Jump to content

The Sheriff of Oosterbeek – A Scenario Design DAR/AAR


Recommended Posts

Awesome information. I have only read to the point where you describe the possible outcomes with the two big ticket objectives and already this is great to see. I am already starting to think about objectives differently. I can see parameters being used to control the maximum victory level by managing the % of pool values.

Is that a real coffee / bear stain on your work sheet or a clever graphic?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 407
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I recently had an experience which some scen designers might find instructive, and which I thought I'd share.   I've recently been re-reading John English's Canadian Army in the Normandy Campaign. Tow

While I'm reading your document and examining the map in the Editor, I've noticed I did a battle scenario called < The Sheriff of Oosterbeek - small >where there are no British SUZs and the map

Hi folks, Creating a scenario in the Combat Mission editor has been described as the-game-within-the-game. I know a number of people who’ve spent more time playing with the editor than they have

Posted Images

Jon, this great stuff. Thank you for doing this. I wonder if you have though about turning your posts into a stand alone PDF document? I am thinking about what George MC has done with his CMSF scenario creation manual http://www.battlefront.com/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=314&func=fileinfo&id=1194

Your posts edited together would make a very useful stand along document (and could include blank worksheets for example).

Link to post
Share on other sites

It actually is coffee :)

Yeah, I expect that eventually it will be made into a PDF, after some editting to take account of the different medium. This work sheet (and one or two others) will go up on the repository soon-ish (although I'm talking BFC timescales here ;) )

Link to post
Share on other sites
...

This is great Jon, thanks so much, I really hope we see a huge swell of scenario-crafters getting out there and giving it a try.

I second that. I have always been ... overawed... by the new CM2 Scenario Editor, but this outstandingly clear and lucid Guide may drag me into the process.

Although it will probably take me until Eastern Front release before I actually do more than tinker.

Nevertheless, without this guide, my potential scenario building switch would have been left on "Never".

Link to post
Share on other sites

This could open up a whole new cottage industry for you Jon!

"Scenario Assist Support" (SAS)

Gold Level Membership ($89.99 per year) gets you 24/7 access to Jon.

ring...ring..ring...ring...hel--hell---hello?...

Hey Jon, sorry to wake you up again...it's me kohlenklau!! :-)

...(oh jeez, not him again...)...Let me turn the bloody lamp on...

Link to post
Share on other sites

There's also this to consider:

Tbl1p148%202.JPG

Economist by day (shocking pixeltruppen murdering General by night :D), this data and trend is also the same for any worker as they enter employment in a new job (which in this case also includes a meaningful promotion), whether it be their first, second, tenth. You have an early period where you are learning the ropes but improve rapidly, followed by competency which flows into becoming a 'know it all' and then depression/apathy as you stop learning and finding new challenges. The trick for employers is to keep people to their peak quickly and retain it for as long as possible. Depending on the occupation and industry this gets very hard based on factors like the workers intellect (try keeping a Rocket Scientist interested working long term at a Fast Food joint) and the nature of the work itself, (repetitive production line anyone?).

Obviously there are outliers for all data sets like painstakingly boring jobs and lets face it... the trainee who wants to take the truck off road kind of stupid. :P

Loving this series JonS!

Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps that same graph could well be used by marriage counselors?

X-axis should maybe read "Months of marriage"?

Couldn't be "Years of marriage"....the vegetive phase kicks in so much sooner. ;-)

No psychologist but I'd support this. :D Would need to look into it but I think most human activity could be measured like this.

Link to post
Share on other sites

12 – Walls and Bridges

"All in all you’re just another brick in the wall."

Islington Green School Choir

Ryan O’Neal: What's the best way to take a bridge?

Robert Redford: Both ends at once.

We’re going to jump out of the mainline narrative for a moment to discuss a couple of things back in the map editor which could use a bit more attention. We’ve already looked at creating walls, but what follows are some post-grad tips, tricks and techniques to make your walls better. Big Bridges haven’t been touched on yet, because they aren’t used in The Sheriff of Oosterbeek.

Gaps in Walls and Hedges

There are twelve different rotatable wall pieces for each of the ten wall styles in the Combat Mission editor, and they’re all useful for creating complex and realistic walls on your map. However, four of those pieces have a tactical fish-hook that’s worth being aware of.

