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2 hours ago, Childress said:

I always imagined Meeting Engagements, CM-style, as unicorns. I.E., something that doesn't exist in real life.

Think about it.

1- Did roughly forces equal collide during WW2 in a free for all? Sure. Particularly in the Desert, as Emrys pointed out.

2- Did these forces share exactly the same combat values? Unlikely.

3- Did the two sides KNOW, going in, that their force values were precisely identical? Never happened.

Thus, armed with pre-knowledge, these hybrid matches play out in a curiously tentative manner. However, having participated in many dozens of PBEM MEs in CM1 against various members (who would accept nothing else) I can attest these are the best and most competitive players in the game. One assumes this hasn't changed in CM2.

There is a fundamental difference between a scenario and a QB.  A QB player selects his own force and that force is tailor made to suit that player's preferred method of play.  A map for a QB is also agreed upon in advance by both players.  In a scenario neither of those conditions exist.  A scenario player must succeed with the forces provided upon the terrain that the battle was fought upon.  A QB legend may or may not be good when fighting in a scenario depending upon whether that player can adapt to a force or terrain that isn't of their choosing.  The skill set doesn't necessarily translate.  Take your equivalent of QB players in Total War.  The top players will typically have a 'formula' or a 'system' that they employ that gives them the best chance for victory.  If you take them out of their comfort zone they may not know how to win with a force that they haven't hand picked in a situation that they don't have full knowledge of.  Why is the pregame so important when fighting QBs?  Because it is all important that the situation be controlled to enough of a degree that the players can fight their fight within their comfort zone and if the parameters or agreements are too far out of line then a player isn't certain of their chances of victory.  Conversely a scenario player will probably struggle when placed in a QB environment since that player hasn't spent hours cooking points and formulating an OB that maximizes their chance of winning within the context of a set of parameters that have been agreed to in advance.  Players who are comfortable with both play methods are probably the most rounded players and perhaps better on average, but I wouldn't assign any one method as obviously generating more superior players than another.  The requirements for success in each arena is different. 

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IMHO there really isn't a discussion of realism to be had here. 

If correctly done, a scenario is a set piece of a actual engagement that took place historically. Or it is a set piece of some fantasy battle the author thought would be fun. 

A QB meeting engagement isn't any more unrealistic than any other battle we fight  in this game. There is no law of physics that says two equivalent forces could not meet in battle. As has already been mentioned, this happened IRL. Whether or not these forces statistically shared the same combat values on average doesn't really matter. It could happen, and it isnt somehow less tactically important just because the majority of engagements would not be like that. Nor imo does it matter if  both forces know the attack values are precisely identical. If you want to start nitpicking down that route, we are in for a real rabbit hole. 

@Childress  I think that you mentioned these are the most competitive players is important. Players who have a good grasp of what works and what doesn't will not accept matches (when for competition)  if the scales are unbalanced. Therefore, it makes sense to insist on a meeting engagement because in actual war (and cm) anything else is far too evidently zero-sum. This is one of the biggest differences between real life in games. In games, players can afford to fight so many battles that they know to a extreme degree what does and does not work. Real battles are a giant mess of humans making stupid tactical decisions with macro-factors generally deciding the outcome. So in other words, CM battles are not less realistic, they are just the product of closer analysis or real concepts and tactics. 

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12 hours ago, ASL Veteran said:

The problem is that you can explicitly state in the briefing that 'you will likely be forced to retreat' which sort of ruins the scenario in my opinion since you are stating what the player needs to do so the scenario plays out less 'organically' if that makes any sense.  However, even when you do that there are a large number of players who either don't bother reading the briefing or if they do they ignore your advice and fight in place to the death anyway.  In one scenario the briefing does explicitly state that the player will probably need to retreat and it also hints that the sounds of heavy armor can be heard, but even with all that the player complained on the forum that the scenario was unfair.  When I pointed out that the forces were asymmetric he simply said 'well I didn't know it was an asymmetric scenario' so I guess he wanted me to put all in bold caps across the top 'the scenario has asymmetric forces and you will need to trade space for time in order to win'.

