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Putting in the first few rungs of the CM2 learning ladder


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Firstly, how can one mention banning JasonC, as one thread mentions? Can one ban a deity, or do you consider him just a Titan.

Secondly, I will likely buy any CM2 module/base game that BFC put out.

Thirdly, I hope to make this post more useful than my CMBN forum meltdown of a month or so ago.

And nothing I write is to counter anyone wanting battalion/regiment size scenarios or campaigns, and 3 hour time limits. I am just advocating something be added to CM2 to make it more newcomer friendly. With the version 3 engine looking so good, and a significant number of very complex scenarios and campaigns available, the hard stuff has been done. I am just a little puzzled that the easy stuff is not in CM2.

My guess is that BFC would like to minimize the progression of posts in the forum that went like this:

Post one: "Used to play ASL [or, my father did], looks great.

Post two: "Gee, the learning curve seems steep"

No post three.

My suggestions:

1. Add 10 minute scenarios as an option.

2. Make maps which are about 1/2 to 1/4 the size of the smallest maps we have now. (not vital, but aesthetically useful).

3. Allow easy QB selection of squad, sub-squad, and individual vehicle choices, and allow those choices to be non-point driven (I realize this is more complicated than 1. and 2.)

4. Add scenarios like these:

A. Sniper!

Briefing: your platoon in being held in place by a sniper. The leader asks you to find and eliminate that threat.

Forces: you have 1/2 squad, and the enemy has one sniper team.

Duration: 10 minutes.

[Note what can "play " with here, with such a scenario. You could get a "feel" for cover and concealment in different terrain--as the different AI plans could put the sniper in different places, like a building, or the woods, or behind a stone wall, etc.--even better if a "trigger" could move the sniper to another location. By moving the 1/2 squad, one could try different ways of moving--Quick dashes, or Hunt, and see what works well. Or try different amounts of time sitting in one place and spotting, versus moving. If one put a similar scenario in each CM2 module, or even better, a similar scenario for each nationality, you could notice the difference in the different nationalities with regard to sniper teams and infantry squad/sub-squad weapons. I could see playing around with a scenario like this for hours)

B. MG!

Briefing: your platoon in being held in place by an enemy MG. The platoon leader orders your squad to find the MG and eliminate the threat.

Forces: you have 1 squad [+/- an HQ]

Duration: 10 minutes.

[Now, for those who must have it, you have a fire and maneuver element, by splitting the squad--which, unlike CM1, seems necessary and not optional. Think of all the variations one could introduce! The MG could be an LMG or an HMG. The AI plans could put it in different locations. You could design this for a city map, or a rural map. You grogs could easily put a back story on this. Don't call it a "training mission"--all scenarios are essentially training us to improve. And again, think about how this scenario would "feel" if designed for each nationality, or even change with the same nationality at different time of the war.]

--To be continued

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C. " I don't like the looks of this."

Briefing: Because of some mechanical issues, your AFV fell behind the rest of the force. Now repaired, it is catching up to its unit. But is the town ahead, cleared by your forces hours ago, still empty of the enemy? Your objective is to get to the exit zone in the middle of the town. (Ideally, one would have a map whose edge went through the center of a small town, with an exit zone in the center of the town)

Forces: you have a tank [or, imagine going through the list, any AFV]. The enemy has two tank hunter teams.

Duration: 10 minutes.

[Again, think of the different issues which can be involved. Sit with your AFV and spot for a few turns? Blast likely enemy positions? Unbuttoned, or not? Or, just dash for the exit zone. I have described each of the above scenarios as the human being the attacker, but one could also envision playing the AI n the defense, or H2H. Different nationalities, with their different infantry AT are going to feel different--and the differences would be interesting and instructive. You could also get the "feel" for the different spotting abilities of different AFVS, buttoned and unbuttoned, and even their different off-road abilities, if you put the attacker somewhere where there was no road]

After playing the above scenarios for hours.....and one could have almost endless versions of them, particularly if all the modules had a variation of them, and some people might never want to play anything else......then.....then...the player might want to move to something like a platoon. With attachments and broken into sub-squad components, about 12-14 pieces, and with scenarios stretched to 30 minutes, that is, in cold reality, 30+ times more complex.

