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Everything posted by WriterJWA

  1. Yup... So even after I managed to sacrifice a Stryker to trigger the mines (which no on-ground commander would even remotely do) and marked them with engineer, I still lost two Strykers as I tried to slowly pass them through the gap. But effective, modern, U.S. Army engineers who are professionals at their jobs are probably too far outside the "scope of CM games." Not only do I have to sacrifice a vehicle to find the mines just to mark them... The marking is entirely arbitrary, too. I've tried to get around these mines four times without doing something "gamey" or just losing unrealistic casualties and I can't do it. I'm not trying anymore. Best of luck with this campaign.
  2. So I'm playing one of the small USMC scenarios and I'm trying to breach a section of the wall to make entry into a nearby building. Every time I try to use the 'Blast' command, however, the game just puts out a yellow path line like a 'Quick' move command, and the assault team attempts to go around to the entrance on the far side of the compound (where there are sure to be aimed guns, etc...). Is this a bug?
  3. Yeah, I was thinking about this further... In infantry schools they used to teach a basic procedure for these things. If ambushed inside of 50 meters we were trained to turn toward the fire and assault through the enemy position. If outside of 50 meters were were to take cover and return fire to establish fire superiority. Obvious these are easier said than done, and entirely dependant on terrain, volume of fire, etc... but those were the baselines.
  4. Are you saying it has to be allowed in all cases because the program itself doesn't differentiate between wall types and the risks of throwing a track inherent to each type, or because players would take advantage of it? If the latter, then the program needs to reflect the risk of that decision. If a player decides to plow through walls over and over then they increase their chances of becoming immobilized.... Darwin's Law ensues. Also, armored vehicles already slow down upon breaching fences, why would that have to change with allow for breaching walls? Why can't the game just represent physics as it happens on the ground? Not to be snarky, but I feel like I'm playing wacka-mole with whataboutisms. Now, in terms of the AI and it's lack of risk-management.... Yeah, I get your point in general terms, but I don't think it's a big enough reason to nerf the player into unrealistic actions.
  5. What's the relative range of these grenades, and is their ability to through outside LOS dependant upon elevation? In one of the instances I experiences I had a squad in a piece of dead ground with an enemy squad just outside of it (maybe two or three AS's away). I couldn't trace LOS to the enemy squad so I couldn't order an area fire, hence no grenades.
  6. I hear that... I do. But while I recognize (and did so in the original post) that the engine poses certain limitations, there seems to be some base-line factors that are missing that fit with basic practices on the battlefield. I'm not asking for a look-see-smell replica of a battlefield. No one should want that. But I would certainly like it if the equipment and men behaved in ways that fit with battlefield psychology, modern (or historical) TTPs, doctrine, and the limitations of the equipment. This points to my earlier post about the minefields. Regarding the AAV/armor question, there seems to be this notion that just because a thing was frowned upon by the crew who has to fix the tread means that it wasn't done at all and shouldn't be by players. If I'm a platoon commander and I'm tasked with taking an enemy held compound with one entrance, and I don't have explosives, I am 12/10 going to ask my AAV attachment to create a breach in a place elsewhere than the enemy's principle direction of fire and he'd more than likely do it. The chief overarching problem in the attitudes toward this game, and I think what's at the core of the things that cause me to question its development, is that the men seem to fall second to the equipment, which is patently false. If it's between the possibility of an armored vehicle blowing a track or me losing guys trying to rush a fatal funnel of fire.... I'm risking the track. This game is trying to replicate what combat operations are like and then asks me to throw away tactics and techniques that are designed to preserve lives while accomplishing the mission. Bear in mind, I'm not over here in tears every time one of my dudes gets killed. That happens. But I do get a little ragey when I have to lose guys because the game has robbed me of tactical considerations that would be commonplace on the ground, and the forum largely justifies it as arbitrarily as "outside the scope of CM" or "if we did it then player would just take advantage of it."