 

I might ruffle some feathers with this statement but in my humble opinion I think players that DON'T take the time to read the briefing don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about a scenario. The briefing is there for a reason. I can't imagine playing a campaign/scenario without reading the briefing. I played Turnbull's Stand (Road to Montebourg campaign) about 2 weeks ago and the briefing explicitly said that the mission was to inflict as many casualties as possible and then withdraw. I was supposed to retreat my forces before the mission time was over but knowing that if the enemy forces reached the touch objectives it wouldn't matter what damage I had inflicted or if I withdrew my forces...the Germans would win that battle. So I ignored the plan of retreating. I killed the 2 German tanks with my AT guns but the sheer number of German infantry forces I knew I would not be able to withstand. So I played the odds and made several keyhole choke points for my focus of firepower. It was very effective since it denied the German forces the ability to engage my troops with heavy support and ranged fire. I piled the bodies literally on the border of one of the touch objectives. I managed a tactical victory with only exiting my AT gun forces (they didn't need to hang around after taking out the tanks anyway).

 

The only scenarios that really bother me are the ones that I deem to be "impossible" to achieve the objectives. Hell in the Hedgerows comes to mind (because I just played it a few days ago...and the bitterness hasn't left my taste buds yet). The friendly casualty allowance was upped in that scenario but the mission to reach the German defensive line was just out of reach in my opinion. Open ground covered by wooden MG bunkers and I couldn't get any friendly forces within 200m of those positions. 75mm howitzer support was like pissing in the wind. Maybe I lacked the tactical ability to pull it off or maybe the whole point was not to win it (since historically the Allies got creamed) but I was not a fan of that mission.

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1 hour ago, shift8 said:

A QB meeting engagement isn't any more unrealistic than any other battle we fight  in this game.

 

Strongly dissent. And I recall that Steve agreed, citing the division between the simulators and the chess players. However, an ME match is a genuine test of skill and doesn't condemn one player to a passive role. Both sides can maneuver- a major plus.

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2 hours ago, ASL Veteran said:

 Conversely a scenario player will probably struggle when placed in a QB environment since that player hasn't spent hours cooking points and formulating an OB that maximizes their chance of winning within the context of a set of parameters that have been agreed to in advance.  

 
 
 
 
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Ah, the good old days. There was- and probably is- a cottage industry in squeezing the maximum bang out of one's buck when selecting a QB force. Data tables were offered, relative values weighed and plaintive demands posted that BF re-visit the value of this unit or that unit. But the speed with which those values were revised from the top was exceeded by industriousness of the green eyeshade types who made an evolving science out of it. It was endless, getting it right  proved to be a Sisyphean task. So BF gave up.

For some reason, those controversies have more or less vanished from the boards.

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5 hours ago, ASL Veteran said:

I would actually say that the entire scenario doesn't need to be about a fighting withdrawal in order to make the point.  I think that if a defender has an occupy objective on a map that is tenuous to hold - even if a counterattack force may enter later in the scenario - that most players would rather fight to the death trying to hang onto that occupy objective with every last ounce of their fighting energy rather than withdrawing from that objective and trying to retake it when the counterattack force arrives.  I just think that most players have an aversion to surrendering ground or objectives simply on the basis that losing even one objective location is the equivalent of losing 'something' and of course players don't want to lose anything at all if they can help it.  They are just pixelsoldiers after all so it isn't like anyone is really losing a life so in the mind of the player there is absolutely no reason not to defend an objective until every last soldier has been blasted into pieces rather than withdrawing from an objective and admitting that you can't hold it. 

I hear you, but can't that be at least partially ameliorated by asymmetric victory conditions? I.e., the defender does not receive points for occupying an objective at the end of the game, but for withdrawing intact units off the map. But just to insure that he doesn't simply bug out from the start of play, he also gets points for every turn that he holds the objective(s). Conversely, the attacker accumulates points for every turn he has control of the objective(s). That way, the defender is rewarded for delaying the attacker in the successful attainment of his goals, but not at the expense of expending his troops. It seems to me that juggling the numbers will encourage the players to pursue a more realistic course.

