#PGF - AI Module Behavior

Panzer / Allied General Remake: Strategies, Tactics, Efiles, Custom Campaigns, Customizations, Documentation.

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HexCode
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#PGF - AI Module Behavior

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-06 17:50, Sunday

CONTENT LINKS
==============

Introduction
Ed Dille
Alan Emrich
Focus
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p477

Objectives: Overview
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p480

Objectives: Urban Centers
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p517

Objectives: Airfields
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p549

Objectives: Choke Points & Maneuver -- Preliminaries
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p574

Objectives: Choke Points & Maneuver -- Road Junctions & Passes
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p594

Objectives: Choke Points & Maneuver -- Bridges
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p610

Objectives: Targets of Opportunity
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p636

Offensive: Preliminaries
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p651

Offensive: Focusing Energy
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p734

Defense
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p747

Unity of Command
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p779

Simplicity
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p788

Mass
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p823

Velocity
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p847

Maneuver: Overview
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p864

Maneuver: Penetration of the Center
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p876

Maneuver: Envelopment
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p907

Maneuver: Attacking from a Defensive Position
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p934

Maneuver: Feigned Withdrawal
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p1020

Maneuver: Indirect Approach
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p1036

Combined Arms: Energy
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p1335

Combined Arms: Artillery
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p1347

Combined Arms: Air Defense
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p1373

Combined Arms: Air Superiority
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p1394

Combined Arms: Sea Control
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=148#p1400


===================================================================

INTRODUCTION
==============

ED DILLE
========

Mr. Ed Dille is one of two authors standing behind Prima's PG1 Official Strategy Guide. Here's a short bio excerpt:
Ed Dille graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis with a degree in Military History. He has authored numerous Strategy Guides
ALAN EMRICH
============

Mr. Alan Emrich is the other author standing behind Prima's PG1 Official Strategy Guide. Here's a short bio excerpt:
Alan Emrich is a 20 year veteran in the game industry. He has done everything from founding game conventions, to designing and developing games, to writing numerous books and articles about them
Most importantly, this gentleman was intimately familiar with the "hot" wargame design scene of the 1970s dominated by numerous Simulations Publications Inc. (SPI) and Avalon Hill (AH) tabletop / boardgame titles. This scene was all about hex-based, turn-based play systems, very much like PGF. To this effect, Prima's Guide can be quite useful.

FOCUS
======

Prima's Official Strategy Guide contains a chapter entitled "The Philosophy of Command". The authors cover a number of time-honored "principles" of warfare and attempt to connect them with "PG" play realities and practicalities. Here's the short list:

Defense
Economy of Force
Maneuver
Mass
Objective(s)
Offensive
Security
Simplicity
Surprise
Unity of Command
Velocity

In the sequel, I will attempt to employ one or more of the above "principles" in commenting on PGF AI Module's various behaviors.
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-11-13 03:45, Wednesday, edited 28 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: OVERVIEW

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-06 18:06, Sunday

OBJECTIVES: OVERVIEW
=====================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Every military operation must be directed toward a decisive, obtainable goal. That goal is the Objective. In {PGF}, these goals are determined on a per scenario basis. For the player on the strategic Offensive (the one who has the primary burden of seizing the other player's territory), the primary Objective in every scenario is to capture the specified objective hexes on the map. Capturing most (if not all) objective hexes is the player's foremost goal. Two things always stand in the way of these goals: the enemy and time. You have no control over the former, but you must learn to manage the latter to ensure success.

For the player on the strategic Offensive, time is of the essence. Although capturing all the objective hexes required to achieve the scenario's victory conditions is usually possible within the time parameters of the game, if they are captured quickly enough, a minor victory can become a major victory.

Conversely, the player on the strategic Defensive must hang on. That player's Objective is to make sure that the game is played out until the last turn by denying the player on the strategic Offensive all the objective hexes he needs. Furthermore, the more objective hexes you hold when time expires, the greater your level of victory on the strategic Defensive.

Your efforts must be aimed at having the requisite number of objective hexes at the end of the game, and, when you have the burden of attacking, you must keep one eye on the turn record if you want to garner a decisive victory for early conquest.

Although fulfilling the victory conditions of a scenario is the final destination, you should set many other intermediate goals along the way. These secondary Objectives are your stepping stones along the hazardous path to victory. Obtaining your intermediate goals ultimately makes your final goal obtainable. These stepping stones concern holding key terrain features and maintaining avenues of approach to your primary Objectives.

