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Closing the Pocket, help for a noob.

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Hello all. I am a newcomer to the Combat Mission series, and have been enjoying the fidelity of simulation and degree of tactical depth on offer. However, I am having quite some difficulties achieving much success and was hoping for some pointers.

Specifically, I am currently playing the "Closing the Pocket" demo mission as the attacking Germans on the easiest difficulty level. After 25+ plus attempts at this, I am getting absolutely nowhere. I am implementing variations on what I guess to be the obvious plan of attack, namely

1) Laying down a smokescreen between the starting position and the village.

2) Approaching with one or two platoons through the central orchard.

3) (sometimes) Sending some flanking forces either along the right edge of the map, or just along the left edge of the orchard through the yellow field, or both.

I am having all kinds of problems, but they mainly boil down to this:

I am able to get as far as the first hedgerow through the orchard, and to make similar progress on the two flanks, but then everything falls apart.

It seems that any amount of force (from a single squad up to two platoons) that try to approach the second hedgerow through the orchard get torn to pieces by the combination of US squads hiding in that hedge and their friends in the houses behind. Most of my attempts at this mission end with one or two platoons dead at the foot of this hedge with seemingly little damage inflicted on the enemy. Attempts to suppress the enemy with artillery fire don't seem to help much. Attempts to approach more stealthily don't seem to work since my men get shot anyway.

If, instead of approaching the second hedgerow, I try to set up a base of fire from the first hedgerow then the enemy brings in artillery and all of my men die again. If I try to skirt around the edge of the orchard in a flanking move then my men die as there is insufficient cover in the open fields.

Since I have seen in other threads that people have managed to beat this scenario on Iron difficulty with a similar strategy, I am guessing this my problem lies somewhere in the details of my execution. Does anyone have any tips on the finer details of how to push through the first line of enemy defences into the village?

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You don't make any mention of your armour. Use of combined arms is pretty vital for success in most scenarios.

You might find greater success using your preplanned bombardment to actually kill and demoralise Americans rather than sneak close enough for them to kill you... Dropping your 105s on the forward buildings would be a fair prep tactic; using your 81mms to neutralise the hedgerow guys once you've got them better localised also. If you feel that your extant knowledge of the location of the Amis is cheating, maybe wait until you've taken some fire from the buildings before levelling them. You don't have to go "all in" on the arty, but if you do the results can be dramatic. Since you've got a delay before your tanks arrive, you might find some use in putting the initial barrage on "Maximum" but "Light", with only a couple of tubes firing, so you have some control over how much HE you dump in the prep; I find a persistent bombardment that's there to be "leaned on" to be very effective against the AI.

Playing on "Basic Training" can actually put you at a disadvantage, since the reductions in mission call time for arty apply to AI as well as player, so setting up firebases can be fraught: they have to displace out from under spotting rounds before they get any suppression downrange. Most of the "difficulty" level consists of restricting the information you receive as a player: you won't get details of morale and unit name and such, but at least you'll be able to proceed in an orderly manner.

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I'm not sure if I have the same version as the demo, but her are some thoughts from me:

The orchard acts a bit like a magnet - covered approach, concealment, etc. But is this what you want? You have excellent ranged weapons, but little infantry. Getting drawn in to a close quarters firefight may not therefore be the best idea.

Do you need to use smoke at the start? How about sending out a weak scouting force first to see whether you are actually under threat.

Some panthers positioned hull down would be good overwatch for an advance (unbuttoned). Check other posts for how to get hull down. Where do you think a good hull down position might be?

Have a look where the victory location area is - that might influence your attack plan (not all the village is in the victory area...).

If you stall in a certain area, don't keep throwing troops into the grinder, think about alternatives.

Hope that helps!

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Thanks, everybody, for the tips. I am making some progress, although it is painfully slow. I will report back once I have had some success.

At least I am getting good mileage out of the demo: I must be at 50 hours (on a demo!!). Once v3.0 is out, I will pull the trigger on the full version.

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