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Rethinking the assault command


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The fact is Combat Mission doesn't have SOPs. This means that movement orders have to have their own built in SOPs. A movement order in CM cannot just tell the men how fast to move. It also has to tell them what to do when they see an enemy, when they are taking fire, when they are taking casualties, etc.. We currently don't have an order that says "move up, but be prepared for close combat with the enemy". We have "Run really fast and ignore everything", "Jog to the position and if you take fire run really quickly", and "Move up until you think you hear an enemy".

We have no order with a built in SOP that tells the men "when you open that door there might be German with an MP40."

I think you're asking for the player to be given control of behavior that's really the purview of the TacAI.

The intersection of morale, training, and circumstances usually results in realistic behavior. I think CM soldiers already deal with possible threats (such as MP40s behind doors) pretty much as real soldiers would. When soldiers are nervous and close to breaking, no amount of player-set SOP should be able to make them bolder than they are. They're not robots.

We could probably proliferate as many new movement orders with SOP conditions as we wanted, but we would still run into frustrations and non-intuitive results: "I wanted them to stop only if they met a SIGNIFICANT threat, but they stopped when they took fire from a single rifleman!"

I *do* think it would be better to continue improving the TacAI. But I like that the game expects the player to do the harder work of splitting squads, providing fire, and setting intelligent movement orders. And accepting realistic risks, of course.

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I ve never had problems taking eneemy positions with the current command set as well. I always use overwhelming, excessive surpressive fire, wich is the key for a good assault on an ememy position in my opinion. The assault element should really just have to walk in and kill the cowering enemys.

Interstingly i am using QUICK almost all the time, i guess at least 90% of the commands I issue are QUICK.

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Pelican ; reason to blind is because units spot ewery 7s somthing new but its not ewen tru whit quick command troops dont spot anything and ingore enemys. if troops spot enemy when they run some of them stop and shoot instantly or drow nade. sou quick command work wery well. nou any reason complaining about it

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that's a feature, not a bug.

I fail to see how this is a feature. The end result is that you have experienced soldiers from an overwatch element cowering because the maneuver element is taken under fire. Which is just absurd.

I *do* think it would be better to continue improving the TacAI. But I like that the game expects the player to do the harder work of splitting squads, providing fire, and setting intelligent movement orders. And accepting realistic risks, of course.

I totally agree with this. I've been playing since CM:SF and have a lot of experience doing those things. Its standard if you want your succeed in your goals.

When soldiers are nervous and close to breaking, no amount of player-set SOP should be able to make them bolder than they are. They're not robots.

I don't mean to make the men robots.

In CM games the player is wearing a number of hats. In a single game it is entirely possible for the player to be the Regimental Commander and then take over the role of Squad Leader of the very lead element in the attack. I would like an order that represented the SL telling his men that they are going to enter and clear a building that might contain enemy soldiers. The men are then going to act differently than if they are jogging up to the front from a secondary line.

Currently QUICK is used for both of these orders. Now through proper use of pause and supporting fire you can make the assault move pretty safe. However, the TacAI can't know the difference between a QUICK jog up the road or a QUICK jog into a house that contains pinned enemy troopers. The men would definitely act differently under both circumstances, but there exist no order and the TACAI can't understand the difference.

Edit for Augusto,

Usually QUICK works. Especially with intelligent use of suppressing fire. However, there are some weaknesses. Men don't consistently stop to engage nearby enemy troops and if the QUICK unit takes fire they switch to FAST. Of the two switching to FAST often results in tragedy as the squad barrels headlong into enemy fire.

An order that is slightly slower than quick with a higher propensity for firing and going to ground rather than FAST when taking fire would help fill a gap in squad capabilities that currently exist.

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I have to agree with Pelican Pal on this one even if I have managed to do some pretty impressive feats with infantry close assaults in CM as it is now. The close combat in CM is the point where you will have to fight the UI more than the enemy. This is never a good thing in games so some iteration might be in order. It would also be interesting to have a poll about how many of us actually use this command as it is.

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...but yeah you are right that setting more waypoints would probably work.

This is basically what I do in WEGO. The length of the movement leg is largely determined by the terrain, but likelihood and intensity of enemy fire also measures in. Usually though a Quick move of around 20 meters followed by a 10-15 second pause, then get up and do it again. This is with the squads broken down into usually three fireteams. Their movement pulses are staggered in such a way that at least one and commonly two are available to provide covering fire while the third is moving. Seems to work very well for me and I've been using that technique ever since the BN demo came out. But this is for a rural environment. I haven't played a lot in urban environments, but I anticipate that adjustments would have to be made there.

Michael

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I would definitely love to see a new order for close assaulting. Something a bit slower than quick perhaps, with a higher likelihood of engaging the enemy.

The actual assault command I never use, for wego I don't see the point. And though you can get pretty good results with very short waypoints + target briefly orders from said waypoints, you can still some slightly irksome moments as soldiers run past visible enemies in the last few yards.