The scenarios I outlined would show off the terrain, 1:1 representation, flavor objects, things like posters on the side of buildings, etc., so loving placed into CM2 but hard to fully appreciate with the size of the current scenarios.

BFC has smart people, and they have likely considered and rejected moving in this direction. I could imagine some rationale like this: I am describing "Squad Mission" rather than Combat Mission. That the "C" in CM is essentially "company", scaled up or down, and that is what they want to stick with.

But my response would be that if you want a new, younger, generation to start in the genre, and you want us in the older generation to do more than admire your digital Tiger tanks, and actually play the simulations, it would be helpful to give a more helping hand to get people engaged in CM2 than the current shipped edition does. I don't see how what I am proposing diluted the experience for those already enjoying your creation.

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I'm sorry, that is simply not abrasive enough. Go back and rewrite it using lots more bolded words, vast numbers of exclamations points and repeat over and over "are you f'kin kidding me?!!!". Maybe then we will deign to recognize it as inflammatory enough.

You obviously didn't make an impression last time as I don't recall your "meltdown".

:D

Actually I think you will start seeing more of these as triggers open up a lot more options of getting the AI to respond to your movements. "Patrol" type scenarios are likely to become more popular and interactive.

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I have to say I tend to agree with the OP in theory, although it would not be necessary for Battlefront to devote it's scarce time to such ABC scenarios. Look at what Bill Hardenberger has done with his training site, which has small scenarios in progressive sequence with simple, basic lessons to be learned from each. So what you suggest in a sense IS being done by the community. One the other hand, anything Battlefront can do to help the new user during the intial stages of use ought to be high profile. It ought to be put on a very low shelf, easily accessible, as close to can't miss as possible.

For me the best teacher has been YouTube videos. Anything Battlefront can do to continue and encourage the proliferation of video training will be immensely more helpful than the training campaigns and the manual. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is worth 10,000 or 100,000.

Thanks so much for Armchair General, Ithikial, Chris, JonZ, and others. Their generosity with tutorials and AAR's got me over the hump.

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Rankorian, I think you are on the right track, but I also think where you would put your limits is not a good idea. A ten minute game would put a newcomer under too much pressure IMO, even with a simple scenario such as the ones you describe. Double that time and he has a little more leisure to play with it and learn what things do and what things work, which is the whole idea, right?

Michael

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Well, I am glad the flamethrowers were not immediately launched at me--good sign.

I have met Bill Hardenberger, nice guty, saw his site, and think that the base game would benefit from what he has designed.

ME: I am not going to argue with you. I am only going to suggest that playing a scenario multiple time, for fun, would be preferable for some people than getting an hour or two into something and realizing that they should have done something different at turn 1.

Well, ME, maybe I will disagree with you. I am talking about very simple situations, that in the current scenarios would be a less than 10 minute diversion, which would be the building blocks for larger scenarios.

And, BTW, what is the big loss of time doing a 10 minute scenario? Might take me 1 1/2 hours--what does that say about scenarios 30+ times as complicated?

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I think you will find there are actually quite a few people who would agree with you and I can't say there is really any reason to disagree. The more types of scenarios, the better. Unfortunate as that means this probably won't be one of the more explosive threads. :P

JonS is one who has pushed regularly for smaller scenarios meant to provide a challenge while not making you feel overwhelmed. Kiwi soldiers was a classic though only one of a few he has done. His suggestions are what made me do my first scenario as a platoon size engagement. Would be nice if more people would try their hand at a small scenario and throw them up on the repository. It is a great way to learn the editor and AI without feeling overwhelmed. And you are right, you can have a lot of fun adding a ton of detail to the map.

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If I'm understanding correctly, this is simply a suggestion for some new small scenarios?

The time limit is pretty arbitrary: simply write in your scenario that you are expected to complete it in 10 minutes, if that's the deal.

Why not make these scenarios, put them out there, and have everyone holler for shorter time limits if it really seems needed after playing these scenarios?

GaJ

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These "scenarios" are way too small. It's OK for a tutorial experience, no more.

