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mav1

Map size choice

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I hate when I post a huge long post at the end of a page - this is further to my last post, last one on page 1.

Actually, as an adjunct to this, I wonder if one couldn't create a VASSAL map of Turning Point: Stalingrad and fight out the battles using CMBB. It would be a bear to create the tactical maps beforehand, but would be a rudimentary kind of CM:C til the real thing came along.

[ September 29, 2006, 02:40 PM: Message edited by: Michael Dorosh ]

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One fellow said the side that puts only a platoon on a 2x2 km map will "suffer the consequences". OK I'll bite - what consequences?

The other side will never find them.

"But then they will get the flags". Whoppee doo. Campaign CM is won by running the enemy out of sufficient forces to hold a line, not by holding meaningless flags.

I crop maps for small forces and split them for overly large ones.

I have some normal force to space ratio in mind, generally I used point totals to arrive at it. Which to use may vary with the campaign scale. When I used 1 km grids as standard, I had 1000 or 1500 points as the standard force size. So what happens when the forces are slightly off 1000 or 1500? Nothing. What happens when they are off it by a whole bunch, like a factor of 2? Crop for small, sequential arrival for big, split for very big. For what follows assume it is 1 km 1000 as standard (obviously the points could be higher for 2 km standard etc).

Two sides send only an unsupported infantry company. Maybe the attacker also has 1 FO and the defender a few fortifications. Both well under 500 points. OK then, crop. The board may be only 640 yards wide by 800 long. Control of that area is quite sufficient to earn control of the grid etc.

Instead only the defender is so small, while the attacker is 2000 points. Since the average force size is normal, the map size is normal. Since the defenders are under the normal force size, they all start on the map. Since the attackers are twice that normal size, only half of them start on the map - the remainder arrive in sections every few minutes from the back of the map. No borg-like perfect coordination.

Instead the defender has 1500 points but the attacker brings 3000, half his overall armor or what have you. Two fights on 2 maps, each 640 wide by 1 km long. 750 points of defenders on each map, 1500 points of attackers on each map - but half the attackers present initially and the other half arriving sequentially. Overstack out the whazoo and you don't get a mega command span with perfect coordination. Instead you get narrow attack corridors, less side to side and front to back coordination, and to take the grid need to win in both spots.

If you kill off the defender each time you bring odds, don't worry you will still win handily by running the enemy out of forces. But generally speaking you will need to command well and use proper tactics to pull that off. If all you do is pile up the counters until the tip over, you get blind brawling.

On operational manuever, in my Bulge campaign the Germans sent 2 companies of infantry off road through 6-8km of woods, to attack two artillery batteries well behind the American front lines. They did not fight for any breakthrough. The Americans were simply holding villages to block roads, and the Germans went around them off road. No collision, no semi-empty maps with 60 minutes of move and see nothing, just an operational order and an operational consequence.

You don't have to use my ideas. You can make up your own ideas. But doing nothing will break. To achieve really strong force to space on a 2 km map will involve a regiment - a single battalion is quite thin on that much space. And CM simply won't work well with regiments on 4 sq km maps. The command span is too large, it isn't playable, and realism stinks.

But players will be driven by in game self interest to put whole regiments on single maps, because that in 1-2 spots and mere unfindable screens elsewhere, will always beat a uniform line of cookie cutter battalions, if you fix the map size etc. If one such hits thin it will win without realism or playability. When 2 such hit each other, you will decide the campaign as one unplayable monster battle.

One fellow said it is silly to say anything about how it will work before the game is out. But we've been playing CM campaigns for about 4 years now. We have a fair amount of experience about how they go, and what does or doesn't work.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

One fellow said the side that puts only a platoon on a 2x2 km map will "suffer the consequences". OK I'll bite - what consequences?

You're kidding right? You don't see the dangers of a platoon holding a 2km front line?

Originally posted by JasonC:

The other side will never find them.

Obviously the other side will eventually find them. Why? Because most likely the lone defending platoon will be defending the most strategically important piece of land on that map. i.e, high ground or a village or a crossroads.

Originally posted by JasonC:

"But then they will get the flags". Whoppee doo. Campaign CM is won by running the enemy out of sufficient forces to hold a line, not by holding meaningless flags.

You call a lone platoon on a 2km front a line? More like a tiny pocket that will be flanked and most likely surrounded by a vastly larger force. Flags or no flags, that platoon will be easily found and crushed in due time if it faces a much larger force.

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Originally posted by Pak40:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by JasonC:

One fellow said the side that puts only a platoon on a 2x2 km map will "suffer the consequences". OK I'll bite - what consequences?