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I fail to see how this is a feature. The end result is that you have experienced soldiers from an overwatch element cowering because the maneuver element is taken under fire. Which is just absurd.
I don't have the inclination to go into this with you, except to note that the only thing absurd here is your expectation of how men under fire will behave.
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So is it also a feature not a bug that split teams do not share suppression?

it's working as designed, so not a bug. think about the differences between teams pepper potting vs seperate teams with distinct designated roles. Also note what hapens when those teams recombine.

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JonS:

I don't have the inclination to go into this with you, except to note that the only thing absurd here is your expectation of how men under fire will behave.

So I should expect men who have been specifically earmarked to cover the maneuver element of their own squad to suddenly begin cowering and become completely useless when that maneuver element comes under fire? Furthermore, this reaction should only occur when the player has not specifically split the squad? What?

Lt. Belenko:

Hunt is walk slow and "be quick to engage" Seems like adding that "be quick to engage" TAC AI command on to the assault it would improve the situation.

Personally I would prefer that a separate assault command that did not come paired with bounding overwatch be created. The overwatch team is usually a waste of men and it means that a split off section can't assault.

Michael Emrys:

Seems to work very well for me and I've been using that technique ever since the BN demo came out. But this is for a rural environment. I haven't played a lot in urban environments, but I anticipate that adjustments would have to be made there.

Yea, smart use of QUICK, pauses, and supporting fires usually works pretty well. However, urban and forest combat starts to show the weakness of this system. Especially urban as it is harder to avoid accidentally finding enemy troops right on top of your men.

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So I should expect men who have been specifically earmarked to cover the maneuver element of their own squad to suddenly begin cowering and become completely useless when that maneuver element comes under fire?

In the game? obviously, yes.

In real life? Well, yes. There is a reason that suppression has been described as the critical infantry task. Guys out maneuvering in the open are going to go to ground when they get shot at. Deal with it.

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In the game? obviously, yes.

In real life? Well, yes. There is a reason that suppression has been described as the critical infantry task. Guys out maneuvering in the open are going to go to ground when they get shot at. Deal with it.

eh? He is not talking about the "guys out maneuvering in the open", but the overwatch element. It is not immediately obvious why the overwatch element should be considered suppressed when the maneuver element has gone to ground, especially when this is not the case if you split the squad into separate teams.

This sure seems to be a programming issue, since generally all members of a squad should share the same suppression state, and it is probably not worth "fixing" for this one instance when a player can simply split teams to avoid it.

But that doesn't mean that patronizing language ("deal with it") is called for...

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eh? He is not talking about the "guys out maneuvering in the open", but the overwatch element.

No, both elements are maneuvering in a coordinated fashion - one foot one the ground, one team up and moving. Then they swap roles. When one element comes under fire the other is going to notice and take the appropriate action.

When you don't understand what's going on, your best bet isn't to assume it's a bug.

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No, both elements are maneuvering in a coordinated fashion - one foot one the ground, one team up and moving. Then they swap roles. When one element comes under fire the other is going to notice and take the appropriate action.

When you don't understand what's going on, your best bet isn't to assume it's a bug.

I'm not sure why you've assumed I (or someone else?) don't understand what's going on?

The point is that the elements are maneuvering in a "coordinated fashion", not simultaneously. If the maneuver element is fired upon and suppressed, the "appropriate action" for the overwatch element would be to fire on the defender, and not to assume the same suppressed state as the manuever element. Is that really controversial?

And I've never said it was a bug, indeed, I don't think that it is.

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it's working as designed, so not a bug. think about the differences between teams pepper potting vs seperate teams with distinct designated roles.

How does that make sense at all? If I split teams manually and micro them to do fire-and-movement, they do not share suppression. If I use the assault command to automate the exact same task, then they do share suppression.

Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks that is oddly inconsistent.

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Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks that is oddly inconsistent.

Agreed, although no big deal--I would guess it might require more programming time than it is worth to resolve.

But we'd better not prattle on like this or someone will accuse us of not understanding what is going on...

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I think you need to look closely at what is happening if you think one element is being unfairly suppressed while assaulting.

If you are assaulting directly at a target and that target shoots at you it is likely BOTH elements will be suppressed. Bullets travel a long way and anything shot at the first element will likely have a very similar effect on the second. I use assault a lot (mainly to avoid micromanagement, partially to avoid morale hits) and since the increased suppression of the 2.12 patch rarely are the two elements far enough apart for fire to cause only the advanced element of the squad to "cower". Even though they are one squad if an element isn't taking fire then the guys not getting shot at shouldn't be cowering and therefore in a position to shoot back, and then probably run to where they ARE taking fire and end up cowering too.

If this is happening it is more likely your aren't suppressing whatever is doing the shooting well enough before going.