  7. I've been playing Combat Mission since about 2002, when I discovered Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord, and since then I've owned every CM title produced with the exception of Afghanistan. I think it's arguably one of the most engaging digital simulations of a tactical battlefield out there. It does a better-than-fair job modelling, in broad strokes, the principles of fire and maneuver, combined arms combat, supporting arms, and C3I. Having said that. . . There are areas where the game really breaks down in representing a lot of facets and attributes of the weapons and behaviors of troops on the ground. Here are a few examples I've seen: The complete inability for spotters to call in indirect fire on point they cannot physically see. This is something combat arm officers and NCOs are taught to do as a matter of course. Calling in artillery fire on positions that are out of LOS can been done with somethings as simple as a grid mission and adjusted by sound. It's not ideal, but it can, and has, been done. I should be able to call in fire behind hedgerows at any time regardless of its position. The only detriment is the loss of accuracy. (As an example, this lack makes a scenario set in the Hurtgen Forest all but impossible to represent accurately.) The inability for engineers to search for minefields ahead of their discovery by tripping them. Engineers should be able to attempt to clear a lane through a suspect minefield at any point in the game, not just when a minefield is discovered. There are far too many scenarios in all the modules that show minefields in the briefing only to rob the engineers the agency to deal with them. That's remarkably unrealistic. (This is excluding flail tanks, of course.) There seems to be a misunderstanding of the toughness of armored vehicles. A 64,000 lbs AAV-7 or a Stryker, or other armored or even remotely armored vehicle, should not be burdened into changing direction when faced with a masonry wall. They might have to slow down, but they are not generally impeded by them. Infantry squads are remarkably inelegant with their fires. This applies more to modern combat, but squads given a marksman rifle should be able to detach that marksman to perform precision fires instead of the whole squad or team just blazing away haphazardly at targets. While suppression is important, aiming in a huge component to modern infantry fires. These guys are some of the worst marksmen. Infantry should be "spot-able" in buildings. Troops are not static. Infantry attempting to spot their opposite brethren in urban environment should not have to expose themselves to fire just to find them. I can't count how many times I've had spotters looking at a town for great lengths of time to find nothing, only to uncover a large troop formations in the buildings once I expose myself. I'm not suggesting it's easy to spot troops in built-up environments. It's certainly not. But it's not binary, either. Dumb grenades. In once scenario I had a squad below the rise where a German squad sat with an MG blazing away at friendly troops. They were well within grenade range, but they could get an LOS to the squad do to the shape of the terrain. In order to kill that squad I had to basically charge my guys, and lost a few in the process, when in reality a volley of hand grenades should have been enough to disrupt the Germans. But I couldn't throw them because I couldn't see them. In another examples, a Marine squad was working up on a house where a Syrian squad sat. They were able to get to the house undetected due to the lack of windows on three sides of the house. However, because I couldn't do something as brainlessly simple as throw a grenade into the window n the fourth wall, I had to rush into the house the hard way... And lost two guys before the Marine recon squad broke and ran into the open where they were summarily executed. This brings me to another point.... I think this may be in the process of being addressed, so forgive me if I'm repeating a soon-to-be-fixed flaw, but troops don't helter-skelter into random and dangerous directions when they come under fire. More than likely then go prone and remain in place. I can't count how many times I've had troops bolt into the open when they come under fire only to die needlessly. In one scenario I had a squad in a field of tall grass and they came under fire. The only guys who were able to return fire were the guys who were kneeling. The rest couldn't draw an LOS and therefore couldn't fire. Were their squad members mute? Could they not tell their fellow soldiers the direction of fire and relatively range? Where was their squad leader? Why wasn't some form of ADDRAC statement issued? These are just a few of dozens I've seen. While I recognize there are limitations in programming that might make some of this challenging, here is my plea: A lot of this could be alleviated with getting a better understanding of combined arms warfare, a better understanding of the limitations and attributes of the weapon systems, and how troops operate and behave in the field. Just reach out to Marine Forces Systems Command, or even one of the Marine divisions, or contact the U.S. Army Training and Education Command or one of its combat divisions and see if there are field manuals that help better explain how these work. Ask to talk to combat officers and engineers and artillerymen to get a better feel for their capabilities in combat--what they can do and what they can't. While there are lots of merits to this game, there is an equal amount of what seems to be pure fantasy (both in the game and in the forum) over what actually happens on battlefields--how long things, how attacks and defenses are planned and executed, and a whole host of other tactical considerations. Contact their public affairs folks and their unit historians; I have no doubt in my mind you would be given reasonable access to make a better game. You will undoubtedly find them remarkably receptive and open. Please understand, I love this game. I wouldn't have spent time writing this if I didn't care about it in some way. It's just frustrating to see a game *this close* to getting it right, only to toss it away. Just my 2c... Thanks for indulging me.
