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Maybe it is hard to quantify, but it would be nice with some info in the UI about the quality of tank optics. Let's say that 1.0 (or green) is state of the art of the period and 0.1 (or red) which is basically blind as a bat. Not exact science, but to give the player a general feel for how well the tank spots to the front. It would help to make decisions if risking to unbutton the TC and so on. Feasable to implement?

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I agree, at least for new players. This would be a great thing to have especially in RT where it is not so obvious just how bad some of those Russian optics are. and its not something that's usually talked about when people compare the T-34 and such to other vehicles of the same era, despite being from my perspective some what of an important engineering factor.

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I just assume all tanks in WWII are blind as bats when buttoned up.

Then whether I unbutton really depends on how close enemy infantry may, or may not be...

Having peered through the viewing blocks on Sherman, Panzer III and T34 they are pretty much the same - crap... 

Gunner optics are a different question though, but that only comes into its own at long range/poor vis/cold vs hot temps.

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The problem with assigning UI spotting ranking is the optics are being modeled so specifically. Its not a generic board game rating system. If the loader is loading he's not assisting in the spotting (if he has optics to help spot with). If the vehicle's hull-down the driver can't help in spotting. If the commander is green or fatigued his ability to spot will be degraded. Sherman/Churchill/Cromwell the gunner has a secondary wide field of view periscope to assist in general spotting. Panther doesn't, a flaw noted in the German AAR following Panther's initial introduction to combat, but never fixed. I recall there was a surprise bug in Tiger I back in early CMBN. Its spotting ability was degraded because the unseen commander was sitting sideways looking out the wrong periscope! So there's stuff going on 'under the hood' that we can scarcely imagine.

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On 11/28/2016 at 5:54 AM, rocketman said:

Wow, this game series never stops surprising me with the stuff that goes on under the hood to make the simulation realistic. Tremendous stuff :)

 

+1. Just one more reason that this is my favorite game series ever and my love for it only deepens with time and play.

A have read that after the war, Allied analysts determined that the key factor in who won an armored engagement was who got in the first shot. Armor thickness, gun, etc. (the "sexy" stats) were not the primary factors. In order to aim at a target, a tank crew must first spot that target. Therefore, optimal situational awareness of the tank crew becomes paramount. The situational awareness of a crew is determined by how well they can see from their positions, how many eyes they have spotting, how fatigued they are at that moment, and how well they can communicate with friendlies around them.

This is the reason that I do not consider the T-34/76 (2-man turret, very fatiguing environment, lack of adequate radio comms) to be even close to a Sherman and why, barring extreme mud or winter conditions, I would choose Shermans over them in a heartbeat. It's also why arguments about who had the "best" tank usually make me want to tear my hair out as almost no one gives any attention to this vital point.

Speaking of the Panther, I sometimes wonder if its spotting ability is a bit overmodelled currently. Here is the bit from the Chieftain's Hatch about the Panther gunner's spotting situation:

Very glad to see that BF goes deep enough to factor this into the equation.

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14 hours ago, Macisle said:

Speaking of the Panther, I sometimes wonder if its spotting ability is a bit overmodelled currently.

Not sure if the Panther spotting has been improved for CMFB, since I haven't bought it, but speaking from CMBN experience, I haven't noticed the Panther spotting any better than any other tank. If anything, it seems to spot a bit worse than a Sherman. I've seen several situations where a Panther just wouldn't spot a very obvious target. Based on that video, maybe that's quite realistic.

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9 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

Not sure if the Panther spotting has been improved for CMFB, since I haven't bought it, but speaking from CMBN experience, I haven't noticed the Panther spotting any better than any other tank. If anything, it seems to spot a bit worse than a Sherman. I've seen several situations where a Panther just wouldn't spot a very obvious target. Based on that video, maybe that's quite realistic.

I haven't done any scientific testing with Panthers. My wondering about overmodelling of spotting for them was just a general thing, based on information like the opinion in the video. I was just thinking that, if the Panther gunner was almost completely reliant on the commander for spotting, then perhaps the Panther's reaction times in game may be a bit too fast sometimes. Having said that, I have noticed that the Panther seems slower in spotting than other vehicles sometimes. So, I assume that this is realistic and BF has specifically factored this in--which is great!