Also a big part of target selection is totally up to the TAC AI. The TAC AI is pretty fair for the most part but it does tend to look worse as opposing units get closer together. Particularly when units are very close and under fire moving another square can make a massive difference between easy survival or total annihilation. Conversely sometimes stopping immediately and shooting is clearly the better result. Target priority can also be iffy. These are TAC AI short comings pretty much unrelated to the commands issued.

Not quite the same thing but these are some observations from a quick sandbox of two squads assaulting one enemy squad in a forest.

1) Area firing at a hex 40m away will impact units 80m away in that direction. I tend not to do long bounds. I am guessing it is unusual for assault elements to be more than 40m apart.

2) Running (fast, quick, assault) a squad to within 30m of an enemy that is not heavily suppressed will result in multiple casualties. If the enemy has nades and multiple automatic weapons it is likely everyone will die.

3) Once the enemy is suppressed no command out of fast, quick or assault seemed significantly better but assaulting squads tended to look a bit more sensible when they moved and when they stopped. This was totally dependent on the enemy being suppressed first.

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I think you need to look closely at what is happening if you think one element is being unfairly suppressed while assaulting.

If you are assaulting directly at a target and that target shoots at you it is likely BOTH elements will be suppressed. Bullets travel a long way and anything shot at the first element will likely have a very similar effect on the second.

I don't think it really matters that bullets "travel a long way" unless the maneuver element is bounding right in front of the overwatch element, which wouldn't make much sense, since then the overwatch element couldn't fire on the enemy without firing through the maneuver element.

Of course I can see what you're saying if the "maneuver" element is suppressed before it has really even started to move, and so there is really no separation between the two elements. However, even in that event the overwatch element is not suppressed just because the maneuver element is suppressed, but because the overwatch element itself is being suppressed by the same fire.

Even though they are one squad if an element isn't taking fire then the guys not getting shot at shouldn't be cowering and therefore in a position to shoot back, and then probably run to where they ARE taking fire and end up cowering too.

Sorry, I don't understand what you're saying here...

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I've certainly had cases where (before I realised the futility of the assault command in wego) I used assault around a corner. The 'overwatch' team were in a small courtyard. The 'bounding' team were around the corner in side a house, when they got ambushed by automatic weapons from infantry behind the house. There was a whole house and a high stone wall between the overwatch and the firing enemy units. The advancing team for slaughtered and the overwatch team immediately started panicking and crawling for cover. There is absolutely no way that the overwatch element were subject to any incoming fire at all, it was purely the effect of shared suppression with the advance team.

That was when I realised that the assault command was fundamentally flawed as far as I was concerned (even if 'working as intended'). (And even though my use of it in that particular situation was notably pointless; this was back in CMSF days and I was still thinking of assault as the default 'advance under potential fire' command).

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I don't think it really matters that bullets "travel a long way" unless the maneuver element is bounding right in front of the overwatch element, which wouldn't make much sense, since then the overwatch element couldn't fire on the enemy without firing through the maneuver element.

I did say directly which is exactly what I meant. You can shoot directly over you own troops with no real impact to their suppression. Your own bullets from your own squad only become a problem when bullets are actually impacting near your own troops such as hitting bocage, walls, buildings. Flying over their heads is fine.

I don't think my previous post was worded well so I will try again. This is mainly based on testing forest combat. Sort of the same in that it is close combat but not identical.

1) Assault isn't close assault. Assault is move in bounds. At one point as someone said above it may have given a slight morale boost. I am not sure if this is still applicable but I feel like this occurs. This command isn't for close combat anymore than any other command. Fast, quick and assault when charging an enemy position often yield similar results although they tend to play out different how they get there. The definitive factor in charging close and surviving was how suppressed the enemy was first, not the command that actually brought you close.

2) In general when units get close to each other the TAC doesn't look as good as it normally does. Also the TAC AI will NEVER area fire. This can hurt attacking formations when new enemies appear but aren't spotted by everyone.

3) Getting close to a enemy that isn't really suppressed is a bad idea. Grenades start flying and that never ends well. Ideally lots of fire should break the unit before you get anywhere close. If this doesn't happen and you charge someone you are rolling the dice big time.

3) Suppression has a big impact to units not necessarily the direct target of incoming fire. This makes assault a BAD command if you are relying on the overwatch unit helping out the lead unit if the threat is close and directly ahead or just to the side of where you are moving to. Both the lead element and trailing element will likely be subject to the same fire and all end up cowering. If the lead element takes significant casualties the unit will probably break. If it doesn't and the trailing element is somehow OK, all it will do is run into trouble and suffer the same fate.

4) A unit in trouble in close combat rarely shoots itself out of trouble. This makes assault a bad decision if you are attacking with ONE unit. When attacking with one unit split the squad and the movement element runs and the other area fires at the greatest threat region continually. If you have multiple units then assault works better. With two units versus one spread them out, have them both area firing and moving at the same time. If you don't have a 2 v 1 advantage then getting close won't and probably shouldn't work.

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