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WriterJWA

How I view most scenarios and the designers...

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The challenge for designers is that in RL recon would have occurred and the attacker would have some idea of what enemy positions were ahead and how manned.  It's rare to advance into complete unknown.  But if one did, human attackers would be very cautious.  This takes time in RL.

However, in the game, we already KNOW that there is a significant enemy short distance in front and that combat is imminent,  But, rarely do players have info re strong point locations or how the defenses are designed.  Also, most players are quite ruthless with the lives of their pixeltruppen. 

If one roleplays as if every man is precious one would need maybe twice as long as one is (usually) given.  But, for the average casual player, that would be way too long as many want to rush in and have a big shoot-out...  

That's a major reason well-designed campaigns (in which one has to be concerned with force and ammo preservation) are the best way to play.  However, some scenarios, like MOS's xnt TOC scenario give one a lot of time (4 hours in TOC) in which one does have plenty of time to be careful and friendly casualties are heavily penalized.

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3 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

I don't care. Fight me. 

2msw6q.jpg

This made me chuckle.

I agree with you in some ways. Particularly in CMSF1 there were a handful of scenario's that had time limits that were very restrictive, especially when dealing with urban warfare. The good news is, the more recently released games like CMFB and CMBS tend to have more appropriate time limits in my experience. Plus, you can always load up the scenario in question in the editor and increase the amount of time.

I do sympathize with some of the time limits. In many cases, they are the only real thing that gives the defender a chance at winning. It's a debate that's been had more than a few times here.

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As long as it is expected for the player to call ceasefire at his discretion, then sure whats wrong with adding extra time. Personally I wish there was a "do you want to end scenario or keep playing" prompt for those situations when I caught on late to the avenue of approach or whatever. I was actually having a good time playing the battle. Experienced players who read the AI can really breeze through scenarios fast, shooting for an AI surrender. That can't be interpreted as a basis to set time for a scenario. Its safe to be generous with time allotment in almost all scenarios, you really can't go wrong. The exception being when time appreciation is the premise of the objective.

 

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17 minutes ago, nik mond said:

As long as it is expected for the player to call ceasefire at his discretion, then sure whats wrong with adding extra time. Personally I wish there was a "do you want to end scenario or keep playing" prompt for those situations when I caught on late to the avenue of approach or whatever. I was actually having a good time playing the battle. Experienced players who read the AI can really breeze through scenarios fast, shooting for an AI surrender. That can't be interpreted as a basis to set time for a scenario. Its safe to be generous with time allotment in almost all scenarios, you really can't go wrong. The exception being when time appreciation is the premise of the objective.

 

I think part of the issue is adding time affects play balance for human to human and adversely affects one player while benefiting the other.  Balance is really tough considering the different play options.  Nice thing is if you really want it you can always open the editor and add time for play against the AI and save that separately.

Edited by sburke

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I wanted my scenario "Contact Front!" to have a reasonable difficulty. Then a tester asked me "I have all the objectives now with 30 minutes to spare, is there anything more coming?"

Now, people tell me the scenario is too hard.

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12 hours ago, Erwin said:

The challenge for designers is that in RL recon would have occurred and the attacker would have some idea of what enemy positions were ahead and how manned.  It's rare to advance into complete unknown.  But if one did, human attackers would be very cautious.  This takes time in RL.

However, in the game, we already KNOW that there is a significant enemy short distance in front and that combat is imminent,  But, rarely do players have info re strong point locations or how the defenses are designed.  Also, most players are quite ruthless with the lives of their pixeltruppen. 

If one roleplays as if every man is precious one would need maybe twice as long as one is (usually) given.  But, for the average casual player, that would be way too long as many want to rush in and have a big shoot-out...  

That's a major reason well-designed campaigns (in which one has to be concerned with force and ammo preservation) are the best way to play.  However, some scenarios, like MOS's xnt TOC scenario give one a lot of time (4 hours in TOC) in which one does have plenty of time to be careful and friendly casualties are heavily penalized.

The thing is. . . . We typical DON'T know what's in front of us, other than a rough unit ID, size, and general location. The player (the unit commander) has little to no intel on enemy orientation, disposition, covering terrain, fortifications, armored vehicles, or anything related. Nor should they. That's why leaders recons are so important. But in a lot of these scenarios and campaigns there just isn't enough time to do it properly, so the player often ends up taking casualties needlessly. (Obviously time-driven scenarios notwithstanding.)

