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Bulletpoint

What would a WW2 battalion typically be expected to achieve?

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9 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I was thinking about doing one big map, and then use phase lines. Company 1 is expected to reach phase line 1 within the first hour, company 2 will reach phase line 2 within the second hour, etc.

Sounds interesting.  So if I understand; at about the one hour mark Company 2 would arrive as reinforcements along the road network near the map edge back behind Company 1.  Then Company 2 moves forwards, conducts a passage of lines with Company 1 and continues the attack.  Or I guess Company 2 could pass by the flank of Company 1 and continue the attack with just a partial or no actual passage of lines.  Of course the player may modify how the attack is conducted and feed the reinforcing companies into the fight as he sees fit.  Either way this can work and should be fun.    

It sounds like the consensus is that the battalion attack frontage would be about one kilometer wide.  I would consider making the actual map a bit wider than the recommended attack frontage.     

What game title are you considering for this?  Some of the titles have master maps that can be cut and modified quicker than starting from scratch.  

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13 hours ago, MikeyD said:

I've opened scenarios and thought "Oh, this map could use another company at least to accomplish the mission!"

This happens to me all the time with most of the baked in scenarios that come with the game, which is why I mostly ignore them. Instead, I create my own using the Quick Battle tools. I also find most big battles tiresome. For WW II I usually attack with a company of infantry reinforced with a platoon of tanks, or something similar, against an objective defended by a platoon or two of mostly strong infantry.

What I am trying to do in that is to put myself in the position of the commander of the commander who has been given the job of capturing the objective. I would want to have confidence in his unit's ability to achieve the objective in the time allotted even if he is only an average officer. So I would try to provide him with the resources to do so. Most of the scenarios that come with the game are winnable, but they can be a real struggle requiring a commander who is both brilliant and lucky. That is not a reliable way to win a war.

Michael

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5 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:

It sounds like the consensus is that the battalion attack frontage would be about one kilometer wide.  I would consider making the actual map a bit wider than the recommended attack frontage.

The map should possibly be quite a lot wider - the wider you have the map, the more choice you'll have for approach routes, etc., if that's appropriate.

 

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Posted (edited)

One thing that needs to be considdered when doing larger maps is the capabilities of the AI.

The AI is fairly limited in its ability to react to a changing battlefield...Larger maps makes this somewhat more obvious imo...and therefore more difficult to set-up...to provide a decent AI defence...

The number of avaliable AI groups, The limitations with the current trigger system, the time it takes the AI to move from one possition to another are all things that makes larger maps atleast a bit more tricky to work with i have found...

It is by no means impossible...but a bit tricky and something to considder with larger maps...

How will the AI be able to handle it ?

 

Edited by RepsolCBR

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1 hour ago, RepsolCBR said:

One thing that needs to be considdered when doing larger maps is the capabilities of the AI.

The AI is fairly limited in its ability to react to a changing battlefield...Larger maps makes this somewhat more obvious imo...and therefore more difficult to set-up...to provide a decent AI defence...

The number of avaliable AI groups, The limitations with the current trigger system, the time it takes the AI to move from one possition to another are all things that makes larger maps atleast a bit more tricky to work with i have found...

It is by no means impossible...but a bit tricky and something to considder with larger maps...

How will the AI be able to handle it ?

 

I think designers should be more worried that their scenarios are too hard than too easy. Even a basic static defence can be very challenging to overcome in this game.

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8 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:

Sounds interesting.  So if I understand; at about the one hour mark Company 2 would arrive as reinforcements along the road network near the map edge back behind Company 1.  Then Company 2 moves forwards, conducts a passage of lines with Company 1 and continues the attack.  Or I guess Company 2 could pass by the flank of Company 1 and continue the attack with just a partial or no actual passage of lines.  Of course the player may modify how the attack is conducted and feed the reinforcing companies into the fight as he sees fit.  Either way this can work and should be fun.    

