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Javaslinger

Are quick battles vs the AI worthwhile?

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I hadn't played in a long while until recently...went back and did a small QB, mixed force on both sides, ME on town map, realtime w/1 hour limit. I had an infantry company + sherm 76 and a .50 MG team. Spent a lot of time planning and executing my carefully laid attack into the town. 20 minutes into the game i'm all over the town, still no sight of the enemy. At minute 25, four MkIV's and 1 HMG42 team appeared. In 5 minutes 3 MkIV's drove right into the main street and were killed one by one by my keyholed sherm 76. I wiped out the HMG42 team with 60mm fire. The last MkIV stopped in panic next to a building. I distracted him with a zook team while the shermy drove around the side and finished him. Total time, 32 minutes, most of it spent waiting for the enemy to appear. 2 KIA 3 wounded. For ME's the AI should be rushing the objectives, at least with the some portion of it's OB. This would probably make ME's vs. AI more challenging on average (certainly in my last game, I would have been in hot water).

The biggest problem with QB's still seems to be force selection by enemy AI. The AI force selection is not balanced (often amounts to a load of vehicles you easily KO), and is randomly suited or unsuited to the map type. It would be nice if AI 'mixed' force selection was linked to map type (more tanks in open, more infantry in town/woods, etc.). I'll avoid 'mixed' next time and choose infantry only, but it would be nice if 'mixed' were really combined arms - it often turns out to be mostly one type of unit. ME's are also probably a bad choice, since AI sits around a long time and generally has trouble moving to the objective, often has unsuitable units, etc. I think a QB attack against defending AI in heavy terrain is going to generate the best game.

That said, QB vs AI is now at least semi-playable with the patch, as compared to v1.0. I'm looking forward to cranking up another game this weekend.

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MEs, or the AI on attack, are not going to portray the Artificial Intelligence in the best light. Both these scenarios require the AI to be pro-active. Very few computer games can achieve this feat. In my view, if the computer cannot but up a decent, albeit static defense, I've gotten my money's worth. And the AI in CMBN can usually pull this off although I agree that force selection can get a bit wonky.

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The few times I have used it, I give the AI the defence, I preview the map and find one that has good terrain to defend and then I select the units for the AI.

This takes away all the fun of not knowing what you are up against, but I like giving the AI a match up I will be challenged with. Thus at least I am not wasting my time and I can get a pretty good fight out of the machine.

This was after ssing what happened a few times not dictating these things and the joke of a game that was set up.

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Most QBs against the AI you kinda have to treat as drill time for your pTruppen. A live fire exercise to develop a feel for how your units move and, to some extent, behave under fire.

I had thought the force pick problems were only on small maps, but one way I've found to maintain at least some FOW over the opposition force mix is to shuffle through random force mix selections for the opposition, until something that looks broadly viable (i.e. isn't all tanks in a Bocage map) pops up, but don't dive into the details at all.

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I should correct my prior AAR to say I had 1 infantry PLATOON. Not a company. It was a very small battle on small map, so that might exacerbate the AI auto force pick problem.

I used to pick the AI forces in CMx1 too...hmm, maybe i'll go back to that. I wish I could play more scenarios but i've played all the small-medium ones and just don't have the time necessary to do the big ones justice.

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After playing H2H, I can't go back to playing against the AI in QB's. Campaigns are still good since they are carefully designed to be played single player and usually a challenge.

Right now I have one PBEM each for CMBN and CMSF, and that's all I need to get my daily wargaming fix. Going against a human makes it so much more interesting and fun.

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while I am sure that H2H is the way to go-and while I have been here since CMBO I have never tried it-- maybe one day- the QB are worth using- when I come for lunch - -30 min is just right but you really need to pick your own for the game -- the AI will do a good job and as the attacker he as a 3to 1 advantage bascially in points-- I have not made a map in a while as the QBs maps are fine- but I also down load what ever is put up -

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I was going to open a new thread about Quick battles but I'll use this one... I am very disappointed with the way the QB plays; almost every time i try to play against the AI (AI defending), the computer set its forces in some stupid corner of the map , spend 15min moving to the objective with caution just to realise there is not enemy forces in the objective or even near it, click ceasefire, check the map and find the enemy doing nothing all, all their forces occupying a few AS in a corner.

