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Rankorian

WW2 mortars and artillery. Most important thing to "get right" in the CM2 series?

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...you hear the screaming of the incoming rounds - at least for the big guns...

AIUI, the 'incoming' noise gets played for all offmap asset fire missions. Even 75 and 81mm 'popguns' :)

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While it's indeed a trivial matter for a trained WWII mortarman (and observer) to "drop a pickle in a bucket at 500m", thus allowing a light mortar to kill infantry in open holes given enough time and ammo, that assumes they know where the bucket is (i.e. the observer has the target under direct observation, relatively free of obstruction).

In those cases, the target has only 3 alternatives:

(a) kill the shooters / FOs,

(B) withdraw to less readily observed terrain

© dig in deeper and roof over the dugouts so that only heavy shell direct hits will kill them and the mortars cause only pinning and shock.

In hilly areas, that kind of direct observation could happen more often, and explains the particular horror of the Hurtgenwald (sitting in the bottom of a valley filled with scraggly pines, surrounded on 3 sides by enemy FOs), or numerous valleys in Italy (which is also more sparsely vegetated). In not-quite-so-radically-hilly Normandy, this also explains much of the importance ascribed to seizing / holding the various heights around Saint Lo and Caen. It also explains much of the popularity of "reverse slope" defenses which deprive the enemy FOs of the ability to look into your holes.

So the dramatic "overkill" observed in the game seems to me to derive not from some problem with the modeled accuracy or speed of the mortar teams / FOs, but from:

(1) non-moving infantry in good concealment terrain, even dug-in, are far too easy to spot with precision, at a distance. Spotting seems to be all-or-nothing; once a unit is spotted, the spotting unit invariably knows its position down to the meter. Pickle, meet bucket. Reality is of course far more tenuous; you "spotted" muzzle flashes, or a helmet bobbed up, or just sensed something moving in the direction the shooting is coming from.

(2) excessive lethality of non-direct mortar hits against dug-in or comparably covered infantry, particularly those in buildings or wooden bunkers (honestly, units in the latter should be essentially impervious to light mortar fire -- the weakness seems to be the vision slits). Suppression and shock, yes. Wounds, not so much, at least not so quickly. I have watched medium mortars breach a hedgerow in 2 minutes; that kind of demolition simply wasn't possible with ordinary frag rounds (unlike gun shells which plow into the earth before detonating).

One tweak that might help a lot is to have entrenched infantry prefer to fight (shoot and spot) prone, as opposed to sitting up so much and exposing 50% of their bodies to incoming of all kinds. They seem to "take a knee" even when their position already has a good field of fire.

Another fix would be to radically decrease the spottability of entrenchments from "vehicle" class to "infantry" class. Right now, entrenched infantry are spotted about 3x as fast as unentrenched infantry in the same terrain.

Light and medium mortar fire, or any direct fire weapon for that matter, simply shouldn't be able to clean out a concealed and dug in position so fast at combat ranges. It's a real game unbalancer.

FWIW.

Such an excellent discussion, I could have "quoted" many responses. I also substantively agree with most of what Undead Reindeer wrote--in addition to the above.

Let's go back to my thought experiment. A Spotter, with a 60mm mortar somewhere behind him (I realize it was usually a commanding officer--the 60 mm FOs in CMBN seem odd to me), sees a farm complex 400 meters away. Looks like about a platoon of enemy, and his company is going to be attacking.

He calls in mortar fire. Does this mean:

A: A linear fire plan is called in. With 20 rounds the mortar cripples two squads and the HMG. (Even conceptually, I am not sure how a linear fire plan, diagonal to the line of fire, is done.)

or.

B: The initial rounds are off target. The Spotter corrects. The enemy has thus "gone to ground", in cover or in slit trenches. The infantry is suppressed, but any wounded/kills are just lucky. The enemy can 1. flee, if of poor morale. 2. Move away, if of good command, and it is the correct tactical move, sprinting and going prone. 3. Stay put, hoping that a round did not happen to fall in anyone's lap. The objective for the mortar is to pin the enemy.

My impression, which I am willing to be corrected on, is that "B" is more like WW2.

