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How come Nebelwerfers are so rare in the big German scenarios?

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3 hours ago, IanL said:

Awesome post @ASL Veteran - tying game scenarios into a list of highlighted events from the actual timeline.

Wish I could plus two it. :)

I think my favorite scenario of the seven for Nordwind would have to be Custer's Stand.  That one is a direct result of the extended city fight in Hatten because when the main German attack stalled in Hatten (on the road to the Hagenau Forest) the Germans attempted a Rhine crossing a bit to the south in the area where Custer's Stand is set.  The entire area was apparently socked in with fog for all of the battles near the Rhine and there is but a single American company defending an entire town on a very large map.  The Germans come from three different directions and the American company has to stretch a little thinly in order to hold the town.  Due to the conditions you have German paratroops and Volksgrenadiers infiltrating in through the dawn fog since its nearly impossible for the Americans to guard every approach with sufficient strength.  These American forces were some of the regiments that were broken up from their parent divisions, attached to various veteran divisions, and dispersed along the Rhine in isolated towns and other strongpoints.

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On 8/10/2018 at 8:44 AM, ASL Veteran said:

The main thing about rocket artillery in the game is that they don't sound any different than normal artillery which is disappointing to me since I remember with some fondness the weird space rocket sounds in CM1 when Nebelwerfers were used. 

On my blue moon wishlist for sure. :) More options for soundfiles and varied explosion textures based on the cause (for example direct shot vs indirect) would be a nice cosmetic bump up for the CM games.

Going back to the OP....

Just my opinion. The problem with Nebelwefers is they are incredibly unbalanced for the majority of the map and force sizes we play with 99% of the time. Should that mean they have no place in the CM TOE? No, but like 'rare' vehicles they won't (and shouldn't) show up in many scenarios. I remember playing the Commonwealth Campaign from CMBN-CW where a mission had the infamous moaning minnies. The Germans were able to use them to shell the British deployment zone with a pre-planned bombardment. The result ended up effectively wiping out a company of my troops before I'd even set off. That turned into an immediate 'save scum' situation since there was no point in me trying to push ahead in the scenario or the campaign when you take a hit. Then in the back of my mind I know that there are limited forces for the rest of the campaign.

When I made 'Lions of Carpiquet' I ran directly into the 'Nebelwerfer' problem as a designer. Historically, the 12 SS used Nebelwerfers on the Canadians who took the village. Actually a crude equivilent that was more like an early form of napalm rather than high explosive. I didn't want to ignore this part of Operation Windor's history but was well aware of the problems of giving the AI access to such a potent weapon during a pre-set bombardment. The solution (minor spoilers) was to mark the area I wanted the AI to try to destroy with off map support slightly in front and away from the Canadian/player deployment. By default the Nebelwefers will always scatter over a wide area regardless and this meant only a fraction would seriously hit the Canadian player unless he was really silly leaving his dug in defensive positions to charge Panthers with infantry. You still got the 'cinematic' effect without the possible lop sided hit to scenario balance.

Tips/Rules I've come up along the way with off map support (as a designer):

- 'Nebelwerfer trick' as above.

- Use the heavier support options only for larger and/or heavy hard cover maps. (155mm 'Long Toms' are not assigned to a platoon trying to take a lone farmhouse).

- Manage AI and Player off map ammo very carefully.

- Don't be scared (in an AI battle) to have the enemy forces come onto the map from reserve timed to coincide with the end of a player prebombardment. I use this 'gamey trick' in Lion's of Carpiquet for the opening mission where the player is instructed to use all of their off map support to reflect the final stages of a carpet barrage from 30 odd artillery battalions. Historically the Germans sheltered in stone basements which are not modeled in game. It takes lots of testing and careful timing but as a designer you'll know how many troops you'll have to go up against the player at all times. Unfortunately you can't take off map support away from a player after a preset time in game. ie 'use it or lose it.' So a level of trust between designer and player will need to exist here.

