HE and Radios for the Red Army

The best excuse for PG/AG's lack of light Soviet artillery is that the lighter guns often direct-fired because much Soviet artillery lacked radios and effective forward control but this does not justify the gaping hole in the Soviet Order of Battle (OB).

The Soviets' important early lack of radios can be simulated in a few ways. For artillery, even though the 76mm field gun could outrange the German 105mm howitzer, early Soviet light and medium artillery might have a 1-hex range until radios and even wired field telephones became more common, when the 76 might get a 2- or even 3-hex range. Soviet aircraft and tanks might have a lower initiative without radios to coordinate vehicles' actions within the units. The later, increased availability of radios might be represented by automatic upgrades to unit data, by assuming that later models that become available to purchase have sufficient radios as standard equipment, and/or by allowing the player to spend extra prestige and influence to organize (buy) an earlier but costlier "76mm Radio" or "BT-5 Radio" unit.

I am also trying to understand why PG/AG treats so many Soviet direct-fire guns like a 2 Pounder when the 76mm field gun and the BT's 45mm had high-explosive (HE) shells.

Update 9/07/06

I will assume a 45mm gun Soft Attack of 3 (instead of 1) unless I find contrary data.


Add Mortars to PG/AG

Fix Soviet artillery

The WWII Red Army fielded a massive, layered array of artillery that is missing from PG/AG. The 76mm field gun became AG’s direct-fire anti-tank gun so the early Soviets unrealistically lack affordable light artillery. In reality, the Soviets made great use of mortars, Red Army doctrine authorized massing mortars from many units under a central command, and the Soviet 120mm mortar was so good that the Germans copied it.

A mortar unit would have:

  • “Artillery” classification (for support fire)
  • 1-hex ranged attack (like the StuG IIIb)
  • Infantry ground defense numbers (so it can survive next to the enemy if used offensively)
  • 2 “leg” movement points (2MP like Heavy Weapons (HW) infantry)

I’ve experimented with the mortar unit and the results are interesting :

  • It works like a hybrid infantry-StuG
  • Its movement is like motorized infantry/artillery with 8MP in trucks and a dismount—but dismounted it’s like HW infantry so it can be tactically more mobile/flexible than a howitzer
  • It does not get an infantry-class bonus in woods and cannot capture a city but its infantry-type ground defense numbers make it tougher to uproot than a howitzer battery
  • You can keep it behind your units where (like the StuG) it cannot be used offensively but a good mortar unit can break up many an attack
  • You also can put it in the frontline where (like the StuG or other artillery) it cannot fire after moving but it can fire offensively at an adjacent enemy with the benefit of a ranged attack and still provide defensive fire support to adjacent friendly units

The Red Army’s potent but affordable 2MP 120mm mortar certainly would add a new dimension to the Ostfront.

Add 80-82mm Mortars to Most Nations

The HW infantry seem like another in a long list of small-arms infantry but a HW unit’s 80-82mm mortars provided its main punch and greatest range (to over 3,000yds). The medium mortars could be made similar to the 120mm to give supporting artillery fire but then the artillery-class mortar HW unit should be supplementary to the standard infantry-class machine-gun HW so that you have enough city-capturing infantry.The other option to represent HW’s mortars would be to leave all HW as infantry-class (which means woods bonus and capturing cities but no support fire for other units) but give all HW infantry a 1-hex ranged attack to indicate the indirect fire of the HW units' mortars.

I gave mortars an infantry-type 2-hex spot range for now but that and other numbers (attack, ammunition, cost, etc.) are provisional.

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The Curse of Pskov

I’ve won Pskov Major Victory with 1 auxiliary BT-7 as my only loss (I was robbed) and then gone to Vyazma with $2,760—but that’s campaign mode where you only need 2 German cities for a Major. In scenario mode, the best that I’ve done is holding all 3 Soviet cities while taking both German airfields and 3 out of 4 German cities but this still yields “Axis Victory.” I’ve taken either Kaunas (in the far bottom-left corner) or Riga (the most northern) as the 3rd city but it seems like I need at least 2-3 more turns (after resupply, etc.) to take the 4th city unless I’m doing something wrong.

