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I haven't seen this question in the forums. I am playing 2 player games with my old Squad Leader buddy. We like to pick our own forces but we are having a hard time coming up with an equitable solution to tanks. Medium tanks favor the Panther heavily and Heavy tanks favor the Tiger II. Rarity doesn't seen like a good solution since rarity has no bearing how how good it is in combat. The best I could come up with so far was one JS 2 for every three T34/85s and one Tiger II for every five Panthers. I'm sure some of the grognards here have come up with something better. We like to play meeting engagements on custom made maps.

P.S. Took me over a dozen tries to the get the captcha right. Maybe the admins should try something that's not so hard on old eyes. This is a WW2 game, some of your customers are probably older than most video game customers.

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I recall back in CMBB days someone once commented that newbies play Tigers versus IS-2s, veterans play Hungarian infantry versus Italians... or some similar combination.

Heavy armor, even if equally portioned out, often has the effect of rapidly unbalancing gameplay at a stroke. Either you KO your opponent's best armor with one punch or your best armor gets killed. Then you're struggling for the rest of the game. Playing T-70s vs armored cars tends to be less abruptly catastrophic. ;)

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Medium tanks favor the Panther heavily and Heavy tanks favor the Tiger II. Rarity doesn't seen like a good solution since rarity has no bearing how how good it is in combat. The best I could come up with so far was one JS 2 for every three T34/85s and one Tiger II for every five Panthers. I'm sure some of the grognards here have come up with something better. We like to play meeting engagements on custom made maps.

Many house QB rules have a similar 3 for 1 requirement. Panthers were heavy tanks by Allied standards (they weigh as much as a JS II) and have similar armor protection, so they are typically lumped in with KT, so the rule is more like 1 Panther OR 1 KT for every 3 Pz IVs.

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Or you could go for realism option - let the game make the picks.

Will you get some strange combinations? Certainly. Will the forces always be balanced? Certainly not.

But then neither side, at the battalion level down, on the Eastern front (or any other for that matter) had the option of a shopping list nor some peculiar etiquette as to the relative composition of each others forces.

Go on, give it a try; you may be pleasantly surprised

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Off the top of my head, Germans can't buy anything better than a Pz IV; Russians than a T-34/76.

The real reason that balancing is an issue, though, is because you're playing MEs, where tanks are significantly overvalue compared to their value in the real world.

In a more historical type of battle (attack/assault/probe), the weaker (in QB terms) side already controls the VL. Tanks on the attacking side have to worry about AT guns, and have a hard time spotting concealed infantry in cover. If they don't have infantry, they can't get to the VLs with their tanks because of the danger of infantry close assaults. And of course if they unbutton too close to infantry, the TC will get shot. And of course there are downsides to buying a good AT tank in a battle where your opponent may not even buy a tank.

In ME's, by contrast, all units except for tanks are mostly neutered. Infantry have to move to get to the VL because they aren't there. If they move, they can be spotted and killed by tanks without the benefits that they usually get from being in cover. (And of course if they are in cover, they may not be in the VL, which won't help them win).

And so many ME's are determined solely by the results of the tank battle; the side that wins can move freely, screen off the VLs, and allow its infantry to leisurely (or quickly) move up and occupy the VLs. The other side is basically powerless.

So in a ME, the most important thing is to win the armor battle, and the best tanks are those which are most effective and protected against the enemy tanks.

In att/ass/probe battles, there are a lot more tradeoffs, which makes the battle more interesting. The ISU is great offensively and defensively against armor, and has a very powerful shell - but it only carries 18 HE shells and no MG. The StuG is good against some enemy armor, and better protected than the PIV - but its MG kind of sucks if there's a lot of infantry, and it doesn't carry that much HE. T-34/85 or T-34/76? 85 is a better tank generally, much better against other tanks - but the 76 carries 70 HE shells.

And the weaknesses of certain tanks doesn't show up as well in ME's - the side armor on the Panther can be a significant weakness on the attack - if a defender sets up an AT gun (even a 45mm one!) at the rear of a copse of trees that you didn't check, any Panther bypassing it is at risk of being knocked out from a side shot. In a ME, it can be a weakness, too, of course, but it is more difficult to get the flank shot.

