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markshot

With tanks on the prowl should squads alway be split?

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I am playing a small scenario and doing my best to keep my squads out of the LOS of one immobilized tank.  But a mis-step and one main gun round takes out 75% of a squad.  Now, they were already in cover and I am running CM v4 which is suppose avoid bunch ups ... made no difference.  The only thing which would have saved lives is three teams that were dispersed.

So, what do you think should be done with infantry when there are tanks on the lose?

Thanks.

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I’m biased, because I always split squads not matter how large or small the battle. The only time I don’t is when moving up to the Line of Departure and the troops are very clearly out of the enemy’s sight. So my answer is “Split them”!😉

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2 hours ago, mjkerner said:

I’m biased, because I always split squads not matter how large or small the battle. The only time I don’t is when moving up to the Line of Departure and the troops are very clearly out of the enemy’s sight. So my answer is “Split them”!😉

+1.  This.   Plus read everything you can find by @Bil Hardenberger and @womble.   The below was posted by womble in April of 2015 and is generally my SOP.  I paraphrased womble's post below.

Split your squads. You don't scout with whole squads, the SMGs are useless in the firebase element, the AT teams can be given separate orders to preserve their precious rockets for armored targets. The teams are smaller and easier to find cover for, they fit into buildings without crowding. Fire on one team doesn't pin the other team. I always split an Assault team off before the AT team, so the non-AT elements (even if you're going to go for a Split Team or a Scout Team in the end) get some grenades: if you split the AT Team off first, they'll take almost all the grenades. Also has the advantage of the C team being assigned the correct icon, where the icon is differentiated.

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I used to always split squads, but the game engine has made that less necessary now, which is great, because it's much easier to play with whole squads.

I still break off teams for special missions - AT, scouting and tricky assaults - but most of the time it isn't required. You do have to be a little careful not to let your squad bunch up on a single action square though.

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Highly situational...but against tanks? The answer is there isn't much you can do right. Infantry under attack by armor stand a chance against them in basically just dense forests and towns and a bloodbath is still likely. A certainty if they're supported by armor or infantry or both. 

In towns it can be useful to break squads down to teams if lots of the buildings are small but large hardened structures like churches with stone/masonry construction can be pretty resistant and a full squad in the building can be great for dealing out lots of damage and while their own coherence. 

Don't be too harsh on yourself in a melee with armor. It's going to be a bloody affair probably no matter what you do. 

Edited by SimpleSimon

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I read Bil's blog entirely a few years back.

Of course, the CMx1 wisdom was not to split generally as the morale hit exceeded the sum of the mobility advantages.

In CMx2, I assume the above is addressed and splitting allows for far more realistic tactics.  I appreciate that and think it is great.  (I am continuously amazed by what is in the game that I do not know.  Example:  I followed advice and had a recon squad who spotted German tank run back to a Sherman and mount it.  All of a sudden, the Sherman had a partial contact icon in the general location of the German tank.)

But ... (I just found out that linguists call "but" a "discourse marker" in English.  It let's you know that disagreement is on the way.)  Suppose and simplify that my battle has 18 squads.  That probably means review and orders for 18 units.  Now, suppose I split as advised which is certainly reasonable; that means review and orders for 54 units.  The splitting can take an enjoyable game and make it quite tedious.  Because in real life, the squad leader gives orders to those teams (not me).

This is one of the reasons, I and Bil go back to Panther Games which had its first release published by BTS (pre-BFC) in 2000.  It has agents which allowed you to command at any level.  Unit growth in CM can rapidly lead to overload (a slow exponential scaling of work load).  Unit growth in PG games, led to a very shallow linear growth in work load.

So, how are you going to fight medium or huge battles with splitting all squads?  (remember for the USA, WWII only took a few years)

Thanks.

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5 hours ago, markshot said:

Suppose and simplify that my battle has 18 squads.  That probably means review and orders for 18 units.  Now, suppose I split as advised which is certainly reasonable; that means review and orders for 54 units.  The splitting can take an enjoyable game and make it quite tedious.  Because in real life, the squad leader gives orders to those teams (not me).

 

5 hours ago, markshot said:

So, how are you going to fight medium or huge battles with splitting all squads?

 

Micromanagement is one of the downsides with the CM system. Also road movement is a major pain in large battles. The game system is best for smaller battles.

However, you don't need to always split the squads. When I began playing, I kept squads together. Then I learnt to split them and always did that. But now, I am starting to keep squads together much of the time. As long as you're just moving troops up to the front through safe areas, it makes it easier to handle. Then I split them when contact is imminent. It takes a bit of practice to recognise when you can do it safely and when you can't.

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9 hours ago, markshot said:

my battle has 18 squads.  That probably means review and orders for 18 units.  Now, suppose I split as advised which is certainly reasonable; that means review and orders for 54 units.  The splitting can take an enjoyable game and make it quite tedious. 