What you must develop on your own, however, is a skilled general's eye for knowing how to prioritize these Objectives. This skill comes to fruition only with time and experience in the crucible of combat. In the interim, however, we aid that learning process by expanding the foundation on which your experience can build.
Commentary

To be somewhat humorous about it, had the "poor" PGF AI module a voice to... speak, it would've said, in all probability, "hey, I didn't understand a word here" !! Specifically, the Module would likely point to the following short list of KEY "incomprehensible" terms / concepts:

Prioritization
Strategic
Time

The good news here's that it's highly unlikely that the AI Module will ever be afflicted by some "Napoleonic Complex" (psychological condition) or another...
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-19 23:16, Saturday, edited 3 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: URBAN CENTERS

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-08 15:57, Tuesday

OBJECTIVES: URBAN CENTERS
==========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Urban hexes, particularly those between your forces and the victory condition objectives you are trying to control by the end of the scenario, are usually the most important secondary Objectives. Their control is so important that the game even thoughtfully provides ownership flags right on the tactical map.

When urban hexes change hands, a significant prestige bonus is awarded to the winner. In addition, urban hexes, and those adjoining them, are the only places where newly constructed LAND units can be placed on the map. Also, when it comes time to upgrade LAND units during a scenario, this function must be performed in an urban hex as well.

Cities and Ports are prime defensive terrain, particularly when held by well-entrenched infantry or anti-tank units. This is because defending these hexes resets both sides' effective combat initiatives, making troop experience and entrenchment levels the vital factor in an urban fight.

Regardless of the historical precedent, coastal urban hexes enable LAND unit embarkation. Also, naval units can resupply as well as be gradually repaired, when in Ports. Finally, LAND units in Cities and Ports have a much easier time being resupplied during adverse conditions such as being adjacent to enemy units or caught in bad weather.

From a pure momentum standpoint, therefore, these urban hexes are vital secondary Objectives. If you are pressed for time during a scenario in which you bear the burden of attack, it might not always be wise to go out of your way to conquer every town on the map; but controlling urban areas both measures progress and keeps front-line units more easily supported with new units, equipment upgrades, supplies and replacements.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module doesn't really "understand" the implications inherent in a scenario's victory conditions in the sense that its actions aren't purposively dictated by such conditions. This is particularly obvious in instances where the victory conditions are more nuanced than the "winner must take all objective hexes" type...

Also, given the oodles of prestige the AI Module normally enjoys, it doesn't "care" about such trifles as gaining prestige via the taking of enemy urban centers or losing prestige due to enemy level bombing of its own urban areas. All this is, well, ... small potatoes.

In addition, the AI Module never upgrades its units during the course of a scenario. Moreover, the AI Module doesn't "understand" the potential combat downside of placing anti-tank class units in urban hexes.

Finally, the AI module never repairs its naval units by taking advantage of Ports. To boot, it never embarks its units.
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-10 00:31, Thursday, edited 3 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: AIRFIELDS

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-10 00:16, Thursday

OBJECTIVES: AIRFIELDS
=====================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Like urban hexes, airfields are also so important that their control is denoted by ownership flags on the tactical map. They also provide a significant gain in prestige when they change hands.

Newly purchased air units appear on or adjacent to airfields. This is also where planes go to refuel. When it comes time to take replacements or upgrade air units during a scenario, they must begin their turn on an airfield (or aircraft carrier's) hex.

Although airfields aren't good defensive terrain, land units in airfield hexes have a much easier time being resupplied during adverse conditions such as being adjacent to enemy units or caught in bad weather. Airfields are also where air transports originate and where non-paratroop units moving via air transport must land.

Like urban areas, the control of airfields symbolizes the momentum on the battlefield. Controlling airfields can keep your air units over the battlefield longer (because they need less fuel to get back and forth from the nearest airfield), and, when more of them are owned, they make it easier to expeditiously replace air unit strength points lost in battle.
Commentary

Once again, PGF's AI Module doesn't really "understand" the implications inherent in a scenario's victory conditions in the sense that its actions aren't purposively dictated by such conditions. This is particularly obvious in instances where the victory conditions are more nuanced than the "winner must take all objective hexes" type...

Given the oodles of prestige the AI Module normally enjoys, it doesn't "care" about such trifles as gaining prestige via the taking of enemy airfields or losing prestige via enemy level bombing of its own airfields.

Also, the AI Module never upgrades its air units during the course of a scenario.

In addition, the AI module never embarks its units onto air transports... Moreover, it's just terrible when it comes to air unit fuel management. As for effective aircraft carrier utilization, well, forget it !

However, where possible, the AI Module does protect its airfields by occupying such hexes with friendly units upon "realizing" that an enemy air-transported unit is hovering directly above a friendly airfield hex...

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OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- PRELIMINARIES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-11 01:24, Friday

OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- PRELIMINARIES
=====================================================

Here's some of what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
A good general must learn to read a map and see all the potentially rewarding objectives. In addition to those marked with a control flag, certain geographic features are important when you're conducting a military operation. When you're conducting a defensive operation, of course, good defensive terrain, such as cities, forests, bocage, and fortification hexes, are what you should look for.