More points:

Lots of shrapnel is not an issue if the round strikes the ground, and the enemy is below ground--even 6 inches I will assert that CMBN underestimates the ditches and other impediments in any given area. Not a criticism; a possible game-engine limitation.

One can be realistic in areas, but need to tweak things to be actually realistic. In my opinion.

1. Mortars should suppress infantry, not kill (at least, the 60mm and 2 inch. The 81 stuff is close to actual artillery). They can kill in the open, but only if TRPed (note from the above example--I would not fire all my 60mm ammo. Once ranged, I would wait for movement with my remaining ammo--thus, firing on a previous target, without moving, should be TRP accuracy. Mortars kill guns, because they are usually above ground and cannot move.)

2. Large artillery firing on a single gun should be rare. It was just not, I will assert, usual WW2 doctrine. My understanding that, from a distance, they fired at large rectangles/boxes.

3. Mortars/artillery should be able to target behind obstructions, but with lower accuracy. Think of it as a "sound contact" with the initial rounds. With the current system, if one has visual contact, one has pinpoint aim. But if no visual contact, no rounds can be launched, puts too much of a "use it or lose it" on the first turn of a hedgerow scenario. Perfect accuracy on the first turn, or perhaps never be able to use your artillery?

4. Way, way, down the list: Can we change the flat, monotone voice of the English/American comman artillery sounds. They sound, in this context, sort of creepy--Star Wars.

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B: The initial rounds are off target. The Spotter corrects. The enemy has thus "gone to ground", in cover or in slit trenches. The infantry is suppressed, but any wounded/kills are just lucky. The enemy can 1. flee, if of poor morale. 2. Move away, if of good command, and it is the correct tactical move, sprinting and going prone. 3. Stay put, hoping that a round did not happen to fall in anyone's lap. The objective for the mortar is to pin the enemy.

My impression, which I am willing to be corrected on, is that "B" is more like WW2.

Seems right to me. With option 3 being the right one if you have fortifications. The issue is with TacAI which needs to get the pixeltruppen's heads down and keep them there.

Lots of shrapnel is not an issue if the round strikes the ground, and the enemy is below ground--even 6 inches I will assert that CMBN underestimates the ditches and other impediments in any given area. Not a criticism; a possible game-engine limitation.

No underestimation accordingly to my tests. See above - it's the behaviour of the troops which makes the kill rate high. Trenches and foxholes are ok if troops are hiding.

One can be realistic in areas, but need to tweak things to be actually realistic. In my opinion.

1. Mortars should suppress infantry, not kill (at least, the 60mm and 2 inch. The 81 stuff is close to actual artillery). They can kill in the open, but only if TRPed (note from the above example--I would not fire all my 60mm ammo. Once ranged, I would wait for movement with my remaining ammo--thus, firing on a previous target, without moving, should be TRP accuracy.

Don't agree on this one. Efficiency has nothing to do with TRPs. See my line of argumentation above.

Mortars kill guns, because they are usually above ground and cannot move.)

Wrong again - mortars don't kill guns, they kill the troops operating the guns (HMG, ATG etc). Troops should keep the head down and wait until everything is over - the raise their heads.

3. Mortars/artillery should be able to target behind obstructions, but with lower accuracy. Think of it as a "sound contact" with the initial rounds. With the current system, if one has visual contact, one has pinpoint aim. But if no visual contact, no rounds can be launched, puts too much of a "use it or lose it" on the first turn of a hedgerow scenario. Perfect accuracy on the first turn, or perhaps never be able to use your artillery?

to target behind obstructions has nothing to to with accuracy. the spotting process - which is implemented pretty well - defines accuracy. so if you do proper spotting for a fire behind an obstacle, the fire is accurate. In my experience some shots fall before the obstacle some behind. that's ok.

Also the first turn use of artillery has nothing to do with accuracy. It's more an issue of the level of recon you have. You fire at more or less identified targets or where you feel the enemy positions could be.

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4. Way, way, down the list: Can we change the flat, monotone voice of the English/American comman artillery sounds. They sound, in this context, sort of creepy--Star Wars.

I don't care about the sound-- but it would be very nice if an accurate call for fire procedure was used.

And since we're talking about page 43 (of volume six) of the list of Things We Want, I'd add an English version of the German chatter.

