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Hello Battlefront.

I just discovered the CM series this week, downloaded Battle for Normandy and am very intrigued. I thought that you might be interested in my initial thoughts and opinions of the game. Please note that I write this without any extensive knowledge in the more recent titles of the CM series, so if something I mention below has since been acted on or developed, then please kindly educate me.

A bit of background: I am a long-time gamer (40+years old) and one series that incredibly held my interest from 2000 to 2005 was the Close Combat series (CC). After that I got into Battlefield 2 multiplayer and the Total War Series.

My first question while investigating the CM series was "Is this a turn based or real time combat game?" I took a surprisingly lengthy amount of time to read reviews and watch several youtube videos, then finally looked through the game manual to discover that it is both! This is something that is not clearly illustrated for dummies like me. Anyway, I was delighted to see that the game is indeed real time. Excellent!

My next question was "is the strategic campaign interactive or scripted?" I was disappointed to see that it was scripted. This brings me to the ultimate point of posting my thread here today:

Has the development team considered including an interactive campaign map for future titles in this series? If you have no idea of what I'm talking about, then look at the CC series - particularly the difference between CC3 - A Bridge Too Far, and all subsequent CC titles.

My intro to CC was A Bridge Too Far. It contains a scripted campaign map in which no player input is permitted. Fair enough, I thought. It was still an engrossing real time combat simulator for its time and I really enjoyed it. Then CC5 - Invasion Normandy was released. It upped my enjoyment of the game.

To put it plainly, I enjoyed how the dynamics of the strategic map affected the dynamics of the tactical map (where the battles were played) and vice-versa. Moving battlegroups from sector to sector, assigning support elements, watching supply lines, escape routes and advance paths all put a new grand strategy into the game that I found myself spending as much time on as planning each of the battles themselves. The campaign game is won or lost on the campaign map, but the campaign map is affected by what happens in the tactical maps. Also, if on an adjacent sector on the strategic, the enemy cuts off supply lines during one of your battles, then ammo levels for the affected battlegroup are cut in half for the next battle and remain so until supply lines are restored. In a complex campaign, this can be difficult to achieve or maintain without losing ground.

As far as the dynamics of CM:BN goes, I am very impressed by the level of detail in this game's tactical battles. It's very involved with a steep learning curve, but I see that it will be enjoyable and involving once I get the hang of it... well done! I see parallels between your game and the Close Combat Series, except yours is in 3d and much more sophisticated and realistic.

What would make this game even more likely to cause my wife to divorce me is if a strategic layer similar to the CC series (4 and up) was introduced. An even more advanced strategic map layer such as those in the Total War Series would be even better! A player-interactive campaign map where I can visually see how my actions in battle affect the progress of the campaign would be a fantastic element to add to this game. I could see THAT particular combination in your future titles keeping my interest in CM for probably another five years!

Wish me luck in learning your game and I look forward to seeing this series continue and develop.

Colonel Handgrenade

"Keep your heads down!"

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Col, I too played a lot of CC but I can't do 2D anymore. Although the campaigns in CM are linear they can have core forces, and they can branch based on victory conditions depending on how they are designed. I like the attrition type campaigns in CMBN GL myself. You really feel it when your forces get worn down and units won't be alive in the next battle. I once had TC with +2 leadership I would never let unbutton for fear of losing him to a bullet, I played his Tiger safe from battle to battle until it went out in a blaze of glory.

As for the strategic map layer, I believe (in the Mulder sense), it will happen, but for a much later CM engine. Not anytime soon.

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welcome to CM

yes,an advanced strategic layer would be heaven for all of us i think

there are various threads on the subject

so far there are only 3rd party solutions for this.

a friend of mine has an excellent system used for the IL2 series,but,i believe parsing the files is required and afaik isnt possible with the CM engine.

i believe BFC have stated they dont have any intention of developing one at this stage.

but would consider supporting a 3rd party option,if it was good enough.

i would happily support a good 3D strategic layer for CM,maybe a kickstarter project may be an idea to raise money for a development of one,but,it would need to have all the bells and whistles that modern gamers require

BFC arent a huge company and im sure they got there hand full with their current situations

anyway,welcome to CM

find yourself a club to join and play some human opponents,tis where the game really shines

Cheers

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Welcome to the CM Series, Col Handgrenade.