Yes, this was the idea. Basically setting it up as three smaller scenarios in one.

But I was thinking about giving the whole battalion to the player at game start. Letting him decide whether to follow the plan of committing the companies one at a time, or leading with two companies, one in reserve, or any other combination. I think many scenarios are a bit too "scripted".

Also, I was thinking about doing something I call "armour on demand". You start the game with, say, 5 tanks/assault guns in reserve, and the enemy gets points for spotting them. So if you think you need armour support, it's your choice to commit the tanks, but it will decrease your final score. This would be to emulate you as the battalion commander having a bit more to say than a company commander who just has to accept and play the cards he's dealt.

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1 hour ago, Bulletpoint said:

I think designers should be more worried that their scenarios are too hard than too easy. Even a basic static defence can be very challenging to overcome in this game.

Well, it all depends on what is wanted from the design.

For those here that are wanting a feel in the game that seems realistic. Then any design done with that 3 to 1 ratio, will likely get it. No matter the size.

For no real life commander is going to order a attack with infantry unless he believes he has at least that type of a advantage.

( but as to the challenge of game play, there is hardly any at that ratio unless there is some great defensive terrain advantages.) thus boring to many players.

 

Where as, to create a battle in CM that gives the chance of the battle to swing either way in its outcome generally requires that ratio to be 3 to 2 and limiting the time so that the offence cannot take its time to dismantle the defense piecemeal.  (which none of these things are realistic to as to situations that commanders would want to commit there troops to.)

But when the goal of the design is not to portray history as much as it is to create a situations where a player decisions will either bring a victory of defeat type results. Then that is where the design for a single scenario goes. (So I would not expect that to change in many of the scenario's that get created)

 

Just feel fortunate that you do have campaigns that you can have as one sided battles as you like and that there is interest in the fact in that you are wondering if the losses you do suffer will cost you down the road as battle upon battle adds up. (That is how the interest is created) 

But no matter what you design, there has to be a way to create a interest as to your decisions making a outcome as to the results.

I personally hate most campaigns, why, because after investing way too many hours into them , I find most, even when making poor decisions allow me to go on from map to map, continuing to give me the impression I am doing a good job and rewarding me. Where as in truth, there is no real punishment towards me for bad choices.

 

I don't care how the designer creates the battles, what I care about is has the designer made a situation that I feel my decisions matters - that is the key to a good design.

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4 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

This happens to me all the time with most of the baked in scenarios that come with the game, which is why I mostly ignore them. 

Being an old contrarian, I find that in most cases the scenario designers get the balance between map size and force size spot on.. As for being "baked in", where is Elizabeth with my jacket potatoes? 

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2 hours ago, slysniper said:

interest in the fact in that you are wondering if the losses you do suffer will cost you down the road as battle upon battle adds up.

 

2 hours ago, slysniper said:

 

I don't care how the designer creates the battles, what I care about is has the designer made a situation that I feel my decisions matters - that is the key to a good design.

 

I think this is very true.

Another idea I had for a battalion campaign would be to have, say 3 to 5 battles one after the other, where you get the whole battalion to command in each battle, but that there will be no reinforcement or resupply. However, enemy resistance in each of the battles would be lighter than normal. So you have a good advantage in numbers but your force gets worn down as you go along, thus increasing difficulty.

I'm sure this is not a novel concept, but I haven't really seen it in Combat Mission much.

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3 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

You start the game with, say, 5 tanks/assault guns in reserve, and the enemy gets points for spotting them. So if you think you need armour support, it's your choice to commit the tanks, but it will decrease your final score. 

IMO scenarios that provide the ability for the player to make decisions that have benefits vs consequences help make the scenario interesting.  Your idea with the tanks sounds very cool.  I might even consider expanding the idea to provide more choices.  A platoon of light tanks is a 100VP unit spot objective.  A platoon of heavy tanks is a 300VP spot objective if both are used it would cost 400VPs.  An engineer unit equipped with flamethrowers (or something interesting) is a xxxxVP spot objective etc.  Whatever works for your vision of the scenario and also allows the player make command decisions.   

