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Help Needed
01-07-2016, 05:39 AM,
#1
ahelp  Help Needed
So I bought PB:Normandy a few days ago and I think I need some help from the veterans here. I've been wargaming for over a decade now but this is my first Tiller title. And I'm becoming so frustrated with it that I'm kind off starting to regret the purchase.

I'm slowly going through the first two tutorials and I can barely get a draw in either. I keep running into a concrete wall, quite literally: bunkers. I find it near impossible to dislodge defenders from a bunker no matter how many troops I throw at them. Especially in the short turn limits these scenarios offer. By the last turn of my third attempt at the Utah Beach tutorial I managed to take three out of the 8 bunkers.

Half a dozen guys and a single AT gun can somehow consistently hold off 300+ US riflemen and engineers for hours despite two dozen tanks blasting away. It's near impossible to break or even disrupt German troops in such a bunker despite having them surrounded and inflicting 90% casualties, pinning doesn't seem to exist in this game and those guys are barely even fatigued after hours of intense combat. My artillery, MG units, naval and air support are utterly useless against bunkers and are only somewhat effective on the German trenches. Meanwhile my own units get disrupted whenever someone looks slightly angry in their general direction.

Each turn is supposed to be 30 minutes, no? So why, if 150 men assault a bunker for 30 minutes, do they take a mere 3 casualties while only inflicting one? Is there some sort of aggressiveness setting I'm missing, where I accidentally order my units to probe instead of assaulting or something like that? Neither the manual nor the tutorial guide provided any help, in fact the latter seems to suggest bunkers can easily be dealt with by simply shooting at them for one or two turns before an assault.

I clearly have sufficient troops to clear the beach defenses and if the tutorial scenario were twice as long it would be a definite victory. But the casualty rates seem ahistorically low while the tenacity of what should be low-quality German conscripts beggars belief. In reality 4th Div cleared out most of these relatively meager beach defenses within the hour and with a lot less casualties than I'm sustaining in 4 hours here.

So tl;dr: I can't find any way to deal with bunkers and it's sapping my joy from the game. Heeeeeeeeeeeelp!!!
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01-07-2016, 06:03 AM,
#2
RE: Help Needed
See wiggum's thread on this - http://www.theblitz.org/message_boards/s...?tid=68922 (8 pages!). It is a frustrating thing for sure. Developers think if they make it easier to overrun the bunkers the defense will collapse too quickly. I just wish they would find a different mechanism to balance these opposing forces.
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01-07-2016, 06:25 AM,
#3
RE: Help Needed
This is how it works for me:

1. Fire every mortar at the strong point. You will see a lot of no effect, but. eventually you will get a disruption.
2. If you have AT guns, fire them all the strong point. When you start seeing one man casualties from this fire you know you are starting wear down the strong point.
3. Fire all your tanks at the strong point. Again, when you start seeing one man casualties you are wearing down the strong point.
4. Have engineers clear any minefields that surround the strong point.
5. Do not have the entire stack of infantry attack the strong point. Depending on what units are in the strong point, have one or two infantry units attack the strong point. For example, if you have 6 infantry units in three different hexsides. Attack with two infantry units from each hex side. Make sure that they are separate assaults. The first couple of attacks do not inflict much damage, but, after a while you will start wearing down the strong point.

In you example, you cite 300 infantrymen which represents at least 8 infantry units of first couple of waves. You can turn that into for separate assaults if you use two units per assault. To me this mirrors how units assaulted at Normandy.

Now if you really want a challenge attack the pillboxes at Omaha.
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01-07-2016, 07:17 AM, (This post was last modified: 01-07-2016, 07:24 AM by Nemo84.)
#4
RE: Help Needed
(01-07-2016, 06:25 AM)wildb Wrote: This is how it works for me:

1.  Fire every mortar at the strong point. You will see a lot of no effect, but. eventually you will get a disruption.
2.  If you have AT guns, fire them all the strong point. When you start seeing one man casualties from this fire you know you are starting wear down the strong point.
3.  Fire all your tanks at the strong point.  Again, when you start seeing one man casualties you are wearing down the strong point.
4.  Have engineers clear any minefields that surround the strong point.
5.  Do not have the entire stack of infantry attack the strong point.  Depending on what units are in the strong point, have one or two infantry units attack the strong point.  For example, if you have 6 infantry units in three different hexsides.  Attack with two infantry units from each hex side.  Make sure that they are separate assaults.  The first couple of attacks do not inflict much damage, but, after a while you will start wearing down the strong point.

