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Author Topic: Shield of the Prophet AAR  (Read 14199 times)
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gashlycrumb
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« on: February 14, 2014, 06:27:12 AM »

Graviteam Tactics: Shield of the Prophet
This is an AAR for the ‘Shield of the Prophet’ DLC. ‘Shield of the Prophet’ depicts an alternative history of the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan in 1979.

This AAR is inspired by Silent Disapproval Robot’s great AAR posted last year on grogheads: http://grogheads.com/forums/index.php?topic=6015.0



PREFACE
It was the promise of Tank Pron all those sexy WWII tanks that got me to instantly part with my first $15 on Achtung Panzer – Operation Star. That and the great article by Tim Stone on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It was a total knee-jerk kind of buy, but the game resonated with me and there was no other game like it. One day I had been happily clueless about Achtung Panzer and the next I struggled to justify how my life could be complete without such a game. A day later I eagerly bought all the 3 DLC’s for another $20. For the mere price of $35 I felt that I was about to enter milsim gaming nirvana.

I started with the 5 turn Russian Campaign thinking that the smaller turn length meant that it was a suitable introduction. But right from the beginning, as I took control of my proud little pixel Russian defenders I began to realize it was only a matter of time before the Russians shot me for incompetence and gross military dereliction of service. I had no fucking clue what I was doing – I felt like I was back in the first day of high school Calculus class. In that bleak first turn of the 5 turn campaign, after setting up my troops and agonizing over fields of fire to defend the town against the fascist hordes, I waited breathlessly for the fire and brimstone the gods of war would surely rain down. Would we be tough enough to withstand the imminent German attack? We waited. And waited some more. But nothing. Happened. For. An. Eternity. After a while I roamed the camera around, like some daredevil cameraman on the front lines (Chris Terril anyone?) filming my troops going about their idle animations. And then suddenly some of my soldiers started firing at a crest line to the left of our position. But as soon as the firefight had started it was over and when I went to investigate, again Chris Terrill style with the camera, there was nothing but some tiny question marks and a cartoonish yellow soldier icon. Damn those sneaky Germans I thought. I’ll take the fight to them. So I trundled off some of my resolute comrades, and we ran and ran through wintry dale and over hill until somehow the MG broke from manhandling (I guess) and my troops didn’t seem to want to run any more no matter how much I swore at the screen. And then, a gong sounded, the turn was over and I was told in no uncertain terms that the Russian Motherland had suffered a defeat. WTF? In the post battle report thing I saw that the athletic German menschen had run around (how were they able to run vast distances yet I could not) our defenses and were happily sitting atop a large circle on the map eating and drinking merrily and shouting obscenities at us: “Your Russian mothers smell of elderberries.” I was aghast.


A week later I gave up on Achtung Panzer. Of course not before trying to understand the game a bit more. I read the great posts by redmarkus about how to learn the game through limited quick battles. So I drove StuG’s and Sd.Kfz halftracks willy-nilly across desolate windy gullies, trying to understand the different movement orders while a lone soviet mortar platoon drank vodka and sang in the furthest corners of the map. But it got boring. Quickly. I wanted to see StuGs burn and tracers bounce off the cold earth, goddammit. I paid my $35 dollars. I want my immediate gratification now like all the other games I’ve played.

And so I limped back to Combat Mission. And dreamed about the beautiful potential of APOS.



Then about two weeks ago the randomness that is the internets reunited me again with APOS. Except now APOS is GTOS. And GTOS has 7 more DLCs. And three of the DLCs are modern settings. APOS/GTOS is a game with oodles of mystery. A certain mystique. $52 dollars later I download four of the DLCs, one of them being the 1979 Shield of the Prophet. Though I’m not a milsim snob, I do have a preference for WWII. So why did I buy Shield of the Prophet? Because of Silent Disapproval Robot’s AAR. Because through his AAR I saw a way into the beauty that I know is somewhere in GTOS.

I never intended to write up an AAR. I just started saving screenies because the game world of GTOS is so beautiful - carnage and destruction has never been so jaw dropping gorgeous. Want to know what it looks like to shoot flares at night in the Afghan desert steppes? Check. Want to know what tracers look like from the 14.5mm MG on a BTR-60PB as they arc toward hidden emplacements? Check. Want to know what a Chieftain looks like blistering in flames from multiple hits? Check. And I suppose I saved my in-game screen shots out of some sort of posterity. The screen shots would visually document my journey into the beauty and ugliness that is GTOS. Years from now when my kids complain about how difficult running headshots are to land with a sniper rifle in Battlefront 10, I can show my kids these screenies and quip that they have it sooooooooo easy – in my time I took on an army of digital Iranian’s and Mujahideen using a game ‘interface’ I barely grasped and vastly outnumbered. And I’ll tell my kids anecdotes about the hard-bastard Ukranian devs who made the game - when people asked on the game’s forums for an English manual the devs laughed and asked ‘Why you no learn Russian?’ Damn it was a harsh gaming world back then.


