Panzer Campaigns- The evolution in the Supply model.
Article written by Glenn Saunders
[Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:30 pm]
Explicit Supply and the Evolution of Panzer Campaigns Supply Model by Glenn SaundersArticle posted from Glenns site http://members.shaw.ca/gcsaunders/welcome.html with his kind permission.
The purpose of this article is to outline the evolution in the Panzer Campaigns Supply model and to discuss how the rules have evolved from the basic supply rules into Virtual supply and on to Explicit Supply!
I wasn't involved when John Tiller and Greg "Sturmer" Smith made the initial game of the series, Smolensk '41. But my understanding is that it was decided in the early going that the game focus would be on ground combat. That is, players directing Tanks, Infantry and Artillery with Air being factored in using close support Air Missions only. Details, such as Supply, were handled in an abstract manner. The designers felt "Logistics" might be fun to some folks but adds a certain amount of complexity to the game and a reduction in playability for the return in realism.
To understand where we are today with the Panzer Campaigns Supply model, I thought it might be useful to review supply starting with the initial supply rules from Smolensk '41 and following the changes through time.
In Smolensk '41, supply was controlled by a percentage based Supply Level with a value set for each side. Any unit need only trace a Line-of-Supply from the edge of the map free of enemy units and Zones-of-control(ZOC). Essentially, every edge hex was a supply source for both sides. Players only really had to be careful that units did not to become surrounded. And the Map was large enough that edge effects didn't really came into play.
Some scenarios featured Supply Source markers. In these scenarios map edge hex were no longer considered to be a source of supply to either side. Units had to trace the Line-of-supply back to their own supply source that was usually on a map edge, but not exclusively so. Often, lower percentage Supply Sources can be closer to the action, as is the case with a Supply Source marker was used for airborne operations.
In this initial pass of the supply rules, supply problems were dealt with as a combat deficiency and units Low on Supply suffered from half of the normal attack and assault. Note, units never ran out of supply, only low.
In Normandy '44 Supply took another step forward with the introduction of the Low Fuel Supply rules.
The essences of adding this rule is brought out by the lessons learn by the British in the Western Desert. Here it was learned that in time of pursuit, fuel was critical element in low supply. But when pursuit ended and the shooting started, it was Ammo that was the critical element.
Therefore the thrust of this new twist to supply was to depict these two different supply elements - FUEL and AMMO, both with basically opposite effects. The previous Low Supply Rules became Low Ammo, and continued to affect Attack and Assault with Ammo checks for any unit that fired, on the turn immediately after the action occurred.
Unlike Low Ammo that affects combat (attack and assault), Low Fuel affected the other two game factors - Defense and Movement! Both of these are halved with Low Fuel. The Low Fuel checks occur only at midnight because most tank units went to lagger at night and that was when they were refueled. But once low in fuel, units can possibly be re-supplied on any turn and will have a better chance of recovering if they move closer to their HQ. The Low Fuel rules affect only non-Headquarters units other than Foot, Ski, Bicycle, Horse, Naval, and Rail.
Why half Defense you might ask? Clearly a tank has the same armor regardless whether is has gas or not.
The rationale behind low fuel is that a tank unit low on fuel that lacks infantry support is really a sitting duck. Therefore, they have a lower defense due to their reduced maneuvering ability. This also discourages the "gamey tactic" of running tanks deep into "Indian Country" unsupported using their mobility and then sitting in place where their high armor defense acts like a fort. Such tanks would in fact be very vulnerable in reality. Thus the rule makes them vulnerable.
With the release of Kharkov '42, the Panzer Campaigns took the next step in the Supply evolution and introduced Virtual Supply Trucks. Here for the first time, distance from the supply source now became a critical factor. Virtual Supply Trucks (VST) is an Optional Rule where the local supply value for each unit on the map is calculated at the start of the turn, based on the shortest path to the supply source.
This supply path is calculated as .02 of the Motorized Movement cost. Of course, consideration is given for hexsides blocked by Rivers thus forcing the supply path to follow the road network. Special consideration is given to swamp and marsh hexes where Motorized Transport is normally prohibited.
