Hello and welcome once again to another installment of Old Gamers Never Die: A Player’s Guide to ‘Crusade in Europe.’
“You will not find it difficult to prove that battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.” – General Dwight D. Eisenhower
If you’re new to A Certain Point of View, Too and are just joining us, today’s post is #4 in a how-to-play guide to Crusade in Europe, a command-level strategy game that focuses on the Allied campaign to liberate Northwest Europe “from D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge!”
Published by the original iteration of MicroProse Software in 1985 as the first installment of Sid Meier and Ed Bever’s Command Series trilogy, Crusade in Europe puts you in the role of a Supreme Commander of either the Allied Expeditionary Force or the German Wehrmacht during the campaigns in France, Belgium, Holland, and the German frontier west of the Rhine River. In Crusade in Europe, you exercise command of your vast forces not at the grunts-on-the-ground first-person shooter or even tactical-level small-unit scale, but at the theater level where your battlefields are depicted by maps and your units(divisions, mostly, although every so often you’ll see regiment/brigade-sized units) are represented by NATO-style symbols or simplified icons.
If you want to catch up with what I have already covered in previous parts of this series, it might be a good idea to read these blog posts first:
Old Gamers Never Die: A Player’s Guide to ‘Crusade in Europe’ (Part One of a Series)
Old Gamers Never Die: A Player’s Guide to ‘Crusade in Europe’ (Part Two of a Series)
Old Gamers Never Die: A Player’s Guide to ‘Crusade in Europe’ (Part Three of a Series)
Logistics: Because an Army Can’t Fight Without Bullets, Spare Parts, Fuel, or Food
“An army travels on its stomach.” – attributed to either Frederick the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte
Most civilians – including the author – who have no military experience but are interested in militaria to some degree or other often focus on the ‘exciting parts” of war stories – the struggles of the soldiers on the front lines, the derring-do and flying skills of fighter pilots high up in the sky, or the loneliness of command felt by officers when leading their troops into battle. That’s the stuff that makes for good dramatic tension, whether it’s in a non-fiction book like The Longest Day, movies such as Saving Private Ryan or Battle of Britain, or even computer games a la Call of Duty or Medal of Honor.
However, when it comes to such questions along the lines of “Why did it take the Allies 77 days to break out of the Normandy beachhead and liberate Paris?” or “Why didn’t the Germans in the West simply collapse after the drubbing they got in the summer of 1944?” the discussion then turns not just to the controversy regarding Field Marshal Montgomery’s “narrow front” strategy vs. Gen. Eisenhower’s “broad front” strategy that still divides many armchair generals, but to the dry and unexciting topic of logistics.
Logistics, in its simplest form, is defined as the organization of moving, housing, and supplying troops and equipment. It is a crucial element in any type of military operation, whether it is a combat one such as Operation Overlord or a humanitarian one along the lines of the failed Operation Restore Hope in Somalia (1991-1993).
Logistics is also a big deal in many strategy wargames; some games, such as Gary Grigsby’s War in the West and War in the East, delve into the nuts and bolts of logistics to such a degree that you almost must have a military commission to play these games. Other games, such as Strategic Command WWII: World at War are less complicated and more easily grasped by casual wargamers but still require direct player involvement, especially where choices about industrial production and other key decisions need to be made.
Crusade in Europe, thankfully, is not that detailed when it comes to managing supplies and replacements. Instead, as the manual for the game states:
Supply is an essential consideration in both strategy and tactics. Many effective
attacks involve destroying the enemy’s source of supply or isolating his units. Each
unit carries a limited amount of supplies with it, but these deplete rapidly if not
resupplied. Each day at midnight the computer will automatically conduct the
resupply routine, in which units may receive fresh supplies from a friendly supply
source. Supply sources will distribute supplies to all units to which a line of supply
can be traced, within the limit set by the side’s overall supply total.
1.OVERALL SUPPLY TOTALS: Each side begins the game with a store of
supplies set by the scenario. In addition, each side’s total will be increased regularly
to reflect the inflow of supplies into the theatre. On the other side of the balance
sheet, supplies will be withdrawn daily from this total to resupply friendly units
that are not isolated. The level of supplies in the overall supply totals are reported
(on the status display at the end of the resupply routine). The possible levels are:
(1) AMPLE: Enough for several days of normal activity.
