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Soft factors.


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Some of the recent discussions here on the forum have made me reflect on soft factors and what is the best combination for the point price. In quick battles against the AI my troop settings are at typical but in PBEM games my opponent and I tweak the soft factors of some of our troops. I thought the more highly motivated the troops the better. However in game terms it seems to be a double edge sword. Highly motivated troops are more likely to follow your orders but seem less likely to use their own initiative or common sense. I have experienced this most often with the use of covered target arcs. In a PBEM game I just completed, highly motivated / normal experienced / leadership 0 / fit troops with a covered target arc failed to return fire on enemy troops who were about 12 meters outside of said target arc. They cowered and took casualties until the end of the turn when I was able to intervene. (I did learn a covered target arc was not necessarily appropriate for that particular situation.)

This incident, along with postings on the forum, prompted me to consider what the best combination of soft factors for the point price was. Maybe in similar situations regular motivated / normal experience troops would have returned fire? (And also would cost slightly less in point price) Or possibly highly motivated / veteran experienced troops would have fired in self-defense? (But also cost more in point price) Would a +1 leadership rating make troops in a similar situation respond with the appropriate quick reaction drill?

Selecting fit troops is a straight forward choice. However the remaining three soft factors, and the generally best combination to use them in, I’m not so sure about. What is the opinion on soft factors and what is the preferred, most reliable combination for most situations?

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My feeling is that going to High motivation gives the best balance between stickability and initiative. I don't think that higher Experience levels change the "obedience" level: I regularly use Elite Fanatics as targets in tests (so they don't shoot back because of short TAs) and they very rarely shoot in their defense.

I very rarely use Crack or Elite troops, unless they're from formations that throw those types in on "Typical" (paras, Rangers and the like). Green's "good enough", and gives that quality that only quantity has. Regular and Veteran are "good value" though, too. The other place I'll use Crack or Elite troops is on small teams, like XO teams I'm planning on having acquire a 'zook, or the one Scout team bought to fill out the points. Or a Sniper team.

The effect of high Leadership is sufficiently subtle that I just use it for "roleplaying". I can't judge whether it's worth some points, so I just chuck it in where it "ought" to be.

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"...effect of high Leadership is sufficiently subtle that I just use it for "roleplaying". I can't judge whether it's worth some points..."

That's a major aspect of CM1 that I miss. The attributes of an HQ were quite obvious re their positive or negative effects on the HQ's "in-command" troops.

The other thing that has always puzzled me is why are all CM2 squads essentially identical. In CM1, when one selected a formation in the editor, the squads were quite varied in their experience levels, and even re what weapons they were carrying. It gave each squad character rather than the cookie-counter units we see in CM2. Having squads with distinctly different characteristics and weapons used to help a LOT in "roleplaying" as one invariably one had a "favorite" squad or platoon that was like one's faithful and reliable "Old Guard". In CM2, they're all the same, so bleh...

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I have experimented in few pbem games with low quality -1 or -2 leadership green t-34-85's. Should work decently if the terrain favours armoured warfare with space to spread out your horde of cheap tanks and advance them in line (or wedge) so that should any enemy attempt to kill them there is always 3-4 (or more) tanks ready to shoot back. These discount t-34's are very usefull when suporting infantry, you can use them much more daringly in close support since you have plenty to spare even if few get knocked out by some panzerfaust etc and most importantly you have a lot of 85mm HE shells to blast away enemy infantry. The individual accuracy is ofc quite bad but when you have lots of them, they tend to kill stuff well enough.

I'm also starting to lean in favour for green infantry for any side. Regular or better HQ's to increase their survivability but the rest should be green with normal leadership. All in all i'm very much in favour off numbers over quality if the QB scenario is Large or Huge. The increase of firepower from numbers is much more substantial compared to individual accuracy etc etc that are benefits from higher experience.

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The other thing that has always puzzled me is why are all CM2 squads essentially identical.

I see a fair amount of variation in squad stats in scenarios and when I choose "Typical". But then, if it's a QB, I baseline 'em all to the same and make some exceptions.

I have experimented in few pbem games with low quality -1 or -2 leadership green t-34-85's. Should work decently if the terrain favours armoured warfare with space to spread out your horde of cheap tanks and advance them in line (or wedge) so that should any enemy attempt to kill them there is always 3-4 (or more) tanks ready to shoot back. These discount t-34's are very usefull when suporting infantry, you can use them much more daringly in close support since you have plenty to spare even if few get knocked out by some panzerfaust etc and most importantly you have a lot of 85mm HE shells to blast away enemy infantry. The individual accuracy is ofc quite bad but when you have lots of them, they tend to kill stuff well enough.

