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OT-Graviteam Tactics

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Graviteam Tactics is probably my second favorite war game ever (after "Fire in the Lake" and other games in the COIN series).  Its a really beautiful game with an unparalleled sense of continuity and interconnectedness between its mechanics, and the decisions you make as a player.  The game has been unlike any other tactical level war game I have ever played ever since the introduced of the communications mechanics in a free update.  It completely changed the game and put it over the top in terms of it being a model for combat.  It really endeared me to the developers too that they introduced such a complex and game changing mechanic as a free update, they really are dedicated to making an amazing game.  

I found it very hard to get into, especially trying to understand how the game mechanics at the operational level connected to what would happen in the tactical battles.  Its also not clear at first exactly the meanings of the orders you are giving to your soldiers, because GT has an interesting way of combining different 'attributes' into the order you submit to a unit, such as formation, speed, ROE, etc.  And the way your soldiers behave in response to these orders kind of obfuscates whats happening until you are more experienced with the game.  This is all made worse by the fact that the developers are not english speaking and the translation isnt as good as it could be.  

Despite this I can't recommend this game enough.  No other war game delivers an experience like this one (to my knowledge).  For example there is a particular type of moment you experience commonly in this game, that no other game provides (to my knowledge).  When you are attacking an enemy position, and the enemy will not relent or break, and you begin to suffer losses as your soldiers approach the enemy position.  Your formation breaks down, morale is beginning to fail, and the caucophony of battle has defeaned your soldiers so that your orders can't reach them.  All you can do is watch the violence unfold after orderly battle plans descend into chaos.  It reminds me of the march at the beginning of Shostakovich's 7th symphony, or the descriptions of combat you read about in books like Forgotten Soldier or Chickenhawk.

So I advise everyone to get this game and to keep it at in the face of initial frustration and confusion.  I remember in Graviteam Tactics Operation Star, in the campaign the player is likely to start with (where you play as some germans trying to resist a soviet attack until some panzers arrive and help you break out of a pocket), one of the first tactical battles you are likely to fight is a practically hopeless battle where you play as a german infantry platoon with almost no anti tank equipment facing a soviet tank assault in this village at night.  So you can spend up to an hour waiting for the soviet tanks to arrive, never seeing them until the last moment, and then they whipe the floor with you easily (especially as a new player).  Reading online, I got the impression that this was almost everyone's first experience with the game.  I can definitely see why it would turn people away, and I have no idea why Graviteam would make this be the first experience players have with their game, but if you can make it past stuff like that you will find a war game like no other.

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On 2017-03-30 at 0:55 AM, Erwin said:

Man, I have all the IL2 games and modules etc.  Never got to even load em!!  :wacko:   CM2 is a "vampire" game that sucked all the precious life force gaming time out of me.

Panzer Elite was so buggy that it would crash most games I played.  Then there were some great mods.  But, it started to feel like you needed to be a programmer to get everything working.

Re Graviteam check out their Steel Armor series ("Basra 86" and "Blaze of War") for what looks like a Panzer Elite-like game. 

I'd recommend a hard pass on Steel Armor. The mechanics, controls, etc. are the most clunky and user hostile that I've ever seen in a game. I spent several weeks trying to get a hang of how to order my tank around just basically, never mind the "advanced" stuff like finding hull down positions, or jockeying (from all I saw of it, both are utterly broken and extremely badly implemented concepts).

The AI has no issues dealing with 1970's era tank limitations, so you'd get shot in the face from 2km out when engaging a platoon of moving enemy tanks from a hull down position, even when jockeying. Or getting shot at night by AI tanks not using any NV optics, even when you've turned your own off. It's also quite obvious that it's just a reskinned WW2 tank sim, as Sabot rounds don't actually damage tanks unless they directly hit crew members, ammunition or specific parts of the tank. That the devs had actually so fundamentally failed to understand how Sabot rounds work when making the game really was too much.

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Good to see your critique as I was considering buying Steel Armor games as I like tanked sims like "M1 Tank Platoon" but I found the original "Steel Beasts" rather hard going.

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It's strange that all the PR shots of these Graviteam games are from the ground level view like it's a CM game or sim - showing off the beautiful graphics. 

However... every single video demonstrating how to play is always from a high altitude looking down on the whole battlefield and you can't see the lovely graphics of the units.  ie: You can't play the game with a ground level view as it's RT and you can't control the units like that.  If G. didn't bother with the ground level views and the lovely graphics and kept it at "Company of Heroes" level, the players would not notice the difference.