  8. This game seems to have its own metric of what it considers realistic or "outside the realm of CM" that's based largely on the limitations of programming and sheer fantasy. In a separate thread there has been talk that a USMC AAV-7 shouldn't be allowed to break down masonry walls because it might allow players the option to do that whenever, or because "it's not done in combat conditions." (Real life hint: It is). In the Thunder scenario I still haven't been able to get beyond the gap in the berm without catching a mine and killing Joes. And yet despite S2 being well aware of the minefield prior to zero hour my engineers can't mark lanes because they can't actually, physically see the mines...
  9. So.... The engineers' option to 'Mark Mines' is dark. I've used engineers a-plenty in CMBN and CMFI with great success, but here it won't let me mark minefields, even after I sacrificed a Stryker to expose a minefield. Where are the M58 MICLIC's? Why can't I breach the berm with the engineers a la the Persian Gulf War??
  10. *POSSIBLE SPOILERS* So, here we are: CMSF2, the Task Force Thunder campaign, scenario one. There is a long berm running the length of the map between the US setup area and the battlefield. The berm has ramps at intervals to allow the player to drive vehicles to the top. Toward the south end of the map there is a gap where a highway runs perpendicular to it across the map. According to the briefing and the map, there are anti-tank mines blocking the road. Makes sense.... That's a likely avenue of approach. Now... apparently, the backside of the berm is prohibited terrain. I can't get vehicles from the top of the berm down the backside onto the desert beyond. I also can't get the attached engineer section to mark the apparent mines in the road (presumably because I haven't actually triggered them, because why would anyone do that?). So how am I supposed to get beyond the berm? The engineers can't breach the berm with their charges, nor can they mark the minefield in the roadway. Please... For the love of god... Don't tell me I have to run a vehicle into the minefield to trigger the mines just so I can mark a lane with the engineers. Please don't tell me that.
  11. Yes. Exactly that. It was done in Iraq routinely as a breaching option in lieu of explosives. All the time. Gates, wall, etc... It is not even remotely a rare event. Don't alter physics just for the purpose of "gaming" players in a direction that you deem accurate when in fact it's not.
  12. So I'm playing the second scenario in the USMC campaign. Toward the middle of the mission I attempt to seize an objective with three AAVs with infantry aboard. The objective is a building with a small wall that surrounding... However, it seems in Combat Mission the 64,000 pound AAV-7 is no match for the masonry of a three foot wall. I was unable to cross over the wall put my troops in a safer position to dismount and assault the building. Why can't AAVs breach walls? I have witnessed an AAV topple a wall much larger. Here is a video that demonstrates my point:
  13. I'm just getting warmed up to the idea of developing a scenario, so forgive my lack of knowledge. Instead of creating a band aid ("morale ballast") to prevent early surrender, why not just have the various troop qualities better reflect a realistic surrender threshold? So instead of having to create some kind of off-map spirit leader that keeps them in the fight, they can rely on their own troop quality (ie., green troops panic and surrender at X value, veteran troops at Y value, fanatics at Z value). Money no option. . . I think I'd be far more realistic to have an exit map edge for an AI. If a combination of their morale and their command structure falls below a certain threshold, and X number of objectives are in control of the player, they make a bee-line for the exit. If they come under fire in the process of doing that, then they stand a higher chance of surrender. Alternatively, the en masse surrender feature could be removed and replaced with individual surrenders only. The verdict will be apparent at the end of the scenario or if the player elects to cease fire.
