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Yskonyn

How do you advance over open terrain?

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Ok, this is posing problems for me every time; I end up in a tactical situation where I need to cross a pretty large open area.

How do you proceed ? Do you split up your forces and go bounding overwatch and just accept you will loose certain units?

Do you wait it out on the edge and keep spotting to enemies first? If so, how many turns before committing to moving across?

Aparently I keep making the wrong decisions and get half my company wiped in a mere few minutes every time I try to cross an open patch.

Help is appreciated!

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I feel your pain. Most open areas in scenarios are carefully set-up kill zones. Here's some advice, from my experience:

a. Use smoke. Pop it, or call it in. Smoke will obstruct your ambushers' line of sight and buy you time to advance.

b. Use recon teams. It's easy to spot a task force, harder to spot a couple of guys in the grass. Use them as a litmus test for the enemy's firing arcs. Try to cover them with overwatching units (heavy weapons, IFVs, etc.). In addition, have them leap frog -- give one team some time to observe and the other to advance a short distance.

c. Recon by fire! Turn the board around and pretend to be your opponent -- where would you place your sneaky crew served weapons? Using area fire from your heavy hitters will cause OPFOR to return fire. Once they do, they are very easy to spot. This worked great for me in the Canadian campaign, in conjunction with recon teams.

The last piece of advice is to avoid obvious routes to your objective. Try to take the back streets -- they're surprisingly safer.

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A couple of questions:
Who are you facing? Any idea what their TOE might consist of?
What does your TOE look like? Air support? Artillery?
What kind of time table do you have?
Sounds dumb, but are their alternative methods of crossing the area?

I'd set up over watch on the tallest terrain feature with infantry with enhanced optics(ATGMs namely) and wait for a short bit. Then I'll move up some IFVs as hull-down as they can get. Wait a few more minutes. Then move a couple of AFVs into hulldown as well. Hopefully you've spotted them by then, and you can get some air on station(if you have it). Depending on what is happening(if anything), I might throw a large smoke screen out and then cross as fast as possible.

METT-TC man, open areas are SUPER dangerous in modern war.
 

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It seems to be something one has to do quite often on the kind of terrain CMSF offers. If you must do it, make sure you''ve got good security, which means overwatch and avenues of approach - where are they likely to shoot at you from? Make sure you can suppress those areas quickly.

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1 hour ago, DerKommissar said:

I feel your pain. Most open areas in scenarios are carefully set-up kill zones. Here's some advice, from my experience:

a. Use smoke. Pop it, or call it in. Smoke will obstruct your ambushers' line of sight and buy you time to advance.

b. Use recon teams. It's easy to spot a task force, harder to spot a couple of guys in the grass. Use them as a litmus test for the enemy's firing arcs. Try to cover them with overwatching units (heavy weapons, IFVs, etc.). In addition, have them leap frog -- give one team some time to observe and the other to advance a short distance.

c. Recon by fire! Turn the board around and pretend to be your opponent -- where would you place your sneaky crew served weapons? Using area fire from your heavy hitters will cause OPFOR to return fire. Once they do, they are very easy to spot. This worked great for me in the Canadian campaign, in conjunction with recon teams.

The last piece of advice is to avoid obvious routes to your objective. Try to take the back streets -- they're surprisingly safer.

Good suggestions.

Most players need to learn to use recon more, somebody has to be sacrificed for the good of the whole.

You always need to find the enemy location first, before risking moving any units of value.

find / pin / maneuver to killing positions / eliminate. (This is the basics no matter the terrain.)

Yskonyn, it sounds like you have the tendency to want to move to contact in force, this is not a tactic that plays out well in these battles. (That is a tactic in real world situations where you have a massive advantage - that is never the case in most cm battles)

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If you really really must cross that patch of ground try to make sure you can array overwhelming firepower against whatever pops up. A LMG can only target one group at a time. If a full company's moving forward together on a broad front that's 150 men returning fire. Things go south quickly, though, if you get targeted by a heavy weapon beyond rifle range. Then its the job of your own heavy weapons to suppress and eliminate the threat. Preferable solution is to stand off and kill everything with artillery then march forward over their charred corpses.