I personally have liked the "night assault" scenario on a ganger whe have in the core game: small, but funny, and tense: The first time you try it, you have a real feeling of an unknow ennemy, your casualties to manage, and an objective to accomplish. And a small team easy to manage (4-5 squad if I remember correctly)

More like these, with progessive addition of some "buff", armors, ect will be good.

Having only a tank or only an half squad is too boring.

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Another issue with small scenarios is that they focus people's attention right where the engine is going to have the most difficulty: representation of individual details.

"Hey, why did my unbuttoned tank not see that guy as it went through town?".

These become much more significant as you have less and less units in play.

GaJ

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But I agree that the campaing is too big for me at this stage. And I was a CMBB player.

I first play the small and one medium scenarios, and now play kick battles small and try medium.

Another possibility is a "small" campaing, not in terms of number of scenarios or scenarios length, by in terms of map size (only small-medium allowed) and team size (idem).

I would like having some "progressive" altough non-historics things, like a story from a soviet partizan leader that start whit 4-5 teams (mostly armed civilians, but some soldiers too) for night assaults on germans, retreive some rifles and ppsh from soviet army air landing (can equip some more mens), take a mortar or 2 (hidden by civilians partsans at the germany advance), ect, ect

And finally, go in some medium battles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_partisans

Operation Bagration, June 22-August 19, 1944. Belarusian partisans took major part in the Operation Bagration. They were often considered the fifth front (along with the 1st Baltic Front, 1st Belorussian Front, 2nd Belorussian Front and 3rd Belorussian Front). Upwards of 300,000 partisans took part in the operation.
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Rankorian,

One thing I found useful as a growing tool was the concept of a mulligan in golf applied to Combat Mission. My early attempts at the game proved thoroughly frustrating, but watching videos helped. Still, I found it impossible to develop instincts without battle experience. However, when I tried to gain experience, I would often get pummelled right out of the chute.

So I decided until I learned better, I would allow myself mulligans when turns went disastrously. The idea was not really to cheat, although it could be called cheating. It was to be forced to grow by negative reinforcement. At first mulligans were frequent. I'd save the game every turn after I'd given orders but before hitting the Big Red Button. If things went badly, I'd simply quit the game and restart it from the save, then modify my orders as needed.

This allowed me to learn from my mistakes instead of just quitting. It allowed me to learn what worked and what didn't by experience. But I determined that as my skill improved my mulligans would become more rare. Pretty soon I was down to one a game. I've learned that most of the time I can handle it now, but I won't let one turn ruin hours of work. I've pretty much reached the point where I'm ready to eliminate mulligans altogether.

This is not to disagree with the concept of the 10 minute scenario, just to suggest that there are ways to overcome the frustration you describe of wasting hours of in-game work because of rookie mistakes. What a rookie like me needs most is game play experience.

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Firstly, how can one mention banning JasonC, as one thread mentions? Can one ban a deity, or do you consider him just a Titan.

No, I consider him to be a registered member here like anyone else, subject to the same rules as everyone else. Being a so-called expert on military history doesn't give one carte blanche to engage in personal attacks.

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9 soldiers versus 7 soldiers:

I just tried to do the A. scenario I outlined above. QB, I took a Germany infantry unit, stripped out everything but a infantry squad and HQ. Took an infantry Soviet unit, stripped out everything but a sniper--but had to have an HQ.

So, I picked a map with a small village. Split the German squad. But since the Soviets were going to have an HQ, I kept the German one.

Even better back story: German platoon officer takes a few men and go after a sniper. (I split the platoon in half, and took the part that did not have heavy weapons)

Interesting stuff:

The platoon leader was Oberleutnant Berger. the half squad was Leutnant Krewel.(I thought that was fairly high up the chain of command, but I had never really looked at the rank of the leaders before).

In short, I notices the terrain and the uniforms more. There was less need to keep saving--usually I need to save each turn, because re-doing it because of some trivial issue would be so painful. I better understood toe visual/voice range issues (the change in color of the red command line is brilliant) And I had a blast. Over in about an hour and half (the map was so large that 10 minutes was not viable, but I happen to make contact with the enemy units at minute 20 of the 30 minutes.)