  14. I wonder if somewhere around the first Combat Mission series it just got stuck in the minds of developers that the scenarios should be on or about an hour. I remember having similar complaints when playing CMBO and CMAK.
  15. Here is an example of what I'm pointing to in the original post. Beware..... SPOILERS FOLLOW. The attached screenshot is of the third scenario in the Courage Conquers campaign of CMFB. In this scenario the US player has to take a town of about two dozen buildings, along with tapping various checkpoints along the way. The defender is said to be German paratroopers spread out across its frontage and supported by indirect fire. The US player has 55 whole minutes to accomplish its mission. But here's the problem: They really don't have 55 minutes. The US player doesn't start off with its full force. It begins the scenario with a platoon of Stuart tanks and an infantry platoon or two in tracks, supported by an 81mm section. The rest of its force comes on piecemeal starting ten or so minutes into the scenario. So really, you end up with about 30 minutes to accomplish what would probably take 2-3 hours for a similar force, being that they would have to recon the town, locate the enemy troops as best as possible, determine how they're oriented, where their obstacles are placed, and how their fire plan should be made. Also, spotting in built-up areas is much tougher, which means it takes even longer. What's worse is the game player doesn't have the luxury of delegation. He has to micromanage every troop, and they're not as smart as the common foot soldier.* He has leaders, sure, but they don't make decisions or take the initiative. The following scenario is much the same. The player is given a whopping hour and ten minutes to locate and wipe out a battalion-strength enemy force with forces that come on piecemeal. Again, I'm not out to poke a stick in the side of the scenario developers. I know they're trying to do good work. While there are a few things I'd love to see tightened up that might fall outside the realm of realistic expectations of programming (melee, grid coordinate-like artillery missions, etc...), this isn't one of them. Just something to consider...... *Please, for the love of god, I'm begging you, with tears in my eyes, patch this game so troops don't break from cover and run into the open when they come under fire. It goes against every piece of understanding about the psychology of humans under fire.
  16. So.... Can anyone offer perspective on how to take Bigonville in scenario 2 of the Courage Conquers campaign? It's impossible to spot troops in any of the building and they don't fire unless their are exposed troops. Am I supposed to run my two companies in there to get hammered, or blow away each building with arty and tank fire? I ask because German FJs apparently have such great fire discipline they literally shoot at nothing else but human targets.... No tracks, tanks, anything.
  17. I'm super happy to hear this. I've lost a lot of dudes when they get up and bolt from cover during a shelling. Same for MG fire.
  18. I'll definitely get it! I own the whole catalog and wore the thread off CMSF1 a few years back. Regarding Carpiquet.... I just called a ceasefire after five or six minutes of getting pasted by German mortar and MG fire, ate the Canadian Tactical Loss, and moved on to the next scenario. I hate to do that, but there's no way I'm getting into that town without suffering ridiculous losses, only to then take the town packed as it is....
  19. Not at all. I completely recognize that the level of casualties and methods of fighting between WW2 and Iraq are different. One was a conventional war, the other was an unconventional war. My issue isn't with the volume of casualties I take, it's how I'm forced to take them. If I make a decision to push a platoon onto a position that puts them at risk of enemy fire and I take casualties, then fine... I earned that. But if I'm required to take casualties because the scenario designer puts me into a position where I have no alternative, as the commander of the forces on the map, to take casualties at the beginning of a scenario, or by way of limiting the scope of the terrain or time to where I have no choice but to take casualties, then I have an issue. This is more of an issue with campaigns, which are designed to reflect continued operations over a period of time. Regarding the Carpiquet scenario I have issue with, the designer said "The entrenched positions with the 88 battery from the second battle would be exactly behind your deployment zone IRC. I had the problem of deciding whether to try and recreate that or not. I chose not to at the time." If I'm the battalion commander, that's exactly the kind of terrain I'm going to deploy in before launching an attack, or perhaps just behind it in case it happens to be an enemy on-call target. Instead, the battalion is placed a 2-3 hundred meters in front it in full view of the enemy. I didn't get to choose that position, and yet I'm playing their commander, and for that lack of agency I take casualties needlessly. I think a lot of this comes down to a simple (and fully understandable) lack of appreciation for what goes on when planning an attack--where and how coordinating measures like phase lines, lines of departure, limits of advances, and boundaries, are set, as well as the proper placement of assembly areas (which are typically just behind the line of departure out of range of enemy small arms). All of these things were used during World War II just as much as they are now. These things don't matter as much at the platoon level, so scenarios at that scale can get by without considering them, but when you reach the company, team, battalion, task force, and brigade level, which is what Carpiquet, Courage & Fortitude, Montebourg, and other campaigns that cover larger operations are trying to represent, then it becomes important.