Tactical wargames by nature tend to maximize the "on paper" advantages of tanks. Things like breakdown issues, crew fatigue, and highly-refined spotting realism are either outside the scope of the game or fall prey to the limits of diminishing returns and/or lack of vigilance. Not to mention, the player's high global situational awareness, coupled with maps that tend to offer easier spotting and fewer tactical options to avoid frontal disadvantages, make for "sexy stat" tanks usually performing better than they actually did.

Which, of course, is why Combat Mission is the best tactical wargame series out there. No one else does it better, or pushes as hard to refine things further as time and resources allow.

I don't have CMFB yet either. Money and time have been tight and I'm having to wait (which is a real pisser--am planning to pick up the upgrades as soon as they hit, though). I'm halfway through a rereading of A Time for Trumpets. Man, some of the battle results read like the Germans are the AI on attack. I just finished the section about the twin villages battle where the Schwerpunkt failed. It was a real slaughterhouse for the German cats. Though a lot of them fell to bazookas/other, I got the impression that perhaps the Sherman's superior spotting vis-à-vis‎ the German tanks helped.

Some of the disparities in casualties in various battles in TBOTB are staggering. I guess in many ways the op really was like a giant Banzai charge into oblivion. -Was interesting reading Patton's suggestion that they just let the Germans advance until they were good and stretched out so as to slaughter them with greater ease.

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17 minutes ago, Macisle said:

...

Which, of course, is why Combat Mission is the best tactical wargame series out there. No one else does it better, or pushes as hard to refine things further as time and resources allow.

...

Nicely stated. (The rest just doesn't matter. :) )

Ken

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44 minutes ago, Macisle said:

 I'm halfway through a rereading of A Time for Trumpets. Man, some of the battle results read like the Germans are the AI on attack. I just finished the section about the twin villages battle where the Schwerpunkt failed. It was a real slaughterhouse for the German cats. Though a lot of them fell to bazookas/other, I got the impression that perhaps the Sherman's superior spotting vis-à-vis‎ the German tanks helped.

Some of the disparities in casualties in various battles in TBOTB are staggering. I guess in many ways the op really was like a giant Banzai charge into oblivion. -Was interesting reading Patton's suggestion that they just let the Germans advance until they were good and stretched out so as to slaughter them with greater ease.

Unfortunately it is not on Kindle yet, but you can pick this up used. https://www.amazon.com/Krinkelt-Rocherath-Villages-William-C-Cavanagh/dp/0815804350/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480558512&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Twin+Villages

If Shipping is your big issue in Japan just send to me and I'll drop it in the post next trip (likely spring).  It s a really good detailed view of that battle.  The12th SS attack wasn't particularly inspired, but it was tenacious.  Kind of a hallmark of the SS.  Their biggest problems though were based more on bad intel.  They ran smack into 2 Divisions, one a veteran formation with good leadership and the 2nd an untried unit that nevertheless showed what US training had been able to accomplish.  Add to that a crap load of arty in Elsenborn and the 12th never really had a chance.Granted those divisions were pulling off an incredibly difficult maneuver which should have made the job of the 12th easier.

The twin villages battle itself was a close quarters knife fight mostly at night so the strong points of the Panther were completely wasted.

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Thanks for the book offer, sburke!

I don't want to make you pay for any shipping, but I've bookmarked the link for future "attack." Aside from having read some well-known titles like ATFT and Panzer Battles (long time ago, need to read again), I'm really at the beginning of my journey into WWII "deep reading." I've identified a number of books I want to eventually get, including perhaps the Glantz series on Stalingrad. I found a free digital reading copy of Kharkov 1942: Anatomy of a Disaster on scribd that I'm using to see if I'm up for more Glantz.

My current strategy is to find free audiobooks that I can listen to while I do any work that lets me divide my attention. I just finished part 1 of John Keegan's The Second World War via YouTube. Alas, parts 2 and 3 were not uploaded. I did find all the parts of Keegan's book on the American Civil War, so I'm working my way through that at the moment.

