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pawter

Combat Mission unrealistic

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limit the all-seeing affects you seem to have issue with.

Actually, I don't have a problem with it :)

I would like to see well-thought and thought-through terrain FOW. I think it would add a very interesting dimension of friction and uncertainty to the game, and I also think it would tend to slow down the tempo of operations in the game. That'd be good, I think, because tempo in wargames is always vastly too high (for all the reasons discussed in this thread).

But it isn't critical, or even terrily important, to me. I also don't think it would make a blind bit of difference to the so called "problem" of over concentration. Good and confident players would continue to concentrate their forces and typically do well because of that. Timid players would continue to take counsel of their fears and disperse their forces to their own - and their force's - detriment.

I also recognise that well-thought and thought-through terrain FOW is no trivial task, both in terms of conceptual design, programming effort, and computing grunt to drive it. None of those things are currently available.

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The list of things that CM simulates and abstract, compared to other tactical wargames, is astounding. ;)

Wow, I think you just summarized 50% of the Forum discussions in the last 5 years.

And, being a good vintner, a "glass half full" kind of guy as well. :)

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Presumably you do realise that the landing maps for D-Day were exceptional, and in no way representative of the maps they typically received? For example, one particular issue the Americans encountered was that from aerial photos it was all but impossible to distinguish thick hedges from tracks with a complete canopy cover. Worse, the catographers didn't even realise they needed to so distinguish - they just thought they were all hedges. And so marked their maps. A similar issue cropped up in Holland where lines for canals and watercourses were indistinguishable from lines for ?fences? (or some other typical togographic feature). Apparently the captured maps the Allies used once they got into Germany were appalling.

I've also seen a German map from Normandy in 1944 that had no contours, but used hatching to show rises and falls in terrain. It was very pretty, and easy to see the general shape of the ground, but I'd have hated to try and use it to call for artillery or conduct planning. OTOH, I don't know whether it was a typical example, or exceptional (which is often a problem with artefacts - they prove something existed, but not how common it was, nor how it was used).

OTOH, the British Army (and I assume the US) were issuing new maps in Normandy every few days that had been overprinted with the latest available information on enemy positions. Then again those maps were, at best, still a few days old before they reached the troops at the front.

Jon

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Further, despite the astonishing amount of detail in the beautiful D-Day maps (and they are beautiful - I adore them) you still cannot know fom reading it how high each building is, nor exactly how many and where the doors are, or exactly how many windows there are and what their layout is. In the built up area of Vierville you can't even be sure where one building ends and the next begins. Most of the fields have no indication of where the gate or gates are, and there is no indication of where it is possible to pass through the hedges. There is also no indication of ditches, culverts, and other terrain critical for moving under fire. And remember; this is the best map the Allied forces would ever get while they were in Normandy.

All that information is available at an instant for every player of every map ever made in the CM-verse.

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3. Player as God (or Player Borg) - if someone wants to realistically recreate being a Battalion Commander in WW2, go outside and pitch a smelly canvas tent. Then have the neighborhood kids come running in with bits of paper describing what's going on in the neighborhood. Then try to coordinate a pickup game of baseball or soccer while looking at a hand drawn map of the area. Trying to recreate that sort of detachment from the action is exactly the opposite of what players want in a wargame, so NOBODY wants an entirely realistic C2 model. Which means the player always gets more information than is realistic.

I was just about to say that Combat Mission is a combat simulation/war-game, not a command simulation but you beat me to it.

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Presumably you do realise that the landing maps for D-Day were exceptional, and in no way represnetative of the maps they typically received? For example, one particular issue the Americans encountered was that from aerial photos it was all but impossible to distinguish thick hedges from tracks with a complete canopy cover. Worse, the catographers didn't even realise they needed to so distinguish - they just thought they were all hedges. And so marked their maps. A similar issue cropped up in Holland where lines for canals and watercourses were indistinguishable from lines for ?fences? (or some other typical togographic feature). Apparently the captured maps the Allies used once they got into Germany were appalling.

I've also seen a German map from Normandy in 1944 that had no contours, but used hatching to show rises and falls in terrain. It was very pretty, and easy to see the general shape of the ground, but I'd have hated to try and use it to call for artillery or conduct planning. OTOH, I don't know whether it was a typical example, or exceptional (which is often a problem with artefacts - they prove something existed, but not how common it was, nor how it was used).

OTOH, the British Army (and I assume the US) were issuing new maps in Normandy every few days that had been overprinted with the latest available information on enemy positions. Then again those maps were, at best, still a few days old before they reached the troops at the front.

Jon

I do understand that the landing maps were exceptional, in fact on the map shown which was created on April 21 it has the first beach overlay as of May 12th. There was possibly another 10-12 overlays before the actual landing day. This map doesn't show any enemy troop positions, these were most likely updated via Air Recon Photo's... which were a minimum of 4-6 hours behind the actual situation. I was just showing the amount of information that was gathered for dissemination. (whether it got to field commanders or not I would say it was most unlikely) Also I figure the same amount of research went into the Drop Zone areas for the Airborne, though the accuracy of the drops negate any infomation carried or committed to memory by said units.

