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Kaunitz

[WIP map/scenario] Taming the watchdog

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5 hours ago, Kaunitz said:

@Combatintman

I think that most of my problems are related to my lack of understanding how a modern war works on the operational level. I think we can agree that full-contact situations between relatively evenly matched forces in which both sides have a chance to win make for the most fun scenarios in Combat-Mission games. Yet I wonder if and in what situations and on what level such engagements would occur in reality? Especially with all those fast, mechanized units, long range weapons and modern intel technique, and also the availability of hard counters (there are specialized weapon systems against each type of threat), also air power, one would assume that no side had an interest in or could be forced into evenly matched engagements, as these engagements bear the risk of defeat and almost certainly result in high casualties for both sides. Rather, each side (and especially the one who felt to be at a disadvantage) would prefer to seek a better situation more in their favour? This shifts our focus from the tactical to the operational level, which is not the focus of CM games.

And while I think that the "retreat if the enemy resists/stands"-idea is more relevant for small-scale scenarios, I wonder whether it also applies to engagements of larger sizes. If you're not really sure that all the operational parameters and your high-quality intel suggests that your brigade-sized attack will be a success, would you really risk it? Does modern doctrine include these kinds of griding/high casualty, full contact attacks determined to overcome an actual resistance by the enemy, or does it rather favour the path of the least resistance - i.e. winning the operational game rather than the tactical boxing-match? And here is where it gets tricky for CM-games: If modern war shifts more towards the operational level, situations that make for fun CM-scenarios are rather limited.

Things might have been different in WWII, when intel wasn't that good, forces not that mobile and fast to react to enemy manoevres, weapons not that powerfull over long ranges and/or specialized, and frontlines relatively clear, air power on the tactical level more a support than a decisive weapon? Such a setting might have produced more casualty-intensive (for both sides), griding engagements, in which morale and tactical execution played a greater role than in a modern, more technically and operationally driven war? So my gut-feeling tells me that modern war might be more about hard-countering the enemy by quality, not by wearing him down with quantity+manouevre (local superiority of force); and that this might lead to very technical, one-sided engagements that are not really very suitable for CM-scenarios. 

Regardless of the size of the involved forces, I think that delaying/rearguard actions might be one of the very few plausible scenarios for two relatively evenly matched forces to engage more seriously. The attacking force would be larger of course, but a scenario is only a local and temporal selection of the larger action. You commit a small part of your force and risk its destruction in order to save a larger part of your force. So the smaller force has a reason to stand and fight, even against overwhelming odds. And the attacking side also has a reason to press on, as it is assured that the enemy is at a disadvantage and is likely to retreat any moment.

The other "full contact evenly matched"-scenario I can think of is urban warfare. Here you simply don't know how many enemies are hiding in the next block, despite all modern intel options, so you have no real alternative other than to attack and find out. But for me personally, urban warfare missions are not that enjoyable in CM games because the tactical options are rather limited. 

As for the replay-value of CM-scenarios, I have no illusion that they're meant to be played one time (and a second time once you've forgotten all the details from your first playthrough ;)). If you already know the position of the enemy, a scenario is no more fun and unbalanced. 

tt could help to read up on detailed accounts of modern conflicts.Before Desert Storm there were actually quite a few probing, patrol  and diversionary actions of varying sizes

Regarding casualties whether you get high casualties depends on whether there is a technological mismatch and a training mismatch. Compare for example Desert Storm with te Yom Kippur War. In Desert Storm the iraqis training and technology were both inferior although the Iraqi Army could put up a good fight as was the case with the Republican Guard. Before the war I recall at least one newspaper article (it may have been the Sunday Telegraph suggesting an "ugly slugfest in the sand" Nt  mention the vital role of Coalition air power.

Ukraine is different. Here the air war is contested, both sides have reasonably decent air defenses (though on the latter score the Russians may have an advantage with Tunguska) Training, morale and equipment are roughly equivalent. In this situation, unlike CMSF heavier losses are likely The terrain is also rather different. Except for steppe regions engagement ranges are likely to be relatively short which again raises the likelihood of increased casualties.