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2 minutes ago, MOS:96B2P said:

Your idea with the tanks sounds very cool.  I might even consider expanding the idea to provide more choices.  A platoon of light tanks is a 100VP unit spot objective.  A platoon of heavy tanks is a 300VP spot objective if both are used it would cost 400VPs.  An engineer unit equipped with flamethrowers (or something interesting) is a xxxxVP spot objective etc. 

That's a good idea.

An alternative would be to make all the player's forces spot objectives.

So you'd have a pretty powerful battalion of troops, tanks, etc, but the more you commit, the bigger the points penalty. You'd have to make decisions such as "Do I really need to send in third company? Is there a reasonable chance they will be able to take that last objective? Or should I just call a ceasefire now and not get the points penalty?"

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Yes, and letting the player know that certain decisions lead to negative results is a good concept.

I think a campaign that lets you know there is 10 battles to play if you do well but then shuts you down in earlier battles and stops you because you have not made certain requirements representing commands expectations for your force is a good concept.

I don't remember which campaign used that concept but I remember playing one battle poorly  so it ended me a couple of battles from the full campaign and not being able to complete the full mission felt correct since my one battle performance was not good.

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

An alternative would be to make all the player's forces spot objectives.  

Yep.  There are seven different Unit objective groups.  So in theory there could be seven different spot objective VP values.  

Also there are other choices that can be provided to the player like a variable end time.  The player can be granted an extra hour (or whatever is appropriate) but it will cost him XX VPs.  And in this extra hour another friendly reinforcement group (that is a unit spot objective) will also appear.  So cease fire at the optimal time of three hours or take an extra hour to get that last remaining terrain objective?  Will the VPs gained from the last terrain objective (if you can take it) offset the cost of the extra hour?  Should I commit more troops at the cost of them getting spotted?  Decisions, decisions.

I did this with the scenario Coup d'etat.  Lots of ways to make a scenario interesting.     

Edited by MOS:96B2P

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The Battle of the Bugle started off with 400,000 German troops attacking 230,000 Allies (approximately). By January the number of Allies had climbed past 700,000. Losses on both sides (killed/wounded/captured) reached 150,000. 1,800 aircraft were lost over the battlefield. All this occurring during an operation that barely encompassed a month. Those numbers are staggering. I don't really know how you'd represent troop levels in that density on a CM-scale battlefield. A typical CM Company-scale battle would be chump change, there'd probably be equally fierce battles involving other companies on either side of you, limiting your maneuver possibilities.

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8 minutes ago, MikeyD said:

Losses on both sides (killed/wounded/captured) reached 150,000. 1,800 aircraft were lost over the battlefield. All this occurring during an operation that barely encompassed a month.

Which is actually interesting. Where did all those US casualties occur? When I read stories about the Bulge, it always seems to be how the Germans were stopped almost effortlessly.

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If you look at most American Bulge photos in picture books you will notice there's snow on the ground - often LOTS of snow. That's an indication the pictures had been taken late in the operation or even afterward. The reason why there are so few early Bulge battle shots is because Americans were too busy fleeing for their lives to take pictures.

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Don't forget about Atts and Dets. There is latitude in CM to apply these. If a battalion is a little light for a town assault, then add "borrowed" assets directly under command and control of the HQ. Or a minor HQ if conventions allow.  Depending on the time and nation this was done with little formality, for others it was a matter of life or death.  

Nice modern article that gets into a discussion on different battalion structures, good and bad.

https://uklandpower.com/2019/01/25/achieving-a-common-size-and-structure-for-uk-infantry-battalions/

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Posted (edited)

In the "In the Shadow of the Hill" scenarios (4 separate scenarios) I cover a Brigade attack, with the map based on google earth and period maps and the forces at play are as accurate to reality as the game will allow. This shows how the forces were made up based on AAR documents and in all cases the various battalions attacked with only two companies up and with armour and artillery support. 