Fun. It was just darn fun. This is nothing about learning tactics, which I have some knowledge of. (having two "teams", I was able to use fire and maneuver elements--5 KIA and 2 wounded to no injuries on my side, but I was incredibly fortunate, and am interested in trying this again.)

Still had to tell my wife "wait a minute", when family events intervened.

I am going to change my tone a little. My concern is not just about the steep learning curve--though that is there. It is about serving a bite size portion of war so that the tedium is minimized.

Yes, there are videos as to how to play better.

But playing a scenario, and getting 10s of hours into it, and then finding that your did something basic incorrectly....that is not just an issue of a mulligan (just taking up golf, so the metaphor used in the forum already is very apt), it is about enjoyability.

I "rolled" a QB recently, allied attack, tiny. Got a Soviet battalion, with AFV attachments.

Granted, Probe is probably a better choice.

Granted, that Soviet force is like a German Company.

But.... "tiny"?

I have looked at the first scenario of the Soviets. Yes, given this is Bagration, doubling the Soviets might be reasonable, and exciting to think about. But even in its smaller size, will I ever play it? (I loaded the tractor factory scenario in CMBB for similar reasons--just to see it, and to enjoy the forum discussion)

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No, I consider him to be a registered member here like anyone else, subject to the same rules as everyone else. Being a so-called expert on military history doesn't give one carte blanche to engage in personal attacks.

LukeFF: despite my comments, I don't entirely disagree with you. Like the Peng forum, though, he just seems to be a quirk of the forum. I was incredibly upset when, years ago, he weirdly eviscerated some new forum member for some...reason. He is just so odd, which he might even admit, and he could tell you, I think, the military forces in Albania for any given month of the war, that I consider him interesting.

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Second the OP. Really simple scenarios would be great. And still simple ones with one platoon. And ones with one platoon and one tank. And ones with one platoon and two different support weapons. And ones with two platoons, two support weapons, and optionally a mortar FO. And ones with... You get the idea. Full scale, small to company with extras, lots of them. No focus on how hard the tactical situation is, or how awesome each weapon, or the unbelievable map, or the massive scale. Put giantism off in a far corner in a pointed hat, and dead simple front and center.

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I don't care if these are designed as tutorials or QBs, I just like small battles. This a personal preference, just as others like huge engagements. My reasons for preferring small are that I usually have limited time to play and I like to micromanage each unit.

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I'm currently working on a series of small engagements reminiscent of the "byte battles" in CMBO. Anyone remember them?

Size is usually about platoon size plus some gadgets.

Great! There are about 5 byte battles for CMbN available somewhere. Byte_bocage gives me fits.

As I play more and more PBEM I like smaller battles less and less. Having more forces allows for mistakes and recovery from said mistakes. Smaller battles do not.

Bobo

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Rankorian,

If you really want to go micro, you could choose an infantry formation like a battalion and then strip it down to one platoon. Then, strip that down to just the Plt. HQ. Then, choose specialist teams and single-man-driver soft vehicles for their rifleman drivers to get a "full" squad of one and two-man teams.

For example, with a German Panzergrenadier squad, that would be like:

2 LMG teams

1 Sniper team (MP40 plus scoped rifle)

1 Panzerschreck team

1 dismounted Kubelwagen driver with a rifle

Or, for a Grenadier squad, cut one LMG team, the P-Schreck team, and the sniper team and add more rifleman drivers, along with a Tank Hunter team. If ammo is lower than a squad should have, extra ammo can be taken from the kubelwagens to reach squad level.

Then, you could leave the vehicles and even HQ off at the map edge and go forward with your "squad."

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It is one of the sad things about the game, as it progresses. In general it becomes more and more challenging for new people playing it to overcome the learning curve.

And you comments are appropriate.

The interesting thing is, anyone can make this game into almost anything they want if they understand it enough to work with the tools given.

But I see how that task has become much more challenging also and how it would be a very hard learning curve for a new person to make their own scenarios.

And the focus of players who have been with it for many years and are skilled, they want to create and play scenarios which are challenging and interesting to them. So the two camps do not help each other well in their focus.

In general, for some reason small battles have been lost in the scenario design of many good designers.