You're kidding right? You don't see the dangers of a platoon holding a 2km front line?

Originally posted by JasonC:

The other side will never find them.

Obviously the other side will eventually find them. Why? Because most likely the lone defending platoon will be defending the most strategically important piece of land on that map. i.e, high ground or a village or a crossroads.

Originally posted by JasonC:

"But then they will get the flags". Whoppee doo. Campaign CM is won by running the enemy out of sufficient forces to hold a line, not by holding meaningless flags.

You call a lone platoon on a 2km front a line? More like a tiny pocket that will be flanked and most likely surrounded by a vastly larger force. Flags or no flags, that platoon will be easily found and crushed in due time if it faces a much larger force. </font>

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Pak40 - no, the platoon will not "mostly like be", nor in reality be, at the most prominent point awaiting artillery barrage or what have you. Why on earth would it be? "To defend the flag". That flag is useless to begin with, and if the enemy brings a battalion lost anyway. So why would the platoon go sit there to die?

You still aren't remotely thinking in operational terms yet. What does the side that puts one platoon on the op-square want? There are various possibilities -

1. He wants intel, what is the force opposite, its strength and composition. The platoon itself would prefer to survive and perhap retreat, but the intel is the essential.

2. He wants the platoon to survive. It won't readily be found, it remains on "hide" all game or makes only short evasive movements in dead ground. "Escape and evade".

3. He wants to infiltrate the platoon into the enemy rear by letting enemy forces pass it. Night infiltration, the battalion "recon" platoon, for future intel or to collect for a raid 4 hours later.

4. He wants to call in artillery fire in an observed fashion, and the platoon merely serves as battle trigger, eyes, and close escort for the FO. The artillery fire is not wanted to hold anything, simply to bleed the enemy without loss.

Here is what nobody will ever put one platoon on a fixed 2 km map trying to do - hold 4 flags against a battalion. The fixed idea that CM fights within a campaign are between battalions trying to take or hold flags is simply hopelessly utterly naively wrong.

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JasonC,

I agree with your points 1 through 4, above. Now, here's another possibility: I'm a mean SOB on defense: I put a pair of ATG's in a reverse slope position, and I just want to hit one or two enemy vehicles and then pull out. While I'm waiting for the attacker to close the range, I'm getting that valuable intel.

I would enjoy that scenario from BOTH sides. As defender, it's a test of nerves. How long should I stay? As attacker, I've got no idea what I'm facing: is that incoming aimed fire meant to fix me while I get counterattacked? Or is it just harassment? Should I prepare a set-piece attack, or rush an element forward? How much time do I have in the campaign? Perhaps it's not enjoyable to you.

Michael Dorosh posted a nice AAR (that picture's worth a thousand postings smile.gif ), which demonstrates an operational envelopment. I think CMC would be the appropriate level for that. If, however, any enemy forces were within the 2x2 squares transited by the manuevering force, I'd want the option of a CM:BB battle.

Again, I enjoy very lopsided battles.

I also enjoy the total blind intel aspect of a 2x2 grid. I never know what I'm facing unless I've developed intel through other sources.

Having massive death-star stacks of units sweeping a 2x2km grid is unrealistic. I hope that logistics, road-net congestion, and command delays would prevent that, as well as susceptibility to ranged fires. That would seem to mimic real-life limitations.

Regards,

Ken

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Actually, full regiments on 2 km are perfectly realistic. In major offensives the Russians commonly put an entire division on that much ground, in column of regiments typically.

It simply won't work in CM. CM cannot handle any command span you throw at it, and CM players can't give orders to every squad in a division 60 times for one scenario.

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Jason & Michael, thanks.

I understand the points you're making and agree.

I also agree breaking up battles into something workable and fun is key. This is a game after all. One CMMC-1 battle I did with large forces we hit the unit cap, and was damn near unplayable. More of a sturggle than actually fun. Exciting as it was against a human player I'd not want to do it again.

Which reminds me, what is the unit cap in CMBB?

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

And we should be excited at the prospect of wasting 55 turns trying to find him rather than doing the sensible thing and setting up a battle taking place once first contact has been made?

How is that sensible? You're basically telling the battallion sized attacker that #1 he's up against a small force, and #2 that small force is located on this small map. You're basically giving the map to the attacker and giving the enemy position away. It's gamey, it's not sensible(not from a defender's standpoint), and it's not realistic.

A 55 turn battle is a little rediculous, a platoon size defender will always have the option of surrendering the map if he doesn't want to wait the full number of turns.

Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

Or better yet, simply writing the result off in the operational phase and saving the tactical battles for something more entertaining?