And for the defender, there is the whole ATG/Tank tradeoff question.

Anyway, I think you can avoid a lot of the need for house rules balancing if you play different types of battles.

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Off the top of my head, Germans can't buy anything better than a Pz IV; Russians than a T-34/76.

The real reason that balancing is an issue, though, is because you're playing MEs, where tanks are significantly overvalue compared to their value in the real world.

In a more historical type of battle (attack/assault/probe), the weaker (in QB terms) side already controls the VL. Tanks on the attacking side have to worry about AT guns, and have a hard time spotting concealed infantry in cover. If they don't have infantry, they can't get to the VLs with their tanks because of the danger of infantry close assaults. And of course if they unbutton too close to infantry, the TC will get shot. And of course there are downsides to buying a good AT tank in a battle where your opponent may not even buy a tank.

In ME's, by contrast, all units except for tanks are mostly neutered. Infantry have to move to get to the VL because they aren't there. If they move, they can be spotted and killed by tanks without the benefits that they usually get from being in cover. (And of course if they are in cover, they may not be in the VL, which won't help them win).

And so many ME's are determined solely by the results of the tank battle; the side that wins can move freely, screen off the VLs, and allow its infantry to leisurely (or quickly) move up and occupy the VLs. The other side is basically powerless.

So in a ME, the most important thing is to win the armor battle, and the best tanks are those which are most effective and protected against the enemy tanks.

In att/ass/probe battles, there are a lot more tradeoffs, which makes the battle more interesting. The ISU is great offensively and defensively against armor, and has a very powerful shell - but it only carries 18 HE shells and no MG. The StuG is good against some enemy armor, and better protected than the PIV - but its MG kind of sucks if there's a lot of infantry, and it doesn't carry that much HE. T-34/85 or T-34/76? 85 is a better tank generally, much better against other tanks - but the 76 carries 70 HE shells.

And the weaknesses of certain tanks doesn't show up as well in ME's - the side armor on the Panther can be a significant weakness on the attack - if a defender sets up an AT gun (even a 45mm one!) at the rear of a copse of trees that you didn't check, any Panther bypassing it is at risk of being knocked out from a side shot. In a ME, it can be a weakness, too, of course, but it is more difficult to get the flank shot.

And for the defender, there is the whole ATG/Tank tradeoff question.

Anyway, I think you can avoid a lot of the need for house rules balancing if you play different types of battles.

Good post. I agree with your points and we don't always do ME. We both find the attacker vs defender types of battles a little slow though. However we have done some custom maps in Combat Mission 1 where the map was essentially split in half by terrain and you were on the attack on one side and on defense in the other. Not sure if that is realistic but it is definitely fun. I still remember our last CM 1 scenario where my flamethrower units had handily won one side of the map only to have 2 Panthers lay waste to all my British armor on the other half.

We tend to use heavily wooded maps for ME's so the infantry isn't at quite as much disadvantage but I agree the tank battle is crucial. We like combined arms so I like your T34/76 and Pz IV suggestion. I will suggest that and maybe we can come up with a way to unleash the big boys every once in a while.

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An 'Meeting Engagement' , given the game's parameters, is a creature as mythical as the Baba Yaga. The collision of precisely even forces never happened on an actual battlefield. On the other hand, MEs are very popular especially among ladder players. They attract some of the best and most cutthroat competitors.

My main PBEM partner in the CM1 days would play nothing but. But I drew the line at mirrored maps. ;)

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Good post. I agree with your points and we don't always do ME. We both find the attacker vs defender types of battles a little slow though.

Yeah, sometimes it's kind of tedious on defense - while the attacker slowly moves forward (presumably), you sit quietly and wait...

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In my mind ME only make sense in small scale - roving patrols stumbling upon eachother. And even then its a bit iffy. Would a patrol that found itself caught off guard really try to annihilate the opposing patrol? Or would they disengage and report back? The alternate scenario is one side advancing while the other is rushing to get into defensive positions to meet them, Sort of a pseudo-meeting engagement.