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29 minutes ago, WriterJWA said:

The thing is. . . . We typical DON'T know what's in front of us, other than a rough unit ID, size, and general location. The player (the unit commander) has little to no intel on enemy orientation, disposition, covering terrain, fortifications, armored vehicles, or anything related. Nor should they. That's why leaders recons are so important. But in a lot of these scenarios and campaigns there just isn't enough time to do it properly, so the player often ends up taking casualties needlessly. (Obviously time-driven scenarios notwithstanding.)

Mostly agree, except for terrain.  In that particular case we have far more intel than any officer ever would unless they have fought on that ground before.  One other item at the player disposal that I don't see used frequently in AARs is recon by fire.  Trigger the enemy to expose themselves.  Risky but it can work.

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21 hours ago, Erwin said:

However, in the game, we already KNOW that there is a significant enemy short distance in front and that combat is imminent,  But, rarely do players have info re strong point locations or how the defenses are designed.  

WriterJWA: "We typical DON'T know what's in front of us, other than a rough unit ID, size, and general location..."

That is exactly the point was trying to make.  We know there is an enemy in front of us cos it's a game scenario.  But as players, we are rarely given any other recon info re enemy dispositions that would be useful to planning our attacks.  

It's a huge challenge for designers to create a scenario that is fun for experienced as well as non-experienced players.  When playtesting am very conscious of not reporting that some aspect of a scenario is too easy for that reason.  When testing either one has to deliberately make silly moves to see if one can recover from errors, or (my preferred SOP) try and accomplish a mission with negligible if any casualties.

I have played otherwise very good campaigns where one comes across one or more missions that one has to replay several times to win and advance to the next mission, and that is the biggest PITA.  

Going into the editor to increase time is ok, but also a PITA and can ruin the scenario design.  It may not be possible in CM2 to provide the player with a button to "add extra X minutes to the scenario" like one can for PAUSE - but that would be a wonderful feature for CM3.

Also: CM1 featured "Battalion, Regimental and Divisional Reserves".  I can't recall if this feature was only for campaigns or also worked for scenarios.  However, the CM1 game engine/AI could figure out in the middle of a mission if you were unlikely to win and it would (automatically IIRC) provide levels of reserves depending on how badly the player was doing - with a reduced victory level as penalty. 

While CM2 for some reason doesn't have that feature, designers like MOS are working on workaround schemes to provide the player with the ability to voluntarily call on reserves (at the cost of victory points).  

So perhaps a SOP for designers would be to design a scenario for experienced players for a certain length of time, but provide reserves that less-experienced players could call upon if required.

 

Edited by Erwin

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3 hours ago, Erwin said:

WriterJWA: "We typical DON'T know what's in front of us, other than a rough unit ID, size, and general location..."

That is exactly the point was trying to make.  We know there is an enemy in front of us cos it's a game scenario.  But as players, we are rarely given any other recon info re enemy dispositions that would be useful to planning our attacks.  

It's a huge challenge for designers to create a scenario that is fun for experienced as well as non-experienced players.  When playtesting am very conscious of not reporting that some aspect of a scenario is too easy for that reason.  When testing either one has to deliberately make silly moves to see if one can recover from errors, or (my preferred SOP) try and accomplish a mission with negligible if any casualties.

I have played otherwise very good campaigns where one comes across one or more missions that one has to replay several times to win and advance to the next mission, and that is the biggest PITA.  

Going into the editor to increase time is ok, but also a PITA and can ruin the scenario design.  It may not be possible in CM2 to provide the player with a button to "add extra X minutes to the scenario" like one can for PAUSE - but that would be a wonderful feature for CM3.

Also: CM1 featured "Battalion, Regimental and Divisional Reserves".  I can't recall if this feature was only for campaigns or also worked for scenarios.  However, the CM1 game engine/AI could figure out in the middle of a mission if you were unlikely to win and it would (automatically IIRC) provide levels of reserves depending on how badly the player was doing - with a reduced victory level as penalty. 

While CM2 for some reason doesn't have that feature, designers like MOS are working on workaround schemes to provide the player with the ability to voluntarily call on reserves (at the cost of victory points).  

So perhaps a SOP for designers would be to design a scenario for experienced players for a certain length of time, but provide reserves that less-experienced players could call upon if required.

