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John Kettler vs. CMBN--The Learning Curve!


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Following every problem you can think of, short of the computer's igniting, and greatly aided by the kindness of others on a bunch of fronts, the CMBN-Commonwealth Mac Bundle has been ordered, as a physical product, and BFC's acknowledgement made. Given the myriad electronic woes I (and others I know) have experienced lately, it seemed like the smart course. And the cell call just dropped!

This thread should be an excellent study for newbies, for I'm about as green as they come, with only limited recent experience on the CMBN Demo and no CMSF experience at all. My previous rig (800 MHz iMac Snowball) simply couldn't run it. So far, I've found the game much harder to get into, harder to play and that it requires much greater focus than did the CMx1 games. I go back to the CMBO Beta Demo (2001).

To all who helped me get here, and all who'll help me actually learn to play properly under CMx2, my profound thanks. I have a bunch of great screen shots from the Demo, but am still sorting out how to post them.

Regards,

John Kettler

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'Bout time...You wore that demo out.

http://imageshack.us/ upload pic and choose code for forum, cut and paste that code into your post. Easy.

Stick to company sized battles and lower and I think you'll find it easier. I think a lot of the problem CMX1 guys have is there's more going on visually than they are used to and it overwhelms them. Once you get comfortable splitting squads and all that it really starts to shine. Individuals can really make a difference in the battles.

Mord.

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Mord,

You may think so, but the play I got out of that is nothing compared to the endless iterations of the CMBO Beta Demo. Several of the CMBN Demo scenarios I haven't played at all. Too overwhelming! I plan to stick to small battles, and I appreciate the pic posting lesson. Tried it, but something went wrong before.

mjkerner and Michael Emrys,

I plan to. I also plan to spend time reading the eye friendly version of the manual. Good suggestion on the scenario.

Echo,

Not only will I do that, but I'll observe more than I move!

Regards,

John Kettler

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Excellent, welcome to this most fine club.

So, where to begin. You must strike a careful balance with movement. You need plentiful time to stay stationary and observe in order to spot enemies, but if you linger in one place for more than a minute even the AI will rain fire from the skies upon your men. I cannot stress the importance of the "Split scout team" command. The movement into contact phase is crucial, if the fighting starts with most of your men receiving lead their way, their effectiveness goes down even faster than one would expect.

Master the use of the artillery interface. An especially useful trick is finding 2 spots on the map you have LOS to and drawing a linear fire order between them. Learn the signs. If you see spotting rounds land, get out of dodge.

Use reserves. There is a limited amount of meaningful cover for your advancing men. Resist the temptation the cluster up! Artillery is the most dominant arm on the CMBN battlefield (as it should be) so you need to respect this fact to the utmost.

If something nasty spots you, shoot smoke in its eye. The target smoke command for Allied tanks is especially useful.

Command and control is everything. Learn the distance that units stay in command and disperse your radios accordingly. It's bad to have an area of the front where you can't call artillery because you don't have a radio.

And about the camera interface, I use the right mouse button to rotate the camera because it's smoother than the keyboard. Two of the most important camera controls in my opinion are the Control key (holding it down and clicking on the map will jump the camera to this location) and the V key (rotates the view 180 degrees.) With these two buttons you'll be screaming over the map in no time at all.

Also: Mods, mods, mods! A couple of things I consider a must. Get a more subdued terrain graphic, the default green is far too bright. Also use ALT+J to turn off Show objectives, they bright objective graphic isn't very immersive. A sound mod is mandatory, since by default all weapon categories sound the same. Having a different sound for different weapons improves your situational awareness. I use akd's sound mod but I'm working on different small explosion sounds, since I don't like the ones he has used. Otherwise it's really good stuff.

Good luck on the battlefield. May I challenge you to a small game of PBEM in the future? Something along the lines of a platoon or two, a company at max. I can give advice and commentary as the game progresses.

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Now, a couple of tricks from the gamier side of things, quick battles.

First of all, to have truly great battles against the AI I do a couple of things. I give them more points and buy troops for it myself. I know, it kills the FoW but it ensures a perfect tactical challenge for my guys and I can set them to Crack/Extreme motivation to compensate for the AI's lack of finesse in it's movement. The random AI picker doesn't do so well in small battles due to the way TO&E works.

In the Quick Battle maps (much kudos to their makers, thanks!) if the AI has artillery which is often, it will fire some of it at the prebattle bombardment zones. This is nearly all the time the first piece of cover or the obvious avenue of advance from your setup zones within reach of the first turn but never the setup zone itself. I have accustomed of the habit of sitting still in the setup for the first couple of turns and watch my own artillery as it gracefully follows gravitation.

