opponent gambled that he could take out Germany before Italy and Japan could win the game. He made it one time; I won the other. Either way, both games were competitive, and among the most fun games we’ve had. Because of the possibility of a situation like this, I prefer leaving things as they are. After all, if a game starts out badly a group can always decide on their own to reset it if they want to.

I can see going the “sudden death” route for not taking Poland. The way the game is set up, if Germany doesn’t take out Poland on turn one it’s fairly certain that it’s directly the result of something the German player did. However, France is a different story, and sometimes Germany fails in France even when properly played due to bad die rolls. I don’t like “sudden death” trigger like this in general because I think they can actually lead to an increase in risky actions. My experience in gaming is that many people will do ridiculous things when they don’t have to live with (so to speak) the consequences of their actions – but it’s a different story if they know they are going to have to game on for several more turns having to deal with their earlier rash decisions.

Perhaps a better way to penalize the Germans for not taking out Poland on turn one would be (in addition to the current rules) to penalize them a permanent -1 victory point. Another possibility if using variable Soviet entry would be to have this be more severe than a 1-card draw. Given the real world ramifications if this had happened, I think you could justify this event being worth 2 or even 3 cards.

Another idea would be that if this happens the Soviets production remains halved, but any factories placed on the map before at war produce at full capacity instead of being halved – or even that Russia gets one free factory to be placed immediately. Either of these could be said to represent the confidence that Stalin would have that he could take out Germany when the time came and began gearing up for this faster than was historical.
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RandR

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Re: Last night's game - or - "Why you should respect Poland"
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2008, 04:04:11 PM »
We had 1 of the GENCON or ORIGINS convention games I participated in where Germany had suffered so many casualties in the 1st 2 turns the German player asked to start over.  Germany had gotten the normal territories it attacks both turns but didn't have the big stacks of pieces it normally has after the blitzkrieg of the 1st 2 turns.  So go ahead & do the what ifs when the actions favor the allies every so often. If politics & military actions had gone differently early in WWII this is how it MAY have happened.