Some scenarios may run the risk of becoming a battle of "waypoint" management.  I generally prefer no more than about a company of infantry supported by a few tank platoons (or something similar) that need to be maneuvered by the player.  There are some scenarios where you may have a battalion of infantry on the map with most of the troops on static defense and only about a company actually maneuvering each turn.  That's fine IMO.  I generally prefer to not have to plot waypoints for more than about one company worth of infantry. 

When I do play scenarios with multiple infantry companies I will sometimes alternate assigning waypoints.  On turn seven I assign waypoints to units moving on the left flank.  Turn eight the center.  Turn nine the right flank.  Turn 10 back to the left flank etc.  Of course any emergency moves must be immediately way-pointed.                  

I've read AARs where some players seem to enjoy plotting an infantry battalion worth of waypoints almost every turn.  One of the cool things about Combat Mission is the player is able to decide where his personal work/fun ratio is for game play.  :)

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I'm willing to accept working with some of the most outrageously huge forces in the game because I think the biggest scenarios in the game are just the coolest...but there's tons of micromanagement and the arguments that most of that is both very exasperating and potentially outside the scope of the game aren't wrong. It'd be nice if some sort of mechanisms began appearing to allow delegation of some things to the AI sort of like what Steel Division 2 has with its "smart orders". At the very least, i'd love to see a "follow" movement order for formations that simply copy-paste's the leader's movement path onto the rest of the formation's units. Blunting the Spear and scenarios like Hot Mustard are just too much fun for me to see as entirely dispensable though. Unwieldy and dense to be sure but...it was a big war after all. 

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14 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:

 I've read AARs where some players seem to enjoy plotting an infantry battalion worth of waypoints almost every turn.  One of the cool things about Combat Mission is the player is able to decide where his personal work/fun ratio is for game play.  :)

Actually, I don't think that is true, because those who fail to invest time in micro-plotting will pay a price across a protracted battle.  The game offers no competent AI agents to handle maneuvers, just TACAI behavior.  I like smaller battles since I get immersed without finding the system tedious.  Larger can be okay, when they actually break down into multiple smaller battles.  Although the developers have given us far more tools than CMBO and a more high fidelity model of the battlefield, workload has increased too.  At some point, you have to recognize that this is a game, and not a command training tool for officers.

Edited by markshot

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They do seem well spread out.  Perhaps spacing works better for squads in movement than stationary.  I just know that a single tank HE round or canister can do a lot more damage to a squad than three dispersed teams.

Also, it seems easier in your above example to get the squad to disperse along a wall as teams than a squad.

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1 hour ago, markshot said:

They do seem well spread out.  Perhaps spacing works better for squads in movement than stationary.  I just know that a single tank HE round or canister can do a lot more damage to a squad than three dispersed teams.

Also, it seems easier in your above example to get the squad to disperse along a wall as teams than a squad.

You do have to be careful to note the action squares your squad will land on - but it beats doubling or more the number of unit orders you have to give each turn.

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Back in the X1 days, there was a morale hit for splitting.  It was done, since in X1 a unit could only engage a single target in a single time slice.  Thus, splitting would have proved to have a gamey advantage.

How is splitting and morale handled in X2?

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15 hours ago, markshot said:

Actually, I don't think that is true, because those who fail to invest time in micro-plotting will pay a price across a protracted battle.  

One of the cool things about Combat Mission is the player is able to decide where his personal work/fun ratio is for game play.

Sure it does.  A player decides his work/fun ratio (at least I do) by choosing the type/size/TOE/location of the scenario (or QB) to play.  Some players like a battalion of Italian infantry on a huge map, some like a combined arms US company in the bocage of Normandy, or huge tank battles in the east, or house to house fighting in urban terrain, counter insurgency operations in the Middle East, etc., etc.   

If anything the amount of choices may be a little overwhelming for a new player.  However once a player decides he generally prefers commanding an infantry company (fewer waypoints to plot as opposed to a battalion of inf.) he can choose to play those scenarios.  If the player is really passionate about those parameters he also has access to the editor which allows him to create even more of the type of scenarios he prefers.    

That is what I meant in the above post where I typed  the player is able to decide where his personal work/fun ratio is for game play.

 

15 hours ago, markshot said:

The game offers no competent AI agents to handle maneuvers, just TACAI behavior.  

Not sure what you mean by this.  I think the AI in most (maybe all?) games is more or less scripted by a scenario/game designer.  There are triggers, timers etc. in Combat Mission scenarios but it all has to be scripted (if that's the right word) by designers.  The AI movements etc. are probably as competent as a scenario designer can make them with the tools at hand.  I would agree that the AI is not as good as a human player if that is what you meant.  Are there any tactical combat games where the AI is better than a human player and commercially available?   