To really see much impact of the VST Optional Rules, you need to play one of the larger scenarios where there is a longer distance from the Supply Source at the edged of the map to the areas where fighting is taking place. Of course the VST rules requires Supply Source markers in scenario, but in Kharkov, Supply Sources are pretty much standard.
It is worth noting that despite the implied Supply Dump symbol on the Supply Source marker, the marker is not really meant to depict a supply dump. Rather, it is more a path from which supply may extend from an off map depot. For this reason, even in a small scenario like Kharkov '42 #12, there are four Axis Supply Sources. The Germans never had four known Supply Dumps in these locations. Just that the German Army could really draw supply from many places along the edge of the map behind their own lines, back to a more central Supply Dump off the smaller scenario Map.
But all these new Supply Rules were only Phase One of a two phased approach to logistics reform. We knew that people still wanted more. They wanted Supply Counters, even though it was not part of the initial vision of a game, which was to focus on ground combat with Supply being an abstract element. So for Panzer Campaigns IV, John Tiller took the next step and added Explicit Supply to the Game Engine.
Explicit Supply is yet another optional rule - Phase Two - where resupply is determined by actual Supply Counters that are part of certain scenarios. A Supply Unit is a unit defined as part of the Order of Battle as other units are and needs to be included in certain scenarios to support this optional rule.
You will note that the Scenarios containing Explicit Supply unit counters are designated by the small *s* after the number i.e. #01s_Mersa_Brega_31Mar.scn, when a scenario does not contain Supply Units, then this optional rule does not apply and the normal supply rules will be used. When this optional rule is not invoked, then any Supply Units that are part of the scenario are automatically removed at the beginning of the scenario. Therefore, in summary, the net effect is:
1)If the Explicit Optional Rule is ON and *IF* Supply Counters have been added to the Scn - then the Optional Rule will apply.
2)If the Explicit Optional Rule is ON and no Explicit Supply Counters then there is no effect. Default Supply rules will apply.
3)If the Explicit Optional Rule is OFF and there is Explicit Supply Counters in the scenario, then these Supply Counters are stripped from the scenario and default Supply rules apply.
4) When a scenario allows Explicit Supply and the rule is selected, then selecting VST will have no effect (Explicit Supply will be used) and if a scenario does not
have Explicit Supply and both rules are selected then VST will be used.
A Supply Unit has three important attributes:
1) Strength, a value given in vehicles;
2) Range, given in terms of a number of hexes;
3) Movement rate.
There are two types of Supply counters, Supply Depots that are stationary (movement = 0) and Mobile Supply Markers that are Trucks. The other games in the Series have slow moving horse drawn Supply Wagons available too.
In order to resupply a unit of the corresponding side, the Supply Unit must be able to trace a path no longer than its range from its location to the location of the unit needing supply. This path cannot go through enemy units or hexes under their Zone of Control other than those containing friendly units. When the Supply Counter resupplies a unit, either one that is Low on Ammo or one that is Low on Fuel, then the strength of the Supply Unit is decreased according to the strength of the unit needing supply according to this formula:
When a unit containing X men is resupplied, the strength of the Supply Unit is decreased by X/100, with fractions rounded up proportional to the remainder. That is, a unit of 120 men will require 2 supply strength points to resupply 20% of the time and 1 supply strength point to resupply 80% of the time.
When a unit containing X vehicles or guns is resupplied, then strength of the Supply Unit is decreased by X/10, with again fractions rounded up proportional to the remainder. This is of course because in the game, 1 vehicle or gun equates to 10 men for combat purposes.
Now the game engine handles all the math and actual administration of giving supply to the various units, so you don't have to worry about doing these resupply details yourself. But I have to present the details for those guys how like to understand this sort of detail.
When the strength of a Supply Unit drops to 0, it is automatically removed from the map.
Supply Units may be captured if enemy forces successfully assault the hex they are located in. When a Supply Unit is captured, its strength is automatically reduced by half. The original side can of course recapture a captured Supply Unit.
So there you have it - this is the nuts and bolts of Explicit Supply.