There are more than usual surviving Germans here because I lost a T-34 on Turn 2 to bad luck (that hurt). I did not use any paratroopers or aircraft here:

I keep thinking that with some slight variation I can take that last hex by the end of Turn 10.

Pskov is nettlesome for many reasons:

  • There are only 10 turns
  • Every solution requires something the Soviets lack (half-tracks, self-propelled (SP) artillery, SP air defense, SP tank destroyers, good fighters)
  • Luftwaffe planes almost always find any “covert” moves on the small map
  • Luftwaffe planes almost always escape with 1 point left, no matter what the expected results
  • Wehrmacht 1939-40 infantry in the open sometimes act as if they have panzerfausts
  • There are bugs in the map at the critical city of Polotsk (bottom-right) that hamper redeployments and ruin timetables: Hex 20-14 at 10 o’clock reads as “clear” terrain but acts like a river hex and Hex 21-13 at 12 o’clock reads “clear” but acts like a swamp hex
  • The alternative back road must be used immediately after taking Polotsk to avoid the ZOC of the reinforcing 3 Panzer I, Panzerjager I, and 88mm Flak.
  • The back road is a tortuous zig-zag that burns fuel for modest distance while your convoy lingers as Luftwaffe and Panzer I bait.
  • There are a number of critical junctures where a few “bad die rolls” can ruin the schedule and thus the game
  • Panzer I act like Tiger tanks as 45mm shells bounce off their hide and their 30cal machine guns seem to outrange high-velocity 76mm AA guns

Update 7/20/10: How to take 6 of 6 in AG-PGF Pskov

Leave a comment to share your war stories about Pskov

See these other scenario reports:


Add Spice to "Desert" Scenarios

Fix North African Weather

Contrary to AG's notion that, "It never rains or snows in North Africa" (p. 21), troops slogged through the mud of Northwest Africa's rainy winter:

Ah, "Venice"--a flooded American camp in 1943 Tunisia (1stfighter.org):

Even in the desert, AG's "rain" can indicate the spectacular sand storms that grounded aircraft and "mud" can indicate disappeared tracks and the sand-clogged air filters that immobilized vehicles.
General Erwin Rommel squeezed the remnants of his Afrika Korps out of a tight spot last week. After waiting desperately for reinforcements to support his stand at Agedábia, Rommel, under cover of a sand storm, beat a successful 100-mile retreat to el-Aghéila, southwest of Agedábia—closer to his own base and source of reinforcements. The storm was so bad that British mobile units could not keep up with him.
"Out of a Sand Trap" Jan. 19, 1942 Time Magazine
A wall of flying sand obliterates the Saharan sun (tropix.co.uk):

Do you know where your Matildas are?

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Control Color Shift of Moved Units

Preliminary Report:

Custom icon-makers have been plagued by ugly color shifts of moved units. I did a little experimenting with the Aggens editor and it seemed that using the Allies' original greens shifted normally after movement but that using khaki or yellow-ish colors shifted to red or pink.


Allow Subs To Surface in PG/AG

"Man the 88!"

Most WWII submarines were usually surfaced, had deck guns, and used them. It's easy enough to create a separate "mirror" unit of the sub with surface attributes and use a scenario editor to assign a surfaced sub as "transport" to the submerged sub, allowing simple toggling back and forth during play. The surfaced sub would be faster and have surface/AA gunnery but would not be classed as "submarine" so it would lack the submerged evasion ability and any unit can take a shot at a sub caught on the surface:

The examples below assume visual spotting range (radar/sonar could change things). First note the submerged sub's movement and 1-hex spotting range (periscope depth). It is unable to attack the land units but is immune to their attacks and has a chance to evade against destroyers and tactical bombers:

The surfaced sub has greater spotting range and movement and can engage in surface gunnery duels with the land units but any unit can attack it and "evasion" must rely on its initiative and combat to avoid damage:

These exact numbers are provisional. A Type VIIC U-Boat would have lower speed and gunnery than a US Gato class, or you could stick with a generic sub.