- Give the player warning in the briefing if they are going to be shelled on turn one. Have his troops set to hide intially so they don't stick their heads up as much.

Hope that helps. :)

 

Edited by Ithikial_AU

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1 hour ago, Ithikial_AU said:

The problem with Nebelwefers is they are incredibly unbalanced for the majority of the map and force sizes we play with 99% of the time.

On larger maps, I don't find them unbalanced at all. They are useful for smashing a suspected strongpoint, but they also have drawbacks. Very long call times, huge dispersion, risk of friendly fire all make them more suited to pre-planned bombardments, which means you're playing a game of "guess where the enemy might be". Very often, he won't be there.

I remember playing one or two stock scenarios in CMBN where you get Nebelwerfer support, and in neither case did they have that much of an impact in my playthroughs. Usually, the scenario designer doesn't just put all the enemy in a small village - eggs in the basket and all that :)

 

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Should that mean they have no place in the CM TOE? No, but like 'rare' vehicles they won't (and shouldn't) show up in many scenarios.

I agree. But if they don't even show up in the very large scenarios that take place on the first day of the Ardennes Offensive... that feels a bit like D-day without naval support.

 

1 hour ago, Ithikial_AU said:
On 8/10/2018 at 2:44 AM, ASL Veteran said:

The main thing about rocket artillery in the game is that they don't sound any different than normal artillery which is disappointing to me since I remember with some fondness the weird space rocket sounds in CM1 when Nebelwerfers were used. 

On my blue moon wishlist for sure. :) More options for soundfiles and varied explosion textures based on the cause (for example direct shot vs indirect) would be a nice cosmetic bump up for the CM games.

 

I don't know for sure, but I think the Werfers got the nickname Moaning Minnies from the sound of them being fired, not so much the sound they made as they fell from the sky? Some of the NWs had quite short range, and the launch would have been heard. But yes, I'd definitely like if each artillery sounded different...

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3 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

I remember playing the Commonwealth Campaign from CMBN-CW where a mission had the infamous moaning minnies. The Germans were able to use them to shell the British deployment zone with a pre-planned bombardment. The result ended up effectively wiping out a company of my troops before I'd even set off. That turned into an immediate 'save scum' situation since there was no point in me trying to push ahead in the scenario or the campaign when you take a hit.

I think you are talking about the mission "Night Music". In that one, you get foxholes, so if you start the battle by ordering everyone to hide, they can ride out the nebelwerfer barrage with minimal casualties. I only lost 2-3 guys when a rocket made a direct hit.

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Perhaps super heavy arty can be used to enhance replayability since one can't be 100% sure of the effect of a barrage.  However, BF has always posited that (probably due to the relatively small map sizes) its best to assume the barrage is over and design the scenario as if all the damage has been done, and now the assault starts.

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Speaking of VG "human wave" attacks, I have read that this is really a reported perception, not a tactic.

That is, first-hand accounts sometimes report a "human wave" attack, but the argument is that what has in fact happened is that successive assault waves have become tangled up and clumped together due to poor planning and/or poor execution during an attack.

We all know that a frontal attack involves, well, getting up and moving forward. But I haven't found a historian yet who cites anyone ordering human wave attacks - not even the Russians, whom I always had assumed had launched these sort of attacks, thanks to media representations of it.

For instance, during the Normandy landings and in the Pacific you see some instances of individuals or small units charging unsuppressed machinegun positions, eliminating them, but being killed in the process. This is the sort of thing that happened to larger units.

For instance, in Beevor's book Ardennes 44 he describes an American machinegun crew holding off an SS unit all day, noting that the Germans continually mounted charges straight ahead. This was not a "human wave", but a failure to locate and suppress the enemy base of fire before advancing - they were trying to get away with movement without the fire.

Similarly, at Cassino, we can imagine what would have happened if the Commonwealth didn't have artillery support, and if the first wave was pinned down crossing open ground. Subsequent assault waves would pile up, and unit leaders would perhaps get men moving forward under fire to avoid remaining in the kill zone.