 

Yeah, I get where you're coming from. An option to turn off the time crunch would be nice, though. It makes sense for their to be a time restriction in Market-Garden, given the context of the campaign, but even then it seems a little tight (I'm thinking of the third scenario/first CW scenario as an example). 

I think much of my concern comes from the way spotting works as it relates to time and planning. There are a lot of in-game aspects that increase the need for extended recon. For instance, players can't call in an indirect fire mission on targets/areas they can't see with a spotter once the scenario begins (aka: a "grid" mission). It's as if maps don't exist in WWII (the drones in CMBS were a god-send! One wonders where the Piper Cubs are in WWII scenarios...). In-game spotting in general isn't as elegant as it is in real life (or rather, much more prohibitive), so players have to come up with creative means of spotting targets without losing troops or needlessly exposing their position, which takes more time. Sometimes I'll do things like "open up" a tank at long range for a moment just to draw infantry fire and expose targets. Not exactly an inspired way to exposed enemy positions, but often there just isn't a better option. 

Also, I think the morale system begs for more time. Because troops can break and run in all sorts of directions (even to their own detriment), or fail to fire back at hidden close range targets, it makes recon all the more important. Entire squads can be neutered with one short range burst. I've had squads break and run from cover into open ground only to get cut down by enemy further away. When I learned these hard lessons, it made planning, recon, and preparatory fires all the more important. This is especially important in campaigns, where losses can accrue from one scenario to the next. 

I do get it, though. . . . It's a tough thing to balance. But the time-hack should definitely be optional. Or maybe even given a point spread, just like with bonuses for taking under a certain number of casualties. Beat the scenario under a certain time and the player is awarded a bonus. Just my 2c...

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I use squad level scout teams alot more than I used to these days. Atleast one squad per platoon has a scout team detached. I don't actually consider this recon so much as I use it as a point man scouting ahead of the platoon to spot the enemy. Unfortunately he buys it first more often than not. But its a good way get a picture of how the map is occupied. This is slow plodding, and one hopes the time spent pays off when the fur flies.

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19 minutes ago, nik mond said:

...use it as a point man scouting ahead of the platoon to spot the enemy. Unfortunately he buys it first more often than not...

Yeah.  Using a 2-man scout team is pretty much the only way I know.  

What we can discuss is whether you use a back-up team to observe what happens to the front team (to hopefully spot what kills em), or keep the rest of the squad in close support of their 2-man scout team so they can provide immediate covering fire.  How many meters ahead should the scout team be etc?  

Or, should a scout element consist of a two man team plus a 2 or 3 man MG team to cover them?  When playing with 2 or 3 man MG teams is using them to back up a scout team the best use of the MG teams?

 

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Default with a modern us rifle platoon (3 squads, two mgs) would be something like:

Wedge formation. You're leading with two squads, leaving one safe in reserve.

Each squad is split into two fireteams of 4/5 guys. One of these fireteams are your scouting element.

Individually, how these squads moves (continuous/bounding/alternating) is a trade off between speed and security.

Each forward scouting fireteam maintains visual contact with it's parent squad, and ideally visual contact with the other scout team. Each scout team moves alternately as well.

Visual range dictates distance. Open ground means these can be more widely spaced, complex terrain will dictate a tighter grouping.

The hq element remains in c2 with the stationary part of the squad. Technology and terrain will dictate distance here, but staying in shouting distance (6 squares, I think?) is a reasonable assumption.

MGs stay with the HQ. When contact is made (hopefully by a forward team), there should be at least one other team, if not two which can pick up spotting contacts and return fire.

The HQ element should be active - their job is to maintain C2 to keep the volume of fire up, and to pick up and share spotting contacts - running them over to the engaged squad will help both of these, and taking one or both mgs with them will allow for a base of fire to be created.

 

The two man scout teams are useful with us ww2 squads, but aside from that I mostly use them when I need to split off an element to get ammo, buddy aid, etc., or when stealth is a priority against a known enemy position. As actual scouts they're pretty bad - two pairs of eyes and usually no radios, so they're mostly useful to reveal positions by getting shot at, which isn't a great strategy in general.

 

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In the game, have found the 2 man scouts to be useful as they are harder for the enemy to spot - and when spotted and fired upon, (esp if they HIDE) they seem to be harder for the enemy to hit.

When using 4 man scouts they invariably seem to be spotted quicker and in a firefight one is usually going to lose one or two guys - there are more targets for the enemy to shoot at.

