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Ithikial_AU

Experimental Design - CM1 Operations in CM2 (Video)

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I’m apparently part of a small breed of the CM community that misses the old CM1 style operations. This is something I've talked about for some time on and off but over Christmas started to put my mouse where my mouth is... and started designing the thing. :)

I hope to use this forum thread to update the community on my progress with this experiment and for others to chip in their thoughts/ideas/solutions to problems encountered. Introduction video first (I plan to do more down the line), followed by some written thoughts to get the ball rolling.


For those younger CM Generals among us, CM1 Operations were essentially one large map with an end objective to reach by the end of a set time period broken up into multiple engagements. Force preservation and forward thinking were key to success. For example: “Okay, I’ve taken this village, do I keep pushing now while the enemy in front of me is disorganized or do I wait until sundown before creeping forward with additional forces that are due to arrive.” It wasn’t a perfect system by any means, for example there were issues regarding how the CM1 titles calculated the deployment zones for follow up missions based on how far the player pushed forward. (It could be gamed a bit).

The CM2 Campaign system is more Designer controlled and is suited to following a more narrative structured series of events over multiple locations. My biggest issue with the current system is depending on how the Designer builds the campaign and handles reinforcements/replenishment; it can heavily encourage players turning to a ‘save scum’ mentality, (a constant reloading of older saves when something goes wrong), knowing they are unlikely to achieve victory later on if they lose ‘x’ number of units now. Or worse, you get the feeling you've progressed through the campaign well only to get to a mission that is simply unplayable due to previous losses. The fact we now see designers (or the community through websites such as @IanL 's) outlining in briefings and in supporting Read Me's released outside of campaign file, pathway and replenishment details is, I think, testimant to this problem. The margin for error before it becomes unwinnable (beyond the point of being a hardy worthwhile challenge) in a lot of campaigns is simply so small.

Thing is I think we can create something close to a CM1 style Operation inside the CM2 engine. This is now largely possible due to:
- The far greater map sizes and units the engine can handle now compared to CM2’s debut.
- The variety of forces now on offer in most titles once modules and packs are released.
- General beefiness of current computers.

So a CM2 campaign is essentially a series of linked scenarios that form either one or two pathways to another dependent on 'winning' or 'losing' a preceding scenario. If we switch up the usual formula for a campaign to include the following:
- The player has one large map to clear over a series of engagements that are spread over a tight timeframe.
- A player must hit numerous terrain based objectives in a set order to reach the final objective which ends the campaign. The longer it takes the less the degree of campaign victory.
- These terrain objectives are provided in an order set out by ‘higher command’ (the designer).
- If the player wins, they move on to the next objective in the next allotted time slot.
- If the player loses, they repeat the same scenario with time progressing to the next allotted time slot.
- As time progresses both sides receive reinforcements and replenishment though given the small time frames there would be at set periods or only in small increments.
- An extensive initial Campaign Briefing would be required.
- Briefings between missions would be minimal to represent the lack of orders from higher command during a prolonged engagement. It's up the Battallion Commander (the player) on the ground to make the call on what to do next to meet their final objective. Perhaps limited to some on the ground intel or feedback to the player on what type of support is coming up in future engagements to help them make an informed decision around ‘commit now or later.’
- Forces on both sides would be nearly all Core Units and tracked for the duration of the fight.

The thing is why do we always think of campaign progression as a ‘line’ and why not a ‘table.’ If the player ‘loses’ a scenario, let them try the same mission again with what forces they have on hand but push the time along a little bit for the follow engagement.


The major limit to this approach is the fact that the CMx2 engine doesn’t support terrain damage carrying over between missions. The designer would have to be a little bit creative here and slow damage / rubble down the map as time progresses depending on the circumstances. Perhaps at a set point you damage key focus points on the map to take into account pre-planned bombardments from Army HQ assets.

Using this St Lo period engagement that historically occured on the map in the video over two full days of fighting is a nicely contained and smaller situation to test out these ideas. If this theory works it would be good to have a crack at the 502d/101st Ab's push towards Carentan. :) Dreams are always bigger than reality.