If you look at the scenarios in detail you will get a good idea of the tasks allocated to the three battalions (4th Dorset's, 5th Dorset, and 7th Hampshire's)

mission 1 & 2:  C & D Co 5th Dorset's, plus supporting arms (armour and artillery) are tasked to capture two farm complexes

mission 3 : A & B Co 4th Dorset's, plus support are tasked to capture a small village.

mission 4: A & B Co 7th Hamp's are tasked to capture a further village.

As shown below each action allowed the next to take place, allowing the Bde to move forward in bounds as it secured it's objectives in turn. Each battalion had roles within the Bde plan, while each company had a role in it's respective battalions plan, (and each platoon within each co and so on)

mrl.thumb.jpg.22fe9c88c67a18b5fa59d7aa5164f55e.jpg

The master map for these scenarios is 1.6k wide by 4k deep, with the first three missions seeing the forces needing to cover 1.6-2k, with a similar distance covered in mission 4 albeit the start line for the advance is 2k deep into the master map. 

These missions are very histrionically accurate in terms of the terrain and British forces involved, and so give some insight into what was asked of the actual units on 10th July 1944

P

Edited by Pete Wenman

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

That's a good idea.

An alternative would be to make all the player's forces spot objectives.

So you'd have a pretty powerful battalion of troops, tanks, etc, but the more you commit, the bigger the points penalty. You'd have to make decisions such as "Do I really need to send in third company? Is there a reasonable chance they will be able to take that last objective? Or should I just call a ceasefire now and not get the points penalty?"

@George MC used this trick in Mission 1 of his excellent KG von Schroif campaign. Probably worth having a look at how he did it in the editor. AFAIK he released the individual missions on the Scenario Depot

The downside of making all units spot objectives is that you cannot make them destroy objectives which means that you are limited to using parameters if you want victory conditions to reflect casualties.

Edited by Combatintman

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1 hour ago, Pete Wenman said:

In the "In the Shadow of the Hill" scenarios (4 separate scenarios) I cover a Brigade attack............(which) my parenthesis ...   give some insight into what was asked of the actual units on 10th July 1944

And, you did it brilliantly. This series of battles is a joy to play either as Axis or Allies.

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7 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Another idea I had for a battalion campaign would be to have, say 3 to 5 battles one after the other, where you get the whole battalion to command in each battle, but that there will be no reinforcement or resupply. However, enemy resistance in each of the battles would be lighter than normal. So you have a good advantage in numbers but your force gets worn down as you go along, thus increasing difficulty.

 

I am trying this in a CMRT campaign. Narrow frontages, and realistic unit boundary lines, so no sweeping lateral movements, the battalion to your left or right has that sector. Your sector is yours. Advance with company through company to concentrate the fire and spread the casualties over the entire battalion so your best companies aren't depleted in the first battle.

Not sure if others would find this fun to play. Control is not that overwhelming because all your force is not moving at once, usually.

I am having fun with it anyway.

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22 hours ago, Combatintman said:

@George MC used this trick in Mission 1 of his excellent KG von Schroif campaign. Probably worth having a look at how he did it in the editor. AFAIK he released the individual missions on the Scenario Depot

The downside of making all units spot objectives is that you cannot make them destroy objectives which means that you are limited to using parameters if you want victory conditions to reflect casualties.

Cheers for the kudos :)

For added info to anyone following this - aye I used this trick on several missions in the campaign. 

You're right though. If you make units ‘spot’ objectives you can only get points fir spotting.

Destroying them will not earn more points in itself. In a campaign this might not matter so much if your units are spot obj as losing your ‘stuff’ might impact on future battles.  