I think you'll very much like CM even without the strategic level, which I think everyone here in the forums would love to have, but sadly BF has said they don't have plans to make one. If you search on the forums you'll see some posts by some who have developed methods to use other game engines as the 'strategic' layer.

While the campaigns are static, they're actually semi-dynamic. Depending on how the designer has made the campaign, a loss on one battle might load a completely different map and/or battle than if you had won. Individual battles are designed with several AI plans (typically). You can play the battle once where the AI attacks down one avenue but if you play the battle a second time it might use a completely different tactic.

Unlike the CC Series, which I've also played since it's inception by Microsoft/Atomic, the AI setup routine is governed by the battle designer. You will have cleverly hidden units in cover and concealment - there's no dumb AI deployment in the middle of the road for you to easily ambush.

Also, I know you love real time games but give WEGO a try. You might find it easier than real time in larger battles where controlling 30+ units is maddening. The ability to replay the battle from any angle is priceless. Of course, the trade off is that you lose control of you units for 60 seconds but that's not too far off from real combat. The TacAI does a decent job of changing your bad decisions and reacting to new threats.

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Welcome to our world, Col. Handgrenade.

All your reasons for wanting an interactive & dynamic strategic layer for campaigns are right on the mark.

But if you're an old-school wargamer, then perhaps you've also enjoyed board wargames in years past. Bear in mind that you can use a number of conventional board wargames to perform exactly the role you're talking about. Just pick a boardgame whose scale is a level higher than CMx2 (company-to-battalion sized units, 300m-500m per hex scale, turns covering somewhere between 1-4 hours) and you can start using it as your campaign layer. You can do this right now, and enjoy all the benefits you're talking about. No need to wait for BFC to do it for you, since they're not likely to do it anytime soon -- if ever. And you can use computer playing aids like VASSAL or Cyberboard to play the boardgames, so no need even to set up maps or keep counters lying around.

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Welcome COL Handgrenade to the forum.

I too played CC ever since the first microsoft game was published some 20 years ago. But CM beats CC hands down for me. I can't go back to 2d anymore. It will take you probably some time to get into CM, but once infected with the CM virus there is no turning back.

Actually, the learning curve for CM is not that steep IMHO, but I speak for myself. I think learning to play CM is quite easy in fact, bit it is pretty hard to play it well. Just my 0.02.

Anyways, enjoy CM!

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I came to CMx2 from CC too, and I had a hard time adapting to it, but I'm so very happy I did.

I'm not a big fan of CC5 strategic layout, since it doesn't create realistic battles or tactical/strategical behaviour, specially because the AI is not good playing the battles having in mind strategic objetives (actually it isn't good playing at all). Achtung Panzer Krakhov 43, my other favourite tactical game, has the same flaw. I don't think that there's any game that offers an operational layout consistent with the tactical battles which is both enjoyable, realistic and manageable by the AI. And I dont think it's going to happen in a near future.

But actually I'm not worried about that. I love branched campaigns in which your actions have an impact in what happens. CM2 already has that. CC2 was awesome in that regard, it was not totally scripted as you wrote, but brilliantly designed so that the events on every portion of the theatre had consequences in the development of the campaign. Besides, you could allocate resources and focus in what you considered important. I'd love that CMx2 campaign engine could evolve and create a similar experience.

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The biggest trouble with operational layers, is that if you're any good at them, they can make the tactical layer somewhat redundant as you achieve vastly superior force ratios in all the fights that you actually permit to happen

Indeed. That's what ruined the APK43 campaign layout for me. It was not about RL operational strategy, but about knowing the rules that dictate which squares go into battle and exploit them to great effect. It's a pity because otherwise the game is quite impressive.

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The biggest trouble with operational layers, is that if you're any good at them, they can make the tactical layer somewhat redundant as you achieve vastly superior force ratios in all the fights that you actually permit to happen... No worries about that with CMx2!

That might seem like a problem with operational layers, but it's really not.