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I like the way you think about nudging players into a more careful, realistic style of play, instead of just rushing forward.

Cool to see you try to work with what we've got, but hopefully we will see Battlefront pick up on the wish for a campaign system that rewards conserving ammo and pixel-lives - and re-introduces persistent map damage.

Edited by Bulletpoint

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10 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

- If the player loses, they repeat the same scenario with time progressing to the next allotted time slot.
The thing is why do we always think of campaign progression as a ‘line’ and why not a ‘table.’ If the player ‘loses’ a scenario, let them try the same mission again with what forces they have on hand but push the time along a little bit for the follow engagement.  The major limit to this approach is the fact that the CMx2 engine doesn’t support terrain damage carrying over between missions.

Interesting stuff.  I especially like the idea that time moves on and losing battles makes you fall behind the time schedule.  Which can mean you don't necessarily lose the campaign but you get a minor victory instead of a total victory etc. depending on how long it takes you to finish.  Also probably the condition of your forces etc. 

The persistent terrain damage is going to be problematic.  From reading the forums I think many players would consider this a loss of immersion.  Maybe instead of fighting on the exact same terrain you were originally stopped on you flank that area (also probably a RL reaction).  In the flanking attack you are no closer to the ultimate campaign objective but you still lose time by having to fight a second battle, with the forces you have on hand.  The flank attack is still four kilometers away from the the campaign objective just like the original battle.  Its just 1000 meters to the west of the first fight or something like that.  That gets you around the persistent map damage.  If you wanted, the flanking battles could also be easier than the original battles to keep more players in the campaign.  At the end of the campaign a player who kept up with the time schedule and kept his forces in reasonable shape might have a total victory and the players who had to do some of the flanking attacks would have the appropriately lower score.    

Look forward to reading more about this.  +1.    

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I really like the thinking behind this and I will follow the progress closely. Anything that can bring more careful use of units in a more realistic fashion is high on my wish list.

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Hello...
I'm also guilty of having liked the old CM1 operations and if something simular could be done in CM2 it would be great ! :)

I hope you will be able to pull this off but besides not having persistant map damage i can see one more complication.

That would be...giving the player full freedom on how to attack this possition.
 
Only allowing a broad front attack up the entire with of the map might be the easiest way to do this operation...
But that might feel a bit to restricted. Some might want to try a left flank attack...some might want to try a right flank attack and then swing around into the center at some point perhaps.
If the player decide on a flank attack...The germans should perhaps try a counter attack to try and cut of the most forward player units. If that happens the player will need to fix this somehow.
Covering all of these eventualities will probably take a hole lot of different battle options and branches. Also objectives, victoryconditions and setup zones in the individual battles might become complicated to figure out.
Also if many of the attack attempts will have different timing options (wait for arty support, reinforcements, armour etc)...It will be EVEN MORE batlles needed to cover all the options.
I'm not saying this will be impossible...but most likely very tricky...If succesful though...It would be a blast to play i'm sure and offer great replayability !
 

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@Ithikial_AU I always meant to try something like this with my Shadow of the Hill missions.

The concept behind them was for a finite British force to attack across the full map, against a finite German defender, but broken into a number of scenarios to create the sense that the attackers could only advance by securing the necessary objectives. Fail a mission and it would need to be attempted again, but with both sides having a reduced pool of units. This would hopefully then cause questions as to when to commit reserves and if the attacker pushed too hard too early on would he still have sufficient "good order" forces for the latter battles.

As it was I've never had the time to link things together and create the various branches necessary but in simple term it was going to be that a win would allow the British to move on to the next mission, but a loss would require it to be fought again (perhaps only in part) with fresh troops possible being committed to complete the objective.

I always though the concept would probably work best for HTH and so require a 3rd party to administer but I feel it could be done.

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4 hours ago, RepsolCBR said:

...liked the old CM1 operations and if something simular could be done in CM2 it would be great !

+1

Even though ones gets hostile reactions from some here whenever one talks about wonderful aspects of CM1, the virtual operational scale of CM1 (8 Km x 4 Km maps and a Regiment + on each side) is what keeps some of us still playing over at WeBoB.   At that level, mobility and recon become much more important as one doesn't have a fixed front line and one can get a much more fluid mobile game.

