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The Sheriff of Oosterbeek – A Scenario Design DAR/AAR


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Jon,

Hidden objective, maybe we are misunderstanding each other and I want to be sure of what you think about the exact system I am trying to describe. It is NOT a hidden objective where you as the attacker do not know where it is and go all around the map and finally find the missing Lieutenant like a scenario in CMFI.

It is where a defensive line situation is in place and the defender does not know exactly where the main attacker's effort will be. The attacker knows the objective and can start a feint attack, whats that called? distraction? some other military term which eludes me at the moment...anyway, diversion? anyway.. the attacker is grabbing for the objective maybe a particular house or block on a street, think Stalingrad or Aachen. The defender as in real life has to decide where to send precious reserves.

So, goofy, good, what?

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Named for the scenic ridge that runs between Blanco and Wimberly...

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P.S. I am not trying to advertise anything! Just drinking beer! Not a stockholder, etc.

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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

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It is where a defensive line situation is in place and the defender does not know exactly where the main attacker's effort will be. The attacker knows the objective and can start a feint attack, whats that called? distraction? some other military term which eludes me at the moment...anyway, diversion? anyway.. the attacker is grabbing for the objective maybe a particular house or block on a street, think Stalingrad or Aachen. The defender as in real life has to decide where to send precious reserves.

So, goofy, good, what?

Oh - hidden from the enemy? Definitely, yes. I take that as a given. I think that the objectives for the two sides (and we will get to that in due course) should be different - in location, size, value, and composition - in almost all scenarios. The briefing (and we will get to that in due course too) should give an indication of what the enemy are trying to do, but only in general terms.

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10 – German Forces

“You haven’t been to war until you’ve fought the Germans.”
Winston Churchill

Before getting to the Germans, I want to talk a bit about unit experience ratings.

In the NWE campaign in WWII, so called 'veteran' units - especially infantry units - were predominantly manned by men with less than a couple of months service with the unit. The proof of that is in the casualty stats.

For example:
4th US Infantry Div suffered 250% of TOE strength in casualties (299 days in combat)
90th US Infantry Div suffered 196% of TOE strength in casualties (308 days in combat)
29th US Infantry Div suffered 204% of TOE strength in casualties (242 days in combat)

Therefore, on average, someone in:
4th US Inf Div saw 120 days of combat before becoming a cas
90th US Inf Div saw 157 days of combat before becoming a cas
29th US Inf Div saw 118 days of combat before becoming a cas

That’s averaged across the roughly 14,000 men in an infantry division, but the vast majority of those casualties were concentrated amongst the fairly small number of men in each division labelled "Infantry." Without rummaging through detailed statistics (which I anyway don't have access to), I suspect that no more than half that number of days-in-combat – about two months - would be the very upper limit of what a rifleman could expect to survive. Therefore I think that the average quality of individual riflemen probably declined across the campaign as long-service, highly trained men in the first waves were replaced by questionably trained men with little esprit de corps, led by 90-Day-Wonders.

There's also this to consider:

Tbl1p148%202.JPG

10.1: Effects of continuous combat. Few units in NWE were continuously in combat for more than about 20 days. However, the required recovery period is quite long, meaning units and men didn’t move far to the left during their rest periods. Graph from Dave Grossman’s Killology site


In any infantry unit from mid-June onwards there'd have been a mix of men representing every stage of that chart, which would tend to reduce the overall effectiveness of any given unit. As the campaign progressed and men started getting close to the 60 combat days referred to above, large-ish numbers of those survivors would have been in the combat-exhaustion and even vegetive phases. At the rifleman-squad-platoon-company level, infantry units were NOT on an ever escalating performance curve.

How, then, did divisions learn and improve if the individual riflemen weren't really getting a whole lot better at their jobs? They did it by becoming much better at the stuff that actually matters. Battalion and regimental staffs tended to survive much longer. And I specifically mean the staffs, rather than merely the commanders. Men in supporting arms like artillery, logistics, and even armour also had much greater longevity. Improvements in those areas meant that combat infantry units were fed into combat much better prepared and supported, and working to a plan based on realistic assessments and objectives. Given that, it didn't matter that Private Snooks in 3rd Squad, 1 Platoon, C Company, 2nd Battalion wasn't becoming a better soldier, because less was being asked of him, since he was being given more support to achieve objectives.

A very similar process was at play in the German armed forces.