I love this game and I have spend quite a lot in all CM1 and now CMBN, but there isn't enough scenarios to play, specially if you don't like huge ones like is my case, but QB against the AI are a waste of time. I understand BF is a small independent company but man, I expect to get at least what I'm buying. The scope of the first CM was probably too big to get a good return and I understand that to do the same with CM2 would be a bad idea for business but at least I wanna get what it says in the tin.

Oh and btw I'm talking about a freshly installed CMBN with no 3rd party maps

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Iagree the AI is very week for the QB function which is why I hardly ever play it.The best games you can get are the scenarios and campaign games. You can, if you are willing to do the work set up your own scenarios using the editor and thre is nothing to stop you doing so using a QB map.

Luke

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I was going to open a new thread about Quick battles but I'll use this one... I am very disappointed with the way the QB plays; almost every time i try to play against the AI (AI defending), the computer set its forces in some stupid corner of the map , spend 15min moving to the objective with caution just to realise there is not enemy forces in the objective or even near it, click ceasefire, check the map and find the enemy doing nothing all, all their forces occupying a few AS in a corner.

I love this game and I have spend quite a lot in all CM1 and now CMBN, but there isn't enough scenarios to play, specially if you don't like huge ones like is my case, but QB against the AI are a waste of time. I understand BF is a small independent company but man, I expect to get at least what I'm buying. The scope of the first CM was probably too big to get a good return and I understand that to do the same with CM2 would be a bad idea for business but at least I wanna get what it says in the tin.

Oh and btw I'm talking about a freshly installed CMBN with no 3rd party maps

There could be an issue with the configuration of the QB itself. It's worth reviewing and reporting the ones you run across like this as there may be something that needs to be fixed, but no one will know unless those are reported.

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I'll report it but, to be honest, I find it unlikely I will play QB again. I don't have much spare time to play and to spend around 1 hour setting up my forces and advancing to an empty objective gets me really annoyed. I could get rid of FOW, make sure there is some actual resistance to my attack and then restart with full FOW but this game is meant to be a simulation of combat, not much sim remains if I see where and what is defending an objective.

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That's a real shame that the AI doesn't seem much better than CM1. After a long CM1 career I've recently tried CM2 but yet to buy, and not having a great quality computer enemy is a huge put-off. I hear what you guys say about H2H, but for me, as an old-time table-top wargamer for the past 40 years, what I always expect from any computer game, and what I always thought computers could bring to the genre that pre-computer-age wargmes could not, indeed the very raison d'ĂȘtre of the computer wargame, should be to provide an enemy AI. Without that, all you're left with is essentially pretty graphics.

I wonder if other old-timers would agree that it seems games companies have seen the internet-connected human opponent as a way of avoiding working on the AI, or at least that better graphics cards (and the race to look as good as Call of Duty shooters) has diluted the developers' efforts. That and the fact that for the developer its style that sells a game. But for the gamer it's substance that makes it replayable and thus worth the money. I'd pay $100+ for a CM game if it had a really good AI. And a good enemy AI should not be that difficult (chess computers have done it for 3 decades, and essentially you could treat a QB like a chess game, especially when you keep rivers and bridges out of the QB and represent the buildings as simple blocks!). The AI these days should be pretty much perfect when defending and still good at all other times. However, it requires time and effort (and some highly experienced, top tactical wargmer minds) to develop an AI, and these days it seems style beats substance and computer "games designers" are mostly just 3D modellers with 2D minds.

Ok, I'll go quietly now - at least until my next rant...

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Streety, this game is well worth the purchase price. As with all AI it has its limitations, but it is still a great game.

AI on defence - I have had some great battles and some real disappointing ones (there seems to be a AI tactic of sometimes vacating VL, i guess to avoid artillery which would be fine except it does not follow this up with a counter attack or any offensive action). Picking the troops for the A.I helps these battles a lot.

AI on attack - have had some good battles. Again hit and miss

AI on ME - The AI seems to take 5-10 mins to decide to move for no reason at all. So the only way I have found to equalise this is to advance several turns and then start advancing.

The worst thing for me is the AI using up all its artillery in pre planned bombardments on turn 1. Yes it can limit movement for your advancing troops but is generally wasted.