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I read that the new Graviteam Tunisia 1943 game will incorporate turn based and quick battle modes. Couple that with dynamic campaign and superior graphics and you'll get a game that is better than CM. 

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2 hours ago, Ivanov said:

I read that the new Graviteam Tunisia 1943 game will incorporate turn based and quick battle modes. Couple that with dynamic campaign and superior graphics and you'll get a game that is better than CM. 

Maybe - although for me will depend on the underlying modelling of hit chances, armour etc etc. More collectively to a game for me than dynamic campaigns and graphics. Oh and the ability to create scenarios.

Edited to add: still it's great we have developers who are willing and able to develop such great wargames set in this time period. Regardless of personal views and choices its great for the wargaming community I think.

Edited by George MC

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2 hours ago, Ivanov said:

I read that the new Graviteam Tunisia 1943 game will incorporate turn based and quick battle modes.

Turn based!? Where did you read that? Off to search...

 

Edited to add:

And found it - but not as good as it first sounded :(

"Tank Warfare: Tunisia 1943 offers two ways to play, with both turn-based and real-time strategy options"

This quote sounds great and can be found in may places such as: http://www.dualshockers.com/2017/04/18/tank-warfare-tunisia-1943-announced-pc-gets-new-screenshots/

But if you look at the game's home page you see this:

"Game is comprised of two modes:
* Operational - turn-based mode where you can shift and concentrate forces in the chosen directions, resupply and replace units, repair and refuel vehicles.
* Tactical - real-time mode where you are conducting fire combat with the enemy, capturing territory, destroying vehicles and the enemy manpower."

Ah well, close but no cigar.

Edited by IanL

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3 hours ago, Ivanov said:

I read that the new Graviteam Tunisia 1943 game will incorporate turn based and quick battle modes. Couple that with dynamic campaign and superior graphics and you'll get a game that is better than CM. 

Even if the above was true (and it seems it isn't ) I still don't think it would be a better game.  There is a lot more about CM that is far superior to the eye candy in that game than just having a turn based capability.  Just my two cents, kind of sick of the constant promotion of this product on Battlefront's forum. Do you guys not think that is kind of inappropriate?  Ms Manners would be very disappointed with you. 

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1 hour ago, George MC said:

Maybe - although for me will depend on the underlying modelling of hit chances, armour etc etc. More collectively to a game for me than dynamic campaigns and graphics. Oh and the ability to create scenarios.

Edited to add: still it's great we have developers who are willing and able to develop such great wargames set in this time period. Regardless of personal views and choices its great for the wargaming community I think.

Graviteam are known for their tank simulations, so hit chances and armour simulations are represented in a very realistic way. Not that CM is perfect in this aspect ;)

On the down side, I'm not sure if the game will include multiplayer mode.

51 minutes ago, IanL said:

"Game is comprised of two modes:
* Operational - turn-based mode where you can shift and concentrate forces in the chosen directions, resupply and replace units, repair and refuel vehicles.
* Tactical - real-time mode where you are conducting fire combat with the enemy, capturing territory, destroying vehicles and the enemy manpower.

Ah well, so nothing new in that case. But at least the real time allows saving during the game. The players who know the system claim, that it doesn't require insane levels of micromanagement during the combat ( which is a big plus for me ), so the real time may be manageable. They also claim that it's all about planning, so the setup phase actually is much more important that the real time gameplay. Sounds intriguing enough to me.

Edited by Ivanov

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It continually puzzles me...  One can only handle a RT game like the above by viewing from high above - you really can't control or view anything down low at ground level as you'd miss something important in RT.

So, what's the point of the great graphics that you can only enjoy at ground level when on Pause.  May as well play a RT version of Steel Panthers etc.

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I bought Operation Star nearly two years ago when it was on sale for $7.  It didn't last long on my hard-drive.  I found its UI almost inexplicable.  (Trying to figure it out, I felt like Krusty the Clown watching the eastern European cartoon, "Worker and Parasite," and saying "What the hell was that!?!?" at the end.   

 

However, the biggest reason why I quickly deleted it was that its tactical combat is strictly real-time with no replay feature.  What's the point of playing with these pixelated toy soldiers and tanks when one can't sit back and enjoy watching them in action.  Despite the raves about Graviteam's graphics, you can't really enjoy them because you're too busy trying to manage everything in real-time.  (It doesn't even have a post-battle replay feature like the Total War series.)