What does that mean in terms of CM? I think it means that there is hardly ever a plausible justification for elevating the experience or motivation of the combat elements we see in CM scenarios, regardless of the scenario date and regardless of the post-war mythology that has built up around particular units. Improvements in the real unit staffs and their planning equate to increased player experience and skill. In other words; the CM units start doing better once the CM player figures out how to "do" combined arms on the CM battlefield … which means that some players simply will not be able to ‘win’ some scenarios until they become better. It is also reflected in the way that scenarios are designed - additional artillery, modest and realistic objectives, casualty consciousness, additional time, narrow frontages, improved CB work reflected in lesser enemy support available, and so on, all reflect the better effectiveness of experienced staffs at Battalion and higher levels. None of that has anything to do with the quality of the infantry, but it all directly impacts on how 'easy' a scenario seems to be, and it directly reflects the kinds of real improvements that saw units in NWE become 'veteran.'

Furthermore, I think that the difference in quality – motivation and experience - between the two sides is often more important than the absolute values chosen. Many Green troops vs a few Veterans could be an interesting battle. Conscript vs Crack is probably going to be absurd.

Also, from my personal perspective as a scenario designer, I don't think that the highly elevated quality and motivation levels were ever really meant by BFC to be employed to whole formations. They are instead meant for certain individual units, vehicles, and teams, to provide for heroes and variation in the tapestry of unit responses. Battalion HQs, support company HQs and some of the support company elements could justifiably be given elevated quality, due to their comparative longevity in the real world, but it doesn't make any sense to apply that across the board to the rank and file. Making whole battalions Vet-High is about as realistic as using naval gunfire in a scenario set in the Ardennes.

This is clearly the case for the German force in this battle. KG Harder was formed from part of 9th SS Panzer Division. A naïve take on these guys might have them all as veteran fanatics, because SS! But the devil is in the detail. KG Harder was employed as an infantry battalion, but it was composed of 350-odd dismounted crewmen and administrative and logistics personnel from 9th SS Panzer Regt, supplemented by ~100 naval personnel, plus an additional increment of Alarm personnel scraped up from somewhere. All up the KG comprised about 500 men, grouped into three infantry companies even though none of the men were trained as infantry. This is not exactly the best and brightest Germany had to offer. The detailed breakdown of the KG is as follows:

KG Harder:
. HQ company,
. . 1. Company, ~150 dismounted SS tank crew (low-ish skills, high motivation?)
. . 2. Company, ~150 former SS logistics personnel (low-ish skills, medium motivation?)
. . 3. Company, ~150 Kriegsmarine and Alarm personnel (medium-ish skills, low motivation?)
. . Support Company, 40-50 SS men, four 81mm mortars, a 15cm sIG, and three 20mm Flak 38s.
. . One platoon from Sturmgeschützbrigade 280, 2 x StuG III, 1 x StuH and a few dismounted Heer infantrymen.

That’s easy enough to construct directly, based on an SS grenadier battalion, with some specialist teams and vehicles added in. With all its units in a single chain of command, command and control for KG Harder should be simpler and more robust than the British have to deal with.

The CM units editor provides a large menu of standardised company and battalion organisations, which are all based on extensive research into official tables of organisation and equipment form the period. This is great, except that few units ever went into combat with their officially sanctioned strength or scale of weapons and equipment. Happily, CM provides a number of different ways to customise units. This allows a scenario designer to build something closer to what was actually used in the particular battle they’re trying to recreate, or to add flavour and variety to what would other be quite homogenous.

The soft settings for each company are adjusted according to the above sketches, with the command elements generally set a level or so higher. Supply has been set moderately high. The distinctly different characters of the three rifle companies will make for some interesting gameplay, and is something to point out to the German player in the briefing.

Apart from the soft unit settings of Experience through to Vehicle Status, all of which are reasonably self-explanatory, there’s also ‘Appearance, which allows the designer to give the units a certain ‘look’ by altering their uniform. In the case of the SS Grenadier Battalion you can pick Standard uniforms, Camo, or No Camo. Other unit types have different choices, and in the case of the US Airborne it affects which unit patch is displayed on their shoulder. I have given each rifle company in KG Harder a different appearance: Late Camo for the panzer crews, Standard for the logisticians, and No Camo for the Kriegsmarine men to reflect their scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel status.

The grenadier battalion’s mortars can be on-map, in which case you get the mortars, some ammo bearers, headquarters elements, and some vehicles, or off map in which case you still get the platoon HQs to use as spotters but all the rest is moved tidily off the map. The rifle squad settings determine whether some of the riflemen carry rifle grenades. These settings can be altered before or after purchase, and they can also be applied uniformly to the whole battalion, or selectively to individual platoons. So, for example, some of the medium mortars can be on-map, while the rest are off-map.

10-2ForceOptions_zpsa94e050d.jpg

10.2: Battalion customisation options – uniforms, whether the battalion mortars are on- or off-map, and weapons carried in the rifle squads.