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Or you could go for realism option - let the game make the picks.

For H2H there is yet another option: a sort of custom-QB/scenario hybrid.

Basically, someone you trust is nominated as the 'game master' and sets up what is essentially a scenario, but using QB rules. So, there's no briefings, or briefing imagery. The players chose the forces they each want, within any rules they mutually agree to or the GM imposes, and send their force pick to the GM. The GM imports those force picks onto the map to be used, altering the forces in modest ways as he sees fit. The GM sets the forces out and defines the setup zone, and may also set objectives if that's desired.

The GM plays the fist 'turn' for the first side (which is just the password entry) then turns the game over to the players to continue with setm up and fighting.

The underlying idea here is to create something that has the structure of a scenario, with the force variability of a QB. The GM acts as the neutral party to get things all set up without risking blowing FOW, and ensuring that the resulting battle isn't going to be absurd.

In terms of effort for the GM, it's quite modest. Usually there's about an hour or two over the course of a week to get the details sorted, then an evening's effort actually setting up the battle. After that it's all on the players.

(addendum: this is probably a terrible approach for competitive play or competitive players)

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Recently, I contacted a guy on another forum. For my first foray into PBEM with CM2. We exchanged some friendly emails. I set up Dropbox. We finally got around to discussing preferred parameters; scenarios, QBs, no first turn bombardments etc. He proposed a Meeting Engagement. I counter-proposed 'anything else'. I never heard from him again. ;)

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We like to pick our own forces but we are having a hard time coming up with an equitable solution to tanks. Medium tanks favor the Panther heavily and Heavy tanks favor the Tiger II. Rarity doesn't seen like a good solution since rarity has no bearing how how good it is in combat. The best I could come up with so far was one JS 2 for every three T34/85s and one Tiger II for every five Panthers.

I don't understand what you're saying above--why are you trying to balance JS2s vs T34s, and Tiger IIs vs Panthers? I would think you'd be trying to balance JS2s vs Tiger IIs,s and T34s vs Panthers?

Also, I thought that the standard points, ie, without rarity, were generally intended for this purpose? For example, in quick battles, a KT is worth 413, a Panther A is worth 361, a JS2 is worth 341, and a t34/85 is worth 254.

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Also, I thought that the standard points, ie, without rarity, were generally intended for this purpose? For example, in quick battles, a KT is worth 413, a Panther A is worth 361, a JS2 is worth 341, and a t34/85 is worth 254.

The problem is that the point values take into consideration *all* benefits that a tank might have (as I understand it), and seem to be averaged out over all types of battles the tank might fight.

But in a meeting engagement, the only relevant stat is tank-vs.-tank performance. That's how the battle will be decided. And some tanks are great in some contexts (t-34/76 where there is a lot of infantry), but bad when fighting against Panthers because they can't penetrate them from the front at any reasonable range.

It works the other way too, of course - if you end up using your tanks against a pure infantry force, the bonus that the Panther gets for great anti-armor penetration is neutralized, as is its great front armor. It's not much better than a PIV, but it costs significantly more.

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The problem is that the point values take into consideration *all* benefits that a tank might have (as I understand it), and seem to be averaged out over all types of battles the tank might fight.

But in a meeting engagement, the only relevant stat is tank-vs.-tank performance. That's how the battle will be decided. And some tanks are great in some contexts (t-34/76 where there is a lot of infantry), but bad when fighting against Panthers because they can't penetrate them from the front at any reasonable range.

It works the other way too, of course - if you end up using your tanks against a pure infantry force, the bonus that the Panther gets for great anti-armor penetration is neutralized, as is its great front armor. It's not much better than a PIV, but it costs significantly more.

Good points...

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Play meeting engagements at night, with bad weather, if you feel tanks are too dominant in that gametype. Bad weather and night does more to neuter tanks than anything else you can do in game short of decisively winning the overall tank fight. Although some of the maps with marshy terrain are nearly as good in that regard.

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