I did try a few other times to overcome the learning curve, but each time I'd end-up using the "remove program" feature on my control panel.  Eventually, I recognized I needed help and followed some tutorial youtube videos by one of its dedicated fans.  That did help open my eyes to some of the good parts of this game such as its operational map, but still the real-time combat with no replay  (I was notified that I lost a tank, but have no way of figuring out how I lost it) and its very clunky UI do not make me see it as viable competition to CMx2 on my PC.  Maybe Mius Front and the upcoming Tunisian game are (will be) better, but I doubt that I'll take another plunge with Graviteam.

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The UI is horrible to look at but it's a lot simpler than you might think. Yeah it took me hours to understand how to play the damn thing too. But once I did it's fun and most of the time you use contextual menu akin to that in CM. Mius Front gets rid of many of the redundant options though and is better polished.

But with this "new" game they are pulling CM on us

Edited by kraze

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The thing I didn't like about the GT games is that infantry were just tank fodder, you could drive unescorted tanks around the map  spotting and wiping out infantry with little fear, something you'd avoid in CM.

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The two game systems appeal to completely different markets.  CM is ultra realistic almost to the point of being unplayable - or at least it feels like hard work and requires a lot of cerebral thought.  Graviteam market doesn't emphasize realism, but moment to moment wrist twitchers and thrill seekers.

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1 minute ago, Erwin said:

The two game systems appeal to completely different markets.  CM is ultra realistic almost to the point of being unplayable - or at least it feels like hard work and requires a lot of cerebral thought.  Graviteam market doesn't emphasize realism, but moment to moment wrist twitchers and thrill seekers.

Graviteam games are more 'realistic' Company of Heroes style RTS  games. CM is a simulation type game.

Tried Graviteam many times and could never get into it. Controls were nearly incomprehensible, graphics were a bit whiff when zoomed out to actually play the game, ToE seemed limited and battles didn't seem to play out the way I'd have thought - as an above poster said infantry are next to useless. 

These are personal experiences. I'm delighted if others loved it. I'd much rather play CM or other games to get my tactics fix though. RTS games leave me completely cold.

 

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On 4/26/2017 at 7:24 AM, Ivanov said:

I read that the new Graviteam Tunisia 1943 game will incorporate turn based and quick battle modes. Couple that with dynamic campaign and superior graphics and you'll get a game that is better than CM. 

I have Mius-Front and agree with most of whats been said. For me I have trouble in the "Operational Map" area, trying to move the higher echelon units into position for battles. Having trouble replacing lost armor and field pieces, I go into battles with tank crews and AT gun crews in dug in positions with no tanks or field guns. It has been a learn by trial and error experience, The game manual/documentation seems really poorly done and needs to give players a lot more information. Also just a note: You get many versions of T-34's and KV-1 tanks but very few of the Panzers. I also rarely see any variety of German armor on the field except for Stug 3's and Marder II's  and a few varieties of halftracks. It does have its fun moments but I prefer CMx2. Now Graviteam decides to skip the whole desert war and go straight to Tunisia? That's a turn off for me. Tactical gaming really needs an up to date tactical scale combat sim akin to CMAK covering 1941 to 1943 imo.

Edited by J Bennett

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45 minutes ago, niall78 said:

Graviteam games are more 'realistic' Company of Heroes style RTS  games. CM is a simulation type game.

 

Experienced Graviteam fans say, that their games are a simulation when they compare for example Mius Front to Steel Division or Wargame ;)

I don't think that CM is a particularly difficult game but it's tedious, especially when you have to manage a large force. Well it's when it becomes unplayable for me. IMO CM shines best in small size infantry combat. For larger mechanized engagements the maps are just too small. Graviteam players claim that you shouldn't micromanage your force to death and that sounds good to me. How realistic is giving orders to every single vehicle or a squad when you command a battalion size force? I'll probably buy Mius Front when it goes on sale after Tunisia is released. For now I'm CM burned out.

Edited by Ivanov

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4 hours ago, Ivanov said:

Experienced Graviteam fans say, that their games are a simulation when they compare for example Mius Front to Steel Division or Wargame ;)

I don't think that CM is a particularly difficult game but it's tedious, especially when you have to manage a large force. Well it's when it becomes unplayable for me. IMO CM shines best in small size infantry combat. For larger mechanized engagements the maps are just too small. Graviteam players claim that you shouldn't micromanage your force to death and that sounds good to me. How realistic is giving orders to every single vehicle or a squad when you command a battalion size force? I'll probably buy Mius Front when it goes on sale after Tunisia is released. For now I'm CM burned out.

