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Targeting with tanks in an urban envionment


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I have mentioned this before but now this is even more of a problem. The fact that a workaround has been removed (to fix a bad bug - I know I get it) and now that tanks are not king of the city I am running into this much more often.

The problem is that area fire requires that the targeting unit have LOS to the centre of the action square. This of course is very often not an issue in open terrain. And even then it is usually good enough to area fire as close as you can and it has some effect. But in an urban environment this because a real problem and prevents sensible tactics from being employed.

Take this example. This is from a current game of Frosty Welcome. Don't worry no real spoilers here you can only see a handful of German units and one block of one street. Plus, my opponent is very well aware of what I am doing on that street - considering he has shredded a platoon and a Pz III already.

My infantry are clearing the street. They have a hold of the previous block and would like to start to try to clear the next block. Clearly it is a bad idea to send tanks in first and why would you when they can stay in the previous block and shoot at the buildings ahead of where my troops are doing their entry - oops I cannot.

As you can see I am currently clearing the building on the near left. my tank should be able to fire on the house fronts along the street but it cannot. This means that my men have no one covering them as they should while moving in the street. Note I can target, and have been, the second story of the building at the end of the block on the right. And before entry the tank was targeting the building my men are in now.

TankASTargeting01.jpg

My tank should be able to target any of the building fronts along the left side of the street. Clearly the tank can see those building fronts. But the game will *not* let me target them.

TankASTargeting02.jpg

Now you might say but just move forward until you can. Sure, but that equals dead tank as witnessed in the picture. That's right that other Pz III is toast because I moved it forward to engage enemy infantry in the second house down - the first one the selected tank should be able to target in the first picture. Now that tanks are vulnerable in urban settings moving them ahead of your infantry is a bad thing. Note: yes I know that against British paras this was always an unsafe thing to do, and yes I knew I was taking a risk doing that but I have to do something to deal with the game limitations :-)

Moving forward actually does not really help much any way since that location only gets me the ability to target that first house but none of the rest of the street.

TankASTargeting03.jpg

TankASTargeting04.jpg

TankASTargeting05.jpg

Steve, can you comment on what my expectations should be for seeing this resolved? Now that tanks are not the king of the street I would prefer that they not be as neutered as this.

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Thank you for putting this out there. I played the last scenario in the Nijmegan campaign this weekend and finally noticed what you just pointed out. It seemed odd to me that my Sherman could not area fire on a building that was clearly in LOS. There were no trees, no smoke, no dust, no walls. There was nothing in the way. It was the exact same picture as above (I thought it was the same scenario at first until I saw the PzIII). However when a target of opportunity made itself seen in the window my Sherman would immediately shoot at it.

Not good.

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I Absolutely agree with you. The action square thing has often ruined perfectly good area targeting opportunities not only with tanks but with leg units as well. It usually involves an extreme angle on a building when that building is partially blocked by another building or tree.

I wish they would change the "action sqare" to the "action cube" so that any area fire that draws LOS to the walls of the action cube would allow a valid target to stick.

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This problem has been known for quite a long time and if you do a search you'll find Steve has commented on it in the past.

My best recall of Steve's prior comments is that in the current state of the game engine, in order to Area Target a given floor of a building, and AFV must be able to see the center point of that floor. So if LOS to a building is partially blocked, you can get a situation where at least part of the building is clearly visible and should be targetable, but is not.

If an enemy is actually spotted inside said building, though, this restriction goes away, since the unit *can* target any enemy unit can actually see, regardless of whether it can see the center of the floor the enemy is occupying.

It is not optimal and Steve has acknowledged as much. It's an "engine limitation" rather than a bug in the sense that nothing is working incorrectly in the code, it's just that the code doesn't handle situations like this very well right now.

I don't know anything about a time frame for a fix or improvement in this area. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

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Hoping for a fix or improvement to this some day.

This issue would be my #1 wish, even before fire or other much-desired items.

It's one of the few areas of CM where the game, sadly, bears no relation to the real-world historical tactic -- which was for tanks entering towns and cities to stand off and hose down every structure that could possibly shelter enemy infantry. The hosing down might or might not have any significant effect -- but at least the player could try and the proper infantry-tank balance in urban combat might be achieved at last.