12-1fishhooks_zpse4f2f3cd.jpg

12.1: The wall pieces to be aware of, with the no-go corners highlighted in red.

These four pieces all contain small ‘internal corners’, which none of the CM units will go into. In the case of the first two pieces, the ‘x’ and the ‘+’, this effectively means that the whole of these tiles become impassable. In the case of the ‘T’ and the rotated ‘T‘ it means that half the tile is out of bounds. Units can be “encouraged” to move through tiles with these wall types (assuming it isn’t otherwise banned – infantry cannot hop over a tall brick wall for example), but you cannot place an orders waypoint there. This remains true even after the wall has been destroyed, and affects all wall types – stone walls, bocage, wire fences, everything.

A decision should be made as to whether the aesthetics of the wall are more important than the in-game functionality, and there is no universally correct answer here. It is also entirely reasonable to deliberately use these tiles to prevent movement into a tile or half-tile. Use them, or don’t, but be aware of the consequences.

Not using them does, however, create a conundrum; how to replace those four very useful wall pieces? Fortunately, it’s actually pretty easy to replicate those shapes. Not exactly, of course, but functionally the same.

12-2alternates_zps474f7d87.jpg

12.2: Different ways of recreating the problematic wall pieces. Note that some of these examples add a gap which otherwise wouldn’t have existed. More on that below. There are no nooky-holes in the above examples that troops won't go in to.

The downside of these alternates is that most take several tiles to construct, instead of just one, and also they’ll usually interrupt the smooth flow of a nice straight wall. Some of them, too, can be quite finicky to get units to move through, especially if there is a nearby ‘easier’ route. Again, this is a decision to make depending on what is more important for the map. In general I find that the extra space required usually isn’t an issue, except in really dense urban maps, and that breaking up long straight walls is usually a benefit since it provides little nooky-holes that troops can use for cover along what might otherwise be a deadly firelane. Really dense urban maps are also the place where the ability to use every little nook and cranny becomes most important, so while removing the problem pieces there is most difficult, it may also be the most useful.

Overall, as long as you think about what you’re trying to achieve, I find that avoiding the use of the four problem children doesn’t affect my map design in any negative way, and breaking up long straight lines is often a good idea.

Once you break free from the idea that walls have to be straight, a range of new ways to create gaps in walls opens up. The CM editor includes two dedicated Gap pieces for each wall style, but with just a bit of creativity it’s possible to design some really interesting – and tactically complex – gaps.

12-3gaps_zps67f49933.jpg

12.3: Top two examples are the standard out-of-the box gaps. Below that are examples of some complex and interesting gaps. The possible variety is almost endless.

Infantry units will move through all of these gaps, and they can be made even more visually and tactically interesting by adding brush plus shrubs or trees, and using an underlay of light or heavy forest tiles, dirt, long grass, or whatever else matches what you’re trying to achieve with the gap.

These bespoke constructed gaps will require players to spend a bit of time contemplating how to deal with them tactically, because they provide cover from more than just directly ahead. As an added bonus, these complex gaps tend to be easier for players to identify during play than the standard prêt-à-porter gaps.

Big Bridges™

The Combat Mission Market Garden module includes some spectacular bridges – the road and rail bridges at Nijmegen and Arnhem. These things are simply massive, and all placeable on your maps with just a couple of clicks. However, there are a few tricks you need to be aware of to get the best out of these bridges, and avoid some frustration.

12-4_zps71ae966d.jpg

12.4: Arnhem Road Bridge and surroundings in all it’s glory, recreated in Combat Mission by map-maker extraordinaire Pete Wenman.

First up; these bridges are massive. Beautiful to behold, but massive. They are each over half a kilometre long, and if the map isn’t big enough for the whole thing, none of it will be displayed – the engine will simply reject it. Similarly if the map is big enough but the bridge placed so that some of it would be hanging off the map edge, the engine will reject the bridge. This has some consequences for your map. For starters, if you want to include, say, the road bridge at Arnhem for a scenario dealing with Frosts stand at the northern end, you have to include the whole width of the Nederrijn and some of the south bank.