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Hi Placebo,

How do you find the CM2 AI compares to the CM1 games?

And oh, I didn't meant to suggest that the AI is terrible, just that it's mediocre or hit-and-miss at best (which is sort of how you describe it too), and seemingly not much better than CM1 games. And that minor improvement in CM2 seems in part (or entirely) due to scrapping truly random maps for a very large number of scripted maps. But that limits the replayability that random maps gave to the solo-gamer and so the pros don't outweigh the cons. And if you find you need to pick the AI's troops to massage it to act better, then once more it reduces the enjoyability for the solo-gamer in knowing what you're going to face.

My main point is that after nearly 30 years of computer wargames, we should now be at the stage of having a great AI. Yes, a CM battle today has a lot more variables and permutations than a reasonably good computer chess program had to deal with in the early 1908s, but then computer power and technology has come on a very long way since then too. So if a computer wargame can't now provide a great enemy AI (which was the main thing that table-top wargames could not provide), then compared to those old table-top wargames the main remaining advantage of the computer game is that it just has pretty graphics (i.e. animations).

I fear that generally computer wargaming has been slowly hijacked by the arcade-game mentality. We see this shallowness in a lot of other media too these days (hollywood films, music video, magazines etc) that style has increasingly supplanted substance in this attention-defecit disorder age.... God I sound so old!

But if anyone can list some other great AI games with random maps for the solo-gamer, please let me know.

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Streety, if you are an old-school wargamer, then I assume you played against other humans. Why don't you want to play against humans in this game? The computing power goes into calculating LOS, round trajectories, penetration, graphics, animation, etc etc.

You talk like programming AI shouldn't be hard to do at all - like it's just a matter of having more powerful computers. That's just being naive, really. If you know how to program challenging AI, then you should share your code with Battlefront.

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I wonder if other old-timers would agree that it seems games companies have seen the internet-connected human opponent as a way of avoiding working on the AI, or at least that better graphics cards (and the race to look as good as Call of Duty shooters) has diluted the developers' efforts. That and the fact that for the developer its style that sells a game. But for the gamer it's substance that makes it replayable and thus worth the money. I'd pay $100+ for a CM game if it had a really good AI.

A good AI would certainly be worth some money. We have been "promised" better tools for the designers of scenarios and QB maps to generate their AI plans. Hopefully, hand in hand with that would be improvements in the force selection criteria for the AI too. Those two features together would make a world of difference in the challenge provided by the AI.

And a good enemy AI should not be that difficult (chess computers have done it for 3 decades, and essentially you could treat a QB like a chess game, especially when you keep rivers and bridges out of the QB and represent the buildings as simple blocks!).

The problem with most AIs is getting them to recognise things like key terrain, fields of fire, axes of advance, areas of dead ground and the like. CMx2's terrain generation is a lot more complex than a chessboard. I think that's why the hybrid approach of AI plus human generated plan is a good way to go.

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Yes, AI is THE hardest thing to program. Untold millions/billions have been spent on it over the last decades, and the result... The game market is saturated with a plethora of multiplayer shooters... cos online muliplayer doesn't need much if any AI at all.

The AI required for a wargame like CM compared to the AI for chess, is comparing the AI for Tic Tac Toe vs Chess. There are gazillions more possibilities in a wargame than in a relatively "simple" game like chess. I bet most us could kick Kasparov's butt at CM!

I think the CM2 AI is better than CM1 - at least I still find playing CM2 games vs the AI quite challenging enough. But, then it may also be the greater complexity and detail that makes CM2 harder than CM1.

However, I have also found my style of play has changed - largely thanks to the casualty averse character of CMSF. In CM1 one rarely worried about casualties and fighting to the last man/machine. But, CMSF forced us to learn a completely different style of play where high casualties almost always resulted in ignominious defeat.

People tell me that WW2 combat was much more bloody and high casualties were common. However, I still enjoy playing CMBN and CMFI as if I were playing with the same concern for casualties one needed in CMSF. If you play to avoid high casualties (eg <10%) the CM2 AI is quite hard enough.

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Y

However, I have also found my style of play has changed - largely thanks to the casualty averse character of CMSF. In CM1 one rarely worried about casualties and fighting to the last man/machine. But, CMSF forced us to learn a completely different style of play where high casualties almost always resulted in ignominious defeat.