More vital to a player conducting offensive operations, however, are avenues of maneuver. Often, between an offensive player's forces and his Objectives are certain choke points on the map that must either be traversed or maneuvered around. A clever defender is prepared to meet the enemy at these points. It is here that defenders can gain a localized military advantage and inflict disproportionate losses on enemy forces that must traverse these choke points.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module isn't exactly the epitome of competent generalship. The AI Module's behavior is particularly problematic when conducting offensive operations. Nevertheless, sometimes, when conducting defensive operations, the AI Module's behavior can be surprisingly competent (tactically speaking).
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-12 18:08, Saturday, edited 1 time in total.

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OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- ROAD JUNCTIONS & PASSES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-11 23:09, Friday

OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- ROAD JUNCTIONS & PASSES
================================================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Where the terrain is dense, such as in the ARDENNES scenario or through the bocage during COBRA, roads cut a swath of hexes through difficult terrain. These swaths create ideal places for defenders to take a stand, thus easily delaying attackers coming down these crucial roads. Like rivers, narrow road passes do not create an insurmountable obstacle to outflank; it's just that it takes an attacker time to redeploy his forces to bypass a well-defended road. Often, all a defender has to do to win is buy time, so a player whose attacks must be funneled down these important roads must either strike with overwhelming force or be prepared to Maneuver around these types of obstacles (always being mindful of the time it takes to do either!).

Road Junctions, in such circumstances, are by their nature vital. This is the reason that the town of Bastogne played such a crucial role in the Ardennes campaign. These are the real traffic Choke Points when campaigning in difficult terrain and should be considered prime secondary Objectives.

Certain scenarios, most notably the desert warfare in North Africa, feature terrain that is difficult, if not impossible, for most land units to traverse. Nevertheless, you will find that rapid movement can be achieved after key Passes in the terrain are controlled. The trouble with Passes is that they are usually well-defended by enemy troops (often dug in and with artillery support). Like other Choke Points, Passes must either be bludgeoned through or Maneuvered around. Unlike a river obstacle, however, there are seldom good alternatives to crossing a particular path.
Commentary

As usual, the PGF AI Module's behavior on offense is anything but competent.

The AI Module's "defensive" behavior does not exactly shine either... First and foremost, it never actively takes advantage of the defensive capabilities afforded by "difficult" terrain. Secondly, even in instances of carefully crafted scenarios, the "defending" AI module exhibits the unfortunate tendency to move its "defenders" about, their original entrenchment levels be damned...
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-12 18:07, Saturday, edited 2 times in total.

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OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- BRIDGES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-12 18:06, Saturday

OBJECTIVES: CHOKE POINTS & MANEUVER -- BRIDGES
===============================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Look on the map where rivers are bridged. Crossing rivers without a Bridge requires a unit to stop on a river hex so that it can move off that hex (on either side of the river) during the following turn. The catch is that units defending on river hexes do so at a distinct disadvantage.

Even when an Offensive player has bridging engineers to aid in crossing a river, it is still a risky proposition because even bridging engineers are vulnerable targets when they're sitting on a river hex.

Bridges are often found near urban areas, giving the defender an ideal position from which to guard the Bridges. The key to such strongly held enemy positions is to bypass them (or, for the defender, to defend their flanks so that they cannot be easily bypassed). Bludgeoning a city across a river is a good way for the attacker to take serious casualties, so an alternative route across the river must be found.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module doesn't really "comprehend" engineer bridging capabilities. Nevertheless, the AI Module often takes advantage of the defensive opportunities afforded by Bridges.

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OBJECTIVES: TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-13 16:55, Sunday

OBJECTIVES: TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY
======================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Often, while you are traversing to your primary or secondary Objectives, you encounter Targets of Opportunity that justify a slight detour. For example, enemy land units are most vulnerable when they are riding in transports. An important Command consideration is to destroy these easy targets whenever the Opportunity presents itself and your risk of exposure to enemy counterattack is not too great.

Conversely, protecting friendly land units in transports is a difficult matter. In many cases, it is hard to stop a determined enemy from getting at them after they have been discovered. Always deploy your transports in such a way that the enemy risks exposure to a strong counterattack on your next turn. Because transports are so difficult to completely protect, the best recourse is to make any enemy attacks against them costly.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module kind of "comprehends" the notion of "Target". More importantly, the AI Module's behavior is always opportunistic, period !

The AI Module does attack enemy units on organic / naval / air transports whenever the... Opportunity arises. Trouble is, very seldom does it provide some credible deterrent against an expected, immediate counterattack. Glaringly, bomber class units attacking enemy transports routinely do so unescorted. As for the AI Module protecting its own transports, well, forget it !