  20. I think I remember the CMSF scenario you're referring to, and yeah, it's fun. But it's also an understood case-study in that kind of combat. If I'm playing a campaign where casualties have import from one scenario to the next, and scoring is based on how many casualties I take, then I don't think it's remotely appropriate to drop a scenario where my forces are under fire the minute I hit Go. . . . Or rather, I'm forced into a geographical position (or deployment) that makes it impossible for me to avoid incurring them. Asking for that isn't asking for "some sanitized version of war," it's asking for the option to deploy my forces as I see fit as the on-scene operational commander within the limits of the overall objectives and unit boundaries and adjacent operations. Not to trot out real-world experiences, but I have been under fire. I have been around officers and senior NCOs as they make decisions that place formations under fire. I can tell you wholeheartedly.... Casualties don't just occur in a vacuum. They happen because unit commanders put their troops into a position where they risk taking casualties in order to accomplish a mission based on their commanders' intent. Otherwise, they attempt to avoid that risk (at least not good ones). Their job is to maximize their assets while minimizing their exposure. When the scenario or campaign designer makes that decision for me as I roleplay as the formation commander, then that is unrealistic, IMO, and needs to be addressed.
  21. It's the airfield control building scenario... The one with the AAA guns in town. I tried it again this morning. There is simply no way to avoid taking unnecessary casualties at the start of the scenario. Within minutes (if not seconds) I have snipers and MGs going after my guys, followed by on-map mortars. I had no control over the deployment of the two companies and so I'm forced to take losses for the sake of doing so. It's very frustrating. About the best thing I can think to do is to start it, hit ceasefire, figure out where the spotters and on-map mortars are, the restart it and call down fire on those positions just so I have a change to move up without getting completely raked. That's an entirely gamey, but otherwise is "Press the Red Button and Die" time. I'm using your campaign as an example because I happen to be playing it, but also because it shows exactly my issue with much of the scenario designs in much of the CMx2 series. When you say its a shame I won battle two because otherwise I would have more assets in the next one sorta' points to the problem: "scripting" the scenario to historical boundaries. I see this a lot in wargaming across the board--be it board games or computer games--this incessant need to script a game to fit with the historical outcome of a battle instead of a game that allows the player the agency to make changes. Your campaign is one of the better ones I've played, along with Montebourg, but I shouldn't be penalized for winning a battle my historical counterparts failed to accomplish. I have a friend who only plays quick battles for this exact reason. He doesn't want to play a game that's bolted to a set of rails with only one or two acceptable outcomes.