There is one other setting, an easy one to overlook, which alters the force at the time it is purchased. This is the Quality setting in the middle of the left hand panel, and which has a default of ‘Typical’. The system's vernacular has things rated ‘Excellent’ to ‘Poor’ in five steps. But in many cases the terms are better thought of as Typical through Rare, with perhaps the "best option being the one at the bottom of the picking order.

This setting alters the mix and quality of the weapons the battalion is equipped with. In the case of the SS grenadier battalion making up KG Harder, Excellent means:
* All rifle squads have a rifle grenadier
* Rifle squads have a higher proportion of G43 semi auto rifles and MP44 assault rifles.
* All MGs are MG42s

Poor means:
* None of the rifle squads have a rifle grenadier
* Rifle squads have a lower proportion of G43 semi auto rifles and MP44 assault rifles.
* All MGs are MG34s

10-3Quality_zpsdcf81dd4.jpg

10.3: Setting the Quality of the Battalion about to be purchased, which affects the type of equipment held. This must be selected before the unit is purchased, and it’s an easy thing to overlook. Try not to forget about it.


In the case of the SS Grenadier Battalion, quality steps between ‘Excellent’ and ‘Poor’ affect the ratio of G43s and MP44s, the proportion of MG34s to MG42s, and the number of grenadiers in the battalion. Although the grenadier setting can be changed post-purchase, and any MG34s swapped out for Specialist Team MG42s, the ratio of G43s and Assault rifles can’t be altered once the unit has been purchased. Other battalion types each have their own particular way that the quality setting affects them, so do some experimentation with any units you’re considering buying to see what the quality setting does to them, and try and be sure of what you want before you start purchasing your force for real. Otherwise you’ll be buying it several times – something I had to do for this battle, several times.

It’s worth spending a bit of time exploring exactly what the different quality steps offer – there’s some fairly exotic equipment hidden away in CM, some of which only shows up through the Quality settings. It’s also a handy way to customise a unit and give it some character.

The StuG Battery and its supporting infantry are added as Single Vehicle and Specialist Team selections (with a force type of Heer) within the SS Battalion. This is done by selecting a unit level (battalion, company, or platoon) to attach to, then changing the Purchase Type (middle left of the unit editor screen, just above the Quality setting) from Formations to either Single Vehicle or Specialist Team as needed. By changing the force type from infantry to armour, airborne, or whatever, and also changing the nationality, means that basically any vehicle or team can be added anywhere. By fiddling with the Force vs. Force setting in the Mission -> Data area, it’s even possible to have Allied vehicles turning up embedded in the German force! Pictures taken in and around Oosterbeek show that the StuH 42s in Stug.Bde. 280 did not have muzzle brakes, so I’ve selected the (late) model to properly reflect that.

PROTIP: The overall identity of each side’s force is determined by the top listed unit, which is the first unit purchased. If you intend to use a force that has mixed nationalities (for example, Polish anti tank guns in a British airborne unit, or an SS Kampfgruppe supplemented with separate Heer forces), ensure that the top/first unit is from what you are thinking of as the main nationality. This extends to fortifications so if, for example, you somehow end up with “Luftwaffe” TRPs as the first thing purchased in an otherwise SS force, the end-game victory screen will report the whole lot as Luftwaffe.

I’ve added two SdKfz 251s to 1st Company, and a pair of trucks to the KG HQ. This provides some mobile but fragile firepower to the Germans, gives them some limited ability to move forces and heavy weapons about, and provides some ammo for resupply. I may also add a second platoon from StuG.Bde-280 if testing shows that the Germans are too weak.

10-4BasicGermans_zpsab91a836.jpg

10.4: The framework for KG Harder consists of an SS -> Infantry -> Grenadier Battalion. On the left can be seen the basic SS grenadier battalion with its sub-elements expanded, while on the right can be seen KG Harder with its sub-elements also opened up. One of the medium mortar platoons has been turned into a StuG battery by deleting the mortars and attaching some StuGs and supporting infantry.


Sequencing the German forces is a bit problematic. The initial set up area is quite modest, so only one of the companys will be on map initially. The remaining two companies will arrive over the first half hour – one at about 15 minutes, and the other at about 25-30 minutes. The StuG platoon and the HQ elements will arrive at some point during the same time period.