U-boat men at the gun (1917):


Improving Mountain Troops

The K.u.k. General WWI campaign already independently had invented the amphibious LVT idea of 2 air Movement Points (MP) to simulate fast mountain movement of mountain troops. This is a valid solution with our current editing abilities and should work fine in appropriate scenarios but if we could make a few simple edits to terrain costs we could gain the following improvements:
  • Remove the mountaineers' accidental amphibious ability (a side effect of the air movement) and return normal behavior with rivers and oceans
  • Allow motor transport of the mountaineers (only available to leg and towed units, not "air" units)
The quick solutions would be to give the mountaineers 2 "towed" MP if we could make the following simple edits to "towed" terrain costs:


Dry MudIce Dry Mud Ice
Old All All All N/A N/A N/A
New 1 1 1 2 2 2

These edits would not change towed guns' movement since their 1MP still would be "all" in mountains and "not enough" in swamps (it might allow a desperate retreat into swamps but the "N/A" was never ironclad since guns can enter swamps while transported). K.u.K's mountain troops would be a bit slower than infantry in swamps but (as they are now with air movement) a bit faster in forest, rough, and mountains, while trading undesirable amphibious ability for desirable motor transport ability.

(PS: That's the quick solution. You can tweak it even more if you were willing to re-scale all towed movement to allow a 37mm to go some places that an 8in gun can't.)

Update 8/25/2006

Eliminating the Ocean Movement of "Air" Movement

We know that if you give air transport to infantry, they can fly over the ocean. However, if you assign a truck transport to a plane, the plane cannot fly over the ocean. We can turn this restriction to an advantage to rid mountain troops’ “air” movement of its worst amphibious side effect. In the game purchase screen, you cannot assign transport to units with “air” movement even if they are infantry in the infantry section, but we can use an editor to do so (therefore, such mountain troops should be unpurchasable, at least for the AI). Simply assigning a truck transport to the mountain unit with “air” movement will prevent any walking-on-the-ocean movement. If you do not like the idea of mountaineers dragging trucks over the Alps, use a mirror unit where the mountain infantry can fight equally well either in their 2MP mountain (“air”) mode or their 3MP leg “transport” mode:

The US-Canadian 1st Special Service Force (SSF) “Devil’s Brigade”: Assign this as “transport” to the base unit which is identical except for 2 “air” MP:

Remember that if the unit embarks from an airfield in standard air transport such as a C-47, it will ditch its land "transport" and after landing be able to float over the ocean again (at least the AI does not use air embarkation but you could set mountain troops to sea transport only).

The Devil’s Brigade raids Narvik: Note that it can move 2 hexes in the mountains but cannot enter the ocean. If it toggles to its 3MP leg “transport,” it can enter the city of Bodo to the West:

This mountain unit still "can cross rivers without delay." It always can move 2 hexes through the toughest terrain (mountain, river, swamp, woods, rough) even during mud and can move 3 hexes in clear terrain. Because this special movement works in woods and swamps too, you could use it more generally for other ranger-type units or guerrillas. Note that this method approximates adding Pacific General's "guide" feature to PG/AG units.

Update 9/7/06

Use the green-bordered impassable hex (or an "ocean"-coded hex) for an extreme peak within a larger mountain range and the time it takes to go around it could simulate the obstacle while still allowing mountin troops' faster negotiation of it.

You can change your vote on the newly revised poll choices:


Napoleonic & Civil War Speed

For eras before motor transport, infantry can have a normal speed that represents tactical deployments (square or skirmish line) and a "transport" representing faster but more vulnerable column marching.

Purchasing column "transport" can represent a training investment in marching drill so that, say, a militia unit can stop moving like a rabble and acquire the field-march skill.

Update 11/09

Jcrouch wrote, "I used a Transport unit. With Zero movement factors to represent forming Squares ! (It had a huge Anti Cav (hard value) but was vulnerable to Soft attacks."

I would do it a little differently, with the base unit at tactical formation with low MP (2? infantry should be more flexible than cannon) and good defense (assumes enough time to reform automatically from line to square to line depending on infantry or cavalry attack, unfortunately, because we have only 2-stage toggle and not 3-stage toggle) and the transport unit as more vulnerable but faster column march.