Any story should end with a good moral, just like the He-Man stories. So what’s the message in todays story? Every game is ultimately an experience. We may play to win a game, and we may be conditioned to thinking that we play a game to enjoy winning, but for some games, the enjoyment is simply in the experience. I think GTOS is one of those games. I may never fully understand what’s going on in some parts of the game/interface. And I may play a campaign where the sides are not evenly balanced. But does it really matter? Not really. There’s something so visceral about watching a battle unfold in real-time in GTOS that it doesn’t really matter if it’s your section of crack T62s that brew up or if it’s the opposition’s Chieftans that brew up. Ok, well maybe it is more fun to watch the other side blow up, but ultimately, the experience of GTOS is amazing whether I win or lose.

Shield of the Prophet is newb friendly. It seems to play faster, which is good, as I can play more and learn more. I can move infantry in APCs without them tiring or their machineguns falling apart. Some of the firepower in the offboard arty is murderous to behold, even to tanks. Can you say crispy Chieftain MBT? I also like the limited terrain. It means I can learn how to move units around fairly easily without lots of different terrain slowing things down or worrying about some of the finer complexities of all the different orders. And so far there have been enough ravines and undulations in the terrain that I have been able to hide and partially hide units. So yes, it’s a somewhat limited setting, but I think those limitations are great for learning the game.

As my first campaign for GTOS I think Shield of the Prophet is a really great way to find a way into the game. Sure, I’ve made mistakes and lost units as I learn the intricacies of the game. Like I didn’t understand how to setup artillery until the turn that I lost a whole mortar platoon – when I finally figured out how to plot the onboard mortars the Iranians came charging at my mortar platoon hiding in a ravine and slaughtered them to a man. But the firefight was intense. And I didn’t understand why a flag wasn’t turning even though my tanks were practically sitting on top of it, only to have my squad of four T62s wiped out by hidden infantry and emplaced tanks that were hiding around the flag. So I’ve learnt more about the game, the interface, and tactics. I’m still a newb but I’m having a blast in Shield of the Prophet and really happy to be finally playing.
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Tanker
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BRING BACK MARKERS


« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2014, 06:32:07 AM »

"And I’ll tell my kids anecdotes about the hard-bastard Ukranian devs who made the game - when people asked on the game’s forums for an English manual the devs laughed and asked ‘Why you no learn Russian?’ Damn it was a harsh gaming world back then."

Haha, the bastards.  Great write up.
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Bring back 3D markers!
gashlycrumb
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2014, 06:34:33 AM »

TURN ONE
8am, Clear


I have several units on the operational map in turn one. I’m not entirely sure if I have any specific goals from the cryptic turn briefing. So I decide to follow Silent Robot’s AAR to keep the game moving. Mostly I move my units, (tanks, motorized infantry, mortars and a single recon platoon) to the south of Naftchah and east of the western Iranian line and I try to fill each grid, where possible, with at least 1 tank platoon and 1 infantry platoon

At this point in the game I don’t realize that I can attack, so after moving I hit end turn and am subsequently attacked by the Iranians and Mujahideen south of Naftchah.

Luckily the Iranians attack a grid that I can bring 7 platoons to defend:

1 x Recon Platoon
1 Mech Infantry Platoon with 1 HQ, 2 infantry squads, 3 BMP APCs
4 x Tank Platoons (T55a and T62)
1 Mortar Platoon with a commander/spotter, 3 x 82mm mortars, 3 BTR's (BTR-60PB APC)


As I’m still not entirely sure how to play the game, I decide to play defensively. I set up all my units in cover, and out of LOS of the suspected enemy forces at Cambyses 1, by placing them within the areas of depression on the map - the ravines. My overall plan is to have the center and rear tank platoons emerge from the ravine [A & B] (ideally hull down) and spot contacts. Once contact is made I intend to use the top two platoons [C & D] to fire and move on the enemies flank. I hide both mortar platoons, the Motorized platoon and the Recon platoon in the ravine around Celestine 4. I’m not sure how to use the Recon or infantry units at this point so they won’t do much in the turn. I also don’t know how to set up and use my onboard arty, so inadvertently none of the HQ units that spot for the mortars have LOS to anything. Subsequently both mortar platoons won’t do anything all turn, as I can’t figure out how to get them to fire.