Of course the Hedgerows is a given as it is well documented on how the allies didn't fully understand the makeup of these. Thus Sgt Culin came up with the Rhino (aka Prong) for breaking through some hedgerows.

As far as updated maps, from what I have read most map information given to Platoon Commanders was a minimum of a day behind the reality of the situation, but this was supplemented via spoken information and hand drawings, etc., that would be more up to date. If the Platoon commander did not pass this to his NCO's you would have a big problem once a fight started. I have yet to see any 'maps' that a company or platoon commander was given during the Normandy operation and therefore can't say what info they did or did not have.

It is a great subject with a lot of speculation on what information was really available and at what levels it got distributed... All in All good stuff....:)

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To alleviate the map edge issue on the maps I used to design for CMx1, I would simply rotate the orientation of the map 45 degrees. This diamond shaped configuration would keep the map size manageable while making the map widest at the center, where the heaviest action should play out (and forcing both side to consider their flanks), provide adequate real estate for the attacking side to set up and hinder things like edge creeping and that AT gun snugged into the map corner that is impossible to maneuver against. On a more subliminal level, it also made me treat the game area less like a board and more like a swath of terrain.

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To alleviate the map edge issue on the maps I used to design for CMx1, I would simply rotate the orientation of the map 45 degrees. This diamond shaped configuration would keep the map size manageable while making the map widest at the center, where the heaviest action should play out (and forcing both side to consider their flanks), provide adequate real estate for the attacking side to set up and hinder things like edge creeping and that AT gun snugged into the map corner that is impossible to maneuver against. On a more subliminal level, it also made me treat the game area less like a board and more like a swath of terrain.

Great idea! Will the CMBN map editor allow this? So the N and S would be the top and bottom of the "diamond?"

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I think I have to take issue with this post from Battlefront.com

Good points and another example of how this community can take a chip off someone's shoulder and turn it into a useful discussion.

Wargames, on the whole, have several long standing problems. We've discussed them with you guys over the past 12 years many, many times before. The reason why we keep discussing them is there is no way to truly fix them. There's not even very good ways to reduce them, though we try. Here are the primary problems with wargames:

1. Map Edges - in real life there were very, very rarely hard edges to a battlefield. Even a strip of beach could allow for fire from over the water. This can, but not always, affect planning. I say not always because it really depends on the circumstances of the map, forces, what you're asked to do to win, etc.

2. Force Boundaries - similar to Map Edges, rarely is a Battalion or smaller force completely on its own and perfectly matched up with an enemy force that is on its own. The best place, tactically, to attack was usually the "seam" between two different higher level organizations because the reaction would be weaker due to poorer C2 and other factors. But in a standard 2 player game neither player has anything else to worry about but what the other player is doing.

3. Player as God (or Player Borg) - if someone wants to realistically recreate being a Battalion Commander in WW2, go outside and pitch a smelly canvas tent. Then have the neighborhood kids come running in with bits of paper describing what's going on in the neighborhood. Then try to coordinate a pickup game of baseball or soccer while looking at a hand drawn map of the area. Trying to recreate that sort of detachment from the action is exactly the opposite of what players want in a wargame, so NOBODY wants an entirely realistic C2 model. Which means the player always gets more information than is realistic.

4. TacAI as God (or TacAI Borg) - this was known as the Yellow Lines of Death problem back with CMx1. Basically, the AI sees an opportunity to do something with entirely too much battlefield wide knowledge because of information sharing. This is slightly different than Player as God because either and/or both can exist separately from each other.

5. Artificial Game Environment - you know you have x minutes to play, you have no reason to not fully commit (at least with non-Campaign), you have no incentive to give up (except if you need to stop playing for some reason), it's possible to deduce what the player has based on game balancing considerations (real life doesn't have such assurances!), 1st hand experience with playing the other side's forces, etc. The latter is very important. If I'm playing as the Americans, I know VERY well what my capabilities are AND what the Germans' are from a very low level because I've commanded both in virtual battle many times. Any American commander that could say that would have been called a Traitor and shot at sunrise :) It's a huge advantage to have that sort of first hand experience from both sides.

6. Perfect Map Knowledge - the map is exactly as you see it now and throughout the battle (less damage effects). You know this will happen before you even see the map. Major assumptions can be made and that translates into an affect on planning.

7. AI Player Limitations - if you play single player, the AI won't compare to a good Human opponent. And since a real Human won't act like a real world commander, because of the above issues, the AI has even less of a chance to give you a "realistic fight".