In you example, you cite 300 infantrymen which represents at least 8 infantry units of first couple of waves.  You can turn that into for separate assaults if you use two units per assault.   To me this mirrors how units assaulted at Normandy.  

Now if you really want a challenge attack the pillboxes at Omaha.

Thanks for the advice, but I already tried most of it and found it quite ineffective. This is already how I manage to take 2-3 bunkers in the 8 turns of the scenario, which is enough to get me a draw at best. My problem, and it seems I'm not the only one, is not that I cannot take a bunker, its that it seems impossible to reduce a bunker in a somewhat realistic timeframe with a somewhat realistic expenditure of men and munitions, which makes these short scenarios unwinnable outside of sheer luck. Bunker assaults should be a lot shorter but a lot more bloody for both sides involved.

1. I've tried using the mortars in multiple scenario attempts (just finished another unsuccessful one). If I spend 3-4 turns bombarding using all my mortars, artillery and naval guns, it results in perhaps one single disruption of one single unit in one single bunker, a disruption that often is removed the next turn. Since there are 8 bunkers, all of which are defended by 2 or 3 units, this is not sufficient in the 5-7 turns my fire support is operational. I've found my fire support far less useless in eliminating the entrenched units behind the bunkers.

2. Using AT guns occasionally results in a single casualty. Again: 8 bunkers with 20-30 men and 2-10 guns each, and only 6 turns of AT gun fire max.

3. Tanks seem to be the only unit that manages to somewhat reliably kill single soldiers. But they seem very vulnerable to return fire from the many AT guns, and often get disrupted by fatigue and/or losses.

4. Mines have not been an issue so far, and engineers mostly participate in bunker assaults. The scenario is too short to bother with obstacle or mine removal, most of my units are of the beach within 2-3 turns of landing anyway. Engineers are very slow however, so rarely get to participate in assaults for more than two turns before the scenario ends.

5. The game won't allow me to use 300+ men in a single assault, and every company is grouped up into one unit chit of around 100 men. So when I said 300+ riflemen and engineers assaulting, that already was split into 2-4 separate assault attacks coming from different directions. But then it still takes 3-5 turns for each group of units to get into position on a single bunker and at least 2-3 turns to wear down the defenders with assaults (each of which kill 1-2 men or a single gun). There simply aren't enough turns to do this for every objective bunker, let alone the support bunkers as well. Not to mention that it feels very unrealistic that so many soldiers consistently make such slow progress in a multi-pronged assault. During the Normandy landings, once a bunker was flanked or surrounded it typically fell swiftly, or was at least mostly neutralized even if a few hardcore holdouts remained.

You mention wearing down the bunkers. Does the bunker object itself become damaged during attacks, reducing its protection? Can this be seen anywhere in the UI?

Also, do you move the DDs and CA closer to the coast? Does this make their fire more effective against the bunkers? Will it result in these assets being available more often, since I rarely get more than 2 turns of shooting out of them?
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01-07-2016, 07:47 AM,
#5
RE: Help Needed
There is not a UI that shows the strong point status, but, I have observed that bit by bit through casualties and fatigue the strong point will fall. It is my understanding that the getting started scenarios are for learning how the system works. The regular Utah screen has 16 turns and includes the paratroopers.

I have played a few turns of the Omaha screen and the German artillery is lethal. I have had whole Landing Craft with 40 men wiped out before they even got to the beach.

No I have not moved my DD and CA closer to shore.
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01-07-2016, 08:54 AM,
#6
RE: Help Needed
Definitely take a look at the thread that GerryM pointed you to. There are some tips in there for dealing with bunkers.

Probably the biggest thing to realize is that the terrain in the hex and particularly the hexsides can have a huge impact on your attacks. In the case of the first tutorial for example, terrain effects can reduce the effectiveness of incoming direct fire on the Kraut Corner objective by 100% from all but two of the surrounding hexes. You can lay direct fire on that hex all day and you are not going to get anything but a No Effect result if you try it from any but those two hex sides.

In actuality dealing with bunkers once you understand what makes them work isn't that tough and you can pretty much take any bunker in the game in about three or four turns, depending on what forces you have. You do NOT have to disrupt the troops in them, but you do need to reduce their morale as much as possible, as well as bring the defender's numbers down. Mortars are just about useless against bunkers, though they are useful against other types of fortifications. Heavier artillery may allow you to causes losses or get you a lucky disruption.