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A number of game systems attempt to offer competent subordinates.  I will give you 3 I know of.

(1)  RDOA/HTTR/COTA/BFTB/CO2 by Panther Games

(2)  TCM/TCM2/SOW by Mad Minute Games

(3) GTOS/GTMF/TWT-43 by Graviteam (only partial)

Now, among these PG has been doing so for 20 years, and the AI which can delegate too is quite competent.  Also, as humans tend to be better than "game AI" (as Deep Learning AI is now out performing humans in many areas), you need some for order delay/micro-mgmt excess penalty.  #1 and #3 have this done reasonably well.

---

Yes, as a player, you do have a good deal of control over battle scale; especially when you design your own scenarios or QBs.  Although I am interesting map and scenario tools, I just don't have time for that, and prefer those crafted by others.  Also, playing own scenarios ... you just have too much knowledge.  FOW is half the game.  When arrived here, one of my first questions was are QBs vs AI better in X2 than X1?  The consensus was yes; and as such there are less scenarios available than what was available at the original Scenario Depot (~6,000).

--- ---

The CM TACAI does fairly well in a good crafted scenario.  It does not tire of minutia in big scenarios ... so, if you find big scenarios tedious as opposed to a labor of love; you are disadvantaging yourself.  The serious CM player will follow the same unit handling no matter the scale of the scenario, because it is the right/best way.  When a system offers AI agents that play decently and applies a cost to excessive micro-management, it tends to scale better.  I do not feel CM scales as well as the above mentioned games.  My definition of good scaling is a shallow linear function in regards to work load for the player.  PG does that excellently.

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10 hours ago, MOS:96B2P said:
On 12/15/2019 at 7:42 AM, markshot said:

The game offers no competent AI agents to handle maneuvers, just TACAI behavior.  

Not sure what you mean by this.  I think the AI in most (maybe all?) games is more or less scripted by a scenario/game designer.

Oh, by no means. Most strategy games have some kind of AI that makes the enemy move about. It's usually not very smart, but it's there. I think Combat Mission is the only strategy game I ever played where all enemy movement is scripted.

I never played CM1, but I read that it also had AI to make the enemy attack - it was based on flags that the designer set down to tell the AI which zones to attack or defend, but then the AI did the rest, as far as I have heard. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on this.

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Steel Beasts does a few things to alleviate unit overload. 

1) Individual units have some very good AI that takes care of positioning and retreat.  I don't have to tell a unit to go to that exact spot and stay hull down.  I give it a general area and an SOP.  It figures out the speed to get there, whether to use a covered route, when to expose itself to fire at the enemy, etc.  As an example, there is a thread on these boards about gun elevation on tanks and the difficulty in programming the AI.  In SB, the unit AI knows when to move out from cover to shoot and when to back into cover, considering elevation along with a number of factors.

2) The commands you use to build an AI plan in the editor are available in the game for friendly forces.  I can pretty easily script complex plans for units that branch based on what types of enemy or conditions exist.  You can build in automatic fallback positions and resupply positions.  You can tell a unit to drop infantry and when artillery starts falling, go pick them up.  An almost innumerable number of things you can do just using an options dialog.

3) SOPs are critical to AI behavior.  They combine dozens of commands and settings into 6-7 basic SOPs.  FOr example, a scout SOP will have slow move, move through road, don't fire, retreat, move is incoming artillery, dismount troops, etc. all combined into one command to your recon units.

Its fairly common in SB to command a small unit while the AI is fighting the bigger unit and your sister units around you.  Its a pretty cool experience when done right.  And again, I never play an individual unit.  I play it as a wargame with the tools that SB provides out of the box.

When compared to CM2, SB comes very close to being a command simulator.  CM2 reminds me of a 3D board game with having to be the brains of every unit during execution.

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The TACAI for micro actions isn't bad at all though. I see vehicles backing into mini compounds formed by buildings to break LOS in a way that makes sense instead of just in reverse down a street. The way a squad sets up inside a buildings with automatic weapons using windows in priority over simple riflemen and how it reorients itself on the fly to face new threats is quite good too.

In CM1, the flags you talk about, they were actually objectives. There were big and small flags with different point values. And it attracted the AI like magnets.The AI didn't use any scripting, it just moved towards the flag in a humongous mass of men, like some sort of blob, usually through wooded areas. But it was pretty bad. You could setup the worst kill sacks with mines, barbed wires etc if you guessed which covered approach the AI would use and then dump arty onto it. It was a slaughter. It was autonomous though and sometimes it surprised you but the AI just did a zerg rush basically. That worked with tanks more or less, but generally speaking it was a bad idea to let the AI attack.

Edited by Zveroboy1

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