As this scenario will ultimately be playable both ways against the AI and H2H, there is a consideration relating to reinforcements that I need to be aware of. AI plans work on timing windows – units will attempt to start and complete AI orders within set windows. For units that start the game on-map, there’s no particular issue (although more on that in a later post) but for reinforcements their first window should open after they have arrived on map. This creates a bit of a problem with reinforcement timings. If I set a reinforcement window of 10-15 minutes, the first AI order for that group cannot begin until sometime after 15 minutes, but if the unit arrives at the start of the reinforcement window then they’ll be sitting around for up to 5 minutes with nothing to do. The alternate is to have a definite arrival time so that you definitely know when the AI plan cycle can commence. It’s a tradeoff – either have a reinforcement window to add uncertainty and stress to a human player, or have a single definite reinforcement arrival time to make AI planning easier, and there is no right answer. I’ve chosen to use fixed reinforcement times to make the AI programming a bit easier.

10-5allformedup_zps34b43dad.jpg

10.5: Part of KG Harder formed up behind the railway embankment. A group of rough men standing ready to visit violence on those who would do them harm. Here we can see the subtle effects of the Appearance setting – these three HMG teams are each from different companys, and the appearance of their uniforms is slightly different to reflect their different military backgrounds. Upper right of this image is normal view, lower left is Movie Mode.


The forces for this scenario were more-or-less decided for me by the historical battle, but when creating a fictional scenario and trying to balance forces a useful rule of thumb is that each platoon is good for one serious attack. After that their casualties will be mounting, ammo will be depleting, and morale will be dropping. The platoon will still be able to contribute, but not as forcefully. This rule of thumb can be applied by counting or estimating the number of platoon sized attacks the player will have to conduct, then comparing that to the forces they have available. If the numbers are about the same then the forces are probably about the right size. If they have significantly more platoons then perhaps some of the force could be trimmed. If the player has significantly less platoons then maybe more force needs to be added, or the scenario made smaller or simpler.

This means that KG Harder is good for about nine serious, platoon sized attacks: this can be estimated as four or five along the Benedendorpsweg, two or three in the built up area to the north, and a couple in reserve. Is that enough? I think it will be, but only testing will confirm that.

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As this scenario will ultimately be playable both ways against the AI and H2H, there is a consideration relating to reinforcements that I need to be aware of. AI plans work on timing windows – units will attempt to start and complete AI orders within set windows. For units that start the game on-map, there’s no particular issue (although more on that in a later post) but for reinforcements their first window should open after they have arrived on map. This creates a bit of a problem with reinforcement timings. If I set a reinforcement window of 10-15 minutes, the first AI order for that group cannot begin until sometime after 15 minutes, but if the unit arrives at the start of the reinforcement window then they’ll be sitting around for up to 5 minutes with nothing to do. The alternate is to have a definite arrival time so that you definitely know when the AI plan cycle can commence. It’s a tradeoff – either have a reinforcement window to add uncertainty and stress to a human player, or have a single definite reinforcement arrival time to make AI planning easier, and there is no right answer. I’ve chosen to use fixed reinforcement times to make the AI programming a bit easier.

The part I've more problems with is to visualize the schedule and the plan. I've been working for a few months on a little scenario covering the initial phase of 17th SS PzGr counterattack in Carentan, and I've spent some time trying to figure out an effective way of dishing out AI plans for both sides.

I'm now using a simple Gantt diagram tool so I can sketch out the plan and then adjust the timings. Once I'm happy with the overall look, I then input the data by hand into the Scenario Editor. This is less painful than it sounds, since the thinking has already been done. Introducing the timings is a bit of a clickfest sometimes, I wish we had both the buttons and a text input widget where one can write down the times. And I'd also like that the Exit After field started 30 secs after the Exit Before of the previous Order of the Group.

I also use Mil Sketch on a screenshot of the editor view of the map to draw objectives, so I can get a 'global view' as well, over the map.

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Good stuff on the German units, JonS. I was curious to see how you were going to represent KM infantry since they're a part of the Waffen SS formation, but since we have a uniform option for just field gray uniforms it works out pretty well.

Totally agreed on your assessment of unit skill levels. Crack and Elite should be reserved almost always for those very exceptional units - the Audie Murphy / Wittmann / Otto Carius types. With the amount of attrition on both sides, it would indeed have been very hard for any unit to rise above Veteran-level experience without suffering a consequent level of casualties.

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The part I've more problems with is to visualize the schedule and the plan.

Yeah, I agree with that. But having the reinforcement timings nailed down makes sequencing the AI - which will come later - that much easier.

I'm now using a simple Gantt diagram tool so I can sketch out the plan and then adjust the timings.

Yup. Some kind of visual representation of the plan and how the moving parts interlock is key. There's generally too much going on to try ad keep it all in your head, and to much to do to get it all done in one session. Having written graphical notes alleviates both those problems.

And I'd also like that the Exit After field started 30 secs after the Exit Before of the previous Order of the Group.