There are a couple of real steals on the QB menu. The most obvious ones is the US rocket artillery. You can get a battery for 60 points if you're lucky. That's almost 10 batteries for the price of one German howitzer battery. In my first ever CMBN TCP/IP game I immediately spotted this gem and had to try it out. All my men had to do was walk to the craters previously occupied by a German company. Needless to say gentlemen do not use them. Always buy small teams as elite since the price increase is marginal. US Airborne infantry are tough as tiberium nails. Light mortars are an excellent investment. You can get an elite US light mortar for 57 points and it's not a rare sight to see one with 50 kills after a battle. Air support can be rather cheap and extremely useful, especially on open maps. TRPs are godlike, use them. I think Panzergrenadiers usually have 2x MGs and 2x Stg44s per squad, very nice. Some of the heavier artillery can take 20-30 minutes to deliver all their munitions on target after the mission has started without melting the barrels, best avoided. Light vehicles are much more realistically vulnerable to damage than in CMx1 so don't expose them to rifle caliber fire or mortars. Shrecks and Zookas are dangerous even to 200-250m as I have found out many a times. Don't risk it, fist it! The faust only comes in the 30m range variety so it doesn't pose as much a threat. The user usually goes with it following a complete kill. The Wespe is a steal at 113 points of mobile, lightly armoured 105mm HE with 30-40 rounds, I always buy atleast one. Also remember to hide your men if the situation is right and artillery is afall. I've seen shrapnel kill pixeldudes from 300 meters away. The more they lie down the better.

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Zebulon Pleasure Beast II (hereafter ZPB II),

Thank you for a most gracious welcome! Here's my assessment of where I stand:

Infantry Maneuver

Worse than herding cats! Hate it! So much to keep track of! I find it overwhelming to simply route march, let alone attack.

Splitting Squads Into Teams

I keep doing it, but it seldom bears any fruit. Believe I have one bazooka kill. The teams seem to have no fire discipline, even when I try to impose it, so the net result is really long range inaccurate shots at ACs which instantly and accurately reply, wrecking the bazooka team.

Restoring Morale

My men just seem to disintegrate and are useless the rest of the game. Have no idea how to rally them.

Command & Control

How I miss the CMx1 black and red lines! Even in relatively static defense, it's all but impossible to keep critical systems, such as 60mm mortars, in command. Not fun to have a mortar sidelined (with the other one dead) when the Germans infantry comes roaring in, with tanks, ACs, and SPGs in support. Recall a C&C analysis someone did for the game, but can't find it. Do you have a link?

Armor Handling

Pretty good, but take severe losses, too. Of course, most of that is tied to "Closing the Gap, where I seemingly can't see anything, but the AI can thread a Panther round across the board from all sorts of strange aspects.

Artillery

Still finding my legs in terms of the best way to do things, but can I run an effective shoot! Target Linear is the answer to my prayers, but I wish you didn't have to be able to see the whole impact zone in order to use it. Still, a huge improvement over not having it. I have similar gripes over the Target Circular restrictions and wish we could designate a concentration box for fires from FA and mortars, through which the shells would march back and forth. Wish we could also register guns on the fly, as was done in reality.

Will have to look into the interface controls and mods.

As for QBs, I don't get the rocket artillery thing, for my experience of a least the truck mounted variety is circa Huertgen Forest, well after Normandy. Maybe it's Calliope fire or something else. Love TRPs, and now know some new ways to use them. I tried to get BFC to give us separate types for mortars and artillery, but that didn't happen. The 60mm mortar is a great piece of kit. American halftracks are practically useless as weapon platforms. In the CMBN Demo "Closing the Gap" only once have I managed to keep one functional through the end of the game. The AS positioning limits make it very hard to effectively site one on the defense, and I have no experience using them offensively. By contrast, German ACs are quite unpleasant on the attack, but I've yet to encounter a 251.The Wespe is nasty, but hardly as much as the Allied answer, the 105mm Sherman. Rather doubt the German division commander would be thrilled to see his fire support piece-mealed out this way. No way you'll see my guys staying up when steel rain's falling--unless maybe in mid assault! We will cross PBEM swords at some point. Do you happen to know whether NGcavscout, my Forever War foe, plays CMBN? If so, after you get me out of my training wheels, I need to return to battle following a very long hiatus.

Regards,

John Kettler

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As another newbie, I found "Hornet's Nest" a small worthwhile scenario. Download from Repository - BfN Base Game - Scenarios & Campaigns. Only plays as US against AI.

Small map, manageable units. US starts with a full platoon of 3 squads, scout section, and 2 MG's. 45 minute mission. Reinforcements arrive later with half-tracks & a mortar section. Readily re-playable for do-overs to practice and "get it right". Give it a shot. Good luck and good gaming!

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Badger73,

Appreciate the suggestions! Do you happen to know whether they're Mac compatible?