If the enemy units are spot objectives this may be less impactful if you don’t meet the same lot in a future mission. Depends how the designer scripts the follow on actions. 

You can account for destroyed units on the casualty parameters but worth noting that method is a bit binary. Ie you have to meet or exceed the parameters to get the points. 

Cheery!

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Posted (edited)

Playing Russians in CMRT teaches you how to wield larger forces. Because Russian SMG units carry the PPSh smg which fires a horrendous thousand rounds per minute. That means they're 'one-use wonders'. The unit accomplishes one task and run themselves out of ammo in the process, then you're obliged to use follow-on forces to pick up where they left off. No trying to make it from one end of the map to the other using a single platoon like we do with American forces.

Edited by MikeyD

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Posted (edited)

I've found over the years you need to be careful reading AAR's, particularly as reported in secondary sources focusing on a wider battle/campaign. Many authors generally don't drop down below the battalion level with their writings, saying "The 1st Battalion launched a dawn assault on the village of 'X'." At face value seems like overkill for such a small target. Dig a little deeper elsewhere and you realise it was only "A Company" with a few sections of HMG's provided for additional support. Rule of thumb read multiple sources and double/tripple check everything. :)

When I committed to recreating Operation Windsor in Lions of Carpiquet campaign it was a Brigade level engagement but for the most part (and as you'd expect) the battalions were operating independently, so with the exception of two engagements there were never going to be more than one Canadian Battalion on screen at once with a set of objectives to meet. What turned out to be a huge help relatively late in the piece was discovering someone had scanned the original operational briefing material and made it available online in a PDF. Have this primary source really outlined how everthing was meant to proceed and what forces were committed when. But that doco allowed me to confirm was the intent to proceed forward in the standard 2 companies forward 2 companies behind box like shape the Commonwealth used quite regularly. It didn't happen on the ground because the German's shelled their deployment at kick off time and everyone was intermingled from the get go, which I could then represent in the appropiate sceanrio with the extensive use of reinforcements coming onto the map with no real order/command structure intact. Of course no plan survived contact with the enemy so this great source becomes useless after about Mission 2. :P

There's another idea that I'm still toying with for over a year. A CM campaign on the same map where each scenario is one distinct objective. The scenario designer is like the battalion commander ordering he forces around with distinct objectives and the player is the poor junior officer that has to carry it out in the field. For instance, there's an end goal but to do that the player has to hop across a series of objectives successfully before progressing. Failures lead to repeats of the same objective rather than a whole new campaign path, though the player can also 'do what they want' if they feel like it - for instance ie hunting down additional enemy units early that may make future objectives easier to complete. Though I started to try and do this in CMBN as outlined here... http://community.battlefront.com/topic/126346-experimental-design-cm1-operations-in-cm2-video/ , I'm currently of the mind that maybe the modern era is a better fit where the player can have a much smaller effective force to cover a wider open map allowing much more freedom of movement and exploration. One massive problem however is the lack of carry over battle damage on the map. Doesn't make the concept impossible but makes the force selection somewhat more limiting - ie no major high explosive support that can level city blocks.

 

Edited by Ithikial_AU

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The Osprey book Osprey World War II Infantry Tactics - Company and Battalion by renowned expert Stephen Bull has some info on frontages:
 

Quote

According to the textbook a [US infantry] battalion was capable of delivering "a powerful attack" on a frontage of 500 to 1,000 yards. [...]

Under normal visibility phase lines were commonly 1,000 to 2,000 yards apart. Objectives could be expressed in terms of specific locations, or directions, and were commonly allotted to individual companies.

 

Of course those are ideal circumstances with a full strength unit, and some situations (notably urban combat) would be much denser.

From what I can find even late WWII attack frontages were significantly smaller, demonstrating the increase in firepower and support weapons between the wars. Cold war frontages were much wider but that's hardly a 1:1 comparison given mechanization.

Edited by Duckman

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