Your best bet, though, is to isloate the troops in the bunker but still allow them an exit path, and then pound the bunker with direct fire from tanks and guns across the most advantageous hex sides. Cause as many casualties/fatigue as you can that way for about three turns. Kraut Corner is a bit tougher of a nut - there's a full FJ company in there. Most bunkers will only have a platoon or so in them in most scenarios. After hitting them with effective direct fire, assault the bunker with at least a full rifle company. If you have AVRE's, Crocodile flame tanks, include those in the assault. In a pinch regular tanks/assault guns are useful too, though I've almost always already used their action points for direct fire. If you have more than two rifle companies available, assault with the remainder after the first two have been used if theri assault didn't push the enemy out.

It might take a couple of assaults, but this approach will usually clear the enemy out of the bunker. If not, do another round of direct fire and assault again the next turn. Bunkers very seldom last more than two turns like this.

PB is a very subtle game with a lot of factors that aren't immediately obvious impacting unit effectiveness. Assaulting with units that have different morale ratings will, for example, cause the entire assault to be resolved using the lowest rating. Assaulting with vehicles factors in the terrain in the hex, while assaulting without only considers the hex side terrain. Completely isolating a unit so that it has no retreat path will cause the defenders to fight to the last man. There's a lot more to understand than just moving up a bigger stack and letting fly, hoping for the best.

Once you figure it out, though, taking fortified positions is understandable and straightforward. I won't say it's always easy, because even when you know the process you might not have the right forces, or enough forces, or be easily able to maneuver into the right terrain. Positions with interlocking fields of fire can still cause serious casualties for the attacker. Despite all of that though, it becomes a lot less frustrating and you can begin to plan your attack knowing it'll take you three or four turns to capture a particular bunker. Knowing that allows you to start to figure out your larger plan of attack and where you need to take out a bunker versus what you want to bypass, etc.

When I started I really found bunkers frustrating, and just couldn't see how others were dealing with them as quickly as they claimed. I certainly didn't buy the idea that the attacker might have an advantage and that weakening bunkers would make it too easy for the attacker. Having figured out how to do it now, though, as well as learning more about the game in general, I have to agree. The balance is right. If anything, the attacker does have an advantage. You just have to understand the entire picture of what is impacting both the defender and the attacker's effectiveness and how to work with that. You have to be a smart attacker - PB will punish you if you think you can just swamp an enemy position with troops.

Don't give up on it. I'm finding the process of figuring it all out very rewarding, if for no other reason than that the game reflects the actual combat conditions of Normandy very well. Read some of the histories written about some of the very engagements covered in the game and you'll find that you're going through the same learning process that the Allies did. Fortunately for us, we can just restart the scenario and all of our pixeltrruppen are ready to go again, healthy and eager!
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01-07-2016, 11:08 AM, (This post was last modified: 01-07-2016, 11:09 AM by Strela.)
#7
RE: Help Needed
Nemo84,

Firstly a heart felt thank you for purchasing the game (simulation?).

The team here are all giving you good advice. It's particularly worthwhile having a look through some of the play throughs included by Dog Soldier in the aforementioned 'Wiggums bunker' thread.

That said, I suggest you move away from the bunker problem in the short term and try something else that maybe a little more familiar? Playing through something without bunkers and bocage may reduce frustration and get you more use to the game system. Possibly one of the smaller Goodwood or Authie (as the Germans) or even Le Dezert may help overall.

The getting Started scenarios were included more to display some key differences to the prior title, rather than being comprehensive 'winnable every time' scenarios. Bocage fighting, sea and air landings were new to the series and we wanted to show the challenges that players would have to master - you're in the middle of that boot camp now.

The last comment I wanted to add is to back panzerde up. He, like you was fairly new to the game system when Normandy was released a few weeks ago and saw similar frustrations. By following some of the suggestions here he is starting to master some of the more subtle aspects of the game and with a bit of reading is understanding why we have left these things in game.

This community is great at helping newbies and as one of the developers, I'll do my best to provide context also.

Good luck,

David
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01-07-2016, 09:02 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-07-2016, 09:10 PM by Nemo84.)
#8
RE: Help Needed
Yeah, I've been getting some great advice so far and especially Panzerde has taught me some interesting new things. Some of his information should really be included in the Getting Started guide. So my thanks to everyone.

I did the airborne tutorial last night, and it was a much better and far more enjoyable tutorial scenario. Challenging, but at least winnable with good tactics. That PzGr counterattack took some frantic redeployment to deal with.