Regards,

John Kettler

Aris mods are Mac compatible. As are 97% of the mods. The only mod I have problems with is (I forget the author) is one of the latest and greatest sound mods. :-( which to my dismay was not Mac compatible.

Oh and one other mod (I forget the author) mods US gear packs holsters etc. they all turn sky blue on the Mac otherwise your good to go.

Cheers

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I am in the process of reviewing my own CMBN learning curve, coming to it as I did from CMx1.

An early preview/summary of this experience is that it took me 20 PBEM games to get the hang of it and start liking it.

That is where I am up to now.

I'm sure plenty of gamer/grogs can learn CMBN quicker than me, but I do think that mere mortals trained on CMx1 need to plan for this sort of amount of time to become competent against a human opponent, and to have mastered "how it works" well enough to have fun.

GaJ

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General Lee Irked,

Welcome Aboard!

The news regarding mod compatibility with my Mac is both a relief and exciting. I must say, though, that compared to CMx1, it's a whole new world already, incredibly bright and beautiful--until the artillery pulverizes the landscape!

GreenAsJade,

Your experience confirms my perceptions of how much tougher and more demanding this game is than the CMx1 games. As I recall my CMx1 experience, we played the CMBO Beta Demo to death, then got the Gold Demo (rinse, repeat), then the game, which from early on I played by PBEM, having learned quickly that the AI, good as it was, simply wasn't all that good, even with the odds stacked in its favor. Am fairly certain that the Demos got PBEMed, too. Then followed the legendary Invitational Tourney, after which came Rumblings of War, iteration after iteration. CMBB was quite a change from CMBO, and I had to unlearn lots of things, such as charging MG nests the way I used to and learning to handle much less responsive and accurate artillery, but I was in CMBB from the public playtest stage, so it wasn't a total shock. The same was true of CMAK, where dust changed everything. But all the time I spent reading and posting in both the CMSF Forum and the CMBN Forum failed utterly to prepare me for dealing with the CMx2 game engine and its unique, highly denanding way way of modeling combat. I didn't go to any public playtest of CMSF, nor could I play the Demo, for it was way beyond my rig and not compatible with my CPU either. So I have floundered and bitched through parts of the CMBN Demo (have yet to play some of the scenarios--too daunting), gotten shot to pieces time and again, marveled that I ever was confident in playing, let alone fairly good at, CMx1, to the point where people probably cringed to see my latest lament cum horror story.

How many "versus AI" games did you play before you first essayed PBEM?

Regards,

John Kettler

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mjkerner,

They started firing on their own at what was probably extreme range before I even realized what was happening. Managed to get them under control and in a Cover Arc, though, before they'd run through all their ammo. I now routinely separate out the antitank section and place tight restrictions upon it. How I look forward to getting the Cover Armor Arc. I find it interesting that you and ZBP II have such divergent perspectives on bazookas and Panzershrecks. Or is he worried about the "golden bullet," whereas you're talking about effective combat range?

Regards,

John Kettler

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Lol, they're no doubt effective when my men aren't shooting them! I mostly play Axis lately, and in a campaign at the Few Good Men site, i'vet generally had pretty poor troops. Schrek quickness and accuracy has been abysmal, and 'zooks against me have been missing a lot from 100-125 yds, hence the caution. But listen to zbpII anyway, he has very good advice.

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I did half the demo against the AI, then went on to human opponents.

In the first 20 games I played, I won 6 and lost 14. The ones I won were not glorious victories. My points average is 38%.

But ... now I feel I'm on a more solid footing - at least if I'm losing I am not totally wiped and wondering WTF??? :)

So - I do think it's a long learning curve. I'm not convinced it's much harder than CMx1 to master - I lost a lot of games at the beginning of that too ... it's just that we're all thrown in the deep end much faster...

GaJ

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What's that piece of advice we ALWAYS tell newbies? Don't try to outsmart the game engine, just treat the situation like its real and don't do stuff you wouldn't do in real life (like rounding the crest of a bald hill directly into LOF of the entire enemy force) :D;)

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JK I have upgraded my computer in preparation of the onslaught of all the new threads you start that will soon populate the board. :P

And...

If you wish to be humiliated by the game I suggest starting out with the "Scottish Corridor" campaign for some intense keyboard pounding. :D

I use that campaign as my high-water mark, so that anytime I lose now I always can say, "well I've been beat worse."

Cheers

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Regarding zooks, yes, I'm worried about the magic bullet. What I mean is that it is a bad habit to park vehicles 200 meters away from cover and be in the general mindset that it is a safe distance. In my long run it has cost a lot of men and AFVS. But I must admit that my view is slightly skewed due to playing against Crack/Elite troops with Fanatic/Extreme motivation most of the time. They have had a lot of practice and don't mind the suppressive fire coming downrange.

There is also some residual fear from having played a lot of CMSF. Oh, those RPGs... :D

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