  22. So this is in relation to a topic I posted just before Thanksgiving.... There may be some mild spoilers ahead, but nothing I think is show-stopping. Just recently I was playing The Lions of Carpiquet. For those who don't know it, it's a challenging campaign that covers a difficult battle in the Commonwealth sector west of Caen. It's one of the few that really gives the player some serious time to make decisions on how to approach the objectives and neutralize the Germans. The first two scenarios offer the players three hours to complete them; the second, I believe, is somewhere in the two-hour range. I was able to make good use of reconnaissance and artillery spotters to locate and eliminate German positions with supporting arms and shape the battlefield to make the best use of my infantry in the attack, and my armor when it was needed. I even got the chance to clear a mine belt with flail tanks, which was really cool to watch. I took casualties, but they felt reasonable to the firepower and deployment of the Germans and the unforgiving nature of the terrain (it's almost pancake flat throughout!). I remember thinking "Finally! I'm able to actually to use recon, tactics, and mission planning in a way that maximizes mission accomplishment while minimizing casualties. Scenarios 2 and 3--the first big moves of the campaign after the recon mission--were tough, but they're engaging. I had started this campaign after dropping Courage & Fortitude at around the Razorback Ridge scenario. I had managed through scenarios two and three, but once I hit Razorback Ridge I just gave up. It's an absurd scenario... Not because its a necessarily unrealistic piece of ground to have to take, or an unrealistic enemy, but because the scenario conditions themselves--the time and map limits--make it an over-the-top "lesson" in taking casualties just for the sake of doing it. Once I began Carpiquet, it gave me an opportunity to contrast between the two and learn a little bit about what frustrates me about the average scenario design, and learn a bit about myself as a player. Here's what I learned: I hate taking casualties. But not just any casualties. I hate taking casualties that are forced on me by the conditions of the game itself and the scenario, NOT the conditions related to the enemy and the terrain. If I take casualties because I misread a piece of ground I can generally stomach that. I made the mistake. What I can't stomach is when I have to rush through a scenario because I have to take two or three objectives over a kilometer away, through a defender, with a rifle company or so, with less than an hour on the clock. I get frustrated near to the point of yelling whenever the morale model forces a squad to effectively commit suicide by running into the open, or worse, toward the enemy (which has happened more times than I can count), when they break and run from perfectly good cover when under fire. I want to throw my mouse through a window when a tank crew bails out of a perfectly good taken when they get nervous only to get cut down by an MG on the outside. Some of these are controllable, some of them are not. At least not yet. The engine is great, but flawed. But I'm confident that at some point those flaws will inevitably be worked out with enough time and programming. It's maddening beyond belief, however, when I have to take casualties over something completely avoidable within a scenario. . . . Or with how it's design. Case in point: When I reached the fourth scenario in Carpiquet was was deployed with two companies, in the open, looking at a ruined, but dense town filled with Germans. I hid both companies, plus my mortar assets as best I could where they were placed. I pre-registered my mortars on likely areas with troop positions and called in my air where I felt it would do the most good, all as recommended in the scenarios briefing. Then I hit the Red Button. Within the first five minutes my on-map mortar section was obliterated. A German sniper had popped four or five guys from one platoon. Mortars and MGs from within the town were raking another. I had no way of avoiding any of it. So I restarted the scenario. On the second go, I replotted my fires and hid my guys. This time I avoided using the on-map mortars as that might be what was bringing down the mortars--perhaps they had been spotted as they fired. Instead I used my air and off-map 107mm to handle the prep. I pressed the Red Button. . . . And within five minutes the results were about the same. What I quickly realized was that the scenario, unlike the previous two, doesn't give the player the option or room to deploy in any other way. The Germans in the town were able to spot the Bren carriers and call in fire on that position. I have no way of repositioning them or getting them out of the way until after the scenario begins, and they happen to be carrying a good bit of my 81mm ammo. They're big fat targets and I have to just take whatever comes from because of it. I have to take casualties not because I failed to move my guys, provide cover for them, lay down suppression, or any other mistake. I have to take casualties because the scenario essentially forces me to take them. I don't get to have a say. Just press the Red Button and die. I tried the scenario two or three more times with different variations. The results were about the same each time. I was disappointed, but it's something I see time and time again. Aside from some aforementioned issues with the program itself, which will undoubtedly diminish over time, the game borders on a simulation of combined arms combat, and yet when it comes to scenario design it often seems like the game inevitably gets boiled down into a "gamey" reenactment of history, or worse, a war-movie replay, that basically remove all the agency from the player and force decisions that are tactically unwise and nowhere even remotely realistic and in keeping with the tactical and operational considerations of the type of conflict the game seeks to simulate. Why even move soldiers on a map if all I'm supposed to do is send them to their death without cause? It's not my intention to necessarily hammer the designer of the Carpiquet campaign, or any campaign. I get that it's a difficult and often thankless job. I only use them as examples in order to pose a question: Why is it necessary for me to take casualties outside of my own errors? What am I supposed to be learning? Why create a simulation that represents the tactical landscape of modern warfare, then limit the tactical options for the player to a binary choice?
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