The downside is that without binocs the scouts can't spot as well.  Am wondering if some of the small MG teams have binocs - that's why have thought about using them up front to back up the scouts - if the scouts draw fire, the team with the binocs can spot.  I suppose even the HQ or an FO could be right behind the scouts for that reason.  But, generally the FO is one of the most important units one has so don't want to put it in harm's way.  

The other tactic, and this is where scenario length is important, is to move the scouts much slower than we players tend to do.  ie:  At each waypoint, let the scouts sit for 5+ minutes and just look around - rather than continually move them forwards with only a few seconds pause at waypoints.  However, scouting "carefully" can take a looong time.  And scenarios generally do not allow for that, and most players want to "get into action" asap.

 

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10 hours ago, WriterJWA said:

I think much of my concern comes from the way spotting works as it relates to time and planning. There are a lot of in-game aspects that increase the need for extended recon. For instance, players can't call in an indirect fire mission on targets/areas they can't see with a spotter once the scenario begins (aka: a "grid" mission). It's as if maps don't exist in WWII (the drones in CMBS were a god-send! One wonders where the Piper Cubs are in WWII scenarios...). In-game spotting in general isn't as elegant as it is in real life (or rather, much more 

I don't think I have ever read a tactical engagement story that included spotting from a piper cub. They would have been a higher level asset not able to communicate to the level of your typical CM battle. This is part of what I think CM players frequently do not get.  Combat in WW2 was a lot different than they sometimes seem to expect.  Problem is it is also inherent in the game and our attention spans.  Combat should be a lot slower.  Your average player however doesn't want a 3 hour battle with a reinforced platoon.   Player expectations, game mechanics and reality don't converge very well. 

As to the grid system, problem is the player already has way more info than any individual unit would have and is not bound by C2 comms.  Balance is a difficult conversation.

As to scouts - I think Nick is more on target.  a 2 man scout team is a point element, not an FO unit.

Edited by sburke

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1 hour ago, sburke said:

I don't think I have ever read a tactical engagement story that included spotting from a piper cub. They would have been a higher level asset not able to communicate to the level of your typical CM battle. This is part of what I think CM players frequently do not get.  Combat in WW2 was a lot different than they sometimes seem to expect.  Problem is it is also inherent in the game and our attention spans.  Combat should be a lot slower.  Your average player however doesn't want a 3 hour battle with a reinforced platoon.   Player expectations, game mechanics and reality don't converge very well. 

As to the grid system, problem is the plater already has way more info than any individual unit would have and is not bound by C2 comms.  Balance is a difficult conversation.

As to scouts - I think Nick is more on target.  a 2 man scout team is a point element, not an FO unit.

Fair point on the Piper Cubs... Those would be much more rare than a drone.

I guess I'd just like to have more time to fight these battles. For example, "Carbide Carbide" covers a couple kilometers of ground and includes two river crossings and I get 90 minutes to do something that the same forces would have had half the day to do. My point is that the time limits aren't reflected in the battle sizes in a way that reflects any sort of accuracy. A small platoon-size battle can be done in 45 minutes or so. Two full rifles companies plus armor attachments fighting over a few kilometers of ground needs far more time. I get that some players may not want the time, but having the option to take more time would be a huge help. 

Again... 2c. 

WRT spotting, sometimes I use 2-man scout teams, but not often. More often than not I'll do a leader's recon in places where I can spot at longer distances and call in organic 60mm mortars or 81s if they're available while I plan my base-of-fire position and avenues of approach. 

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10 minutes ago, WriterJWA said:

I guess I'd just like to have more time to fight these battles. 

I don't disagree.  However I think we are in a minority of folks who would play several hours scenarios.  They are also a lot more difficult to built an AI plan for.

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On 11/17/2018 at 10:36 PM, WriterJWA said:

I don't care. Fight me. 

2msw6q.jpg

 

On 11/18/2018 at 1:48 AM, IICptMillerII said:

I do sympathize with some of the time limits. In many cases, they are the only real thing that gives the defender a chance at winning. It's a debate that's been had more than a few times here.

This is why my wishlist for CM is for the ability for designers to include victory points based time taken.

Example 1 - On the Attack

Complete 'Terrain Objective 1' receive Z victory points. However take it before X minutes then you will receive an additional Y victory points. This would allow designers to break up the degrees of victory based on how competent the player is at acheiving the scenario objectives rather than it being a black and white yes/no proposition. It would be very handy in campaigns.