Possible unit differences in speed (tactical, transport) and defense:
  • Cannon (heavy)= 0MP, 3MP
  • Cannon (light)= 1MP, 5MP
  • Militia= 2MP (no column "transport" because not march-trained)
  • Infantry= 2MP, 4MP (1st-line, fully trained so has column "transport" speed)
  • Dragoons= 3MP, 5MP (fight dismounted, vulnerable horses mean lower defense than infantry but faster speed than infantry, both tactical redeployment speed and column transport speed)
  • Lancers= 4MP, 6MP (fast, high initiative, but low defense)
  • Raiders= 5MP, 7MP (Cossacks? Mosby's raiders?)
If unable to make so many different "transports," then:
  • Artillery limber= 4MP
  • Infantry column= 4MP
  • Cavalry= none (base speed, dragoons= 4MP, lancers= 6MP, raiders= 8MP)


How To Improve the AI?

Dean at PG Research contends that the AI is better on large maps with many turns. If so, can we trick the AI into playing better by always using the maximum map size (but restricting movement with forts, ocean, or impassable hexes) and always using maximum turn length (even with demanding victory conditions, or by starting a "26-turn" scenario on Turn 16)?


Amphibious LVT for PG/AG

Be the first kid on your block to have amphibious SP artillery

Doing amphibious warfare without amphibious vehicles is like doing airborne warfare without airborne units (Crete without paratroopers?).

Below: LVT-4 at Iwo Jima. The amphibious LVT could hit the beach and keep driving inland with troops or towed guns. "Amtanks" had gun turrets.

The key attribute of Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) and the later derivative Amtanks (LVT with light tank turrets) was the amphibious flexibility (in-out-in-out of water). Without it we may as well use Stuarts from a transport’s one-time discharge. AG does not allow you to mix mutually exclusive movement types in organic transport but we can use organic air transport movement to simulate slow-moving amphibians:

(Click any of the images for larger views)

We "average out" the LVT’s 6-8mph sea speed with the 20-25mph land speed to a slow but steady 2-hex speed through ALL terrain. This gives the LVT a fairly accurate sea, river, swamp, and forest speed in exchange for underestimating its maximum clear-terrain speed and you are on the honor system (as with many other original PG/AG quirks) not to move 2 hexes in mountains. In the image below, you see an LVT-borne infantry unit (Bren Carrier icon) and 2 Amtanks (Stuart icon) approaching the beach. As you can see below with the selected unit, despite the “air” movement, the infantry unit in or out of its LVT respects ground unit ZOC (not air ZOC) and all friendly and enemy units recognize it as a ground unit (no ranged fire from AD, etc.).

You clearly can see the LVT’s niche role by the highlighted area indicating that the unit can move 2 hexes up river (and no more 3 turns to ford a river) or 2 hexes through the swamp (it originally was a civilian swamp vehicle)—and remember that the LVT is impervious to the mud that can bar normal units from rivers and swamps entirely: ideal for Pacific atolls or a Scheldt Estuary scenario:

Make the Amtanks (above shown approaching the beach) by adding armor and the Stuart or M8 HMC firepower to the original idea—and be the first kid on your block to have amphibious SP artillery:

Remember that an M8 HMC in a transport cannot fire but a swimming LVT(A)-4 can give fire support to a landed unit while the LVT is still swimming to shore:

Especially since the Amtanks were based on the improved LVT-2 drivetrain, we can show the maximum clear-terrain speed by assigning the above data as a “transport” to a "mirror" unit that is exactly the same except for a “leg” movement factor (MF) of 4.The LVT’s paddle-wheel-track propulsion was not great on flat, hard ground but was better than most vehicles in muck so the leg designation makes it better than a 4MF tracked vehicle in mud (and allows you to buy the “transport” in purchase windows):

(Update clarification: for dual movement, the base unit should be leg and the transport should be air; class both as "tank" for the 37mm-gun version; class both as "artillery" for the 75mm-howitzer version--the LVT's ability to give fire support while swimming was a key advantage over a DD tank):

Thought you had this guy cornered? With LVTs he can scoot across the inlet to safety:

These are rough drafts with provisional numbers (armor, ammunition, etc.).