We'd need more powerful computers top play that scale in CM2, and due to CM2's greater detail it may not be playable (in a reasonable amount of time) with that many units.  But, the moving window effect that CM1 operations has would be wonderful to see in CM3.

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13 minutes ago, Erwin said:

   ...as one doesn't have a fixed front line and one can get a much more fluid mobile game.

I'm sorry if i'm sounding negative about the project here...i'm not...I really hope you get this to work B)..but i thought i might mention  a couple of difficulties i can see before you invest to much time into this.

The frontlines...are another one...

In subsequent battles...How will you know witch units have advanced where when it comes to the set-up for the next battle ? If the player advances 2nd Company well ahead of the main force for example and he has a small part of 3rd company scout up the left flank a short distance...It would look kind of wierd if in the second battle all of a sudden it was the 1st Company that where deployed to the front and parts of the second company hade a recon detachment to the left...

One way to solv this i guess could be to NOT deploy any troops at a specific location for the subsequent battles but rather have them at the back of the map and simply extend the set-up zones to the limit of advance in the previous battle and have the player repossition the troops as he sees fit...

This would not be a perfect solution though i feel...and a bit of immersionbreaker i'm afraid...

Hopefully you will find a nice solution to this 'problem'...:)

/RepsolCBR

 

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40 minutes ago, RepsolCBR said:

One way to solv this i guess could be to NOT deploy any troops at a specific location for the subsequent battles but rather have them at the back of the map and simply extend the set-up zones to the limit of advance in the previous battle and have the player repossition the troops as he sees fit...

It's been a while since I played a CM1 campaign vs AI, but IIRC this is how CM1 handled it.  The majority of forces were in the new set up zone and the player could reposition as desired.  However, a few units which had previously been advanced forward of the player's main force into "no man's land" would be found set up in non-movable starting positions (possibly behind enemy lines). 

 

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23 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

The thing is why do we always think of campaign progression as a ‘line’ and why not a ‘table.’ If the player ‘loses’ a scenario, let them try the same mission again with what forces they have on hand but push the time along a little bit for the follow engagement.

I have been doing experiments with this over the years:

- Certainly, having the campaign "flow control" to traverse a table is possible, but it gets difficult quickly to manage the files. If the timeline is broken down in say 2 hour slots, and you want to cover 8 hours, you end up keeping track of 16 scenarios. 

- Shorter scenarios is more game. Meaning that the shorter the battle, the easier is to playtest things and make sure the scenario provides the experience you want. Setting deployment areas and intelligence levels smartly reduces the need of allowing longer times for recon etc.

- You really want to use a Master OOB scenario as a centralised DB.

- And you would also really like to be able to track casualty levels while playing... some player aid would help managing the battle. 

- AI arty spotting can break the campaign by causing massive casualties. 

It can totally work but it's not a one man job if you want to tackle a regiment level operation. On the other hand there are a number of already done scenarios - the CMBN CW/MG and CMFI biggies for instance - and master maps to either use as a base or use directly.

Also, by using historical OOBS one observes that British and American generalship tended to commit and feed troops into battle in dribs and drabs. From a standpoint of playability, this needs to be considered. As an object lesson in history, is well worth the ride. 

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On 2/5/2018 at 9:35 PM, Bulletpoint said:

I like the way you think about nudging players into a more careful, realistic style of play, instead of just rushing forward.

Cool to see you try to work with what we've got, but hopefully we will see Battlefront pick up on the wish for a campaign system that rewards conserving ammo and pixel-lives - and re-introduces persistent map damage.

One of the aims for sure, which goes in hand with save/load repeat mentality I mentioned above. Players will more likely take the stupid risks if they know they can just revert back to the last save from 1 minute ago in game - which they do more of in campaigns given the fine lines between winning and outright defeat down the line mentioned above. If the player can take a hit in one of these battles and naturally want to keep pushing through, then it's mission accomplished in my book.