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OFFENSIVE: PRELIMINARIES

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-14 16:14, Monday

OFFENSIVE: PRELIMINARIES
========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Only Offensive action can achieve decisive results. The best that defensive action alone can achieve is stalemate, which is not decisive. To win, you must take the Offensive and move against the enemy. Even when you conduct strategic Defense, launching appropriate counterattacks at decisive points and times can keep the player on the strategic Offensive off-balance, forcing him to pull back, regroup, and reorganize before he can move his forces forward again.

Simply put, troops can be doing one of two things: either waiting for something to happen or making something happen. Generally speaking, if they are making something happen, they are on the Offensive. Conversely, if they are waiting for something to happen, they are in Defense mode.

Units on the Offensive control the tempo for an engagement; in particular, when and where battles are fought. The benefit of the Offensive is that it controls contact with the enemy.
Commentary

Had the "poor" PGF AI Module a voice to... speak, it would have said, in all probability, "hey, I didn't understand a word here" !! Specifically, the AI Module would likely point to the following short list of key "incomprehensible" terms / concepts:

Contact
Control
Decisive
Strategic
Tempo

Enough said.

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OFFENSIVE: FOCUSING ENERGY

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-18 00:50, Friday

OFFENSIVE: FOCUSING ENERGY
===========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Offensive activity seeks to find weaknesses in the enemy's Defense. It also has the advantage of re-Focusing the enemy's attention toward reacting to the Offensive action. This reduces the defender's capability to be proactive and develop his own plans to achieve his Objectives.

Even when a smaller army is facing a larger one, taking the Offensive remains an important principle. By counterattacking where the strength of an enemy's army is absent and suddenly appearing where you are not expected, you harry him and force him to worry about his own Security. This threat from you may in turn divert his resources away from his Offensive against you, and that could have any number of benefits.

According to Sun-Tzu, the Chinese military philosopher whose book "The Art of War" is considered a classic of military philosophy, armies require Energy to be victorious. He refers to human Energy -- that spent by the troops when they march or fight and that spent by commanders when they plan and organize.

The major drawback to conducting an Offensive is that it takes Energy -- a lot of Energy -- to conduct one carefully. Offensives are tiring and expensive (in both resources and troops) by their nature. Also, they can be confusing and distracting. If units are running around helter-skelter, for example -- not cohesively moving toward a clearly defined Objective -- they can be defeated in detail by a defender that keeps a cool head and follows these military principles.
Commentary

... "units are running around helter-skelter, for example -- not cohesively moving toward a clearly defined Objective". When "instructed" to go on the Offensive, PGF's AI Module does push its hordes in the direction of this or that (nearest) Objective hex, albeit in a thoroughly anarchic way. As for the AI Module's "understanding" of Energy, oh well...

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DEFENSE

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-18 16:47, Friday

DEFENSE
========

Prima's Official Strategy Guide tells us:
In the words of Sun-Tzu, "Defense is for times of insufficiency; attack is for times of surplus. He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious". As you divide your forces to pursue multiple objectives simultaneously, keep in mind that superiority and inferiority are local matters. For example, your 10-strength unit, sitting in its trenches, can easily slap around an adjacent 2-strength point in most cases. Here, you are attacking and the enemy is defending, regardless of the overall strategic situation. Local superiority is the key to knowing whether one group of units should take the Offensive or remain on the Defensive.
Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Defense has two goals, both of which are the antithesis of Offense. The first defensive goal is to make an enemy's offensive action hazardous and costly. When the defender throws back an enemy Offensive, inflicting heavy casualties in the process, he has succeeded. Likewise, when the defender forces an attacking army to do nothing because it would be too risky to either attack or bypass the defenders, he has also succeeded.

The second goal of defensive warfare is to provide a secure platform from which to conduct an Offensive. Offensives do not spring up by themselves overnight. The Mass of forces required to conduct an Offensive must be built up over time behind the safety of a secure defense.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module is way better suited for dealing with local battlefield realities as opposed to strategic / operational matters. Purposively carrying out multi-pronged attacks and / or well-timed counterattacks on a large scale would be too much to ask for...

This leaves us with local defensive operations. Campaign play largely based on the survivability of Core units necessitates that the AI Module neither kills... too much nor "seriously" attempts to re-occupy ungarrisoned objectives.

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UNITY OF COMMAND

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-19 23:13, Saturday

UNITY OF COMMAND
====================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Napoleon Bonaparte recognized that "nothing is so important in war as an undivided command". As with the principle of Simplicity, however, achieving Unity of Command is never a problem in {PGF}. As supreme leader of all your forces, they move by your will alone with an absolute singleness of purpose. About the only time you have to concern yourself with this principle is if you invite a friend over and play the same side together. Then you must determine who will make the final decisions about troop allocations to sectors of the front, how Prestige Points are parceled out and so on.
Commentary

Does PGF AI Module's behavior exhibit Unity of Command ? From a programming standpoint, the AI Module's actions are governed by algorithms subject to logico-mathematical consistency, for sure. To the extent that the underlying programming does not give rise to "illogical bugs", subroutines may be seen as acting in technical... unison. But, this does not mean that the AI Module's behavior is characterized by purposive Unity, far from it ! Therefore, the its behavior cannot exhibit some sense of Command either... More to the point, a bunch of narrowly contemplated, individual actions shouldn't be mistaken for Command manifestations, let alone of the unified kind...