For WEGO, 60 seconds between the E-B and E-A timings is right. Narrowing it to 30 seconds can cause problems, it seems to me.

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Good stuff on the German units, JonS. I was curious to see how you were going to represent KM infantry since they're a part of the Waffen SS formation, but since we have a uniform option for just field gray uniforms it works out pretty well.

Yeah, there are actually pretty good poor-quality KM (and Luftwaffe) unit choices in the MG module which would have been fine for that company, and a completely rational way of going about it. But I decided that having everything in a single chain of command was more important in this case. On a different day I might easily have made a different decision :D

Crack and Elite should be reserved almost always for those very exceptional units - the Audie Murphy / Wittmann / Otto Carius types.

Ya, there's a couple of stand-out leaders on the British side, both because those individuals were standout, and because it goes some way towards balancing the other weaknesses the British have.

very hard for any unit to rise above Veteran-level experience without suffering a consequent level of casualties.

IIRC one of the US Ranger Battalions was grossly mis-employed in the Huertegen just before the Battle of the Bulge. They were handy, and weren't doing much, so some nobbit threw them in as high-quality line infantry, and the unit more-or-less bled out. If they were vets before that battle, they certainly weren't afterwards.

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I have a specific question about how the timing of AI plans works:

In the left lower corner of the AI plan window, i can define the following values for each order:

Exit Before: 00:00

Exit After: 01:00

My question is now: are those the total time values meassured from the start of the game or are those the times the unit is going to stay within the painted order zone?

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"It’s worth spending a bit of time exploring exactly what the different quality steps offer – there’s some fairly exotic equipment hidden away in CM, some of which only shows up through the Quality settings. It’s also a handy way to customise a unit and give it some character."

I put on my lab coat and headed off to do some experiments. Maybe there is some cool easter egg waiting in there! An MP28 or some older Czeck Mahinegun! I set up 2 QB's. US Army vs Waffen-SS and British Army vs German Army. I ended up with 5 varieties (Quality, Exc, Gd, Avd, Fair, Pr) of a certain type of unit. First I adjusted the quality and then would purchase an "Infantry battalion equivalent" and then deleted everything except first platoon of the first company. On and on. Then finallt playing 2 sides of a hot-seat PBEM I could see the troops and analyze (Don't worry I have a lab coat on!) the equipment they were given.

Quick look: Well, it seemed different but not amazingly so. Right now, the funniest thing is that the QB2 German Army poor (not seeming so poor to me!) platoon had a squad with the zinger of the quartermaster's outfitting, 2 MP40's, 2 MG42's, sniper rifle and Kar98's.

I didn't see no cool stuff :-(

Maybe I should analyze in in my lab coat but a different day, because this post was brought to you by:

Stone ALe's "Ruination IPA"

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JonS, enjoying the master class, thanks for the effort and dedication involved. Just a quick question, does the MG editor allow the placing of the high wire fences that lined roads, in and around Arnhem? As the Pegasus archive says, they hindered the attempts of troops to find cover when under fire.

http://www.pegasusarchive.org/arnhem/Photos/PicSStaffsUtrecht1.jpg

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IIRC one of the US Ranger Battalions was grossly mis-employed in the Huertegen just before the Battle of the Bulge. They were handy, and weren't doing much, so some nobbit threw them in as high-quality line infantry, and the unit more-or-less bled out. If they were vets before that battle, they certainly weren't afterwards.

You're right. In fact, there's a very good article in the most recent issue of WWII History magazine that details a very, very bloody battle the Rangers fought against the Fallschirmjaeger in the Hürtgen Forest. The Rangers were victorious, but like you said, they were a spent force by the time it was over.

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11 – Objectives

“A prince or general can best demonstrate his genius by managing a campaign exactly to suit his objectives and his resources, doing neither too much nor too little.”
Clausewitz

Combat Mission has a number of different ways to award points, and how they’re used and combined will have a strong influence on how the battle is fought out. To start with it’s useful to understand how victory is determined. The algorithm that Combat Mission uses to determine victory is as follows:

A = points for the side who had more points
B = points for the side who had fewer points
(note: these are the definitions as given to me by A Guy Who’d Know, but I think that technically it’s actually “percentage of points pool for the side who had more/fewer points,” or something along those lines, rather than just a raw total.)

then

V = (A + 10) / (B + 10)

and

V < 1.25 : Draw
V < 1.75 : Minor Victory
V < 2.5 AND 30% of total pool for Side A : Tactical Victory
V < 4.0 AND 55% of total pool for Side A : Major Victory
V >= 4.0 AND 80% of total pool for Side A : Total Victory

For the higher victory levels the player must to attain both conditions to achieve that level. If Side A gets a V value of 2.6 (nominally a tactical victory) but only gets 20% of its potential points pool, they’ll only score a minor victory.