22 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:

Interesting stuff.  I especially like the idea that time moves on and losing battles makes you fall behind the time schedule.  Which can mean you don't necessarily lose the campaign but you get a minor victory instead of a total victory etc. depending on how long it takes you to finish.  Also probably the condition of your forces etc.

That's what decides the outcome of the campaign. The degree of victory is determined by when you finished - ahead of history means a greater degree of victory. Behind history then it's a campaign loss. Honestly I'd be surprised if any player would run out of time in terms of what's built into the campaign. (At least how I've got it mapped out).
 

19 hours ago, RepsolCBR said:

Only allowing a broad front attack up the entire with of the map might be the easiest way to do this operation...

But that might feel a bit to restricted. Some might want to try a left flank attack...some might want to try a right flank attack and then swing around into the center at some point perhaps.
If the player decide on a flank attack...The germans should perhaps try a counter attack to try and cut of the most forward player units. If that happens the player will need to fix this somehow.
Covering all of these eventualities will probably take a hole lot of different battle options and branches. Also objectives, victoryconditions and setup zones in the individual battles might become complicated to figure out.
Also if many of the attack attempts will have different timing options (wait for arty support, reinforcements, armour etc)...It will be EVEN MORE batlles needed to cover all the options.
I'm not saying this will be impossible...but most likely very tricky...If succesful though...It would be a blast to play i'm sure and offer great replayability !
 

AI Plans are are always fun but the the implementation of triggers makes this more doable. "Bush war" that Germans got a lot of experience in around St Lo at this time had a mobile defense. This can be done with the tight in terrain on the map I think, however full scale counter attacks to push the Americans back is probably a step too far and out of the realms of possibility strategically for the German defenders at this time of the campaign.

The fact the Germans won't have to have huge formation wide movements makes life a bit easier as a designer. Initial placements and what they can see from their prepared positions will be a big factor for determining the amount of difficulty the player will face.

18 hours ago, Pete Wenman said:

@Ithikial_AU I always meant to try something like this with my Shadow of the Hill missions.

The concept behind them was for a finite British force to attack across the full map, against a finite German defender, but broken into a number of scenarios to create the sense that the attackers could only advance by securing the necessary objectives. Fail a mission and it would need to be attempted again, but with both sides having a reduced pool of units. This would hopefully then cause questions as to when to commit reserves and if the attacker pushed too hard too early on would he still have sufficient "good order" forces for the latter battles.

As it was I've never had the time to link things together and create the various branches necessary but in simple term it was going to be that a win would allow the British to move on to the next mission, but a loss would require it to be fought again (perhaps only in part) with fresh troops possible being committed to complete the objective.

I always though the concept would probably work best for HTH and so require a 3rd party to administer but I feel it could be done.

Thanks Pete. I'll have to admit I've never got around to those scenarios even after all these years. I need to take a closer look. Keen for any input and ideas you may have had though both now and at the time in this space.

14 hours ago, RepsolCBR said:

In subsequent battles...How will you know witch units have advanced where when it comes to the set-up for the next battle ?

Future video will be on this. Either gradual progression in phase lines which moves the deployment zone further up the map once achieved, or just the one objective and you need to move your forces from a muster area at the start of each battle. Keeping in mind that in the later half of the campaign there won't be much if any Germans manning the forward positions if you've been thorough.

Maybe add some RPG elements into some engagements like a platoon being cut off at the start of an engagement just to mix it up for the player and add a curve ball here and there.

13 hours ago, Erwin said:

It's been a while since I played a CM1 campaign vs AI, but IIRC this is how CM1 handled it.  The majority of forces were in the new set up zone and the player could reposition as desired.  However, a few units which had previously been advanced forward of the player's main force into "no man's land" would be found set up in non-movable starting positions (possibly behind enemy lines). 

 

Where the RPG elements mentioned above come in possibly but haven't worked that bit out yet. The game won't automatically set a deployment zone in a CM2 campaign.

9 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

I have been doing experiments with this over the years:

- Certainly, having the campaign "flow control" to traverse a table is possible, but it gets difficult quickly to manage the files. If the timeline is broken down in say 2 hour slots, and you want to cover 8 hours, you end up keeping track of 16 scenarios. 