With my hearing, I can't even figure out enough of what they're saying to get a translation.

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1.Seems right to me. With option 3 being the right one if you have fortifications. The issue is with TacAI which needs to get the pixeltruppen's heads down and keep them there.

2.No underestimation accordingly to my tests. See above - it's the behaviour of the troops which makes the kill rate high. Trenches and foxholes are ok if troops are hiding.

3.Don't agree on this one. Efficiency has nothing to do with TRPs. See my line of argumentation above.

4.Wrong again - mortars don't kill guns, they kill the troops operating the guns (HMG, ATG etc). Troops should keep the head down and wait until everything is over - the raise their heads.

5.to target behind obstructions has nothing to to with accuracy. the spotting process - which is implemented pretty well - defines accuracy. so if you do proper spotting for a fire behind an obstacle, the fire is accurate. In my experience some shots fall before the obstacle some behind. that's ok.

6.Also the first turn use of artillery has nothing to do with accuracy. It's more an issue of the level of recon you have. You fire at more or less identified targets or where you feel the enemy positions could be.

OK, Winkried, I am going to present the opinion that we agree more than disagee.

1.Glad you liked my first point.

2. I will agree that much of the problem with high casualty rates on the receiving end of mortars is with the troop behavior. I would only add the idea that there may be more ways of getting slightly covered than is exhibited in game--humans have a way of struggling to stay covered and alive--even if if means using their helmet to dig a shallow trench.

3. I'm not sure we actually disagree on this--I used "TRP" as short-hand for improvement in...something...if one has been firing, stopped, has not moved, and begins firing again.

4. I...would say, "of course", but I guess was not clear...meant effective use of the gun, so I meant the crew as the target. I guess you are saying that mortars are even overpowered in CMBN because the crew does not take appropriate cover? I don't disagree with that, my point was that mortars were the common tactical "counter" for guns.

5. I did not think one could even call in a fire mission on a place one could not see (after turn one)? My point is that one could sort of "see" or hear something falling behind a hedgerow, so fire should be allowed--but with reduced accuracy and increased dispersion. I realize, though, that this might open up some practices which are even more unrealistic than the ability never to target land behind a hedgerow which cannot be seen--so I make this point only tentatively.

6. Not sure we are meeting eye-to-eye on this, conceptually and with terminology. My understanding was that turn 1 targeting hit where you designated it hit, even if one did not have a visual of it with on-board units. If that is not "accuracy", it is something important. You don't get to do that after turn 1. Though really...now that I think about it...I am not sure why--for off-board, or on-board units who have not moved. Must be something about gameplay rather than realism, but, in my opinion, on some maps, it really puts a lot of marbles on a first turn artillery gamble.

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2. I will agree that much of the problem with high casualty rates on the receiving end of mortars is with the troop behavior. I would only add the idea that there may be more ways of getting slightly covered than is exhibited in game--humans have a way of struggling to stay covered and alive--even if if means using their helmet to dig a shallow trench.

nobody - except some raw recruits - would do this. sure you dig. but not every time you advance - usually when you stay longer - let's say overnight. you try to get the best natural cover, but your main task is to get you ordnance in the direction of the enemy. i don't know how well natural cover is modeled in CMBN -maybe we should to some testing once in a while.

3. I'm not sure we actually disagree on this--I used "TRP" as short-hand for improvement in...something...if one has been firing, stopped, has not moved, and begins firing again.

fine - you have a point here. to fire again against a known target should have maybe a bonus.

4. I...would say, "of course", but I guess was not clear...meant effective use of the gun, so I meant the crew as the target. I guess you are saying that mortars are even overpowered in CMBN because the crew does not take appropriate cover? I don't disagree with that, my point was that mortars were the common tactical "counter" for guns.

fine. one of the issues here is, that you can't re-man guns in CMBN - this has been discussed already to some length. to do this is/was standard tactic in defense. you would leave the gun in the firing position and wait in a better cover (if available) until the arty was over. our measure was that you had between 45 - 60 seconds between the end of the artillery fire and the first enemy vehicles/troops showing up in front of your position due to safety considerations on the enemy side (safety distance to avoid blue on blue). so you had to figure out when the fire was over, and then run out an man your weapon or position (if it still was there).