This formula is one really good reason why I generally have multiple small value objectives, rather than a few big-ticket items. Having many small value objectives means that there are more viable combinations of points for each side. To give a specific example, imagine a game in which each side was going for two objectives, each worth 500 points. Thus, each side can score either 0 points, or 500 points, or 1000 points. And when the two sides are compared to each other, there are only a few possible outcomes.

11-1Outcomes_zpsd9df5e57.jpg

11.1: Possible outcomes of a hypothetical scenario with just two objectives of equal value on each side. This would be an unsatisfying scenario to play. Note that the V=51 results would actually be reduced from a Total to a Tactical victory because that side only secured 50% of their points pool, not the 55% that a Total victory requires.

The only nine possible outcomes, resulting in either a Draw, or a Minor or Total Victory. There is no mathematical way of achieving a Tactical or Major Victory. But if each side had been going after a dozen separate objectives then there would be a gross number of potential discrete outcomes, and any level of victory would be possible.

I think more objectives also makes for a better narrative, since there is nuance to the objectives, and the player must decide which ones on the smorgasbord he will go after. That means that the battle will be more interesting, because the player must actively decide which objectives to go for and which to ignore and incorporate those decisions into their planning. It also allows the player to change course mid way through a battle if a particular objective is proving too difficult – another objective can be selected, the plan re-formulated, and the player can carry on with some prospect of success. Furthermore, it becomes less likely that securing a single objective will grant the player a decisive points advantage, resulting in a closer and more exciting battle. Finally, I think it makes the end-game screen more interesting if there are a number of different objectives, some met and some not, to investigate.

As a rule of thumb, I give each side a total pool worth 1,000 points, to be divided amongst their various objectives. There is no technical reason for doing this, and in fact the pool size can be as large or small as you like, and there is not even a need to make the two side’s pools the same size. However given that the victory level algorithm basically works on a ratio of the two scores, I find it easier to do the mental arithmetic of comparing likely scores by keeping the pools the same size. A nice round number was chosen so that it’s easy for players to assess the relative worth of different objectives in comparison to the entire pool. 1,000 was chosen because it seems more manly to go for one thousand points than for ‘only’ 100 points, although it makes exactly no difference whatsoever.

So that’s my starting point: 1,000 points available on each side, to be divided amongst Unit Objectives, Terrain Objectives, and Parameters. The next step is to roughly decide the split between those three categories, then delve into allocating points explicitly.

With Unit Objectives I generally use lots of relatively small value objectives. So instead of having a single unit objective worth 500 points that covers the entire enemy force I’ll use one objective worth 200 points for the infantry, another worth 200 points for the armour, a third objective worth 50 points for engineers, and 50 points covering the support weapons. Or some other split that makes sense. This approach helps with story telling, and it also means that you can weight the value of different parts of the enemy's force to create high value target.

What I generally do is divide the points available by the total number of units to get an average-points-per-unit. Then I multiple that by the number of units in each Unit objective, then massage up and down to weight certain force elements within the overall points budget.

Let’s look at a concrete example from this scenario. The points pool for British Unit Objectives is 500 points, and the enemy force is made up as follows:
U1 = KG Harder HQ (HQ, XO, 1 x Kubel, 2 x trucks = 5 units)
U2 = 1 Company (18 units, including 2 halftracks)
U3 = 2 Company (15 units)
U4 = 3 Company (15 units)
U5 = 4 (Heavy Weapons) Company (10 units)
U6 = StuG Pn (3 StuGs)

In total that's 66 units, and on average each unit is worth 500/66 = 7.6 points per unit. Multiplying that by the number of units in each unit objective gives:
U1 = KG Harder HQ : 5 units x 7.6pts = 38
U2 = 1 Company : 18 x 7.6 = 137
U3 = 2 Company : 15 x7.6 = 114
U4 = 3 Company : 15 x 7.6 = 114
U5 = 4 (Wpns) Coy: 10 x 7.6 = 76
U6 = StuG Pn : 3 x 7.6 = 23

That’s not too bad, except the StuG platoon and KG HQ are each worth next to nothing. I want to massage those values, by increasing the relative value of the StuG and HQ elements:
U1 = KG Harder HQ : 50pts
U6 = StuG Pn : 120pts

An additional 12 + 97 = 109 points has been given to those units. That has to come off the infantry, and at the same time I want to differentiate between the three infantry companies. The final allocation of points is:
U1 = KG Harder HQ : 50pts
U2 = 1 Company : 120pts
U3 = 2 Company : 75pts
U4 = 3 Company : 60pts
U5 = 4 (Wpns) Coy: 75pts
U6 = StuG Pn : 120pts

Now each unit in battalion HQ is worth 10 points, and each man worth about 5 points. Each of the three tanks are worth 40pts. The rifle platoon units are worth 4-to-7 points each, and each man about 1 point, while the weapons company units are worth 7.5pts and the men there about 2 points each.