You can't possibly set up and play out in CM every fight that the op layer generates. Even if you tried to do that, the campaign would take years and few of the CM battles would be any fun for the players.

Also, you have to be in a mindset to enjoy the op game every bit as much as the CM battles within it. That's why it's important to pick an op game you actually enjoy for its own sake, not just as a mechanism to rush through and get back to the CM tactical stuff. Because most of war really is maneuvering and moving to contact, etc., and intense close combat doesn't happen everywhere all the time.

What's really brilliant about an op layer, though, are the HUGE variety of unbalanced but interesting and surprising situations that it will generate from time to time. Those are the ones to watch for, and which make the best setups for CM. Battles like these can be surprisingly "balanced" in terms of either side's chances to achieve its objective. The imbalances are what really make the CM battle more dynamic and interesting, compared to canned standalone scenarios or artificially balanced QBs.

Just one current example from the Market-Garden (101st Airborne sector) campaign that I'm in right now with sburke:

The campaign started at 1500 hrs on 17 Sept 1944 with the initial US airdrops, but we haven't had a battle setup we liked for CM until 1100 hrs on 18 Sept. But it's a real doozy...

In the boardgame (Where Eagles Dare, by Multiman Publishing), a Panzer ersatz company of Mark III tanks that escaped the pre-drop airstrikes made the highway north of Son too dangerous for the 506 PIR to advance south along that road to attack its objective: Son bridge.

So the 506th and 502nd both had to take a safer, more covered and roundabout route from their DZ through the Zonsche Forest. That slowed them down tremendously. Then Sept 18 dawned with foggy weather, slowing the advance even more (and would delay the day's reinforcement and resupply drops until later in the afternoon). So it's now 1100 hrs and the GIs are finally in contact with the German defensive perimeter N of the bridge.

But during all that delay, the Germans were able to race truck-mounted KG Ewald into the area south of Son and the canal. So they've dismounted and are marching in to stiffen the defenses.

What we have now is a Gettysburg-like situation that's loaded with uncertainty and suspense: An outnumbered screening force at Son Bridge defends against lead elements of a vastly superior attacking force. But each side has reinforcements coming in, widening the battle and as they take up positions and swing the balance one way or another.

So we've cordoned off the relevant area, mapped it, and now are setting up the forces to play this out. Adding to the excitement is the possibility the bridge could blow. This isn't possible within CM, but the boardgame has a system for it. So, if US units get within 250m of the bridge (a touch objective in CM is useful for this), it becomes "contested" and we plan to pause the CM battle so the Germans can attempt to blow the wired bridge. Then we can have a new CM setup based on the blown bridge, or it's intact and the US tries to assault across it.

Some other interesting oddities that the boardgame generated for this battle:

*The initial German defenders are a mix of 88s, flak, and two companies of fairly well-equipped LW panzergrenadier troops (HG Panzer Div training and replacement companies). One of those LW companies -- the one already in contact -- was suppressed by supporting US mortars but turned "heroic" in the boardgame. So in the CM battle, we'll have this unit start with unusually high motivation and leadership settings, but a near-zero cover arc for the first few minutes. So the GIs need to assault them quickly, because when they recover, watch out!

* As the US player I pushed an engineer platoon a bit too close to German positions, and the 88s wiped them out. (I rationalize this after the fact by saying this simulated them getting disoriented in the forest in the morning fog). Now the US won't be able to build an improvised ferry/walkway across the canal if the bridge gets blown...at least until more engineers can arrive as reinforcements later in the day.

* XXX Corps is still creeping along, just south of Eindhoven. So the decisive battle of the campaign will probably happen in the streets of that city. The outcome of the Son battle will determine whether the Allies get to close on Eindhoven from north and south, or whether the Germans will get to defend against the Allied divisions one at a time. (The overall campaign is already probably lost for the Allies, but we don't care because the battles are the primary interest here.)

I didn't summarize all of the above to bore anyone or steer the thread off topic -- just to illustrate what a rich background story an op layer can give you. The CM battles have such wider consequences, and the op layer events ripple through the CM setups to create all sorts of exciting and realistic variety.

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That might seem like a problem with operational layers, but it's really not.