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3 hours ago, Yskonyn said:

Ok, this is posing problems for me every time; I end up in a tactical situation where I need to cross a pretty large open area.

How do you proceed ? Do you split up your forces and go bounding overwatch and just accept you will loose certain units?

Do you wait it out on the edge and keep spotting to enemies first? If so, how many turns before committing to moving across?

Aparently I keep making the wrong decisions and get half my company wiped in a mere few minutes every time I try to cross an open patch.

Help is appreciated!

I talk about moving through Open Terrain in this blog post:  Platoon Scouts

Scout-11.JPG

As the gents above have said, recon is the key.. that and Masked Terrain Movement ... even most open terrain has dips and rises that yo can take advantage of.

Terrain+Masking+2.jpg

Good luck.  

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To me, cover does not really seem to matter that much in the CM games. It matters a bit, but it's more about fire superiority. Squads in good cover will often get blown to bits very quickly if the enemy has fire superiority. A single tank shell hitting a foxhole position or the side of a building is sometimes all it takes to wipe out the squad inside. On the other hand, you can also advance across a gigantic open field against enemies in good cover and still take zero casualties as long as you have fire superiority.

Sometimes I think players get too focused on sticking to cover as much as possible. I see people do it in videos and I often catch myself doing it. I become obsessed with cramming all my troops into what little cover is available and then I end up hurting myself because not all of my troops can form a good firing line from inside the cover. My troops become too constricted when I try to only follow what cover is available. And then it gets even worse when an enemy artillery barrage lands on all my troops bunched up in the cover. If I just move some of the troops out into the open and spread them out a bit more, I can get more angles of fire going against the enemy positions, more firepower can get focused outward, and things get easier. Even troops lying prone on open ground can still be hard to hit, especially at a distance.

Units are also the most vulnerable in CM when they're moving. Stationary troops seem to be harder to hit for some reason. It all depends on the situation of course, but I've had success when crossing open fields not by trying to charge across it as quickly as possible, but by taking it slow, stopping frequently (but not for too long), and shooting at everything in sight. CM seems to be a game less about whatever terrain you're in, and more about firepower and angles of fire. It's about getting more of your guns to bear against the enemy than they can, so that the moment they open fire they will get blasted instantly by overwhelming return fire. You wanna think about terrain not in terms of "how open is this?" but more in terms of "can I get a good shot at them from here?" At least that's how I see it.

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I recall an anecdote that was told I-forget-where some years ago. A couple campaign-hardened veteran GIs in WWII France are laying low against an embankment shielded from enemy fire. A new '90 day wonder' lieutenant runs up and exhorts them to get the *bleep* up and move, then he's immediately cut down by enemy fire right before their eyes. Its the job of the officer class to get soldiers to move forward over open ground under fire. its the job of the enlisted class to hug the terrain as much as possible and survive 'til another day.

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4 hours ago, Bozowans said:

Sometimes I think players get too focused on sticking to cover as much as possible.

This is a great point.

Often  people are so scared of attacking through open ground that they end up using very predictable approach routes or get bunched up in narrow tree lines or small patches of woods that make perfect artillery targets or minefields.

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With any move, you should be determining how confident you are in the move's safety. That will determine how slowly you can advance (i.e., how much you bound, and what proportion of your force is stationary at any time.

In the hypothetical extreme situation where you're anticipating contact from an unknown position, and the surface was literally flat, you'd want to be moving with as little of your force as possible, with the rest of it able to provide cover. In this kind of situation, answers like "use smoke" are limited in usefulness, since it's hard to make a real plan for something you don't know about. It also means that, in this hypothetical, recon by fire is probably not possible, since you just don't have the information for it to be effective.

That means that all of the supporting units need to have line of sight to the scouts - you won't know precisely when the scouts will come under fire. The purpose of the supporting units, then, is to be capable of spotting and responding to the incoming fire.

When the scouts get fired at, they will likely cower in place. Typically the scout unit won't be the one to spot the enemy, since they're too busy being shot at, but the supporting units have no such problems. The plan then is for the company to suppress and destroy the revealed positions, bounding towards the target when suppression has been achieved ("fire and movement"). That's not particularly pretty or subtle, but it's the way to deal with this kind of hypothetical billard-table landscape.