Therefore ensuring that all battles are of like sized forces. Battles like what c3k describe where a couple of AT guns take a few pop shots at a few tanks wont be played. Or how about a battle where a small group of engineers with AT guns defend a bridge against a vastly larger force? All those small delaying actions that happened in the first few days of the Ardennes offensive wont be played either. (yea, I know that is West Front)

Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

No offence, but I think you continue to miss the entire point.

Actually your point is well taken. I just think it's a bad idea for the reasons that I mentioned. No offence taken, it's just where you and I differ.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

1. He wants intel, what is the force opposite, its

strength and composition. The platoon itself would prefer to survive and perhap retreat, but the intel is the essential.

OK, good point. But I still think it's gamey if you force a small map in this situation. This gives the small defending(intel) group an advantage in collecting opposing force composition. Why? Because suddenly a battallion size force that was meant for a 2x2 km map is squeezed onto a 1x1km map and it's easier for the small intel group to see a larger portion of the map.

Originally posted by JasonC:

2. He wants the platoon to survive. It won't readily be found, it remains on "hide" all game or makes only short evasive movements in dead ground. "Escape and evade".

3. He wants to infiltrate the platoon into the enemy rear by letting enemy forces pass it. Night infiltration, the battalion "recon" platoon, for future intel or to collect for a raid 4 hours later.

Call me crazy but if you're actually using these two tactics with a small force, wouldn't you want a larger map? If you use a smaller map you increase the chances of the small hiding unit being found, hence favoring the attacker.

Originally posted by JasonC:

4. He wants to call in artillery fire in an observed fashion, and the platoon merely serves as battle trigger, eyes, and close escort for the FO. The artillery fire is not wanted to hold anything, simply to bleed the enemy without loss.

If the map is shrunk in this case then it's a gamey tactic that favors the FO. This means that the larger attacking force is again squeezed into a smaller area than he expected. This will possibly result in better use of the artillery against them. Maybe a minor point but still unrealistic and gamey none the less.

Originally posted by JasonC:

Here is what nobody will ever put one platoon on a fixed 2 km map trying to do - hold 4 flags against a battalion. The fixed idea that CM fights within a campaign are between battalions trying to take or hold flags is simply hopelessly utterly naively wrong.

I am not thinking in terms of flags, but in terms of strategic pieces of land. Flags are only used to tell the computer AI that a certain area is strategicly important. For humans strategic areas should rest upon their interpretation of the map. And many times this will be obvious to both sides of the battle, e.g. a hill, a bridge, a town, etc.

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Pak40, I think we do agree to disagree - I apologize for my harsh tone a page ago. I will respond to one thing you said to JasonC:

Originally posted by Pak40:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by JasonC:

1. He wants intel, what is the force opposite, its strength and composition. The platoon itself would prefer to survive and perhap retreat, but the intel is the essential.

OK, good point. But I still think it's gamey if you force a small map in this situation. This gives the small defending(intel) group an advantage in collecting opposing force composition. Why? Because suddenly a battallion size force that was meant for a 2x2 km map is squeezed onto a 1x1km map and it's easier for the small intel group to see a larger portion of the map. </font>

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

Pak40, I think we do agree to disagree - I apologize for my harsh tone a page ago. I will respond to one thing you said to JasonC:

My answer to this is: pare down the attacker, too, to a realistic frontage. How often does a battalion attack a platoon? In this instance, that platoon position would be a nice objective for a company. Not only is it a realistic scaling down, but it becomes more playable, more interesting, and more fun. If 3/4 of your battalion is unengaged, why have them on the map at all?

Sounds good at first but ultimately is just as gamey as scaling down the map size. If the attacker commits a battallion's worth of troops to a map only to have a company show up on the battlefield then immediately he knows the opposing force is smaller than him. Fog of war is largely blown out of the mix. I and probably most other people like the fact of NOT knowing the size of the forces that I'm up against(except maybe an intel report from my commander). It adds to the realism of not knowing what to expect.

And another problem: which units get cut out of the attack if the larger force is "pared down"? Does the computer decide or the player get to pick? If the computer decides then we run the risk of key units being left out of the attack. It just opens up a whole can of worms that they would have to recode.

I agree that a battalion vs a platoon does not seem like a very fun battle, but in my eyes it's part of war. Not all battles were fair, challenging or fun. Fog of war is of paramount importance to me.

Actually, the idea of defending a large map with a small force is appealing to me. If my goal is to recon and gather data on the enemy's size and composition then I would consider it a challenge to recon a large force AND get my units out of the battle alive. I certainly wont need 55 turns to do that. This would obviously be a short battle (10-20 turns tops) depending on the terrain, so it may not be as drawn out or boring as you think.