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One trick that does help a bit:

Target the furthest building in the row that the tank *can* see with a Target Light order, and have the tank advance down the street on Slow or Move. Put a waypoint at the nearest point where the tank can target the next building in the row, and at this waypoint switch the Target Light order to the next building in the line. Some "spillover" MG fire will hit the following buildings down the line, so you will achieve some suppression as the tank is moving. Further, since the tank's turret is already pointed in more or less the right direction, when it reaches the waypoint it will start firing into the next building more quickly.

I've used this technique to do "Thunder Runs" with a tank right down a line of buildings, spraying MG fire the whole way. Works even better with 2 more AFVs in a line, as then you can spray multiple buildings simultaneously.

It's not perfect, but gives the tank(s) a better chance of survival than if you simply roll up the street to a waypoint where it can target the building, and initiate area fire from there.

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Yeah, I know it is known issue - I ran into it and reported on these forums in my very first PBEM scenario.

I don't know anything about a time frame for a fix or improvement in this area. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

That is the part that I wondered if Steve could offer any insight into.

I think it is worth bringing up again because with all the other recent improvements (such as tank visibility, building protection and infantry AT weapon firing form inside) this is now actually a bigger problem than it used to be.

This issue would be my #1 wish, even before fire or other much-desired items.

Ditto - over and above the feature requests from my sig line.

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It's not perfect, but gives the tank(s) a better chance of survival than if you simply roll up the street to a waypoint where it can target the building, and initiate area fire from there.

Super thanks for the idea - that make sense and will be useful no doubt.

I look forward to the day when I can have the tank stand off and hose down the building fronts down the street to support the infantry that are ahead of it.

I personally would prefer loosing tanks to good tactics and clever maneuvers by my brilliant opponents rather than my being forced to push further ahead with tanks than I should.

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BF has mentioned that they intend giving more love to buildings in future releases. Currently a floor occupies an entire action square within a single square structure. If you blow out a floor with HE the entire wall on that level turns into a gaping hole. It wouldn't be surprising if they divided up the floor into several lateral divisions within the AS. Which alleviates the problem.

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This problem has been known for quite a long time and if you do a search you'll find Steve has commented on it in the past.

My best recall of Steve's prior comments is that in the current state of the game engine, in order to Area Target a given floor of a building, and AFV must be able to see the center point of that floor. So if LOS to a building is partially blocked, you can get a situation where at least part of the building is clearly visible and should be targetable, but is not.

If an enemy is actually spotted inside said building, though, this restriction goes away, since the unit *can* target any enemy unit can actually see, regardless of whether it can see the center of the floor the enemy is occupying.

It is not optimal and Steve has acknowledged as much. It's an "engine limitation" rather than a bug in the sense that nothing is working incorrectly in the code, it's just that the code doesn't handle situations like this very well right now.

I don't know anything about a time frame for a fix or improvement in this area. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

On the same subject, my PzIII has a blue line to a mutli-storey building directly in front with a few soldiers and fired at it. Only the top floor got hit, the bottom floor is intact. Maybe the gunner can only see the top floor and the slight rise between the ATV and the building in front blocks his LOS and/or LOF of the remaining floors.

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Area MG fire (target light), at the ground in front of a building seems to spread bullets around pretty well. I've used this in urban environments against buildings I couldn't target with shells, and it seemed to have an effect. Grazing fire at a nice low angle at an action square in front of a target you can't hit directly seems to have a good suppressive effect.

It would actually probably be unrealistic to be able to hit a building with a shell from a very oblique angle, although I'm happy to be corrected.

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Area MG fire (target light), at the ground in front of a building seems to spread bullets around pretty well. I've used this in urban environments against buildings I couldn't target with shells, and it seemed to have an effect. Grazing fire at a nice low angle at an action square in front of a target you can't hit directly seems to have a good suppressive effect.

It would actually probably be unrealistic to be able to hit a building with a shell from a very oblique angle, although I'm happy to be corrected.

Probably works also because IIRC suppression effects carry over into adjacent AS in addition to the one you're a-shootin at.

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