Green's perfectly good enough for HE-chuckers. StuHs and other dedicated assault guns probably don't show enough benefit for the points cost of upgrading them. If you've only got one or two effective tank-killers though, and you're expecting to have them duelling, you want decent experience and leadership.

I'm also starting to lean in favour for green infantry for any side. Regular or better HQ's to increase their survivability but the rest should be green with normal leadership. All in all i'm very much in favour off numbers over quality if the QB scenario is Large or Huge. The increase of firepower from numbers is much more substantial compared to individual accuracy etc etc that are benefits from higher experience.

I've found that sometimes a pure infantry force is actually too large for the map, even if it's appropriately sized (large map with large force) and you're defending. That's when bumping the quality comes back in: no point giving the enemy one homogenous, infantry-saturated target to bombard...

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I've found that sometimes a pure infantry force is actually too large for the map, even if it's appropriately sized (large map with large force) and you're defending. That's when bumping the quality comes back in: no point giving the enemy one homogenous, infantry-saturated target to bombard...

The big question is probably what the infantry is suppose to actually do? I think the main task is to quite simply trade lives for terrain. The actual "killing the enemy" is done by tanks, HMG's and artillery. Suppression is ofc the next big thing and numbers help with that aswell.

But indeed if the map is small then there is probably no point in numbers over quality for the defender.

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The big question is probably what the infantry is suppose to actually do? I think the main task is to quite simply trade lives for terrain. The actual "killing the enemy" is done by tanks, HMG's and artillery. Suppression is ofc the next big thing and numbers help with that aswell.

Well, the last time I did the "infantry only" thing against the AI, 2/3 of the 6lbers, one of the 17lbers, the PIATs and about half the MMGs did great slaughter. As did some infantry squads. And having your troops killed by arty that would otherwise have hit empty ground isn't quite how I'd interpret "trading lives for terrain"... :)

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Well, the last time I did the "infantry only" thing against the AI, 2/3 of the 6lbers, one of the 17lbers, the PIATs and about half the MMGs did great slaughter. As did some infantry squads. And having your troops killed by arty that would otherwise have hit empty ground isn't quite how I'd interpret "trading lives for terrain"... :)

Arty hitting empty ground? I must remind you that I have talked about H2H games and unless it is a preplanned bombardment the enemy arty usually hits the dug in troops unless you manage to/opt to run away. Having troops to replace those killed in the frontline come very handy in these situations and if the enemy indeed has arty to blanket every corner of the map then all the better because he will then lack numbers in tanks and infantry.

The point is: if the human opponent will find and kill your front line units regardless of their quality is it not then better to have reserves even if mediocre quality?

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Arty hitting empty ground? I must remind you that I have talked about H2H games and unless it is a preplanned bombardment the enemy arty usually hits the dug in troops unless you manage to/opt to run away. Having troops to replace those killed in the frontline come very handy in these situations and if the enemy indeed has arty to blanket every corner of the map then all the better because he will then lack numbers in tanks and infantry.

The point is: if the human opponent will find and kill your front line units regardless of their quality is it not then better to have reserves even if mediocre quality?

Isn't this the point of the whole game? Finding the enemy first and directing effective firepower on him so that he cannot do the same to you. This includes moving your forces when they (are likely to) come under fire that they cannot sustain through. Holding fire with target arcs helps not getting detected as does hiding.

Experienced soldiers show their skills in actual firefights, however they don't die any better so when you are going to leave them to be bombed I guess it makes sense to use cannonfodder ;)

Obviously quantity is a quality of it's own, but experienced troops can certainly make all the difference when the small details count. Missing or hitting a certain shot can be very decisive for a battle.

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I see a fair amount of variation in squad stats in scenarios and when I choose "Typical". But then, if it's a QB, I baseline 'em all to the same and make some exceptions.QUOTE]

I am sure that all the squads in the scenarios I have played have exactly the same weapons and ammo load-out. In campaigns that may change as squads acquire different weapons from the WIA over missions. Re squad stats, are you saying that in a CM2 scenario a (say) "Green" squad may have different stats than another similar experience "Green" squad. ie: They are not actually identical in performance like they would be if this was CM1.