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Originally posted by Sergei:

I think 2x2 is going to be plenty.

Not for tank battles. Some tanks have the ability to knock out other tanks at 3km range. So the game is putting an artifical limit on tanks that can knock out other tanks over the 2km range.

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Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by mav1:

So is the battle map size going to be 2x2km? Would it have been possible to have a bigger map size? Since in cmbb you can have 3x3km battle size maps. The exta size would be better.

No, it wouldn't. </font>

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Originally posted by mav1:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Sergei:

I think 2x2 is going to be plenty.

Not for tank battles. Some tanks have the ability to knock out other tanks at 3km range.</font>

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Originally posted by mav1:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by mav1:

The exta size would be better.

No, it wouldn't. </font>

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Originally posted by Sergei:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by mav1:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Sergei:

I think 2x2 is going to be plenty.

Not for tank battles. Some tanks have the ability to knock out other tanks at 3km range.</font>

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The former Soviet Union is a big place, and the territory covered by CMBB is an even bigger place. In the classic steppe region I've seen LOS of 5 kilometers or more. I've also seen rolling steppe where it's maybe 1-2 km. from one rise to the next.

But mostly European Russia isn't steppe. It's farmland, towns and villages, forest and swamp, stuff like that. In places like the Carpathians or the Baltic forests or the Pripait marsh, a big field is maybe 300 meters wide, and mostly there aren't any fields.

If you're talking about the typical place a WW2 East Front armor fight took place on, you're talking fields with sides around maybe twice that size, and plenty of vegetation and terrain deviation to interrupt LOS. If you move out of the Soviet Union and start talking East Europe, then it's even less likely you're going to get big long shots: as a rule there's more forest, more frequent waterways, and more human settlement - all of which breaks up LOS.

I'd say 2km x 2 km is probably sufficient to contain for most East Front engagements. Not all, but certainly most.

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BD6 - um no. Single fields in the region from Kursk to Stalingrad run 4-8 km on a side. Yes sometimes rolling relief might cut the LOS, but it equally sometimes created crest to crest LOS lines longer than that, from a hilltop etc. Doesn't matter for anything but artillery observation, though. A few of the best tankers with the best weapons sometimes hit as far as 4 km, and hits at 2.5 km could matter tactically - though never enough to actually prevent any advance (typically needs a stationary target etc).

The reason bigger than 2km by 2km does not work is not realism, it is CM as a game. It isn't designed for very long range engagements and its modeling of them is slipshod. It is also unplayable on that scale if realistic amounts of forces are put on one map, does not model the command and control or morale issues actually encountered on that scale etc.

CM is a game, and it is designed for specific limits. If you leave those limits all the decisions made in the design begin to break down. It can't handle regiments on one map and it can't handle maximum range engagements. Equally, it can't handle even 2 km by 2 km of downtown urban fighting.

A fixed map size that large will simply break the game. It is a dumb idea and needs to be revisited. If it isn't, CMC will be a broken system. Campaign CM is a great idea and will be done either way, by people who have the time for it. It would be a shame if CMC doesn't help them do it, require radically less time from players that existing campaign approaches not more, and thereby expand the pool of campaign players.

But that is entirely up to the designers. They can't make a bad idea a good one, but they can freely fix it or stubbornly cling to it and wreck their own work.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

It isn't designed for very long range engagements and its modeling of them is slipshod.

In what way ?

It is also unplayable on that scale if realistic amounts of forces are put on one map, does not model the command and control or morale issues actually encountered on that scale etc.

So what ? Games abstract things or there would be no game in the first place. People control everything from Roman legions to nuclear submarines in games and none of it is 'realistic'.

CM is a game, and it is designed for specific limits. If you leave those limits all the decisions made in the design begin to break down. It can't handle regiments on one map and it can't handle maximum range engagements. Equally, it can't handle even 2 km by 2 km of downtown urban fighting.

I have several games on the go at the moment, all of which take place on much bigger maps and with much bigger forces than you claim are possible. It is not taking me two hours to do the orders and the game handles it just fine.

Onion Wars is a campaign that features battalion and up sized battles typically and it's been going strong for years. Those games get finished inside 3 weeks.

I'm not saying there are no issues with the choices the designers have made, in fact I'm rather skeptical myself, but you're overstating the whole thing by a mile. People are happily playing well above your assumed limit. You may find it unrealistic, you may wrinkle your nose at it, but it's by no means impossible.