But for those with less skill, creating small scenarios is where all newer designers should start. Learning to design good small battles teach skills that are needed. designing big battles can hide many flaws, and to tell you the truth, many of the large scenarios are not that well designed anymore.

Scoring for many battles are not well thought out anymore and really many lack balence compared to what we were seeing many years ago.

I am glad to hear someone is putting out byte battles, at least that is something for you to look forward to.

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So I decided until I learned better, I would allow myself mulligans when turns went disastrously. The idea was not really to cheat, although it could be called cheating. It was to be forced to grow by negative reinforcement. At first mulligans were frequent. I'd save the game every turn after I'd given orders but before hitting the Big Red Button. If things went badly, I'd simply quit the game and restart it from the save, then modify my orders as needed.

That is an excellent idea. I never really did that when I was first learning I just drove to the disasters end and tried again. Wish I had read your post years ago. :D

I have to say that once you get some experience it is one of the joys of this game to suffer a disaster and find a way to regroup and succeed in the end. So glad to hear you are heading towards that. Next time you feel the urge to mulligan instead thing "now that things are messed up is there anything I can do to salvage this situation". I sounds like you are already heading that way so koodos to you.

Sometimes that salvaging the situation means really changing your objectives. For example sometimes the defense is just lost and there really isn't anything you can do to win. When that happens I usually switch to "I'll take out one more of his tanks before I go down". As an example.

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I am just advocating something be added to CM2 to make it more newcomer friendly.

Humm interesting ideas. When I think of small scenarios I usually don't think that small. But I see your point. Considering the sniper idea, with five AI plans available and triggers now present it could be possible to make the short scenario very re-playable. After my first platoon sized scenario I am working on a bigger one. Frankly I would rather play than design but spending some time designing is fun. I will keep this thread in mind...

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That is an excellent idea. I never really did that when I was first learning I just drove to the disasters end and tried again. Wish I had read your post years ago. :D

I have to say that once you get some experience it is one of the joys of this game to suffer a disaster and find a way to regroup and succeed in the end. So glad to hear you are heading towards that. Next time you feel the urge to mulligan instead thing "now that things are messed up is there anything I can do to salvage this situation". I sounds like you are already heading that way so koodos to you.

Sometimes that salvaging the situation means really changing your objectives. For example sometimes the defense is just lost and there really isn't anything you can do to win. When that happens I usually switch to "I'll take out one more of his tanks before I go down". As an example.

Thanks. Yes, as you suggest, I am very nearly to the point where I can discontinue this practice entirely. At some point it is counterproductive to learning if you can just erase your mistakes and never lose. It sounds like you get the point of my doing things this way at the outset. I have found that the experience of getting into the middle and late stages of battle has helped me gain some sense of instinct as to how approach and begin battle.

When I first picked up Combat Mission 1x I was an avid reader about World War II, but I had never been able to get anywhere with more detailed war games. In Combat Mission I quickly ran into trouble and was summarily dispatched. Do that enough times and you end up just setting the game aside as beyond your competence.

But the last few years with more YouTube AAR's and tutorials available I began to get a sense of how to get along in the game, from game mechanics to tactics. The forum, of course, is very helpful. But at least for me this employment of mulligans early in the process has proved helpful, not so much because it helps me win, but like a toddlers walker it helps me develop enough "leg strength and balance" to eventually walk on my own. Or to use another analogy, it's like a kid learning to ride a bike with training wheels. His goal is not to cheat at bike riding; it is to get to the point where he can do it without training wheels.

My Dad was from Louisiana. He learned to swim when his Dad threw him in the river and said, "Swim boy!" My Dad, on the other hand, paid for rudimentary swimming lessons. We started with floats to assist us. You can learn to swim either way.

A couple of things I've learned by this experience: (1) Try to create situations where you can apply preponderance of force, (2) Try to create situations where you are attacking locally from multiple directions-- usually local defenders simply cannot handle this, and (3) suppress, suppress, suppress. I knew these from reading over the years, but it's different when you're trying to learn to apply it in a game environment. Experience is everything. Well, experience COMBINED WITH learning from it.

I still have a TON to learn.

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