Dramatically frees up designers to be a bit more liberal in time allocation. In reality a whole operation is not going to be called off because B Company was half an hour late clearing that village. The company commander may get his a bit of a talking to however. :)

Example 2 - On Defence

If you can hold Terrain Objective for X minutes you get Y victory points. This allows for the modelling of delaying action scenarios by designers, making the prospect of fighting a defence scenario a bit more appealing especially against the AI.

Edited by Ithikial_AU

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Real world normal walking pace is about 15 minutes for 1 km. I will admit occasionally  I'll look at a very big scenario map, look at my infantry sitting at the far end, then look at the time on the clock, and think to myself "Nope, I don't even want to try." The scenario designer may know there's only two snipers between me and the destination but I don't know that. Every terrain fold, every stone wall, every gap between houses must be treated with suspicion. Which eats up valuable time. Even adding another 10 minutes is often a huge help to me.

If a scenario's AI orders involves complex coordinated and timed movements, that planning is based on assumptions about the player's likely movements. A tight timetable forces the player to do his maneuvering inside the expected time window.

Most scenarios, though, don't involve such complex coordinated movements. An enemy on the defense is likely to sit and wait for the oncoming attacker. Sitting and waiting does not require a tight time window for things to happen in. Some scenarios need to be short-duration for all the gears to mesh, and other scenarios could just go on-and-on indefinitely. .

Edited by MikeyD

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7 hours ago, Erwin said:

In the game, have found the 2 man scouts to be useful as they are harder for the enemy to spot - and when spotted and fired upon, (esp if they HIDE) they seem to be harder for the enemy to hit.

When using 4 man scouts they invariably seem to be spotted quicker and in a firefight one is usually going to lose one or two guys - there are more targets for the enemy to shoot at.


All true, but this is useful in the game as well, for a few reasons.

Two men are certainly harder to spot and hit than four, but four will spot faster themselves. Four men with an LMG (or three with an RPG-7) also have a chance to to defend themselves through fires, or alternatively put out effective recon by fire.

The spacings implied by the above are sensible primarily for the sharing of spotting information (so that the rest of the platoon can engage more effectively), and to maintain C2 - usually the first shots aren't kills (or at least total team annihilation), so the main thing that dictates who wins a firefight is suppression - C2 links play a huge part in winning that suppression battle.

If I'm carrying out a recon on a suspected or known enemy position, I'll decide on a few things - an approach route, a safe area to recombine after movement ("Objective Rally Point"), and then the actual line of attack.

In this case, I'll often recon with the platoon HQ unit, with as much stealth as possible (short covered arcs, slow movement, etc.).

The reason to use the HQ are twofold - first, any spotting contacts will be passed down to the platoon the most efficiently, and secondly the HQ has the ability to call in indirect fires if the situation warrants it.

Situations where I would do this are ones where I'm pretty confident in what I'm facing, and where I'll see them. This is down to prior recce, pre-battle spotting contacts or the briefing. If there's more ambiguity, or you're Moving to Contact, then this is a terrible idea.


One thing that's important to consider in the 2 vs 4 man debate is that there are two defined types of recon. "Passive" recon is the more intuitive, and generally takes a long time and relies on stealth. "Active" recon doesn't rely on stealth, is an awful lot faster, and instead uses firepower to protect and gain information. "Recon by fire" is clearly an Active recon task, but so can be probing attacks or raids. "Fighting for information" is the term, and it can be pretty useful in CM terms. It generally relies on heavy firepower and mobile forces - WW2 US Cavalry units with endless .50 cal MGs are a good example, as are the various WW2 German armoured cards with large calibre weapons.

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5 hours ago, Ithikial_AU said:

Example 2 - On Defence

If you can hold Terrain Objective for X minutes you get Y victory points. This allows for the modelling of delaying action scenarios by designers, making the prospect of fighting a defence scenario a bit more appealing especially against the AI.

Would make an interesting decision of balancing holding terrain for as long as possible versus saving your force.

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I was thinking the other day that "Occupy for X minutes" would be a huge thing to add to CM - it would allow for a ton of missions to be created (searching for x, rescuing a downed pilot, etc.) - things which currently have to abstract through touch objectives or "hold till the end of the scenario" objectives.

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