- Shorter scenarios is more game. Meaning that the shorter the battle, the easier is to playtest things and make sure the scenario provides the experience you want. Setting deployment areas and intelligence levels smartly reduces the need of allowing longer times for recon etc.

- You really want to use a Master OOB scenario as a centralised DB.

- And you would also really like to be able to track casualty levels while playing... some player aid would help managing the battle. 

- AI arty spotting can break the campaign by causing massive casualties. 

It can totally work but it's not a one man job if you want to tackle a regiment level operation. On the other hand there are a number of already done scenarios - the CMBN CW/MG and CMFI biggies for instance - and master maps to either use as a base or use directly.

Also, by using historical OOBS one observes that British and American generalship tended to commit and feed troops into battle in dribs and drabs. From a standpoint of playability, this needs to be considered. As an object lesson in history, is well worth the ride. 

For you first concern yes I agree but you can limit this slightly by having fixed check points the player must reach by a specific time or they are 'replaced' and the campaign ends. Remember you aren't creating each scenario from scratch, it's the one map with some tweaks to the settings such as data and time to push the time along. Keeping track for the campaign script at the end will probably by the biggest challenge.

Second dot point, if it works as intended the player should be organising things like recon etc themselves without being told to do so. It would be smart to maybe probe forward slightly in one engagement when you know you're going to have a battery of divisional heavy artillery being available in the next battle. It's that level of player choice which I'm trying to achieve here. Throwing in problems outside of their control as well such as maybe the weather turning bad in the afternoon. Do I make an extra effort in the morning knowing a downpour will hit in the afternoon? Or do I proceed as normal and continue my regular attempts to advance during the bad weather? One big briefing up front but minimal briefings required during the campaign itself. Again you wouldn't expect a Regiment Commander to hold a Battalion commanders hand for things like organising recon or maintaining a front line with enough men and ammo.

Master OOB for both sides is a definite but there will be one additions that will be available for one scenario at a time which are added in manually. For example the availability of divisional artillery for a specific allotted time before it's assigned to another part of the front. Not to mention the Germans need to be able to throw the odd surprise the American's way once and a while to keep the player guessing. Historical plausibility is the term I'll go with. I'm not trying to be 100% historically strict on what you'll face so there may be the odd stray Fallschirmjager platoon that gets lost from their portion of the front for instance. But at the same time I won't throw a Tiger tank at the player and give an evil laugh when that was never plausible in the defense mounted for St Lo.

I'm very mindful of arty being a one sided affair and want to minimize it's impact. It was also of questionable use for boccage fighting given the knife fight scenarios many troops found themselves in. Mortars on the other hand are another matter.

This isn't a regiment sized campaign by any means, it's only one Battalion and it would be discouraged in hurling all the men forward at once on such a tight map where the enemy has a liberal amount of machine guns in dug in positions. Hopefully the design will encourage the player to follow Allied actions on the ground of sending in 'dribs and drabs' as you put it, rotating troops around to whoever was most suitable for that objective. Having on map resupply will I think go a long way in achieving this aim. But more on that later. :)

 

Thanks for the early comments. Looks likes it's peaked some peoples interest. Good signs indeed.

Edited by Ithikial_AU

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I should also add that I posted this in this CM2 forum since it's an idea that if it works, could readily be transported over to the other families. CMSF2 - A multi-national taskforce rolling into downtown Damascus going up against Republican Guard and over zealous militia on every street corner anyone? :D  (But yeah persistent map damage is huge for a concept like this).

Baby steps first. It would be a bit hard to do this at a smaller scale than this map wise so this historical series of engagements is a good test case.

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Perhaps one way to help deal with the persistent map damage could be to not let the PLAYER handle the larger arty but rather give him something like 3 or 4 options of different barrage locations that you, the designer, have specified...

If you plan on including  heavier artillery in every second or third scenario or something you could insert a selection scenario prior to the actual battles...In these selection scenarios you paint a number of terrain objectives at the intended targetlocations for the upcomming barrage and name the terrain objectives something like - barrage option 1, barrage option 2 etc..

.These locations might not neccesarely have to be a solid blobb for each barrage-option but could perhaps be a number of different seperate locations if that would be desired.