[ October 09, 2006, 01:27 PM: Message edited by: Sgt_Kelly ]

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Originally posted by Bigduke6:

The former Soviet Union is a big place, and the territory covered by CMBB is an even bigger place. In the classic steppe region I've seen LOS of 5 kilometers or more. I've also seen rolling steppe where it's maybe 1-2 km. from one rise to the next.

But mostly European Russia isn't steppe. It's farmland, towns and villages, forest and swamp, stuff like that. In places like the Carpathians or the Baltic forests or the Pripait marsh, a big field is maybe 300 meters wide, and mostly there aren't any fields.

If you're talking about the typical place a WW2 East Front armor fight took place on, you're talking fields allowing a shot around around three three times that distance, and plenty of vegetation and terrain deviation to interrupt LOS. If you move out of the Soviet Union and start talking East Europe, then it's even less likely you're going to get big long shots: as a rule there's more forest, more frequent waterways, and more human settlement - all of which breaks up LOS.

I'd say 2km x 2 km is probably sufficient to contain for most East Front engagements. Not all, but certainly most.

EDITED because I implied a typical field was 600 x 600. My bad, I would guess the number is closer to 1.5 x 3 or something. My point is, however, typical LOS is a klick or less.

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Jason,

Um no yourself. You are cherry picking. The Ukrainian-Lower Volga steppe wasn't the entire Eastern Front, and Kursk was not the entire range of East Front armor engagements.

You want to select slanted examples, next time cite a Sovkhoz in the Kuban or the Crimea, where you could get a wheat field 40 klicks a side, and if you stand on a kurgan you can probable get theoretical LOS out to the curvature of the earth. Not that you could actually see anything that far away. But the LOS tool would draw a pretty blue line, sure.

Of course, I then will counter cherry pick White Russia and the Carpathian foothills, where you have to work to get a km of LOS, no matter what you stand on. When you say "Kursk took place in the steppe in July '43" I will say "something like three times that force fought over White Russia and right bank Ukraine in June-July 44.

Whether CMC is a workable concept, and whether a fixed 2 x 2 map is the best way to execute that concept, are different questions. I wasn't talking about that.

Mav1 asked a question about typical LOS in the "Russian steppe." I answered it, pointing out that the steppe isn't a be-all end-all for simulating East Front armor combat.

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SK - uh huh. How many completed games and how many regular players?

Just silly.

Likewise the roman legions comment - my point is if you deliberately try to play the game in ways it was not designed for you will get a predictably crappy and hardly playable game. Let's play chess on a board 1000 by 1000 with 200 knights. It'll be great - no, it won't, nor will it be reasonably designed, nor will it be chess, etc.

As for what ways CM is not designed to model very long ranged fire, the fact that it isn't is plain for anyone to see, but here are a few. Rate of fire remains 6 rounds per minute (in reality it would fall to 1-2). Initial hit chances are a few percent even for high quality crews (reality considerably higher for the best vs stationary). MV matters more than skill level (only remotely true for short flat trajectories). Homing is only modeled as an overall increase in hit chance and does not depend on bracketing, and plateaus rapidly (instead it depends on getting an over then an under etc). Moving targets are still subject to increased hit chance but top out around 10-15% chance (in fact because the difficulty is correct range estimation, any appreciable vector along the line of the shot makes truly long range fire essentially impossible). Spotting is automatic for vehicles that move within LOS (in reality, spotting is at least half the task at extreme range). Only CMAK has dust, there is none in CMBB. Etc etc.

It just wasn't remotely designed for 3-4 km armor dueling.

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Look at just some of the things JasonC is an expert on in this thread!

Originally posted by JasonC:

You can make the maps beforehand of course. You just don't have to use the whole thing. The cropping is easy in the editor, it would just be a matter of scripting it properly.

Originally posted by JasonC:

Hunter, you say it is "too late to change". If you want to throw away all the work you've done on a busted product, that's a good way to do it. If something is seriously broken in game play terms, you fix it or you waste all the other efforts.

Programming!

You can tell he is an expert because he says things like it is "easy" and "just a matter of scripting it properly." Yup, when he can tell a guy who has been working on a project for the last 2+ years that he doesn't know what he's talking about... then you know JasonC is an expert.

Originally posted by JasonC:

BD6 - um no. Single fields in the region from Kursk to Stalingrad run 4-8 km on a side. Yes sometimes rolling relief might cut the LOS, but it equally sometimes created crest to crest LOS lines longer than that, from a hilltop etc. Doesn't matter for anything but artillery observation, though.

Russian topography!

Yup, when he can tell a guy that lives in Russia he doesn't know the size of a typical field... then you know JasonC is an expert.

JasonC knows what he is talking about because he is an expert. He just is.

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