5. I did not think one could even call in a fire mission on a place one could not see (after turn one)? My point is that one could sort of "see" or hear something falling behind a hedgerow, so fire should be allowed--but with reduced accuracy and increased dispersion. I realize, though, that this might open up some practices which are even more unrealistic than the ability never to target land behind a hedgerow which cannot be seen--so I make this point only tentatively.

you're consideration is right. would not allow this too.

6. Not sure we are meeting eye-to-eye on this, conceptually and with terminology. My understanding was that turn 1 targeting hit where you designated it hit, even if one did not have a visual of it with on-board units. If that is not "accuracy", it is something important. You don't get to do that after turn 1. Though really...now that I think about it...I am not sure why--for off-board, or on-board units who have not moved. Must be something about gameplay rather than realism, but, in my opinion, on some maps, it really puts a lot of marbles on a first turn artillery gamble.

has to do with realism i think. you would often have preparatory artillery fire before an assault. these fires would be ranged beforehand. I wouldn't fire blind. But you often get some intel in the battle (the icons with the question mark) - sometimes you would see foxholes and trenches. so it's then up to you to assess what you have seen. in a battle i run currently i saw two such icons in a yard. so i assumed that there must be more and expended some 20 rounds of 105er there - will see if this was well invested or not.

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Just make sure interdiction firedoesn't get nerfed too badly by these proposed changes. Preregistered TRPs on unseen but likely enemy concentration points such as crossroads, farms, gullies/draws, etc., was a critical element of an organized defense, especially for the Germans (who had previously owned the real estate). Many an attack or counterattack never reached its start line and absorbed heavy casualties without even contacting the enemy due to a spoiling barrage, either timed or called in by FOs based on visual or sound contact.

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a long time ago we had such a discussion with a lot of info about artillery mortar etc accuracy

Rocket Artillery inaccurate

Linear targets were done by individually ploting different aim points for each gun in the battery, ie each gun was given slightly different data. Needless to say this type of mission needed to be preplanned.

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you know FWIW -I was playing a skilled player ( the author of No Exit) in his own scenario. I had one of those fluke keyhole LOS spots and some of my 81mm mortar crew spotted some enemy PTruppen, who they ID'd as another mortar crew. Mortars are excellent for killing other mortars- and enemy mortars and FOs usually get my priority of fire. I started shelling that position. Turns out I 'vaporised' two mortar teams in 3 minutes because of that. Knowing how to use the mortars correctly, makes a huge difference in their lethality, and if you learn how to use them well you also notice what doesnt work. And then you can apply that against your enemies DF mortar strikes.

Not to mention most mortar crews only have enough ammo to truly wipe out one positon, MAYBE two before their ammo is expended. So do what they did IRL. SPREAD OUT. you'll notice the more spread out, the less deadly those mortars are.

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you know FWIW -I was playing a skilled player ( the author of No Exit) in his own scenario. I had one of those fluke keyhole LOS spots and some of my 81mm mortar crew spotted some enemy PTruppen, who they ID'd as another mortar crew. Mortars are excellent for killing other mortars- and enemy mortars and FOs usually get my priority of fire. I started shelling that position. Turns out I 'vaporised' two mortar teams in 3 minutes because of that. Knowing how to use the mortars correctly, makes a huge difference in their lethality, and if you learn how to use them well you also notice what doesnt work. And then you can apply that against your enemies DF mortar strikes.

Not to mention most mortar crews only have enough ammo to truly wipe out one positon, MAYBE two before their ammo is expended. So do what they did IRL. SPREAD OUT. you'll notice the more spread out, the less deadly those mortars are.

This was already the case in CMx1.

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I feel fairly confident is asserting that there is a big difference in the lethality of medium caliber HE of all types between CMx1 and CMx2. In CMx1 60mm mortars were primarily a suppression tool and smoke layer. Sure, they'd cause an occasional casualty here and there, but if you wanted to kill and destroy you needed 105mm or larger.

The same holds true for armor mounted weapon systems. In CMBN I see little need for dedicated HE chuckers like the Sherman 105 and StuH42. The 75 and 76mm guns will quickly wreck any non-armored target they fire at.