I start the game and wait a few minutes. Then I hear the whir of engines to the north of our positions. I want A platoon (T62s) to stay hull down so I give them a defensive order that I hope will put them at the top of the ravine in some kind of cover, but with LOS north of the ravine to where I can hear the vehicle sounds.


A platoon moves out, but as I watch them move I swear that they are being driven by monkeys as they seem to expose themselves along the flank to the threat north and one or two of them start to do donuts. Really? (As an aside, my one major gripe with GTOS is the pathfinding AI, and there’s no polite way to put this – it’s dumb as fuck sometimes). As I try to micromanage my monkey drivers I get contact north. Some enemy APCs are racing east toward Dolomite 5 flag. Turkey shoot! A platoon engages the APCs. I also move B platoon up to the ravine top to engage the APCs.




At this point A platoon with the monkey drivers get hit by tank fire, Chieftains, just north and behind Cambyses 1. I Before I know what’s going on I’ve lost two tanks from A platoon to Chieftain fire. Soon, B platoon, A platoon and C and D platoon are firing on the Chieftains and the APCs and after a round of fire I’ve knocked out 4 Chieftains and the APCs (I move the rest of my tanks individually with the move order). The rest of the turn my tanks and enemy infantry return fire. The enemy infantry try and move toward Dolmite 5, but without APC and tank support their attack on the flag grinds to a halt.


The end of turn gong sounds and I earn a minor victory. I take all the flags, 2 tanks are destroyed, 1 damaged and I lose 5 tank crewmen. I also earn the Veteran and Total Control badges. I really like the badges that you can earn at the end of each battle in GTOS and that your units get better and receive medals and awards (I think this is a new feature to GTOS versus APOS?)

I survived first contact with the enemy and have just completed my first combined arms battle in GTOS. It rocked!
« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 06:41:58 AM by gashlycrumb » Logged
Shadrach
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2014, 10:46:02 AM »

Monkey Drivers - that's so very true at times  Grin

Loved that part with "while a lone soviet mortar platoon drank vodka and sang in the furthest corners of the map." - I can just imagine it Smiley

This is awesome, I love your style and the added humor is great, as AARs tend to be a bit dry Smiley

A tip; screenshots look a lot better without UI elements. I usually turn off the grid in the after-battle, think it's F5.
Also F6 is useful for removing unit icons. And you can use Ctrl+backspace for removing all the UI.

Cheers!
« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 11:00:00 AM by Shadrach » Logged
gashlycrumb
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2014, 09:36:35 PM »

Shadrach and Tanker - Thanks! And thanks for the tips. I'm hoping I get more tips and details about how to play GTOS by posting here on the forums.
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gashlycrumb
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2014, 09:41:01 PM »


Russians FTW
At the End of Turn 1 my Russian army appears to be winning. But our win won't last long.
I also don't understand how the Victory Points are scored. Can anyone comment on the VP mechanics?

« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 09:45:24 PM by gashlycrumb » Logged
Dane49
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Posts: 1479


« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2014, 10:32:03 PM »

1VP for white flag-unmarked grid square(GS)
2VP for small flag
4VP for medium flag
8VP for large flag
Divide by 3 for GS that are encircled

To control a GS you must have more troops and tanks in that GS than the enemy
Capturing the flag doesn't necessarily award you the VPs unless you control the grid square.

Enemy forces that are stationed in a GS that didn't participate in a battle are still computed in the after battle computations when determining control of that grid.

P.S.
I think by hitting the flag button on the UI you can turn off the action spot cover and concealment square visuals when taking post battle screen shots.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2014, 10:41:05 PM by Dane49 » Logged
andrey12345
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Jerk developer


« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2014, 10:36:09 PM »

VP scored as described in operation rules - you can hover cursor on op description (in operation selection menu) and see actual multipliers for any op.

Global check points on operational phase is main contribution.
If they under enemy control you lose the operation even if you won battles. Capture this points quickly as possible and defend.

And AI have some handicaps at op start (in this op is +100 pts). It should spur you to act quickly, and may be recklessly  Grin
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"Русские танки из-за нехватки снарядов сновали повсюду, стараясь раздавить наших солдат." (с) фантастические рассказы про Восточный фронт
andrey12345
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Jerk developer


« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2014, 10:39:23 PM »

1VP for white flag-unmarked grid square(GS)
2VP for small flag
4VP for medium flag
8VP for large flag
Divide by 3 for GS that are encircled

Its basic rules, but evil developers can change it in each operation Smiley
For example for this one rule "1VP for white flag-unmarked grid square(GS)" is discarded.
No any sence to capture lifeless desert or takyr Smiley
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"Русские танки из-за нехватки снарядов сновали повсюду, стараясь раздавить наших солдат." (с) фантастические рассказы про Восточный фронт
Dane49
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2014, 10:42:00 PM »