One player's "tedious" is another player's gold. Being able to give orders to every vehicle and team is not inherently unrealistic. The player is simply filling in for the actual person in that position in the real world. Yes, it usually provides better coordination between units than exists in real life, but that can be rationalized as part of the "time compression" necessary to make a wargame enjoyable. GTOS is not in any way more realistic simply because you are limiting the available decision-making roles for the player. The game still gives you a lot more information and force coordination tools than you would have in real life. Making juicy tactical decisions is the whole point of playing a tactical wargame.

Which is more realistic, A or B?

A: Like a real-world company commander, you only give general movement and fire orders, but your squads use very unreastic micro-tactics (no LMG suppression fire to cover advancing assault teams, etc.) and take much higher casualties than necessary.

B: You are able to "jump into the body" of each team leader, but your units use real world tactics at casualty rates more in line with reality.

I'd say B, by a mile. Also, GTOS still iets you tell units where to go and what to shoot at. So, it's already giving you way more control than you should have if you're using level of control as a metric for realism.

It seems that GTOS fans can't be happy with their game being just a decent compromise between a lighter player workload and realism. They have to try and find a way to steal CM's crown as King of the Realistic Battlefield as well. But that ain't gonna' happen because the level of realism that CM offers can only be achieved when the player takes on all unit-leader roles. Yes, that often means more force coordination than in real life. But, the GTOS way, means LESS tactical fidelity than in real life to a degree that more than outweighs the coordination benefit in CM.

Also, how the game plays out the decisions made by player or AI is huge part of what determines realism. Having played both, I feel that CM is significantly better. Despite the neat little hit graphics at end game, I don't trust GTOS's numbers and number crunching nearly as much as I do CM's.

Edited by Macisle

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10 hours ago, niall78 said:

Graviteam games are more 'realistic' Company of Heroes style RTS  games. CM is a simulation type game.

Ugh, no. GT is quite realistic and is far from CoH or any other RTS realism wise. It's just not as realistic as CM and has a very very bad interface.

As for the infantry being useless - it's not in urban terrain and in close quarters... But the problem is that most of the areas are open fields and low hills which just allow tanks to rule the battlefield since WW2 infantry can't touch them. So CM is better at infantry not because GT is less realistic, which it really isn't by much, but because GT offers duller terrains.

Tank battles themselves are really good though. If only they've made proper urban areas GT would be a lot better.

Edited by kraze

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9 hours ago, Macisle said:

One player's "tedious" is another player's gold. Being able to give orders to every vehicle and team is not inherently unrealistic. The player is simply filling in for the actual person in that position in the real world. Yes, it usually provides better coordination between units than exists in real life, but that can be rationalized as part of the "time compression" necessary to make a wargame enjoyable. GTOS is not in any way more realistic simply because you are limiting the available decision-making roles for the player. The game still gives you a lot more information and force coordination tools than you would have in real life. Making juicy tactical decisions is the whole point of playing a tactical wargame.

Which is more realistic, A or B?

A: Like a real-world company commander, you only give general movement and fire orders, but your squads use very unreastic micro-tactics (no LMG suppression fire to cover advancing assault teams, etc.) and take much higher casualties than necessary.

B: You are able to "jump into the body" of each team leader, but your units use real world tactics at casualty rates more in line with reality.

I'd say B, by a mile. Also, GTOS still iets you tell units where to go and what to shoot at. So, it's already giving you way more control than you should have if you're using level of control as a metric for realism.

That's the problem for me with RTS games in general. Because the tac AI can perform only basic tasks, like returning fire or taking cover, the players have to be a squad, company and battalion commanders at the same time, or rather many squad leaders at the same time. There are people who love it, I find it tedious. The RTS gameplay that I enjoyed most was Red Storm. The smallest unit is platoon/company, so there are not so many playing pieces as in CM. However the UI there is incredibly clunky and the game suffers from many bugs and technical issues. I also don't claim that Graviteam games are superior to CM, I haven't tried them yet. What I appreciate about what they do, is that it seems with every new release they are willing to learn and implement vast improvements to the system.

Edited by Ivanov

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