So, a "human wave" attack is really nonsensical as a concept, something that commanders do not order - rather it is advancing under fire, with the perception that a "human wave" attack has occurred when the defenders are overrun or are able to defeat a large attack that wasn't properly supported.

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Yea, reading anecdotes from American combatants I often saw variants of "we waited for the Germans to advance out of 'insert cover/concealment here' before opening fire". 

It seemed that many American units managed to keep their heads long enough to wait for the German infantry to enter good fields of fire before engaging. While German Infantry, on the other hand, often did not have a clear idea of where the American line is.

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On 8/9/2018 at 2:18 PM, General Liederkranz said:

The other factor might be that heavy and rocket artillery was usually used in preliminary bombardments, outside CM’s scope. 

This. Rocket artillery is extremely dangerous to use tactically since it covers so much of a battlefield, often what defines the average CM scenario. That's not to say it shouldn't be used by the scenario designers or featured, just that they have good reason not to feature it in many cases. Of course then it behooves the scenario designer to adjust the defending force appropriately. 

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Speaking of VG "human wave" attacks, I have read that this is really a reported perception, not a tactic.

If only post war western authors had been this skeptical toward German accounts of the Eastern Front. 😋

 

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On larger maps, I don't find them unbalanced at all. They are useful for smashing a suspected strongpoint, but they also have drawbacks. Very long call times, huge dispersion, risk of friendly fire all make them more suited to pre-planned bombardments, which means you're playing a game of "guess where the enemy might be". Very often, he won't be there.

I had the same problem for years with bombardment planning Bulletpoint, my advice is to make a plan less dependent on where you think the enemy is than where you don't want him to be. If i'm maneuvering a force toward an objective I do not want to risk letting the enemy shower them with fire from the bluff overlooking the advance. So I delete the bluff with a pair of 25pdrs. This works well for the British and Americans and best of all for the Russians. 

Edited by SimpleSimon

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7 hours ago, SimpleSimon said:
On 8/9/2018 at 7:18 PM, General Liederkranz said:

The other factor might be that heavy and rocket artillery was usually used in preliminary bombardments, outside CM’s scope. 

This. Rocket artillery is extremely dangerous to use tactically since it covers so much of a battlefield, often what defines the average CM scenario. That's not to say it shouldn't be used by the scenario designers or featured, just that they have good reason not to feature it in many cases. Of course then it behooves the scenario designer to adjust the defending force appropriately. 

Some of the biggest Nebelwerfers actually had a very limited maximum range of some 2200 metres, so I guess a typical combat range would be 1000-1500m. That's well within the scope of a CM scenario.

And there were many smaller rockets available with a longer range. I see 15cm artillery used all the time, but rarely ever 15cm rockets. They were not a rare weapon either - according to the wiki, 6000 launchers were produced, and millions of pieces of ammunition.

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I´ve read more than one time that during the Ardennes offensive, particularly the initial stage the Nebelwerfers were the only artillery the germans could bring forward with the spearhead forces cause they were rather light and mobile enough for the terrain. I could imagine various scenario situations having Nebelwerfers available rather during mid game and a bigger map where you can afford the dispersion, while the same time limiting it due to having a FO with LOS to the potential targets and possibly a preset TRP. For that purpose I think the germans had the rocket wielding halftracks (Wurfrahmen) or the ordinary Nebelwerfer 41/42 with their armored advance guards sometimes.

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2 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Some of the biggest Nebelwerfers actually had a very limited maximum range of some 2200 metres, so I guess a typical combat range would be 1000-1500m. That's well within the scope of a CM scenario.

And there were many smaller rockets available with a longer range. I see 15cm artillery used all the time, but rarely ever 15cm rockets. They were not a rare weapon either - according to the wiki, 6000 launchers were produced, and millions of pieces of ammunition.

Yeah don't get me wrong I think we should see more of it in the game. Many scenarios are actually really anemic on support assets in general I think. 

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