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SIMPLICITY

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-20 17:16, Sunday

SIMPLICITY
==========

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
The more complex an operation becomes in the planning process, the greater its chance of failure in implementation. Simplicity must be the keynote of military operations. Never forget the old barracks maxim of K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid !). Fortunately, {PGF} has reduced the many complexities of war into a simple, playable game format. Since you will always have the luxury of time to plan your Maneuvers, they can be a bit more elaborate than when time is pressing you (as it does in real time computer games where the action continues nonstop).

Simplicity in {PGF} can best be thought of as limiting the amount of objectives you are striving to obtain so as to keep your Energy focused. Deal with smaller problems first so that they do not grow into larger ones. Keep your strategies clear and simple. In the words of Carl von Clausewitz in his magnum opus "On War", "everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult".
Commentary

Does the PGF AI Module's behavior exhibit Simplicity ? As stated earlier under this topic, from a programming standpoint, the AI Module's actions are governed by algorithms subject to logico-mathematical consistency, for sure. Once again, to the extent that the underlying programming does not give rise to "illogical bugs", subroutines may be seen as acting in technical... clarity, if not analytic Simplicity. By the way, one cannot meaningfully address the issue of whether the AI Module's responses are subject to time pressures of the types that haunt humans...

The AI Module's programming overwhelmingly focuses on the serial evaluation of a bunch of narrowly contemplated, individual actions. Thus, the K.I.S.S. principle does capture something rather foundational about the underlying programming... But, this does not mean that the AI Module's behavior is tantamount to a pursuit of some clear and simple, human-like strategy, far from it !!

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MASS

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-21 16:42, Monday

MASS
=====

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
To concentrate the maximum available combat power and apply it at the point of decision is to achieve the principle of Mass. Alternatively, this principle can be thought of as "getting there firstest with the mostest". Basically, when troops begin to congregate in a particular area (usually around important geographic Objectives) and it's time to count noses in battle, you want to have the advantage of greater numbers (both in units and strength points !) on your side. This concept, although simple, is the point of most Maneuvers and the way most battles are won and Objectives taken.
Commentary

It is, of course, futile to expect PGF's AI Module to "understand" the concept "point of decision". That said, the AI Module's incessant purchases of new units fits in very nicely with the concept of Mass. To this effect, the AI Module does reasonably well when defending Objectives. However, when it comes to attacking, well, all such advances are quite chaotic... By the way, the quality / appropriateness of new unit purchases by the AI Module do not exactly shine...

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VELOCITY

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-21 22:49, Monday

VELOCITY
=========

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Moving an assembled Mass of units as rapidly as possible to maximize their gains while the enemy is still preparing to react is to give the Maneuver "Velocity". In physics terms: The force of military strength equals its mass multiplied by its speed. In other words, a large body of troops is far more menacing when it is moving. Do not sit on your advantage of Mass, but instead multiply its strength by keeping it moving -- press your advantage !
Commentary

Mass multiplied by Velocity equals Momentum; at least in physics...

It is, of course, futile to expect PGF's AI Module to "understand" the concept "Velocity". When it comes to attacking, the AI Module's Momentum is often characterized by poor quality. For example, artillery units mounted on trucks or half-tracks charging in the direction of enemy armored units in valiant attempts to demonstrate the power of Momentum are kind of comical...

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MANEUVER: OVERVIEW

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-22 16:35, Tuesday

MANEUVER: OVERVIEW
====================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Maneuver must be used to alter the relative combat power of military forces. This means that the goal for moving your units is to gain a local advantage over your opponent somewhere on the map. Six classic maneuvers of conventional warfare that will prove particularly useful to {PGF} players are:

==> Penetration of the Center
==> Envelopment of a Single Flank
==> Envelopment of Both Flanks
==> Attacking from a Defensive Position
==> Feigned Withdrawal
==> Indirect Approach
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-10-25 02:37, Friday, edited 1 time in total.