If so, I did not realize that. However, the issue is still that one cannot identify the better performing squads like one easily could in CM1. In CM1 one of the first things I would do on setup would be to check all my units and determine the best squads (both in terms of experience as well as having the best weapons/firepower) - which would be used for specialized tasks, recon etc.

As I said, I found that sort of personalization/individualization of squads helped with immersion and the "role playing" aspect.

I have assumed that when designing a scenario the designer can make the individual squads of a platoon, and the platoons of a larger formation have different experience levels. I wondered why that is so rarely done.

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I have assumed that when designing a scenario the designer can make the individual squads of a platoon, and the platoons of a larger formation have different experience levels. I wondered why that is so rarely done.

Creating a scenario is a lot of unpaid labor. And especially in a large scenario manually adjusting all the soft factors of each squad, vehicle, or team would greatly add to amount of effort required to get it out. If it adds just enough to the work load to discourage a designer from taking up the job at all, then the question you need to ask yourself is whether you prefer what may be a slightly flawed scenario or none at all.

Michael

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I completely understand and empathize with that. It was hard enuff in CM1. Am simply pointing out that in CM1 all that some randomization of units was done AUTOMATICALLY.

For example, in CM1 one could select a regular formation. However, what you got was a formation with mostly Regulars but some would be Green and/or Veterans. Occasionally, you could also get Conscript and Crack units. In addition it was rare to get all units with the exactly the same weapons. Some squads would have an extra SMG, or LMG and the amount of AT weapons squads carried was also variable. I really liked that slight randomization.

So, this is (yet another) request for an option in the CM2 Editor for formations with automatically randomized units - just so that designers don't have to do that mind-numbing work manually.

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I completely understand and empathize with that. It was hard enuff in CM1. Am simply pointing out that in CM1 all that some randomization of units was done AUTOMATICALLY.

This is true in CMx2 as well. You can verify this easily. Purchase, say, a Regular Battalion of infantry in the Scenario Editor and you will get mostly Regulars, with some Greens and Veterans thrown in. You will also get variation in morale and leadership, as well as weapons loadout, where appropriate.

Variation might be less than it was with CMx1; I've never done a side-by side comparison so I don't know.

How much weapons loadout can vary depends a lot on nationality and formation. For example, U.S. Rifle Infantry platoons in CMBN have almost no weapons variation and are almost always 10 Garands + 1 Thompson + 1 BAR. But some German formations that have a chance of carrying MP44s and/or additional MP40(s) show a lot more variation.

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This is true in CMx2 as well. You can verify this easily. Purchase, say, a Regular Battalion of infantry in the Scenario Editor and you will get mostly Regulars, with some Greens and Veterans thrown in. You will also get variation in morale and leadership, as well as weapons loadout, where appropriate.

Yeah, I was wondering as I finally read this thread. I was just going to say pretty much what @YankeeDog said. I find when I choose typical I get a nice variety of skills and morale and leader ship. I hardly ever touch it because I prefer - even in QBs - to play a force with some variety in it.

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Isn't this the point of the whole game? Finding the enemy first and directing effective firepower on him so that he cannot do the same to you. This includes moving your forces when they (are likely to) come under fire that they cannot sustain through. Holding fire with target arcs helps not getting detected as does hiding.

Experienced soldiers show their skills in actual firefights, however they don't die any better so when you are going to leave them to be bombed I guess it makes sense to use cannonfodder ;)

Obviously quantity is a quality of it's own, but experienced troops can certainly make all the difference when the small details count. Missing or hitting a certain shot can be very decisive for a battle.

Aye, ofc it is obviously a good idea to move your troops away from arty strikes (i'm not stupid) but this was about defensive actions where you can give away ground only so much... when you will have to slug it out I would prefer to have as much as guns as possible. The point being you can almost double your troops should you schoose green +0 over veteran +2. That's a lot of suppressive fire power right there. Plus that extra staying power because overally you can afford to lose more troops before your performance dip badly enough.

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That will often be true unless the scenario designer has been through and altered the equipment level of some or all of the squads individually. Not something that get done often. There are variations sometimes: I've seen german squads with variable numbers of SMGs for example. I thought we were talking about soft factors though.