Down at the player set-up zone you place an equal number of 'selection' terrain objectives named 1, 2, 3 and 4...etc.

To select a barrage option for the comming battle  the player moves a friendly unti onto one of the 'selection' objectives.

For the actual fighting scenario...you create 4 simular battles with the only difference being the target loaction for the barrage...You use german artillery to AI-target the terrain objective locations that the player selected in the previous selection scenario...

This way you can controll atleast where the HEAVY ARTILLERY goes...both german (the enemy side german) and friendly (the AI german barrage)...giving you some controll of where the map damage will be...and be abler to maintain this in the following battles...

On-map mortars and area-fire on triggered german terrain objectives might give you some controll of the lighter german firesupport...

This suggestion will further increase the number of different scenarios needed though to make the operation work...It might not be practically viable to do this...but...

 

A small suggestion to get a bit of controll of the persistant map damage...:)

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That's a very clever idea, but sadly I don't think it would hold much appeal for the 'control freak' element of the CM community.....There used to be an option to 'Bake' scenarios in CM:SF (possibly CM:A too), which would cover the initial barrages, but a bit of concentrated mortar or tank fire mid-game can still create 'terrain modifications' that the designer can't cater for in later scenarios.

23 hours ago, Pete Wenman said:

I always though the concept would probably work best for HTH and so require a 3rd party to administer but I feel it could be done.

This is probably the best solution.....Create a series of scenarios for two players and a referee, the latter being responsible for updating the maps and controlling reinforcements from higher echelons etc., but it's going to be quite a workload for the referee.

Edited by Sgt.Squarehead

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6 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

Again you wouldn't expect a Regiment Commander to hold a Battalion commanders hand for things like organising recon or maintaining a front line with enough men and ammo.

That was actually quite common, in the Allies and Soviet armies. A notable example we can read about a lot is the US Army in Tunisia and Italy. Solid battalion leadership was a highly sought after commodity, and eventually Clark instated a policy to spare the few surviving experienced and surviving battalion CO's in 5th Army to become "the US Army's next war generals".

Atkinson trilogy An Army at Dawn, A Day of Battle and Guns At Last Light does a good job of looking at the highs and lows of leadership and command in the ETO.

Edited by BletchleyGeek

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6 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

Keen for any input and ideas you may have had though both now and at the time in this space.

Happy to add what I can. 

The premise was that part of Operation Jupiter carried out by 130 Brigade to the NW of Hill 112.

4th and 5th Dorsets and 7th Hampshires together with elements of 9 RTR being the main teeth arms. It was the relatively small map area required, plus the specific taskings for the units that made me think the operational concept could work together with the fact the battle took about a day.

In Simple terms 

1st battle was to be the advance of two companies of 5th Dorset plus two Sqdn 9 RTR  to secure the German outpost line at Les Duanes, which should be relatively easy.

The second battle was for the same two companies to continue forward and secure the Chateau de Fontaine .

The securing of the Chateau was then the signal for two companies from 4th Dorsets (again with tank support) to start their advance to capture Eterville which was approx 1k to the east of the Chateau with this being the third battle.

Further battles were to follow

I've detailed the narrative here as it's the precision of the objectives that made me think it would be cool to see this within an operational type context.

If the British did not succeed with the initial battles, it would be cool for them to have to undertake further attempts to secure their initial objectives. Also if they suffered higher losses than otherwise might be expected this would effect the later battles. So the snowballing effect of either being behind schedule and/or suffering high casualties would impact the subsequent actions. This leads to the heart of what you are trying to replicate -  force preservation and the need to balance short term objectives against longer term.

In the same way the German decisions (whether player or AI) would impact on how battles played out. As an example if the Germans decided to abandon the outpost line at Les Duanes then the British would have an easy victory, but those forces not committed by the Germans would then be available for later actions.

The size of the map also was designed to allow flanking fire from the defenders should the British not be able to prevent a salient  being created on one flank or the other.

In operational game terms core forces are needed for both sides, which are then reduced back to those in action for any given battle, but with all loses carrying forward. A local reserve could be available for each side, but does not have to be committed.