We're making a big assumption that our company has more firepower than the enemy. If not, there may not be much we can do, and the only way would be to break up this asymmetry (through smoke, use of micro terrain, whatever). Since that's always going to be a risk, it's always best practice to use the terrain in your favour - shortening engagement ranges, or bringing your company strength against a portion of the enemy.

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Distance is key. At long ranges, infantry can survive a lot of small arms fire. At 300m+ in the open, rifle accuracy drops like a stone, and you can even survive surprisingly long against an LMG42 (its accuracy seems to be quite low). At 800m+, you hardly even take casualties from heavy MGs such as deployed Vickers. In a recent PBEM, I maneuvered a platoon under the noses of 4 vickers deployed on a hill. They were unable to even suppress my guys, and caused very few losses.

Edited by Bulletpoint

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14 hours ago, Bozowans said:

To me, cover does not really seem to matter that much in the CM games. It matters a bit, but it's more about fire superiority.

Fire superiority is indeed important.. its the crucial element in micro-tactics success actually... however not taking advantage of cover is asking for trouble and will make closing with the enemy a little tough. You often don't have fire superiority in most cases and will need to create micro-situations where you can create them in order to attrit the enemy's combat power.

Maneuver and Firepower - can't bring your firepower to bear if you can't maneuver... can't maneuver if you are outclassed by fire.  Using cover to get where you need to in order to ensure local fire superiority is paramount and is the basis of all small arms tactics from the Russo-Japanese War to the present.  Ignore the lessons learned, like the major powers did in the opening stages of the First World War, and it will cost you dearly.

Being smart about maneuver and protecting your units with cover so you can gain local fire superiority is not only good-tactics, it is common sense.

All in my opinion of course... nothing personal, take it for what its worth.

Bil

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I'm reminded of an old Henny Youngman joke that I've repeated before.  "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Then don't do that!" Some objectives are just not achievable.

Recently to cover open ground I've been using the assault command more often with movement points placed close together. One team gets up and bonds forward for a few steps then drops down, the next team does the same. Repeat as needed. Place the movement orders too far apart and you're asking to get shot while running.

 

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3 hours ago, MikeyD said:

been using the assault command more often with movement points placed close together. One team gets up and bonds forward for a few steps then drops down, the next team does the same.

After ignoring the underused ASSAULT command for over a decade am also starting to use it per the above.  (Am probably just getting lazy/impatient doing multiple sets of clever waypoints each with a HUNT or QUICK or FAST plus fire orders at each waypoint.) 

The other tactic am starting to use (probably born out of impatience/boredom) is running scout teams towards suspected enemies without giving them multiple clever HUNT and HIDE waypoints etc.  2-man scouts usually seem to die no matter how careful one is.  Many times in CM scenarios we're under time pressure, so better to find out enemy ambushes and when and where their kill zones are as quickly as possible.  

Speaking of having improved AI to cut down on clicks, a "SCOUT" command would be good:  Just place one final destination waypoint and the AI moves the scouts in an careful scouting manner until they reach that waypoint.  Scout behaviour would include HIDING and NOT HIDING, SLOW MOVING when enemy sounds or firing detecting and even retreating (to report back) when it seems too dangerous to go further.

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6 hours ago, Bil Hardenberger said:

You often don't have fire superiority in most cases and will need to create micro-situations where you can create them in order to attrit the enemy's combat power.

You do though.

At least in quick battles. Sixty percent more points than the defender in attacks, more in assaults. Or you have no business attacking in the first place if the defender is stronger than you. In scenarios that's another story.

And that directly translates into a higher firepower than the defender. Even more if you choose to attack over only a portion of the map and just screen the other part so the defender can't reposition easily.

Now obviously attacking over open ground is not going to be particularly healthy in most cases and that doesn't mean you should avoid perfectly good cover or concealed approach routes if there are some available.

However I don't think that's what Bozowans was advocating. He might have overstated his case and the lack of importance of cover a little bit too much. But I think he was just trying to point out a pitfall some people fall into. Being so reluctant to attack without cover that it leads them to avoid it at all cost and as a result either bunch up too much or become predictable.