Michael

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6 hours ago, [MyIS] Buffpuff said:

 

I might ruffle some feathers with this statement but in my humble opinion I think players that DON'T take the time to read the briefing don't have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about a scenario. The briefing is there for a reason. I can't imagine playing a campaign/scenario without reading the briefing. I played Turnbull's Stand (Road to Montebourg campaign) about 2 weeks ago and the briefing explicitly said that the mission was to inflict as many casualties as possible and then withdraw. I was supposed to retreat my forces before the mission time was over but knowing that if the enemy forces reached the touch objectives it wouldn't matter what damage I had inflicted or if I withdrew my forces...the Germans would win that battle. So I ignored the plan of retreating. I killed the 2 German tanks with my AT guns but the sheer number of German infantry forces I knew I would not be able to withstand. So I played the odds and made several keyhole choke points for my focus of firepower. It was very effective since it denied the German forces the ability to engage my troops with heavy support and ranged fire. I piled the bodies literally on the border of one of the touch objectives. I managed a tactical victory with only exiting my AT gun forces (they didn't need to hang around after taking out the tanks anyway).

 

The only scenarios that really bother me are the ones that I deem to be "impossible" to achieve the objectives. Hell in the Hedgerows comes to mind (because I just played it a few days ago...and the bitterness hasn't left my taste buds yet). The friendly casualty allowance was upped in that scenario but the mission to reach the German defensive line was just out of reach in my opinion. Open ground covered by wooden MG bunkers and I couldn't get any friendly forces within 200m of those positions. 75mm howitzer support was like pissing in the wind. Maybe I lacked the tactical ability to pull it off or maybe the whole point was not to win it (since historically the Allies got creamed) but I was not a fan of that mission.

I have to agree that if people can't be bothered to read the briefings, then they deserve to get their arses kicked. Most scenario designers go to a lot of effort with their briefing notes, both in terms of historical background, and providing players with a decent idea of what we will be up against.

 

With regards to "Hell in the Hedgerows", I certainly feel your pain. I've tried it twice and been beaten twice. I have to admire anyone who wins it. And, of course, admire the men who slugged their way from "Utah" to Montebourg, and then on to Cherbourg in 1944.

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I generally share @womble's idea that asymmetric forces and, more importantly, asymmetric objectives make for an interesting and (often more immersive) experience. I play both H2H and Singleplayer in equal amounts, I reckon. Scenarios like "Breaking the Panzers" and "Studienka" are great because both forces have very different expectations thrust upon them during the briefing. 

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2 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

I hear you, but can't that be at least partially ameliorated by asymmetric victory conditions? I.e., the defender does not receive points for occupying an objective at the end of the game, but for withdrawing intact units off the map. But just to insure that he doesn't simply bug out from the start of play, he also gets points for every turn that he holds the objective(s). Conversely, the attacker accumulates points for every turn he has control of the objective(s). That way, the defender is rewarded for delaying the attacker in the successful attainment of his goals, but not at the expense of expending his troops. It seems to me that juggling the numbers will encourage the players to pursue a more realistic course.

Michael

If those types of timed victory conditions were present in the game then yeah, that would be an option. 

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Briefings and pre-planned battle "flow":

 

Sometimes the briefings are too long and just present as a wall of text. Others pull you in. Don't ever count on a player READING your masterpiece. I would suggest a "designer's intent" statement as a bit of a spoiler at the end. Let some players who want a hint get a hint. You may plan a retreat, but is that what the player wants to...play?

 

Just a thought. 

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6 hours ago, ASL Veteran said:

If those types of timed victory conditions were present in the game then yeah, that would be an option. 

They can be arranged against the AI, but would rely on some sort of honour system for PvP play. You have objectives that an AI can be automatically programmed to move between at fixed time points. You'd have to have a note in the briefing for such a mechanism to work: "Give the defender n points per minute additional VPs and recalculate the victory (see page pp in the manual for the formula)".

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Personally I think what really matters is the agreement you come to with the player you are facing. As we mentioned before with people not reading briefings, if a person makes assumptions about how a QB should be fought, then they are just as at fault. All of this discussion about victory conditions and which type of battle are better is all well and good, but I find that in games where controversy comes up it generally is the result of both players making alot of assumptions about what "fair" is and never actually discussing this with the other side in detail.