You can't possibly set up and play out in CM every fight that the op layer generates. Even if you tried to do that, the campaign would take years and few of the CM battles would be any fun for the players.

Also, you have to be in a mindset to enjoy the op game every bit as much as the CM battles within it. That's why it's important to pick an op game you actually enjoy for its own sake, not just as a mechanism to rush through and get back to the CM tactical stuff. Because most of war really is maneuvering and moving to contact, etc., and intense close combat doesn't happen everywhere all the time.

What's really brilliant about an op layer, though, are the HUGE variety of unbalanced but interesting and surprising situations that it will generate from time to time. Those are the ones to watch for, and which make the best setups for CM. Battles like these can be surprisingly "balanced" in terms of either side's chances to achieve its objective. The imbalances are what really make the CM battle more dynamic and interesting, compared to canned standalone scenarios or artificially balanced QBs.

Just one current example from the Market-Garden (101st Airborne sector) campaign that I'm in right now with sburke:

The campaign started at 1500 hrs on 17 Sept 1944 with the initial US airdrops, but we haven't had a battle setup we liked for CM until 1100 hrs on 18 Sept. But it's a real doozy...

In the boardgame (Where Eagles Dare, by Multiman Publishing), a Panzer ersatz company of Mark III tanks that escaped the pre-drop airstrikes made the highway north of Son too dangerous for the 506 PIR to advance south along that road to attack its objective: Son bridge.

So the 506th and 502nd both had to take a safer, more covered and roundabout route from their DZ through the Zonsche Forest. That slowed them down tremendously. Then Sept 18 dawned with foggy weather, slowing the advance even more (and would delay the day's reinforcement and resupply drops until later in the afternoon). So it's now 1100 hrs and the GIs are finally in contact with the German defensive perimeter N of the bridge.

But during all that delay, the Germans were able to race truck-mounted KG Ewald into the area south of Son and the canal. So they've dismounted and are marching in to stiffen the defenses.

What we have now is a Gettysburg-like situation that's loaded with uncertainty and suspense: An outnumbered screening force at Son Bridge defends against lead elements of a vastly superior attacking force. But each side has reinforcements coming in, widening the battle and as they take up positions and swing the balance one way or another.

So we've cordoned off the relevant area, mapped it, and now are setting up the forces to play this out. Adding to the excitement is the possibility the bridge could blow. This isn't possible within CM, but the boardgame has a system for it. So, if US units get within 250m of the bridge (a touch objective in CM is useful for this), it becomes "contested" and we plan to pause the CM battle so the Germans can attempt to blow the wired bridge. Then we can have a new CM setup based on the blown bridge, or it's intact and the US tries to assault across it.

Some other interesting oddities that the boardgame generated for this battle:

*The initial German defenders are a mix of 88s, flak, and two companies of fairly well-equipped LW panzergrenadier troops (HG Panzer Div training and replacement companies). One of those LW companies -- the one already in contact -- was suppressed by supporting US mortars but turned "heroic" in the boardgame. So in the CM battle, we'll have this unit start with unusually high motivation and leadership settings, but a near-zero cover arc for the first few minutes. So the GIs need to assault them quickly, because when they recover, watch out!

* As the US player I pushed an engineer platoon a bit too close to German positions, and the 88s wiped them out. (I rationalize this after the fact by saying this simulated them getting disoriented in the forest in the morning fog). Now the US won't be able to build an improvised ferry/walkway across the canal if the bridge gets blown...at least until more engineers can arrive as reinforcements later in the day.

* XXX Corps is still creeping along, just south of Eindhoven. So the decisive battle of the campaign will probably happen in the streets of that city. The outcome of the Son battle will determine whether the Allies get to close on Eindhoven from north and south, or whether the Germans will get to defend against the Allied divisions one at a time. (The overall campaign is already probably lost for the Allies, but we don't care because the battles are the primary interest here.)

I didn't summarize all of the above to bore anyone or steer the thread off topic -- just to illustrate what a rich background story an op layer can give you. The CM battles have such wider consequences, and the op layer events ripple through the CM setups to create all sorts of exciting and realistic variety.