Fortunately, stub-bridges have been included as well. Stub-bridges are half of the full bridge, which means that only half of the river need be included. That’s worth remembering for when you want to go large, but not really large.

Positioning the bridges takes a bit of care. Each end of the bridge (only the shore end for stub-bridges) must be ‘anchored’ on four tiles of fixed height. This is a bit tricky to explain, so instead I’ll use a picture:

12-5bridgeeditor_zps0f9dd67d.jpg

12.5: Composite image showing anchoring point (outlined in red dotted line), bridge, highway, and 3D view for Arnhem Road Bridge. Attention to detail with the elevations around the anchor point, and careful use of Ditchlock, will create a neat blend between the bridge and the approach ramp

So, for the Arnhem Road bridge you need:

* a map that is large enough for the full or stub-bridge,

* a 2x2-tile anchor point at each end, 10m above the base terrain level (only the ‘home’ end for the stub).

* the anchor points should be 9 or 10m above the surrounding terrain (they don’t have to be, but the bridge looks best that way),

* the end of the bridge must sit on the anchor points. You may find it easiest to place the bridge first, then build up the anchor points where they’re needed, rather than building the anchor points then trying to accurately place the bridge on top of them.

* the road coming off the ends of the bridge is the two-tile wide highway.

Each of the other Big Bridges™ have slightly different constraints, particularly in terms of how high and how far apart the anchor points must be. Once you know what you need to do, though, they’re quite easy to place them nicely and integrate them into the terrain.

Easy as pie! And they look absolutely stunning.

Back to start of thread

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are twelve different rotatable wall pieces for each of the ten wall styles in the Combat Mission editor, and they’re all useful for creating complex and realistic walls on your map. However, four of those pieces have a tactical fish-hook that’s worth being aware of.

Nice, those dead zones drive me nuts when I am playing. And as you said in a more open environment I just shrug and send my guys near the dead zone but in a urban environment it can be really frustrating and prevent more than one team from being in a back yard.

I really like your ideas for alternatives. Print that and stick it on the proverbial wall for designing.

Link to post
Share on other sites
a 2x2-tile anchor point at each end, 10m above the base terrain level (only the ‘home’ end for the stub).

* the anchor points should be 9 or 10m above the surrounding terrain (they don’t have to be, but the bridge looks best that way),

I find the current bridges work best with a few tiles anchored too. Not the same number but same idea.

Question about the ditch lock tiles in your example. For what ever reason the the white on blue numbers are not very readable. They look like 30 but that does not seem right since the 3D view it looks like at those tiles the drop off to 20. Can you clarify - are those blue tiles set at 20 or 30?

Each of the other Big Bridges™ have slightly different constraints, particularly in terms of how high and how far apart the anchor points must be. Once you know what you need to do, though, they’re quite easy to place them nicely and integrate them into the terrain.

Are those requirements documented? Or are they a guide that you and other designers have discovered? If they are not going to be documented can you do it here in a post?

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 – Walls and Bridges

Big Bridges™

The Combat Mission Market Garden module includes some spectacular bridges – the road and rail bridges at Nijmegen and Arnhem. These things are simply massive, and all placeable on your maps with just a couple of clicks. However, there are a few tricks you need to be aware of to get the best out of these bridges, and avoid some frustration.

First up; these bridges are massive. Beautiful to behold, but massive. They are each over half a kilometre long, and if the map isn’t big enough for the whole thing, none of it will be displayed – the engine will simply reject it. Similarly if the map is big enough but the bridge placed so that some of it would be hanging off the map edge, the engine will reject the bridge. This has some consequences for your map. For starters, if you want to include, say, the road bridge at Arnhem for a scenario dealing with Frosts stand at the northern end, you have to include the whole width of the Nederrijn and some of the south bank.

Back to start of thread

JonS,

Can you place bunkers and obstacles on these long bridges?

Link to post
Share on other sites
Question about the ditch lock tiles in your example. For what ever reason the the white on blue numbers are not very readable. They look like 30 but that does not seem right since the 3D view it looks like at those tiles the drop off to 20. Can you clarify - are those blue tiles set at 20 or 30?