I think just about any combination of conditions, units, or scenario type can be fun if both players simply acknowledge what they are getting into before hand. Using myself as an example, I am pretty much ok with anything so long as I know what to expect. I am totally fine with playing a scenario on a side that is virtually doomed to lose so long as I know that is what I am getting into. From discussions on these forums, I have seen that some players readily dismiss even single players scenarios that are no balanced and I dont really see the logic in that. This game is supposed to be a sim, and war is almost never fair. I personally play alot of scenarios both single and multiplayer just to explore the battle and get and impression of something. Essentially, for the experience. I think that in something like combat mission, this is part of the fun.

 

That being said, I am totally fine with games made fair for competition as well. The only caveat I put on this is that in order to actually make a game fair, you have to have alot of agreed on rules. We are playing a game with inherently unbalanced units, unbalanced nations, etc. In the long run, almost no combination of rules will ever be truly 100% even. And since part of the competition is the choosing of forces with as much judiciousness as possible.....

 

So given all that, I think that when we as CM players find ourselves in tough situations in game the best thing to do is simply set your own goals. If for some reason a scenario gives you 1 greyhound and the other dude a platoon of Panthers, expectations should be lowered. Having fun is all about what you expect from something. 

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One reason the CM system has lasted is that is offers such a wide variety of game play. From balanced H2H competition style to training ground simulations of book doctrine. The editor allows for both. That being said, players do not generally like being on the tactical defensive during a 4 week H2H battle unless there is some way to "win" the mission thereby validating their tactics. That can be handled by having informative briefings and appropriate victory conditions. If players run into a hopeless situation, they can use the causality ratio to gauge their performance. With the editor, an otherwise interesting mission can be tailored for H2H or single player. I am sure a third party could be found to do this keeping the battle blind. Sort of like the age old war game referee.

Keivn

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22 hours ago, Sgt Joch said:

But that did not mean less than a 2.2-to-1 ratio resulted in a loss. The Germans, despite being on the defensive and having heavier tanks, needed a 1.5-to-1 numerical advantage to ensure their own success. In between those ranges it was a mixed bag dependant on many tactical considerations

http://worldoftanks.com/en/news/21/us-guns-german-armor-part-2/

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You inspired me to check out the WoT forum. For such a- seemingly- goofy game it certainly seems to attract some impressively well-informed grogs. Who knew?

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On 3.5.2016 at 0:53 AM, Michael Emrys said:

There is more than one way to skin a cat. For sure an interesting scenario can be made of a situation where one must conduct a fighting retreat and where one can be said to have "won" if one has one's force substantially intact even though one has had to relinquish control of the battlefield. This is an area that IMO has yet to be fully explored by scenario designers and players.

Michael

All that is really needed for that is a tiny module that does "collision detection" on a shared image file (arbitrary map), and perhaps some excel-ish book keeping support for logistics, and remaining forces. I would not even use a specific rule set, but rely on honor system, or an digitally signed archive of the turns.

To my mind this is the essence of CM Operations initiatives. If you thus give the community the incentive to create maps (where needed), you even have a return on investment.

I don't think the operational layer is necessarily best done on a screen (particularly for the WW2 titles). If you can - leave the interface wide open to work with as many op-layer table-top games as possible (potential customers)...

I can also imagine a stronger integration of unbalanced battles through a 1-2-3 series of battles, which may use the same map (perhaps partially so, like in the CMX1 title campaigns). You could just allot your force points differently (on map = full cost, reinforcement on call after X minutes = slightly reduced cost, reserves for deep defense/counter attack = significantly reduced cost).

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CMFB comes with a full-up scenario maker. If you want to see a particular type of tactical encounter simply make it and share it. We'd all be happy to see a new scenario. :)

It appears one 'unintended consequence' of the improving QB system is players no longer take the trouble to build their own. Back in CMSF days, when QB was still rudimentary, the BFC repository was flooded with 3rd party battles of all types. Some of the best scenarios were 3rd party uploads. I'd build myself wildly asymmetrical scenarios just to see if I could survive the encounter with my dignity intact. It was fun! If you aren't making your own and are just playing QBs you've got a limited view of what CM can do.

