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kch001

Anybody own Steel Division

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Just curious if anybody plays both the Combat Mission games and Steel Division? I do not own it, and despite the beautiful graphics, then it does seem like Command and Conquer set in Normandy. Has anybody on the forum tried it out? 

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I owned it for about a day when it first came out and spent a handful of hours with it, but ended up getting a refund. I feel like the advertisements and reviews were a little misleading, as to the level of realism... or maybe it was just my expectations. Not sure. The game, good as it is though, just felt shallow in comparison to what we're all used to in these CMx2 titles. The lack of any kind of turned-based mode, plus the greatly accelerated action, was a huge turn off or me. The action could be slowed down, as the advertisements say, but... only in very rough increments, none of which matched true-to-life speeds. If they fixed that, I'd consider re-purchasing.

The positives: Steel Division's graphics were really really good, IMO, and that made a bigger difference in my impression and enjoyment than I might've predicted. And it had several nice minor or peripheral features that could probably work well in Combat Mission.

I'm sure that many people who play Combat Mission could find lots of hours of enjoyment in Steel Division. It's a good game, by almost any objective standard. It just didn't fit my particular tastes, that's all.

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I think I would probably agree with your pov. I love cnmao, war in the east, hoi 3 command operations etc but hoi 4 I find a bit too arcady. And I never really got into airland battle and European escalation. Too many clicks and not enough planning and immersion. 

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On 6/30/2017 at 4:19 PM, kch001 said:

Just curious if anybody plays both the Combat Mission games and Steel Division? I do not own it, and despite the beautiful graphics, then it does seem like Command and Conquer set in Normandy. Has anybody on the forum tried it out? 

Yeah, I play pretty regular. It's not really like Command and Conquer, it is moving away from the base-building mechanics of RTS and more into tactics-heavy, limited macro-game trend of late. Games play out in three phases (A,B, and C; recon, skirmish and battle), each one ten minutes long, with the recon phase being basically a meeting engagement writ large. Some divisions (think force mixes in CMx2) have an advantage here, either through the possession of clearly superior unit types (20mm armed armored cars, light tanks,  high quality infantry, etc.) or the fact they garner more points to put more units on the field overall. Or both, in the case of some divisions. Phase B (skirmish) is all about jockeying about the territory taken in the previous phase, where you start to see more medium tanks, heavier fire support, bombers, etc. come out to play. The final phase, C (battle) is when heavies hit the field in numbers and "banked" points used to launch seriousface attacks and counter-attacks.

The AI is smarter than CMx2. It understands flanking (to an extent), counter-attacks against overextended player forces, close range infantry ambushes, etc. The game lacks fortifications and mines, while off-board artillery is handled in a particularly gamey way due to defensive limitations. There is only light fog-of-war, with units occasionally depicted only by silhouette rather than outright wrong information being presented to the player. There are mods available through the Steam workshop, including enhanced realism conversions even though some mechanics are hardcoded, such as infantry starting with motorized transport that disappears (permanently) if unarmed.

That was one biggie that more realism orientated people pick up on frequently, but it is to limit the gamey behavior of using something like cheap jeeps to drop off troops, then gleefully running them through the enemy lines in order to force them to reveal their defenses and mallet them with air/arty. There were counters to that (cheap and numerous tanks allowed to freely fire while the rest of the capital systems like high-end AFVs, ATGMs and attack helos held fire) but it invited silly encounters, so the makers just decided having jeeps and cattle trucks evaporating into the Normandy countryside was more realistic on the balance. 

Similar reasoning for the handling powerful off-board artillery; without fortifications, artillery (any kind, but rocket artillery especially) was absolute cancer in previous Wargame titles (European Escalation, AirLand Battle and Red Dragon) as you could reliably pound the living hell out of anything that stood under your launchers and stop offensives dead cold. Each iteration tried various nerfs and adjustments, but Steel Division just went scorched earth on the whole thing with the only truly powerful guns are going off-board, each with specific FO assigned, giving you three total fire missions per purchase. So if I pick my 3rd Armored Division "deck" (consisting of "cards" of various numbers of units), I have to buy three FO Shermans to get a total of nine 155mm fire missions. American artillery is more available than other nations, but it is still apparent they didn't want the recon+artillery meta to dominate the game, even if their attempt (at the point in time) has been rather unsuccessful (German nebelwerfers have unbalanced effects if properly utilized). But the counterplay to artillery dominance is realistic; spreading out forces, relying on a relatively low number of infantry shooters with disproportionate firepower to delay while maintaining a reserve in depth that can counterattack to restore your line. Alternatively, you could just run armor, which is hard for artillery (except the absolute largest stuff) to knock out in general (and near impossible for heavies) and if the player is paying attention, basically immune since they can shift from under the impact area faster than a second or third volley can arrive.