I'll have a dig around for the notes I made at the time and see if I can add any detail to the operational aspects I considered. 

P

 

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I don't have time to read through everything, so if this was mentioned, sorry for the repeat. I've had an idea floating around in my head where the designer could make two map versions (of the same place) for a campaign. One clean, and one with lots of damage. It's not perfect but could simulate things that may have taken place between the last battle (loss) and the start of the new one. Maybe a bombardments occurred, or more fighting by other units took place, etc. The back story could be included in the briefing to explain why there is more damage on the second go round. Just a thought.

 

Mord.

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9 hours ago, RepsolCBR said:

Perhaps one way to help deal with the persistent map damage could be to not let the PLAYER handle the larger arty but rather give him something like 3 or 4 options of different barrage locations that you, the designer, have specified...

 

54 minutes ago, Mord said:

I don't have time to read through everything, so if this was mentioned, sorry for the repeat. I've had an idea floating around in my head where the designer could make two map versions (of the same place) for a campaign. One clean, and one with lots of damage. It's not perfect but could simulate things that may have taken place between the last battle (loss) and the start of the new one. Maybe a bombardments occurred, or more fighting by other units took place, etc. The back story could be included in the briefing to explain why there is more damage on the second go round. Just a thought.

 

Mord.

That's exactly what I did for my Lions of Carpiquet campaign. It almost doubled the map making time required as you essentially had to 'build' each map 1.5 times. A clean version and then a 'rubbled down' version mesing around building states, adding craters/rubble and then making sure it looked right especailly around buildings. The players were given the artillery up front but told how to use them during the deployment phase. If it was possiible in game to remove off map support assets inside a scenario after a specified amount of time I would have done it. It was a way around creating the tail end of a carpet barrage the Canadians used on the village and airfield to screen their advance over the open fields. In game I toyed with the idea of having the map already in a damaged state but wanted to player to have the fun themselves. (We all like explosions). Even though it wouldn't affect gameplay in terms of casualties, unless the player was extremly silly, it did add immensely to the sheer feeling of chaos in those opening 30 mins of gameplay as forces dribbled onto the map in a scattered and disorganised state. C&C links were all over the place until the player was able to organise his forces and put a fighting force togther as the battle progressed.

For this one I don't think there will be such a liberal use of heavy artillery for the player given the tight in terrain issues mentioned above. But I do control where the Germans get to dump some shells and can adjust the follow on maps to suit. :)

Edited by Ithikial_AU

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7 hours ago, Pete Wenman said:

.... This leads to the heart of what you are trying to replicate -  force preservation and the need to balance short term objectives against longer term.

...

In operational game terms core forces are needed for both sides, which are then reduced back to those in action for any given battle, but with all loses carrying forward. A local reserve could be available for each side, but does not have to be committed.

I'll have a dig around for the notes I made at the time and see if I can add any detail to the operational aspects I considered. 

P

 

Much appreciated. Yes a master OOB for both sides is a definite. I'm not sure yet whether I as the designer should decide which US Companies of the core unit force should appear on the battlefield for each engagement. I'm inclined to think it's more up to the player to worry about that kind of organisation and make assessments based on unit head counts / ammo availability etc. For your local reservice point, shouldn't it be up to the player to organise and try to keep them out of harms way?

I may include an exit zone worth 0 victory points for the Allied player so he can exit forces off the map he doesn't want to commit to the current engagement. I'm just not 100% on whether this would mess up something on the campaign scripting side of the equation, like for force replenishment of units that have 'exited' the previous battle.

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5 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

Much appreciated. Yes a master OOB for both sides is a definite. I'm not sure yet whether I as the designer should decide which US Companies of the core unit force should appear on the battlefield for each engagement. I'm inclined to think it's more up to the player to worry about that kind of organisation and make assessments based on unit head counts / ammo availability etc. For your local reservice point, shouldn't it be up to the player to organise and try to keep them out of harms way?

This is certainly doable but is a lot of work. I would at least have a fixed unit pick and mission for the first campaign mission but thereafter you can just create decision missions that allow the player to branch with a chosen force. Let's say that Mission 1 has A and B Coy in it and A Coy gets a bit of a hammering. You can then create a decision Mission where the player chooses to use A and B Coy again or to use C and B Coy for the real Mission 2. Rinse and repeat ...