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MANEUVER: PENETRATION OF THE CENTER

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-22 23:56, Tuesday

MANEUVER: PENETRATION OF THE CENTER
=====================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
The objective of this scheme of Maneuver is to divide enemy forces in such a way that they cannot mutually support one another. This Maneuver is generally more effective in the real world than in games like {PGF}. The reason behind this disparity has to do with communications. In the real world, severing lines of communications disrupts the enemy's capability to coordinate a counterattack. Because of the overhead view employed on the tactical map in most simulations, astute players (and the AI Module) can still coordinate separated forces without penalty. Despite the loss of the inherent real-world benefits of this Maneuver, when enemy defenses are spread out over a wide sector, time constraints may still mandate that you punch through the center rather than attempt a flanking Maneuver.
Commentary

PGF's AI Module defends --
The human player attempts to punch through well-prepared static defenses (e.g., PG "KURSK"). Clearly, it's up to the scenario's designer to ensure that the static defenses are well prepared... But, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that such defenses remain static; meaning, the defending units continue to stay put... Oh well... A taller programming challenge would have involved mobile armored units being kept in reserve and eventually being thrown into the battle upon collapse of the static defenses. Just dreaming here...

PO / AI module attacks --
Apparently, it must have been rather hard to "teach" PGF's AI Module to resolutely attack concentrations of enemy defenders with just good armor... I mean, ok, the AI Module is clueless re: "the center", but all these organic transport thrusts are plainly comical !!

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MANEUVER: ENVELOPMENT

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-23 22:31, Wednesday

MANEUVER: ENVELOPMENT
========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:

Single Flank
The intent of a single flanking maneuver is generally to force enemy units out of well-prepared defensive positions, thereby minimizing friendly casualties during that and subsequent engagements. The focus is more on the attainment of territory and position for subsequent strategic maneuvering than on the destruction of the enemy force itself. Remember that air and naval transport points, under the right circumstances, can "turn an enemy's flank" and therefore help open a well-defended enemy pass in the rear.
Two Flanks
When you attempt to secure a position by enveloping both the enemy's flanks, your objectives are twofold. First, as in the discussion on Envelopment of a single flank, you are seeking to attain both territory and position for subsequent operations. Second (this is where the two maneuvers differ), you are not allowing the enemy an avenue of withdrawal. In essence, you want to have your cake and eat it too. Taking the ground is not enough -- you must destroy the defending enemy units in the process as well.
Commentary

As far as PGF's AI Module is concerned, Envelopment is... science fiction. An AI Module that has no clue as to what a "center" is cannot be expected to understand what a "flank" is, can it ? As for grabbing territory, oh well... When it comes to naval and air landings (including para-drops) the AI module's ineptitude is, well, sort of notorious... Sometimes, the AI Module spams non-objective city / port hexes with invariably weak units that eventually wonder about in some timid fashion. I guess this phenomenon can be interpreted as a primitive attempt to engage in... flanking.

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MANEUVER: ATTACKING FROM A DEFENSIVE POSITION

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-25 02:34, Friday

MANEUVER: ATTACKING FROM A DEFENSIVE POSITION
===============================================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Attacking from a prepared defense presents the best of all opportunities and is the goal of any proactive defense. This strategy means having an enemy bash his head against your prepared defenses so that he's too weak to resist your carefully prepared counterattack. When you can sally forth from a position of relative safety at a critical moment in the battle and disorganize an enemy's attack against you -- then you achieve a decisive victory. Be cautioned, however, that even when you attack and win, your forces will be leaving their defensive terrain, so make sure that the enemy is exhausted before launching your counterattack.
Commentary

A sine qua non here is for the scenario's designer to have skilfully crafted well-prepared defensive positions to be present right at the very outset. However, when it comes to PGF's AI Module, it's not enough. The AI Module has the unfortunate tendency to move its units about instead of letting them be. Moreover, there can be no question of a well coordinated counterattack...

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MANEUVER: FEIGNED WITHDRAWAL

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-29 18:51, Tuesday

MANEUVER: FEIGNED WITHDRAWAL
===============================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
A feigned withdrawal tries to achieve enemy disorganization by getting units to move out of their prepared positions to pursue the withdrawing force. Since a moving enemy can't remain as organized as a static one can, by seizing your feigned withdrawal and counterattacking, victory can be more easily gained. If you can't break a prepared enemy outright, trick him into pursuing you. This maneuver works best when the commander executing it is disciplined and skilled in the art of war and his opponent is inexperienced. In other words, it is a trick that seldom works repeatedly on the same adversary (except for the computer AI). Bear in mind, however, that the clock continues to tick away during these tactical feints.
Commentary

As expected, this is a... tall order. That said, on occasion, PGF's AI Module does behave a little bit with "ballpark" flavor, albeit very conceptually and taken with a grain of salt... For example, the AI Module often pulls its seriously damaged units out of harm's way and "hides" them under the "Fog of War". In some admittedly... perverse sense, this kind of thing can be viewed as "feigning" withdrawal. To boot, the AI Module does tend to keep a few of its precious air units "in reserve", hidden by the "Fog of war". Again, "hiding" such units over a number of turns could be considered to represent a kind of "feigned" withdrawal...

