Author Topic: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR  (Read 1946 times)

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Offline airboy

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Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« on: February 16, 2020, 03:03:12 PM »
The first Sandstorm scenario is Libya, March 1941. The British captured almost all of Libya from the Italians. Germany sends Rommel to Africa with limited troops. This AAR comes from completing the entire Sandstorm campaign multiple times on the Lieutenant level and once on the Captain level. Iíve played the first scenario: Libya, March 1941 at least a dozen times testing different strategies and army configurations. 

A huge decision throughout Sandstorm and critical to the first scenario is how to best use the Italians.    Germany has significantly better men and equipment in almost every category excepting artillery.  But Italians are fifty percent or more of your army.  Players should carefully decide where to spend precious German command points.

Libya 1941 opens with preplaced troops of one German and one Italian artillery unit, one German Armor (Panzer III), one truck motorized German engineer and one truck motorized Italian infantry.  You must purchase the remainder.  Starting command points (limiting maximum land, air and naval units fielded) are Italy 19 land and 3 air points; German 10 land and 10 air points.  There are 460 Italian and 600 German resource points to purchase units.  Unit costs vary considerably with armor and air units much more costly in resource points than foot infantry.

Choosing air units is easy and ground units devilishly hard. 

Germany has a superb tactical bomber unmatched by Italy.  Italian fighters are pretty good.  Tactical bombers are devastating on ground units but mincemeat for fighters.  Your air force needs enough fighters for at least parity in the air.  Tactical bombers are excellent ground support units.  I bought the best available Italian Fighter (MC200 Saetta), two Bf 100 F German fighters and a Ju 87 B tactical bomber.  My last German air command point purchased a recon plane completing my air force.

With only ten command points, German land purchases are limited.  Germany has vastly superior medium tanks, much better infantry, somewhat better scout cars, and roughly equal artillery.  In 1941 Germany has two types of armor: one designed for anti-tank superiority and the other more focused on infantry support.  My strongest need is knocking out other tanks so 6 command points are spent on a Panzer IIIJ with the remaining 4 points purchasing a halftrack motorized infantry.   Halftracks are more expensive than trucks but have some mounted offensive capability and much better mounted defense.  Halftracks also have better off-road movement.

The Italians have limited resource points after purchasing the MC200 Saetta.  The Order of Battle series AI excels in outflanking and isolating your units.  Libya has a lot of open space and I need Italian Infantry to hold my flanks.  I buy 3 inexpensive, Italian foot infantry, the best Italian armor available (mediocre and expensive compared to German armor) and a recon unit. 

The two points spent on the recon unit could have truck-motorized two Italian infantry.  I chose the recon unit for several reasons.  When mounted in trucks, infantry is highly vulnerable to attack.    Trucks are expensive and some Italian resource points are held in reserve to replace casualties.  Recon units have several advantages.  First, they are fast and can detect mines.  Second, they can choose phased movement.  Last, they quickly retreat when taking damage making them hard to destroy.  The disadvantages of recon units are they cannot take objectives, are relatively expensive, and have minimal offensive punch.


« Last Edit: February 16, 2020, 03:05:28 PM by airboy »

Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2020, 03:06:35 PM »
Aargh!  The insert picture icon is not working today.  My lovely picture sequence (which is found on my blog) cannot be replicated here.

And I cannot put in an angry icon!

Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2020, 03:08:35 PM »
Looking at the map, Libya has a paved coast road connecting all major cities and airfields.  Because Libya juts into the Mediterranean Sea, unpaved desert roads give armor and motorized infantry the potential to cut-off many coastal objectives. 

Thus, my overall strategy is sending Italian foot infantry and both artillery units along the coast road to capture major cities, ports and airfields before Tobruk.  All armor, motorized infantry, and the recon unit will take the desert roads attempting to encircle British and Commonwealth forces.  Foot infantry is just too slow away from the coast roads. 

I get Rommel!  Rommel is the best leader Iíve seen in all Order of Battle games.  His command radius is huge, his impact on both his unit and surrounding units is excellent.  I attach Rommel to my lead Panzer III to encompass as many opening battles as possible.
Iím not going to discuss the initial objectives since they will quickly change.

Initial Offensive Turn

If you have read my other Order of Battle AARs you will remember that I seldom provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on how I ran a turn.  Turn 1 in Libya is highly constrained by limited space.  My choreographed sequence gets most out of your first turn.

First, the German engineer advances and attacks the British anti-tank gun.  Do not advance into the space.  Next, the lead Italian infantry hopefully destroys the damaged unit.  If you donít finish it off, your fighters should be able to follow up, strafe and kill.  Italian infantry advances to take the space.

Second, Italian artillery moves two spaces and fires on the British Infantry.  Do not advance to where the artillery mounts the trucks and cannot fire.  Then fire the German artillery.  Last, use your dive bomber to airstrike the British Infantry.  This sequence is critical for maximum effectiveness.