Bottom line here... wargamers need to recognize and accept these issues or there is NO POINT in playing a wargame. Things like Relative Spotting, CoPlay, better AI, etc. can help diminish these limitations, but it there's not enough time or CPU cycles available to address them all. Well, unless we just have players sit around parsing PMs and VOIPs from people actually playing the game. That makes for an excellent CPX (Command Post Exercise), but a terrible commercial wargame experience.

Steve

Clearly what we have with this post is an over concentration of facts. Obviously that is unrealistic in a forum post. Shouldn't there be some internet mechanism that ensures forum posts contain only mad and unsustainable opinions?

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To alleviate the map edge issue on the maps I used to design for CMx1, I would simply rotate the orientation of the map 45 degrees. This diamond shaped configuration would keep the map size manageable while making the map widest at the center, where the heaviest action should play out (and forcing both side to consider their flanks), provide adequate real estate for the attacking side to set up and hinder things like edge creeping and that AT gun snugged into the map corner that is impossible to maneuver against. On a more subliminal level, it also made me treat the game area less like a board and more like a swath of terrain.

I've been toying with this same idea for a while now, but it sounds like you've actually done it. My thinking is that it would be ideal for meeting engagements, but may not be as well suited for attack/defend. What has your experience been?

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To make a 45 degree map, you still make it in the regular way. Then the objectives and roads/etc are situated to drive all conflict to the center from opposite corners of the map. It is great anti-gamey tactic for map making.

My preferred anti-edger method involved placing impassable terrain poking in from the edges. Ponds, rocky ridges, open ground in LOS to the enemy's side, or steep gullies.

If the map edge is made too difficult to traverse, then the player will not use it.

*

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To alleviate the map edge issue on the maps I used to design for CMx1, I would simply rotate the orientation of the map 45 degrees.

Seems like there are no original ideas... this was first done in CMBO with "The Sunken Lane" scenario.

Who was the designer of that one? ;)

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Egads, all this in our lovely CMBN forum from a player who dropped CM2 at the demo? Understandable considering the lower traffic in the CM1 forums, hardly enough ears for any enlightenment to fall on.

I'd challenge pawter to a pbem game to test his over-stacking-power-at-point-of-attack-for-the-win but I doubt I would survive the email banter. He makes Cormack McCarthy's writing seem like a nursery rhyme. :)

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1. Map Edges - in real life there were very, very rarely hard edges to a battlefield. Even a strip of beach could allow for fire from over the water. This can, but not always, affect planning. I say not always because it really depends on the circumstances of the map, forces, what you're asked to do to win, etc.

2. Force Boundaries - similar to Map Edges, rarely is a Battalion or smaller force completely on its own and perfectly matched up with an enemy force that is on its own. The best place, tactically, to attack was usually the "seam" between two different higher level organizations because the reaction would be weaker due to poorer C2 and other factors. But in a standard 2 player game neither player has anything else to worry about but what the other player is doing.

Steve,

are there any plans to reduce the map-edge problem, i.e. by giving scenario designers a tool like areas of incoming fire from outside the map?

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Steve,

are there any plans to reduce the map-edge problem, i.e. by giving scenario designers a tool like areas of incoming fire from outside the map?

A nice plastering of OBA artillery will work quite nicely if you want to simulate that. If you're trying to simulate the Goodwood situation where the tanks advancing along a narrow corridor (often effectively a single road) were hit in the flank at range by ATGs in bypassed hamlets, that's going to have to be a much much wider map even if it offers no real choices as to the British axis of advance.

I sometimes wonder though about allowing certain units an "Asteroids" option (the old videogame where the ships and rocks exited the screen then instantly reenter on the opposite side) so they can target units that way. But that probably is open to serious abuses.

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Steve,

are there any plans to reduce the map-edge problem, i.e. by giving scenario designers a tool like areas of incoming fire from outside the map?

No, because that would be a horrible idea :) Imagine driving your tank down the map edge and suddenly it is burning bright because some unseen force on the side of the map hit you. Did you have a chance to react to a potential threat before it shot you? Did you have a chance to pop smoke, for example? Did you have a chance to fire back at the thing that shot at you? After all, if you're in a King Tiger, I don't think you'd be too happy to just magically get a flank shot kill with no recourse.

On top of that, why presume there is an enemy even capable of engaging you on the flank? Might not someone also be engaging that unseen force from off map?

The only way to get rid of map edge problems is to simulate the entire front, at the tactical level, simultaneously and in detail. Obviously that is neither practical from a computing or a gameplay standpoint.

Sorry folks... if you play a wargame you have to accept certain limitations on realism. There's just no practical way around some of these issues.

Steve

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Also, I when I read about the Normandy bocage battles, I see participants say over and over again that such terrain, each battalion fought its own separate little war. Units routinely got lost, turned around. One unit could be just a few hundred yards from another unit and have no idea the other unit was there. So, as Steve says, why presume there's an enemy unit off the mapedge ready to engage you on the flank? Seems more likely to me that he'd be occupied with his own battle, and even if not engaged he probably wouldn't even see you.

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