(2) SUFFICIENT: Enough for more than a day of normal activity.
(3) CRITICAL: Less than one day’s reserve. Units will begin running out of
supplies. This can only be rectified by husbanding your supplies to build up a
surplus, basically by restricting your army’s activities.
2. SUPPLY SOURCES: Two types of units serve as supply sources for combat
units: headquarters and supply depots.
(1) Depots: Supply depots act as the points or origin for supplies, the places
where they enter the map. Each depot can act as the source of an unlimited amount
of supply. Depots can supply any other units. Depots can never become isolated.
The other supply unit in Crusade in Europe is the Headquarters. These are smaller, more localized conduits for supplies that come from the Supply Depots. These are usually linked to specific formations, such as the U.S. First Army or the German Fifth Panzer Army, and although they are labeled like a command-and-control unit, their function is to serve as an Amazon Prime “last mile” forwarding service that distributes supplies to armored, infantry, airborne, and – in the Allied armies – tactical air units.
Keep in mind that both Supply Depots and Headquarters units do not have large numbers of personnel (on average, each type has a strength of 3900 men) or any combat capability. This means that you, as the theater commander, must ensure that they are close enough to the front to keep your armies in supply while at the same time secure from attack by enemy forces.
“Logistics is the ball and chain of armored warfare.” – Heinz Guderian
Supply units distribute food, fuel, ammo, and other essential items to your combat units automatically at midnight each day for the duration of each scenario. How well those supplies are distributed depends on two factors: whether your units can trace an unobstructed line of supply to Headquarters or Supply Depots and operational range of the units – roughly 125 miles from origin point to destination.
Now, if the enemy somehow manages to surround one of your units due to a successful counterattack or because you made a mistake by sending one division to capture a Victory Point location on its own and it got cut off somehow by enemy units you did not know were there, you can’t expect that poor unit to get resupplied until you fight your way to it with a relief force and reopen its lines of supply. The enemy doesn’t even have to Attack that isolated unit; all the Opposing Force (OPFOR) has to do is sit pat in its positions till your division runs out of supplies, its Effectiveness level drops to 0, and eventually surrenders.
(Of course, what the enemy can render unto you, you can render right back unto him. And in many scenarios – but especially The Battle for Normandy and Operation Market Garden – the key to victory is to outflank the enemy line – it can’t be strong everywhere – and place your units in spots where the OPFOR’s supply lines can be interrupted, while at the same time making sure you stay in supply.)
“Leaders win through logistics. Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time. In other words, you must win through superior logistics.” – Tom Peters
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make sure your Supply Depots and Headquarters units are well-protected and can keep friendly units “in supply” throughout the scenarios in Crusade in Europe. It is also equally important to attack enemy supply units – when possible, anyway – and disrupt your opponent’s supply lines at the earliest opportunity.
Well, General, I’ve briefed you on the concept of logistics as it pertains to Crusade in Europe. Remember, Sid Meier and Ed Bever designed Crusade in Europe to make it both historically accurate and easy to play. Just remember that when each new “day” in a scenario starts, you will be told what level of supply is available, so plan your daily operations accordingly.
Good luck! And until our next Player’s Guide briefing, you’re dis-missed!
 The other two games in the series are Decision in the Desert and Conflict in Vietnam.
 Crusade in Europe game manual, pages 21-22.
 Here the Allies have a clear advantage because they have Tactical Air Units that can deliver Bomb-o-Grams to German supply units. The amount of damage inflicted by air attacks depends on several variables, such as game balance, weather, the supply unit’s Formation level of defense, terrain, and how many air wings are available in the scenario. Even in scenarios where the Allied player has four Tac Air Wings on hand, you have to decide if you want to “sic” all four wings on that Depot or Headquarters, or if you have to save some of those bombs and rockets for panzer or infantry divisions that are giving your forces a hard time on the ground. Oh, and even air strikes don’t obliterate any units right away unless their Effectiveness is at 10-0%.
Also, for realism and reasons of fair play, play your scenarios with Limited Intelligence settings so you don’t know where every enemy unit is located on the map. But keep in mind if you want to play with Full Intelligence (the game does have that option), your air units have a limited range – artificially set at 90 miles or so – and can’t attack enemy units beyond it.
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