Yes, one "green" squad could have a different "Leadership" or "morale" soft factor, if they're picked from the "available" list, with the soft factors set to "typical". With "Typical" set, you'll get a variety of soft factors, and I get the impression that the range of factors will be different depending on the formation you've picked: if you go for "Typical" Airborne, you'll get a higher proportion of Vets/High/+1 and better than you will if you go for a Typical line infantry Battalion (which will largely be Green or Regular, in the Amis' case, for example).

Given that the squad's rating for motivation and experience is an "average" (which of the three averages, we don't know, but Leadership is the score of the one acting as the squad or team leader), it's possible that one Green squad might have a couple of Regular individuals, but still be rated Green, while another has a Conscript-rated individual, but also still stays rated as Green because the rest are Green, and that brings the average up. So, yes, even if they have identical soft factors, one might turn out to be better, but you'll have no way of knowing that at game start.

you can if their differences are enough to change one of the soft factors: they'll have that shown in their info panel. You'd still have to examine each squad of course.

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Ah, thanks... Have been completely intimidated from looking at the Editor to see that.

However, I still wish it was easy to identify the differences between squads. One would assume that in the vast majority of scenarios when units have been in combat before, a Platoon HQ would know a bit more about his squads - which were more reliable, what are their relative capabilities etc.

To us, the players, they all appear identical. And after dozens if not hundreds of games I still have never been able to identify which may be the "superior" or "weaker" squads. And in any case, you really need to know that at set-up.

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Given that the squad's rating for motivation and experience is an "average" (which of the three averages, we don't know, but Leadership is the score of the one acting as the squad or team leader), it's possible that one Green squad might have a couple of Regular individuals, but still be rated Green, while another has a Conscript-rated individual, but also still stays rated as Green because the rest are Green, and that brings the average up. So, yes, even if they have identical soft factors, one might turn out to be better, but you'll have no way of knowing that at game start.

I'm not sure this is completely accurate. If this were true, than in some cases the experience level of a split team should be different from the experience level of the parent squad.

3-team squads in particular can split in a huge number of ways; if you do a full 3-team split, then recombine just two of the teams and then split this new "parent" squad again, you can create all sorts of team size/weapon load combinations. In all my split team experimentation, I don't think I've ever seen a split team have a different experience level from the parent squad.

So my SWAG is that the game assumes all individuals of a given squad or team have the same experience level.

Factors other than experience (e.g., Leadership and Morale) do vary with split teams. As noted, this seems to depend a lot on whether the split team has a Leader or Asst. Leader specialist -- teams without at least an Asst. Leader usually take a Leadership and often a Morale penalty as well.

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I'm not sure this is completely accurate. If this were true, than in some cases the experience level of a split team should be different from the experience level of the parent squad.

3-team squads in particular can split in a huge number of ways; if you do a full 3-team split, then recombine just two of the teams and then split this new "parent" squad again, you can create all sorts of team size/weapon load combinations. In all my split team experimentation, I don't think I've ever seen a split team have a different experience level from the parent squad.

So my SWAG is that the game assumes all individuals of a given squad or team have the same experience level.

Ah, yes. Good observation. I concur. I had been going off what (I thought) we'd been told by Steve et al. Entirely possible he was only referring to motivation and leadership.

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  • 3 weeks later...

In light of several things I've read, which most recently is John P. Irwin's eye-opening Another River, Another Town: A Teenage Tank Gunner Comes of Age in Combat - 1945, I'm wary of necessarily having high proportions of Veteran troops in even putative units. He was shipped from the States, arrived in a repple depple in Germany, having completed Basic and a whole two weeks of gunnery training, then was picked up from there and immediately taken to the #rd AD, where he unceremoniously and shockingly to him found himself a Sherman tank gunner immediately before an attack was launched! 3rd AD was arguably on of the top US units in the ETO and was, in fact, the go to spearhead (as was the unit's moniker) of many attacks--with the casualties to prove it. According to him, and he was in the lead tank unit for the entire division, there were barely enough combat vets to hold the unit together. I believe you'll find similar situations in British units and German ones. Ironically, units NOT spearheading attacks or in the thick of desperate defense may have more high quality troops overall than the high profile units did. Something to think about.

I unhesitatingly recommend his book. He was a highly effective Sherman gunner from out of the gate, but subsequently was one of a handful of Pershings, and he was one of two Super Pershings. He fought the Big Kitties, sometimes at spitting range in a town, while trying to keep the Panzerfaust armed Landser all through the built-up area from killing the tank and crew.

Regards,

John Kettler

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