Yeah, there are many reasons for the German's lack of success in TBOTB: weather, lack of tactical flexibility due to orders and terrain, lack of armor where/when needed, lack of effective artiilery support when needed, lack of adequately trained men and leaders at the right place and time...the list goes on and on. The "Wall of Steel" of US arty makes me shudder just to think about it.

Still, there were times when the GIs simply outfought and outthought them. And, as you said, some of those GIs were fresh, very average Joes who did it with what looks like effective core training. Big respect to them.

Also, as the book points out, by that time, the Allies were capable of rapid maneuver (and engineering) that was unbelievable to their German opponents. They were simply outclassed in material and technique by that point, even given their other difficulties.

I definitely want to learn more about the knife fighting in the twin villages. To modify the Patton quote..."That's a hell of a waste of fine armor!"

 

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4 hours ago, sburke said:

Add to that a crap load of arty in Elsenborn...

A couple of years ago I read an article on this battle and IIRC the Germans were facing the combined firepower of something like nine battalions of artillery. That equivalent to the massed artillery of two divisions plus some corps artillery thrown in. It was a slaughter.

Michael

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6 hours ago, Macisle said:

I'm halfway through a rereading of A Time for Trumpets. Man, some of the battle results read like the Germans are the AI on attack.

So what we see as lack of AI in the game is actually a very sophisticated and historically correct rendition of actual German incompetence :)

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2 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

... It was a slaughter...

Michael

As always the facts differs in the sources. Some American AAR states that the Germans lost over 100 panzers in the Twin villages (741st TB, 644th TDB, 801st TDB, 2nd ID). Samuel Mitcham says 67 lost Panzers,  Steven Zaloga mentions 31 Panzer and Jagdpanzers.

According to author Jeff Dugdale the 12-SS lost totally 18 Panthers, 8 Panzer IV, and 8 Jagdpanzers during the whole time period 16-31 December. Michael Reynolds claims that the 12-SS lost 15 Panthers, 1 Panzer IV and 2 Jagdpanzers in or around the Twin Villages. While 18 Panzers and Jagdpanzers doesn't sound that much we must add the considerable amount of damaged, but later salvageable vehicles.

According to German official war dead register the amount of infantry losses in 12-SS for the time period 16-23 December was 568 dead and missing. This is also heavy but that of course includes the more deadly battle of Domäne Bütgenbach where 12-SS also lost 23 Panzers and Jagdpanzers as total losses.

Maybe not a slaughter but still heavy casualties for ant units to take.

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2 hours ago, Big Boss said:

Maybe not a slaughter but still heavy casualties for ant units to take.

My point, which I didn't make too clearly, was that despite heavy and persistent German attacks, they were stopped cold every time with the effect that the whole strategy on the northern flank was unhinged. There were other places where things were not turning as the Germans had planned, but this was one of the more critical ones. And according to this article, it was perhaps primarily due to the weight of US artillery that was brought to bear.

Michael

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On 2016-11-30 at 2:46 AM, Macisle said:

A have read that after the war, Allied analysts determined that the key factor in who won an armored engagement was who got in the first shot. Armor thickness, gun, etc. (the "sexy" stats) were not the primary factors.

Zaloga covers that very well in Panther vs Sherman, one of the better Ospreys. US Army analysis of battle reports concluded that by far the biggest success factor was spotting and shooting first, which given the status of WWII technology gave a huge advantage to the defender. This was far more imporant than any "Panther factor" which didn't seem to exist at all in the actions studied.

It also helps explain why the Germans were so succesful early in the war when they usually had a "spotting advantage" through better training, ergonomics ,and crew size. Of course once the Sherman arrives the odds there are even.

I think the game models this well. Put your tanks and other heavy weapons in decent positions where they have a chance to spot and engage first and you get results. This is very different from some mora abstract, stat-driven games.

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Unbuttoned vs buttoned is a huge issue. I know the Israelis had (still have?) almost a "cult" of fighting unbuttoned, i.e. there is a very strong culture saying a real tank commander should fight with his head outside the turret. This has caused a lot of Israeli tank commanders death or serious injury, but has paid off handsomely in victories since situational awareness is a big determinant of success.