I'm not saying one is any more realistic than the other, but I do see a difference.

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There's a lot of good points raised here, but I'm definitely on the side of CMx2 over CMx1. 50s were lucky to cause any casualties without treeburst. I'm glad the new damage model makes light mortars worth their points, even if it needs some tweaking.

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Many an attack or counterattack never reached its start line and absorbed heavy casualties without even contacting the enemy due to a spoiling barrage, either timed or called in by FOs based on visual or sound contact.

Have a wee think about how much fun such a scenario would be.

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Depends on which side you're on :D :cool:

Yeah, I have no problem with obliterating the enemy on the first turn. One of the most thrilling moments I've had in BN was a few games back when I unloaded three batteries of rockets on what I suspected to be the approach route of the enemy. The game continued for a couple more turns and then the AI surrendered when one of my units occupied the objective. Going back over the turns later, I discovered that the rockets had destroyed almost completely an entire company. Good times.

:)

Michael

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Just make sure interdiction firedoesn't get nerfed too badly by these proposed changes. Preregistered TRPs on unseen but likely enemy concentration points such as crossroads, farms, gullies/draws, etc., was a critical element of an organized defense, especially for the Germans (who had previously owned the real estate). Many an attack or counterattack never reached its start line and absorbed heavy casualties without even contacting the enemy due to a spoiling barrage, either timed or called in by FOs based on visual or sound contact.

In some ways, I have no problem with this, from a realism standpoint.

But a "many an attack or counterattack never reached its start line, etc", is not a terribly interesting scenario to play. You sort of want, as a general game issue, to design/play the ones that did reach their start line.

Or not--this is the essence of the underlying assumptions of the simulations.

The concept I understood, is that generally the CM presentations were after the initial barrage--again, that seems to have weakened in CM2, for better or worse, one can have an opinion.

The great point that you make, LongLeftFlank, is that artillery defense was an integral part of prepared defenses. But, or course, that is what TRPs are for. One could argue that they are too expensive or rare. I think that is a good debate. Should a force designated as being on the defense have a free TRP (or more) for each artillery/mortar?

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Have a wee think about how much fun such a scenario would be.

On the contrary, putting myself in the shoes of the the CO and facing as many of his RL challenges as possible is why I choose to play this game: others may feel differently.

It would be a school of hard knocks lesson for the attacker foolish enough to mass his troops in obvious places like roads too far in advance of H-Hour. Sure, it may be inconvenient to have guys only form up and move to the start lines when the prep barrage is already underway, especially at night in the bocage maze with green troops, but that kind of "fun" should be available to me if I want it from a game that strives to deliver realism.

In Ramadi, I forced players to adopt wholly different (and more authentic) tactics, as it was no longer feasible to simply blast defenders out of their positions the moment they were Spotted.

If I ever get there with my le Carillon project, it is my intention to deliver a very similar "in the CO's boots"'play experience to those who enjoy such things in their gaming. If that's not your cup of tea, no problem, but I will advocate for the tweaks that I believe enhance that outcome but live with whatever BFC chooses to do.

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On the contrary, putting myself in the shoes of the the CO and facing as many of his RL challenges as possible is why I choose to play this game: others may feel differently.

It would be a school of hard knocks lesson for the attacker foolish enough to mass his troops in obvious places like roads too far in advance of H-Hour. Sure, it may be inconvenient to have guys only form up and move to the start lines when the prep barrage is already underway, especially at night in the bocage maze with green troops, but that kind of "fun" should be available to me if I want it from a game that strives to deliver realism.

In Ramadi, I forced players to adopt wholly different (and more authentic) tactics, as it was no longer feasible to simply blast defenders out of their positions the moment they were Spotted.

If I ever get there with my le Carillon project, it is my intention to deliver a very similar "in the CO's boots"'play experience to those who enjoy such things in their gaming. If that's not your cup of tea, no problem, but I will advocate for the tweaks that I believe enhance that outcome but live with whatever BFC chooses to do.

As far as "School of Hard Knocks", as long as one indicated the difficulty, as I mentioned in the C and F campaign thread, that is great. You would not even need to mention why the scenario/campaign is tough, but to have neophytes get artillery-stomped, unwittingly, would not, I think, advance CM popularity.

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