I invariably make unit objectives Destroy, rather than Destroy All, because bug hunts for that last man are annoying. From a story telling point of view using Destroy means that the player gets some recognition for each and every enemy killed, which in turn greatly increases the number of discrete scores that are possible, and makes the end-game screen that much richer.

11-2UKUnitObjectives_zpsf9f00a88.jpg

11.2: Composite image showing the Unit Objectives for the British player. Each company or platoon sized group gets its own objective. Names for Unit Objectives include the potential points available (120ps for U2) so the player can see from the end game screen how much damage they inflicted on each unit. Objectives are ‘Known to Player’ because there’s no need to tell the enemy what the player is trying to achieve. Note that in this earlier incarnation of the scenario the StuGs were in a separate unit.


I’d generally only use Destroy All as a unit objective for a very small component of the enemy’s force, and one that has some particular narrative value. For example, a scenario might be an attack on an enemy headquarters, so the actual HQ unit, and perhaps the 2iC too, could be designated Destroy All, while the remainder of the enemy force would be split amongst a number of standard Destroy objectives. Also, I usually include all enemy units in one of the various unit objectives. Leaving some part of the force outside any objective is essentially calling them worthless, which seems a bit heartless to both the attacker and the defender – those guys aren’t worth saving, but they aren’t worth killing either!

I apply a similar approach to Terrain Objectives. From the first step I know how many points I have available, then it’s a matter of allocating those points to various terrain objectives in a way that makes narrative sense.

Selecting the location of terrain objectives should take into account how the battle is expected to progress, and in particular what the mission of each side is in this battle. If the stated mission for a side is to secure a village, don’t give them a high value terrain objective that’s a small hill away over on the other side of the map, no matter how cool that hill you’ve built is. Either change the mission, or get rid of the objective. Objectives which are incompatible with the stated mission cause dissonance and frustration for players, and that is never a good outcome.

Staggering the value of terrain objectives, so that – broadly speaking – the least valuable is closest and the most valuable is most distant, provides players with an incentive to pusher further and harder. However objectives need to be realistic and achievable. There is no point allocation a deep objective to an infantry only force who’ve only got a short time to get there – there’s no reasonable way they’d be able to fight through a competent defence and move across the map.

Objectives should also make sense in the context of the mission the player will be given. Think about what ‘secure the bridge’ actually means – is simply holding the bridge itself enough? Well, maybe, at night or if visibility is drastically restricted. But usually it would mean holding the high ground on the other side of the river, or that cluster of buildings nearby, or pushing out over open ground to at least small arms range. There is no hard and fast rule for what ‘secure’ means, but there will be a meaning that makes sense within the context of the scenario, given the map and the forces in play. It is that contextually relevant definition of “secure” that terrain objectives should reflect.

Furthermore, I think it is good practice to decompose terrain into a number of smaller objectives too, in the same way Unit Objectives are broken down. In the case of our bridge to be secured, instead of painting a massive Occupy objective that covers all ground out to 500m, consider creating cluster of related objectives. A small one just on the bridge itself, another up on the ridge, another one taking in a cluster of farm buildings within direct line-of-sight, and so on. Then divvy up the points available in a way that makes sense, perhaps allocating a proportionately greater amount to one of the objectives deemed to be especially important.

This is also a good way to break up an urban objective, and give players something within reach that they can try to achieve. Clearing a whole village is a large and complex task, one that the player may feel is beyond their available force or impractical in the time available. As a result they may not attempt to clear any of it since they won’t be able to clear all of it, and either way they won’t be getting any points. But if clearing a half or quarter of the village would reap a tangible reward, then they’re more likely to attempt that, and breathe some life in what could otherwise be a dull patch of the battle.

As an example, instead of a single monolithic 600 point "Village" objective, have six separate objectives covering different parts of the village, each worth 100 points.
* If the player ends up holding the whole village and all six objectives: awesome, they win big, as they should.
* If they player ends up only holding half the village and three of the objectives: well, that's a draw and that's fair.
* If the enemy pushes them right out and the player has only one or none objectives; they lose big, and deservedly so.