Oh look a mostly flat piece of ground with a gully on a side. Let's use this to be sneaky. Yeah you already know what is going to happen I bet. The gully is going to be mined, have a couple of TRPs in it and be raked by machine gun fire.

Now you are clearly an experienced player and I doubt you fall into this trap yourself but this is more widespread than you think.

 

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10 hours ago, Zveroboy1 said:

You do though.

At least in quick battles. Sixty percent more points than the defender in attacks, more in assaults. Or you have no business attacking in the first place if the defender is stronger than you. In scenarios that's another story.

And that directly translates into a higher firepower than the defender. Even more if you choose to attack over only a portion of the map and just screen the other part so the defender can't reposition easily.

You can be on the defense, be outgunned by an attacker by the ratios you mention and still gain a local fire superiority over a portion of the attacker's force.  The overall combat power comparisons do not matter when it comes to the use of cover and maneuver.  It is all situational, what is the size of the map?  How much combat power can you keep in reserve?  Are spoiling attacks against a part of the attacking force possible?  Can you cover every route into the objective(s)?  Etc. 

Tactics cannot be boiled down to one or two bullets, ie. Cover bad, Firepower good.

Quote

Oh look a mostly flat piece of ground with a gully on a side. Let's use this to be sneaky. Yeah you already know what is going to happen I bet. The gully is going to be mined, have a couple of TRPs in it and be raked by machine gun fire.

Now you are clearly an experienced player and I doubt you fall into this trap yourself but this is more widespread than you think.

Maybe I'm just being obtuse, but I fail to understand your point..  is it that because the one covered route might be covered by fire that you are suggesting an attacker should take the open route instead?  Me?  I would recon the covered route, clear it, and use it to close with the enemy force if possible using long range fire to suppress possible defenders on the other end of that route.. but there is not always a good solution to every situation... sometimes there is no good way to advance, due to map design or map size, available combat power, etc.  In those cases I would call a cease fire, discuss the issues and then move on to something that won't be an exercise in frustration. 

But that's me... you guys play in whatever way makes you happy.. if having overwhelming combat power in every scenario is your cup of tea so that its easy, go for it.  Just try not to disregard real world tactics in this game, the fact that they work so well in CM is what makes this the best battle simulator on the market in my opinion.

And play against a human opponent.. failing to use covered approaches will get your men killed very quickly against a human opponent even if he/she's a beginner... the AI is much more forgiving.

Bil

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1 hour ago, Bil Hardenberger said:

Tactics cannot be boiled down to one or two bullets, ie. Cover bad, Firepower good.

Heh no one is arguing that cover and basic tactics don't matter. Not sure what good it does to reduce our position to a caricature.

Not sure either why you appear to take this personally to be honest because this isn't about you. It is about a mistake some people make. Being so reluctant to attack over open ground that they systematically take the cover no matter how crappy or obvious it is. I have seen it several times and it wasn't against the AI.

All I am arguing is this : If the drive for cover is so strong that you become a/ predictable or b/ bunched up as a result, then the alternative, attacking over open ground is -sometimes- preferable and it is not something to be feared or avoided at all cost. It is perfectly feasible, albeit clearly not ideal and a bit painful.

I don't see what's so controversial about this. This is just pointing out a potential pitfall that some people fall into. That's all.

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3 hours ago, Bil Hardenberger said:

You can be on the defense, be outgunned by an attacker by the ratios you mention and still gain a local fire superiority over a portion of the attacker's force

I think this is key. Otherwise defenders would lose automatically because they are outnumbered, yet that is obviously not what happens. 

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When you're playing a properly made scenario and have a stretch of open ground to cover the scenario designer usually gives you the necessary resources to get across (artillery, smoke, fire support, terrain masking). Because he doesn't want his scenario to grind to a halt. A QB is another matter. Sometimes the terrain and force mix just doesn't match-up. I was watching a Youtube video yesterday of Tigers & Jagdpanthers versus Sherman 75s across a big open valley. I would've quit out of the scenario after the first minute because the task was simply impossible.

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I was not saying "cover bad, firepower good" or anything like that. If there are bits of cover here and there on your route of advance, by all means take advantage of it, but I don't think cover matters as much in CM as it does IRL. It doesn't matter as much as it does in other games either. Even though CM has a 1:1 scale representation of infantrymen, it is still kinda abstracted a bit.

