ATG Lesson 7 : Trains, trucks and halftracks

trainWelcome back to Advanced Tactics college! It has been some time since the last lesson, but I have been away to code on the next DC title in a log cabin in the north of Sweden this summer. So far we have discussed combat troops and equipment, today we will tackle a slightly different subject: troop transportation and motorization by land transport vehicles.

By putting transport vehicles in your HQ you will provide your HQ with transfer capacity points. Trucks and halftracks provide 1000 regular land transfer points per vehicle and trains will provide 2000 rail transfer points. Horses do not provide any transfer points. These transfer points allow you to strategically transfer whole units from one place on the map to the other side or to transfer individual troops from your HQ to frontline units many dozens of hexes away. It is important to realize that trucks, halftracks and trains only provide transfer capacity points when they are stationed in HQ units, when they are stationed in normal units they just mobilize the troops in that specific unit.

If you are in a scarcity of production situation this means you’ll have to chose between mobile frontline formations or high HQs that enable you to reinforce and (strategically) transfer.

A prudent player always makes sure he has at least some HQs with some transfer capacity. Because this will allow this player to make some emergency moves to react to enemy threats. Agreed… only a limited number, but most of the time that is all you need to contain or slow down a surprise enemy offensive, unexpected paradrop or amphibious landing. Time bought by containment will allow you to move in larger forces by foot, horse or own motor transport.

Trains are by far the best to use to provide these transfer capacity points. First of all because trains do not use oil when you use their rail transfer capacity points, secondly because they provide double the amount of points that trucks and halftracks provide. However the downside of using trains is that any transfers you do are limited to what can be reached by rail-lines. Trucks and halftracks don’t suffer this limitation.

truckThough trucks spend oil while they (strategically) transfer troops, they are cheaper to build then trains in terms of raw resources and production time. Trucks are also the more flexible buy, since they can be switched from HQs to units to provide motorization. Granted you can send trains to frontline units as well. But “motorization” by train will limit them to railroad tracks and in most cases it is only practical to do so for artillery and flak units.

A transfer point basically represents the ability to transport 1 weight unit (for example 1 infantry) over 1 action point. For example: transferring 10 infantry over 10 hexes connected by rail movement (10 ap per hex) will cost a 1000 transfer capacity points. Keep in mind that the action point cost of a certain strategic transfer from hex A to hex B is not the “straight line” cost between those hexes but a “triangulated” cost from hex A to the hex of the HQ providing the transfer points and from there to hex B.

Now using your transport vehicles for transfers is one option. The other option is to use them to motorize units. In theory you could use trains to do this (as discussed above), but in practice trucks and halftracks will be more practical since they will allow your unit to move outside rail hexes. Trains, trucks and halftracks can all carry 20 weight points, for example 20 infantry or 2 artillery guns.

Especially when you are the player that is on the offensive it is very useful to have at least some motorized artillery, engineer and flak units to support the advance of any “panzer” units you might have. For if your panzer spearheads drive forward so fast they outrun their artillery complement and infantry they will have a much harder time defeating enemy units and holding the territory they take.

halftrackIf your motorized troops are going to participate in direct land combat you might want to issue them with halftracks instead of trucks. Yes halftracks are more expensive, and need to be researched first, but they provide a unique feature: they take hits for the infantry in combat. Every time an infantry guy is targeted by the enemy there is a 50-50 chance the enemy will fight a halftrack instead of the targeted infantry.

For example 5 light tanks attacking 100 lightly entrenched infantry will have a 55% chance of success and on average will kill 29 rifle while losing 1 tank. Using the same example but with the change that the defending 100 infantry are now supported by 5 halftracks the chance of success will drop to 32% and the average number of rifle killed to 21 and average halftracks lost is 0.2, while average tank losses go up to 1.5.

The low number of halftrack kills in the example above is partly due to the sturdiness of these vehicles and partly due to their mobility to escape dangerous situations more easily then trucks: they have a 30% chance to translate a kill hit on them to a retreat hit.

Furthermore halftracks will do better than trucks if under air attack since they have eight times more hit points. Halftracks are also slightly quicker off-road since they are tracked instead of wheeled. If you have the production power and the resources then halftracks can make a subtle but decisive difference.

That concludes this lesson. Thank you for your time and good luck with motorizing your army! Next lesson will probably focus on naval warfare, ships and submarines.

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