This also allows both players to come up with a range of viable plans to achieve success. The defender might decide to concede one or two objectives in order to concentrate on the remainder, knowing that that will give him enough to win. Similarly the attacker might decide to go left flanking because that will secure at least four of the objectives and probably provide a win. Forcing the players to go for big-ticket all-or-nothing objectives forces them to do stupid things to try and win, or - even worse - to give up and not bother trying.

PROTIP: Check that the terrain objectives are all set to ‘Known to Player’, rather than ‘Known to Both’. It’s an easy thing overlook.

Exit terrain objectives are a special kind of objective, which need a bit of care. The side that has an exit objective is expected to exit all units that have a Unit Objective points value, otherwise the opposing player gets those points for any that are left on-map at the end of the scenario. In other words, the player that is exiting gets zero points for exiting his forces, but the enemy player does receive points for any units that don’t exit. Exit scenarios can be a lot of fun to design and play, but it is important to really carefully think through how each side is going to score points, and what having to exit their force will mean for the affected player. For one thing, Occupy objectives are a problem, since the player will have to either concede points to the enemy by keeping some force on the map to garrison those objectives, or concede the Occupy points to deny his enemy the Exit points.

I'm not keen on using the Parameter objectives (such as percentage of force remaining, or ammunition remaining) because of their binary nature - either you just make it and get all the points, or just fail and get none of them. At the limit, the difference between getting all or none of these points is always just one more or one less casualty. There are occasions where they’re definitely useful, but I usually do without them, or only allocate them a very small fraction of the points pool.

So, that’s how the objectives work and how I like to use them. What does all that mean for The Sheriff of Oosterbeek? For the British, their tasks are to halt the Germans, stabilise on some kind of defensive line, and to protect Thompson’s guns. Therefore their terrain objectives are laid out in this fashion.

11-3UKTerrainObjectives_zps26db07a3.jpg

11.3: Terrain objectives allocated to the British player. The player is rewarded for maintaining control of the main east-west road, and keeping the Germans away from the gun positions around the Church at Oosterbeek. The High Ground is where the line was initially stabilised, and was held by ‘Dickie’ Lonsdale until pulled back to the main perimeter late on Wednesday 20th September. The two Final Perimeter sections are along the line of the actual perimeter, held from when Lonsdale pulled back until the final evacuation late on Monday the 25th.


I try to give my objectives organic, ‘rounded’ shapes so they don’t look like big green Lego blocks thrown down on the map. I also attempt to make the area they encompass logical and coherent, which to me includes factors such as including all of a building – or local group of buildings – if any of it is included, and generally keep the overall size fairly small.

The German terrain objectives have a similar feel, but are different because their task in this scenario are not a simple mirror image of the British. I think in most battles it is normal to expect that the mission for each side will not merely be “stopping the other guy”. For one thing, it is psychologically better to give players something positive to do (‘Hold this hill to provide observation into the enemy’s rear’, rather than ‘stop the enemy taking this hill’), and at higher command levels the needs and objectives of each side can be quite divergent. This means that each side should usually have different objectives, and different emphases within their objectives.

11-4objectivesworksheet_zpsd9fe04ea.jpg

11.4: An example of the worksheet I use, complete with multiple amendments and a coffee stain, to keep track of objectives. There is no single place in the editor UI where you can review all the objectives together, and having it in this form allows for ready comparisons within each type of objective and between the two sides. The scoring schema here is consistent with my overall story, although some objectives will probably increase or decrease in value due to testing and feedback.

Killing the enemy is more important for the Germans than the British, and conversely securing ground is more important to the British. This marries up with the higher level story telling, in which the Germans are trying to eliminate the British, and seizing terrain is merely a means to that end. For the British, though, establishing a defensive position that they can hold until the tanks of XXX Corps arrive is highly important.

I originally had the gun positions as specific objectives for the Germans, but removed them when I remembered that the existence of guns in this area is subject to Fog of War, and will not be revealed to the German player until he finds them for himself. Having a terrain objective labelled “Gun position” would immediately dispel that FOW. The guns remain as a valuable unit objective for the Germans because the guns were an important objective, but in terms of the scenario it’s one that won’t be revealed explicitly until the battle has finished.

Basically, the objectives should be what makes sense in terms of the scenario and the battle. Have the victory points screen tell a story to guide the player in what needs to be done during the battle, and at the end of the battle explain how well each player did, in small, discrete, and meaningful chunks.

11-53DObjectives_zps76b68220.jpg

11.5: Oblique view showing how the objectives will appear to the British player during a battle. Each objective has its value explicitly displayed as part of the Objective Name, so the player can make informed decisions about how much effort and risk to apply to each one. View looking east, the Germans will approach from the far end. Screenshot taken using Movie Mode.


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