Great stuff. Love it! Btw, I emailed you, BS56.

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Thanks mjkerner -- but I don't see any e-mail from you in my gmail inbox :-(

Check the address you have for me, or PM me here on the forum.

Re: the battle described above -- I will be posting my large (1,744m x 1,536m) MG Son West map (just the map, no AI or scenario) to the Repository soon. It abuts and slightly overlaps the MG Counterattack at Son map that shipped with the MG module. So, anyone who wanted to could make a multi-map historical campaign around Son, with the initial 101st Abn attack on my map on 17 Sept, followed by the German 107th Pz Brig counterattack on the Counterattack map. I'll start a separate thread about this new map soon.

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We too are coming to grips with our coming campaign. I''m using the Upcoming GMT Operation Dauntless map as our campaign map and Broadsword's excellent Juvigny map for the battles. As a follow on to the first battles, though I had created a smaller map where I added a Tilly-sur-suelles in that unfinished area to the NW. We've got a non-CM playing Brigade commander lined up. Hopefully this will entice him to buy the game! I'm finishing up all the materials now. Hope to be ready to kick off the first moves by Monday.

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We too are coming to grips with our coming campaign. I''m using the Upcoming GMT Operation Dauntless map as our campaign map and Broadsword's excellent Juvigny map for the battles. As a follow on to the first battles, though I had created a smaller map where I added a Tilly-sur-suelles in that unfinished area to the NW. We've got a non-CM playing Brigade commander lined up. Hopefully this will entice him to buy the game! I'm finishing up all the materials now. Hope to be ready to kick off the first moves by Monday.

Excellent, Los! That's one tough map for any British player trying to make a frontal attack across the valley. Better have a LOT of artillery and smoke and TRPs, and plan some classic rolling barrages!

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That is the one I used. I was trying to be sly for security resaons, seeing as how there are so many thieves, charlatans and whores frequenting this site. :D

Actually, all I did was just "Reply" to an earlier email from you. Still didn't get it?

No, I still don't see it. Very odd. I checked my spam folder just in case but it's not in there either.

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I always liked the "operations" in Close Combat 3. They were not as big or complex as the campaigns in CC 4 or 5 so I think they would work a bit better in CM. I think a huge campaign like in the later CC series would be exhausting to play in CM. It can take me two hours just to do one turn of one of the big battles in CM. I would never finish a campaign if it was like the ones in CC 4 or 5.

The operations in CC 3 were fun though, and they were not even that different from the ones in the CMx1 series. If you win a battle, you move forward to a new map. If you lose a battle, you go back a map. If it's a stalemate, you fight a new battle on the same map but the front lines may have shifted a bit and new foxholes and trenches may have been dug. Shell holes, rubble, destroyed vehicles, foxholes and trenches would be persistent between battles.

It was always so much fun trying to hold off and delay big enemy attacks, ambushing and destroying their units and then retreating off the field until I've built up enough "requisition points" or whatever to buy new, stronger units and then counterattack. Then I would push them all the way back across those same maps, fighting amongst all the wreckage and fortifications that have built up over all the previous battles.

Campaigns like this where you purchase units and fight back and forth over the same few maps might not be as realistic as the scripted campaigns, but I don't care. I think they would still be a blast to play.

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We're going to start out with one battalion, plus much of a tank squadron moving from the Northeast corner Southwest towards St Pierre, not a long slog, but certainly the Germans will have something to say about it. No doubtt he entire bn wont attack, there will need to be some companies for the follow up assault. There's three 25lbr batteries , but only one in direct support, the other two only for the opening barrage. I'll pass along the commanders oporder when he issues it.

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That might seem like a problem with operational layers, but it's really not.

[snip]

Just one current example from the Market-Garden (101st Airborne sector) campaign that I'm in right now with sburke:

That does sound great, but it's not the sort of thing a "generic" ops layer can really do out of the box. It can't, for starters, build the fine understanding you have with sburke.

Of course, playing any ops layer HvH makes it much harder to reliably have "easy" battles than against an AI, too, which makes the feature more worthwhile. It's true that I was mostly commenting in the context of those who were hankering after a player-guided campaign mode which would be "vs machine".

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