30, although that was all done fairly quickly. Spending a bit more time sculpting the terrain around the abutments with a mix of normal and ditchlocked terrain would pay huge dividends. The only thing you really need is the 2x2 block, for the ends of the bridge to rest on, that's 9 or 10m agl.

Are those requirements documented? Or are they a guide that you and other designers have discovered? If they are not going to be documented can you do it here in a post?

I thought about that, but honestly; it's a lot easier to place the bridge where you want it then modify the terrain as needed than it would be to build the terrain to some spec then try and accurately position the bridge in exactly the right spot. The only thing you'd need to be careful about is to lay down the bridge fairly early in the process so you don't find yourself needing to move everything left by a tile. But even that can be overcome by instead moving the bridge one tile to the right instead.

Link to post
Share on other sites

13 - Scenario Settings

“Situating the appreciation”
Anon., trad.

Selecting the scenario settings is mostly a tick-and-flick activity, since most of the scenario settings have effectively been decided during the design phase. Some of the settings do, however, have consequences that are worth considering before bulldozing ahead.

13-1ScenSettings1_zpsa9e471b2.jpg

13.1: the basic scenario settings. Also shown here is the scenario opening image.


The Battle Type is German Attack, although I did consider German Probe because of the disorgansied overall nature of the engagement. I went with attack since the German is expected to push forward and seize terrain.

Environment is a little tricky, since the map is half urban, half open. Because I think that most of the fighting will be in the built up areas, and the built up area is fairly low density with lots of open space, I went with Village.

Daylight is easy : Day. One thing to be aware of, though, is if you’re setting a scenario to be Dawn or Dusk, you should check when dawn/dusk actually was in that place on that day. This site will allow you to calculate the actual sunrise and sunset times for any location on any date, but you will also need to check that against when the sun actually rises/sets in Combat Mission. You can do that by setting the date-time on a blank map and saving it as a scenario, then fast forwarding through turns until the sun or moon crosses the horizon – make sure you make a note when it happens! It’s annoying to spend the time to work it out, then have to do it again a few days later because it never got written down.

The Battle Size is a bit arbitrary, and dependant on the designers perception. Given the size of the forces (roughly a battalion of infantry on each side) combined with the map size (almost 2 square kilometres) and duration (1½ hours) I’ve decided to call it Large. My rule of thumb starts with scenarios like ‘18 Platoon’ or ‘Kiwi Soldiers which are Tiny, then reduced company-sized are small, company-group is medium, battalion is large, and over that is huge. But those might be modified up or down based on the length of the battle, and the size of the map.

The Title can be slightly tricky. Like the scenario opening image, the key is to come up with something that’s interesting, describes the scenario, but which doesn’t leak FOW information. Usually I manage to get one or two of those, but fail on the other. For this scenario I’ve chosen The Sheriff of Oosterbeek, because ‘Sheriff’ Thompson was my original inspiration. The exact wording is a play on ‘The Sheriff of Nottingham,’ the Robin Hood story is an old favourite of mine. That title does leak information since it’s fairly easy to find out what ‘Sheriff’ means when combined with ‘Oosterbeek’, and therefore what British forces are likely to be present. On the other hand, for most people that does require some explicit effort. In favour of the title is that it clearly indicates where the scenario is located, and ‘Sheriff’ is a little ambiguous and mysterious.

Description is slightly tricky, for the same reason. Since the cat is sort-of already out of the bag with the title, I’ve used a short sentence that focuses on the high level situation of the British falling back, chased by the Germans.

13-2ScenSettings2_zpsb3cb312e.jpg

13.2: the detailed scenario Data settings.


The Length of Battle is set to 1 hour 30 minutes, meaning that the German player has until 1600hrs to complete his objectives, although that might increase as a result of testing. I might also add some variability to the ending, although given the overall length of the scenario that is probably not necessary – longer scenarios tend to end well before the nominated time limit.

The Day and Month is obviously 19 September 1944, and the [b[Region is Holland. Selecting Holland changes a lot of the skins used for items on the map, including the two-lane highway, road signs, building facades, and so on.