Like I said though - it would be a sh1t tin of work to both create and test.

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7 hours ago, Combatintman said:

Like I said though - it would be a sh1t tin of work to both create and test.

This is pretty much where I got to, and the reason I went for individual scenarios.

The campaign option allows for easy use of the core force file, which automatically deals with casualties and re-suppy between missions, but in order to provide any kind of  natural feel to the subsequent missions also requires a high number of possible missions, most of which won't actually be used. Given that campaigns can only be against the AI this is a lot of work for not much return.

Going down the route of using scenarios does require a 3rd party umpire, who will control the map damage, and hopefully be able to match that from previous battles to the current. He will also need to impose the casualty reductions on both sides forces. This can be done either by using the % reduction options in the editor and/or deleting sub units. (3rd platoon is deleted, reflecting the losses and that the remaining troops have been re-organised etc).

I always thought this option for H2H  would not involve too much work once the map is created, with the main work being the addition of the compounding map damage and determining the available troops for both side and setting set up zones. Playing against the AI would require a lot more work to craft AI plans and so I discarded that option.

Looking at my notes I made the following observations. KIV this is based on Op Jupiter with the operation lasting about 16 hours in total - 05.00 - 21.00 hrs

  • Overall operation timescale either imposed by the ref or agreed by both players, but must also account for the time compression seen within the game.
  • To assist with the above each pause between battles to be at least 30 minutes of game time or longer at attackers request, but with the defender being able to utilise additional defences if a longer pause taken. (Foxholes, Trenches, Wire, MG Bunkers ?). Arty support and re-supply would increase with the length of pause. An element of RP perhaps being required here by the players and ref.
  • Defender has the ability to withdraw some or all forces from any given location unless surrounded (subjective and down to the ref for border line case)
  • This could result in a battle where the attacker has a walk over against a very light defence, but this is the nature of this style of play. 

I felt that the overall mission time and objectives should be set for each battle by the attacker, but the ref could overrule and amend these if not deemed appropriate. Likewise each player could determine the force level to be used for each mission, but again with concessions given to how close reserve forces are deemed to be to the frontline. Given the operational nature of this style of play I did not see the need for any VP to be allocated, and in my case no real concession to balance other than the determination of each sides core force and ability to resupply.

My notes suggest I was then going to reduce experience, motivation and fitness to varying degrees for units where losses of 10%+ were seen for each battle.

I'll carry this on a little later

P

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I have a couple of ideas rattling around my head but I'll admit they won't totally align with your design theory. For me the absolute must is that we avoid the immersion killer of map damage. In simple terms this involves:

  1. Creating air gaps in your map.
  2. Imposing some rules on the player (not onerous ones and they are tactically justifiable ones).
  3. Having withdrawal lines/triggers for the Axis

The air gaps will allow you to set the branching up and will also allow you to develop the narrative while the rules will require the player to keep a portion of the force involved in defensive or R+R mode. The triggers are not AI triggers, they are a design device to have the opposition withdraw from certain areas to avoid becoming outflanked/encircled.

Anyway, it is late o'clock here in NSW so I'll revisit this in a couple of days so that you can see where I'm going with it.

Still a lot of work though ... ;)

 

 

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On 2/6/2018 at 10:53 PM, Ithikial_AU said:

I may include an exit zone worth 0 victory points for the Allied player so he can exit forces off the map he doesn't want to commit to the current engagement. I'm just not 100% on whether this would mess up something on the campaign scripting side of the equation, like for force replenishment of units that have 'exited' the previous battle.

This is interesting.  I don't know how it would work in a campaign either.  A different option is to have a more or less secure area near the players map edge that is not in LOS of the OpFor.  Basically a setup zone.  It would be the players choice to leave them there or commit them.  I do like the idea of an exit zone.  It may be more useful if the player was on defense.  Hold with part of the force while the remainder withdraws.  Of course with campaigns the player is generally on the attack against the AI...........  Still interesting.       

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