Third, German mechanized infantry attacks weakened British infantry and does not advance into the space if successful.  Keep the space open for the next attack wave.

Fourth, rearmost Italian infantry attacks flank of British Artillery.  Infantry does not advance after the attack.  The rearmost German Armor then advances (and hopefully) destroys the British artillery.  Armor advances into the space if successful.

Fifth, your lead Italian infantry attacks and destroys the two heavily damaged British units and advances into the open ground.  The lead German armor (with Rommel) takes full movement down the road as does the Italian armor.  The recon car takes the lead.

If successful, the only visible opponent is a scout car.  This strategy works about 80% of the time as shown.  Sometimes fighters must mop up the damaged anti-tank gun.  Worst case, your final German and Italian armor units destroy the heavily damaged British units and your recon unit is far in advance of the rest of your forces.  On higher difficulty levels these initial moves work, but you donít advance quite as far, and your scout car is far more likely to be exposed far ahead of your other units.


Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2020, 03:09:52 PM »
Well, I was hoping to put in the first turn here in all of its annotated glory - but that is a bust.

Anyway, the entire post can be seen as I intended at:
https://averysgameblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/16/sandstorm-an-order-of-battle-ww2-after-action-report-aar/

I'll just put links up as I complete writing this.

Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2020, 03:13:32 PM »
Why am I doing another Order of Battle AAR?  This is my fourth one with the previous ones US Pacific; US Marines, and Winter War.

I started going nuts over Sandstorm.  I played the first scenario probably 20 times and the first 3 scenarios at least 10 times.  The game kept playing out differently, sometimes substantially so.  I kept modifying my strategy. 

I came to the conclusion that if I don't write this up I won't move on to something else.  So I'm probably going to do an AAR for at least the first 4 scenarios to get this out of my system. 

Offline JasonPratt

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2020, 05:18:39 PM »
I for one welcome and accept your sacrifice of pain and madness!  :D
ICEBREAKER THESIS CHRONOLOGY! -- Victor Suvorov's Stalin Grand Strategy theory, in chronological order. Lots and lots of order...

Dawn of Armageddon -- a narrative AAR for Dawn of War: Soulstorm: Ultimate Apocalypse: The Hunt Begins: Insert Joke Here!

Survive Harder! In the grim darkness of the bowl there is only, um, Amazons. And tentacles and midgets. Not remotely what you're thinking! ...okay, maybe a little remotely.

PanzOrc Corpz Generals -- Season One complete; Fantasy Wars AAR, lots of screenies.


Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2020, 05:48:00 PM »

Offline Martok

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2020, 10:38:23 PM »
Nice.  O0 

How did this play-through of the scenario compare to your previous attempts?  Harder or easier?  Did you get the Tobrok "event" before? 

"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
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Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2020, 02:07:34 PM »
Nice.  O0 

How did this play-through of the scenario compare to your previous attempts?  Harder or easier?  Did you get the Tobrok "event" before?

After playing this scenario 25+ times I finally hit on a strategy that works every single time.  The key is not screwing up turns 4-5.  Don't advance down the coast road so fast that you have too much separation between the armor.  Hit Benghazi with all of your infantry and artillery in range.  Turn after that, seal off the British Infantry and AT gun so they cannot get past the escarpment.  Last, keep the first major British armor unit in front of your armor column - and make that column wide enough that you cannot get encircled by just one unit.  Only use the dive bomber on the major British armor to ensure its destruction before the critical point you can get surrounded.  Getting cut off or not totally destroying the first major Brit armor is what would always cause me severe problems.                   

Last, make sure you capture the airfield AFTER Benghazi before your dive bomber crashes from running out of fuel. 

It is a crapshoot if you can cut off the retreating British infantry (motorized) before it gets to Tobruk.  My current strategy has this happen about 75% of the time.

This scenario became a mania.  I played it way, way too many times searching for angles.  I found a lot of them, but at a huge time cost.

Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2020, 08:55:44 AM »

Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2020, 09:26:40 AM »
Halfaya Pass is complete!

The great victory brings rewards from both Hitler & Mussolini for the winners!

https://averysgameblog.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/halfaya-pass-conclusion-scenario-2-sandstorm/

Offline Martok

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2020, 12:54:40 PM »
Ha, loved that bit at the end.  ;D 


With regards to the design flaw about being able to see enemy ZoC, is the the most flagrant example you've personally experienced (or at least have benefited from)? 

"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

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"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

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Offline airboy

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Re: Sandstorm - An Order of Battle WW2 AAR
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2020, 02:39:46 PM »
With regards to the design flaw about being able to see enemy ZoC, is the the most flagrant example you've personally experienced (or at least have benefited from)?

Yes - but that is the nature of the desert war.  Often your flanks are open to the deeper desert.  Usually you have some aircraft that can scan for danger - but no airforce for most of this scenario.  So the combination of a handful of units, no airpower early, open flanks, and knowing exactly what the zone of control is make this the worst case for this IMHO design flaw.