Real human beings are fast, mobile, and very good at taking advantage of every little piece of cover they can find. On the other hand, the AI pixeltruppen in CM are very slow and sluggish, get stuck on things, and are not that good at using cover. There are only a few things they can do (like move forward, crouch, go prone). They are limited by the simple animations and 3D models.

The terrain on a CM map is obviously not as detailed as real life is either, and cannot simulate all the tiny bits of cover and undulations and rises and dips and other micro-terrain elements you would find IRL. Other games might ruthlessly punish you for going out into the open by giving you some kind of penalty, or they will have things like a +2 cover bonus if you are in a forest tile or whatever. The CMx2 engine does not do that at all. The only real "cover" you can find on a typical CM map are buildings and trees and foxholes/trenches, and I've seen many posts and threads on these forums complaining about the lack of protection that foxholes and trenches provide.

So the game compensates for this by making fire much more random and inaccurate than it would be IRL. In CM, open ground isn't really open ground. A soldier standing still or running in a straight line out in an open street in CM might take an enormous amount of fire before they go down. In a situation like that IRL, they wouldn't just be standing still or running in a jerky straight line like they are in the game, but they would be ducking and weaving in and out of cover, doubled over while dodging and blind-firing behind random junk in the street, etc. If you watch combat footage, you can see just how crazy agile real people are. Sometimes it looks like they are bunny-hopping down the street or something. They do things that CM can't possibly simulate.

In CM, squads in open ground can take more punishment than they can IRL, especially if they aren't moving. Troops running around seem to be much more vulnerable, but it often surprises me how much fire a squad can take if they are lying prone on the ground and not moving. On the other hand, a guy in a foxhole might go down with the first burst of incoming fire. Since it's all basically random, it's hard to predict. Sometimes a squad might get torn apart in seconds, and other times I will see a MG firing at troops directly in front of him on open ground for several turns without hitting anything.

So IMO, the best way to cross open ground is to not be so afraid of it that you think you need to avoid it at all costs or get across it ASAP. You don't want to just charge across the field all at once (unless you put down a giant curtain of smoke or something). Troops are more vulnerable when moving, so you want to minimize the amount of time you are moving. It helps to advance in short rushes with only a small part of your force at a time, while stopping frequently to shoot. Moving too slow would make you vulnerable to mortar or artillery fire though, so you want to keep a fairly slow but steady pace.

Edited by Bozowans

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@Yskonyn, you can also use the logic of the engine to your advantage.

1. Infantry units become easyly spottable only starting from 4 mean teams and higher. A two-man team is really difficult for the enemy to spot beyond 300m. A three-man team is a middleground between 2 and 4 but also stealthy enough. So when you need to cross a dangerous open space with minimum losses then practice breaking down your squads into teams. Two teams of 3 soldiers are not the same as a squad of 6 even though both may occupy the same tile.

2. Probability to hit is also sharply decreases with the number of pixeltruppen in the unit. Two-men team can walk around under sparse small arms at 300m and farther and stay practically invincible.

3. If you have enough time and firepower to leverage over identified enemy contacts you can practice baiting. Make seen to the enemy a 2-3 team of yours and the engine is invariably open fire revealing its positions. 2-3 men team is more or less safe against moderate amount of small arms fire starting from 300m. If you make your bait team dwell for enough time and no fire was laid against them it means the there are no enemies. Just be careful with 2-men teams - they're really hard to spot. With 2-men team you'd better go closer to 200-250m distance. If you go straight with this approach then the downside will be that broken yet not eliminated enemy teams tend to cuddle in the most surprising places. So I myself prefer to go for full elimination whenever possible rather than mere casualties and suppression.

Point 3 applies to PvE games. In PvP human opponent controls the fires so will hardly go for this lowly bait :)

 

Edited by IMHO

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Xnt points IMHO.  I'd forgotten about that but yes have found that 2 man scouts can get surprisingly close to an enemy without being spotted.  It's even better when you have a few casualties and end up with some 1-man teams.  Those a xnt for scouting esp if used together with other 1-man teams.

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