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MANEUVER: INDIRECT APPROACH

Post by HexCode » 2019-10-31 00:30, Thursday

MANEUVER: INDIRECT APPROACH
=============================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:

There are many different theories about what makes maneuvers successful. In "Strategy", for example, B.H. Liddell Hart stressed that "a successful army operates along the lines of least expectation". This theory of using the indirect approach means to be obtuse and subtle in maneuvers rather than do what the enemy expects and, therefore, is best prepared to resist.

The path of least expectation is the path of least resistance. In other words, to guarantee the success of an attack, attack where there is no defense. It is natural for a player to have troops on the front lines, so use an Indirect Approach maneuver and strike them on their flanks or, better yet, in their rear areas. Wherever the Mass of the enemy's strength, attack elsewhere. Not only will your attack succeed, but also the enemy will waste his Energy putting out the fires you have started rather than concentrating his Energy on attacking you. You are also presenting him with a good opportunity to overreact or even panic, therefore compounding his problems.
Commentary

It is, of course, extremely naive to assume that PGF's AI Module can actually engage in such strategically purposeful behavior. That said, the AI Module is not entirely incapable of being tactically indirect... On occasion, the AI Module takes advantage of inclement weather by placing air units over or adjacent to enemy ground units that have run out of fuel, thus immobilizing them. Also, sometimes, the AI module does execute forays into the enemy's rear by taking advantage of his unprotected flanks. Such incursions invariably employ fast moving recon or mounted infantry class units...
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-11-12 17:39, Tuesday, edited 1 time in total.

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COMBINED ARMS: ENERGY

Post by HexCode » 2019-11-09 01:37, Saturday

COMBINED ARMS: ENERGY
=======================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
In {PGF}, your troops' Energy is symbolized in five ways: strength, experience, fuel, ammunition and entrenchment. A wise General knows to try to conserve this Energy, expending it only to achieve important goals that forward the cause of victory, not vainglory. Every battle is an expenditure of some sort of Energy. Unless that Energy is spent wisely, with the right units attacking in the optimal order, the loss of it will probably result in reverses or defeats in battle.

As a General, your own Energy (the focus of your attention, your time spent working one sector of the front in favor of another, etc) must also be spent wisely. Without defining and obtaining clear Objectives along your path to victory, your Energy is wasted on the many unimportant goals you can obtain rather than on the few important ones you must achieve.

World War II was a truly modern, mechanized war. Successfully conducting this type of war requires the coordination of many troop types. Although infantry and armor face the brunt of the fighting, they require the assistance of supporting units to remain viable formations across multiple engagements. Artillery, air defense, planes, and ships provide fire support to infantry and tanks, on both the Offensive and Defense. This is known as the concept of "Combined Arms". The best Generals use their Combined Arms to advantage and deny the enemy the opportunity to do the same. One of the best ways to accomplish the latter goal is by prioritizing enemy target types properly.
Commentary

This is getting to be somewhat... cruel ! How much "schooling" can the "poor" PGF AI Module take in an... alien land where all "lectures" are given in, well, what else, an... incomprehensible language ? To this effect, thus "spoke" the AI Module:

"Hey, I didn't understand a word here ! What are:

Energy
Important Goal
Optimal Order
Prioritizing

?"

Ok, let's move on...

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COMBINED ARMS: ARTILLERY

Post by HexCode » 2019-11-09 17:40, Saturday

COMBINED ARMS: ARTILLERY
=========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
On the ground, enemy artillery units are the land targets of choice. Because they can lob in their defensive fire, they can make the act of assaulting positions adjacent to them way too costly for an attacker. In preparation for an assault on an enemy position, therefore, it is important to scout out all the hexes adjacent to the target to see whether any enemy artillery is lurking there. If so, it is a good idea to either reduce its strength or, better still, eliminate it before continuing the assault.

There is no best way to kill artillery units. Go after them in every way possible: by attacking with adjacent land units, using "counter-battery" fire (having your artillery shoot their artillery), applying shore bombardment from any nearby capital ships you have handy, and calling in the tactical bombers to flatten them from the air. Eliminating these Combined Arms assets from the enemy arsenal is critical to sustaining an Offensive.
Commentary

In its role as attacker, PGF's AI Module does go after enemy artillery class units in every way it can... Presumably, this is due to such units being rather "expensive" and, hence, serving as "attack magnets". All that said, on quite a few occasions, the AI Module engages in nearly... suicidal tactical bomber attacks against enemy artillery units protected by adjacent air defense units !!

In its role as defender, PGF's AI Module isn't exactly... clueless. The AI Module does protect its infantry with artillery, especially in those instances where the infantry units are dug in an objective hex that the enemy is attempting to take. Moreover, the AI Module does ring important urban hexes with artillery and air defense units, clearly mindful of the perils of enemy air attacks. To boot, the AI Module does attempt to pair up its artillery units so that they can provide mutual support in case of an enemy ground attack. Finally, on occasion, the AI Module does place a defending artillery unit on that one hex that the enemy hasn't scouted out yet... Yeah !! By the way, it's worth noting that the AI Module does attack enemy towed artillery units via ranged fire.
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-11-12 17:40, Tuesday, edited 2 times in total.