Actually armoured engagements in Southern Ukraine would be quite interesting and with your map link actual areas cou;d be more easily reproduced

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6 hours ago, SeinfeldRules said:

@Kaunitz, don't stress the details man. No one is going to armchair quarterback the likelihood of the background for your scenario, because no one actually knows what would happen... The scenario you have is plausible.

This ...

@SeinfeldRules is bang on the money - you are getting a bit wrapped around the axle about things you don't need to worry about too much. This actually is one of the benefits of small unit actions - there is always a good and plausible reason to fight them. It gets trickier to pull this off further up the food chain because players who prefer Company and particularly Battalion-sized engagements are likely to be asking those sorts of questions (eg why I haven't I got artillery, why am I being asked to take this hill etc).

There are also lots of players out there who just want to fire something up and blatt away at the enemy and will therefore not worry too much about the higher formation picture. Don't forget that a lot of people spend a lot of time just firing up QBs, which have none of this context in, and having a perfectly enjoyable gaming experience.

As I have previously said - you already have a pretty good idea of the scope and kind of action you want to portray and these are entirely plausible. So I would focus on getting the gameplay right first and then the bits of the narrative can be fitted around it. As an example the thought process behind my post with the map graphics took me about ten minutes to put together and then about half an hour to knock up the narrative in the post and actually draw the graphics.

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For a scenario of the size of that being discussed the artillery support (if available) s most likely going to be company assets only (ie mortars) Battalion assets will be a tot less likely but possible. This operation simply is no important enough to assign anything heavier to. Conversely a company or battalion scenario would likely be part of a wider battle and here a battery or two would be relevant and perhaps more if this is a major effort.

In this scenario however artillery support if used will likely just be a couple of mortars at most. You often have a choice as to whether you want them on or off table for the scenario you are designing. For example, in this scenario supposing you decided to use the Ukranian BMP battalion as the basis for your force. You are going to use say two platoons from one of the mech companies. Your available artillery support will probably be from e of the two battalion mortar platoons. One possible option might be to have one of the mortars on table and maybe bringing the other two in as reinforcements You can always limit supplies even down to individual weapons to simulate, in this case, the husbanding of mortar shells for what is a elatively unimportant mission in the wider scheme of things

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You've gotten excellent advice from some of our best community mappers. Bottom line; create a scenario you yourself would want to play and move from there.

All the contextual hogwash isn't important unless you decide to make it so.

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Hey fellow tacticians and editor-gods!

Thanks for all the advice! I know I'm getting lost in details that don't really matter in terms of scenario-creation and the game per se. But thinking about the bigger picture and trying to understand how modern day wars are fought on a more comprehensive level is very interesting and part of the hobby for me. Combat Mission games are a great experimental field for the micro-level, yet I still want to figure out it is interlinked with the operational level. 

I could babble along about my thoughts on a plausible CM:BS scenario in the last few days. I’ve also read quite a lot (John Antals decision making games…) and went through potential scenarios (Russians penetrating north and south, locking off the Dnjepr, major Ukrainian corps still trapped in easter Ukraine, Ukrainians try to keep a bridgehead over the Dnjepr....). But in the end, I decided it would be more fun for me to stick with a historical scenario rather than with a “what if” and to stay with the kind of warfare that is easier for me to understand because much more has been written and analysed about it: World War II.

So, I’m back to WWII and my favourite CM-setting: Sicily. I will create at least one scenario about the 51st Highland Division’s attack on Gerbini, 20/21st July 1943. Most likely, we will join a company of the 1st Blackwatch in their attack on a german pillbox south of Gerbini (the bunker is still there today)! The battle is very well documented online for the commonwealth side and I think it can be quite interesting, especially as I plan to include the german counter-attack (including tanks and armoured cars) on the following morning - probably in a separate scenario on the same map.

Until then, my Black-Sea-ambitions are not cancelled, but put on hold. I will start a Gerbini-battle thread in the CM:FI/GL forum once I’ve got something impressive to show. The first part will touch on the historical battle and my sources. I hope that you all follow me over there. :)

 

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