Compared to previous titles in the series, Steel Division's scenarios are essentially denuded of forces, which opens up more opportunities for maneuver, but there is a "frontline" mechanic that means you can't really fully surprise anyone who has functioning eyeballs. Sometimes you figure it is a single machine gun running around your backfield or pushing a flank and it turns out to be a trio of Pz4s, but nothing like other games where you can lose a bunch of stuff to guys running around like ninjas in areas you thought were secure. So while you don't have as many units, you're not obsessively garrisoning your backfield due to the frontline mechanic showing you almost exactly (a few units, like scouts, don't push the line) where the enemy is, if not what they are bringing.

The game has a simple and functional morale system that works reasonably well in depicting the effect of fire on men. Suppression rises as a unit takes fire, until finally they become pinned -- unable to move, shoot or respond to orders except one. Troops under the influence of leaders take half as much suppression and fight more effectively, so you always want to have a leader with troops you expect to be in even-ish firefights and close assaults.  Heavier weapons pin them faster at which point your only option is getting fire lifted off them (either by your own suppressing fire on the enemy or using smoke to break line of sight) or telling them to fall back (the only order they will obey once pinned, but always an option), at which point they become uncontrollable for a short time as they seek cover.

There are aircraft in game, player directed. Antiaircraft defenses, especially automatic AA, are underrated in terms of killing power, but surprisingly enough given a fair shake in terms of effectiveness. It is entirely possible for four decent pieces (i.e. something like a trio of M15s backed by tanks' and halftracks' fifties) to keep all but Wrath of God levels of air attacks off your forces. Heavy AA is better -- and I'm somewhat salty about the fact that the American divisions don't get their 90mm guns -- but not so much you see nothing but 88s everywhere. That being said, it is somewhat restricted in amount to avoid the Iron Curtain air defense (every inch of the map owned by one side, usually Soviets, having a no-sell level of air defense that locked aircraft out of the game). If fact, that applies to everything awesome in game: restricted, limited, unavailable in certain phases, etc.

There are tons of guides, walkthroughs, videos, FAQs, etc. to help you git gud (get good) but the community isn't awful if you're bad. For the most part, people will leave you be as long as you're not screwing up too bad and if you're an experienced wargamer, you already know enough about tactics and combined arms that you shouldn't be getting rolled after your first two or three games.

On 7/1/2017 at 6:11 PM, kch001 said:

I think I would probably agree with your pov. I love cnmao, war in the east, hoi 3 command operations etc but hoi 4 I find a bit too arcady. And I never really got into airland battle and European escalation. Too many clicks and not enough planning and immersion. 

I have an average win rate (52% whooo!) and last time I metered my APM, it was 28 with a peak of around 54. That means clicks, button presses, mouse-edge camera movement, etc. not actual actions. Actual, effective EPM is pretty low, probably around 5-7 per minute and I do fine. Granted, that doesn't mean I'm a pro (obviously not, with a 52% win rate, lol) but the game is perfectly playable even if you're not good with the mouse. Even better, the units can actually manage themselves to an extent, so if you -- for example -- leave a bunch of halftracks out in a field, they'll take cover from serious threats (ATGs, tanks, aircraft, etc.) or cheerfully engage anything they can kill with their machine guns (advancing infantry or scout teams, some light vehicles, spotter planes) without having to micromanage too much. Obviously, the AI sometimes makes big mistakes when it comes to that, but it isn't anything anyone familiar with games in general should be surprised about.   

The planning part comes down to communicating with your team in the lobby or deployment phase. It works pretty well, which can be a downside when you're just hopping on for a quick game or two and find yourself facing down four guys on voice comms with each other who have come to pubstomp. In one particularly memorable incident, I lost approximately 60% of what I had on the field in only two minutes thanks to a literal rolling barrage of heavy artillery, followed up by frankly unstoppable amounts of armor and high quality infantry, backed by on-board mortars and fighter-bombers, that no single player could possibly have a response for. In that situation all you can do is beg for help that probably won't be coming, lol.

But it's a fun light wargame, overall.

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Thanks for the exhaustive explanaition. I think I will give it a shot if it goes on sale. Sounds like a good laugh and a nice distraction from some of the super difficult scenarios that we face in combat mission where usually I get destroyed the first couple of times I play them 

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