The start Hour and Minute are set, somewhat arbitrarily, to 1430hrs. In the context of this as a semi-historical scenario, and for scenarios set in the middle part of the day, the exact time doesn’t really matter a lot. But for scenarios set around dusk or dawn it’s worth running some trials to determine exactly when the various stages of sunrise/set occur, because they have a significant effect on spotting distance. Depending on when sunrise/set occurs it might be worth either shifting the start time so there is more/less time available before the visibility changes, or altering the duration so there is more/less time available after the visibility changes. Or do both – shift the start time and alter the duration.

Weather is overcast. Although I don’t think that’ll really make any difference to the way the scenario plays, the weather that day was actually overcast. Sometimes I use foggy or hazy to emulate a lot of lingering dust and smoke from heavy battle or an especially vigorous artillery bombardment, but that isn’t the case here.

Wind Strength and Source are set to Light from the south-west. I have no idea what the wind actually was that day. My thinking here is that, generally and in the absence of significant weather events, during the day wind will come from the ocean, which is to the west. But I want any smoke screens that are laid to drift obliquely across the map, rather than directly east along the roads, so I’ve offset the source a bit.

The Temperature is warm, just because. September is getting in to Autumn, but I’ve not come across accounts by any of the participants mentioning the cold, except for maybe towards the end of the siege at Oosterbeek when the rain set in.

Ground Condition is damp. Again, this was a bit tricky because of the bi-polar urban-open nature of the map. The ground down on the polder should be damp – or worse – to make vehicular movement there risky, but in the higher built up areas it should be dry. I’ve gone with damp overall because making the polder dry would be too easy on the Germans. I rationalise the increased risk of bogging in the urban areas with the thought that manoeuvring vehicles in built up areas isn’t risk free.

Friendly Directions are east and west respectively for the British and Germans. I did toy with the idea that the north edge could be a British friendly edge too, since the Divisional main area was to the north of the Oosterbeek church, but decided against that since the Germans should eventually advance across most of the map, and having the eastern end of the north edge still friendly then would be absurd. Setting the friendly direction affects which way off-map artillery and mortar fire arrive from, which way units retreat, and also has a significant effect on the functioning of the AI.

Intel is nil for both sides, because of the confused nature of the fight. That may change during testing because the British were generally aware of where the Germans were coming from, although giving them some intel will also mean the British player also knows where the Germans aren’t, which is probably too much to give away. I don’t want to give the Germans any hints though, because the way Intel works means they’ll be immediately aware of British troops all the way back to the church.

The settings are reasonably self explanatory, and in most cases don’t require a lot of thought as they’re driven by the actual battle, but again it's worth considering the knock-on effects of some of the settings in terms of the overall story being told.

13-3scene3_zpsb8fca4fa.jpg

13.3: Paratroopers cut down as they attempt to flee along the Benedendorpsweg


Back to start of thread Edited by JonS
Link to post
Share on other sites

14 - Designers Note's

”There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”
Ursula K. LeGuin

The designer's notes file is another simple text file, editable in something like Microsoft Notepad, but unlike the Briefing files it is just a flat text file with no internal structure or formatting. There is only one Notes file, which both players view. Because of this it pays to take care with what is put in here. Since both players read it it’s easy to create an unintentional FOW leak.

After a bit of trial and error, and copying what other designers have done, this is the format I use:

14-1ImportDesNotes_zps17d4464a.jpg

14.1: Designers Notes section from The Sheriff of Oosterbeek.


What we have here is a basic run down of the battle parameters, the kind of information that’s handy for players to have available, but not the kind of thing that’d be referred to often. There is also no FOW information there.

I have also seen Designer's Notes used for a detailed backgrounder on the battle, or for a run down of the actual battle, including the historical outcome and consequences. For historical scenarios this is a reasonable place to put that information, since it really doesn’t belong in the briefings, but I do think that too much FOW information is leaked that way. If I really wanted to include something about the battle’s outcome I’d put it in the Notes section of the side-specific briefings, but even that leaks FOW information since it tells the player what the expected outcome of the battle is, and probably has clues about the actual composition of the enemy. Generally I feel that if players really want to find out about the actual battle, then they should do some of their own research, which is one of the reasons including a few key references in the Designer's Notes can be a good idea.

Back to start of thread Edited by JonS
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...