People tell me that WW2 combat was much more bloody and high casualties were common. However, I still enjoy playing CMBN and CMFI as if I were playing with the same concern for casualties one needed in CMSF. If you play to avoid high casualties (eg <10%) the CM2 AI is quite hard enough.

I tend to find so far that playing in a casualty-averse way (even if there are no condition or casualty victory conditions) produces better results than being gung-ho. Perhaps I'm just better at cautious, ducks-in-a-row play than balls-to-the-wall charges, but I think it's just more effective to keep as many metal and HE chuckers alive as long as you can: it's your job to make the other guy die for his country, after all...

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To have a decent chance at an enjoyable QB against the CMBN AI, a few conditions should be met...

1. Proper map-appropriate force mix. This means you have to pick it. Even if you just shuffle suggestions, you should have some input in the process.

2. Quality AI Plans on the map. Proper number of groups and orders with decent intervals.

3. Proper setup zones and objectives. Not always the case, especially if it is set up as Allied/Axis, and you play it Axis/Allied. Arty comes in from the "wrong" side and other silliness ensues.

4. Conditions that match the designers plans. If the designer set up the AI plans for a sunny day.. and it is a dark and stormy night... then things may not work out.

5. The complex synergy of all the above and more, along with certain stars aligning, and the sacrifice of a goat in front of an altar, on which rests a small plastic brain in a mason jar full of hard liquor.

---------------------------

In other words... make your own mini-scenario and have tons more fun. Buy some enemy troops, put 'em on the map, assign 'em groups(soon a lot more), send 'em out with some broad strokes of the orders brush with time to 'think', then turn 'em loose.

Adding "destroy" points to both your and the enemy forces can make it much more interesting. Especially when you set your troops to be worth three times what the AI's are, and the AI has Vets and you have all Greens.

--------------------

In short, with the proper handicapping and a little forethought a nice quick battle can be had, but NOT a standard QB.

-

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Streety, this game is well worth the purchase price. As with all AI it has its limitations, but it is still a great game.

AI on defence - I have had some great battles and some real disappointing ones (there seems to be a AI tactic of sometimes vacating VL, i guess to avoid artillery which would be fine except it does not follow this up with a counter attack or any offensive action). Picking the troops for the A.I helps these battles a lot.

AI on attack - have had some good battles. Again hit and miss

AI on ME - The AI seems to take 5-10 mins to decide to move for no reason at all. So the only way I have found to equalise this is to advance several turns and then start advancing.

The worst thing for me is the AI using up all its artillery in pre planned bombardments on turn 1. Yes it can limit movement for your advancing troops but is generally wasted.

It is worth taking a look at the AI and how it is programmed. It removes a lot of mystery as to what happens when if you get a feel for what tools the QB creator has at hand. I think folks are confusing two different things- the TAC AI that handles how units react on a fire/cower/no fire situation and the AI plans that decide when and where units move to. The AI plan seems to be more the issue Otto is reporting. It seems the AI plan in that QB is not acting correctly or there is no AI plan for the game option he has chosen. For example there could be an AI plan for the Allies, but none for the Axis so they just sit in place.

I have just cracked the cover on trying to work with the AI with a lot of helpful suggestions from others and there is a lot involved. You have timers to decide when to move as well as schedules for reinforcements. Those need to dove tail or your units may not react when you'd expect. Then your plans have to accomodate any unit type choices the player comes up with. Personally I just don't think you can really account for all the variables and always have a good reactive plan from the AI. When you look at how many QB maps there are there simply is not enough time to verify every single AI plan on every map etc. SDP has been really really repsonsive for any issues noted in CMFI and folks should take him up on that if they find issues.

The short of it is - considering all the things an AI plan has to accomodate in a QB selection and how limited the options and capabilities are I really view the QB maps as simple starting points for HTH battles. The scenarios and campaigns are much more reliable for AI specific to the battle you are facing. I am sure there are others who may play them more often and have better feedback than that, but I expect Placebo your point on force selection has a huge impact on how any particular QB plays.

Ha Sgt Shultz beat me to it with a much more succinct summation.... what he said. ;)

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