I know the Israelis have, curiously as it might seem, shown a great deal of interest in German methods like Auftragstaktik but I don't know if the modelled themselves on the Germans when it comes to this as well. It should be apparent to any combat experienced tanker force not hidebound by doctrine anyway.

Another big spotting factor is of course radio, again giving the early war Germans (and perhaps the late war Western Allies with their excellent and plentiful radios, including among the infantry) an advantage. External telephones for talking to the infantry were not primarily there for fighting tanks, but I'm sure they helped out in the odd engagement.

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On 12/1/2016 at 10:46 PM, Duckman said:

Zaloga covers that very well in Panther vs Sherman, one of the better Ospreys. US Army analysis of battle reports concluded that by far the biggest success factor was spotting and shooting first, which given the status of WWII technology gave a huge advantage to the defender. This was far more imporant than any "Panther factor" which didn't seem to exist at all in the actions studied.

It also helps explain why the Germans were so succesful early in the war when they usually had a "spotting advantage" through better training, ergonomics ,and crew size. Of course once the Sherman arrives the odds there are even.

I think the game models this well. Put your tanks and other heavy weapons in decent positions where they have a chance to spot and engage first and you get results. This is very different from some mora abstract, stat-driven games.

Those are good points about the German's early war successes and how CM pushes the realism envelope with its spotting system. I remember back when I played Close Combat, the dominance of the Panthers was so frustrating in their Bulge game. CM is a light-years beyond the limitations of that game system.

I really want to read Zaloga's Panther vs. Sherman. I've heard it mentioned in many converstations, but I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet. It's high on my list.

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8 minutes ago, Macisle said:

Those are good points about the German's early war successes and how CM pushes the realism envelope with its spotting system. I remember back when I played Close Combat, the dominance of the Panthers was so frustrating in their Bulge game. CM is a light-years beyond the limitations of that game system.

I really want to read Zaloga's Panther vs. Sherman. I've heard it mentioned in many converstations, but I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet. It's high on my list.

Do check it out. I know some people don't like Ospreys because they are brief and some of them are written by amateurs, but Zaloga is of course a solid historian and this is an equally solid piece of research. It's quite unbelievable how the Panther myth has persisted when there really seems to be no factual basis at all.

Totally agree on CC (and most other games) vs CM. The spotting model helps, but even more I think it's the detailed terrain and armour modelling which creates all those situations where stuff just happens. You can see that in the engagements depicted in the book as well. It's anything but neat and tidy, and there are multiple overlapping positions creating lots of flank and rear shots. Confusion reigns and it's all over in minutes, if not seconds.

One of the main participants is a veteran American gunner in a Sherman positioned behind a stone wall with a good field of fire, who starts the engagement at Freyneux by knocking out several Panthers with side shots at range. An excellent example of how tactical and individual factors, as well as luck and chance, play a bigger part than stats. It could totally happen in CM. 

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One thing that strikes me as odd though, is that often tanks seem to spot extremely close infantry before infantry spots the tank.

I've had several times when I knew a tank was in a particular location, then flanked it with infantry (who had received a tank contact marker for the location). Sneaking up on the tank from the side through forest terrain, when finally the tank pops into view of the assault team, often I find the tank has already turned its turret towards the infantry.

Which means that it spotted them a good couple of seconds before they saw the tank.

I guess everything is possible in war, so I'm not saying it's a bug or anything. Just odd.

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18 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

I guess everything is possible in war, so I'm not saying it's a bug or anything. Just odd.

That is how you have to look at it and yeah anything can happen and close assaulting a tank is dangerous. 

Close range interactions are a challenge for the game. Things have been made better over the patches but it is a limitation that we have to live with.

Infantry are the first to spot tanks the vast majority of the time (in ww2 titles) and frequently get ? contacts where tanks never do. But in close, if the infantry don't already see the tank you can get some surprises. The slower tank reaction times for close targets and the spotting tweaks that have been done helped a lot. 

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