I've been going through Wiggum's thread and, in my admittedly limited experience with the game so far, I agree with some of the comments there. Bunkers seem ahistorically hard to deal with in this game once surrounded. Disruptions and especially broken status do not seem to occur frequently enough, especially on defenders. Assaults cause far too low casualties on both attacker and defender unless the latter is displaced. It's good to read your comment there that this sort of feedback is taken into consideration for the first patch. Is there already an ETA for it?

I still think the Getting Started tutorial scenarios should be winnable more easily, to better ease people into the game. The airborne one seems to somewhat have the right balance but the other two could use some work, if only by expanding the turn limit by another 4-8 turns. If the Utah scenario gets another 4 or so turns, suddenly it becomes a lot more achievable to take all objective bunkers. Maybe add another objective point far to the German rear that makes the difference between a minor and a major victory. It would allow newbies to feel good about winning even if they don't clear each bunker in record time and it would give some of the late reinforcements some actual use. But it would still add an incentive and challenge to push quickly past at least some of the bunkers just to get that rear objective and perfect score. More carrot, less stick.
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01-07-2016, 09:52 PM,
#9
RE: Help Needed
(01-07-2016, 09:02 PM)Nemo84 Wrote: Yeah, I've been getting some great advice so far and especially Panzerde has taught me some interesting new things. Some of his information should really be included in the Getting Started guide. So my thanks to everyone.

I did the airborne tutorial last night, and it was a much better and far more enjoyable tutorial scenario. Challenging, but at least winnable with good tactics. That PzGr counterattack took some frantic redeployment to deal with.

I've been going through Wiggum's thread and, in my admittedly limited experience with the game so far, I agree with some of the comments there. Bunkers seem ahistorically hard to deal with in this game once surrounded. Disruptions and especially broken status do not seem to occur frequently enough, especially on defenders. Assaults cause far too low casualties on both attacker and defender unless the latter is displaced. It's good to read your comment there that this sort of feedback is taken into consideration for the first patch. Is there already an ETA for it?

I still think the Getting Started tutorial scenarios should be winnable more easily, to better ease people into the game. The airborne one seems to somewhat have the right balance but the other two could use some work, if only by expanding the turn limit by another 4-8 turns. If the Utah scenario gets another 4 or so turns, suddenly it becomes a lot more achievable to take all objective bunkers. Maybe add another objective point far to the German rear that makes the difference between a minor and a major victory. It would allow newbies to feel good about winning even if they don't clear each bunker in record time and it would give some of the late reinforcements some actual use. But it would still add an incentive and challenge to push quickly past at least some of the bunkers just to get that rear objective and perfect score. More carrot, less stick.

Hi,

The Hill 192 & Utah Getting Started scenarios were done in the month before release. Of interest the original (and planned only) Getting Stared scenario was Pegasus Bridge, which was available for the last twelve months. Ultimately, Pegasus Bridge was too hard to write-up with the scattering of the paratroops as well as the extra variability in losses.

I'll look at potentially adding some further turns to at least Utah.

There is no ETA for the first patch, but we're collecting all the feedback and adjusting files as we go. Ideally, we would await a month or two for players to really play some of the game before releasing any adjustments. I have in the past posted adjusted files up here at the Blitz before the final version of the patch is released. More on that if we're going down that path.

David
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01-08-2016, 12:45 PM, (This post was last modified: 01-08-2016, 12:50 PM by FroBodine. Edit Reason: Added another question )
#10
RE: Help Needed
(01-07-2016, 08:54 AM)panzerde Wrote: Probably the biggest thing to realize is that the terrain in the hex and particularly the hexsides can have a huge impact on your attacks. In the case of the first tutorial for example, terrain effects can reduce the effectiveness of incoming direct fire on the Kraut Corner objective by 100% from all but two of the surrounding hexes. You can lay direct fire on that hex all day and you are not going to get anything but a No Effect result if you try it from any but those two hex sides.

Could you please elaborate on this statement?  I took a look at the first tutorial, and the Kraut Corner objective hex has hedgerows on all six sides.  What is causing the 100% reduction in fire into this hex?  Hedgerows are just 50%, I think, from looking at the parameter data.

What two hexes are you saying are the optimal hexes to attack from?  And, what makes them better than the other hexes when they all have hedgerows?

Also - supplementary question - what does "Secondary" mean in the hex details when you right click on the unit cards? I don't see anything in the manuals about this. There sure is a lot of stuff not explained in either of the manuals.

Thanks!
"I only ride 'em. I don't know what makes 'em work."

-- Oddball
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