You people are so evil!!  Grin Cheesy
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gashlycrumb
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2014, 12:31:59 AM »

Andrey and Dane, thanks a lot for the VP info! And Andrey, I like your new title
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gashlycrumb
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2014, 02:05:10 AM »

TURN TWO
12pm, Clear



I attack the two grids south of Naftchaa and also attack along the road west. The Iranians also counter-attack along the road.
I’ve noted that when I get counter-attacked and possibly even attacked (?) the Op Map tells me that my units suffer a Morale loss. Can anyone comment on those morale mechanics and if there is a way to prevent a morale loss from counter-attack?

So four potential battles. I choose to fight the battle in the north west grid towards the Mujahideen in Naftchah.

The terrain has some ravines to the east, areas of depression and a circular, light wooded depression in the center called the Valley which is one of the enemy controlled flags. I deploy tank platoon B on the right, hidden in the ravine, tank platoon D in the center in a depressed area, tank platoon E in another depression on the left and Tank platoon G on the far left. Mortar platoon M sets up partially hidden in a shallow depression on the left behind the tanks. My motorized infantry along with an offboard arty spotter (a reinforcement I added on the first turn) is set up in another depression on the right. Although this battle would see me figure out how to use the onboard mortars I overlooked the offboard arty spotter attached to my infantry.

I start the battle and manage to figure out how to attack with my onboard mortar fire, which I eagerly plot around the Valley flag. Once the mortar stonk begins I move out tank platoon G north to take Sigma 1 and to provide flanking fire.

And then, a holy shit mass of tracer fire erupts on our left flank from the valley.

It was awesome.

First, the Iranians and Mujahideen, obviously pissed at my mortar attack, charge from the valley towards my mortar platoon M supported by APCs and some Chieftains. A second Iranian and Mujahideen motorized infantry force with tank support also attack towards the crossroads and actually appear on top of my hidden tank platoon B in the ravine. It was an epic firefight heightened by the frantic real-time. Our left flank was just a mass of tracers. Of course I lost my entire mortar platoon and their fragile APCs, though the Commanding Officer somehow survived (I think we found him hiding amongst his fallen comrades). I also lost several tanks on both flanks. But in the end my mass of tanks knocked out all of the Chieftains and the withering fire from our troops also littered the two attack routes with dead Iranian infantry. I rolled up on the objective flags and then the battle ended, which was probably good as tank platoon G had stumbled, literally on top of, some dug in Mujahideen. Bad tread-heads.


My Russian force earns a Victory and also awarded with a Homicide Achievement for killing 50 enemy soldiers and a Total Control Achievement for capturing all the flags.


Victory Point wise, the gap narrows.



I only wish I had taken some better pictures of the fight, but I barely managed to keep pace with everything. I think the AI did well on the firefights too. The battle was a frantic blast and the most fun I have had in a wargame. Thankfully, there would be more awesome battles in GTOS: Shield of the Prophet, and even some very cool night battles.

GTOS FTW!
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 02:31:12 AM by gashlycrumb » Logged
Dane49
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Posts: 1479


« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2014, 03:22:21 AM »

Nice write up.
The graphics in this game make for some excellent war movies.

I personally am not a big fan of the desert maps.
Being ex infantry I abhor any terrain devoid of cover and concealment but I have had some very excellent quick battles using the modern gear and the winter maps for this game.

One of my favorite hypothetical QB themes is using the modern Russians against the Cuban forces who I use to play the part of the Ukrainians defending against a Russian Federation attack in the early 1980s.

If the Iranian tanks didn't have that damn Arabic writing on them which ruins the immersiveness for me I would throw them into  the mix also to act as a sort of an advanced NATO contingent.

With the modern infantry and APCs I can usually put up some pretty impressive defenses against a Russian Armored Battalion spearhead attack around the approaches to Kharkov.
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gashlycrumb
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2014, 12:43:40 AM »

Dane, thanks. Yeah the GTOS game world is very cinematic and immersive.

Great idea to set up the QB with the Shield of the Prophet forces on the winter maps. One of the things I think would be great to see (perhaps such a thread/resource exists already somewhere?) is other people's QB setups. I understand that modding new scenarios is difficult, so seeing other people's QB setups would be a way to add in other 'scenarios' without all the work of a mod.

Assuming such a QB resource does not already exist, any chance you want to start a thread and post up some pics of your QB setups, with details on force breakdown (which DLCs and maps etc), and any historical/contextual notes?
« Last Edit: February 23, 2014, 01:00:21 AM by gashlycrumb » Logged
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