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COMBINED ARMS: AIR DEFENSE

Post by HexCode » 2019-11-10 19:37, Sunday

COMBINED ARMS: AIR DEFENSE
===========================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
If your air units need to operate in an area that is protected by enemy air defense units, you have to apply the same aggressive measures against them that you do against enemy artillery. They simply cannot be allowed to provide their defensive fire to air strikes against their adjacent friendly units, and you certainly don't want them throwing shells at your planes from two to three hexes out during the enemy's turn ! Air defense units are vulnerable to your direct attacks but less so than towed artillery. Only certain ground units are well-suited to taking out these batteries. Ranged fire is always effective, however.
Commentary

Mercifully, PGF's AI Module is anything but... clueless. In its role as a defender, the AI Module does protect friendly units from enemy air attacks by means of air defense unit adjacency, especially in those instances where the friendly units are dug in and around an objective hex that the enemy is attempting to take. To this effect, the AI Module does ring important urban hexes with artillery and air defense units, clearly mindful of the perils of enemy air attacks. To boot, the AI Module does attempt to locate its air defense units adjacent to its artillery units so that the latter can provide support to the former in case of a direct ground attack. Finally, on occasion, the AI Module does place an air defense unit on that one hex that the enemy hasn't scouted out yet... Yeah !! By the way, it's worth noting that the AI module does attack enemy air defense units via ranged fire.
Last edited by HexCode on 2019-11-12 17:41, Tuesday, edited 1 time in total.

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COMBINED ARMS: AIR SUPERIORITY

Post by HexCode » 2019-11-12 16:28, Tuesday

COMBINED ARMS: AIR SUPERIORITY
===============================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Eliminating the enemy's ground-based anti-aircraft fire solves only half of the Air Superiority equation. To eradicate all of this part of the Combined Arms equation, you must also deal with enemy fighters. By destroying enough of these units, you can gain Air Superiority, making the skies less hostile for your bombers to operate in. If the enemy fighter force is eliminated, you have gained Air Supremacy, allowing your own fighters the freedom to switch from bomber escort and air combat duties to direct ground support.

Please also note that fighters account for some considerable prestige value when they're destroyed, so be sure to wipe out the enemy's fighters whenever possible. Naturally, enemy bomber units are also prime targets for destruction because this takes away the enemy's aerial punch, forcing his ground units to work that much harder to destroy your forces. Also, bomber type units, both tactical and level, represent a considerable amount of prestige -- something well worth capitalizing on.

Gaining supremacy of the skies when you're fighting a modern, mechanized war is tantamount to victory, provided of course that you also follow the other guidelines discussed herein.
Commentary

Clearly, PGF's AI Module doesn't really "understand" the concepts of Air Superiority (US) and Air Supremacy (UK), let alone, the nuanced differences between the two...

For starters, gaining prestige by destroying high value enemy targets is not that important for the AI Module which normally has oodles of prestige at its disposal. That said, "expensive" enemy units do serve as "attack magnets".

The AI Module:

A) Often presses its attacks against enemy air units intending to eliminate them outright.

B) Routinely attacks enemy air units via air defense and / or anti-aircraft class units.

C) Routinely attacks enemy ground units mounted on organic transports via bomber / fighter class units.

D) Routinely attacks enemy ground units utilizing naval transports via bomber / fighter class units.

E) Routinely avoids placing its air units within range of enemy air defense class units. Moreover it doesn't engage in... suicidal bombing runs by directly attacking enemy ground units protected by adjacent, full-strength air defense class units.

F) Often escorts its bomber class units with fighter class ones.

G) Doesn't procure new air units to replace the ones lost in engagements.

H) Routinely procures air defense class units to replace the ones lost in engagements or, more to the point, to add to its defenses.

I) Is inept at capitalizing on the unique strengths and capabilities of either their level bomber or aircraft carrier class units.

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COMBINED ARMS: SEA CONTROL

Post by HexCode » 2019-11-13 03:43, Wednesday

COMBINED ARMS: SEA CONTROL
============================

Here's what Prima's Official Strategy Guide has to say on the subject:
Finally, there are the ships. Whenever you can wrest control of the seas through clever naval tactics, do so. Naval units that aren't harassed can provide powerful support along coastal areas. Also, they represent a considerable chunk of prestige, particularly the capital ships and carriers. If you can find a way to sink an enemy ship, chances are that it will always be worth it. Nothing is more of a pain than having nothing but land units to combat an unhampered enemy fleet !
Commentary

Clearly, "clever naval tactics" are beyond PGF AI Module's capabilities. Its naval units just... shoot at one "thing" or another; that's all.

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