One obstacle I see to scenario making is psychological. New scenario makers tend to be *overly ambitious*. If your first attempt at a map is the city of Cologne you're going burn yourself out before you get half finished with it. If your first AI orders attempt involves maneuvering three battalions you're going to burn yourself out. If your first scenario plans to meticulously recreate a historical battle down to the last detail you're going to burn yourself out trying. CMFB isn't a college doctorate exam, nobody's grading you, you really don't have to try so hard. Just go into the editor and have fun!

 

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7 hours ago, polterklotz said:

All that is really needed for that is a tiny module that does "collision detection" on a shared image file (arbitrary map), and perhaps some excel-ish book keeping support for logistics, and remaining forces. I would not even use a specific rule set, but rely on honor system, or an digitally signed archive of the turns.

Whoa! You're making this a lot more complicated than I think it needs to be. I don't think any of what you suggest needs to be done to make viable withdrawing scenarios. All that really needs doing is for scenario designers to think through what constitutes a reasonable victory under these circumstances and apply what is already available in the game.

Michael

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7 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

All that really needs doing is for scenario designers to think through what constitutes a reasonable victory [...]

From a scenario perspective you are of course correct.

I was coming at this more from an angle that generally tries to integrate these rather typical engagements (unfair) into the game play. And to do this in a way that lets players have a feeling of accomplishment - even without knowing/having historical context. Sort of a mini-campaign consisting out of a series of QBs.

Secondly I wanted an element of balance in there, so that games are not completely lost (even after a resounding loss in the first round), but if you wanted to mount e.g. a counter-attack you'll have some trouble with that (unless you had planned for the outcomes).

@MikeyD If I remember right there was a random map generator in the CMX1 series. I know I made a lot more scenarios because I didn't do maps fully from scratch.

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On ‎5‎/‎2‎/‎2016 at 5:56 PM, Childress said:

Would it be interesting to portray, say a campaign, wherein the offensive side duly pushes back the defender and the score determined by how efficiently the attacking side carries out its mission? Or would that be boring?

I would play that campaign.

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On 02/05/2016 at 10:56 PM, Childress said:

Would it be interesting to portray, say a campaign, wherein the offensive side duly pushes back the defender and the score determined by how efficiently the attacking side carries out its mission? Or would that be boring?

Personally, that would be my preference. I play in order to get a better appreciation for the reality of historical or plausible semi-historical engagements, unbalanced as they might have been. I sorely regret not having a campaign or two to fight in which a well supplied Allied force wears down a smaller Axis force during a series of unbalanced engagements.

There are two philosophies to consider here:

  1. CM battles should be finely balanced and complex problem-solving challenges.
  2. CM battles should reflect reality, even when reality involves one side having a major advantage over the other.

I don't think that these are mutually exclusive approaches, but at the moment the balanced problem-solving mindset seems to dominate. The question is, is there an audience for the alternative?

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On 14/05/2016 at 5:48 PM, MikeyD said:

One obstacle I see to scenario making is psychological.

 

I've been around a while and I've owned every title in the series. I used to make a lot of my own CM1 scenarios. I have made several attempts to build CM2 scenarios that cater to my wants, but I have failed every time. Make my own campaign? Probably never.

Call me stupid, but I find it just too difficult and complex a task.

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Yes.  As previously mentioned, ever since CMSF we have the ability to do victory calculations that involve the requirement that one suffer minimal, or more realistic friendly casualties.  The reason many of us play campaigns almost exclusively is that they usually require force (and ammo) conservation to win.  Scenarios that designed around "fight to the last man" to win are awful imo (and unrealistic in the sense that they were very rare).  It's fine occasionally, but too many standalone scenarios are like that.

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On 04/05/2016 at 0:58 AM, c3k said:

Sometimes the briefings are too long and just present as a wall of text.

This is a valid point. Military briefings are designed to be as brief and to the point as possible. The modern form has become longer, but a WW2 Orders Group at Company or Bn level had a very simple orders structure. I recall the 1970s form:

  • Ground
  • Situation
  • Mission - short and simple, as in "A Company will seize hill 123 by 2200hrs."
  • Execution
  • Atts and Dets
  • Admin and Logistics
  • Command and Signals

Few parts of this were more than a paragraph and some bits were just skipped, as in "Gentlemen, the situation is unchanged."

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